How long have you been studying English? Do you feel like you’re fluent? What motivates you to study and improve your English skills? Many of my students tell me that they understand grammar points and thousands of single vocabulary words, but they don’t feel like they can use English naturally and fluently. Preparing for an exam and learning ABOUT the English language is very different from actually USING the English language in everyday life. I’ve heard students say, “I’ve received very high scores on my exams. On paper, I look amazing, but in reality, I don’t feel like I communicate well with other English speakers. I’m losing my motivation because I don’t feel like I’m improving even though I’ve been studying English and taking exams for many years”. Here are three tips to help you stay motivated when studying English so you can FINALLY become a fluent English speaker.
1) Set your English Fluency Goals
This is an important first step that many people overlook or don’t think enough about. Many students set goals that have to do with test scores, being accepted into a university or a particular program at a university, or their career. While all of these are goals that will help learners get ahead, they won’t necessarily help them become fluent English speakers. When setting goals for English fluency, it’s important to think about where you want to speak English, when you want to speak English, and with whom you want to speak English. Do you want to communicate fluently in a business meeting? If so, what kind of business meeting? What about on an airplane or at a restaurant? Do you want to speak English with your boss, or with a group of friends?
Once you take the time to think about these questions, you’ll want to meet with an English tutor or friend who can help you learn and master some of the most common phrases and expressions used in specific situations suited to your personal English fluency goals.
2) Make it a Habit
Consistency is key. If you want to lose 20 pounds, but only go to the gym sporadically a few times a month, do you think you’d lose the weight? No! You need to go to the gym at least two or three times a week to see any results. Our bodies like consistency and so do our brains! When you learn a new phrase, expression, or idiom, you need to start using it and listening for it as much as you can. Studies have shown that the human mind needs to encounter a new phrase or expression at least seven times in various contexts before we feel confident using it on our own. It’s important to always go back and review language that you learned a week, a month, or a few months ago. Think of it like exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
3) Stay Positive
I can’t begin to tell you how many learners I’ve talked to that lose motivation because they feel like they are stuck at the upper-intermediate level. They tell me that they feel like they’ve been at this level for years and can’t quite make the move to the advanced level. If this is you, don’t worry! You’re not the only one. In fact, moving up to the advanced level from the upper-intermediate level is the most difficult transition you’ll ever make when it comes to language learning! This is because you need to understand factors of the language that are not typically taught in the classroom. In addition to recognizing, understanding, and being able to use thousands of idioms and expressions, you’ll also have to understand a great deal about humour and sarcasm.
Remember that learning is a process. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like, but if we keep to our goals, maintain our habits, and stay positive it will happen! Here is a new idiom for you today: Slow and steady wins the race. Have you ever heard of this idiom before? Take some time to do a google search and see what you learn! Do you think this idiom fits this article well? Why?