Spend as much time as you can with native English speakers. If possible, in an English speaking country. That way, you’ll know that you’re learning correct English. Native English speakers aren’t famous for their foreign language skills, so you’ll be forced to communicate in English. A total language immersion is the best way to make progress.
Speak up! It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes – it’s only by talking that you’ll improve. Don’t worry – native English speakers often don’t speak foreign languages well, and admire foreigners who manage to speak reasonable English.
Watch DVDs and listen to audiobooks, podcasts, etc. If you don’t understand them the first time round, listen again and again. Each time you listen, you’ll understand more. Live TV is less useful, because you can’t put it on repeat.
Use language CDs or audiobooks to help you with pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. Listen to a sentence, and then repeat it exactly as you’ve heard it.
Read books that you enjoy. Don’t try to read books that are difficult or boring. This is your chance to read the fun, easy books that you maybe don’t always allow yourself to read in your own language – thrillers, crime novels, children’s books…
Don’t spend your time looking up words in the dictionary. Try to work out the meaning of new words from the context. Only look up a word in the dictionary if you really need to know what it means.
Don’t think of something to say in your own language, and then translate it. You need to start thinking in English. If you listen to people speaking English and read English books, you’ll soon know what to say – just say it!
The best way to learn grammar is by listening and speaking.
Sometimes, take the time to slow down and think about what you’re about to say. Focus on getting the grammar right.
Take a test now and then to check that you’re heading in the right direction. If these keep picking up on the same mistake, open the grammar book and do some written exercises. That’ll help to reprogramme your brain. Then go out and start speaking English again.