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Learn English - some tricks



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There is a difference between speaking English and speaking it really well. Here are some of the ways I have learnt English, and also some of the methods my wife has used to learn English in Singapore. All comes down to exercise. If you have the goal to learn English very well, you cannot expect to just 'understand' the grammar and go with it. So you have to find a way to actively use it.  

1. Go out of your comfort zone. Get yourself into situations where you have no other choice than to speak English. You will find that when you have to, you can say much more than you think. Examples would be: parties with lots of people from other countries, English language lectures, etc. When you try to speak, don't try too hard to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and you may not be the only one for who English is not the first language.  

2. Read more than just language books. My wife has had a subscription to Newsweek (at student rates) ever since she lived in Singapore. She would take time to read the articles. If she met words she didn't understand, she would underline them and look them up in the dictionary. Until one day she realized she didn't need a dictionary by her side any more to understand what she was reading.

3. Make new friends. If you came to Singapore to learn English, make sure you speak it as a matter of habit while away from formal lessons. For me, learnt English in school for a really long time, in an all-Dutch setting. Even our teacher would instruct us in Dutch. I only became really fluent when I spent some time in Italy, working alongside Germans and British, and communicating with them in English. You don't have to 'betray' your old friends. Just be open to new people who are friendly to you, even if you have to use more effort to be able to communicate with them. Your trying will be very much appreciated. I notice the same when I try to speak Chinese.

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