Good English skills are vital to succeeding in life, in terms of education, career, and personal relationships. This means that many people want to improve their English, but it can be hard to know how to go about it. There are three main areas that have to be worked on: pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.
Getting the pronunciation right is something that many international students worry about, but that people born in English-speaking countries often forget about, but it is equally important for all. After all, pronouncing the words you use correctly makes you look far more intelligent. The first step to improving pronunciation is often to slow down your speech a little and think a bit more carefully. Pay attention to consonants, particularly at the end of words (as these are often missed off in speech), and make sure sounds like “sh” and “th” come out properly. A good way to improve pronunciation is often to watch English movies in which people are speaking properly.
The second way to improve your English is to widen your vocabulary. One good way to do this is to learn a new word (or a few) every day, and make an effort to use them. Reading is also important in learning new words, as is looking up words you don’t know in a dictionary so that you will be able to use them yourself. Making sure that you fully understand the meaning is really important, though, because it is no good using new words if you don’t use them in the correct place.
Because of this, just knowing a dictionary definition may not be enough; you will need to know in what contexts the new word can be used or you could say something that makes no sense. The same applies to colloquial phrases, which many people use incorrectly after hearing them one time (perhaps used by a friend in the wrong context). Understanding the register is very important too, as you don’t want to use slang in a formal context, or alienate people in social situations with overly complex words that only serve to make you look arrogant.
The final thing to really work on is grammar, and spelling and punctuation with it. Reading will help a great deal in this respect, as you can learn from seeing it used properly. There are also plenty of websites and books available to help with grammar and punctuation if you’re unsure of how to use something. Improving your grammar is so important because spellcheckers still aren’t advanced enough to pick up most errors, or even incorrectly tell us to change something. Pronunciation and vocabulary must be improved though too, as all are equally important and all affect your grasp of the English language.