Learning tips for better English

    Spotlight 5/2018
    Simply better English

    In our interview on learning a second language, Professor Vivian Cook said you should feel free to “learn in your own way”. And we believe there are many easy but effective strategies to improve your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. As part of our “Simply better English” language featurehier: Artikelfeature, we’ve collected a variety of ideas (some of them from our readers) that are easy to to implementin die Tat umsetzenimplement in your everyday life for reading, writing, listening and speaking English.


    Learning tips: read, write, listen and speak




    A selection of tips for reading:


    Read in small bites

    A big book is a lot to to digestverdauendigest. So, read in small bites. Short stories, and even simple poems, are perfect. The British Council’s LearnEnglish website has short stories and poems gradedeingestuftgraded at the B1/B2 and C1/C2 levels. It even invites you to write a short comment.


    Enjoy your hobby — in English

    Do you have a special hobby or interest — perhaps football, film, fashion or feminism? Then why not try reading about it in English? Digital magazine subscriptionAbonnementsubscriptions make it so easy for international readers to enjoy hobby magazines without having to pay the cost of postagePortopostage. Go to www.magazine.co.uk and look for the “Digital-only subscriptions” section.


    Read once, read twice

    If you’re reading for enjoyment, or for key information, just read once. If you want to read as a learning experience, try reading again. The second time, you will notice the details: perhaps a new word, an interesting sentence structure or a beautiful example of a grammatical structure. Write these down if you like, use a highlighterTextmarkerhighlighter or simply make a mental note of them and move on.


    Readers’ tips

    • “Start your reading with simple books; try young adults’ books or authors such as Agatha Christie.”
      Sabine P.
    • “Read, read, read! Do the tests on Spotlight online. Read the BBC news. Get reading material from your local library.”
      Imke M.
    • “Read children’s books or English magazines. Then use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words.”
      Christiane S.





    A selection of tips for writing:


    Find an audience and a purpose

    Only you know why you want to write: for work, to make friends, to tell a story. And only you know who you want to write for: for the public, for a friend or for yourself. There are lots of ideas for different writing tasks on the pullout card on pages 51–52 of the magazine (Spotlight 05/2018). What ever your purpose or audience, these tips will help you to write with confidence.


    Start in the middle

    Staring at a blankleer, unbeschriebenblank piece of paper (or a blank computer screen) is scaryerschreckend, beängstigendscary. Where to begin? What to say first? One solution is to start in the middle. Write the part you feel most confident about and then go back and add the opening lines later.


    Offer personal advice

    Do you have useful life experiences to share? Readers of The Guardian newspaper ask for help from fellow readers in the weekly “Personal Problems” feature. You can post your advice or experiences online and the best answers are published in the newspaper each week. See www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/series/privatelives


    Readers’ tips

    • “I write difficult words on sticky notes and put them up in places where I see them all the time.”
      Ursula K.
    • “Pick the right language level, otherwise you might get frustrated.”
      Uwe H.





    A selection of tips for listening:


    Simple stories

    Watching a whole film in the original English version can be a big challenge the first time you do it. We suggest you choose an action film or a romantic comedy, where you can probably understand the story even without the words. It’s better not to choose thrillers or detective films with complex stories.


    Laugh and learn

    If you live in a city, keep an eye out for English language comedy nights in clubs or theatres. Standup comedy is popular in the English-speaking world, and comedians are always looking for new audiences to tell their jokes to. Could you be that audience?


    Stay with Spotlight!

    We at Spotlight produce our own in-house audio material. With Spotlight Audio or Spotlight express, you can improve your comprehension skills, expand your vocabulary and practise listening to different English accents. Visit www.spotlight-online.de/audio and the listening section of our website.


    Readers’ tips

    • “I listen to www.audible.de all the time, sometimes even when I’m asleep!”
      Ulrich B.
    • “Listen, listen, listen … something will always stick, even if you don’t have much time.”
      Daniela W.
    • “The more often you watch your favourite film in English, the better you’ll remember certain words and phrases.”
      Astrid W.





    A selection of tips for speaking:


    Be your own commentator

    When you are doing routine choreHausarbeitchores, keep a running commentary going in your head about what you’re doing. Imagine you are a TV commentator. Even if you’re doing something boring, pretend that the world is watching you — “He’s taken the socks out of the washing machine. Will he find all the pairs?”


    English and a pint

    Have you been to your local Irish pub? The bar staffPersonal, Mitarbeiterstaff are usually Irish, so you can order your drinks in English if you like — and have a chat if the pub is quiet. Most Irish pubs have regular evenings of Irish music, quizzes and other English-language events.


    Brush up your vocabulary

    Do you feel like you can never think of the right word to use at the right time? Then give your vocabulary a chance to expand by downloading Spotlight’s free Word of the Day app. Get a new word or phrase every day, learn how to pronounce it correctly and see how it is used in context.


    Readers’ tips

    • “You get through the language barrier by deliberately getting yourself into situations where you simply have to use English.”
      Almuth M.
    • “Don’t panic, just talk!”
      Ilka F.



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