All right ladies and gentlemen, all you avid English speakers, here it is: English improvement courses Jakarta top 10 tips. The secrets that will save you tons of time and money. You may be asking yourself, why is he willing to offer advice that will risk him losing customers to simple, self-study techniques?

Quite simply, learning a language is a lot like going to the gym. Some people have the motivation, the drive to go every day and the persistence to keep working hard, and others prefer having a trainer by their side. In this case, the trainer, the teacher does virtually the same role, to encourage you and give suggestions. Equally so, workout routine without a healthy diet is not going be very productive. Chatting with many teachers around Indonesia, I have often heard of the common problem of students having an English class but not doing any self-study.

So, allow me to share with you my best suggestions for healthy study habits for those with or without a teacher.

IMPROVE VOCABULARY – SET STUDY GOALS
The number one reason my mind freezes and I stop listening when trying to learn a language is when I hear an unknown word. For most of us, English vocabulary seems daunting, with an estimated one million words out there, you might want to cry, but no worries, as the average English speaker uses only 10,000-20,000 words. In England, football manager Fabio Capello, from Italy says he can get by managing his entire team with 100 words!

So how about your vocab? To start, you might want to decide alone or with your teacher on an amount to work towards every week. When I learn a new language, my number is usually 10 words a day, minimum 30 words a week. A comfortable plan is ten a day, Monday to Friday, with the weekends off – you can use the weekends to revise. It is really not as hard as it sounds. For ten words a day, find them by listening, reading, or asking questions. Take notes; study; memorize; repeat!

As a visual learner, I love flash cards. Flash cards are great for memorization, and because of computers, even more so; if you don’t want to spend a fortune on flash cards, or your boss does not appreciate you stealing Post-It notes from the office, check out a programme called Anki ( http://ankisrs.net for an easy-to-use, customizable way to practice. It can also help keep the daily goals. 50 words a week, 200 a month, you will be making great progress. Alternatively, if you study in an English course with a textbook, you might get 10 words a week. Try not to be “at a loss for words.”

2. Take Notes!

Ok, socially cool, fashionable, and stylish people of the world, I am going to suggest something that might seem contradict your image. ALWAYS CARRY A SMALL NOTEBOOK WITH YOU – those who carry notebooks with them tend not to forget things.

See some new vocabulary, a phrase, or expression? Write it down! Combine this with tip 1.

1. Culture:language:Culture
Language is a funny thing. It is not enough that you memorize thousands of words or study the grammar, but you must know the CULTURE as well. To be honest, I would say the two cannot be separated. To speak a language without the culture is just translation.

We have all heard numerous examples of Indian English speakers saying things like “what is your honorable name?” or “one thousand pardons, my lady.”

Let’s not forget the “Singlish”, loud Chinese guy screaming at me about what I want to buy. These are stereotypes, but they exist for good reason. They never had native English speakers as teachers and never learned the culture that goes with the language. An English speaker does not respond well to Russian “rudeness” or the way Germans seem too direct.

Take the time to learn how to avoid translating and instead, listen carefully to how foreigners phrase things in English to be indirect or polite, e.g. Not “give me your pen.” but instead, “Sorry, may I please use your pen?”

2. READ, READ, READ
I sometimes feel like narrator David Attenborough in documentary about Indonesians:

-voice over, setting: in Gramedia-

As an avid reader of many books, I am often seen as a nerd, geek, etc. in Indonesia, especially since I do not read Harry Potter or Twilight. However for the language learner, reading can be your best friend. What if I told you that you need not spend years studying grammar if you like reading? Whether it be a book, magazine, newspaper or the internet, if you read out loud or aloud (speaking the words as you read), your mind subconsciously files and categorizes the grammar, which will help you speak and write later.

A great source of vocab, grammar, and knowledge, reading definitely ranks in my top tips.

3. Be Social
This one’s simple. Go out; meet foreigners. There are many online travel networks, websites, and international culture gatherings. Go. Do. Chat. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. The more mistakes, the better.

4. Enjoy Films and TV
Get a DVD with good English subtitles and watch a film scene by scene. Take notes for vocabulary. To improve your pronunciation, listen to someone speaking, pause, and repeat their sentence as accurately as possible. With even just a basic English level, watching a film a few times is a great and fun way to study. The first time, just watch for the story and content. The second time focus on the vocabulary, and finally the last, you may work with the pronunciation and tone. For a fun game with friends, see if you can talk to each other only using movie quotes.

5. Be Aware of Your Organization
Personally, I feel Indonesian schools do not prepare students enough for academic organization. By this, I mean note taking and different forms of writing. In today’s digital world, communication has broken down into 200-character short messages, which work well for socializing, but most of us have forgotten some vital skills for formal writing. We have also lost our note taking ability.

If you feel a lack of confidence about writing reports or taking notes, Google it, or feel free to ask for help from a teacher. So many people ask me to evaluate their reports for work or school but without structure, I would have to start over again.

6. Ask Questions!
I cannot overstate this. Many Asian cultures do not encourage questioning the teacher so students often pass on asking the questions necessary to their understanding. Try this: never answer something with one or two words. If your teacher says “do you understand?”, do not reply YES or NO but instead ask a question to confirm what was said. Outside of classes, ask the meanings of words, or how to use phrases. There are no silly questions. Due to the lack of questions in my classes, I often say ridiculous things or propose strange activities to see if anyone will ask why or how. Don’t be caught out by the same trick!

More questions = better.

7. Motivation
Intelligence is heavily determined by motivation. Motivation is often closely related to confidence. Allow yourself to be confident in speaking English, and you will feel motivated to practice more. I welcome a challenge. I could take any person, just the two of us, to England or the USA and I guarantee with the right lifestyle, they would speak fluent English in 3 months. Their motivation would be so much greater because they would not have an option to speak their native language.

Give yourself that motivation in Indonesia! Force yourself to practice English with any friends who speak English as well. Parents: speak English to your kids at home. They will quickly surpass your ability because of it, and then maybe you can learn from them.

When you sit down to study, don’t sigh! Take a breath, and tell yourself you love it. Keep believing that studying English is fun, or you will find motivation is hard to keep.

When you read the newspaper, pay attention to the articles as if you will report the story to someone else later. Remember, going to the gym is only productive as long as you want to, and as long as you combine your training with healthy lifestyle as well. Your motivation to learn is that healthy lifestyle.

8. Don’t overdo it.
I would say the perfect amount of study for me is about 30 minutes a day and absolutely no more. Give yourself 15 minutes for vocabulary. Study for more than an hour, and your mind is no longer efficient at absorbing English. It is so much better to have 15-30 minutes a day every day than to do a lot at once. It is easy to be lazy, so keep a schedule, but remember improving English is not all study: it needs practice as well.

That’s it for now.

If you would like to be taught be Mr. Jeff, please call 021-7654760 or e-mail contact@english-today-jakarta.com

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