Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

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Frosti85
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Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 3:27 am

Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Frosti85 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:59 am

I want to improve my English skills, which I consider as not very good.

Mainly my writing but also my speaking, but writing is more important.

But I don't want to pay for classes, because that would infer with my ERE goals.

Most of the apps (e.g. duolingo) are too basic, and focused mostly on vocabulary.

I tried a grammar book, but it was very dry and I gave up after a few weeks.

Also how can I learn correct pronunciation without someone correcting me if I'm wrong ?

Stahlmann
Posts: 294
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:05 pm

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Stahlmann » Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:27 pm

Why do you need it?
Try immersion (go to Great Britain with your "technical" skills and live-learn-earn there) :D (I know, not so easy to do).

Try to find a folk who needs German (or other skill you "own"), but offers English.

PS. I'm looking for German tutor :P

I'm good at giving advices, but failing at doing, so... I tried following methods, but they didn't worked for me (you can optimize them):

1. Try to find linguistic student who is desperate for money. (-> they know their price anyway)
a) co-share 1 teacher (->I don't have friends)
b) join Toastmasters (there are groups which conducts their meetings in English)
2. Join local expat/Erasmus/foreign language community community (->not to serious about outcomes)
3. Self-learn using books from local library (->too exhausted from work)
4. Barter exchange (->being millenial with one "high" sigmoid sucks)
5. Outsource it to "one" level lower country. I assume that for you 8$/60 min Skype lesson (1h of work in your McDonald) isn't a big deal.
(->I live in Second World, there aren't any Third World countries with German as mother tongue).

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Lillailler
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Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Lillailler » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:13 am

In my language study (not English, obviously) I use audiobooks together with the printed text.
First I listen to a segment of audiobook, length 5 – 10 minutes
Next I listen again, while following the text, and mark anything I don’t completely understand*.
I follow up everything marked, checking as appropriate with a reference grammar and dictionary. This usually gives me new words to learn, which I do separately. The big thing in learning new words for me is to at the same time learn the meaning, the grammar and the pronunciation.

You have to take this just as seriously as you would an in-person lesson. I find one segment a day, plus vocabulary learning, is enough to make tangible progress, and more is hard to maintain concentration.

There is a shop in my city that sells off publishers’ overstocks at c 25% cover price. Sometimes you can get both the printed book and the audiobook for next to nothing. But seriously, cost should not be an issue since you will get a hundred or so lessons out of a single book. It is important to vary the books to hear different voices and accents, and explore different areas of vocabulary.

*When I was less advanced I used just to mark the things I did not understand at all, but getting better led me to lower the threshold.

pk+
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Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2017 2:31 pm

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by pk+ » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:43 pm

For me biggest boost was definitely a whole lot of reading. As a side effect I got also programming skills and financial knowledge.
It would both improve your reading and writing skills.

(For convenience (may be not necessary at your level) use some browser plugin, like instant translate for chrome, for one-keystroke-popup-with-translation.)

After that (or in meantime if you have any commute or dog to walk) start to listen podcasts or audiobooks from various speakers.
It should improve conversational skills, perhaps to the level of getting job in another country.

Personally, I'm still on begining of step two, so it is kind of guessing there.

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Seppia
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Location: Italy

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Seppia » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:20 pm

For the writing, I have three suggestions
1- read
2- read
3- read some more
There's some great news sites that are free (I personally love Bloomberg, also has a great app), plus you can read millions of books, blogs, forums for free.

For listening, just keep on any live TV as a background noise. Bloomberg again provides free live streaming via an app of you don't want to pay, and there's tons of stuff on YouTube + any movie will do.

For the pronounciation you really have no option other than conversation, but don't overestimate it.
As long as you're fluent, your accent will be accepted in the real world.
Americans pronounciate differently from brits, and South Africans, and Australians, and Kiwis. Nobody cares.

Dream of Freedom
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Location: Nebraska, US

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Dream of Freedom » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:34 am

Normally I don't point out errors in language or grammar. It is annoying and makes me a target if I slip up, but given the topic of the thread I would point out that infer should be replaced with interfere. They have very different meanings.

