If you're wondering how to improve your English language and communication skills, I am going to share the most important strategy for doing just that. So if you're ready, let's get started.
As somebody who has learned multiple languages and as somebody who has taught English as a second language for many, many years, I have found that the most important strategy for improving in a language that you've learned or are learning. And you're now at the intermediate or advanced level of this language, the most important thing that you can do is.
Are you ready for it?
Is to take risks with the language. Okay. So we're going to talk a little bit about what that means. What does it mean to take risks with the language? Well, the simplest way of thinking about this and one of the ways that you can take risks with the language is simply by having the courage to speak, to interact with people.
If you're shy when speaking with native speakers of that language, in this case, it's English, so if you're shy when you speak with native. English speakers, then start with speaking to international people. Start with speaking to people who also have English as their second language. And we call it “second language,” but that can mean third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh language. But English as a second language (ESL) just means that it's not your first language.
So start with that.
Start with actually using the language, because if you don't use it, what happens? You lose it, right? We have an expression in English that goes, if you don't use it, you lose it. So definitely be mindful of the importance of actually practicing. So find opportunities to practice that language. If that means that you need to participate in some extracurricular activity or find a group-type, meet up, look at the Internet and see if there are any book clubs around. Or you're going to join a team like a tennis team or a sailing team or some type of social meetup. Then do that. But you really need to put yourself out there. You really need to be in situations where you're using the language and what better way to do that than to find some people from work. from school, from a social type of club, or a group that you can practice with. And again, these can be Non-Native speakers of English. So also ESL learners, they can be, Native speakers of English. That is up to you, depending on the people who are around you, and depending on what you have access to.
If you are in a country where there are not many foreigners, meaning Americans, if you're abroad then you might have to speak English to people that you would normally speak your first language with. And that is totally fine. Just be aware that if you're going to set aside time to speak English to people that you normally speak your first language with, then you really want to be strict about it. So you might say: “Okay, for the next hour we're going to do English only.” Or you can host Coffee hours or maybe do a brunch at home or throw a dinner party. Gather a couple of people together and make it an English dinner, right? Make it a dinner where you only speak in English.
So that's the first thing you need to do. The other way you're going to be taking risks with the language besides actually using it, because that is a risk in a lot of ways since some people are very nervous about speaking. It can be kind of nerve wracking to engage in social interaction. The social anxiety might be high. So that's why the first big leap of faith in a lot of ways is just to put yourself out there. Okay, so we covered that one.
Test out Your Newly Learned Vocabulary and Expressions
And the second one is to start using vocabulary and expressions that you're not really sure about, that you're not that you've heard, that you've.
Learned, but because you haven't actually tested them out in the real world and you don't even. know how they roll off your tongue you want to be able to try them out. Try them on a pair of shoes. I'm serious. Try out an expression that you learned or that you've heard in the Netflix series that you're watching, but you never actually use it. Try it out. And the best thing about this is that most of the time, in the beginning you're going to get it wrong and that's okay. That is the point you want to see, trying it out, what that means and where you are in terms of what you thought that word means and where it is appropriate and in what context it is appropriately going to be in, depending on the register of the language, depending on the context.
Are you in a professional setting? Are you in a casual setting? And then also you might have one definition of it, but there might be a few different definitions and the definition that you know of that word is correct. But in that context it's not correct. And the only way that you're going to know if it's correct or incorrect is if you try it out. So that's a huge risk in a lot of ways, right? Because again, the social anxiety might be kicking in. You might be nervous to try that expression out or try that word out, but that is going to allow you to use it correctly. And once you've made a point of trying it out and you've gotten feedback from the people that you're interacting with, that is now going to register, you are going to remember that word, you're going to remember that expression.
So this is a huge plus. Not only are you getting feedback on language use, is it correct, is it incorrect? What is the context? Is the right context.
You're also getting that experience of using the word and because you've created a connection to it and you remember that there's this whole sort of experience around it, you're going to remember it that much better. So I really encourage you to try to use the new words.
And don't forget the old words. Use those too. Because remember, as we said, if you don't use it, you lose it. But make it a point of trying out the words so that you're a little iffy on.
You're not really sure about trying those out and the second part to this is also the grammar, right?
So try out grammar that you might not be sure about or you're sure about from just reading your textbooks in English, or you went to ESL classes and you did your homework and you got really good marks and good grades on your grammar tests but then you're not really sure “Do I use pass perfect? Do I use the past continuous? Do I use present? Do I use the present simple?” And so trying it out again, you're going to get that feedback and you're going to see if that's the right tense. Is that the right verb conjugation to use for example. Or “is that the right preposition?” and “What is the correct collocation?”
So there are a host of different things that, you know, with the grammar obviously. And again, you might know grammar really well and you read it and you're writing, but then speaking and using grammar and just when you're having a conversation.
Might be a totally different experience for you. You will never know unless you take the risk. Right? And the way, you know, if you're taking a risk is if you get a little bit of sort of butterflies in your stomach, you feel a little nervous about it. You're not sure, you're wondering if you know, is this the right thing to say? Is this the right verb tense?
