It might sound slightly offensive, but when learning English, or any new language for that matter, the best thing to do is to “keep it simple, stupid.”
This is a theory that can be applied to all manner of things in life, but especially when it comes to learning languages. Here are some of the top tricks to help you learn this fantastic, but complicated, language.
Practice makes perfect
This one is old hat, pretty much, but useful! Practice in any way you can, and your English is bound to improve. Talk to yourself in English. Find friends who also speak English, and talk with them. Go out to your local bookstore and pick up your favorite kids book.
Not enough practice for you? Why not change your Facebook to English? This is one of the best ways to get a bit more practice in, because you already know what all the buttons mean. Now you can use them to better your English!
Keep it simple, stupid
It might sound harsh, but it works, especially for beginners. If you aren’t quite sure how to say something, don’t go for long, complicated sentences. They’ll only trip you up and make it worse.
Keep it simple. Start slow, and use short sentences with basic words if need be. Usually, getting your point across, no matter how slowly or simply, it is much better and more productive than trying to say what you mean in the fanciest way possible.
I was a dancer for ten years, and one of our biggest rules was, “if you don’t know it, mirror it.” We would mirror the teacher at the front of the room to help us learn the steps. We also spent a bit of time “marking” (not doing to movements fully, but just halfway), which helped us learn the essentials.
The point is, whether it’s dance or a language, don’t be afraid to watch others and mirror what they do or say. If you ask someone (incorrectly), “Do you life coffee,” and they respond (correctly), “Yes, I like coffee”, take note of your mistake! Mirroring is an effective learning tool that can really help you learn proper structure, prepositions, word order, and melody (essentially “marking” your own grammar lessons).
Pair this with keeping it simple, and you’ll be speaking easier in no time!
I know just as well as anyone. Learning a new language is downright terrifying.
The first time I went to Germany while learning German, I told a waitress that I would like to pay for her meal, instead of saying that I would like to pay for my meal. The whole experience made me want to go back to my hotel and hide under my sheets for the rest of the day.
But when it comes to learning a new language, hiding under the sheets isn’t an option. You’ve got to get back up on that horse and try again. Use that new word you just learned. Try out that new phrase. Be fearless when speaking a foreign language, and you can’t help but improve.
And if you’re ever in doubt, here’s one of my favorite quotes when it comes to speaking a foreign language:
“Do you know what a foreign accent is? It’s a sign of bravery.” ~ Amy Chua
What helps you when you’re learning a foreign language? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!
Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and loves sharing her tricks and tips with her students!