How to Study English
As we embark on our upcoming semester at Gachon, it is customary for students to reflect on their current academic qualifications as well as their future plans. A common result is the adoption of various resolutions designed to motivate the student towards self-improvement. Among the most likely conclusions is “This year, I will finally master English!” Students who have chosen to head down this path will find it both interesting and arduous, but ultimately rewarding and are to be congratulated for their courage and commitment. After all, learning another language requires patience, a degree of bravery, hard work, faithful repetition, and a significant investment of time. No matter whether your chief motivation for wanting to learn English is the language itself, the cultures of various English-speaking countries, a desire to travel the globe with greater ease, or simply out of professional necessity, the question of how to begin and how to proceed over time looms large. I hope to offer a few tips that will assist those seeking to begin this journey.
The Information Age has made language learning easier than ever. Take advantage of the numerous free resources available online and in app stores. Whether you are seeking help with grammar, vocabulary, or listening you are sure to find something that matches your level. Although, there may not be apps that you can have conversations with yet, there will be soon! Until that time, there are even apps that will help you by recording you speaking various short sentences and measuring the accuracy of your pronunciation. In addition, it has never been easier to watch English language movies, television programs, video clips, video blogs, podcasts, etc. In many instances there are Korean subtitles available or there are written transcripts to assist you in your comprehension. Listen the first time without using any reading aids and try to understand as much as you can. Next, read the scripts and look up new words and phrases. Finally, listen again as many times as you like to help attune your ears to the speech patterns of English-speakers. Take advantage of technology!
Practice makes perfect. Old clichés become old clichés because they contain an element of truth. While it is vitally important to study grammar and memorize vocabulary words as both are essential tools for anyone wishing to express themselves to the best of their abilities in a foreign language, they are not enough in and of themselves. You must put them to use by trying to use them as often as possible! It may be difficult if you are a naturally shy person, but there is no other way. You must step out of your comfort zone and attempt to communicate in English even though you haven’t learned much English yet. Do the best that you can with what you know and never be embarrassed about any mistakes. After all, what happened the first time you tried to ride a bike? What about the second? Of course you fell off. However, over time, through patient practice, you slowly improved until that one day when it suddenly felt as if you “got it” and could ride seemingly without effort. Be courageous and speak out.
Where can a regular student find opportunities to practice English? Of course, you should take advantage of your English classes at Gachon. Use them to speak to your professors and your classmates as much as possible. In addition, thanks once again to the Internet and features such as Skype it has never been easier to find people around the world that you can speak to. Many people online are hoping to get paid, but there are others just looking to make international friends. You might even try a language exchange with those seeking to learn Korean. However, in my opinion one totally underutilized asset is the foreign student body at Gachon University. Gachon has attracted hundreds of students from abroad and many of them speak English that ranges from intermediate to fully fluent. Speaking for myself, I have had the privilege to teach several Indian students, all of whom spoke English with native or near-native level fluency. Reach out to these students while they are here and suggest a language exchange. The international students want to learn Korean and make friends as part of their Korean experience. Don’t let this valuable opportunity go to waste! I would suggest arranging meetings of 3-5 students in the beginning. By bringing friends you can avoid any misunderstanding regarding intentions and will have other people to help you maintain a conversation once you have exhausted your English. If the topic of conversation isn’t something that you want to talk about, use it as an opportunity to practice listening comprehension.
Source of the all photographs: Google
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