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Friday, 30 January 2015

The four pillars of learning English - and how to practice them.

Greetings all. If you are using my Vocab Voyage stuff to help you learn English, thank you so much. It makes me very happy to see so many people looking at my blog. If you have any ideas about what I could do better, please leave a comment on my blog, or mail me at matt@vocab-voyage.com.  Thank you in advance.

The four pillars of learning English (or any other language I imagine): Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking. Easily said, harder done. Let's run through a couple of ways you can concentrate on each one.

Reading - This is easy to do. Find fun stuff to read. You can read what I put out, or you can read any English. Make sure it is interesting for you. Mix up news stories, magazines, novels, cartoons, personal writing, and anything else you can think of (and maybe suggest to me)

Writing - This can be a bit of a tough one I know. When you write, you put your English down on paper (or the Internet), and it is permanent. So maybe you are a bit reluctant. Firstly, reluctance to make mistakes will only slow your learning. I have spent five years speaking awful Japanese. One option for writing is if you have any comments on my blog, write them in the comment box. I will always reply, and only offer corrections in secret.  If you are worried about mistakes, pop over to Lang-8. It's a place where you write, and a native English speaker corrects your work, with comments usually. I return, you correct the writing of someone (like me) who is trying to learn to write in Japanese. It's a great tool.

Listening - Again a fairly easy one to access with the Internet these days. Please do feel free to listen to me talking almost every day. You can combine that with reading, as I put a transcript up the following day. Listen to all sorts. If you have an iPhone, you can get TuneitIn, which is an app which lets you listen, for free, to radio stations from all over the world So you can listen to people speaking in all sorts of accents. 

Speaking - We all know this is the toughest one. Mainly because it is hard to find someone to speak English to. If you live in one of the big centres, maybe not so hard. But if you live somewhere like Mamurogawa (look it up, I lived there for a year), you won't be finding anyone.  What can you do? Read books aloud. Read the transcript of my YouTube clips aloud and compare it to the way I say things. (you may end up sounding a bit like a kiwi). 
Finally, if you live in Sapporo or are ever up this way, drop me a line at the address at the top of this post, and we can have a beer. 

Thank for reading, and good luck with your English.