Some students can be daunted by a new language, whether through reading, writing, listening or speaking. I find that listening is particularly difficult. How do you answer a native speaker if you don't understand everything they said?
Of course, if you are in an office or on the street in an English-speaking country and you have to answer someone in English, then that could be potentially stressful. Thankfully, with a kind and caring teacher, you don't have to worry if you don't know the answer. They will repeat the question more slowly and wait for your answer. Thus, they act as a safety net which you can use to become more confident.
Be observant and write things down
Whenever you hear something or read something you don't understand, take a moment to write it down. You can always take a photo with your smartphone or make a voice recording if that helps you.
Ask, ask, ask
Whenever there is a word or phrase on your list that you don't know, don't be afraid to ask someone. If you choose me as your teacher, then, of course, I will give you a detailed answer to your satisfaction.
Sometimes it's a good idea to ask more than one person. Sometimes, you will get a different answer from each. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!
Take it slow
Actually, that should be slowly, but in casual situations, sometimes adverbs do not always have the -ly ending. If you are reading a word out loud or you are using it in speech and you have problems, don't worry! The best way to handle it is to repeat the word s-l-o-w-l-y. It will come out much better and you will have more control over the muscles in your mouth.
Listen to the noise read the "gibberish"
Small children are exposed to words and phrases they don't understand, though they are never stressed over it (from my observation). Find a radio station in English you like or watch a movie in English without subtitles. Just listen to what they are saying without worrying if you understand. That way, you will be exposed to the sounds and rhythm of English; this will prepare you for later when you do understand more.
Likewise, try reading a book, newspaper, or magazine—about a subject you enjoy—without trying to understand the words. Later, study some of the vocabulary and go back again. Repeat until you understand most of the text.
Find a friend
The more reasons you have to learn English, the more you will learn. If you have a personal connection to a language like me, as my wife is a Spanish speaker, the more you will be connected to the language and culture. In fact, you may feel over time that you adopt English almost as if it were your own. There are many sites that match you with a friend who will teach you English in exchange for an informal lesson in the language you can teach them (Spanish, German, French and Italian are popular ones). You might like to try Vocabulix or Coffeestrap which are free.
Think long term
Have you ever watched those TV commercials that offer English lessons and tell you that you will learn English in three months? Well, as with any other discipline, it takes time to learn a language. I'm not saying that it will take you ten years to be able to participate in a conference call or order food at a restaurant, but I am saying that learning English is a serious process, and you will have to put time and effort into it to reach the level you need to reach your goals.
So, to answer the question of how long it takes to learn English, my answer is: it depends on how much you need to know to reach your goals. We can help determine that with a Free Trial Lesson.
Find a good teacher you like
Your English teacher is the main ingredient of your success as a language learner. He or she will teach you what you cannot learn by reading articles or watching movies. You will learn how to speak, read, and write, and be corrected so that you will constantly improve your English.
You should like your teacher, because the relationship you have with them has a big effect on how well you learn. Since there are countless teachers available for Skype lessons, don't be afraid to select another teacher if you are not happy with your current one.
It is best to have the same teacher for all lessons. Though there are language learning systems that let you choose your teacher for each lesson, this implies a lack of continuity and control over your learning progress
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