How to learn English effectively

How did you learn English?

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Back in 2002, I was an average English student. I had problems with basic grammar and my pronunciation was bad. I had been to English classes for several years, but still wasn't satisfied with my progress. I realised I needed to start learning the language on my own.

Up until then, my main language activities were memorizing lists of words and doing grammar exercises. Of course we also did some reading and listening in class. The problem was that most of the time the topics were boring and I wasn't really keen on hearing about them. From time to time we would play a game. But most of the games had one purpose - to get us to learn a list of words. They were no fun, either.

After a few years of English classes I knew some more or less useful vocabulary and a couple of grammar rules. But I could hardly speak and made lots of mistakes in my writing. I decided to start reading in English. I began with simplified books from the Penguin Readers series, which helped me increase my vocabulary. I noted each new word in a notebook - this way I learned about 1000 new words. After a while I noticed that I needed to use the dictionary less and less. Often I would meet a word that I had recently written down. It gave me lots of satisfaction - I felt that I had learned something new.

My vocabulary was growing quickly, but my English was still very poor. My writing had improved a bit, but I still had problems with listening and speaking. I listened to English songs a lot, but I couldn't understand the words. Then I got hold of some computer programs for learners, with audio recordings and video clips. I also downloaded lyrics of my favourite songs and learned them. Gradually my listening skills began to improve.

In 2002 I came across Antimoon, a website for English learners. Thanks to the excellent advice from Tom and Michal, I made some good decisions. I bought an English-English dictionary. I learned the phonetic alphabet and started studying pronunciation. I also started using SuperMemo, a computer program for speed-learning. It helped my English a lot (and, at last, I could get rid of my vocabulary notebook!).

After a few months of intensive learning I noticed that my skills had considerably improved. It gave me satisfaction and pleasure - the methods I had been using worked! Since then, I've been trying to have even more contact with English.

The All write English dictation competition - diploma (click on the picture to enlarge it)Today, I can't imagine my life without English. I do most of my reading in English - news and articles on the Web, novels, even comic books. I listen to English songs and audio recordings on interesting subjects on my MP3 CD player. Communicating in English is not a problem for me anymore. Writing and speaking became easy. I even won a dictation competition for high school students held by International House in Wroclaw, Poland (see the picture of the diploma on the right).

Now, it's your turn to make a breakthrough in your English learning!

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