Whether you are deciding to better your English because of work, school (and grades), or just for the fun of it, learning a new language, or improving one, can be an excellent exercise which can lead to improvements in other aspects of life. For example, by improving your English, you might find your history or mathematics marks increasing. English, like any subject, is important to first ascertain your level and start from there. Starting too high or too low will give you a skewed view of your abilities and may make it harder to progress. Often, it can be very difficult to figure out your level by yourself. If you are struggling to figure it out, you can always ask your teacher/professor, or hire a tutor. This way, you can focus on the aspects you need to develop. Any language can be broken down into four categories for improvement: reading/comprehension, writing, speaking and grammar.
We briefly mentioned that sometimes by improving your English, other subjects will also improve. This is generally due to the student being able to either express themselves better (in the case of history or other social sciences), or being better able to understand the problem (such as word problems in math or chemistry), or just having more time during tests to properly set out their answers.
To improve reading and comprehension, you would need to spend more time with various forms of texts (novels, magazines, blog posts, etc.). It is often a good idea to start reading a medium that you are familiar with. For a more in depth analysis on reading, specifically active reading, check out our dedicated blog post here.
DID YOU KNOW?
Excellent resources to help improve your understanding of any subject include your teacher/professor, a TA, or a tutor.
Writing is a skill that cannot be mastered unless a person practises. It is not enough to just write any sentences/words that come to mind. What we mean by writing is that you need to pick a topic/question/idea, and write about it. Then, you must reread and edit your text, and if you can, let someone else read it to see if what you wrote is what you meant to say. This way, you can practise how to properly put into words what you would like to say.
Speaking can be a fun exercise, but how can you better all aspects of speech? Talking with your friends/classmates is an excellent way to progress in your informal or more casual speaking. However, you cannot speak the same way to your boss, professor or teacher. So, to improve your more formal, courteous speaking skills, it can be a good idea to practise them with someone who will not engage in the more casual speaking patterns (e.g. your teacher, a tutor, etc.). If trying to speak formally with your friends/classmates, it is easy to fall into old habits and start speaking informally without even realizing.
Grammar is probably the easiest aspect of a language to learn by yourself. There are plenty of resources, both online and in print, where you can find questions (and answers) to improve your grammar. Often, a teacher or professor can assist you in which aspects of grammar you need to adjust.
Whether you decide to improve your English on your own, with the help of your teacher/professor, or through the help of a tutor, with enough work, you should see and feel your skill increase. For most skills, especially languages, it can take a long time to see real progress, but this is not a cause for concern or giving up. In order to do something the right way, it takes time, patience and dedication.