5 Ways NOT to Study English

1. Don’t do everything alone

It’s so easy to say, ‘I’m going to find a corner and hide there, and study 10,000 words, and listen to VOA every day’. It’s easy but it won’t get you much closer to being a fluent English speaker. There’s nothing wrong with learning new words, but it’s most important to communicate in English with a real person—often. Also, studying completely on your own is a great way to build bad speaking habits. Feedback is a must.

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2. Don’t translate every word

Translating English words and phrases will never get you closer to thinking in English. If you aren’t thinking in English, fluency will always be out of your reach. Instead, learn words in context and use an English dictionary. It’s hard, but you’ll thank yourself.

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3. Don’t use phonetic symbols

Pronunciation is important, but writing down symbols is not the way to learn it. Apparently the phonetic spelling of ‘potato’ is ‘pəˈtādō’ (I only know because I searched it). Is that useful in any way? Nope. Native English speakers learn pronunciation through exposure and repetition. Do the same. Don’t waste time with useless symbols.

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4. Don’t try to understand English things with Chinese thinking

If I explain to you the different meanings of, ‘catch up’ (which has many meanings), does it matter whether or not you know how to say all those meanings in Chinese? Of course not. When you’re learning English, forget Chinese. Put it on another planet. Most great 2nd-language English speakers don’t even have the same personality when they’re speaking English. Fluent English requires a different way of thinking.

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5. Don’t worry about being wrong

As soon as you accept that nobody really cares how often you’re wrong, you can begin to really improve as an English speaker. Only those who speak often and speak without fear can truly succeed. If you can understand this article, you have all the knowledge you need to speak quite well. The only thing in your way is yourself, and practice.

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