What is your new year’s resolution? You might encounter this question or ask someone this question in the first fortnight of January. One of the meanings of ‘resolution’ is ‘firm decision to do or not to do something’. In many cases, the term ‘resolution’ is meaningless, as most people enthusiastically make resolutions but break them within a few days. But, some are determined to keep their resolutions.
A reader of this column has sent in this email: “My new year resolution is to spend an hour a day to improve my English. My goal is to improve my proficiency in English and thus prepare myself well for the campus placement.” The reader ended his email with this request: “Please suggest some tips to successfully execute my resolution.”
1. Cultivate the habit of reading a good English language newspaper. Spending 15-20 minutes every day helps you develop your reading skills, learn many new words and phrases and become familiar with collocations. Reading news reports on a regular basis helps you learn English in appropriate contexts.
2. To learn English collocations in context, visit the British National Corpus site at www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk. The BNC is a 100-million-word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources. You may be familiar with many individual words such as research and resolution. But, are you familiar with the collocations of these two words? By looking up the words ‘research’ and ‘resolution’ you can learn the collocations of these words. For example, the adjectives that precede ‘resolution’ when it means ‘firm decision to do or not to do something’ are: firm, good, new year, new year’s, etc and the verbs that collocate with ‘resolution’ are make, break and keep.
3. There are many websites that give you free access to English learning materials and allow you to take interactive tests to know your level of proficiency in the language and also to practise English language skills such as listening and reading. For example, one can learn English the fun way using British Council website (www.learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en). The site has many interesting games, stories, listening activities and grammar exercises.
4. If you have a smartphone, you can install many English learning apps. For example, if you want to improve your speaking skills you can download the Android app Talk English Standard. There are hundreds of lessons and audio files to help the user learn how to speak English fluently. The user can also record their voice and compare it with the audio file from the native English speaker.
5. Watch English TV news programmes and debates on different national and international news channels; it will expose you to different varieties of English and enable you to learn English in a natural way.
Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did – Sarah Caldwell . email@example.com