Thursday 30 September 2021

How I Nurture My English Skills (at least that's what works for me)


 learning a foreign language is a life-long process. you must maintain it. keep using the skill set you have learnt. keep speaking it, keep reading it, keep writing it, and keep listening to it. well, that's quite sums it up. in this post, i'd like to share how i nurture the skill set. i don't say it works for every one, but at least it works for me.

nurturing reading skill

for me this is the easiest. you only have to read. that's it and that's all. read anything written in english. novels, comic books, internet news portal, popular science books. any genre and any media you like to read. but i recommend reading book, especially fictions. as for me, reading fictions really enrich my vocabulary.

there is a first step in everything, including reading. when you grab your first english-written book, you will find obstacle. it seems so hard to understand the content. when i was reading my first english novel, i kept opening dictionary for every paragraph i read. i repeated reading the same chapter like 3 to 5 times to fully understand what the writer was trying to tell. but that won't last long. your second, third, fifth books will become easier and easier to read as you have acquired the vocabularies from the last book you've read.

but reading is not just reading. it's hard. you must build the habit, be always in the mood for reading, spare your time. it's a tiring activity, not for your muscle but your brain (well, reading can also be  physically tiring if your position is not very ergonomic). another issue is more technical. (imported) books written in english is not cheap. it can be like 2 or even 3 times more expensive than your local books. but if you really appreciate the writer, of course you will allocate the budget for that 😉 (today, my imported books collection surpasses the number of local books i have).

pro tip: when facing difficulty in your reading, you don't want to use trans tool (e.g. google translate) to translate a full sentence. google translate is more often than not unreliable for it, especially for a compound sentence. nope. search for the meaning of a word you find to be difficult first, then construct it in the sentence that you don't understand. you will learn more by that way.

get myself kindle

actually, you don't have to have a kindle device if you want to read amazon books. but i bought a paperwhite 10th edition anyway because... the advantages i get from the device. actually, i have written all of the advantages (that i have known) here, but let me summarize it here. kindle has a built-in dictionary, which is cool. you don't have to open any external dictionary (whether it's in your smart phone, or the old school dictionary book). there is a 'word wise' feature which shows the meaning of the difficult words directly above it (as opposed for the dictionary, in which you have to tap and hold the word you wanna see the meaning). in addition, digital books are usually cheaper than the physical ones. and that, my friend, is one thing helping me to enrich my vocabularies.


get myself a monolingual (english-english) dictionary

in this case, i install merriam-webster on my smartphone. by the way, merriam-webster is an american english dictionary. i use an english-english dictionary because it not only gives me the definition or the one-word equivalent of a certain english word in my local language, but it gives me the full definition in english, even the root(s) of the word i am looking for. sometimes you will also find another meaning or hidden meaning of the word if you use a monolingual dictionary.

p.s. merriam-webster is free on google play or app store, but the premium version isn't very expensive either.


nurturing writing skill

writing is hard. writing a good passage is harder. for someone who doesn't usually write like me, it's really hard. i can't say a lot about it. i am training too. this blog, for example, is one media for my training. let's keep writing. get yourself a weblog, and start writing!


nurturing listening skill

i like watching films, shows, animated series, you name it. well, who doesn't anyway. for me, listening is as hard as writing. and of course that is the very reason i have to train it. when watching anything on the streaming service (netflix, disney+, you name it), i always use the english subtitle. that way, i can learn what the speaker is saying (by reading the subtitle), and how to say it (by listening to what they say). i honestly cannot watch any series without subtitle. well, i can for educational videos, or some animated series, but any show in general isn't watchable without subtitle for me. one more thing to work out.

nurturing speaking skill

this is the hardest. well, not the speaking itself, but more like speaking with whom? and how do i work it out? well, i don't know either. let's make a conversation group, perhaps?


tangerang, 30 september 2021
still part of the 30 minutes writing






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