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Improving my english

  1. Jul 15, 2012 #1
    Hello - I am from India and my first language is Hindi and second English.
    I want to improve my English as I sometimes find myself short of words and I am not that fluent. Also after my college I'll give exams like GRE and TOEFL so I need to improve my English for a good score.
    My question is -How do I improve my English? Should I study those GRE books and learn meaning of thousands of words OR should I read books and try to converse in English as much as possible?

    I feel that if I prepare from those GRE books I'll score good in those tests but I won't really improve my English communication and speaking skills. On the other hand if I try to read books and other things it wont help me score good.

    I will be starting college now so I have like four years for those tests.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2012 #2
    Well your writing doesn't indicate any obvious lack of fluency. As with any language, total immersion is probably the best way to master English, especially for the fine points of phrasing. There's enough difference between British and American English where you might want to decide which version you want to master. Where do you intend to use your English? For example, if you're interested in reading and possibly writing for science journals or popular magazines, reading these regularly is beneficial. I understand English is the main "bridge" language in India, so I would think there are radio and TV broadcasts in the language and opportunities for total immersion in India. However, I would warn you about the internet. Netspeak "English" probably will not help you in academic or business circles.

    EDIT: Trying to learn the meaning of thousands of words by rote is not very efficient. English has between 500,000 and 800,000 words depending on how you define an English word. Common conversation typically employs 5,000-10,000 words. Even the vocabularies of well educated people rarely exceed 30-40,000 words and they are best learned within the context of the language itself rather than always trying to translate them into your native language.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  4. Jul 15, 2012 #3
    I think a good way to get better at English would be to, in your spare time, post on English forums, responding to other people as much as possible. If that doesn't directly translate to speaking English, then maybe reading their posts out loud and then reading your responses out loud would help.
     
  5. Jul 15, 2012 #4
    I believe going through as many GRE books as possible will give you a good score in the exam. Daily conversational English appears to be different from what they test in the GRE exams.

    Reading a lot can also enhance your reading and vocabulary skills.
     
  6. Jul 15, 2012 #5

    jim hardy

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    i think you'll make 10X the progress that way.
     
  7. Jul 15, 2012 #6
    I agree, but preparing for the written exam is also important so that the fine points of grammar are understood even though they may not always be observed in common speech. For example: "My boss gave the keys to my friend and me." not "....my friend and I." although a lot of native speakers would choose the latter as proper English.

    In other words, it's not either-or, but both GRE and real world practice. You need to pass your exams, but that alone doesn't mean you can actually use the language effectively.
     
  8. Jul 15, 2012 #7

    Danger

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    I have no idea as to what various tests might want. Total immersion is the best for learning to communicate verbally in a given culture. That is vastly different than written messages. You seem to have a pretty good handle on the latter.
    Not one single person that I know, including me, uses proper grammar when speaking to each other. (Aside from "public speaking", which is a different matter.) Most don't use it when writing, either, although I try to.
    As always, I will defer to anything that Monique has to say. She's PF's language guru. (It's rather embarrassing that a Dutch chick knows more about English than I do, especially since I was a professional writer. :redface:)

    Edit: Hey, SW;
    You posted while I was composing, so I didn't intend to ignore what you said.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  9. Jul 15, 2012 #8

    arildno

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    "It's rather embarrassing that a Dutch chick knows more about English than I do, especially since I was a professional writer"
    But, then again, you ARE just a Canadian..:smile:
     
  10. Jul 15, 2012 #9
    No problem. BTW Dutch/Flemish people (at least the younger ones) are very good at languages. It's not unusual for many to speak French and German in addition to English and their native Dutch.
     
  11. Jul 15, 2012 #10

    Danger

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    I used to just love you for your body; now I have to add your wit...
     
  12. Jul 15, 2012 #11

    arildno

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    My body has gotten flabby lately..
     
  13. Jul 15, 2012 #12

    arildno

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    Apart from the Chinese, Dutch are the ones who most easily learn to speak fluent Norwegian..
     
  14. Jul 15, 2012 #13

    Danger

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    Oh, good... that's one less thing for me to obsess about...

    Isn't that an oxymoron?
     
  15. Jul 15, 2012 #14
    Are they? Good for them, but I don't think the Swedes or Danes bother to learn Norwegian.
     
  16. Jul 15, 2012 #15
    The GRE is a joke. Practice by reading and conversing in english on a regular basis. You will naturally acquire better communication skills - far more useful than a test score.
     
  17. Jul 15, 2012 #16
    Okay thank you guys - I think I will just try to use English as much as possible in daily life and also read a lot
     
  18. Jul 15, 2012 #17

    jim hardy

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    i think what you read will influence you.

    Eric Hoffer is rather a master of the language and thoughtful too.

    I like Joseph Conrad, he too was not a native speaker of English.
     
  19. Jul 16, 2012 #18

    arildno

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    They don't have the capacity.

    In general, Norwegians understand BOTH Swedish and Danish (except the unintelligible Danish spoken by 90% of them, that they don't understand themselves, either), whereas Swedes can't understand either Danish or Norwegian, while Danes don't understand anything.
     
  20. Jul 17, 2012 #19

    Danger

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    Curse you! Do you know how painful if is to have beer spurt from your nose? :grumpy:
     
  21. Jul 17, 2012 #20
    I think improving language skills orally is best via a tandem partner - speak to native speakers, it most natural. Your written language is good though. If you do not find a native speaker just listen to English songs, watch English movies and try to get something from that. Anyway, traveling to the countries where the language is spoken is of course the best thing to do.
     
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