Hi everyone, it’s been a while. I hope you’re all well!
I’m going to be doing bi-monthly blog posts from now on so if there is anything you would like me to focus on, please let me know! Today I’m going to look at how to learn English. This is obviously a huge topic, so I will start by suggesting four things that my students say have worked for them. Good luck!
I cannot recommend this enough if you want to learn colloquial English/slang and speak like a local. It’s also a great way to pick up phrasal verbs in context. In the UK there are a number of long-running soap operas, including Eastenders (set in London), Coronation Street (set in Manchester) and Emmerdale (set in Yorkshire). The English used is spoken in those regions but can be understood all over the UK. If your English is not at a level where you can understand colloquial English, it would be a good idea to add subtitles, either in Japanese or English and make a note of the unknown phrases that arise.
Many people nowadays claim to hate reading. However, this is often only because they have not acquired the habit. If you are one of such people, I would suggest trying to commit to thirty minutes per day. If you read on a Kindle, you can look up any new words as you go along. It also might be a nice idea to read a novel that has been made into a film, so you can reward yourself by watching it after finishing the book. I have taught English for over twenty years and the students that speak the language most fluently are those who read on a regular basis. If you really can’t envisage the thought of tackling a long read such as a novel, then why not start with a magazine. Something similar to what you might read in Japanese would be ideal.
Language group classes are fantastic, but they are not always affordable, and some people may not feel comfortable speaking in a group situation, so why not try finding someone with whom you can swap Japanese for English. I did this myself (English for Japanese) when I was living in Japan, and also when I lived in Italy. It’s a free way to practise and you might make a lifelong friend in the process! I did a language swap with my friend, Miyuki, and twenty-five years on, we’re still in touch.
As you know, Japanese is completely different from English in terms of sentence structure, syntax and vocabulary, and if you try to break down a phrase in order to understand it in Japanese, you will face some problems, as the two languages simply cannot be compared. I have always found that it’s better to simply accept the meaning, then read the phrase many times aloud in order to ‘naturalise’ it in your brain. You will become fluent far more quickly if you learn ‘chunks’ of language (i.e. phrases) rather than individual words.
Good luck and let me know how you get on (and whether you have any more tips for learning English!)