By Paola Pascual on Nov 15, 2021 11:15:42 AM
Is taking your English to the next level among your New Year's resolutions? Then you're in the right place! After years of training non-native English professionals around the world to improve their English communication skills for work, we truly understand what it takes to learn a new language.
Follow these steps to learn English
The list below includes a detailed step-by-step plan to (finally!) improve your English skills. Make sure you don't skip any of them, for they all play a crucial role in your learning.
#1 Define your goals
Write down the specific goals that drive you to work on your English skills. Why would you like to improve your English? Do you want it to get a promotion? To relocate to a different country? To flirt? Setting specific goals (the more specific, the better) should be the first step in your learning journey.
#2 Understand that it takes time
The world wasn't built in a day, and learning a language takes time and hard work. Learning a new language isn't as simple as listening to tapes while running on a treadmill (I know, tapes are not even a thing anymore). Don't let marketing campaigns fool you and accept that this is a process that takes time.
#3 Believe that you can do it
Now that you've accepted that you will not learn English overnight, remember that you can do it –and we don't mean it in a motivational speaker kind of way. You truly can do it. You've already learned one language –if not more–, why wouldn't you learn a new one?
#4 Break down your goals into doable steps
Learning a language can be very intimidating. It sounds scary because most of us don't even know where to start. It can be frustrating because, after years of paying for English courses, you may not be able to understand movies in their original version (without subtitles!). But don't panic! The trick is to look at your goals and break them down into more tangible, doable steps.
Let's imagine that you would like to get a promotion and manage an international team. The first step is to look at the different situations in which you will need to use your English and start working on those situations, one by one. For example, if virtual meetings will be your bread and butter, learn all the different expressions you need for them. Find out how to write business emails that are appropriate across cultures, deliver impactful presentations, and understand the cultural differences when it comes to providing feedback or pushing back.
Visualizing the different situations in which you will use your English is a great way to learn with a purpose and direction. The more tangible, the better.
#5 Make a language learning schedule
Sit down and think of a realistic schedule to learn and practice your English. We are all busy these days and it is very difficult for most of us to make time for something like learning a language. Between a full-time job and human necessities like eating and sleeping this can be extremely difficult to pull off and doomed to fail. However, "I don't have time to learn English" often means "English is not a priority for me". If working on your English skills is important to you, make sure you carve out a little time each day to work on your English.
Instead of trying to do learning marathons, commit to small chunks of time. Listen to a quick podcast episode each day (like our Talaera Bits) or use 10 new words in a sentence. Whenever you see yourself wasting time on social media, read the news in English or, at least, follow an account that helps you to learn English (by the way, Talaera is on Instagram!).
The trick is to be realistic and consistent. Setting an unrealistic time commitment can lead to disappointment when you can’t keep up. Setting a manageable timeline can help you reach milestones sustainably and consistently and encourage you to add to your daily practice time (“Starting next week I will commit to five hours a day to practice English" is probably not a realistic goal). And keep yourself accountable –find a free time tracking app or simply create an Excel spreadsheet. This will give you something to refer to and an easy way to track your progress.
#6 Make learning fun
Make learning English something fun or, at least, enjoyable. Watch comedies or sports, read in English, make new friends from abroad, or find a teacher with whom you bond. Find the formula that works for you and turn learning English into something you look forward to.
#7 Make English part of your everyday life
The great thing about learning a new language is that it can be incorporated into other things you enjoy doing. If you want to procrastinate by surfing the internet, switch your browser’s language settings, look for trashy reality TV shows in English, or leverage social media.
What matters is that you incorporate language learning into your life. If you can travel or relocate to a country where they speak English, that's amazing! However, many people don't have that opportunity. If that's the case, there is a lot you can do from home. Get creative! Raid your desk for post-it notes and label everything in your house with vocabulary words or try to think of how you would say specific things in different situations. Getting excited about learning a new verb tense can be difficult, but realizing you can navigate another city on your own because you have basic phrases down pat is something to be thrilled about.
As you try out different learning styles and learning methods, don’t get discouraged by the number of times you switch strategies. So long as you stick to it each and every day, you will eventually find a routine and style that works for you. But it means sticking to that schedule we talked about.
#8 Trust in the power of repetition
Remember how you learned something new as a child? You did something over and over and over again until you figured it out. Whether it was learning to read, figuring out subtraction, or riding a bike there was an adult there to ensure you kept trying.
When we’re older, we forget the power of repetition. We no longer have an authority figure to keep us going when we lose patience. We’ve also been trained to believe that you either get something on the first try by virtue of natural talent or you should give it up altogether.
Not at all. Find ways to reinforce your learning by learning 5 new vocabulary words a day, using 10 new verbs in a sentence, or working through a piece of text from a foreign news site or magazine little by little until you understand it. If it sounds a little boring, it’s because it probably will be at first. But not for long. Practice is a funny thing. At first, it sucks, but the more you do it the better you become. And as you get better you’re motivated to keep working at it. It’s a very productive and positive cycle, and if you’re willing to power through the initial resistance the reward is worth it.
#9 Look for language partners and new learning opportunities
Learning a language is about interaction. It's about hearing others talk and replying to them. Find a language partner or make new friends to talk in English with. Check out local events on Meetup.com, join one of our monthly free webinars, or sign up for a group course.
#10 Learn in chunks
Learning isolated words is rarely a good idea. Forget about lists. Instead, learn phrases or 'chunks' and use new expressions in real-life sentences. When you want to remember a new word, put it in a sentence, and associate it with things you already know, like a picture or a funny story, or something that actually happened to you, it needs to have a little story.
#11 Learn 1:1 with a teacher
Work with a teacher that helps you set your own goals and break them down into doable steps. At Talaera, we will carefully match you with a teacher that can help you achieve your learning objectives. We will tailor the sessions to your needs and level and will make sure learning is not an arduous task, but something you look forward to.
Keep improving your communication skills for the workplace
Continue improving your communication skills for professional situations. If you wish to take your professional English communication skills to the next level, here are some valuable resources:
- Personalized English training - 1:1 sessions, group courses, or company webinars tailored to your needs
- Free webinars - monthly live sessions with one of our communication experts
- Free communication guides - keep developing your skills with our free ebooks on business English communication
For any additional information or questions, you can also reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in getting the best offers and receiving free content on Business English communication? Subscribe to our newsletter and we will keep you in the loop with offers, free events, and development materials!
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