So you’ve heard it all before. Whenever you ask someone about the best way to improve your English, you always get the same response. Watch English movies, TV, listen to TED talks, podcasts and talk to native speakers whenever you can. And yet, your English is still not at the level you want.
So what else can you do? If you’re going to classes every day to complete your qualification, you can improve your English at the same time! Here’s how:
Take notes in a notebook
Research shows that you will recall more information if you write something down, rather than type it on a computer. When you go to your classes, always bring a notebook and your favourite pen and write notes from your lecture. There is no right or wrong way to take notes, just find a way that works for you. Try to avoid taking pictures of ppts, unless it is really necessary because are you really going to review them later? And even if you do- will you remember it?
You can get some useful tips on note taking on the ALS section of Moodle.
Ask questions in class
Most teachers and lecturers like students who are engaged in the course material. When you are engaged and thinking critically about the information presented to you, you are more likely to participate in class. Try asking open- ended questions that will encourage discussions.
For example you can ask something open- ended like; “Can great leadership be characterised only by the ability to work in a team?” By starting a discussion in class, you are not only improving your listening and speaking skills- but you will also improve your critical thinking skills; which are essential in adult education in Australia.
Have discussions with your classmates
You don’t have to always start discussions with your lecturers. Organise to meet with your friends and classmates after class to discuss the materials you have just learnt. This will really help you to develop your understanding of the material- and you may also learn something new from your classmates. They may have understood something that you haven’t- so you can share your information. This is a great way to not just reinforce your knowledge of the material- but it can help your English speaking skills as well. Don’t be afraid to meet new people and learn from others who come from different cultures/backgrounds!
Collect new vocabulary and expressions
This is an important one. I suggest starting a vocabulary page in the back of your note book for each class. With a ruler, draw a table as shown below:
Each time you learn a new word in your studies- record them in a table as shown above. In this way, you are learning not just the single word, but its relative word forms and this is important because you don’t want to confuse them when you use them in your writing. Also, by writing an example sentence, it will help you remember the word more easily.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Finally, don’t forget that you are never alone when it comes to your studies! It doesn’t matter how good or terrible you think you are, you can always use some extra support and advice when it comes to your English and study skills. Utilising all the help available to you provided by the college will really help you to succeed and get the best out of your study time. There is all types of help available, from English language help to study skills and counselling; so don’t be a stranger and come and get to know your school community! We are here to make sure you have the best chance to succeed, so make an appointment, attend a workshop, or just come and say hi! We hope to see you soon!
EAL Trainer and English Language Support at Kent Institute Australia