Tips to Improve English

Thái Anh Đức (TAD), team leader of DSS team and a founding partner of RITVN, has a good post about how to improve English for non-native developers. We are happy to share it here.

No matter what your native language is you know how important English language is. I am a Vietnamese. I have had so many difficulties with learning English. I have studied English since I was grade 8. However, to be honest, I did not do any good before I got my first job, after my first year at the job. Even at that time, I was not that good either. I was not bad.

I can spend a whole day to give a long list of reasons why I did not do good. But just like any finding good excusesprocess, most of the reasons for not doing good are from outside. It is so easy to blame someone or something. Fortunately, 2 years ago, I discovered that the most important reason for not doing good was ME. In particular, here are some

  1. I did not actively learn English.
  2. I did not practice much (not mentioned that NONE)
  3. I did not look for ways to learn English.
  4. I was lazy to pronounce words.
  5. ….Oh! they are common reasons. And they are vague and general. Which also means that they are useless. Because I cannot go anywhere with them. How do I know where to start with that list?

Fortunately, from Mr. Jim Rohn, I knew that I must start from the Fundamentals. I trust that principle. I applied it. And It works for me.

Here are some small tips that have helped me better at English every day.

Stupid Driver

I have spent lots of time on travel, either motorbike or car, from home to work and back. I decided to take advantage of those wasted hours. Instead of complaining about the road, the traffic, I practiced speaking English on my own.

The process is simple. I do not need to learn any new word. Therefore, I do not lose focus on driving. I knew that I usually forget the final sound, such as pronouncing “is”, “wish”, … Those are words I have known for years. But I have ever never got it right in speaking  🙁 While driving, I will pronounce them in the best way I can. Of course, I know how to pronounce them. The problem is not about knowing, it is about practicing. And I want to kill my laziness of moving my mouth while speaking.

The key point here is that you must speak. Do not whisper in your head. I repeat “Do not whisper in your head.” By speaking out loud, I can overcome the fear of _someone else judgment_ To make it more fun, I made sentences. Many bad, careless drivers on the street, when I saw them, I spoke: “he is a stupid driver“. Well, It was not nice to say that. But who cares. I speak for myself, not in a public or pointing fingers to someone.

I have become a stupid driver since then. I have spoken to myself as a way of practicing the pronunciation. Oh yes. It works pretty well for me.

Passive Youtube

Most of my time is in front of a computer. I am a software developer. I do not have the time nor interested in taking English classes at night. Instead, I decided to take advantage of Youtube, passively.

There are a number of Authors that I want to learn, Mr. Jim Rohn is the best one. While working, instead of listening music, I listened to them. I did not pay much attention to what they were saying. I did pay attention to when I viewed the first time. Which means I already knew the content (I do not understand everything I listen to of course). But I have had an idea of what the talks are about.

For each talk that I like, I listened to them many times passively. Amazingly, I could capture their voice, their tongue, their words. Just keep listening and the brain will take care of the rest.

Active Reader

To grow in life, I need to read more books. I decided to read English books. There are many benefits of using English books. However, here is the tip that I use to improve my English. For the first 20 – 30 minutes (usually in the morning), I will read the books out loud. Usually, we read by eyes or whispering in the head.

I read the books with voice and rhythm. After 30 minutes, I feel tired, then I read as normal. One stone, two birds!

Write and Write

One of the reasons for this Blog is to practice writing. Which improves my English tremendously. Whenever possible, write in English. I have built a habit of writing everything in English, of course, as far as I can 🙂

The biggest issue with writing is this: Oh man, my English is terrible. I do not know how to write. People will laugh at me. They will make fun of me …

Stupid! Everyone has their own share of mistakes. No one is perfect. So who cares! I took a deep breath and moved on.

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways to learn English. But if you wait for having a right class, to have a right teacher, to have someone teach you, you will miss the train of life. Those people, those movements will not come.

Instead, look deep into your current circumstances, find a way to tweak around, and start with smallest possible actions. I am sure you will realize that you can do lots of things, that you are not in a bad situation as you thought.

Those tips work for me. They might also work for you. Who know until you give it a try.