How to Learn English

The ideal way of studying a language hasn’t been found yet, but here are some advice on how you should study a language in order to get on fluency and build self-confidence. We all know that everyone learns differently but here are some methods you can use. If you’re diligent and persevere to them, I assure you the results won’t miss.

  1. Vocabulary

Vocabulary is the foundation of any language. It is well-known that we learn faster if we repeat words and expressions. We also need to be constant and study vocabulary over the whole week. It’s less boring if you learn the words and phrases in the context and use them as soon as possible in your speaking practice. That way you won’t forget them.  Learn frequent vocabulary (everyday English) and/or vocabulary you need for your job or studies.

  1. Grammar

Grammar is the structure which keeps vocabulary in order. Some of you may feel that grammar is boring or difficult to understand and avoid learning it. You should start from easier stuff and try not to skip any essential lessons; eventually, you’ll be able to understand grammar rules which are more complex and do not exist in your native language. Print yourself a practice worksheet with a grammar unit and go through it. Check your answers and do it again in a day or two. In due course of time, you’ll notice that your speech is much more meaningful and complex and confident; moreover, you’ll struggle less to say things you have in mind.

  1. Reading

You should try and read (adapted?) books written in English without using a dictionary. You may not understand everything as if you read it in your native language. However, this practice is important because it enables you to ‘shift your mind’ to another language even though you understand only 50 or 70 percent of the text. Practice this and you’ll realise that you speak with ease although you don’t understand where your sentences come from! Sooner than you expect, you’ll become bilingual. Wouldn’t that be great?

  1. Listening

Every now and then watch films and TV series without subtitles. It will add to your ‘sense of language’ just like the reading practice. Moreover, you’ll become aware of the intonation and sentence stress, which is most probably different than in your native language. This practice will help you hear better and you’ll definitely stop complaining about actors speaking too fast.

  1. Writing

It may sound unimportant but writing can add a great deal to your language skills. You can try to write an email, an essay or rewrite another text. It will definitely improve your spelling, especially if you write with a spelling checker.

  1. Speaking

Do you know a native speaker to talk to in English? Don’t worry about that; you can try talking to yourself in front of the mirror when nobody’s watching! Even better, you can talk to your friends, family, and colleagues. Try to complete your sentences and don’t worry about making mistakes. Remember that fluency comes where anxiety goes!

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Possessives

  1. Special rules for possessives:

We can have two possessive’s forms together:

We are fed up with our neighbor’s tenants’ loud music.

If the possessive form consists of a compound noun or two or more nouns which form a single team or group, we add the ‘s to the last noun only:

Are you coming to my brother in law’s party? (compound noun)

I’m a great fan of Lerner and Lowe’s musicals. (they both wrote as a single team.)

When the nouns do not form a sing group we must use ‘s with both nouns:

Schrodinger’s and Heisenberg’s versions of quantum mechanics had seemed different. (two versions of a theory)

If the possessive noun is part of a prepositional phrase, we usually put the ‘s at the end of a phrase

  1. Double possessives

We can use a double possessive – noun + of + noun (with possessive ‘s) – to show that first noun means ‘one of several’. We usually use the indefinite article with the pattern:

I heard the story from a friend of my brother’s. (= one of my brother’s friends)

We do not always include the possessive ‘s with the second noun:

They got the information from a friend of the owner.

  1. Specifying and classifying possessives

Specifying possessives show a relationship with something specific such as a person or place. They usually answer the question ‘Whose…?’

Marion washes the children’s clothes on Tuesdays. (= the clothes belonging to the children)

Classifying possessives describe the type of thing something is. They answer the question ‘What kind of…?’ and are similar to compound nouns.

Janice has opened a shop specializing in children’s clothes. (= clothes any children can wear)

Relative Clauses with WHO, WHICH and THAT

We can use relative clauses to make two sentences into one sentence.

 

This is my friend. He lives in New York
There are three books. They form the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series
I’ve got a camera It takes great photos.

 

This is my friend who lives in New York.

There are three books which form the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series.

I’ve got a camera that takes great photos.

The relative clause gives us more information about the person or thing in the main clause.

We introduce a relative clause with a relative pronoun (who, which, that)

WHO is for a relative clause about people:

Do you know the man who owns that shop?

Stephenson is the man who built the locomotive.

WHICH is for a relative clause about animals or things:

I have got a new mobile phone which cost $100.

The horse which won the race has died.

THAT can be used for people, animals, and things:

I’ve contacted all the students that took the exam.

It’s a phone that plays music.

 

Exercises:

  1. This is the man _________ saved the child.
  2. This is the car________ he bought 10 years ago.
  3. Hose offered an apology ________ Fiona didn’t accept.
  4. Brian said goodnight to his roommate Justin _______ continued playing video games.
  5. He drank the juice _____ he made himself.
  6. Jane, _______ hates spiders, carry bug-stomping boots wherever she goes.

 

Answers: 1.who, that; 2.which, that; 3.which; 4.who; 5.which, that; 6.who

Order of Adjectives

 

We sometimes put more than one adjective before a noun. Their order is as follows:

  1. Number or quantity (one, two…, a few, many…)
  2. Opinion or quality (nice, ugly, beautiful)
  3. Size (large, small, short)
  4. Shape (round, square)
  5. Age (two-year-old, young)
  6. Color (yellow, brownish)
  7. Origin (Italian, Medieval)
  8. Material (wooden, glass)
  9. Purpose (cooking, driving)

We normally separate adjectives with commas, and we use determiner (a, the, this, those, my, their, some…) before an adjective + noun phrase:

Two beautiful, tall, fifteen-year-old, Australian twin sisters.

A beautiful, small, wooden table.

This new, brownish, Italian piano.

Some round, green, metal, cooking spoons.

 

Exercise:

Put the adjectives in their natural order:

  1. Silky / white / trousers.
  2. Yellow and green / long / curtains.
  3. Blond / tall / woman
  4. Big / plastic / round / spoon.
  5. Funny / three / black and white hats.

(Key: 1. White, silky trousers. 2. Long, yellow and green curtains. 3. Tall, blond woman. 4. Big, round, plastic spoon. 5. Three funny, black and white hats.)