Top 10 Proven Tips & Tricks to Improve English for Migrants
photo by: Mangal Daydreamer
This blog post is for those who are trying to improve their English, for those of us whose mother tongue is other than English. This complex language is a second language for me as well and I had to work very hard to get where I am today. When I was struggling to learn this new language on my own, I wished for a mentor or at least a guide that could show me the correct path. For the very same reason, I want to share the top 10 proven tips and tricks that I have practised in the past to help you with your journey:
1 Download a dictionary app
These days pretty much everyone have a smartphone with them; it has become a necessity of our lives. One of the best things about it is the free applications that can be downloaded from the app store/Google play store.
I have downloaded one of the free offline dictionaries with pronunciation from the Google play store. Click here for the link. Every time you come across a new word or a certain word that doesn’t make sense to you, type it in on your mobile dictionary app. This way you are learning the meaning of the words right away. In addition, it is worthwhile to get an app with built-in pronunciation as it also prepares you to pronounce the words properly.
2 Read newspapers/books
The only way you can learn new words is if you are open to trying new methods of learning. You have to be willing to gain knowledge every step of your life. I try to learn new words every day, if I learn at least 1 new word per day, within a single year my vocabulary will be 365 words stronger. In order to learn new words, you will have to regularly read books, magazines or newspapers. You will understand how a sentence is structured grammatically and in the process, you will get exposure to new words. Remember to use the dictionary app or a pocket dictionary to look up the meaning and pronunciation straight away.
One of the books that helped me get better quicker is Learning English as Foreign Language for Dummies. It costs about $38 AUD on eBay and honestly, it was one of the best investment I have ever made towards my goal.
3 Make friends with people from different countries including native speakers
I understand it is hard to break the ice in the beginning and to top it all up, the lack of confidence in speaking the second language, third or fourth for some. The best suggestions I can give you are
- Don’t be shy to talk
- Don’t be scared of making mistakes.
- Be friends with people from different countries and
- Be friends with native speakers
When you are friends with people from different countries, it forces you to speak English. In addition, when you are speaking to a native speaker, it teaches you the pronunciation of different words. Furthermore, do not be upset if you make mistakes, mistakes are meant for learning. You should be fine as long as you spot those mistakes and correct them.
4 Work at a place where you need to speak very frequently
I have many friends who work at places like restaurants/take away places opened by their own countrymen. I understand why they choose to do that; one of the reasons is, it easier to get the job and becomes a familiar environment for them to work at. It is all about comfort and I don’t blame them, it is a human nature to seek it. I know of people who have been here in Australia for over 10 years and their English still is not better than when they first came to the country.
You have to put yourself in situations where you must speak in English; you have to work in places that require you to communicate with your work mates regularly. You will only get better if you keep on trying and I wish you good luck with your journey.
5 Be mindful of what & how you speak
What I mean by “be mindful of what you speak” is, from my experiences I have noticed I spot my mistakes as soon as I make them while speaking. I note it down and research on the correct way of saying it. I have made it my goal to never repeat the same mistake again and you should too. Otherwise, it is a waste of our valuable time.
Your goal should be to improve and move forward, not backwards.
6 Be open to feedbacks
When I was hanging out with my native speaking mates, I requested them to point out my mistakes as I make them. It fast tracked my learning; my friends were very helpful and thoughtful. They even highlighted the correct way of expressing the sentences.
I understand it might be hard to ask your friends to give you feedback but again, you need to be 100% committed and willing to improve. Remember, the first step is to accept you need help and seek it, the rest will follow. Furthermore, Your friends are there to support you every step of the way.
7 Try to watch English movies and TV shows
I have watched the countless amount of movies and TV shows since I first came to Australia. I did not know how to speak properly and I had little knowledge of the language itself.
When you are watching videos, you get the benefit of listening to words being pronounced in its native tone. In addition, with smart TV’s these days, you can even turn on subtitles to catch up on what they are saying. I know of people who would rather binge watching movies and shows from their own countries. I understand you need to catch up with what’s happening on your side of the world and stay updated. However, I recommend you must find the fine balance and use the opportunities that are widely available for free. It is all about how bad you want to improve yourself.
8 Try to listen to English Songs or audio books
This step is similar to the step mentioned above, however, you cannot watch movies while you are traveling. You must keep active and utilize various methods that are available for free at your disposal. Unless of course, you are traveling with your friends, in that case, speak English and share your stories.
9 Think in English
This step is interesting as everyone talks to themselves all the time. You just have to change the way you think/talk to yourself in your head. I used to only think in my native language before, same as most of you reading this; it was the only language I was proficient at. However, now I mostly think and talk in English inside my head. You can also slowly train your mind to do the same, you just have to be willing and dedicated.
I want to outline the very important benefit of doing this as I am aware of the complexity of trying to speak English in the beginning. especially when you are constantly thinking in your own language and trying to translate the words and sentences. I am also aware it loses the meaning when words are being translated and you find it hard getting your points across to the other person. Once you start thinking in English, your words will flow efficiently, as you are no longer translating your thoughts. Please let me know in the comments section on how well you go with this.
10 Speak English at home
I won’t be amazed if you get this suggestion all the time from your friends and family. It is extremely important you keep on practising the language. It prepares you and your family to be comfortable speaking English in public. Most important of all, you can share the tips and tricks you have picked up on. It is essentially about helping each other reach that common goal together.