When have you made the fastest improvements in your language learning? I was thinking about this recently. I remembered that I've improved the fastest when I was:
- Studying the language every day by looking up new words, drilling with lists, and reading explanations of grammatical structures
- Using the language in my everyday life: talking with people, watching TV, reading street signs, and running errands.
Times when I've done only one or the other haven't been nearly as productive. When I only study, I learn a lot of words or phrases that I end up forgetting later. When I only use the language, my improvement is a lot slower.
I recommend spending about 30% of your time on study and 70% on using the language. What's your ratio? Do you think it works for you?
Hello loyal PhraseMix readers,
I just wanted to let you know that I'll be going on vacation for two weeks, starting this Friday. During that time, I'm not sure when I'll be able to connect to the Internet and for how long. So my posting schedule might be a little weird.
Many of you know that PhraseMix is just written by one guy, during the nights and weekends when I'm not at my day job. Because of that, things can be a little irregular. My posts come out at strange hours. I go through periods when I write a lot of blog posts and others when I write none. And it takes me much longer than I'd like to add new features.
That's why I really appreciate the patience of people like you who visit PhraseMix and participate regularly. I especially appreciate the kind folks who help pay for the...
Today a friend told me a story. She was doing translation work at a booth in a restaurant trade show. She was translating for the CEO of a company that made high-quality kitchen knives.
This CEO had studied English, but hadn't gotten many chances to use English in real situations. So he was able to understand some things, but needed help with others.
After one customer left, the CEO asked my friend in Japanese, "What was that guy saying? He kept saying 'vanna', 'vanna'."
My friend thought for a second, and then said, "Oh, he was asking what the advantages of using these knives were – 'ad-VAN-tage'."
The key is Stress!
Stress can make English difficult to understand at times. Native English speakers pronounce stressed syllables clearly, but unstressed syllables can be hard to hear....
Watching TV is a great way to learn a foreign language. They're great because:
- They're not too short and not too long.
- You learn language in context.
- They show a variety of situations.
- They're fun to watch, so you keep coming back to them.
I'd like to know a little about the English-language TV shows you've watched. Here's what I want to know:
- In one sentence, what is the show about?
- What's an interesting phrase you remember from that show?
For example, one of my favorite TV shows is a reality competition show called "Survivor". Here's what I'd write about it:
Survivor is about a group of people who live in the wilderness for several weeks and compete to win a million dollars by being the last person not voted out of their "tribe". A phrase that people use on...
I want to know about your English learning environment. When and where do you most often learn English?
Do you study in the morning when you wake up? At night in bed? On your lunch break?
Do you like to listen to lessons on your phone while you're jogging? Do you take an English class at a university? Or do you meet up with a language exchange partner once a week in a coffee shop?
Please share your English study habits in the comments!