Before you start to learn sentences, or new words, the first and also the most important step is the “pronunciation”. To pronounce perfectly you should buy a tape to assist you to learn and practise. This is the fundamental step to learn English, ignore or pay no attention to this step; you will not learn proper English and you will find the later steps more and more difficult. If you are solid and accurate in pronunciation, you will find the later steps much easier and you will stand firmly on the right track.
After mastering the pronunciation perfectly, it is the time to accumulate new words and useful expressions. Of course start from the simplest words like “hello, hi, you, me, he, him, his, her”, etc…. and expressions like “how are you, how old are you, how do you do”, etc………. It is essential to write the words on a piece of paper so that you remember them well. Actually everyone had done these at his/her primary school. Speaking: In China, you won’t have enough chances to speak English. What I did was in the morning I got up early and read aloud the texts in the textbooks.
The initial aim was to achieve the same speed as the tape, and then being able to read aloud the texts with the same style as the English announcer in the tape. By doing this, it helps you to consolidate your pronunciation and grammar. Listening: Nowadays it is much easier to learn English in China because you can watch some TV channels in English. The more channels in English the better because you can choose your preferred programmes and it helps you to learn English with interests of your own, hence ideal for listening and expression/words accumulations. Writing: It is also very useful to write diaries.
On writing diaries, it is not useful if you just write it without the care of grammar and spelling. When you finish you should always read your diaries again to check for errors and refine your sentences (e. g. remove repetitive words, use better expressions, and sort out the structure of the sentences). Reading: It is also very important to read story books in English, starting from thin ones with not many new words. Read as many thin books as you possibly can. Little by Little you will want to read thicker books, and your reading ability will get even better. Putting four elements together:
I have to emphasise that when you do all these reading, listening, writing and speaking; you should join them together as a whole, apply the new words you learn from watching TV, reading books to your writing and speaking. The enhancement of learning comes from getting hold of the possible opportunities to speak English (in China or abroad): In China, you should try to go to local English corner to practise your oral English. If you are abroad then you should make a lot of English or international friends so you always have the opportunity to speak English. On Spoken English, attitude is very important.
You need to be very keen and you must not be shy. Never be afraid to make mistakes. Always think that a talk in English with some one will help you significantly. You can think in this way: since my parents have paid so much to support me to study abroad, the money is partly spent on the international environment for learning English; therefore I ought to try my best to take every opportunity to practise my English. My English has risen to a higher level in the last 2 years, because I talk in English most of the time. Having some international friends is particularly useful indeed.
Summing up the activities: I have also been watching TV too. The real improvement lies in staying with international friends long enough and watching a lot of TV such as news, football, dramas, documentaries etc…. Writing diaries also helps me to remember good words, good expressions and practise sentence structuring. Now, I have finished talking about how to learn and improve General English. It is the time to switch to “Your Major in English” Knowing general English on its own is not going to be sufficient for most people. Skills are as important as mastering another language.
General English helps people to communicate with each other in their lives. Technical English helps you to take on challenges to change the world for the highest, to earn money for your living for the lower. Some people who have a degree in English go abroad to learn something different but heavily based on the language such as Media study, Journalist, History, Education or even a bit more technical like Finance, Business Administration or Economics. It is extremely useful to know more because there are so many words in English and they appear differently to each other.
For people whose second language is English, will find it difficult to guess the meaning of a new word. For sure, it is not possible to know everything. Pick a major first and put all your effort on that major, in the end you will have a rich vocabulary of that field. Difficulties on learning Technical English: To master technical English in your area of study, there are two difficulties to overcome. 1, the language, because it is not your first language, you need to remember the terms, knowing how to pronounce it and spell it. 2, surely you need to understand the terms in a technical fashion.
No matter what field, it is going to be the same; the two difficulties above must be conquered. Here I take Physics as an example (note that whatever field you are looking into is going to be similar): The term “momentum” is basically the product of the mass of the object and the velocity it travels. Obviously, you need to understand mass and velocity as well. If you understand mass and velocity, then you get the explanation of the term “momentum” in physics, then you are most likely to understand the word and use it properly in the technical world of Physics.
From this example, you can see how to understand a technical word in a technical fashion: you need to understand the very fundamental knowledge of a field to be able to understand more complex terminologies or theories. Before learning technical English in your field of study, I have a good recommendation to save your time: To understand technical knowledge in your first language (Chinese), then you might not have the second difficulty. What it left to overcome is just the first difficulty (the language), hence the effort required is less.
I can give you an example of my own: When I was learning chemistry at A-level, I had already learnt inorganic chemistry at the equivalent level in China, so I had no difficulty whatsoever in learning inorganic chemistry in the UK in English. But I had not learnt organic chemistry in China, and I was struggling significantly in learning organic chemistry in the UK due to dual difficulties. Now i will talk about IT (Information Technology), why is this important? Because nowadays it is the information age, you need to know computers, Internet, media and communications etc.
Knowing how to use Internet to search information will help your English. I don’t want to waffle too much on this. Computers are more and more important nowadays, everyone wants a computer and most people have their own computers. But most people are not using the right Operating System for learning English. Now I would like to introduce you to Debian Linux Operating system or a much nicer operating system called Ubuntu Linux. If you still don’t have a computer you can buy a China’s home grown computer based on a Loongson CPU.
It saves your electricity and your time to deal with viruses. Linux will help you to improve your English skills because you need to read some documents and follow the instructions to set up software programs, it also requires you to search the Internet (Google for example) to find the answers to your problems (e. g. installations of software programs) You can read about the commands of Linux in the terminal by putting in “man ” , so then you can read it and try to understand the content which will enable you to carry out the right operations.
The whole process of Reading, Understanding and deploying will improve your English. When you install, do remember to install it as a UK English version. (Note that this IT section is more for people who take Science and Engineering courses) Final words It is the time to end this long talk on improving English. How good your English will be will heavily depend on how good your first language is. So when you go back to China for holidays, you should read as much as you can in Chinese because this will also help your English in a greater depth.