Undoubtedly, English is a global language.
It is actually already being used as a business tool for European countries, and Asian countries like the Philippines, South Korea, China, and Japan. And that is why there’s a growing number of people who’d like to learn this language for lots of different reasons.
As a TESOL-certified English teacher, here’s my contribution to speakers of other languages who’d like to hone their English communication skills.
Read English materials.
Reading English books, magazines, or online articles every day for at least 30 minutes to an hour will surely enhance your English vocabulary and overall proficiency. You’ll also learn how subject-verb agreement rules are carried out in different ways and you’ll also learn some new English expressions, which you may not hear in your everyday conversation with fellow non-native English speakers.
Doing your own self-study every day will be especially helpful if the English language is the capital premium in your work.
Watch English videos.
Watch English movies with subtitles so you’d know what words the actors are saying on the screen and how they’re pronouncing it, as well as how they convey the feelings that go along with the words. Watch English TV talk shows, TV series, or YouTube how-to videos that relates to your specific area of interest (example: relationships, entertainment, sports, etc.)
More likely than not, you’ll realize that the English language is delivered in a different intonation and rhythm compared to your first language.
Listen to English radio programs and podcasts.
Listen to English radio programs or podcasts that are either entertaining or that would also grow your other skills like public speaking, management, marketing, and the likes. There are so many free podcasts online that you could subscribe to and listen to on a regular basis.
Learning the English language the fun way would definitely motivate you to continue doing what you’re doing.
Imitate native English speakers in the way they speak.
While you’re watching or listening to an English material, try to imitate the way how speakers are saying the words so that you’ll hear yourself, your brain will record the connection between how the words are spelled and how they’re pronounced, and you’ll become more comfortable in using the words as the opportunity arises.
Learn to unlearn.
There are so many wrong lessons we have learned along the way from friends, colleagues, and even well-meaning school teachers.
We need to be open and flexible enough to let go of those wrong lessons and to welcome and apply the updated and better insights that are coming our way as we go about our journey of self-improvement.
Record your voice and listen to yourself.
Record yourself while reading an English news or how-to article, a poem, or your favorite motivational piece. Listen to your own recording and observe how this would even boost your self-esteem.
Write an English journal or blog.
If you’re not comfortable writing a blog that’s open to public and if you enjoy the old style of handwriting on a journal, do so as you please. I recommend you do this first thing in the morning or before you sleep at night so you could process your plans or what transpired during the day while you’re correcting yourself in the way you observe grammar in your writing.
Study as you go about your daily routines.
If you drive your own car, you could listen to audio books while commuting somewhere. If your smartphone has that feature, you may also buy audio books online so you could also listen to it while on a public transport.
It would also be great if your smartphone has an offline dictionary so you could just check out unfamiliar words that you encounter on posters, billboards, even from news, movies, or programs you watch or tune in to.
Think English, Speak English.
The major impediment to taking your English communication skills to the next level is doing a direct translation from our own language to suit an appropriate English expression. This sometimes work right when you’re just translating a word in itself. But it often doesn’t work well if you’re translating expressions or sentences, because the English language has a completely different structure from your own native language.
Also, how many times do you find yourself stuttering or running out of words when you’re talking to a native English speaker whether over the phone or in person? That’s often happening because of nervousness or you simply don’t have the right word or expression handy. So how do we avoid this?
Practice thinking in English because it skips the process of translating in your head from your native language to English words and statements, which actually slows down your brain’s processes making you stutter or run out of words.
Practice makes permanent.
As non-native English speakers, I believe that we can only achieve permanence but not perfection in our English communication skills. We would always commit grammar slips now and then. But the most we can do is to minimize them and perpetually hone our English. And the best way to achieve that is to practice daily, or as often as we can with someone, or with groups.
Learning and developing your English communication skills will absolutely take much of your time, effort, and resources. But the rewards of it would certainly be awesome, not only for you but also for people you deal with or serve throughout your lifetime.
So go ahead, have fun and enjoy enhancing your English skills in every possible way.