Monday, December 21, 2015

8 Ways to Strengthen Your English Skills

By Chinmayee Raj
Student Ambassador, 

San Jose State University

Students aspiring to study in the U.S. should familiarize themselves with the English language before doing so. English is spoken by at least 80 percent of U.S. residents and is well understood by 12.5 percent of the remaining population, so it’s important to speak well and understand the language. 
Here are eight ways to strengthen your English language skills:

1. Read books
Books are indeed your best friends when it comes to learning English. They can help you understand the language in ways you didn’t even know. I recommend beginning with authors like Dan Brown, Agatha Christie, and Sidney Sheldon because their sentence constructions vary, and the language usage is very creative.

2. Read journals, magazines or newspapers
This kind of reading material is crucial for language learners. Writers for news sources often talk directly to their readers, whereas novelists focus on narrating a story. Because the stories covered by newspapers vary, it will help you to learn new vocabulary every day

3. Read out loud

Whatever you read, try reading it out loud to help you identify what words you are struggling to pronounce in the English language. Only by reading out loud can you understand the relation between spelling and pronunciation.

4. Join a web group

You can join many web-based discussion groups to improve your English. In a web group, you can become friends with other learners like yourself, discuss your doubts and accomplishments, make suggestions, and take suggestions. Throughout your discussions, you should try to communicate only in English.

5. Think in English
Thinking in English can speed up the learning process two-fold. In your head, talk to yourself in English; think in English. Translate every conversation you have in your native language into English. Translation also gives you a better grasp of the language. The day you learn to translate every expression into English from your native language, you’ve made great progress.

6. Watch movies and listen to the radio

Watch any random movie or TV show on a daily basis. You will be introduced to various pronunciations. It’s pivotal to understand the accent of the speaker, and only a movie or a TV show can do that for you. If you want to focus solely on the language, listen to the radio, because there are no visual distractions.

7. Speak as much as humanly possible!
After doing your reading and listening, it’s time to speak! Never hesitate to speak in English. It’s human to make mistakes, and everybody understands that. Speak, communicate, and see how everything you read and everything you hear is playing in your head while you talk.

8. Download an online dictionary
Have a dictionary at your disposal (yes, there’s an app for that). Choose a good one that gives you information on the meaning of words, the root of words, pronunciation (some come with audio clips!) and synonyms.

Chinmayee Raj is originally from India and is currently pursuing a master's degree in biomedical engineering at San Jose State University. She is a member of the Class of 2017.

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