As an ESL learner, you mightve stumbled upon hundreds of ads and guides saying that one can become fluent in English in just a month or two. The experts often boast of their secret hacks and tricks that work like a charm.
Sadly, those promises are nothing but marketing gimmicks! Otherwise, you wouldnt have to slog through articles after articles trying to learn English.
The harsh truth is learning English is a daunting challenge and it would probably take years to somewhat master it. To give you a hint, lets talk about the approximate number of total words in the English language.
Shakespeare, the famous writer had an impeccable vocabulary and his books had over 30,000 unique words in them. However, even native speakers dont use that many words in in a typical day.
Its true that knowledgeable native speakers have an average vocabulary of 30,000 words. But the most common 10,000 words represent almost 95% of day-to-day English words.
So, considering all of the facts, the 15,000 words in the SpellQuiz database is adequate enough for the ESL learners to be fluent.
Hundreds and thousands of people are learning and even mastering English as a second language. If they can do it, so can you! All you need is a sound plan towards your goal of learning English and be dedicated to it.
Before you start following a language learning scheme, you should first set your goals and expectations.
In simpler terms, ask yourself, Do I want to understand and speak English while traveling abroad or do I want to become a fluent user of the language?
This is the MOST IMPORTANT decision that you need to make.
Because you can only learn a couple of hundred to about a thousand words high-frequency English words or sight words and somewhat communicate in English.
You can communicate in English with a small vocabulary consisting of some common verbs and nouns. Try to master the 315 Dolch sight words first and then gradually master the 1,000 Fry sight words. These sight words cover about 90% of the day-to-day English words.
You might ask, Why is this article only talking about words? I want to learn the language? Shouldnt I focus more on grammar?
Yes, youre right! But only to some extent.
Words are the basic elements of any language and the primary tools for communication. The grammar will only help you structure and euphonize your thoughts.
Most ESL learners seek help from English language classes. Its an intuitive move if I want to learn something, I join classes for it!
While the traditional language classes and learning methods do help, theyre not as effective as you think.
Surely, youre getting a bit confused now!
Lets take a look at a practical example again.
A traditional class for ESL newcomers focuses heavily on teaching situational conversations. It mostly covers topics like self-introduction, situational survival vocabulary, and often covering scenarios that you might ever face!
Teaching these topics are important but the flaw remains in the method of teaching. In most cases, the teacher shows images and then defines the term with a word.
The issue is that only memorizing words doesnt help you master it. You might remember that word for maybe a month or two but youll eventually forget about it.
You MUST use the new words in a sentence in a conversation. In that way, your brain associates external factors, like specific situations or conversation to that particular word. It helps you master that word, not just memorize it.
The same can be said about flashcards. It allows you to memorize the word but doesnt help you anyway with implementation efforts.
Also, traditional classes have cookie-cutter curriculums that might or might not work with your capabilities. As a result, classes eventually classes boring and uninspiring.
Surely, you need structures and guidelines but they have to be personalized tailored towards your needs.
Do you remember how you learnt your first language the mother tongue?
You were hearing new words every day, then, your brain correlated the words to actions and different objects. After that, you started using the words vocally. At first, you couldnt form sentences there were only simple words.
Then, you started forming short sentences and gradually started mastering longer sentences. After having somewhat command over the hearing and speaking capabilities, you moved on to the reading and writing skills.
Youre not the only one we all have learnt our first language in the same way.
Lets call it the natural process.
We need to implement this exact strategy in our English learning strategy. However, there is an issue. Our brains are more rigid towards newer information and knowledge.
So, the best thing that we can do is mimic the same stimulation and train our brains to follow that similar path once again!
Now, lets talk about the elephant in room.
How can you use the natural language learning strategy to learn English?
That brings us to the most important segment of this article dissecting the natural language process and a step-by-step guide to master English.
This initial step stands true for all ESL activities or development efforts. Before you start working on your English learning venture, you need to define your current level of English proficiency.
You can do this by asking yourself some simple questions, like a checklist
As you can see, the difficulty of the tasks in the checklist increases gradually. The findings from this questionnaire help you identify your current level of proficiency. After the identification, you should set up some clear expectations from your English learning efforts.
For example, if you can express your thoughts using only verbs and nouns but cant form complete sentences, you should aim at mastering that.
Similarly, if you can form simple sentences complying with the subject-verb agreement, you should learn and implement advanced words to euphonize the sentences.
Its all about continuous improvement.
However, there is an issue with this strategy!
You cant quantify or measure your proficiency level. Think about it if you could get a numeric reference to quantify your vocabulary level, wouldnt that be great? Only after having an idea about your vocabulary size, you can participate in vocabulary building activities.
To bolster your learning efforts, you should use English language learning websites and apps. Here's a complete list of the best language learning apps.
SpellQuiz proposes a practical solution with a smart vocabulary assessment test online.
