“Everything is practice.” – Pele
The English language is something you live and breathe. It is not an academic thing you talk about in a closed classroom. Also, the fastest way to reach a goal is to go straight to the goal. Don’t mess around. Go straight there.
What I mean is this. You want to be able to use English in your real life situations, so go and get into real life situations where you have to use English to enjoy those situations.
Going to England to study in an English class could be a complete waste of your time and money.
One hundred times better – go to England and study a course in dance, or martial arts. In cooking, or in yoga. If you are already at a higher level of English, go to London and study a week-long course in acting, or presentation skills, or something that requires a good level of English. Something that will help your career or anything which you are passionate about.
If you are just beginning, go and study a week-long course in something physical. Pilates, tango, karate. Slightly more challenging than these might be cooking or photography.
There are many huge advantages to studying these courses.
1. You practice real English immediately – speaking, listening, everything
2. You grow in confidence and self-belief very quickly
3. You can watch what people around you are doing, so you understand what words mean quickly
4. You make native English speaking friends! This is quite hard for many foreigners to do when they go to London
5. You can talk to people in the class and practice English as much as you like in breaks and after class
6. You will probably save money, usually these courses are less expensive than English courses
7. You have lots of fun and learn a new skill!
The amazing thing about the English language (or any language) is that when you learn the English used in a salsa class, all those basic words and sentence structures can be used anywhere. So familiarizing yourself with the English used in a salsa class is at the same time training you to speak English at a train station, or in a job interview, or with friends in the pub. You are learning the structure of English, with which you can express anything you like.
You are learning very effectively in a class, with lots of repetition of the most common words and sentence structures in the English language. In five days of salsa classes you will hear these sentences so many times, and you can practice asking questions and speaking to everyone around you.
Imagine two people – Haruto from Japan and Maria from Spain. They both go to London for one week to improve their English.
Haruto sits in a boring English class every day, just like he did back in Japan. He repeats long lists of
vocabulary, reads bad grammar books and writes exercises in bad course books. He is taught by an English teacher who is a very nice person, but does not understand these modern principles of rapid language-learning.
Haruto makes some foreign friends. He practices a little bit of English with them, even though they also have a low level of English. He makes some Japanese friends, naturally, and spends a lot of time speaking Japanese, so that he can feel comfortable and enjoy his English adventure more.
He doesn’t meet any native English people, except to ask for directions on the street. He doesn’t make any English friends. He does not speak much real English all day, he is just sitting in a classroom mostly listening to other students trying to speak English.
After one week he returns to Japan. Has Haruto’s English improved? No. Maybe tiny bit. How does Haturo feel? Not great.
Now, look at Maria. Maria signed up for a class in Tai Kwon Do for one week in London. Right from the beginning of day one she is listening to everything in real English.
“Step forward carefully. Kick with your left leg. Higher, a bit higher. Ok, that’s great. Now, everybody stop and listen to the next instructions…” etc.
Maria’s mind is 100% engaged and is really learning English while enjoying herself. When she doesn’t understand something she can look around at the other students. She can ask the teacher. She is practicing lots of English herself, asking questions.
In the break she speaks in English to native English people. She is really practicing English, for real! She is making friends with English people, and a few foreigners of course because it is London.
Every evening she goes for a drink with the others students. And speaks more English. No Spanish.
Later that evening she writes notes on what she learned. She looks up some words she thinks she needs to know tomorrow, maybe some actions and ways to say things. She writes some questions she would like to ask the teacher or the other students. And that night she goes to sleep smiling and tired,from practicing so much English and learning so many wonderful things.
In one day Maria has learned 10 times more English that Haruto did in the whole week. And she has practiced a hundred times more. She is really, truly speaking English. Imagine how much better and more confident Maria will be when she returns to Spain a week later.
Did she spend her time and money well? Yes, she did.
So, which one do you want to be?
Trust me, choose the course in English. NOT the English course.
You will grow in confidence, and you will also learn to love English even more, because you are doing something so much fun with it. Of course when you are choosing your course, choose something you have always wanted to learn. Or maybe choose a skill you already know, then you can improve, and make more friends in England who enjoy the same thing. Maybe one day they will visit you and you can show them a class in your country.
Of course, another excellent choice is to go to England and get a job. I know plenty of people for whom this worked wonders for their English. If you take this step just make sure you get a job where you are interacting with mostly native English speakers all day. If you are only speaking to other nonnatives, or worse still, other people from your own country, then you aren’t likely to improve quickly.
All in all, a course is more reliable and easy to begin. And it’s always going to be fun, which is when our brains learn best.
Now, if you cannot soon visit England or the USA or any English-speaking country, please don’t worry! It is not necessary to learn English very, very quickly. Use online resources to find native English to practice with, or find them in your local city. And use all the tips in this book. You will still progress ten times faster than most people who go to London but have on intelligent strategy to learn English rapidly.
Of course, whether you have a conversation partner at home or you visit London for a few weeks, you need to speak and practice. Some people are nervous or afraid to speak English. The next chapter will teach you how to destroy that fear and speak until you are happy, confident and progressing fast.