March 7, 2019
We all understand how important English is in our lives. It is a portal to help us expand our knowledge with the world: to travel, to further education and to work. We need English to read, to write and to communicate with the world. But what if you’re still having difficulty learning English? You may have learned it the wrong way. And this is how I learned English.
I graduated from a university in Vietnam 3 years ago. Then I started working as a the Health, Safe and Environment staff. Being a HSE staff, I needed to read some English documents, to talk to supervisors or clients from different countries from time to time. But my English level was quite weak. I could barely understand the English documents. Communication was basic to say the least.
I was well aware of the importance of English. I enrolled into some English courses in the local centers English but still, I couldn’t improve my English.
By mid-2018, I quit my job officially to take time off to improve my English solely. During this period, despite dealing with a lot of difficulties and issues, my mind was much more relaxed and I had more time for myself. That was when I could focus on learning English.
These are the 3 steps that helped me to learn English successfully:
Step 1 – Spend 1 month on practicing listening
Step 2 – Study with teachers (1:1 if possible)
Step 3 – Practice every day
Step 1 – Practice listening
I spent more than 1 month just to practice my listening skills. I believe that listening is the most important skill in acquiring a new language. If you can’t understand what people are talking about, you can’t talk back and there is no conversation. So I spent a lot of time and effort on listening English alone. I watched a lot of clips about learning a new language. They advised me to study like a child. Let’s start by listening. To be able to speak a language, the first 2 years of a child’s life was just about listening. The more parents talk to them, the more likely they are to speak sooner than the others.
At first it seemed a bit absurd, I didn’t believe it. Because in the traditional ways of learning English, we would learn grammar, vocabulary etc in the tuition centers. However, sooner or later you are going to realize that these memorization of grammatical rules or vocabularies would not help you to speak English. So I decided to spend more than 1 month trying to learn English solely by listening. Yes, that means I practice listening only. After more than a month of listening in patience, I began to understand English and speak English better. So yes! Practice listening works!
At first you will find it very boring. Be patient!
Listening involves brain psychology. The brain works by habit. The familiar sounds will be retained by the brain. Strange sounds will be passed. Therefore, the more you hear a language, the more you are telling your brain to adapt and handle these sound. So when you hear it a lot, your brain will be able to differentiate and respond better to that sound. At first, you could hardly understand those words. But the more you listen to that language, the better your brain will get used to that sound. Initially trying to listen will make you feel uncomfortable, because the brain refuses to handle that strange sound and to differentiate those unfamiliar sound. But after a while it became easy. You gradually understand many familiar words, and gradually you can almost understand what people say that your brain does not need to “translate” those words into Vietnamese.
With technology nowadays, you can easily do that by turning on YouTube and listening to any English videos of your interest. To get all started, just browse through some English songs that you like. At the beginning, I could not understand the content of the clips I heard on YouTube because they used many different phrases that you might not have learnt in school.
At the beginning, I would turn on the English subtitles to try to read and understand the meaning of the clips on YouTube. And I would keep listening to the same video clips for the next 2 to 3 days until my brain is familiar with what is said. Then I would move on to the next video clips or song.
During this period, I did not care much about the meaning of the content. Listening to a lot helps my brain to get used to listening English. After about 1 month, I really realized that my English listening got better and better. That was when I started focusing more on the meaning of the conversation.
And yes you should definitely try this on your own. After about 1 month of doing so, my listening skills have improved significantly and I started to feel comfortable with learning English.
During this period, I did not care much about grammar and vocabulary.
After more than one month of listening practice on my own, I then started to look for English classes individually.
Why do you need a teacher? The teacher will be the one to help you to identify your weakness and to help you to improve in these areas. Studying with a teacher will help you to learn much faster.
