English Language Introduction
The secret to success in English, and indeed you will find it is also the secret to most things in life, is practice and concentration; then practice and concentration and more practice and concentration. For most students English is a second language and only exposure to the language will improve your proficiency.
Even those who were born English speakers and to whom English is a first language owe their mastery to practice. They got their proficiency through endless hours of painstaking practice as they carefully sounded and explored each word in their childhood under the tutelage of their parents, pre-school and kindergarten teachers. That process is unavoidable and even non-native speakers like you still have to go through the same process.
English is mostly an art subject. Just like in an actual art class you are handed a brush, paints, an easel and canvas and left to your own devices and told to paint whatever comes to your mind. It is a daunting prospect at first but in the end you will find it to be nothing but empowering and this is only achieved by many many hours of rigorous practice reading, spelling, punctuation, speaking and exercise writing.
Ways to practice
In addition to the classroom based practice exercises you will do well to engage in more stimulating activities that will help improve your English. For example wherever possible join the debate or public speaking club-yes it is for geeks and dorks but look around you, geeks already rule the world and chances are you will work for a geek in the near future if your football or hockey career does not pan out.
Watch a lot of documentaries to keep abreast with important world events of our life time for example Global Warming, the depletion of the Rain Forests, the Arab Spring, Terrorism, sports developments, the United Nations, Global politics.
Read Novels regularly. Read at least one novel a week with particular emphasis on the current literature syllabus even if you are not doing literature. Read at least two novels by authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Hemingway, Mansfield. Most phones and tablets allow you to install ePub( A book format like Pdf) apps like Aldiko for Android that allow you to read most novels for free. Scribid allows you to read books for a fixed fee a month.
These apps put the libraries into your hand so take advantage of them. Whenever you are reading take note of how the authors use certain expressions to express their ideas and practice imitating their style and you will notice your own style emerging. Take note of unfamiliar words and use a Dictionary app to find out its meaning. Look at the punctuation and how it is used to express different feelings and ideas.
Poetry is also an invaluable source of ideas and there is no better place to start than using the English Literature syllabus. Read the anthologies used therein and as with the novels above take note of the diction, the rhythm, expressions and unfamiliar words within the poems and learn how to use them to express ideas of your own. You do not need to reinvent the English Language only learn how those already proficient already use it and hopefully if you are that good one day you will push its boundaries further and future generations will learn from you.
When it comes to studying you need to be calculating and strategic. The most foolish thing I ever saw my friends do in High School was create their on reading timetable. Whatever made them do that it is the most stupid idea, unsurprisingly I studied less than them and still managed to beat them most of the time.
A fixed timetable introduces rigidity into your study regimen which is certainly undesirable. Instead just set aside some study time for yourself everyday of the week including Sundays and Saturdays. A person in a completing class should really not be “going out.” A minimum of 6 hours ought to suffice for most people.
Find the most continuous period of time of the day when you are unlikely to be constantly disturbed. For most people, myself included this tended to be right smack in the middle of the night. If this is the case with you either find an alarm clock or someone to wake you up. It might be hard at first but in the end as the practice grows on you, you will find it easy indeed although I must warn the pain never really goes away but creeps back in periodically with the temptation to sleep so vigilance and discipline is needed.
When you wake up you might want to take a quick shower (5 minutes) to make sure you are fully alert. Based on your progress reports choose the subjects that you are struggling with most and start studying these. Study in short 30 minutes bursts as uninterrupted study tends to lead to loss of concentration and exhausting. Administer yourself with a quiz based on the syllabus objectives at the end of each 30 minutes period or chapter, which obviously means it would be a good idea to have a syllabus for whatever subject you are studying.
Since most subjects are in English reading their textbooks alone is already enriching in its own sense. Subjects textbooks for courses like Geography for example contain detailed descriptions of desert landscapes, jungles, forests, bushes, settlements, rivers, falls, slopes, human settlements and mines that not only increases your knowledge of the subject but improves your vocabulary and spatial sense of awareness.
With this in mind it is important that you do not deviate from the normal course subjects by dropping common subjects like Geography, Maths, Combined Science, History and Business Studies/Commerce unless you replace each with an “advanced” similar subject for example Science with Biology, Chemistry and Physics otherwise you are going to find life difficult. Topics set for compositions for example often draw on “normal” candidate experience and it is not the examiner’s fault if your experience is limited because you are only writing the English examination. So if this is the case read up.
Do not just practice until you get it right, you ought to practice until you can no longer get it wrong, only then will you succeed.
Next we will take a detailed look at the syllabus.
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