Learn English for Life: How To Make English Part of Your Lifestyle Posted by Adir on Apr 2, 2013 in English Language
I’m Adir Ferreira and I’m a blogger for the Portuguese, Spanish and Inglês (English for Portuguese speakers) blogs. I was invited to guest post here and today I am proud to show you guys a text written by an Australian friend of mine, Chad Fishwick (bio below).
I hope you like it!
Learn English for Life: How To Make English Part of Your Lifestyle
As an English teacher and language learner, I know how hard it can be to learn a new language.
I’m not talking about difficult grammar rules or the different structure, I’m referring to the difficulty we have in getting the opportunity to be exposed to the language, and having a chance to use and practice it.
From a young age I was very hesitant to even start to learn a language because everyone had told me how difficult it was, and that you had to be a GENIUS if you wanted to gain successful fluency. I knew I was definitely not a genius, so I quickly gave up on any chance of learning a second language.
It wasn’t until my late teens/early twenties that I was introduced to Brazilian culture through Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art). This got me really interested in Brazil and even made me leave the other side of the world (Australia) to go to this new, mystical land. It wasn’t until about 6 weeks before my trip that I realized, I DON’T SPEAK A WORD OF PORTUGUESE!!
In my despair, I turned to a Brazilian friend of mine, who had been living in Australia since a young age for help. I asked him how he managed to learn English so well and if he could give me any tips. His response was so simple and has proven to work with great success, he said, “man, I just watched movies and listened to music a lot.” WAS IT REALLY THAT EASY?
Since then, I have been following and developing this path and it has led me to an easy, effective and the best of all a NATURAL learning method for language learning.
In this article I am going to show how to learn English for life using new technology mixed with things you already like doing. The best thing about this way of learning is that you can practice at any time that’s convenient for you.
THE LANGUAGE LEARNING PARADIGM
Ok, so maybe it’s not as easy as just watching movies and listening to music, you have to work too. The way I thought about learning a new language when I was younger is exactly how a lot of my students thought of learning a language. They think they have to learn all the rules and have perfect grammar. Although these things have their purpose, it should not be your main focus.
I’d like to compare language learning with music and playing musical instruments. If you want to learn to play the guitar, you wouldn’t start by studying music theory or else you’d probably give up because of its complexity. All you want to do is play some songs and have fun with your new instrument. Just like all you want to do when speaking English is be able to communicate.
I strongly suggest the same mindset for learning English, as learning the guitar. Start with the basic conversational situations, and move on from there, getting more and more in depth. Learn how to greet people, say goodbye and make simple request. For example,
“Hi how are you?”
“My name is____”
“Where are you from?”
Do you like____?”
“How do you say ___? “
“It was nice to meet you”
Once you feel like you can have a basic conversation you can then look for the grammar structures to back that up. The most important thing is that you are speaking and hopefully making mistakes. Consider your mistakes an important part to your progress. The more mistakes that you realize you’re making, the more conscious you will be the next time you make the mistake. So, if someone corrects your English consider it a good thing!
A lot of my students, when starting classes with me, already have quite a high level of English. By this I mean they can communicate well enough and know a lot about grammar and structure. But as soon as I speak with them as I would a native English speaker, I can see a scared look on their face, and a sudden lack of confidence.
Learning Grammar and using formal methods are great to understand the language in a theoretical sense, but it can only take you so far. Once you’ve reached this level it’s time you start taking your English learning into your own hands, and start learning LIFESTYLE ENGLISH!!
This is simply involving yourself in the language, do the things you like to do, but do them in English. What if I told you that you could be learning English when you’re doing things that would generally be boring and mundane like, when you’re stuck in traffic, cleaning the house, waiting in the bank.
Nowadays the internet is filled with great software and apps you can use to help your learning. Technology is making it a lot easier to implement English into your life on a daily basis. Are you making the most of it?
Here’s some great online tools you can use to improve all aspects of English on a daily basis.
Podcasts are a series of audio broadcasts that are aimed to teach you about a specific subject. These subjects can range from cooking to motor sports, university lectures to comedy shows, or most useful for you, ESL podcasts (English as a second language).
A great place to find these is Itunes. Just go to the Itunes store and type in “ESL podcast” and you’re going to find hundreds of free ESL podcasts. If you don’t have Itunes download it here
(Itunes download) http://www.apple.com/itunes/?cid=OAS-US-DOMAINS-itunes.com
(RLE Podcasts) http://reallifebh.com/real-life-english-esl-podcasts
This is one of my favorite websites for learning vocabulary. Anki is a flashcard (card for studying) program for computers, tablets and smartphones. It is an amazing tool for language learning. With Anki you can download decks (a package of cards) that other people have made, or you can make your own, that are shown to you randomly to check to see if you know the meaning of the word.
Another great thing about Anki is that the level of difficulty is customized by you. After you see the flash card, the program will ask you to determine its difficulty. If it was easy you won’t see that word for a long time, if the word was difficult the program will show it to you more frequently.
(ANKI ) http://ankisrs.net/
Italki is an online language exchange website, that focuses on all languages, not just English. It’s great because it allows you to not only practice you speaking and listening, but also your reading and writing!
All you have to do is sign up and you can find language partners from all over the world to practice your English with. With Italki you search for other members (with similar interests), and connect to them via messages or chat, and then set up an exchange on Skype.
This may sound a little scary and intimidating, but just relax and remember that the other person is there to help and you shouldn’t be embarrassed. To become great at anything you must leave your comfort zone and explore all your options.
This has to be one of my favorite websites. The whole concept of Ted is to share good ideas. On this website you can access hundreds of amazing speeches by amazing people. You can choose what kind of speech you want to watch based on genre, for example, inspirational, motivating, cultural, business, phycology and many more.
Besides being really interesting, this site is really good for learning English because all videos have a large option of subtitles and an interactive transcript.
The beauty of this transcript is that is you are unsure of the pronunciation of some words, you can click on that phrase in the transcript and it will take you straight to that part of the video.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? LEARN ENGLISH FOR LIFE!!
Now it’s time you to take action. How many hours a week do you waste stuck in traffic or waiting in unproductive situations? Probably a lot when you really think about it. Now think about if you had a large stock of podcasts on your phone or Mp3 player, that time would suddenly become proactive and very useful.
How many hours a week do you waste on the computer doing nothing beneficial to your life? Turn that wasted time into time that you can chat to people in English and learn a lot, while having fun.
Incorporate lifestyle English into your routine now and learn English for life!!
About the author
Chad Fishwich was born in Australia and lived there until his early 20’s. From an early age he became very interested in Brazilian culture through music and Capoeira. Trying to understand the culture motivated him to learn Portuguese, and even brought him to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he lives today. Chad, along with his friends Josh, Justin, Trevor and Ethan, run the Real English BH community.
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