What you can do to improve your English NOW!
by Claire Jaynes, DoS at Trebinshun House
Over the last two weeks at Trebinshun House while working with students from Elementary to Advanced level, I've become aware of a common theme: how relatively easy it is to get blocked or stuck when learning a language - regardless of level. So we've been discussing with our students what they can each change about their English NOW to enable them to improve their learning experience and their long term success.
1. Don't be afraid of making mistakes.
Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of learning. You transfer information from your first language and sometimes it works (it's a word for word translation) and sometimes it doesn't. But it’s always worth trying because translation works a lot of the time. We have all experienced getting stuck on which tense to use but don’t let it stop the conversation. The important thing is that your message is understood and the conversation continues (and your teacher will correct the mistake – if necessary). Making mistakes is a part of the learning process and you will begin to correct yourself - a sign that learning is taking place!
2. Don't compare yourself to others.
Each person has their own way of learning and their own pace. Some students have a natural talent for language - perhaps they had a good foundation at school or perhaps they have been on numerous training courses. Focus on developing your own way and be open to trying different activities as you - and your teacher - finds out what works best for you. In the meantime, feel free to pick up tips from other students and at the same time, to remember what study techniques have previously worked for you.
3. Don't apologise for your language skills.
Often students who have a lower level of communicative ability feel that they need to apologise for their language skills. This is not necessary. Becoming fluent in a language takes time and you can’t expect to be fluent in a week or even a month. What we can do during an intensive course is analyse and build on your strengths and minimise the weaknesses and common errors. We do this by matching your level with your objectives: what is the most useful aspect of English for you? The result is that you can go back to your workplace feeling more confident about your ability.
4. Don't get frustrated with yourself.
Easy to say but learning something often comes with a certain degree of frustration (remember learning to drive?). If you express yourself very well in your first language then you can experience frustration at not being able to express yourself so clearly or easily in your second. Remember this is part of the learning process and keep in mind that you are developing your skills. Embrace the process and access your sense of humour! We all have funny stories about how we have incorrectly used a word or expression – often with hilarious effect (we’re happy to share a couple of stories with you)….
So, there we have some core elements of what NOT to do. In our next article, we’ll look at things to DO. Let us know what you have found most useful about studying at Trebinshun.