Even more importantly, however, it takes curiosity.
For example, one German student who had studied and taught English her entire life, was surprised when she heard someone say, "Give it a try.
" She had never noticed before that English speakers probably say "Give it a try," much more often than we say, "Try it.
" Even though she easily understood the meaning of "Give it a try," she had never noticed that common English phrase before, so she had never used it.
Once she noticed it, however, she could start to use it and thus took a step towards improving the naturalness and accuracy of her English.
If your goal is simply to understand English, then learning the definitions of individual words might be enough for you.
However, if your goal is to speak and write good English (to "use" your English vocabulary well), you need to learn more than definitions.
Recent language-learning research shows that it is impossible to separate grammar and vocabulary, and research also shows that it is important to learn combinations of words - not just single words.
This means that when we learn a new word, it isn't enough just to learn the definition of the word; we also need to learn the words it combines with naturally, and we need to learn the grammar connected to that word.
For example, you probably know the meaning of "bored.
" However, to use this word correctly, you also need to know that "bored" frequently combines with "get" and "with" - "to get bored with" something.
You also need to know what can come after "get bored with.
" For example, I can say, "I got bored with exercising," or "I got bored with the movie.
" However, I canNOT say, "I got bored to exercise," or "I got bored with watch movie.
" Thus, you need to learn how words normally combine together, and you need to learn the grammatical characteristics of words.
This approach to vocabulary and grammar probably makes the most sense at advanced levels.
If you have studied English for a long time and still make a lot of mistakes when you read or speak English, you are not alone.
Research shows that most language learners who study grammar rules never actually learn to use grammar accurately, even after many, many years.
Therefore, it's probably time for you to try a new strategy to improve your English.
Instead of studying grammar rules and vocabulary definitions, try studying English as it occurs naturally.
Become a good observer.
Choose small bits of English writing or speech and observe everything about them.
Listen to normal conversations and read English newspapers and magazines.
As you listen and read, pay attention.
You have to be a good observer in order to learn a language well.
You have to be curious.
You have to wonder about the language you're learning.
Why did the speaker use the simple past and not the past continuous? Why do people sometimes say, "You're welcome," but other times they say, "No problem"?What's the difference between "Give it a try," and "Try it"? Becoming curious about English, noticing how it is used, and observing it closely are great strategies for improving your English skill.
Give them a try!