21 / 04 / 2004


Good morning,

Rather than look at vocabulary or grammar today, I'd like to review what is, in my opinion, one of the most important concepts for English students: the importance of doing something with English everyday. As I mentioned last February, if you want to advance quickly, you have to make English a part of your daily routine, just like brushing your teeth.

There are hundreds of very effective activities that you can do in 5 minutes or less, which will help you to improve your English and maintain what you have already learned, even on days when you have very little time. Here are a few simple examples:

Read aloud to improve pronunciation
Read aloud ("en voz alta") for 3 to 5 minutes a day and you will notice an incredible improvement in your pronunciation and your general ability to speak English. The objective is not to understand what you are reading, but to pronounce as correctly as possible! Even if your pronunciation isn't perfect, you will be exercising the muscles in your mouth that are necessary to pronounce English correctly. Speaking a language is a very physical activity, and you have to "exercise" if you want to improve.

Listen to English to improve comprehension
Improving your comprehension ability will give you confidence and the ability to learn more (since you will understand what other English speakers are saying). In general, listening is the activity that English students practice the least. In my opinion, it's the most important skill to develop. You can listen to songs, old cassettes from English textbooks that you have, the radio (by way of Internet), etc. Get your ears accustomed to hearing English!

Watch films to improve comprehension and conversational skills
Many believe that the general English level in Spain is low because we don't see original-version movies on television. The general English level in Portugal, for example, is much better than the English level in Spain, and it may be because the Portuguese are more accustomed to watching original-version films (with subtitles). You don't have to watch complete films; you can watch 5 minutes, or 1 or 2 minute segments various times until you reach 100 percent understanding.

I know I've gone over these ideas with you before, but I consider them important enough to repeat many times. If you want to improve your English and you haven't already made it a part of your daily routine, perhaps today would be a good day to start.

Have a good day!

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