1) Practice conversational English with educated, native English speakers – listening and speaking – Hello English
2) Listen to English daily. The news may be spoken too fast. Try finding a good podcast or You Tube for English language learners. Please comment with some suggestions of links with good podcasts, so I can pass these along to the other students.
3) Read English daily, but don’t try to read something too hard. If you are looking up many words on each page, pick something at a lower level to read. I started a year ago February at a beginner level in Spanish. I started reading stories for small children. Now, I can read at about an 8th grade reading level in Spanish. I would like to read adult novels in Spanish, but I am looking up too many words on a page. It is too slow, and I don’t learn that many new words in one sitting. The research (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974) and my own experience as a language learner shows that, if you are looking up too many words on one page as you read, you don’t have enough cognitive processing ability left to get the meaning of the text. It is better to read short stories or articles in which you are learning no more than several new words per page. You will be reinforcing all of the words you already know and seeing the grammar written in its proper form over and over. This is really helpful. It is best of all if you read the story out loud (aloud) two nights in a row. The first night, you are learning the meaning of the new words. The next night, you are reinforcing their meaning and practicing the pronunciation again. I have some specific suggestions on this topic, so please ask me during our appointment. It really depends upon the level of the student.
4) Write a play and say it over and over until you have memorized it.
5) Get song lyrics and listen to and learn the songs
6) Watch videos of your choice on YouTube or the television. If you can find the videos with English subtitles, that is even better! I watch a Spanish art history station on You Tube. I know quite a bit about art history, so I learn new words as I watch the video. Pick a topic that interests you – some people like to watch Desperate Housewives, others may prefer to watch sporting events, others may like to watch travel or history documentaries.
7) Watch one of your favorite Japanese movies that you have seen over and over that is dubbed in English (with the voices changed to English speaking). Watch the dubbed in English version several times. Convert the audio track to MP3 and take it with you in your iPod to play during the day. You will learn many new words this way.
7) Make it fun and keep it varied. If your grammar is still bad, don’t pick a text that just teaches grammar. It will not stick in your brain. Pick a textbook that has grammar and stories that go along with the grammar lesson. You will retain the grammar better that way.
LaBerge, D. & Samuels, S. (1974). Toward a Theory of Automatic Information Processing Reading. Cognitive Psychology, 6, 293-323.