The free online tool asks you to do one simple thing listen to a sentence and type in the sentence in the textbox on the screen. After repeating the same process a few times, the smart tool tells you your approximate vocabulary size and an estimation of equivalent English level from Grade 1 to 12 to adult.
The sentences are curated by a team of linguistics experts from the United States of America, Canada, Australia and UK. Also, it uses actual sentences spoken by human voice artists rather than opting for computer-generated sounds. Itll help you with the correct pronunciation too.
Do you remember the first phase of the natural language learning process? All you did was listen to others speaking a language to express their feelings.
You need to do that same thing again.
So, start watching English movies and TV shows. And, dont forget to turn on the subtitles. At first, youd feel completely overwhelmed with the new kind of sound and should I even mention the sudden exposure to the number of foreign words?
Slowly but surely, youll be able to identify specific words and be able to guess the meaning too.
A plethora of anime lovers learn Japanese using this strategy. They dont even try to learn the language, yet it happens effortlessly.
Now that youre already learning English words casually with movies and TV shows, its time to hit the books.
This part is a bit tricky as youd need the knowledge of letters and word formation now. Simply speaking, you need to have a basic reading skill here.
Otherwise, you can use Google translator or any other translator application to help your out here.
The idea is to get accustomed to and hopefully master the Sight Words in this step. Why is this step so important?
Sight words are the most commonly used English words. There are two popular lists Dolch words and Fry words. Dolch sight words the simpler and only has 315 words. Fry words list, on the other hand, has a total of 1,000 words.
You should note that the Fry words list also has all of the Dolch words in it. These words are so common that they count for about 90% of the day-to-day English texts.
After mastering this step, youd be able to have small conversations with an English speaker.
An ESL student should also be aware of the common spelling rules for adults in this phase of learning.
SpellQuiz understands the value and importance of sight words very well. Thats why it has a complete collection of sight words in the Words section on the website.
From this section, you can see all of the sight words in one place. Also, these word lists are downloadable, meaning you can download and print them for offline practices.
But only knowing and memorizing words will not do you any good. Youll eventually forget them.
To solve this issue, SpellQuiz special spelling tests for sight words. Here, you can take part in the exercise and implement the sight words.
Still, you should use these words in real-life situations. And that brings us to the next step.
The best way to learn a language is by having conversations in that language. This stands true for English language learning too.
Sadly, youd a partner for it. You can partner up with another ESL learner as it would help both of you at the same time.
Conversations act as intense and short language learning sessions if used with a dictionary and corrections. Youll feel more motivated to speak and have conversations with an actual person than a guided audio tutorial or bots.
Heres an additional tip for you, if you learn a new word, try to use that word a few times in the conversations. That word will retain in your brain permanently.
Surely, youll make A TON OF mistakes, but guess what, mistakes are your best friend now! Only after making silly mistakes and having numbers of awkward conversations, you can hope to learn English one day.
Embrace the mistakes just let the other person know that you dont speak English and dont intend on being offensive accidentally.
No matter what you do, you cant learn English in a whizz! It takes time and you should give it ample time.
Learn new words, use them in conversations, learn the spelling, practice the spelling, write something fiction or non-fiction keep yourself busy with different practice efforts.
Youll get there!
All of these exercises and practice sessions are based on listening dictations and writing them down. So, it develops your listening and writing skills all at the same time. And, there is no doubt that writing dictation exercises is a great way of practicing English for ESL learners.
Does competition boost your motivation?
Then, you can participate in the Spelling Bee Online competition. Here, students from all over the world participate in a virtual spelling bee competition in real-time and the global leaderboard keeps track of all the best competitors.
Now, thats motivation!
On the contrary, you might be a bit shy and dont want to embarrass yourself with your mediocre English proficiency. In that case, the adaptive learning feature will allow you to learn at your own pace.
The later addition of SpellQuiz is the Idioms section where students can learn about quirky phrases that will help them euphonize sentences. As idioms dont refer to the literal meaning of the words, SpellQuiz uses images, different meanings, and examples in a sentence for better implementation.
As you work hard learning English every day, you check your progress every now and then. It will help reevaluate your initial learning goals and efforts and set you on the right track.
What parameters matter while progress tracking?
You need to know how many hours you have put in your learning efforts so far. How many new words you have mastered or failed to master? What is correcting and failing ratio?
All of these parameters matter.
There are a number of online applications that can help you with the tools for tracking.
SpellQuiz has a robust tracking feature. If you browse through the reports section, you can check out the tracking parameters.
SpellQuiz helps you with the following information
Learning English is a tedious challenge that demands time and patience. If you follow the right strategy and learning approach, the knowledge will remain in your memory for a long, long time.
And, at the end of the day, it matters the most.
So, say no to the shortcuts, hacks, quick tips and all of those gimmicky strategies. Embrace the long and hard path and you can become a better English language user eventually.
Spelling Tests per Grade