Many adults who want to pick up English fall out of the habit sooner than later, and give up on their plans without even trying very hard to stick with the learning. Experts believe that, for adults to persevere in English language learning, incorporating the process into everyday life is a crucial step that must be taken.
Connect language learning with everyday living to make it interesting and amusing
To incorporate English into your everyday life, try building the habit of thinking how a particular thought should be expressed in English before you say the same in Chinese.- Dr. Yun-pi Yuan, Vice Dean of the College of Foreign Languages at Fu Jen Catholic University
Dr. Yuan says sometimes there’s no direct English equivalent for something we say often in Mandarin Chinese. For example, a while ago her husband asked her how “thick-skinned” (厚臉皮) should be expressed in English. She couldn’t think of an immediate answer, but she did some research and the information she found not only provided her with the answer, but she now understands the expression more deeply.
How can English learning be made more fun? Dr. Yuan suggests watching videos like TED Talks on a variety of topics but turning off the subtitles for the time being. After you’ve watched the video once or twice, turn on subtitles to look for words you may not be familiar with. You can even shadow the video and attempt to copy the speaker in order to sound more natural in terms of both pronunciation and intonation. This method of practice will also help you remember vocabulary and figures of speech.
Expert tips on stress-free English learning
Apart from incorporating language learning into everyday living, how can adult learners set their own pace and engage in stress-free study? Adam Malster, Senior Teacher for Adults at the British Council has a solution. First, you have to set a specific goal. For example, you might want to get ahead in the workplace or pass your exams. You might hope to attain fluency in English speaking or polish your writing skills. Whatever the reason, you must have a clear, specific goal so you know exactly what to do to get there.
Perseverance is another key to successful learning. Adam Malster reminds adult learners to not study too intensely for long periods of time, because you can easily become burned out and lose focus, which will in turn affect your learning efficiency. The best approach you can take is to pace yours learning process according to the lifestyle you lead and the intensity of your job. Make a study plan and stick to it, because “saving a little energy for learning every day will enable to persevere.”
Adam Malster observes that many Taiwanese prefer studying alone; they tend to coup themselves up in a room reading or training their listening abilities. There’s nothing wrong with this approach as one element of a learning program, but finding a partner with the same purpose, building interpersonal relationships, and even making friends can make learning much more fun and efficient. “Think about all the other things you have done in your lifetime, such as sports or learning to play a musical instrument. Everything is much more fun and you make much better progress if you have friends and partners by your side.”