I know a lot of people – my friends, my students and acquaintances who have been learning English for many years and still do not know the language very well. When I say knowing the language very well I mean that they have absolutely no confidence when speaking and writing in English. They still think their grammar is not as good as they wanted. They still think they do not know many English words. They complain that when they watch movies in English they do not understand a word. When they read a book, they cannot enjoy it because it is so hard to read.
If you do some of the things I wrote above then read this post. I hope you will find it useful. I also made some of these mistakes myself when I was just starting to learn English. So do not think ‘Oh this guy Akmal has his personal web-site because he learnt English very quickly and teaching everybody how to do it’ No, never. I never learnt English quickly. I never learnt English so easily and I am not trying to tell you how to learn English really quickly. If you really want to know the language very well, then there are no short cuts. Never! In fact, let me tell you one little very personal story to you before we start. The story is from my own life. :)
Then my parents found a private tutor and I worked with her almost one year. We used a book called ‘Bonk’ you can see the picture if you scroll down a little bit. It was such a super boring book that I never wanted to learn English. But I had no other choice. Eventually, I gave up my private English lessons.
But then when I was at the 11th grade I had to prepare for university entrance exams. Man … I began running like a hairless chicken to improve my English and I did it. I got my place at the university but in order to do that I went through such a long road with a lot of hard days and sleepless nights.
After I entered the university I realized that I only knew grammar. Yeah in one year I only learnt grammar. At the university (Uzbek State World Language University or INYAZ) I improved my speaking skills because I was running English Club there. Then when I joined Westminster International University in Tashkent and took a teacher training course I improved my writing and reading skills because I had to write coursework and read a lot and so on and on and on. As you can see I did not learn English so quickly and so easily. Got it? :)
Alright now let’s get down to the main story. Let’s go!
1. You don’t know why you learn English
This is the number one reason why you may not know English very well because you do not know where you are going. You do not see any connection between English and your real life, your future. You do not see yourself using English in some sort of future situations like for example running your business and discussing partnership deals with your partners.
So first of all identify why you need to learn English. Ask yourself how knowing English very well can help you in your future life? Think about it. For example, when I was lyceum student my dream was to enter university and in order to enter I knew I must know the language very well.
2. You don’t enjoy learning English
Now if you do not know why you are learning English as a result you will also not enjoy the process of learning. If you do not enjoy what you are doing then no matter how hard you push yourself you will not do your best. You will be very lazy to do anything. You will not do anything to improve your English unless someone comes and kicks you off. One day will come and you will just give up everything. So try to identify why you need to know English and then you will start enjoying learning English. Well, hopefully …
3. You do your homework on the last minute
Another reason why your English is still not as good as you always wanted it is because you always do your homework one or two hours before your lessons. This is too bad because by the time you decide to do your homework you will have forgotten everything your teacher taught you. You will have forgotten what questions you had asked and what answers your teacher had given to you during the lesson.Simply saying more you delay doing your homework, more it will become difficult for you to remember what was taught. More difficult it is for you to remember, more difficult your homework will seem to be.
4. You never ask and answer questions
During the lessons, you are one of those students who sit at the back of the classroom and hide from the teacher. Let me tell you one little secret for you because I am a teacher myself. If you want to hide from your teacher, do not sit at the back. Sit in the front because teachers in fact always see those students sitting at the back.
Alright this is not what I am going to talk about now.Another reason why you still do not know English very well is because you are always silent, shy and you never come of our comfort zone. I was like that too and I know how it feels like. But let me tell you this. Stop it! OK…? You gotta stop it! Why you are always shy? Asking and answering couple of questions every lesson is not a rocket science. Just ask a question. If your teacher asks a question, try to answer. Nobody is perfect in this world. We all make mistakes. We are all stupid in some ways and we are all smart in some other.
When I was a student I was also shy and mainly I was shy during those subjects for which I was not very well prepared. So do your homework and there is no reason to be shy. First time it will be difficult. Yes I agree. Second time it will also be difficult. Third time you will see how much you are becoming successful. Step by step you will get better.
5. You don’t use technology for your own benefit
You know when I was learning English everyday-technology was not as sophisticated as it is now. I had only one book and it was Bonk written back in the Soviet Union period for the students of Soviet Union. It had only texts, texts and texts plus tons of boring translation exercises. No pictures. No colors. No listening and no speaking.
What about now? There are the millions Internet resources like web-sites, blogs, online tools, Youtube, iTune channels, Apps, Interactive CD programs, iPad, iPods and so on and on. Use them! What are you waiting for? For New Year 2015? It is funny if you say you cannot learn English in 21st century.
6. You think you know everything
You have been learning for so long that you think now you know everything. But in reality you yourself know and feel from the bottom of your heart that there are many things you still do not know. Your problem is that you do not want to admit that. You can fool others but you cannot fool yourself my friend.No matter how confident you try to present yourself, no matter how knowledgeable you think you are, you know what is missing and you know what hole you need to fill in.
