Is it possible to master the English Language?

I like to offer you a practical solution, with a multi-faceted approach to acquiring English proficiency.

First and foremost, you need to have the right frame of mind or mindset in order to attain English proficiency, and ultimately mastery.

This is a harsh reality, by virtue of the fact that English is our global lingua franca today.

As a matter of fact, it’s the Language of the 21st Century!

Putting this mindset into tactical terms, this means that you have got to integrate your practising of English from multi-directional and multi-developmental angles into your everyday lifestyle.

Do not approach your practising from the standpoint of ESL or EFL.

[ESL=English as Second Language; EFL=English as Foreign Language].

ENGLISH IS A LIFE SKILL!

In other words, you must not confine your practising of English to the spending of prescribed hours you are studying or learning from a textbook in a classroom, within four walls of a school.

It is important for you to understand that English mastery also involves the acquisition of five critical skills sets:

– Reading;

– Writing

– Thinking;

– Speaking;

– Listening;

as applied in your everyday activities, involving real-world communication with real people!

Like the five spokes of the wheel on the Honda motorbike held all together by the metal rim with the rubber tyre revolving around the hub, each of these areas need to be strong in order for the wheel to run smoothly on the road, where rubber meets the road, just as you need the five skill sets in order for you to attain English mastery.

By the way, to me, the hub analogically represents vocabulary building and generation.

Seek every opportunity in your daily activities to practising English, using a multi-fold approach, starting with baby steps:

– Reading an English story book regularly, or the daily English newspaper;

Better still, writing down or make running commentaries – by speaking aloud – about what you have learned from the story or the news;

In the case of news, expand your writing with your view of their implications, say politically, economically, technologically and/or social-demographically;

– Watching an English movie, first with subtitles and later without subtitles [you can always ‘Pause” and/or “Playback” to recap/review useful dialogues];

Better still, write down your impressions and/or feelings about the movie, say in the form of a movie review, which you can even post on IMDb – Movies, TV and Celebrities;

– Listening to pod-casts in English, or the English news broadcasts, like the ABC, BBC, and make running commentaries – again by speaking aloud – to yourself;

– Using your smartphone, fully loaded with “Learning English” applications, so that you can apply “just-in-time” learning or “learning-on-the-go” while commuting or waiting in queue;

– Striking up casual conversations with ordinary folks you meet in the streets or in the queue;

– Using Skype or other internet technology to converse with international friends who speak English;

– Writing to international English-speaking pen-pals;

– Calling up customer service of any MNC’s, and pretending to put forward your complaint, or enquiry about a new product or service, in English of course;

– Dropping by a large hotel reception, and pretending to check up the hotel for a forthcoming party of international friends, to seek opportunities to speak English;

Sneaky, but who cares!

– Finding one daily news article in your native language, and translating it into English to the best of your ability;

This is absolutely good practice to perfect your thinking and writing in English;

[Get hold of a friend who is a top dog in English so as to elicit candid feedback, or your friendly English teacher, if any;]

– Listening to, and singing in the shower with, English songs, as a means to practise your pronunciation;

– Watching YouTube video clips in English, and pausing in between to repeat what you have just heard; this is to practise your listening skills;

Better still, write down your impressions by consolidating and summarising the key ideas and salient points, to practise your writing;

You can also do shadowing practice!

– Grabbing any postcard or photo or picture at random, and proceeding to describe in detail, first orally (on to recorder of your smartphone), and later in written form, what’s in the picture:

whats the theme/what’s in the foreground/what’s in the background/what’s in the centre or middle/what’s on the right/what’s on the left/what’s at the top/what’s at the bottom/what at the top-right/top-left/bottom-right/bottom-left/what’s happening/is it inside or outside/who’s there/how’s the weather and/or timing; how do you know/compare and contrast/how do you feel/what do you like/what do you dislike/would you like to be in the postcard or photo or picture; why and why not?

– Once in a while, inviting your friendly English teacher or a buddy who is a top dog in English, over a cuppa or a simple quick meal, under the pretext of holding social conversations/intellectual interactions;

– Joining a local chapter of the international Toastmasters’ Club in your city, if any;

Frankly, I am just scratching the surface, and am sure you can think of more ideas.

Meanwhile, I like to recommend you to carry a pocket notebook with you at all times.

Whenever you are on the streets, pay attention to the bill-boards, bulletin boards, window or merchandising displays, wall posters in cine-plexes;

If you come across new or unknown words, jot them down in your pocket notebook for reviewing at home with the aid of a dictionary.

Then, use the famed flash card strategy to master these new words.

Make it a habit to learn at least ten new words a day.

In a year, you would have learned more than 3,500 words!

Look around you. Can you identify all the places or landmarks in English.

If not, jot them down for reviewing at home.

Likewise, in the supermarket, ask yourself: can you identify all the items on display, in English?

If not, you can start learning to read the labels.

Take note of casual conversations around you, especially interesting dialogue. Go home and review them.

Better still, do a simulated conversation on your own, aloud, and in front of a mirror.

You can record, recap and review, too, but more importantly, to reinforce.

You can use the famed 6W1H questioning toolkit often used by journalists to spur your questions and expand your thinking.

Then, grab a sheet of blank paper and start writing down your answers as you think.

In reality, all the foregoing tactical initiatives offer great opportunities – and wonderful practices – for you to read, think, write, listen and speak in English.

More importantly, they will help you to feel much more motivated!

As matter of fact, the world out there is full of possibilities and opportunities when it comes to mastering English verbal facility and conversational fluency.

It’s an invisible university!

Stay alert. Be creatively resourceful.

Follow up and follow through, consistently and massively, using and practising – the key is practice, practice, and practice! – your English in real communication with real people, as much as you can!

Meanwhile, you may want to read this interesting article, as I share the author’s sentiment about learning the language beyond the classroom, and fully integrating it into one’s everyday life activities:

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