Everyone learns at their own pace. Some people need years of schooling to achieve English fluency, while others can attain similar results in less time by practicing conversation with a native speaker. If you’re feeling frustrated and unsure of how to improve your English as an adult, know that you’re not alone.
Why am I having trouble improving my English?
There are various reasons that learning or improving a second language as an adult can be more difficult.
First and foremost, your brain works differently now than it did when you were a young child. This is why toddlers and young children are able to improve their language skills more rapidly than older children or adults.
Secondly, many adults simply have less time to devote to studying. Balancing family and work responsibilities is hard enough without throwing in a few hours of English practice every week.
Nonetheless, there’s still hope for adults who want to improve their writing skills, get a better grasp of English grammar, and improve their speaking abilities. The key is to use your time wisely and dedicate your efforts to efficient and useful study habits.
Whether you’re looking to perfect your English skills or you’re just starting from scratch, try these four tips to fast track your progress.
Develop a Study Plan
Learning English as a second language may feel overwhelming, but like most things in life, it’s all about your approach. If you try to cram in hours of studying right from the start, you could burn out. On the other hand, if you set a leisurely pace, it may take you longer than expected to achieve fluency.
This is why it is important to develop a study plan that is both efficient and feasible.
First, start with your reasons for studying English. Do you want to move to an English-speaking country? Are looking for a job that requires English fluency? Or are you just interested in general self-improvement? Defining your reasons for improving your English will help you set goals that align with your personal interests.
Once you’ve set one or more clear goals, you should take a look at your schedule. Realistically, how much time per day, per week, or per month will you have to dedicate to English?
Generally, the more time the better. However, research shows that “short burst” study sessions are often more effective and result in long-term retention of new information. So, even if you only have 10 minutes per day for English, you can still improve your language skills over time.
For more information, check out this useful guide on building a personalized English study plan!
Focus on English Immersion
Though you should definitely develop a schedule for more formal study sessions, don’t be too preoccupied with learning grammar rules and memorizing vocabulary lists. Instead, find small ways to include English in your daily life. Do you have a half-hour lunch at work? Why not listen to some English music or watch English Youtube videos while you enjoy your meal?
No matter how you spend your time, you can likely find a way to integrate English into your day. Here are just a few easy ways to get your daily dose of English exposure:
While learning English rules is important, studies show that exposure to a foreign language actually changes the way the brain works, creating new neural connections that allow for faster learning and longer retention. So, if you dread opening up a textbook, don’t fret! You can still improve your English skills by surrounding yourself with English whenever you can.
Think in English
To be clear, we’re not saying that you should try to completely change the way you think. Most people struggle to think in a foreign language. Instead, they think in their native language before translating their thoughts into English. This is very common and completely normal.
However, making a conscious effort to think in English can help you become more comfortable with the language. Even when you’re not actively using English, try thinking with English words. It’s actually much easier than you might realize.
For example, say that you’re sitting alone in your bedroom. You look around at different objects in your room and, by default, your brain thinks about the words associated with those objects in your native language.
Don’t just allow your brain to fall back on what’s familiar. Instead, push yourself to think about the English words associated with the objects. Once you become comfortable thinking in English, you will become more comfortable speaking or listening to others in English, too.
Practice English Conversation with Native Speakers
Practicing English with native speakers is one of the best ways to improve your English as an adult. Just listening to native speakers will help you work on the more subtle elements of the English like tone, sentence flow, and even idioms.
Conversations with an English speaker can help you identify problem areas. For example, if a native English speaker struggles to understand you when you speak about a certain topic or use a certain tense, you know where to focus your efforts.
However, not everyone has access to a native English speaker. Even if you do, either party may not have a lot of free time for conversation. Thankfully, there are a few options available for those in need of an English conversation partner.
You can check out these 10 English Speaking Apps for Non-Native Speakers! While most English speaking apps require subscriptions or pay-per-class fees, some are completely free.
Learn How to Improve English as an Adult with Magoosh!
Finally, if you’re interested in formal ESL classes with a native speaker, Magoosh is here to help. Magoosh offers one-on-one English conversation lessons for adults at any level. These sessions are designed to fit your specific needs while also utilizing tried-and-true methods developed by English experts.
For more information on how to improve English as an adult with Magoosh, make an appointment for an introductory lesson today!