Learning languages is not only one of the best means of personal and professional development. For some, it is also a necessity. The ability to use English fluently, as it has become a permanent part of our culture, school and work, is often expected from us. But not everyone finds it easy. So, let us give you a few tips not only on how to learn English quickly, but also on how to learn it “once and for all”, in a way that will actually pay off for the future.
Know what to avoid – the most common learning mistakes
The school language learning system, which most of us have come across on our education path, does not answer the question of how to learn English quickly. Many of us have memories of language lessons at school which mainly consisted of learning things by heart from test to test (often at the last minute) and completing countless grammar tasks. Such learning was often associated merely with passing a given subject or getting a good grade. Such a system causes us to remember words and constructions for some time, but when it comes to using them later, in practice, our mind goes blank.
The moment we need a certain piece of information, we panic, because we can’t recall it. Speaking a foreign language, especially when talking to a native speaker, can be stressful, even for people who know English quite well. So it is easy to understand that someone who has failed to acquire the material in a way that allows them to recall it “on demand”, feels even greater fear. This often completely blocks them from using a foreign language in practice – for fear that they will fail. This is, of course, a huge mistake, as it takes away many opportunities to develop language skills.
Systematic learning is the key!
And although grammar, listening and reading comprehension tasks are important and have an important place in language learning, they can not guarantee that we will actually remember the material, especially if we want to remember it for a long time. So, it’s not a good example of how to learn English. Besides, irregular learning will make our mind unable to develop the appropriate habits, and the acquisition of any language or topic will always be difficult for us.
Just as attempting a lot of physical exertion after a long time away from the gym usually ends in a fiasco, jumping straight into the deep end and trying to remember half an English textbook in a few days, will most likely end in a headache and frustration. Such attempts to learn large amounts of information at once will not help, but rather harm, as the lack of the expected results might only discourage us from further efforts. With all this in mind, now we know how not to learn English quickly, so we can finally consider how to actually do it.
Repetition, repetition and more repetition – how to remember the material
Now that we know that learning a language (or anything else, for that matter) should not be learned by rote, then how do we learn English “properly”? It is through repetition, or rather the repeat commitment to learning the material that is the key to success. This means that returning to the same material and repeating it will bring good results. Such practice enables the information we learn to move from our conscious mind, to the subconscious; from short-term to long-term memory. Thanks to this, all the information we need at a given moment can be efficiently recalled, without much stress.
When we forget something, it often seems to us that the information has simply “evaporated”, but it is not quite like that. Usually, it turns out that it is hidden somewhere, and we, with more or less difficulty, simply have to try to remember it. The feeling that a foreign word is somewhere at the tip of our tongue, just like when we are learning English, is probably familiar to everyone. Retrieving such information from memory is, of course, possible, when it comes to things to which we have devoted even a little attention. However, many of them simply pass us by, go in one ear, and out the other. Still, our brains hold much more information than we might imagine.
How do repetitions impact our learning?
It can be said that repetitions help our brains create certain pathways, along which they can navigate the maze of countless memories and pieces of information. This happens because repeating material is inherently connected with trying to recall it. It is the work that our brain has to do when trying to remember something that makes the connection between what we are looking for and the information that corresponds to it in our memory grow stronger. Our muscles work similarly. They have a motor memory that is preserved by repeating certain exercises. This is one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult for us to fix, for example, bad posture; our body naturally gets used to repeated things.Learning based on repetition is similar. Thanks to it, we can recall certain messages even years after we learned them. But to get it right, you need to know how to do it. Learning the English language cannot be about repeating the same words over and over again without much thought. Each language consists of a variety of information, which creates countless combinations, and their meaning more often than not depends on the context. Language acquisition is, to a large extent, the acquisition of language competences that need to be constantly worked on. So the answer to the question of how to learn English quickly is: learning “smart”.
Repeat to remember – the secret to fast learning
In order not to waste valuable time and not be discouraged from further learning by failure, it is good to ask yourself the question – “how?” Learning English quickly is possible when we first devote a moment to the appropriate organization of the learning methods, as well as the appropriate distribution of repetitions over time.
Spaced repetitions should be a method familiar to anyone wondering how to learn English quickly. This science-backed method is based on the fact that to remember something, you have to almost forget it beforehand. The co-creator of the theoretical model and the creator of the first computer script devoted to spaced repetitions is Dr Piotr Woźniak.
Spaced repetition method
During his scientific career, based on many studies, Dr Woźniak concluded that repeating pieces of information allows you to remember them better, and spreading this process over time allows you to remember them better and better. The longer the interval between repetitions, the better the given piece of information is remembered, and, eventually, it gets stored in long-term memory. An important factor in learning English as quickly as possible is the right time for revision.
The first method of learning based on spaced repetitions on the market, and the current leader, is the SuperMemo method created by Dr Woźniak, also known as the spaced repetition method. It is the basis of all SuperMemo World language courses. In the SuperMemo app, users can also create their own sets of MemoCards – digital flashcards – and thus learn what they consider most important or interesting.
The SuperMemo spaced repetition method is built on an original algorithm, based on which a certain portion of the material is displayed to us at precisely the best time for repetition. So, once you know not only how to learn English quickly, but also how to learn quickly in general, and with ready-made courses based on such an effective method, learning should come with ease and satisfaction.