It is hard for adults to learn a new language. Studies have shown that, during early childhood, our brains are malleable enough to pick up and remember words and phrases very easily. It is as we age and develop that things get tricky because the constructs of language – particularly tenses – become less like linguistic stepping stones and more like trying to swim across a fast moving waterfall.
That is not to say that it’s impossible because people learn how to speak second, third, and even fourth languages all the time. What it does mean is that you have to get clever about it and exercise a little patience. The key to languages is repetition and reinforcement. You need to actively use your new knowledge; whether it is in conversation with native speakers or in the form of speaking tests at home.
And, don’t forget to have fun. There are endless resources online that can help you learn, so why wait? Get started today and find out how to learn English online fast. Also, check out these handy hints and tips for some extra advice.
1. Take It Slow
One of the most common mistakes that learners make is to assume that, as soon as they get a good grasp of the language, they’ve made it. They can call themselves ‘English speakers’ and they never have to listen to another online lesson again. While this may be true in some regards, the reality is that learning will continue for years after you become fluent.
One of the things that really does take time and is much more organic than memorizing words and phrases is pace. An English person learning Spanish or French won’t be able to talk at the same speed as native speakers for a long time. Similarly, you’ll need to converse a little slower, at least at first, and this is perfectly fine. Take it slow and try not to let your thoughts outpace your mouth when conversing.
2. Know Your Fillers
One of the most effective ways to give yourself that extra time is to use fillers. These are things like ‘at the end of the day,’ ‘in the meantime,’ ‘for what it’s worth,’ and ‘would you mind if…?’ They don’t necessarily add to the conversation, but they give you additional seconds to find the words that you need. And, as native English speakers use fillers all the time, it won’t sound unusual or out of place.
In fact, it is a really good way to conceal the fact that you’re briefly stuck on a word or need time to put a sentence together. The key to being a fluid English speaker then is not perfection, but rhythm and flow. Try to avoid long pauses and master some clever ways to keep the conversation moving. For instance, asking a question is a good way to take the pressure off.
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3. Learn From Sentences
As anybody who has ever tried to learn a new language knows, tenses are hard. They can be extremely tricky in English, because even though there are all kinds of rules and linguistic guidelines to inform you, there are of course, plenty of exceptions. And, if the exceptions don’t seem to follow their own logical rules, well, the whole thing can feel very confusing indeed.
So, the next time that you’re learning new verbs, try this little trick. Rather than only learning the word in isolation, memorize and recite it in a sentence of each tense. That way, you’ll be able to refer back to them – in your head – when speaking and grasping for the right one. For instance, ‘I appreciate all of your help’ and ‘I would like to feel appreciated for all my help.’
4. Don’t Forget to Listen Too
When learning a new language, it is easy to get so focused on words, phrases, and tricky tenses that you completely lose track of a conversation. Ultimately, this is a far worse (and much more impolite) thing to do than stumbling over your nouns. No person worth talking to is going to mind if you have to speak slowly or get things wrong, but they probably will feel quite offended if you forget to listen to what they’re saying.
The most important part of good conversation and communication is not perfection. It is warmth and good manners. You’ll quickly find that, no matter how shaky you think your skills are, nobody will notice if you give interesting responses and really engage with the moment. Nobody leaves a conversation thinking about how perfect the grammar was; they leave with an impression of the other speakers and you want it to be a good one.
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