All you have to do is just to admit and make yourself work. For example, when I finished the university (in 2004) I still did not know how to write essays. And not only essays I just did not know how to write. Well, I knew how to write but I did not know how write clearly and professionally.So I made a lot of research, practice, practice and practice and eventually I learnt how to write. I hope. :)
7. You always wait for the best time
You think you are too busy these days. You have too many homework and too many other things to do. You hope that one beautiful day you will open your books and start learning. But in reality it does not happen because there is no best time to start doing anything. Best time and best days will never come. If you think you must do something which will later improve your life, why do not you start doing it today? Why wait? The best time is today. The best time is now. You do not have to wait. Create the best time yourself otherwise you will end waiting for all your life.
For example, I am married. I have a 1.5 year old baby daughter. I work at the university full-time. I teach students privately. So practically I have no time too. I should wait for the best time just like you. But I do not. That’s why I always do my best and whenever I have free time I create tutorials, blog posts for my web-site and create new questions for our Facebook page. Let me tell you this. If you are interested in something, no matter how busy you are, you will find time. Period!
8. You always look for the best teacher
Another reason why you still do not know English very well is because you have never had best teachers to teach you English. Well, so what …? Do not focus on teachers. Do not blame teachers. OK? I am not saying all the teachers are great and super. I know there are tons of teachers out there who think of themselves very highly but give students almost nothing during the lessons. If you have a goal, focus on your goal. Focus on your end results and move towards it.Expect the obstacles on the road and your job is to overcome them.
So for example, working with not so good teachers is one obstacle. Just like I said above you should use the technologies for your own benefit. Hey they are all free! There are millions of opportunities out there for you that you do not need any teacher to teach you anything these days. Do you think I worked with only brilliant teachers when I was a student? Well, yes and no. Did I give up when I lost my brilliant teachers? No. Why? Because I had a goal and focused on my goal.
9. You often miss lessons
If you miss the lessons it is OK but if you often miss them then I am sorry … it is bad. The worst of all is that when you miss the lessons and come to next lesson totally unprepared. When your teacher asks you for the reason of why your homework is not done what is your answer? Yes …. You say, “I was absent last lesson” as if your teacher told you not to come. Yeah?
My friend if you miss your lessons, well … at least act more responsibly and do your homework. How? Did you seriously ask me that question? Call your friends. Text your friends. Send them a private message on What’s App and/or Facebook.You do not know English very well, but I am sure you know how to use What’s App, Facebook very well. So did you learn how to contact your friends? We are not living on the mountains, right? Contact your classmates and find out what homework was given. Come prepared not to make your teacher happy but to help yourself learn English.
10. You always give up when things become difficult
You do your homework all the time but when there are difficult questions requiring you to work and think harder, research more using Internet and other resources you just give up. Why do it if there are always other people in your group to do this hard work? Right? What is wrong about it? Well, there is nothing wrong about it.
But at the end of the day if you ask yourself who learns best then the answer will be not you but those other people who did the hard work.That’s why your friends’ English is better than yours.That’s why you have been learning English for almost 10 years now. They have been learning it for almost 2 years, but they know the language better than you. Why? How? Because they work hard.When you find an excuse to run away from your problems they find the way to solve them.
That’s the main difference between you and them. So never give up when your homework assignments become difficult. Have a break. Take a deep breath. Be patient. Make your research. You will succeed slowly but surely.
11. You always want to learn English super fast
You heard those people who learned English in just 3 weeks by doing bla bla bla. You always hang out with your friends who lived in London during their 3-month summer holiday and now speak English super cool. Let me tell you this. Just because someone speaks English very well it does not mean his/her English is really good.
Everyone knows how to speak English these days. Back in 2006 when I travelled to Dubai I was so surprised and so shocked to see that even construction workers who earned 100 dollars a month and lived in a room with at least 40 other people could speak English.Do not focus on speaking skills and judge yourself or others’ knowledge of English via speaking skills. And do not rush. They did not build Rome in one night.
Do you know how long I have been learning English? At least 10 years now. I am still learning. I learn English every day.So forget about time. Do not focus on time. Focus on your goal. If you focus on your goal then you will not notice how fast you are learning English.
12. You do not work systematically
You do not have a plan. You do not work on your English regularly. You work hard two months or six months but then you stop all of a sudden and when people ask you why you stopped, you always blame others. You say that you had a favorite teacher before but then something happened and he/she suddenly left. When a new teacher came, he/she was not very experienced as your previous teacher.
Or you say that before your group was very active but suddenly something happened or a new student came and destroyed all the good atmosphere bla bla bla.It is all nonsense and nothing else except nonsense. OK? Again put yourself a goal and focus on your goal only. Move towards it. It does not matter whether you move slowly or quickly. Just make sure you move.Do not blame others. Take a full control over the situation.
Do not let other factors like a bad or good teacher negatively affect your learning.