“You are the captain of your ship.”

seacaptain

When learning English, there are a few questions you must ask yourself:

Why am I learning English?

Possible answers include:

  • to find a job
  • to find a better job
  • to get into university
  • to travel to an English-speaking country
  • to understand my favourite TV show in English
  • to find an English-speaking partner
  • to become an international Rock star
  • to pass an exam

How much effort, time and money am I prepared to invest in order to achieve my goal?

Possible answers include:

  • 1 hour a week
  • 3 hrs a day with a private tutor
  • 2 hrs of group lessons in an academy
  • buy online course
  • enrol in a 6-month language course in the UK
  • go to a small town in an English-speaking country where nobody speaks my language

What are the best ways for me to learn English?

Possible answers include:

  • group classes in local academy with a bilingual teacher
  • group classes in local academy with a teacher who only speaks English
  • join a local language exchange group
  • find an online tutor
  • watch 2 hrs of TV in English with subtitles in my language
  • watch 2hrs of TV in my language with subtitles in English
  • read an English newspaper everyday and record any new vocabulary
  • write a diary / blog in English
  • translate texts from my language into English or English into my language
  • use a self-learning study course
  • buy a grammar book and do exercises everyday
  • find an English speaker and have Skype chats
  • volunteer to work for a company where English is spoken
  • listen to music in English and study song lyrics
  • buy a novel in English and read it

When you know the answers to these questions, you can make decisions about your learning strategies and create some realistic goals.

If you are only able to study English for a couple of hours a week, you are not going to be fluent in 3 months, even if your teacher is incredible.

However, if you are prepared to study for a couple of hours a week with a teacher and do an hour of self-study every day, your English will improve much faster.

Taking classes can be a great help but ultimately you need to do the work. Attending lessons or living in an English-speaking country will not magically transfer you into a competent English speaker.

What I’m trying to say is that learning a language is just like any other skill. It is not a product you can buy, it is an ability that you need to acquire through practice and hard work. But, you know more about your own skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, good and bad habits than anybody else: you need to take responsibility for your own learning development.

Creating your own learning programme and discovering what works for you and what doesn’t will help you much more than any external language learning course.

Your teachers can work with you on developing and modifying this programme but you are the captain of the ship and you decide where you want to go with English and the best way to arrive there.

 

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