“I want to improve my English but it’s really hard.”
“I don’t seem to find enough time.”
“I can understand it as I learn it, but later I can never remember it clearly.”
“Learning grammar is boring. I just want to have conversations in English”
Are any of these statements familiar to you? Do you say them yourself?
In this blog I want to let you into a secret – the secret of how to learn English effectively. Actually, the same things that I’m going to reveal can be applied to learning almost anything, but especially grammar.
One of the problems, as already mentioned, is that learning grammar is NOT the most exciting topic in the World. BUT, if you want to improve your English – and I mean really improve so that you can write effective emails at work, for instance, or hold your own in meetings and discussions with other English users, correct grammar is essential.
So, what are the secrets? The first point #1 – make a plan and follow it step-by-step. This sounds very simple right? In fact they are all simple. Many language learners want to study for an hour and then get straight into complex conversations – they especially want to know the meaning of the vocabulary and those multi-syllable words. But it’s not possible to jump too far ahead – if you build a house you can’t put the roof on until you’ve built up the walls. It’s sort of the same with grammar. How can you know the right word to use if you don’t know the difference between an adjective ending in ING and a gerund (which also ends in ING)? Learning English is best achieved by a step-by-step approach, building on what you have already learned and then adding to it. Think of it as a series of building blocks.
Another key point when making a plan is to be realistic. To reach particular goals in the learning process – such as the CEFR A1, A2, B1 levels and so on – takes time. Just to clarify, I’ve mentioned the CEFR (Central European Framework of Reference for languages) because it is an internationally recognized language standard. Following such a course takes about 80 – 100 hours of study for each level. So this is something that you can’t do in a month.
Point #2 – short lessons. It’s essential that you take things in bite-sized portions, learning a little at a time and building on that. At Red Fox Education, our signature grammar courses consist of lots short lessons that clearly explain all of the essential points using lots of examples. By the way, the third point [#3] is clear explanations that use examples.
Point #4 and still on the point of lesson plans is the need for study materials using different media so that the lessons can be interesting (as we said, grammar is not a fascinating subject so we need it to be as interesting as possible). With our courses you get short video lessons narrated by an expert British tutor who clearly explains each point, plus a pdf with the lesson text; there is also a practice worksheet for most lessons which you can download or complete online using a variety of question types and study methods.
On to point #5 – reviews. An essential part of the learning process is regular reviews of everything you learn. It’s a proven fact that if you complete a lesson, you will not retain all of the material that you learn; after a few days you will only recall a certain percentage of it. Regular reviews help you to ‘top up’ on each point so that you learn it thoroughly. Now that doesn’t mean read it all six times. It means to complete the lesson and take in as much as you can and then test yourself on what you have learned a few days later; and again in a few more days if you need to. You probably don’t need me to tell you that point #6 is – you guessed it, test yourself. At Red Fox Education we help you do this – you can download the lesson PDFs and highlight the key points; as mentioned already there are worksheets for you to practice with AND we provide regular online tests so that you can check your progress and ensure that you have learned everything thoroughly. Just to give you an idea, our Signature A1 grammar course includes over 80 short video lessons, over 70 worksheets and over 60 tests, plus 14 comprehensive assessments.
The final secret, point #7 is don’t stop! Now, if you follow the previous points then we don’t think you will stop your studies. So, just going back to the first point, do it step-by-step, lesson by lesson, following a plan – like a structured course where each lesson builds on the last. In fact, exactly like the Red Fox Education grammar courses!
Ok, I’m all done and pleased to have shared these secrets with you. I look forward to meeting you again inside one of our grammar courses!