Most English learners will find that they reach a plateau at some point. This is where you can speak English well enough to communicate with others but you notice less improvement in your language skills than you did at the start. Many find they have reached a comfort zone where there is a danger of becoming demotivated as they can already get by using the English words, phrases and tenses with which they are comfortable.
If you want to progress in English, this can be the most difficult stage on your learning journey but it’s important to push past this. Here are some tips on how to stay motivated when learning English:
1. Picture yourself in the future
Imagine what you could do if you could speak English as fluently as your first language. Would you be able to get your dream job? Get promoted in your current work? Delve deeper into English-language culture? Whatever your motivation was to learn English in the first place, try to remember it throughout your language-learning journey.
2. Go on holiday
Go on holiday somewhere where you don’t speak the language. If you’re living in an English-speaking country, you will be able to see how far you have come by going to a country where you hardly understand anything. You can then come back refreshed and motivated to keep going.
3. Get into an English-language TV series
There are a number of great TV shows in English that are addictive and will keep you coming back for more. You will also be motivated to improve in order to increase your understanding of the storyline.
4. Join a local club or try volunteering
Local clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people and can be great motivators to improve your English. Try to join a group or volunteer in something outside of your comfort zone. That way, you can improve your vocabulary and speak about subjects that would normally never come up in your everyday life. Meetup.com is a great way to find groups like this.
5. Challenge yourself
Set yourself a goal such as taking an official English exam. This will put pressure on you to improve before the date of the exam and will allow you to measure your success in a formal context.
6. Imitate your favourite celebrity
If your favourite celebrity is a native speaker of English, or if they have learned English as a second language, you can use their story as motivation to improve your own language skills.
7. Take a course
By taking an English language course, you are committing yourself to taking the time to improve. It’s also the best learning environment as you will consistently learn new things and your mistakes will be corrected by the teacher.
8. Improve your relationships with native speakers
A great motivator to improve your language skills is to build on your relationships with your English-speaking friends and/or colleagues. Native speakers will sometimes subconsciously change they speak when speaking to non-native speakers (think of the way you communicate with people who are learners of your own language). Get to know people in a new light by improving your English to a stage where native-speakers will speak to you as they would other natives.
9. Remember there is still a lot to learn
Those with the ability to speak English at a native level generally have one thing in common – they never stop learning. Even if you are comfortable at the level you can communicate in, learning a language is a life-long process where there is always room for improvement.
10. Take action
By improving your English, you are opening doors to more opportunities in your career, social life and personal development. There is no better time than the present, so take the first steps towards improving your English today!
At inlingua Edinburgh, we offer evening and part-time General English and Exam Preparation courses to fit around your work and life here in Edinburgh. Lessons are led by qualified, native-speaking trainers in small groups to maximise speaking practice. We have classes to suit each level and there are no mixed level groups. Why wait? Take the first step towards improving your English and contact us now!
There are many ways to learn English, but certainly one the best and most effective is listening to native speakers. As much as you think you already know, there will always be some peculiar phrases that only native English speakers really use and understand.
Here is a small selection of those “useful” everyday English phrases. Get them into your vocabulary and start sounding like a native. Tune in and enjoy!
To have an axe to grind An expression for when someone’s got a strong opinion.
Get somebody’s goat
A phrase about something annoying
Just another way to say “lots”
Hangry I’m sure you all know someone who gets angry when they don’t eat.
A really great way to improve your vocabulary and reading skills is by reading a good book and getting completely absorbed in the story. If you’ve ever wanted to read some English stories, but weren’t sure where to find books suitable for your level, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are my recommendations for some great English books for language learners.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
This book tells the story of Christopher Boone, a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome. Christopher’s condition means that he finds it difficult to connect with other people, and has trouble understanding some of the more complicated aspects of human relationships. Written from Christopher’s perspective, the book is a really interesting description of what it’s like to live with a learning disability, but also presents the world from a different point of view, giving us a new understanding of some things which we might take for granted.
The language in The Curious Incident is simple and easy to understand because Christopher speaks and thinks in an extremely logical and straightforward way. I would recommend this book for intermediate levels and above.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a book about farm animals.
The interesting thing about these animals is that they can speak to each other, think complex thoughts, and form governments similar to our own. The story focuses on a group of animals on one particular farm, using the way their society develops as a metaphor for the corruption and dishonesty of human politicians. Animal Farm is a classic story of revolution, power and corruption, told through the prism of a simple fable.
The language in Animal Farm is a little bit more complicated than in The Curious Incident, as it was written about seventy years ago and some of the language might seem a bit old-fashioned. With the help of a good dictionary, I think this book would be suitable for strong intermediate students.
Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
This is a collection of short stories by one of America’s most famous and influential authors. Focussing on a number of different topics and characters, Salinger explores the pain and suffering associated with our loss of innocence when we grow up. In almost all of the stories, children are compared with adults, the children often possessing the real wisdom and knowledge that the adults fail to see.
This is one of my favourite collections of short stories. Salinger’s language is relatively simple and easy to understand, but is also very expressive and evocative. I would recommend this book for intermediate levels and above
Penguin Graded Readers
If all of these books sound a bit too complicated for your level, a good idea would be to get one of the penguin graded readers. These are English novels which have been adapted to various different levels. The story is the same, but the language is simpler, so they are a good way to introduce yourself to English literature if you aren’t a confident reader.
When it comes to job hunting, getting your cover letter right is just as important as perfecting your CV! Your cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to the employer and is sent to accompany and expand upon your CV.
Many job hunters ask whether they need to write a cover letter when applying for a job, assuming that a CV should be enough. However, 57.1% of professionals rank the cover letter as an essential component of every job application – and with good reason.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your cover letter is a regurgitation of your CV and therefore a waste of time. Your letter is, in fact, a formalised way of introducing yourself and expanding on a few key areas that make you suitable for the role. This is a massive bonus if you’ve run out of room on your two-page CV. As a result, why wouldn’t you write a cover letter when it’s your number-one chance to tell the prospective employer more about why you’d make such a good hire?
Many recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of applications a day and can only spend a matter of seconds reviewing applications – so your cover letter needs to be good.
Below you will find useful guidelines to help you write a strong cover letter. Some recruiters may receive hundreds of applications a day, so your cover letter gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd (and with only 20 to 30 seconds to grab their attention, it needs to be good!)
A cover letter should complement, NOT duplicate, your CV.
The different types of cover letters
The application letter which responds to a known job opening.
The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions.
The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job.
« Dear Sir or Madame? » or « To whom it may concern? »
State why you are writing.
Begin by telling the employer and the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity.
Establish a point of contact.
Advertisement in a specific place for a specific position; a particular person’s suggestion that you write.
Give some brief idea of who you are.
Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed CV.
Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs.
Stress action. Politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.
Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information, and explain how it can be obtained (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape, a website / blog).
Thank the reader for his/her consideration and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.
Page format guide: 4 steps
1’’ – 1.5’’ margins are always a safe bet. Be careful not to make the content look crammed together.
Don’t go below a 12-point font. Anything below 12 can strain the eyes.
Font style is really a matter of preference. Try to choose one that looks professional or that matches what the employer uses on their website.
Maintain a uniform alignment throughout. Keep all paragraphs left-aligned.
The average office worker receives around 80 emails each day. With that sheer volume of emails, individual messages easily get overlooked. Follow these simple rules below to get your emails noticed and acted upon.
Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs). Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation. There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English and learning useful phrases off by heart.