In the modern world, the importance of knowing English is undeniable, so more and more people want to master this language. At the same time, many beginners who have never studied English before get lost in the variety of methods and textbooks. In this article we are going to tell you which English textbook to choose, how to keep your motivation and organize studying process, and what to pay special attention to so that your knowledge be confident and skills – brought to automatism.
There is no zero!
Talking about zero knowledge of English is not quite right, because in Russian there are countless borrowings and cognate words that everyone can understand. For example, the words “information”, “radio”, “music”, “sister”, “bank” and others will be intuitively familiar to you. So, a certain amount of foreign vocabulary will be given to you without the slightest effort. Already not so scary, right?
How to stay motivated?
Mastering a foreign language from scratch is no easy task. After a couple of lessons, you may think that this iceberg of rules and exceptions will never give in to you. Think about those who started like you and reached an advanced level. You can do it too, believe in yourself! Your passion for the subject is your key to success. One need English for work, another – for travel, another – for self-improvement. Everyone has their own motivations, but it’s best if you have several at the same time.
Who to study with?
These days, there are many options for learning English from scratch:
individual lessons with a teacher;
The most effective lessons will be with a teacher. Individually or with a group (5-7 people) you will go through the necessary material at the optimum pace. It is important to find a qualified teacher with whom you will be interested. Believe me, the teacher’s enthusiasm and love for English will certainly inspire you to conquer the top called “English”.
If you choose group training, make sure that the group is not too large. Otherwise, the teacher simply will not be able to give enough attention to each “student”. English classes in groups have an important advantage – the person is, as they say, among themselves, the same newcomers, like themselves. Make progress in a friendly atmosphere is much easier, especially since an experienced teacher will support a little game direction lessons.
Learning English by yourself from scratch
Those who, for one reason or another, chose the path of self-study, will have a harder time. Constantly need to spur interest, not to give up and not be lazy. And the hardest part is getting started.
Where do I start to prepare?
1. Choosing a methodology:
There are many techniques for learning English from scratch these days. Choose the one that is right for you and that you will enjoy working with.
2. Selection of Study Guides:
Zero level will not allow you to immediately take up foreign books, so get hold of publications of proven domestic authors. Suitable, for example, Golitsinsky or Bonk. Later on, turn to well-known British editions: Headway, Hotline, True to Life, Language in Use, Blueprint.
A good textbook boasts a sufficient amount of theory and practical exercises, developing reading, writing, and speaking skills in equal measure. When buying a textbook, make sure its structure meets your requirements: vocabulary, grammar, topics. The rules should be laid out clearly and informatively, and colorful illustrations, additional tables, etc. provide an important advantage over boring black-and-white editions.
3. The choice of time for classes and their duration:
It’s better to study English at the same time. If you’re a morning person, you should do it in the morning, but night owls are better at it in the evening.
To effectively learn a foreign language, you need to study every day – you can afford not more than one weekend a week! The optimal length of one “lesson” – 60-90 minutes, and you can rest for 5-10 minutes in the middle of the lesson.
4. Comfortable conditions for classes:
Provide yourself with maximum comfort during classes: a comfortable environment, pleasant background, absence of external irritants. All this will help you to abstract away from reality and fully immerse yourself in the world of language.
5. Do not overdo it!
Once you’ve found your optimal pace for learning new topics, stick to it and do not try to cover several difficult sections at once. Over time, you will achieve a more intensive study, but at the initial stage, it is undesirable to rush.
6. Constantly repeat what you have learned:
Regular repetition is the key to consolidating knowledge and improving skills. Even if you’ve learned very little so far, practice what you’ve learned every minute you can – in transportation, during morning exercise, on your lunch break, before you go to bed, etc. Try to talk to yourself by saying the words, constructions, and sentences aloud or to yourself. If possible, feel free to talk to someone who knows English. Once you have mastered the base, find a pen pal who is a native speaker.
How do I learn English on my own?
English has a clearly agreed structure, and you should start learning it from the basics. The first thing you need to learn is the alphabet and pronunciation. Without knowledge of the alphabet, you can neither read nor write, and twisted pronunciation can completely change the meaning of a statement. Don’t neglect practicing speaking, because you need to practice speaking English as much as possible to be fluent.
