14 unknown techniques to learn English!
Have you been learning English for years but still have trouble expressing yourself? If so, it might be time to adopt new techniques to overcome your ultimate English difficulties.
Why is it important to use different techniques in English?
It’s impossible to master a language using only one approach because you need to attack the language from different angles. This is why you must use varied, complementary techniques in your course!
Techniques for learning English vocabulary
We waste a lot of time learning vocabulary we don’t need! Most methods and manuals for learning English teach us words and expressions that are useless when you are a beginner!
Did you know that the 5,000 most common words in English are used 96% of the time when speaking? (Pareto’s Law)
And this is something that most textbooks or English courses do not take into account; they give us useless vocabulary lists!
It doesn’t make sense to learn all the vocabulary related to food, clothes or colors in our first English lessons, when you can’t even ask for directions!
So, use frequency lists: if you are a complete beginner, here is a list of the 100 most common words in English : they alone represent 50% of written English! Start there, then continue with a list of the 500 most common words, then the 1000 , etc.
By doing this, you will focus your energy on the vocabulary that will really be useful to you!
? This is exactly one of the techniques that Click & Speak uses: it teaches you those 5,000 most important spoken words that you will use 96% of the time!
Damn ! But how do you say hello in English?!
I only learned the words for clothes…
Etymology and morphology
If you’re struggling to learn an important word , why not look up its etymology? By looking at the origin of a word, where it came from, what it meant at the beginning, how it evolved and got its current meaning, you will remember it more easily!
The history of words is absolutely fascinating! When you are interested in it, knowing the history of a word makes it easier to memorize !
For example, do you know where the English word random comes from ? The Old French verb “randir” (to go, run fast) gave rise to the word “randon” meaning “disorder” or “rush”. It then passed into the English language in the Middle Ages where its meaning gradually evolved towards “arbitrary”, “fortuitous” or “random”. “Randon” takes its modern random form around the 16th century. Since then, the word has slipped into a more figurative meaning, “weird” or “crazy”!
There are many English etymology dictionaries online that you can use to find out the history of words but the best of all is EtymOnline .
When you come across a long and intimidating phrase, don’t run away! Instead, break the sentence down into small pieces: try to identify what you know and know how to manage.
This analysis will allow you to transform a complex problem that is beyond you into digestible and easy sub-parts. It will help you with all your problems!
A Google Image is worth a thousand words
Most of us have an important visual memory , that is to say, we retain more concrete information than abstract information! Logic !
When you learn a new word in English, try to create a memory of it with your five senses. Mentally picture what the word means, memorize it within a sentence, memorize its pronunciation and that of the whole sentence, as well as the feeling that goes with it (pronunciation + emotions).
It’s not only a great way to retain new vocabulary, but also to stop thinking in Hindi when you speak English!
When you start in English, it is natural to want to translate in your head what you want to say from Hindi to English. However, the sooner we stop doing it, the better it is to advance in our learning!
If you use images to learn vocabulary, each time you want to use a word in English, you will think of the image and the idea of what you want to say, and not of the word in Hindi!
Why is this important? Because it will help you automate English and start thinking in English .
Look at this lovely winter landscape
and you’ll remember the word winter forever!
The spaced repetition
To memorize information, all you have to do is repeat it. The problem is, if you revise too often, you get bored. If you don’t revise often enough, you forget!
The Spaced Repetition System or SRS is an invention that partially addresses this problem.
An SRS allows you to optimize your review time by managing for you how often you should review information. The best known are MosaLingua, Anki or SuperMemo, which make you review flashcards once a day and ask you if you think you know the answer (with a grade between “Easy” and “Difficult”). You then review the more difficult cards more often, while the easier ones gradually disappear from the pile.
These tools have proven themselves. Their thousands of users testify to this, by finally being able to retain vocabulary that seemed impossible to memorize.
? Click & Speak also includes a spaced repetition system. Derived from the work of Professor Pimsleur, a linguist who optimized spaced repetition for languages, his system has you revise English several times a day to memorize your English vocabulary for life.
Techniques for learning English pronunciation
If you want to improve your listening comprehension and pronunciation in English, what you need is an introduction to English phonetics .
Already, English and Hindi do not use the same sounds ! To have a good accent in English, you should not start with the alphabet but rather with English phonetics . The alphabet is the same as in Indian English, Spanish, German, etc. (if we omit the accents), however, English has unique sounds that the Latin alphabet cannot transcribe.
This is why you need to familiarize yourself with English phonetics, that is, with its sounds . If you know the details of each English sound, it will be much easier for you to pronounce them and use them in complete words and sentences!
Phonology and Phonological Awareness
Once you are familiar with English phonetics, you will have a better idea of how to pronounce a word or phrase.
Now, if you want to understand and be understood, you have to pay attention to the other elements that distinguish the pronunciation of Hindi and English:
Phonological awareness is defined as the ability to perceive, cut up and manipulate the sound units of language such as syllable, rhyme, phoneme ¹
So you’ll want to learn about English intonation, sentence stress , stress , and all the phonemes of English.
One thing that will help you immensely is to learn the International Phonetic Alphabet ! And, if you learn to read English phonetics , finding the correct pronunciation of a word will become child’s play!
Techniques for learning English grammar
Identify unknown grammar
It may seem obvious, but when you identify the grammar points and structures you don’t know, it becomes much easier to learn them.
