Translated by Alanna Quintyne

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in which I talked about an experiment I did last year trying to monitor my level of English. And, it was interesting to see that some of my readers wrote to me on Instagram to ask me if the actions listed were all that I did to learn this foreign language or if there were other things on which I did not specifically dwell.

That’s why I decided to write the article “How do I study English?” to explain to you everything I do to practice, in my case, English.

If you are interested to know more about it, read the following lines! :)

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article in which I talked about an experiment which I did last year trying to monitor my level of English.

Well, in that article I listed some goals and the actions carried out by me in order to achieve them.

In my opinion, it was really interesting to see that in the weeks following the publication of this article some of my readers wrote to me on Instagram to ask me if the actions listed were all that I did to learn this foreign language or if there were other things on which I did not specifically dwell in the article.

So, having aroused such interest in some of you, I decided to share everything I do to learn a foreign language – English in my case.

How Do I Study English?

One thing I want to make clear right away is that the activities I am about to list for you aren’t all things that I do with extreme regularity. There are some periods in which I prefer to concentrate on one thing, and other periods where I prefer to concentrate on others. Often, the choice varies not only based on what I feel like doing but also on how much time I have available. 

If you already read the aforementioned article, you already know that there is one thing I try to do consistently:

  • Attending lessons regularly with an English teacher.
  • Writing lists.
  • Writing texts.

1. Attending lessons regularly with an English teacher.

Finding a teacher who you trust and with whom you feel comfortable is not always easy. The fact that I had to go through various tutors throughout the year until I found the right one for me is proof of this.

And so, from that moment on I tried to be consistent and to attend lessons regularly once a week. I practically forced myself to. Why?

Because I am aware that nowadays English is essential and even if I can sit on my laurels by telling myself that what I know is more than enough, in reality, I know the importance of improvement. I know that by deepening my knowledge of this language I can communicate with the world, and the advantages of this are also evident for my students, to whom I can give better explanations in English. 

However, most of all, what encourages me to attend all my lessons is that only with consistent practice will I be able to achieve the confidence I am looking for and overcome that mixture of hesitancy and shyness that many people feel when they speak a foreign language, myself included.

2. Lists of new words and phrases 

My first point brings us directly to my second point. In fact, I tend to write a lot during my lessons. I take notes on the following things:

  • Mistakes made and corrections of those mistakes.
  • More colloquial phrases that could help make me seem less “foreign”.
  • Phrasal verbs and their Italian translation.

What I try to do is to go through these lists, and by doing this I try to remember the context in which a word, or more often, a phrase was included. 

After that, from time to time I try to read and reread these lists. It’s clear that the memorization process would be more effective if you look at the lists a little every day, since you run the risk of the lists getting longer and longer. However, at the end of the day, doing what you can is always better than doing nothing at all!

3. Reading in English

Reading is one activity which I love, whether it be in Italian or a foreign language, and I have to admit that I have been reading a lot lately, even in English.

First of all, I read texts in English that are related to my work or that can help me improve in my work. I read, for example, resources related to marketing, books about personal growth, blogs that talk about blogging, and last but not least, the translations of my articles from Italian into English.

I think that reading these translations is a really good exercise for me as they allow me to see texts written by me personally, which I already know well, in another language. In addition, the phrases and concepts found in my articles are resources that I could actually use with my students when I explain Italian concepts to them in English.

4. Watching movies and TV shows in English

One activity I did quite a bit last year was to watch TV shows in English. In reality, living in a family that speaks only and exclusively Italian, I had to find a bit of alone time during which I could devote myself to this activity. My moment was at breakfast, which I tried to have by myself, in order to have 20-25 minutes which were completely mine during which I could immerse myself in the series of my choice – in particular series which I had already seen in Italian.

5. Writing in English

All of my students know that for me, writing is an exercise which is fundamental to learning a language, as it allows you to think, monitor yourself, correct yourself and everything that is considered appropriate in order to obtain a text that is as correct as possible.

I don’t know if you follow me on Instagram or not, but if you have, you would have noticed that for some time I only wrote my captions exclusively in Italian. 

Do you want to know why? Because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to check each caption, because I didn’t want to risk making mistakes or blunders in English. I have to admit that I used only Italian for quite a long time until I realized one thing: my audience is not Italian.

What a discovery, no?!

Even if the majority of my readers don’t find it difficult to understand Italian, there’s surely some percentage, however small, that follows me because they are learning Italian and want to improve theirs with me.

That’s why I started writing again in two languages, Italian and English. Because by using English in posts and my newsletters, I can communicate with everyone, even beginners.

Even if English isn’t my native language, using it in my writing can without a doubt be advantageous. For example, I can learn words and phrases that I didn’t know before, develop my ability to paraphrase phrases that would be difficult to translate from Italian to English and last but not least, communicate with as many people as possible.

Sure, English isn’t my first language and of course, I’ve made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes, but as they say: done is better than perfect!

Conclusion

In this article called “How do I study English?”, I decided to list the things I did last year and to this day continue to do in order to practice my English.

As I already said, not all the activities listed always carry the same weight. I choose how to study each time depending on the time of the year, the time available and what inspires me. For example, this year I’m not dedicating any of my time to the methodical study of grammar, on which I placed more of my focus last year.

In general, my advice is the following: use various methods and resources. Especially if you’re not a beginner, you can choose whatever you want to do from time to time and have fun – sing, read, watch a movie…you’ll be spoiled for choice.

There are countless ways to learn and improve a language, and remember, if you want to study in a more structured way, find a good Italian teacher!

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