Undoubtedly, you have to read a lot at first: rules, examples and simple texts. Reading grammatically correct sentences gives excellent results – vocabulary and grammatical structures are memorized. Visual perception is the main source of new information and regular reading of English texts is essential at any stage of language learning.
When learning English from scratch, listening comprehension can seem impossible. In fact, it’s a great aid to reading. Listening comprehension exercises help you learn how different sounds and words are pronounced. By following the text with your eyes and hearing it at the same time, you can kill two birds with one stone. Gradually expanding the boundaries of your knowledge, try to close the textbook and listen to the text again. At first you will understand only some of the words, and then sentences. This is the only way to learn listening, which will also play a big role in learning.
Listening to English-language songs and watching movies, including those with subtitles, keep the beginner in a “tone” and increase motivation, unobtrusively immersing people in an authentic atmosphere. It will be very useful to watch your favorite movie in the original, which you know almost by heart in Russian. The familiar plot will make it easier to understand the lines of the characters in English, and you will also see a living and modern, not strictly bookish, language.
Any new material needs to be practiced in writing! With all the convenience of modern computer programs, offering to insert the appropriate word instead of the skip, they are not suitable for those who have just begun to learn English from scratch. More effective is the method of writing in an ordinary notebook: doing exercises in writing allows you to hone your knowledge, bringing it to automaticity. First you will learn how to formulate your thoughts on paper and only then will you be able to use them in speech.
Oral practice is an essential part of learning a foreign language. Being able to read and translate does not mean being able to speak English fluently. Eloquent and fluent speech is a dream of every beginner, but you have to practice it all the time. If you do not have a “test” interlocutor, practice on yourself! For example, talk to yourself in front of the mirror, try to tell in as much detail as possible how your day went. As you go through a new topic, invent a new name, profession and past – create a fictional character. Such a playful moment will provide the variety you need for oral topics.
You can make even more progress by combining reading or listening with speaking. After reading or listening to an audio recording, try to retell the content aloud (alternatively, in writing). This kind of narration will help you train your memory and thinking, and teach you to retell in your own words, which means you can speak fluent English.
The study of foreign vocabulary begins with the simplest and most frequently used words:
nouns (e.g., a house, a man, an apple);
adjectives (e.g. big, great, good);
verbs (e.g., to do, to be, to get);
pronouns (e.g., I, he, her);
Numerals (e.g., one, ten, the fifth).
Mindless rote learning is not suitable for those who really want to know English. Undoubtedly, the fastest way to memorize international words, and the rest is better combined with already familiar vocabulary units. For example, “a big dog”, “an interesting movie”. Vocabulary expressions are better to memorize in their entirety, for example, “to make a mistake”, “to do one’s best.
When memorizing lexical units need to pay special attention not only to their meaning, but also the pronunciation. That’s why it is important at the initial stage of learning English to learn how to correctly interpret the transcription of the word and firmly-remember the rules of pronunciation of certain letter combinations, such as “th”, “ng”. Also, make sure you have a separate lesson to study open and closed syllables, and you will save a lot of time on constant reference to the dictionary transcription.
Knowing the grammatical rules of the English language is probably even slightly more important than having a rich vocabulary. If you can get away with not knowing a certain word, an inability to use tenses and constructions will turn you into a total beginner.
Start studying English grammar with the order of words in a sentence, because it depends on the correctness and meaning of the statement. Then you can move on to mastering the tenses of the group Simple/Indefinite (Present, Past, Future). The next sections will be the Contineous/Progressive and Perfect tenses. The most important elements of your knowledge will be the constructions “to be going to” and numerous modal verbs (e.g. “must”, “have to”, “can”).
Some learn English from scratch more quickly and easily than others a little more slowly and with a lot more effort. But with motivation and good teaching aids, anyone can learn English. In the beginning it is especially important to pay attention to all aspects of the language in an integrated manner. The holistic approach is the key to successful learning and the acquisition of solid knowledge and skills.