For example, does the verb have seen in the following sentence bother you a bit?
- I have seen several articles on the topic.
If the answer is yes, it may be because you don’t know Present Perfect English very well. Once the problem (here, an English tense ) is well identified, you can search for more information on it, find more examples and more ways to use it. Why not read our article on the Present Perfect ?
Here’s another example: look at the phrase under no circumstances in the following sentence:
- Under no circumstances are you allowed to open that door.
If this is unfamiliar to you, look it up in the dictionary as a whole, not the individual words . ( under , no and circumstances ). You will find it in the article of the main word circumstance .
By doing this, not only will you learn the meaning of the expression (“in no case” or “under no circumstances”), but you will also learn its details, the fact that it requires subject/verb inversion, for example . Notice that it says Under no circumstances are you … , not Under no circumstances you are … .
Learn the parts of speech
Do you know the parts of speech? That is, grammatical categories. Do you know what a noun, adjective, verb, etc. is? ?
If the answer is no, I advise you to educate yourself on the subject. We are no longer children and we cannot learn like them, without rules and grammatical explanations.
If you approach English in a more analytical way and treat it as a system with rules and patterns to work with, you will understand it better and learn it more easily!
From now on, whenever you learn a new word, spend some time identifying whether it’s a noun, adjective, verb, preposition, etc. Each time you learn a new expression, see if it does not require the use of a particular tense, subject/verb inversion, a verb in the infinitive or a gerund (= verb in ing ) , for example !
By knowing all the information about a word, expression or structure, you will speak better English!
Here are the main parts of speech in English ( Part of Speech or PoS ):
- fw or function word : function words, what glues small words into a sentence (like cement glues bricks)
- v or verb : the verb, the action
- r or adverb : the adverb, they modify verbs or actions
- n or noun : name
- j or adjective : adjective, which modifies the noun
- abbr or abbreviation : abbreviation, basically, these are nouns
- u or interjection : an interjection , such as oh! or yeah!
- m or numeral : the numbers
- K or proper noun : proper name
Learn in context!
It is useless to memorize endless lists of vocabulary without any context ! You might not recognize the words when you see or hear them! Also, many words have different meanings depending on the context.
The meaning of each word depends on its context. This is what allows a single word to have so many different meanings.
It is therefore best to use a dictionary with example sentences ! So not only will you remember the word more easily, but you will also learn how it is used and in what contexts. (Sometimes we express ourselves differently in English and in Hindi!)
I would advise you to create your own phrases too! It’s much more practical to create unique and personal phrases that will be useful to you. Imagine situations where you will need to use the word in question and write sentences that you think you will use!
Whenever you are exposed to English (whether it is written or spoken) pay attention to everything . This may seem a bit vague to you, so here are some explanations:
Pay attention to the vocabulary that native speakers use: are these the same words that you know or would use, in a similar context, to say the same thing?
Pay attention to the grammar you hear. Ask yourself the question “Could I have produced this alone?” or “How would I have said that?” “. This will help you identify the grammar and constructions you are still missing and here we are back to our first technique for learning English grammar!
- Pay attention to the accent of native speakers. Their intonation, where they put the stress of the sentence , the tonic accent , and even how their words follow each other without stopping, and when they pause! All these details that may seem insignificant to you will help you eliminate your Hindi accent and sound like a native speaker!
In order to be able to produce, a lot must first be stored.
Here is a technique that will help you automate English and stop searching for your words. It’s very simple: do everything you can in English! Avoid using Hindi as much as possible. Of course, if you live in France, we do not suggest that you order at the restaurant in English. (That would be a little weird!)
The idea is rather to use English for everything else: watch or read the news in English, watch movies, listen to music , podcasts , read , make your shopping lists… in short, think in English from that you have the opportunity.
Find ways to integrate English into your daily life. When it becomes an integral part of your life, that’s when you will become bilingual !
Immerse yourself in English!
A big everything is made of little nothings
There’s been a time when we’ve all had a big burst of motivation for something, whether it’s to learn English, get fit, or get rich, at 2 a.m., only to sit the next day full of enthusiasm and do 3 hours of English… only to realize that it’s too much and give up… until the next momentum!
It’s much better to study just 15 minutes every day than 3 hours every two weeks. Create habits and dedicate part of your day to English! It can be in the morning when you have your coffee, on public transport, etc. The only rule is don’t give up!
Techniques to study better
For effective learning, it is essential to be con-cen-tered . It’s something very obvious, but sometimes we need to hear it said for it to be effective.
Here are some tips to avoid distractions:
- AdBlock (or here for Firefox ): This app blocks pop-up ads that divert your attention across the web.
- Mute your laptop and computer! It’s normal to be tempted to look at new notifications when they arrive, but that distracts and wastes a lot of time.
- Use a stopwatch to optimize your concentration time. Experiment with times of 50 min, or even 25 min if you have trouble concentrating. And never more than 90 min.
- Turn off notifications on your phone so you don’t get distracted every time someone likes one of your photos on Instagram!
- You can even put your phone aside: leave it in another room. At a minimum, put your phone where you can’t see it , such as hiding it behind your computer!
These techniques may seem extreme, even ridiculous, but staying focused is the key to learning effectively! Technology is often very useful but, at times, it prevents us from using all our faculties.