The following English learning tips are geared towards all our students studying English with us here at Q Language in Hong Kong. However, that does not mean that they cannot be applied to you if you happen to be studying English at another of Hong Kong’s fine English learning centres or even adapted to wherever you are in the world.
1. Be realistic about your goals:
Many students expect to go from ‘absolute beginner’ to fluent in a matter of months and are then disappointed when they don’t make progress as quickly as they thought they would.
Having a clear idea about what level you expect to be and how long you plan to take to achieve it could help you avoid this.
Defining and setting S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals will help you to be clear about your expectations and keep you motivated and focussed.
Feel free to speak to your teacher if you are not sure if you are being unrealistic in your expectations.
2. Use every opportunity to practice:
Whether you are shopping or out in a bar or simply waiting for the lift at Q Language Centre, why not try to strike up a conversation with the person next to you instead of remaining silent or texting your friends back home?
You will be surprised how many Hong Kongers are open to chatting once you make the first move and the more you practice speaking in English the more confident you will become and the faster you will improve.
3. Read and watch only what you are interested in:
Having a genuine connection with the language you are studying is invaluable, so whether it’s your favourite series you are watching on TV or a political article you are reading, make sure that you are engaged with what you are studying.
Remember life is too short to study boring material that offers little interest to you personally! And the more you enjoy something, the easier it is to learn.
4. Make friends with English speakers:
A surprising number of students only stick with people from their own countries even when studying abroad. At Q Language school, we are fortunate to welcome students from all over the world so why not break the ice and invite someone to lunch?
Remember, starting a human connection with someone who doesn’t speak your language is a great way to break out of your comfort zone.
5. Join clubs/activities:
Hong Kong is a diverse city and there are all kinds of people who are into the same sports and hobbies as you – all you need to do is get out there and meet them.
Look at the meet-up boards of expat websites or ask around at school and hopefully you will soon hook up with people whom you have plenty in common with.
You could try this website where you’ll find plenty of people you could meet. They have meetup groups like, The Hong Kong Hiking Meetup , Cantonese English Study Group or the Hong Kong Tennis Meetup Group.
Here is a link to another popular Hong Kong website where there is always something fun happening that you could get involved with.
6. Keep a careful record of new vocabulary:
Have you been putting off filing those photocopies and scraps of paper that you have had lying around for ages? Well, you might be doing yourself a huge disservice by not being more organised.
Teachers find that students who have a clear system of recording new vocabulary tend to remember it so much better. This makes recycling words easier when they come up in class again.
7. Analyse your mistakes and corrections:
Tired of making the same old grammar mistakes in speaking or writing? Set aside some time and take proactive steps to get rid of these glitches once and for all – either ask your teacher for some written corrections or spend some time analysing your feedback at home.
Again, setting S.M.A.R.T goals, as mentioned above, should ensure that you really do conquer your weak grammar points and iron out your errors for good!
8. Embrace all forms of technology to help you practice:
In the age of smartphones and I-pads, there is no excuse for wasting a moment not practicing. There are a host of Apps and websites which you could use while waiting for the bus or simply hanging out at home. Here’s a list of free ESL iPad Apps, for example.
Or why not try chatting with a friend in English using a webcam or simply messaging a friend in English?
If you know of any other really good ESL Apps, please leave us a comment below.
So, set those S.M.A.R.T goals, put in some hard work and, perhaps most importantly of all, have fun whilst studying English – you will definitely reap the rewards!