I remember time when I hated English. But I knew that it’s very helpful in life to speak English and I really tried hard to learn it. I started studying several times in my life, I visited different courses and classes where we learned a boring grammar. It was impossible for me to remember all those rules and of course I couldn’t speak and understand English speech at all. So I gave up many times and abandoned English learning again and again. Honestly I didn’t need it much in my life until I met my first international friend three years ago.
He wasn’t a native speaker, but his English was just perfect. I was very interested in friendship and communication with him, but it was really tough for me. I used Google translator each and every time we talked and it was embarrassing. Gradually I started understanding him more clearly and I could discuss some easy topics using simple words with a strong Russian accent. But still, I didn’t like English, because it was very hard for me.
At the same time I started traveling a lot and finally realized that I really need English, because I’ve got a big desire to visit different countries and discover the world. I’ve made more international friends, I’ve seen many beautiful places. Each and every day I realized that I want to speak English confidently and fluently!
I very well remember the day when I fell in love with English completely. I had a friend from Canada. When I heard his English first time, I thought that I like very much his accent and I want to speak like him. It was like music for me, so soft and clear, I just enjoyed the sound of his speech. We talked a lot and wrote each other every day during 6 months. Soon I began to feel much more confident and free, so I decided to start studying once again.
Grammar. I found a great English school with only native speaking teachers. After going through the test I was very surprised to find out that I had improved my English independently from Pre-Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate level during last 6 months, just talking and writing to my international friends. I have had a lot of practice and that’s important. So I started studying in that English school in a small group with a great teacher. Yes, we studied grammar using Oxford textbooks (New English File), but our lessons were fun, I really enjoyed it. I’ve been very determined and I’ve seen results, just because I had a big desire to learn! But it was just a beginning.
Listening. I think that I am a lucky person. I’ve had a big persistent to keep going and improve my English. So I started searching the Internet with a hope to find some English podcasts for daily listening. And I’ve found the best English teacher in the world who changed my mind completely. It’s A.J. Hoge and his Effortless English system. I started listening to his podcasts every day, I joined his VIP program, I bought his pronunciation course. So I’ve been following him about 10 months so far and I can’t tell you how much I value his great job, his lessons and his attitude to students around the world. My life has changed. I am fully engaged in English learning. My listening skills have improved a lot, I can understand almost 100% of his lessons and podcasts. Therefore my speaking and pronunciation skills have improved as well.
Speaking. I realized that I need practice if I want to speak fluently and I found a solution. There is a great web site for this: Italki.com. I found a very good English teacher from USA and we had lessons twice a week in Skype. It was a good experience for me and my speaking abilities were improving each and every lesson. But that’s not enough!
Reading. I am reading books only in English in original versions. Yes, sometimes there may be a difficult vocabulary that I don’t know, but I never use translator, because I fully understand the meaning and I don’t want to stop reading. I’ve read about 8 books in English during last year and I keep going. For example, now I am reading The Dalai Lama book ‘Art of happiness’. I can’t imagine reading in Russian and I don’t want to. The more I read the more I want to write in English. So the next step is writing.
Writing. Maybe this is the most difficult, but the most exciting part of my Independent English learning. I write letters to my international friends, I started this blog. I have to say that I really enjoy writing and I am going to continue it.
Movies. Now, a couple of words about movies. I watch movies only in English without subtitles. Even though I don’t understand 100% of words and phrases I see the meaning and I enjoy actors play, their pronunciation. However it depends on an actor. For example I like very much Julia Roberts and her accent and movies with her. I can watch one movie as many times as I need till I understand each phrase and idiom.
Finally I’ve noticed that usually I think and even see dreams in English. Not so long ago I had a surgery. I woke up after it and started talking with doctors in English! They were afraid that I forgot Russian and that was really fun.
One of my English teachers said: if you want to improve your English you should surround yourself things that are related to English. Listen, watch movies, read in English. Practice speaking as much as you can and don’t forget to study some grammar rules at the same time. Just do it all together and don’t quit. But I think the most important thing is your desire! You should be crazy about English, then you will succeed.