How to improve your English if you are an EAL student

How to improve your English if you are an EAL student

By Corina David

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

Mastering grammar has never been an easy thing to do. Needless to say, for those who acquire a new language this is all the more difficult. There is the instinct of "thinking" in one's native language and translating the concept into English. Most of the times the technique works. However, there are many other instances when translating and hoping that the structures and word order will match, simply doesn't work.

If you are a self-taught student, but need some advice, you might want to follow these steps to help you improve your level of English:

  • Start with a pen and some paper, a proper notebook would be even better
  • Write down your own pieces of advice or lessons. For instance, something like: REMEMBER THAT 's expresses possession, whereas s is used for the plural.
  • The girl's dress is red vs There are 5 girls in my class. They are all wearing red dresses.
  • Use markers, coloured pencils, whatever makes that "REMEMBER" stand out
  • Sticky note

  • Use sticker notes if you think that will help you better. Stick your "Remember" on walls, wardrobes, mirrors and whatever surfaces you find useful
  • Use the pen and the notebook even when using online resources. While it is much more comfortable to solve an online quiz, it is much more useful to write down whatever words and synonyms you come across and aren't familiar with
  • Teach yourself to actually use the notebook. Revise. Ask your friends to test you. Or simply test yourself. How? After you've learnt some new synonyms, have a short break, then go back, take a separate piece of paper and force yourself to write down all the new words or synonyms you can remember.
  • Whenever possible, watch films that have subtitles. This will make you more aware of the way certain words are spelled.
  • Spelling is quite important, not only for being admitted to a course, but for passing various tests, so try to practise spelling. Ask a friend to help you; he'll pick a random word from the dictionary, utter it, while you'll have to spell it.

Isn't English spelling overestimated?

Given the fact that English is the language many people can speak, the language that presently dominates the internet and the world of social media, one may feel tempted to say that the rules of the language should become less strict; that certain mistakes should be overlooked. However, while several variants of English are accepted in the spoken form, the written one still needs to respect the same strict rules - disregarding them will rather have negative consequences. It is learners' responsibility to learn the language accurately, not the other way round!

And as a conclusion meant to underline how important it is to use English accurately, ask yourself the following question: "How would you like to receive a formal letter from the CEO of a reputable bank with spelling mistakes? (It does happen)" Would you still trust the services of that bank? Let us know!

This article was written on behalf of Bellerbys College, a college for international students, offering ambitious young individuals the possibility to study in UK. They also offer English language courses aimed at helping students for whom English is not the first language or simply need to improve it.

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