The Adams lived in a former British colony. The English language was—and still is—the lingua franca. Thanks to their university education, they all understood and spoke English fairly well. Or so they thought. Until two of the Adams’ son took an interest in writing stories and essays. The preteens showed such remarkable talent that their parents began to brainstorm on strategies to help their children enhance their English writing skills. Should they hire an English Language tutor or a creative writing mentor? They asked around. They got many more conflicting opinions and advice. Feeling overwhelmed, they decide to consult Google. “How Can I Write English Better?” They typed in. Just as one of the advisers had predicted, the search engine inundated by a plethora of results.
At this point, Mrs Adams was also considering writing creative content for the blog section of her entrepreneurship website. She intended to benefit from whatever opportunities she chose for her sons. She was tired of losing clients largely because her sales pitches lacked finesse and punch. Her readers often made shocking and uncharitable complaints about the syntactical and grammatical errors that made her sales pitches difficult to understand. This was even more shocking because she spent hours poring over her texts in an attempt to proofread and edit.
If you are facing the same problems as Mrs. Adams, you’re probably eager to improve your spoken and written English.
The first step is to recognize the most probable root causes of your problems.
- Lack of Practice Speaking the Queen’s English: If you aren’t speaking the Queen’s English (or the BBC English as most literary enthusiasts like to call it), then you’re less likely to speak the language fluently. Mrs Adams did her best to communicate in the Queen’s English. She also forbade her children from speaking the local patois or Pidgin English. To her chagrin, they were all writing in a version of the English language that sounded quite incomprehensible to Native English speakers. Her problem was likely due to the point discussed below.
- Insufficient writing Practice: If you want to write excellently, you have to spend a lot of time reading and writing. Writing is a more difficult task than speaking. Unlike speaking, writing engages neurons in the left and right sides of the brain. This explains why even though Mrs Adams and her sons spoke the Queen’s English, they struggled to write well. Regular practice helps writers master the art of thinking both creatively and rationally at the same time while observing grammatical, spelling and syntactical rules.
So How Can You Improve Your Proficiency In Speaking and Writing The English Language?
In this article, I will outline and explain all the easy steps the Adams and other language enthusiasts have taken. I will also cite research findings and advice gleaned from language experts. Increasing your language proficiency is actually very straightforward and uncomplicated. You will observe this from the 7 tips on my list. Let’s go!
1. Learn New Words. Build Your Vocabulary
Do whatever you can to expand your vocabulary. You can choose to read literature that is written in English, listen to the BBC and/or watch movies with English subtitles.
Taking steps to expand your vocabulary will make it easier for you to speak more fluently. And if you intend to write professionally, you will need to put in a lot of hours practising how to read and write in English. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. What matters is that you learn from your mistakes.
You can follow these steps.
- Get a vocabulary book. Write down new words and their meanings.
- Now you can recognize these new words. That’s wonderful. But do you know how to use them correctly in a sentence?
- Write old-fashioned letters to relatives and acquaintances who are more proficient in writing the English language than you are.
- Make sure you use the new words you’ve learned in your letters. Use all the forms (or as many as you can) of the words and the prepositions that can be used with these new words.
Actively expanding your vocabulary is a great way to increase your English proficiency.
2. Take A Free Language Proficiency Course Online
There are a thousand and one free online courses. Your job is to sign up and learn free of charge. You can start with the BBC English learning course. They teach grammar, style and punctuations. Isn’t that wonderful?
The sad reality is that these courses end some day and the student has to find ways to keep learning and sharpening their language skills. I will show you how in the other points below.
3. Memorize Word Spelling
Chances are that you have heard about the confusion of mastering both British spellings and American English spellings? Do not despair. You’ll figure out the differences sooner than you think. The differences are mostly in the extra ‘u’s (as in colour or favourite) and the switching around the e’s and r’s (litre and centre) in British English. In American English, these words would be spelled, color, favorite, liter, center.) Easy to memorize, right?
Pay enough attention and you’ll learn the ways words are spelt. One easy way to do this is to participate in spelling bee contests, play word scrabble board games or just read. I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough. Not only does reading teach you to spell, but it also shows you how a slight change in spelling can completely change the meaning of the word and the sentence.
For instance, ‘fare’ and ‘fear’ have similar sounds, but they mean different things. While fare means ‘get along’ or ‘the sum charged for a public conveyance’, fear means ‘an anxious feeling’. Imagine using both words interchangeably in different sentences, the reader will definitely get confused and probably, upset enough to stop reading the rest of your text/
So learn to spell your English words correctly. Keep a dictionary on your reading desk and install one on your digital devices. You can use post-it notes and flashcards to make the learning process easier and faster.
4. Read And Write Often
Research studies have shown that adopting a voracious reading culture boosts language skills faster than chatting and watching movies. If you want to learn to speak and write more fluently within a short period of time, read books written in the language you’re learning.
There two ways to make this strategy more effective:
- Read to yourself
- Read out loud
Don’t underestimate the effects of reading aloud. Science has shown that different parts of the brain are engaged when you read quietly and when you read aloud. Read quietly every day, it will teach you how to structure sentences. But don’t forget to get at least thirty minutes practice reading aloud. It’ll make a world of difference.
Go out of your way to find books or articles on your favorite topics. The last thing you want is to fall asleep while learning to read.
5. Master All The Language Rules. Avoid Grammatical Errors
The problem with grammatical errors is that they are very easy to make. Sadly, these grammar rules make all the difference. Observing grammar rules will go a long way to enhance the quality of your written and spoken English.
Good grammar entails:
- Usage of correct and appropriate tenses
- Correct punctuations.
One simple way to do this is to revise and edit your written texts. If you can get feedback from someone else, please do. It is possible to miss obvious mistakes. Even professional writers occasionally commit grammatical blunders.
6. Use A Grammar and Style Software
Many free and paid software programs can help you spot and correct grammatical errors. You should take advantage of some of these. The most popular grammar correction software is Grammarly. Most professional writers use this software to edit and proofread their work. We live in the technology age. These machines are here to make your job easier.
7. Be Consistent and Diligent
Learning to speak and write the English language can be quite a challenge especially when you have to deal with the racist and uncharitable remarks of trolls. Ignore the jesters and focus on your goal.
Find time to sit down and write. It doesn’t matter what you use. If you prefer a screen to a pen and paper, fine. What matters is that you practice writing as many words as you can. Be prepared to rewrite something you spent hours working on, it’s the only way you’ll learn to avoid mistakes.
Practice speaking too. Find time to converse with people who speak grammatically correct English language.
The more you practice, the more proficient you’ll be in writing and speaking the English language.