Thursday, November 26, 2020
Home Education Learning English from Scratch

Learning English from Scratch

First things first, English is not an alien language for us. We are using it from the very beginning of our school life. But, the fact is we try to learn it in a totally opposite way. In our education system, we learn grammar first then the language. But it should be, language first then grammar, in that way.
Every language has four skills; reading, listening, speaking, and writing. If you can improve your reading and listening skills then automatically you can improve your speaking and writing.

So to improve your reading skill, you can read. If you are a newspaper reader then you can just choose an English newspaper like Daily Star. The quality of the Daily Star is quite good.
You will learn many words and your subconscious mind will catch some unique sentence-building techniques. You can also read good blogs. I follow ‘Medium Daily digest’, ‘War History Online’, ‘Washington Post’ etc.
If you find those very nerdy then just read a similar column in Bangla newspaper first and then read it again in English. Like you are following a piece of cricket news in Prothom Alo and then read it again in Daily Star. In that way, you can get the taste of the news first and you will have some assumptive meaning of some unseen words. Take note and open the dictionary for those. You will see that 90% of those words were almost close to your assumptions. If you don’t like newspapers then read novels but that has to be written after 1990. Because language changes a lot every 30 years.

For listening, you can watch CNN or the BBC. In the UK, there are about 7-8 accents. There are 2-3 accents only in London city, itself. In the USA, there are about 15-16 accents. New yorkers talk differently than the southerners. Bostoners are different than Californians. MIddle states talk in a different way. The Australian accent is gibberish to me. In India, the south Indian accent is totally different than the north Indians. So, sometimes you will not understand a lot of things. And you don’t need to mimic them. You just try but no need to make it a comic accent. If you can’t follow any accent, then also fine. You talk like your self. But, to me, the BBC and CNN are almost standard. BBC is the representative of British English whereas CNN is an American one. You can also watch documentaries. Al-Jazeera and DeutchWelle (DW) produce some fantastic documentaries and their English is also awesome. Our honorable dean sir is a frenzy language learner. He can speak in English, Arabic, Urdu, and many more languages smoothly. He learned those after his graduation. One day I was working in his office. He was working while on his PC the Al-Jazeera Arabic was open and the news was going on. I asked him why he did that. He said though he is working with concentration, his subconscious mind is picking up the news and his language skill is up to date as he can not speak Arabic with us. I did not do anything like that ever but, if it suits you, you can do it.

For your writing skill, you have only one thing and that is writing. You have to write, write and write. Through writing, your skill will be developed. If you have a hobby of Diary writing, why not you change your words into English then?
You can write on the computer. If you have an internet connection then you can use a free app called ‘Grammarly’. You can download it and it will instantly show your mistake. I am texting you and up to this line that app has helped me to rectify more than 15 mistakes. Write anything. Write your class notes again in PC. Your sheet will be made, your English writing will be improved and you have read it; three benefits. There is no limit on the best writing. You just write and one day it will be awesome.

Last but not least the speaking. Let me share a story. One day, I was on 7 no bus (Chattogram bus number ). I was coming to campus from GEC may be (I have forgotten). I saw two guys in the second last seats were talking in English. People were looking at them. I was in the extreme gallery seat and watching them. At the rail crossing, I got up and asked them who they were talking to in English. Now, people are looking at us. They were astonished from the beginning and now, after seeing me joining them, they were thundered (as you know, looking at me most of the guys think I can’t even speak Bangla, LOL). Those two guys answered that they were from City college (or Commerce college, I forgot) and they were preparing for the IELTS exam. So, you have to talk. If you can not find anyone, then talk with yourself. I do that most of the time. Sometimes, I talk so loud that people think I am a lunatic (again LOL). I am not saying to you to follow me. You can talk in front of the mirror. You can talk with your friend.
My mentor and teacher of English said that they were two friends and they had an agreement that if someone would speak in Bangla, even a simple sentence, then he has to pay the bill of afternoon snacks. You can do it. Choose a willing friend. From the very first, you can’t say the full sentence properly; maybe. You might end up saying ‘pass me the daler bati’ but if you don’t stop there and continue it one day you will end up saying your friend to ‘pass me the bowl of lentil soup’ or just ‘Pass me the lentil, please’. But, you have to continue. People will sled at you, look at you, laugh at you. But if you can speak better than them then they will come to you ask for some tips. Saying again, you don’t need to mimic the British or American accents. If you can achieve those, better. If can’t, fine. But don’t push too hard. It will end up being some comic accent and will create ‘laughs gags’. A lot of people are doing great having their own accent.

In the end, I just want to say that language is like a river and continuously changing. In our childhood, we used to learn that ‘shall’ is for 1st person and 3rd person singular number whereas ‘will’ is for others. But now, shall is obsolete. We can use ‘we will’, ‘I will’. So, language is changing. So, you have to be a life long learner. In this era, you have to express your feelings to others. Just that’s it. Until and unless you end up saying ‘My father is a cow’ instead of ‘My father has a cow’, all is well.

So, keep learning.

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