The first step you need to take to learn English is to convince yourself that you can do it. We are often afraid, or embarrassed, to speak English because we think our listeners will criticize us and judge us for not speaking English perfectly and with good pronunciation.
We must change this perception forever. In general, people tend to collaborate when their interlocutor tries to express him or herself in a new language, in this case, English. In my particular case, when I was very young I came to study English in America, unlike some of my Latin American classmates who were terrified to be laughed at for not speaking English, I was armed with courage and mumbled in my precarious English wanted to express.
As a result, my American classmates loved my way of expressing myself using little phrases here and there and body language. They were fascinated by my positive attitude and determination to make myself understood which led them to help me and teach me. It was a very encouraging experience and, best of all, I was able to achieve my goal in a short time.
To gain the power that will lead to success, you must set real goals. Whatever your experience with English has been and however bad it could have been, it is never too late to learn. The possibilities of the mind grow as we use it.
There is no scientific evidence that indicates a limited age for learning English. On the contrary, it has been proven that the more we use our brain’s capacity, the more it increases. Even though children have a natural ability to acquire a second language, adult learners have greater cognitive skills, motivation, and concentration capacity, characteristics that favor language acquisition.
To achieve success in learning English it is important to change the perception of what the experience of learning a new language means. If you had an unpleasant experience while studying English at school, such as using inappropriate methodologies and techniques that emphasize language generalities, rather than focusing on the actual ability to use it, you must forget all that and focus on new real experiences with a positive attitude.
To maintain a competitive position in a world that changes continuously and rapidly, there is a lot of knowledge that we must absorb. Day by day, we are bombarded with a lot of information. First, we must select the relevant information to achieve our goals, that is, to determine what information is important and why. It is always helpful to ask ourselves how we can apply the information we want to learn and how it can benefit us. This will help us not to waste time trying to retain irrelevant information.
If we take into account that success today is directly dependent on our ability to assimilate pertinent knowledge quickly and effectively, we must strive to find the best way to acquire the specific information that will lead us to success. We must learn to learn –digest information as effectively as possible. This will give us a personal, academic and professional competitive advantage.
Aware of the advantages of speaking English , many people have already become involved in learning English some time in their lives. If they were successful in this project, they probably went to a good English school. If, on the contrary, they have studied English and still cannot speak it, they probably participated in an English course that highlighted the grammar and academic aspects of the language rather than the practical aspect. The negative consequences of ineffective methods are, in general, discouragement and failure.
Once we know what the best way to learn is for us, we need to adopt the optimal mental state for learning which is the alpha state of mind, the one used for transcendental meditation. We can reach this level of mental calmness, but alertness if we take a few minutes to relax before starting an English class. Listening to classical music in the background during the class or study session complements a perfect learning environment because its tone goes along with the alpha brain waves, alert but relaxed.
Surround yourself with the right environment. Another important factor that improves learning is to do so in the right environment. It has been proven that when emotions are present at the time of learning, we can easily remember the information.
Then the best thing is to surround ourselves with beautiful colors, good smells and proper music. Once we have a clear goal, we will be ready to determine what kind of apprentices we are. Basically, there are three types of apprentices and we all fall into one of these – visual, auditory or kinesthetic – with traces of another type.
This means that we do not fall purely into one category or another. Therefore, information must be input through more than one sense. This effective form of learning has evolved as the multi-sensory approach: using more than one sense to acquire knowledge.
To better remember a piece of knowledge, we must first input it in several ways. We usually remember 90 percent of what we see, hear, say, and do. It is advisable to practice English also outside the classroom. What better place to practice it than a region as diverse and multicultural as Florida? Any place lends itself to practice, for example, the bank, the supermarket, the movies or the library.
It is important to establish contact with sources (people or materials) in the English language. In addition to increasing the value of the person in the labor market, learning English can be a pleasant and rewarding experience. If you want to speed up the pace of learning English and maintain fluency, practice at least 20 minutes a day, taking advantage of the various sources you have at your disposal such as the Internet, the radio, TV, movies, videos, audio programs, books, everyday life practice, etc.
We must practice the knowledge acquired repeatedly, at first once a day, then once a week, once a month, and so on. Having assimilated language knowledge through our multi-sensory learning techniques (visual, auditory, and physical), the best way to remember them is to practice them repeatedly.
Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself for your learning achievements. Think of a prize, whether it is an item or an activity of your desire and, without delay, purchase the item or perform the activity. For example, take a holiday where you can not only enjoy but continue to practice and learn English, buy a pair of shoes, dine in a restaurant… The choices are multiple and up to you only.
By Andreina Ojeda, M.A. Modern Languages and M.A. International Studies. Andreina Ojeda is the President and Founder of Lingua Language Center