And so if that's what you're feeling you got to go for it. You have to say, I'm going to take a risk with this. And look, you can preface it and frame it by saying, you know, I'm not sure if this is right verb tense or is this the right word? If you're talking about vocab terms or expressions you can phrase it that way. You don't have to. But if it makes you feel better and if it allows you to take that risk then I would say go for It again. You want to do this with people that you're comfortable with. If you're talking to a boss and you're already a little bit nervous, you're in a kind of not the best headspace, let's say, then maybe hold off on the risk. But you want to take risks in most contexts, right? In the context where you feel 90% confident, let's say 80% is also really great and 79% confidence is also great. The point is to find those opportunities. Seek out those opportunities where you can practice your language skills, your communication skills, and to take risks. And as you are taking risks make sure that you have reminded yourself that it is okay to make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the journey; the only way we're going to get better is if we make mistakes. So don't think of it as failure or a big deal. Think of it as a stepping stone to getting to the next level, to leveling up. Because if you don't make mistakes, you're going to stay in the same place. So you want to get out of your comfort zone.
You want to be in situations where you feel a little bit nervous. You want to be talking to people using terms that you're maybe not very sure about, but you're going to get feedback on.
Record Yourself for Feedback
And the other thing you can do is record yourself and then check the sentence online. You can even use Google Translate if you want to try to match the sentence that you had top of mind in your own language and then try and find it in English and see if your grammar is right or if your pronunciation is right, you can get feedback that way as well. Why not? Especially if you don't have access to speaking in English with people: ESL speakers or native English speakers. And if you are in a situation where you just want to try something out first online with Google, that's okay because you're still taking risks. You're still putting yourself out there.
Find Social Events to Practice Social Skills
The last thing I'll say is try to find social events that have not only the language component where you're trying and taking risks with the language, and that includes grammar, but you're also taking risks with your social skills. And why is that? Well, the better you get at your social skills, the more confident you're going to be finding those opportunities to speak, finding those opportunities to take risks with the language. But in a lot of ways, what can hold people back from speaking in English? You know, when people say, I'm so nervous to speak in English, I don't feel comfortable speaking in English. What they're really saying is, “I am nervous about any type of conversation, having any type of social interaction.” So it's really about, well, I feel nervous talking to people in general, even in their own language. That might be the case, and that is totally fine. It's just important to recognize it so that you can actually move past it. So the first thing you might want to actually address is equipping yourself with social skills and getting rid of that social anxiety. And it might creep up on you every now and then. It might sort of make a little appearance, but you now have the skills if you work on those skills and social skills to say, I'm not going to listen to that negative voice inside my head saying I have social anxiety or I'm not you know, using the right preposition. I'm going to ignore that negative self-talk and I am going to put myself out there, use the language, and also feel more confident with my social skills.
So if you're looking to Improve your social skills, I have just the thing for you.
Go to explearning.co is a website and if you type into Google, you'll find Explearning the YouTube channel as well as the podcast. And we have hundreds of lessons on how to improve your Communication skills and your social skills. So really when you get those strategies and you start implementing those strategies, you are going to feel so much more confident in your ability to use the language and to speak. And this is true for non-native speakers of English as well as English native speakers. So it's really important to be aware of that social anxiety component and to overcome it and exploring in communications can help you with that. So I have lots of lessons that I share with you.
And strategies that I give you and so many things to be aware of. And once you are more familiar with those social skills, I want you to practice them, try them out, and the way you're going to try them out, the vehicle that you're going to use is the English language. So it's a beautiful marriage between social skills and English language skills. And then together it allows you to have effective, amazing communication in English. So it's something to be aware of. And I hope that you take advantage of the wonderful lessons.
As you are using these strategies, as you're trying out these concepts, as you're taking risks with the language, you are going to feel so much more confident in not only your social Skills, but also your English Communication skills. And that is the goal. That is what we want, because that is what's going to allow you to get from A to B to C all the way up the mountain to where you want to be with your English. All right, Advanced English learners, thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. I hope that you enjoyed it. Be sure to give it a big thumbs up if you're watching here on YouTube and if you're listening to our podcast, awesome. Please be sure to leave us a nice review. You can leave up to five stars that really helps us out and allows us to get the podcast out to as many people as we can so that we can help equip others to have the best communication skills that they possibly can have and also feel free to share the podcasts and the YouTube channel. And lastly, we have our website advanced in Moscow. Slash blog is where you can find all of our lessons.
We have hundreds of lessons, so be sure to check those out. We have lessons, we have conversations. And you're definitely going to want to subscribe to the newsletter because you get reminders each week on what lesson to focus on. You get our new lessons, you get some of our golden lessons and are archived lessons. And honestly, it's wonderful to have you in the community. We are so grateful for you. I hope that you are enjoying all of the content. There is much more to come. So be sure to stay tuned and I'm going to see you. In another Advanced English where we're going to continue advancing your English together. So keep the awesome work and I will see you soon.