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101 Ways to Improve Your English

For Non-native Speakers


By Reah Guevarra Sandberg

Having English as a second language, I played kids vocabulary games, watched English TV shows with captions on, read English books aloud, and thought in English all dayall so I can be fluent in English. How hard can that goal be? Hard but fun! And as if those hard-but-fun activities are not enough to accomplish my goal, I created my own word games, made bike riding an educational activity, and tested myself on how many English words I could spell correctly in an hour. The last one sounds overboard, dont you think? But I did it. Lets say it was the product of too much enthusiasm (and free time?) Ha! That activity made me a better speller though and it is just one of a few examples of what you can do to improve your English too. In fact, at the end of this article is a 101 list of activity ideas, so be ready to fill your to-do lists and desks. No need to do all the activities listed at the end of the article. No rush too. Just pick out those that match your learning style, personality type, or level of proficiency. You can even just select the ones that use materials commonly found online, at home, at school, at work, or in the library. And if you want to do it with your family and friends, choose the activities that require interaction with other people. Now, enjoy reading the 101 activity ideas to improve your English and do not forget to take notes of those activities you want to do.

By using images and drawings 1. Use an English visual dictionary to learn words referring to people, animals, places, and things. I had a simple one when I was a kid. 2. Use images and charts to learn descriptive words. I liked how I learned English words relating to emotions by looking at one facial expression chart before. 3. Create your own visual dictionary by cutting pictures out from used magazines or advertising materials such as coupons that you receive in the mail. 4. Write English captions of photos and drawings showing items or scenes you see every day. 5. Label images indexed in Google Image search by playing Google Image Labeler. When I did this, it challenged me to think as many words as I can to describe the image because I was playing against another player and it was timed. 6. Use Google Translate and Google Images together to learn names of places and things. You do this by translating a name of a place or an object to English in Google Translate, and then verify the translation by searching the English word in Google Images. By using your first language 7. Keep and use an English dictionary with you that translates to your first language. 8. Translate words, phrases, and sentences you always use in your first language. 9. Translate questions you commonly ask in your native language to English.

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10. Translate your local TV series and movies to English at Viki.com. Without other people translating South Korean shows and Taiwanese shows to English, I couldn't have understood the shows. The site also has shows from China, India, Turkey, Mexico, and the Philippines. 11. Translate songs written on your native language to English. 12. Fill a jar with strips of paper containing random sentences written on your native language. Then once a day, draw a strip of paper from the jar and translate the sentence to English.

By using real items 13. Learn new words from reading English texts printed in product labels, packaging, or advertising materials. 14. Label things found in your house or in your office. Write on the labels the English names. You can also write some common sentences on which you use the name of the labeled item. Just label the things you always use as a start and then label others after you master the first group of items. 15. Hold or point to the actual item when you are describing it. This allows your mind to associate the word with the actual item. By using videos 16. Watch English TV shows such as News shows, soap operas, and TV documentaries. 17. Watch English TV shows with English captions on. I used to watch Oprah when I was a kid and turned the captions on while watching. This allowed me to listen to the right pronunciation of words I was already familiar in text. 18. Watch movies and shows without English subtitles. This makes you familiar how to say certain sentences on your native language to English. 19. Watch English videos that teach you how to do things or those free lessons on videos. If you are working out, you can get a workout video with English instructions. 20. Re-watch English movies and TV episodes you liked. Dialogues become more familiar to you that you will ignore the storyline and focus on learning the words the characters use in their conversations. By listening 21. Listen to English radio shows, commentaries, and advertising. Listening takes less effort in learning because you do not have to look at the person talking or at a presentation. Conversations tend to be more descriptive as well. 22. Listen to the correct pronunciations of words online. 23. Listen to English audio books, which you can probably find in your local libraries. 24. Listen to English podcasts. Through Lists 25. Master the 1000 most commonly used English words. 26. List and memorize new English words and phrases you think you will be comfortable using. 27. List and group words that are in any way related or similar to each other. Through music 28. Learn from singing English popular songs like those from the Beatles and Abba. 29. Memorize and sing English nursery songs. 30. Listen to songs made for teaching English grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Through games Published online at http://reahguevarra.com/101-ways-to-improve-your-english-for-non-native-speakers/

