Education - Languages
By: - at June 26, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Improve English Skills Without Spending Much

The Increasing Number of English Learners
Study EnglishThe number of people learning or trying to learn English continues to rise over the last couple of decades. With English being used in the economic, political and cultural aspects of the world, there is no doubt being fluent in the language can bring lots of advantages. With the opportunities it brings, many are willing to spend money to acquire language skills. Some even invest time studying abroad, trying to immerse in the culture where English is spoken. Perhaps, it is because language acquisition is known to be socially influenced or linked.

With the benefits speaking the English language can bring, the number of English as a second language learners has doubled and is now bigger than the number of native speakers. Developing language skills takes time and effort. For many beginners, it is quite a struggle. But with job markets seeking people proficient in English, people from all walks of life have been inclined to learn. Though there are long lists of language schools people can attend, there are people who may not have the time to go, or have no money to spend. This is where the Internet and other resources have become very helpful. If you want to learn English but are financially challenged, remember that there are lots of ways to learn English without spending much.

Pocket-friendly Ways to Improve English Skills
Though there is an influx in the number of ESL students in many English-speaking countries, it is still possible to improve language skills without leaving your hometown. Here are the top ten ways to do that without spending money.

1)  Listen to English clips.
Studying with headsetWith the advent of technology, listening to voice clips in English is just a click away. With countless websites dedicated to teaching the language to just about anyone, there is no way you canít find materials that are just right for you. There are sites where downloading audio clips in English is made available. These clips can range from the length of five minutes up to full length audiobooks. Listening to audio clips is effective in learning as you may study without exerting too much effort to understand what was written in books or paper. Doing so can also be possible while you are relaxing after a dayís work. Around 60% of learning coming from listening; there is no doubt one can take advantage of what is readily available to improve language skills. When the purpose is to pass English exams, there are a lot of file sharing sites where you can find listening clips for IELTS, TOEFL or TOEIC. Whether you are employed or a student, having clips on your phone or mp3 player can be a good way to spend breaks or travel time from home to work or school.

2)  Learn through English songs.
The rhythm and the relaxation one can get from listening to music are what make songs a good springboard for learning English. People get hooked to music because it soothes the soul and frees the mind from any worries by providing entertainment. With the popularity of music in the English language, getting a file of a new pop song is easy. If you are not into pop, music websites provide a wide collection of songs from different genres. As you listen, you not only catch the rhythm but also the way English words are spoken. As you listen to the same songs many times, you get familiar with the words in the lines and they become part of your vocabulary quite unconsciously. Learning to listen from this source also enhances your ability to recognize varying pronunciation patterns. To help you with the lines that may be unclear, find the lyrics and read through the lines while playing the song. When you enjoy the music and its lyrics, words become memorable. For words that are difficult, make use of the dictionary to find the exact meaning. Doing this will not only enhance your understanding of the songís message but your language skills as well.

3)  Search the Internet in English.
searching the web internetThe world is interconnected and the only place where the Internet is unavailable is in the hinterlands. With majority of the educated population in the world able to use the Internet, make your daily surfing habit a language learning activity. Instead of searching for information in your language as your browser automatically adjusts, reset your search engine language setting to English. Doing so will not only challenge you to think and make use of what you know but will also help you discover a wide variety of information people write about your culture in a foreign language. The best way to learn English is to think in that language directly. With more than 80% of the information available online written in English, searching for information in the language can bring countless results relevant to your queries. Remember that the internet is a rich source of new vocabulary and expressions. As the result page pops up, you will get to encounter words which may be totally new to you. Writing them down and finding their meanings will make you even more equipped in English.

4)  Read a translated book.
Regardless of language, reading opens new opportunities to understanding the world. There are many books in foreign languages that are adapted in English, maybe there are some that are written by people from your country or in the language you speak. It is best to find if the work of your favorite author is one of them. As you are familiar with the content of the book in your language, it will be easier to grasp the meanings in English. This will help you widen your skills in vocabulary. Additionally, most books that are translated into English used simplified English words for foreign word equivalents making it less complicated than those that are originally designed for native speakers. As you are familiar with the topic, context, and the culture where the story revolves, you are more likely to be motivated to find out how they are expressed in English. Alternately, you can find movies in your language that have English versions.

Word puzzle game

5)  Play and study at the same time.
Many games and game consoles available worldwide have been designed and manufactured from foreign countries and thus have language settings available for international clients. There are many resources for games that will help enhance language skills. Instead of playing random games, use playtime for educational purposes. Find word puzzles, word search and other English language related games. If itís not very interesting for you, consider resetting your game consoleís language settings to English instead. Although they may not provide most available words, they are likely to expose you to lexis in English. As you become familiar with the words, you will recognize it when seen elsewhere or use it automatically when the need to communicate arises.

