Tips for Learning English as a Second Language
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How to Learn English: Improve Your Reading, Writing and Speaking Skills

English is not the easiest language to learn, but with patience and practice, you should be able to master it. Knowing how to learn English as a second language will bring you many advantages. There are lots of different ways to learn, and a lot depends on what level you are currently at, where you live and how much time you have to spend.

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Classes are taught in many different settings. For example, some public schools offer classes for adults, especially in communities where there are lots of people whose first language is not English.

Many colleges run adult education programs in the evening or during the day, so you should be able to find a class that fits your schedule.

Classes are also taught by non-profits. These are usually community based and can offer an informal and friendly approach. It’s worth keeping in mind that these classes are often run by volunteers, so they are not so always regulated in terms of quality.

Private language schools are also a booming industry these days. They often have differences in costs and quality, so you should look around and compare before deciding. Getting personal recommendations from others who have completed courses are always helpful, if possible.

Finding Classes and Courses

A good place to start is asking around in your local community: friends, the local library, or your child’s school are all good places to start. You might be lucky enough to have a local community information center in your area where you can find out more about what is locally available.

You might prefer to do your research online, and there is plenty of information out there. A basic internet search for will bring back a mass of information, so you might want to narrow it down and include specific districts in your search to get relevant local information.

There are also helpful websites that pull all the information together, such as the National Literacy Directory. They have information on a whole range of classes, including basic literacy, English language and citizenship training. You can search based on subject, topic and type of study or level.

Benefits of Learning English as a Second Language

Why is it important to learn English? There are so many benefits, ranging from being able to take part in work and education, to being able to enjoy an active social life within the community.

Everyday life is much more difficult if you cannot speak the local language. For example, speaking to a child’s teacher or booking an appointment with a doctor becomes very difficult, or in some cases, impossible.

Even if you have a good basic grasp of everyday English, there are some situations when a higher standard and a good understanding of grammar are needed.

If you are thinking of applying to university, you will find that if you are not a native English speaker you will need to pass an English language proficiency exam to show that you will be able to understand your courses. To become a U.S. citizen, you will need to reach the required standard to pass the USA Naturalization Citizenship test.

Passing Language Proficiency Tests

If you have taken a more formal course leading to a certification, then you will need to prepare for the test once you and your teachers feel you have made enough progress. You should always be guided by your teacher regarding your readiness for the test and how to best prepare for it, but here a few tips that are worth keeping in mind.

1. Practice

It’s important to always practice. Take any opportunity to use your new skills. In addition to your textbooks, read a wide range of materials from newspapers to advertisements and even leaflets in the doctor’s office.

Make use of past papers. These allow you to get familiar with the way the exam works and the type of questions you will be asked. Some should be available through your training center, or you can find other options online.

It’s better to do a little every day rather than to try to fit in lots of practice once a week, or worse, trying to cram it all in before the test. Learning a language isn’t like memorizing dates for a history test. Set aside 10 minutes a few times a day, keep some revision materials on hand and have a quick look over them when you are on a train or waiting for the bus.

Remember to pay attention to both spoken and written skills. Some people are better at one than the other, so make sure you give both areas plenty of attention

2. Make Sure You Are Ready

Wait until you are ready. Taking the test too soon isn’t just a waste of time (and perhaps your money too), it could also undermine your confidence and make you even more nervous next time. You might be in a hurry to get the certification, but you should always be guided by your teachers.

3. Relax

You might have all the skills and knowledge, but if you are nervous, you may not be able to think clearly. Everyone gets nervous about exams, but don’t let it consume you.

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