I spent many years learning English in Brazil, but when I moved to Canada, I realized I still had much to learn. Here’s a little bit about my experience and how I continue to improve my second language.
Learning English in Brazil
As a non-native English speaker, I’ve been learning English as a second language for a very long time, since kindergarten, to be more precise. Yes, that’s right, in Brazil we learn English as a second language starting at a very young age. Learning English as a second language is part of my country's primary and secondary education system. Both public and private schools teach English as a second language, and there are a lot of language centres available for those who want to improve their English and can afford the high fees being charged. In the beginning, it’s a lot of fun, as we’re taught cute songs and vocabulary, mainly related to colours, numbers, family members, seasons, parts of the house, jobs and so on. It’s a time to play, play, play. As we get older, learning English gets a bit harder, because we’re asked to read long texts, look up vocabulary and sometimes also do some listening exercises. But that's all. And yes, almost everybody learns English as a second language in Brazil, but only a few people are really able to speak the language fluently.
Realizing I needed to improve my English in Canada
Moving to Canada made me realize I couldn’t communicate effectively. All the experience I had learning English during my school years in Brazil had helped me build up a very good base for trying to speak like a native speaker, but it was far from good enough. I had to change my mindset so that I could learn and find fun ways to improve and make the learning process interesting to me.
Improving my English in fun ways
Using words in context and being exposed to new words and their sounds has been very helpful. I try to search for words related to things I like and to use these words in conversations during my day. Practising with others is not happening too much nowadays because of the pandemic. As I work, I practise words related to circumstances at work. It’s been great so far.
Another nice idea I had was to watch movies that I’ve watched in the past. I used to watch a lot of movies with subtitles in Portuguese, which is my first language. Now when I watch a movie, I still have the subtitles on, but they’re in English. What have I been learning from all this? Whenever there’s a word I don’t know the meaning of, I stop the movie and look up the word. But most of the time, what I’m really doing is seeing the words and hearing the pronunciation as the movie goes on. So what are some of the old movies I’ve been enjoying watching again to improve my English? My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins are two of them. (Both were released in 1964.)
Looking for more ideas
How do you improve and expand your vocabulary? How do you learn the pronunciation of the new words you’ve been learning?
ESL teachers: I would love to have more tips on how to learn vocabulary. I welcome your advice.
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Submitted by Tigger Jourard on June 29, 2022, at 6:27
Submitted by Daniela on June 29, 2022, at 16:36
You are a big part of my improvement.
I've learnt so much from you. Thanks for volunteering for our conversation sessions.
Submitted by Andreia Deluca on June 29, 2022, at 8:15
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and successful journey in learning English as a second language.
Submitted by Daniela on June 29, 2022, at 16:37
I really appreciate your comment.
Submitted by Galina Todorova on July 4, 2022, at 12:54
Submitted by Daniela on July 11, 2022, at 17:33
I agree we have to find every occasion to speak the target language.
Your idea of creating opportunities is great.
Good luck on your studies.
Submitted by Annetta M on July 4, 2022, at 15:00
Submitted by Daniela on July 11, 2022, at 17:35
Great idea of combining interests.
I love scrapbooking and pictures. I will google these topics in English.
Thanks for your comment.