Step 2 – Man to man (1:1) English classes
I was fed up with the traditional English classes as the teachers always taught the same course in a class with about 15-20 students. So, there is barely any chance for me to really speak English in the whole classes. It is more like we are listening to the teachers talking all the time. This is obviously not the right way if you want to really speak a language. After researching and listening to many suggestion, I realize that English courses in the Philippines normally offer a lot of 1:1 classes for a cheap price. That was when I decided to go to the Philippines and experienced the new method of learning English — 1: 1 classes.
Imagine that for the entire classes of 50 minutes, there is only me and my teacher. The entire focus of the teacher is on ME! Sounds cool, right?
In the Philippines, I first enrolled for the IELTS course with a school in Talisay city for 3 months. The school is quite famous for having the strict SPARTA schedule for foreign students. Over there in the school, we have to study for nearly 10 hours per day with the Sparta course. Most of the syllabus follows the textbook. In a way, it is good that I have the 1:1 classes with the teachers. But at the same time, it is not much different from the traditional stressful classes. Hence, I started looking for the alternative. After 3 months, I decided to move to another school. I was introduced by a friend to study at the 3D Academy, an English language school in Cebu city, Philippines. They have more flexibility in terms of the class structure. You can choose to study less or more depending on your will. The environment is extremely friendly with lots of students from different countries. I feel very comfortable with my English course now.
You can take a look at the daily schedule for a 3D student here:
This way of learning worked for me. I like this method. If you look up for the tuition fee in their website, you will realize that it is extremely cheap. You can have 1:1 classes at less than USD 10 per hour here in the Philippines. This price is almost unheard of in any other countries. Much cheaper than going to the traditional classes in your home country. In order to really speak English, you need the 1:1 lessons at one point of your life I am sure.
Most importantly, over here in 3D Academy I can ask my teachers to teach me according to my learning goals. I can choose a teacher to teach me on communication, on pronunciation or to practice exam, IELTS, etc. They have more than 100 teachers with different focus area for me to choose.
At this point, I have studied with 4 different teachers in more than 2 months at 3D academy. My English has improved a lot.
The most important thing about learning English is to practice it constantly. Next I will share with you how I practiced everyday to improve my English skills.
Step 3 – Practice everyday, every hour
Practice is an important thing for you to improve your English skills. Therefore, it is necessary for you to form the habit of using English everyday. But how to form that habit?
Habits are a difficult thing to form if you don’t do things constantly or if you don’t find the things you do interesting. It is much easier to form a habit if you can make it your interest or hobby. In order to make speaking English your hobby, you have to find the motivation.
For me, I found my motivation to speak English everyday — International friendship. When I am here in 3D Academy, I met many friends from different countries – Japanese, Taiwanese, Mongolian, Russian, Kazakhstan, Spanish, Italian, Koreans. I enjoyed chatting with them. Every day, we sit together at the lounge to share our experience and interests. Talking with my friends and my teachers every day, in addition to watching YouTube on the English clips I enjoy, without realizing I have slowly acquired English listening and speaking skills naturally. I no longer need to “translate” English into Vietnamese now for me to understand what people are talking about. My response in English is now almost by instinct!
I also found a way for me to practice reading. I started looking for articles on topics I liked on Medium.com. It is a blogging site where you can find many different topics of discussion. It is different from watching videos where they have beautiful sound and images. You get to read the topics of your interest in great details.
Initial reading will be difficult. Similar to listening in my first step. Your eyes must be familiar with the characters that you have never dealt with before. Then the brain has to work harder to try to translate the new characters into your native language for you to understand. But over time, when you practice enough, you will read without translating anymore. The characters go into the brain and naturally you understand that sentence, what the paragraph wants to say without translating into Vietnamese. Reading will become much easier and faster.
How about you? How do you learn English? Give me your ideas and experiences about learning English and we can both improve.
You have studied English for many years but have not mastered basic knowledge yet? Are you having difficulty to memorize English vocabulary or grammar knowledge? Are you losing motivation to learn English? You do not want to spend 3-6 months to study beginner classes in English centers? Want to find the best method for you to learn English quickly and effectively?
3D Academy ESL Course is the course for you.
Let’s sign up now to improve your language skills!