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How to Learn English as an Adult

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Learning a language as an adult is different than learning as a child. The brain works differently. Life has different challenges. Here is a technique that may work for you:

  1. start with common sentences from your thoughts
  2. always learn sentences, not just words
  3. get recordings of these sentences in English from someone you trust
  4. use the recordings to practice until your English pronunciation is good
  5. start speaking your phrases to friends

From there, build your own vocabulary. Take your time. As you have questions, learn grammar rules, but do not force yourself to learn these. Of course, you will not understand other people for a while. By starting from your own vocabulary, you will not understand a conversation on a topic that does not interest you. Don't worry about that. After you have perfected your own vocabulary, you should be more comfortable with the language, and you can start using easy books and other popular sources to learn about various subjects.

Another point on grammar. It is easier to learn a language if you do not try to translate yourself all the time. If you focus on grammar rules, you will be trying to arrange your words in the order of grammar. Instead, learn sentences. The grammar rules will be inside those sentences, and you will be teaching yourself to skip a long “translation process.”

Remember: vocabulary is not just words. Everyone has a personal vocabulary of most-used words and favorite phrases. This is especially true with adults.


Differences between adult learners and child learners


1. need practical reasons to learn
2. have survival "thoughts" and may not have classroom time for most of the day
3. have unique vocabulary with job-related words and interests gained over time
4. benefit from learning sentences with grammar rules studied as needed

1. will learn if an adult tells them to or for fun
2. have many hours of classroom time per day and other students to help them practice
3. have changing vocabulary as they learn and grow
4. o.k. with learning grammar first--they have lots of time and energy for practicing

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