<How to Improve English>
How to study English
By Bob Burgel
Master English the fast, easy and painless way! Let us show you the magic formula-200 words that are guaranteed to turn you into a bona fide English speaker. Become fluent in ten days. Amaze your parents, impress your friends, surprise yourself. English-shout it out loud!
And so on.
But seriously, you really do want to learn English. More precisely, you want to become a good English speaker, to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas effectively, and to understand what anyone says to you. So what can you do?
Sorry, except for a few people, the acquisition of a second language is a long, difficult process, hindered by boredom and frustration. The cold reality is that it takes many hours, days and years to become a good English speaker.
The key point is the more effort you put into learning, the more successful you will be. What does this mean?
Students need to be aggressive. You have to actively seek out situations in which to use English. Take English classes, read books in English, watch English movies, start a conversation with a stranger on the subway. There are many opportunities to use English if you look for them.
In class, participate. Consider the following analogy. One cannot learn how to drive a car by simply watching how it is done. It is only by actual hands on experience and practice that we learn how to do it.
You must be responsible for your learning. So ask your classmates questions, volunteer information, request clarification, restate your ideas, use rejoinders.
Practice active listening. That is, read facial gestures, listen for rising and falling intonations, speed and inflections.
While the above sounds familiar, what about the motivation to study English? Students should focus on topics which are relevant to their personal interests and experiences. Learning will be more enjoyable and easier if they talk about things they like. For example, talking about a favorite vacation in the past will probably be more fun than discussing your experiences in the army.
While it is important to have a firm grasp of grammar rules, it may not be necessary for everyone to spend a lot of time studying them. Instead, you can acquire an understanding naturally. Called grammar intuition you can develop a sense of what is a good or bad sentence.
That is, if you hear enough correct sentences, you will be able to say and recognize them at anytime. So watch English programs on EBS, English movies, AFN; listen to tapes, CDs and songs in English. Visit English websites. Dongguk University is developing a site to help people improve their English. You can visit it at http://cyber.dgu.ac.kr/
Read books in English; the Penguin Graded Readers Series have famous books written in simple language for different levels.
Buy a good English dictionary that provides a phonetic transcription. This will teach you proper pronunciation as well as helping you to increase your vocabulary. In particular, some people have reported good results in expanding their vocabulary by using a computer program called Super Memo, which helps students to review and remember new words.
Some people have recommended playing adventure games to improve English ability. They are a kind of computer game, in which there is a story and a main character. The characters interact with you, asking questions and giving information. Such games include Grim Fandango and Curse of Monkey Island. You can check LucasArts website for more information.
Anecdotal information suggests the best way to learn a second language is to study overseas or take private lessons. Nonetheless, there are many ways to learn English close to home. And the more you learn, the more fun you will have.
The writer is a professor of English Conversation at Center for Language Research and Institute.
Bob Burgel firstname.lastname@example.org
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