6)  Watch movies with subtitles.
TV Movie with subtitlesDo you like films? If you are a fan of movies make use of this interest to learn English. Check if your favorite stars have movies intended to be shown abroad. If there are particular local movies intended to be featured outside of your country, there is a possibility that it has a version with subtitles. Subtitles can be quite annoying, though, as it attracts the attention away from the actual scenario to what is written on the lower part of the screen. It is best that you are familiar with the movie before watching it with subtitles. Whatís good about using a local movie with an English subtitle is the fact that you only need to focus on what the subtitles say as you are fluent in the language used in dialogues. To enjoy the movie and the language learning experience, watch the movie in your native language first and do it again and again with English subtitles. Through this, it is easier to take down notes and focus only on the English language equivalents of expressions in your native tongue.

7)  Enjoy TV programs for children.
Donít take it personal or feel embarrassed having to start from that level. When we learn a language, it is best that we know where we stand, so recognizing your level of proficiency and fluency is essential. We can never be fluent in just a matter of months, so we need patience here. If we have difficulty understanding even the most basic dialogue we might see on English TV, perhaps we are not yet ready. This is where children's shows come in handy. The use of simple sentences and the introduction of common things popular in the English language make these programs helpful for beginners. Additionally, because the words and the sentences are repeated several times, it is easy to memorize. If TV shows do not interest you, make use of childrenís story books. Both offer the same language practice through a different medium with rich visual presentations.

8)  Keep an English diary.
Writing journal diaryDo you like keeping a diary? Turn this routine into something more fruitful. With all the exposure you get from songs, movies or books, you can make use of the language skills you acquire to help you put your thoughts on paper. Since there may be nobody to practice your skills with, jotting down what you want to say in a diary can be helpful. Because you have to write about your real experiences, you want to make use of exact words to convey what you mean.  This is where you get to cash in on your dictionary. Perhaps, while watching a subtitled movie, you have listed words that can relate to your experience. If diaries arenít your thing, write your schedules or time tables in English. Since it is necessary for you to check on the progress of your work or activities, you will get to glance at your planner several times in a day and see English words. Thatís accomplishing two things at once.

9)  Keep a vocabulary list.
Learning a new language doesnít happen overnight. Because there are so many aspects of the language to learn, be sure to keep track of the important words youíve encountered while reading, listening to music, surfing the internet or watching movies. As you try to find the meaning of a specific expression or phrase, find out how they are used in context. You can even make listing handy by keeping one on your tablet or mobile phone. This way, it is easily accessible. It is, however, important to remember that writing things down and just keeping it wonít help you improve. To take advantage of your collection of phrases, use them in your conversations. You donít need to pour them all out in one occasion. Instead, analyze whether the expression is fitted for the context you are in. If there is nobody to talk with, try using them when writing. Make use of one or two things on your list the entire day or week to ensure they are easily remembered. If you are lucky enough to find someone to talk with, make use of the phrases and ask whether they are applicable or not.

10)  Find language exchange partners online.
Chatting onlinePerhaps one of the best ways to practice and improve your English skills for free is to find people willing to exchange language lessons with you. Take advantage of technology to look for friends who wish to speak your language. When you find people who are eager to learn your mother tongue in exchange for teaching you English, you will get to benefit from their motivation and will be forced to communicate in English. Language partners are also known to respond quickly and talk informally, so you get to learn how language is used in daily life. As you teach your own language to another person, you not only improve your English skills but develop deeper understanding of your own culture. Additionally, when either you or your language partner is ready to book flights to each otherís location, it is easier to find people you know and can talk with.

Concluding Thoughts
People learn English for many different reasons. Some may want to learn in order to communicate effectively with people in the countries they want to travel to or for presenting business proposals abroad. Often times, however, this means spending a lot of money and devoting longer periods studying abroad. This is a big disadvantage to those who do not have the finances to invest or the time to study in foreign countries. What they fail to understand is that they can actually study and improve their English skills without having to spend money or travel abroad. In fact, numerous websites offer free resources to help language learners. That is in addition to ways people never realized would be helpful for their language study.

There is no doubt that English is dominating the communication medium in the world. Though there are other languages which are widely used in the world, nothing beats English in terms of its economic and political value. Thatís the very reason many chose to study English from a pool of languages to learn. English is crucial in this interlinked world. The ability to communicate in this language opens opportunities for people to improve their careers and interests. Because technology made language learning easily available wherever one may be, one can learn English at the comfort of their homes. You donít need to spend so much. All you need is the initiative to explore what is actually available.





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ESL Classroom Strategies That Compel Students to Communicate
Top 10 Ways to Improve English Skills Without Spending Much
The Benefits of Language Exchange Partnerships
How to Help Students Become Self-Directed
How to Teach ESL Students Writing
How Can a Non-Native Teacher Instruct in English
Top Five Reasons Students Commit the Same Grammar Mistakes
Boosting ESL Studentsí Confidence in Speaking
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Teachers as Facilitators in Language Classrooms
The Benefits of Learning English Free on the Internet

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