How to learn fluent English: Plan for success. An English teacher’s secrets

Do you want to learn fluent English? I’ve been teaching English for forty years and I’m sharing some secrets – things I’ve found work for my students that can work for you too. Good goals and plans will help you learn English faster.
In part one we looked at how to set goals and now we’ll look at how you can turn your goals into an action plan. Good goals and good plans can make learning English simple.

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How to learn English

Hi I’m Vicki and welcome back to part two of this lesson on goals and plans. I’m sharing what I do with my students, things that I’ve found work, so you can try them too. Good goals and good plans make learning English easy.
Last week we looked at goals. If you missed it, here’s a link. But you should now have a list of things you want to do in English.
In this video we’re going to turn them into an action plan.
Before we start, you have to understand the secret to learning English. It’s very simple.
Learning English is about doing lots of small jobs – easy jobs – but they have to be the right jobs. The right jobs are jobs that solve your problems.
Take listening for example.

I find it hard to understand native English speakers.
Why is that? Is it because you don’t know enough words?
Yes. I need to expand my vocabulary.
Or perhaps you know a lot of words but you don’t recognize them when you hear them?
Yes, I should work on pronunciation.
Or maybe people speak too fast and you can’t interrupt to check you’ve understood?
Yes. I should learn some phrases to ask people to slow down, repeat and explain.

So you get the idea, right? Different problems have different solutions. Your action plan is going to be list of jobs that solve the problems you’re facing.

So you want to be able to talk with your boss in English and not feel stressed.
That’s my goal. We speak on the phone normally.
What are the calls about?
I have to give her an update every week – a progress report.
And what happens?
We usually start with some small talk.
Is that easy?
She often asks about the weather and I always say the same thing. It’s raining. It’s not raining.
Do you want to learn some new phrases to talk about the weather?
Yes. And then she asks me about my work and I explain what I’ve done.
How does that go?
Sometimes I can’t find the words I need.
Do you need more vocabulary?
No, I know a lot of technical words for my job. But I’m afraid of making mistakes.
Grammar mistakes?
Yes.
If you’re talking about progress, you might need the present perfect tense.
I don’t understand the present perfect.
Do you want to work on that?
Yes.
OK. What else happens?
She asks about my projects. That can be hard.
Can you predict what questions she’ll ask.
No, not always. WEll, sometimes I can. Like, is it on time? Or is it in time? Which one is it?
We can work on that.
Good.

So start with your goals, and then ask yourself questions. You want to identify the things you should do to help you reach the goals.
And again, make a list, but this time it’s not a list of goals. It’s a list of jobs. You’re building a plan of action!
When you do this, some jobs will be small and some will be big. Make sure they’re all manageable. So if they’re big, you’ll need to break them down. You want small jobs that you can fit into your days and the times you have available.
Lists are great when you’re learning English. They stop you forgetting things and it’s so satisfying when you can tick things off. And you can keep adding more jobs later, and change things later.
OK, the next step. Suppose you want to learn 5 phrases to talk about the weather, or when to use the present perfect, or whatever it is. What can you do? Google it, of course. There are so many good websites to help you these days. And YouTube videos. We’ve got hundreds of videos to help, so subscribe to our channel.
OK, I’ve got few more tips to help you – things we know from language learning research. The first one is about pronunciation. If you work on your pronunciation, it will probably help your listening too. And vice versa. Work on listening helps with pronunciation. The two go together, so that’s great. You get a double benefit.
Another thing – vocabulary. Don’t try to learn lists of words that are very similar. For example, if you want to learn say, eight new words for vegetables, working with a list might sound like a good idea, but you’ll probably muddle them up. Research shows we’re likely to confuse similar words if we learn them together, so space them out over time. Stories are great for learning vocabulary, and that’s another thing. Reading. There’s lots of research that shows reading is a very effective way to learn English. So books, articles, news stories. And reading isn’t just great for vocabulary. It improves grammar as well.
And one final thing before we stop. Sometimes when I meet a new student I find they have self-doubts, feelings that they won’t be good enough.

I don’t know if I can pass this exam. I’ve never been good at learning languages. Is it possible to become fluent in English without living in America or the UK? It’s been a long time since I studied English. Am I too old?

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. But you know, as a teacher, I’m never worried. I know that if you identify your goals and make a plan of action that fits your lifestyle, the work is easy, and your English is going to take off. I’ve been teaching English for forty years, and I’ve seen it happen so often, I never doubt it any more.
So get your pen and paper and start making your lists of goals and plans. Doing the work will be easy after that.
Have fun and happy studies.
See you next Friday.

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