31. Challenge yourself to play 5-letter to 7-letter words in Scrabble. Besides, a 7-letter word gives you a Bingo! 32. Time yourself while looking for 5 letter words or more in a Boggle game. You can do this without timing too, and just challenge yourself how many words you can find. I like the non-time better because I can just keep staring at the boggle looking for more words, and look up the meaning in the dictionary when I am unsure of a word. 33. Play a drawing game guessing what English word or phrase the blind-folded person tries to draw. 34. Play word guessing games. One game is to have a friend guess the English word or phrase you are describing, while you describe the word without using any of its word stem. For example, do not use photo to describe the word photograph. 35. Play English typing games. One I like is Typing Maniac, a Facebook application. 36. Choose English as the default language of computer games you play. I play Ragnarok, an online roleplaying game where I get used to seeing words such as dodge, agility, dexterity, vitality, blacksmith, and novice. I also play Sid Meier's Civilization IV, a strategy video game, where words such as diplomatic, domination, barbarian, suffrage, obsolete, and infantry. 37. Play Wii in English. There are plenty of instructions and demonstrations at the same time to play a game in Wii. By reading 38. Keep and use an English dictionary with you that has sample sentences. Sample sentences give you an idea how a word is used. 39. Read English books, magazines, or webpages that write about topics that interest you. 40. Read product reviews and comments written by English native speakers online. This activity allows you to become familiar on how native speakers voice out their opinions, when they are satisfied or unhappy with a product. 41. Take the meaning of the word from how it is used in the text you are reading. 42. Read blogs that publish tips on English usage, grammar, and vocabulary. 43. Read the English version of novels you read in your native language. Since you already read the novel before, you are already familiar with the story. You can focus now on learning English from the novels English version instead of worrying about how the story progresses. By learning English patterns and word usage 44. Master the basic patterns in English grammar. 45. Compare English grammar with that of your first language. 46. Learn the rules of parallelism and practice using it. 47. Learn how to use modifiers, and practice using them. 48. Learn how to use phrasal verbs and idioms, and practice using them. 49. Get any copy of the best grammar books. 50. Learn English spelling patterns. 51. Spell English words on paper or spell it out loud, over and over again. 52. Research and familiarize yourself with slang words and phrases. By speaking 53. Spend an hour reading English texts aloud. I used to this and helped me improved my accent.

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54. Recite English words and phrases while exercising. I like doing this a lot since it gives me something to do while I do brisk walking or riding a bike. 55. Tell everyday events in English. 56. Record yourself speaking in English. This gives you an opportunity to listen to yourself and find out if there is something, you need to correct. 57. Talk in English with a friend who is also working on their English. 58. Participate in English discussions at school. 59. Work as a customer service representative who supports English speakers over the phone. Most call centers in my country, the Philippines, have English accent training, which is helpful. There might be some call centers in your country too. 60. Find a native-English speaker to practice speaking English with one-on-one. 61. Participate in language exchange activities. 62. Join the conversations in public Google Plus hangouts with mostly English-speaking people. I once joined a Google Plus hangout and one of the participant admitted he was there to practice his English and everyone welcomed him. 63. Participate in English club activities. 64. Join English book clubs in your area. 65. Speak in English when you have a chance. 66. Publish YouTube videos where you share information about your country, culture, and language. By thinking 67. Commit yourself to at least one day of thinking in English. We usually think in our native language, however, if we practice thinking in another language, our mind get used to that new language. Then, it will be easier for us later on when we start conversing in English spontaneously. By writing 68. Write in English for at least an hour a day. 69. Blog in English regularly. 70. Write tweets and statuses in English. 71. Write on Microsoft Word without the spelling and grammar checker features on. 72. Write your own English descriptions when you bookmark web pages online. 73. Use correct spelling and grammar when sending text messages to or writing messages online. 74. Write English skits. While traveling 75. Collect English reading materials as you travel so you can use these as study materials. 76. Read the English public signs and notices wherever you go. 77. Listen to conversations of English-speaking people in public places. By using other computer and web technologies 78. Use English apps that help you improve your English. 79. Use English as the default language on your browser, search engines, and websites. 80. Answer English usage tests and quizzes online. 81. Use English when searching online. Published online at http://reahguevarra.com/101-ways-to-improve-your-english-for-non-native-speakers/

82. Use search engine operators. 83. Participate in English forums and Q&A site. Through drama, demonstration, and directions 84. Role play everyday scenes using English in the dialogues. 85. Do a monologue in English. 86. Demonstrate how to do things in English. 87. Practice giving directions in English. By using other memory techniques 88. Use flash cards for English words and phrases you want to master. 89. Use a mind map to organize English words related to each other. 90. Use a four square to increase vocabulary learning. 91. Recite English words or sentences you want to remember before going to bed. 92. Create your own English practice worksheets or download some from here (soon). Through Continuous Practice 93. Answer English textbook exercises diligently on separate sheets. 94. Rephrase English sentences in your own words. 95. Practice making your own sentences using the English words you just learned. 96. Describe yourself and your interests in English. 97. Memorize common transitions in English and use them in writing or speaking. 98. Keep your English essays, notes, and audio/video recordings to use as materials for comparison in the future. This is really a long list, isn't it? I hope you have found some tips you can put into action as soon as you can!

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