That said English speakers will gladly cut a tree DOWN and then try to cut the SAME tree UP. :shock: It's a screwed up mess. The result of the Norman invasion centuries ago. It's hard for native speakers to get it right sometimes.

As for needing to hear the pronunciation of words I suggest http://www.wordreference.com/ I use them for Spanish, but they have German to English too. The nice thing though is that when you look a word up it not only has the definition but a button at the top to listen to a native speaker say the word.

I kind of agree with Seppia and pk+ though, read. You reach a point where what got you here won't get you there. Beginners belong in classes because they can't hold a conversation or read a newspaper or book. So how could they improve through those? But observing the masters of the language will help more.

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Jason » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:06 pm

I'm not sure if you are referring to UK English or USA English. There is a difference.

Identify a popular TV show and watch it with the sub-titles on. This way you are hearing and reading simultaneously. You can stop the action and eventually advance to where you attempt to write the sub-titles yourself. As you advance, you can move onto documentaries, Shakespeare plays etc.

If you don't have a TV, go to your local library and have them set you up.

enigmaT120
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Location: Falls City, OR

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by enigmaT120 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:01 pm

Seppia wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:20 pm
For the pronounciation you really have no option other than conversation, but don't overestimate it.
As long as you're fluent, your accent will be accepted in the real world.
Americans pronounciate differently from brits, and South Africans, and Australians, and Kiwis. Nobody cares.
Have you ever heard anybody from Northumberland speak what he or she considers to be English? There are some extremes out there.

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Astra
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Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by Astra » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:10 am

I agree duolingo is too basic, and learning grammar is just plain boooring! I did not learn English well in school, but over the internet. Here's a few things I can recommend:

- Watch movies, series in English (streaming, DVD swap or Piratebay). This is great for getting an ear for pronounciation and the use of idioms. Try with english subtitles if it's too hard. Series are on different difficulty levels: sitcoms and comics are pretty basic (Futurama, Simpsons, Big Bang theory), more high-concept series with accents or jargon harder (The Wire, Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, documentaries). The nice thing is you can watch what interests you!

- Podcasts and radio shows (Stitcher App or iTunes). A little more difficult, because you don't get visual cues and don't get lip-reading support. I listen while walking to work or doing house chores. Good to learn new words in context. Because you don't see the new word written, there is no chance you will ever mispronounce it. Getting a feel for grammar (what sounds right) is also useful. I can recommend almost all NPR shows for this (Planet Money, Rough translation, Freakonomics) or BBC if you prefer British.

- Games. If you're into gaming, try a dialogue-heavy roleplay (for example Elderscrolls series, Mass Effect, Risen, Gothic, the Witcher). Most of these are a bit dated and are available secondhand and play on a modest PC setup. Hearing the language has similar benefits to movies, but engaging in a mock conversation forces you to react to spoken dialogue and think about how you want to reply. If you really want to get into it, you can speak your dialogue out loud ;)

- As was recommended, reading. But this helps not so much with conversation and pronounciation. I've mispronounced words which I knew for years, simply because I've always only seen them written, never spoke (examples: iron, lamb, aluminium). Maybe an audiobook would have been better.

- The best thing is to talk with a native English speaker. I'm always very clear that I want to improve my English and welcome corrections to my grammar or pronounciation. Thank them when they correct you. Don't be embarrased or defensive. You are learning! If they are too polite to correct you, try to notice if they repeat a word or sentence you said differently.

- Last tip: have yourself recorded speaking. I've recently been filmed giving a public speech in English. While highly embarassing, it was very revealing about my accent and weird ticks. Knowledge is the first step to betterment ;)

Good luck!

JennyH
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2018 12:12 pm

Re: Fastest way to improve my English skills without paying

Post by JennyH » Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:11 am

Frosti,

the forum gave you so many great ideas already, so I just give you two more that helped me level up my Spanish:

- I do have a whatsapp voice message tandem: we send each other a one minute voice message every day, so I have to practice speaking Spanish. She corrects me, I correct her English.
- Also: Set yourself goals: where do you want to be in one month? What do you need to practice today?

All the best!

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