Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to Be Good at English (Part 1)

My high school English teacher said that English is a "golden bridge". And, that's certainly right. As an international language English connects people all over the world. Even Jay Chou, my favorite musician, studied English in order to play the role of Kato well in the movie The Green Hornet.

I have a few friends from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, Sweden, and India. What language do I use to communicate with them? Yeah, English! English makes you "fly" around the world! English is like "a tongue that everyone must own" if they want to "get out of their shells".

And, several questions come up:
• What is the way to be good at English?
• How can we understand well what people say in English? (listening)
• How can I speak English fluently? (speaking)
• I want to read Harry Potter novels but I can't! Can you help me? (reading)
• How can I produce good writing in English? My teacher ordered me to write an English essay. (writing)

I have experienced learning English for more than ten years—yep, not too long. Some people told me that I am good at English. (I don't know whether it is true or not. Humbleee~ :p) Given the fact, I'd like to give you some tips on how to be good at English. I hope these are useful for you. :) Here they are~

Tip #1

Like learning other languages, learning English is a matter of habit. You have to accustom yourself to it. Wanna be great at listening? Watch English movies! (such as Hollywood movies) Try not to turn on the subtitle. You can read the text when you feel it is necessary. Another way is to listen to English songs. (Phew! Jay Chou has not written any considered English songs. I hope he will. :)) Wanna be awesome at speaking? Talk with English-speaking people! Find some partners that are willing to converse with you in English and do it consistently. Wanna be excellent at reading and writing? Read a lot of English books! (I suggest that you choose ones that are interesting to you) The more you read, the better you can write. You will meet a lot of new words, and you can use those in your writing. :) Don't forget to write anything in English! Why don't you update your Facebook status and tweet in English? :)

Tip #2

Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries

Your dictionary is your "weapon". It is an extremely useful means of learning English. Whenever you find a word that you don't understand the meaning of, look it up in the dictionary, Don't be lazy to open your dictionary! Make sure that your dictionary is good. A good dictionary provides how to pronounce a word, what type of verb a word is (is it a transitive or intransitive verb?), what part of speech a word is (a noun? an adjective? an adverb?), etc. I myself use Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary and several Oxford dictionaries.

Tip #3

Think once, not twice. Once you read or listen to a word, "feel" the word. Imagine what it describes, what its form is, etc. For example, the Indonesian word for "human" is "manusia". When an Indonesian reads or listens to the word "human", they have to imagine how a human appears, what forms it, etc., rather than the word "manusia" and subsequently those! So, what is in his brain is the form, the appearance of a human, not the letters "m", "a", "n", "u", "s", "i", and "a" and then the form and the appearance of a human! Let's see the pictures below:

Don't do this... :(
Do this! ^_^

In my opinion, this is a common mistake made by most learners of English. They think twice. We just need to think once.

Pretend that your brain has two modes: one is your mother-tongue mode and the other one is English mode. When you want to do anything in English, block your native language mode completely! Nothing in it is to "infiltrate" your English mode! All of your mind is English.

Tip #4

English is not a phonetic language. This is very important. In "about", "a" sounds /ə/, while, in "all", it sounds /ɑ:/. In "say", "s" sounds /s/, while, in "is", it sounds /z/. There may be more than one speech sound for one letter. Be careful with this.

Tip #5

Your brain is amazing! Be fast! You don't have time to think! Use your subconsciousness.  Don't be "fascinated" with the words you read and hear. Don't get "captivated" with the words you use. You have to think a looooooooooonggggg wayyy~

Tip #6

English Grammar in Use and Advanced Grammar in Use

Grammar is the foundation of a language. It is needed for all kinds of activity: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. You should have good English grammar books—and, of course, read them. My favorites are Betty Schrampfer Azar's series, one of which is Understanding and Using English Grammar, English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy, and Advanced Grammar in Use by Martin Hewings.

Additional information: There are many means of learning English, e.g., books, websites, and English clubs. I like to read four of-the-day English points on EnglishClub to enrich my knowledge. I also have an English-learning group named Learn English with Q-Man. Please join if you'd like to. :)
★ English: Connecting People ★
PS: Sorry, NOKIA.. :p

Related article: How to Be Good at English (Part 2)


  1. mantabb klinsmann

  2. wow.. thanks so much for your useful tips :)

  3. @dorahan
    I am glad that you feel they are useful. :)

  4. Brilliant. Thanks for this wonderful advise, I will put them into practice and will keep you update with my progress by will of God.

  5. Tremendous work, you touched some very great points, and I greatly appreciate you for your efforts. Thank you for sharing these details here.
    English Practice App | English Learning App

    1. Thank you very much for your compliment! Hope these tips are helpful!

  6. grammarchecker
    We learn to talk from our caregivers. If we are brought up with the help of a nanny, we will often grasp their way of speaking. This can include improper usage of grammar or even the utterance of the wrong words. No one actually pays heed to grammar once they get it done in the school.

    1. Certainly, our direct environment greatly affects the kind of language we acquire, and it can involve good or bad grammar. :-)