Let’s say you’re a Portuguese speaker who has been trying to learn about the English language for some time now, you would know that the process can easily turn into something quite intimidating.
It doesn’t have to be just Portuguese — substitute your native language and these same tips apply.
After all, your primary means of communication is a language that uses not just different words but also various tones and intonations.
For example, grammar rules such as using the past perfect tense and other verb forms may seem completely overwhelming on your first try.
It may be seemingly hard to construct a phrase and sentence that makes sense either in a written or spoken form.
And then there are those confusing things and colloquial terms that add to the lingual chaos. Like the case of idioms and certain phrases that have different meanings based on the context.
And the list goes on.
Despite the challenges that face every non-native speaker, however, you can continue to enjoy your journey. Here are some tips that you can try to keep lessons light yet interesting:
Whether it’s a street sign, today’s newspaper or an article that you stumbled upon online, taking the time to read sentences written in the English language can go a long way.
You can also grab a book from the nearby library and spend a few minutes each day immersing yourself in beautifully-written English literature.
Build the habit of exposing yourself to written work that makes use of the English language and you will soon find yourself craving for more and appreciating the language you are trying to learn.
On a similar note, make sure you have a dictionary to translate words in a snap. Find a handy version or download a credible application or software that you can install on your phone or tablet for easy access.
Believe it or not, translating on the spot can greatly assist you as you transition from a foreign language speaker to a non-native English language learner.
Now, aside from getting your lessons from a grammar book, you can also try and converse with both non-native and native English speakers in your area.
Talking to both groups of people have their own sets of advantages. For example, having conversations with fellow non-native speakers can build confidence as you influence each other to learn at the beginners’ same pace.
Native speakers, on the other hand, give you a challenge and help deepen your connection with the spoken English language. Essentially, not only do you get to practice the rules you’ve just learned, but you also get to socialize and pick up new words and phrases from people along the way.
Another way to learn actively is by incorporating English lessons into your everyday life. Start by taking one word or phrase per day and using it in a sentence throughout your day.
You can also bring the learning process when you watch TV. Opt for shows spoken in English and turn on the closed captions or subtitles so you can read the dialogues the characters are exchanging.
Others also swear by taking down notes whether on a special notebook or the sides of your grammar notebook, to help you retain new information.
In addition to this, you can also start a journal of your everyday activities written and described in English. Regardless of your approach, using the English language in your daily routine can help you improve.
Finally, as with any other endeavor, perseverance is key to learning and ultimately mastering skills. You may only have a few words in your vocabulary bank today, but you can always learn new ones the next day. Remember that every bit of improvement brings you one step closer to your objective.
Another thing to take note of is to learn to be humble and not get discouraged by your mistakes. You will most likely commit a grammatical error at one point, mispronounce another word, or use a phrase that does not fit the context.
All these are normal and can be used to your learning advantage. With experience being the best teacher, you are most likely to remember the moment you made the mistake and avoid it on the next occasions to come.
Ultimately, instead of giving up quickly, keep pushing yourself to do better the next time. One day, you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come along.
Are you getting funny looks from native speakers of English?
Do you find yourself getting funny looks from native speakers of English? Are you frustrated by all the times you’ve been asked to repeat yourself when you speak English to a native speaker?
It is only natural for people who learn English as a foreign language to make mistakes when speaking.
Not only do we foreigners often have trouble pronouncing certain words, but we also tend to find the grammar a little bit confusing. (NOTE: native English speakers also have the same problems when learning a foreign language!)
No matter what your native tongue is, there are usually differences in the way sounds are produced in your mother language versus English.
Furthermore, English has some important sounds that may be non-existent in your mother language. As such, native speakers of English find the different accents of foreigners to be hilarious because they are often interpreted versions of a way to pronounce English.
The complicated grammar only makes us sound worse.
So! Let’s go over some of the common mistakes we foreigners make when speaking English.
Mistake #1: Aspirated letters
In some languages, like Italian and Russian, h is silent. It does not have a real single sound of its own.
What happens when we speak English? We of course, do not aspirate the h in words such as “hot”, “honey” and “house” as we should.
Think about this when your American friend invites you for lunch and he thinks you are very “angry”, instead of being very “hungry.” To some foreigners’ ears, those words sound identical if not pronounced correctly.
Mistake #2: Are there any sounds or not?
When we study a language, we have to deal with some phonemes which are difficult to pronounce.
Why? Because they do not appear often in our own language.
In grammar textbooks, these sounds are often explained by being linked with our native language, or through instructions which literally show you where to move and leave your tongue in relation to the teeth and palate.
Not so easy, right? The typical English sound th, as is stated in textbooks, is pronounced by placing the tongue near to the top of the teeth, producing a sound like dh. It is a very difficult sound for some foreigners and it does not often appear in most other languages.
When it comes to phonetics, foreigners usually pronounce it in three ways: some of them pronounce it as a f, while others
ones use the laziest way, substituting it with a d. Still, others pronounce it the funniest way, using a weird z. I have to say, this pair of letters is probably the most difficult to pronounce perfectly and students should not be upset if they can never say th the right way. It is not a competition.
Mistake #3: Rolling “rrrr”
The English r is soft and casual. It does not ever have a rolling sound.
In addition to this, if it appears at the end of a word, it sounds like a very low, almost silent vibration.
Mistake #4: I’m explaininG somethinG importanT
Some foreigners get used to pronouncing each letter of a word, no matter whether those letters have a single sound or whether they merge with other letters in order to make another sound.
This is typical when it comes to -ing words. Even if you know you should not pronounce the last letter g, you keep doing it, right?
Now let’s add three extra points regarding grammar:
Point #1: The speaker is not the first
Another typical mistake comes when we speak English and place ourselves before others in the sentence. English is completely the opposite. In English, we say “Jack and I live here” and not vice versa. Remember, do not be selfish… In English, you are not the first!
Point #2: To do or to make?
These two verbs help to increase the confusion of a lot of students. In several languages, these two verbs correspond to only one verb.
How to distinguish it? We can think roughly that “to do” is for general ideas, referring to work of any kind. It is more abstract. “To make” is more for creating, building, constructing. You make a mistake, you don’t do a mistake!
Point #3: People have the power
How to turn a word into its plural is one of the first rules we come across when we learn a foreign language. But English, like any language, has some exceptions. For example, the word “people” is a plural noun, so “people are smart.” It’s not “people is smart.”
To sum up, it is worthwhile to focus on these points. Try comparing them to the equivalents in your native language, but do not worry too much if you do not sound native after a few years.
The study of languages is a science. It takes time and patience to learn them but the result is worth it!
We hope you have enjoyed our rundown of basic greetings in English. If you’re ready to learn more of the English language, we are happy to offer a FREE English Survival Crash Course. Every day for five days, we’ll send engaging and actionable eBooks to your email to help you learn English fast.