English is the most widely spoken language in the world and, more and more, it is becoming a second language for many individuals. However, mastering English is far from simple. While most countries these days have their students study English as a second language in schools, this often only allows for a basic grasp of the language. Becoming proficient requires an investment of time using a few simple tips.
Reading and writing
The best way to get on top of the English language is to read regularly. Whether that involves curling up with a good novel, grabbing the daily newspaper or reading magazines (preferably reputable ones such as Time or National Geographic) is entirely up to you. As long as you’re regularly digesting new words and language, your English is bound to improve. In addition to reading, try doing some writing of your own; keep an online blog, submit articles to journals and websites or maybe have a crack at penning a novel. Even if no one reads your work, this allows you to experiment with language and improve your vocabulary and syntax.
Take part in conversation
This particularly applies to those who speak English as a second language. While you may have mastered the theoretical side of learning English, the fact is all types of English have their own variations, rules and accents that only emerge when being spoken. By engaging in conversation with English speakers at every opportunity, you’ll begin to recognise these rules, and you’ll also be able to put your own learning into practise.
Play word games
One of the most fun ways to master the English language is to participate in word games. The best example of this is the crossword; try completing the ones supplied in the daily newspaper, or grab a crossword book from the newsagents if you want to try a few more. Crosswords help improve language comprehension, critical thinking skills and overall vocabulary. Another good word game to participate in is Scrabble. There are websites where you can play against people all around the world, and social networking website Facebook also has its own Scrabble application which is super popular. Additionally, if you have an iPhone, try adding the “Words with Friends” App; it is similar to Scrabble and allows you to improve your English while socialising with your pals.
Go to English school
Studying English is a surefire way to improve your English skills. Whether it’s participating in a general course aimed at improving your overall English, or more targeted courses such as those aimed at preparing your for academic purposes or passing a citizenship test, attending an English school allows you to learn the language in a safe and friendly environment alongside other individuals who are also looking to improve their language and literacy.
Don’t be afraid to carry a small dictionary or thesaurus around with you at all times. A dictionary allows you to look up the meaning of any word you’re unsure about, while a thesaurus will help you find strong alternatives to words if you feel your language is getting a little repetitive. Additionally, there are many dictionaries and thesauruses online, so if you have access to the internet — perhaps via your smartphone — go ahead and look up that word you’re a little unsure about.