How long does it take to really know something or learn something? One way to get good at something is to do it more than once. Repetition leads to “perfection” – or at least, great improvement.
It’s the same with learning English. If you want to remember a word, or get more fluent, repeated practice helps. Here are four ways that you can use repetition to improve your English.
Memorising word lists doesn’t help you to remember the words – and it definitely doesn’t help you to use them when you speak. Here’s a good way to repeat new words so that you can use them in conversation:
1. Write down the new word in your own sentence.
It helps to write the word with a pen – not just type it in a word document on your PC. You’ll need to make sure that you know the grammar of the word (do you need a preposition, is it followed by an infinitive, etc) and that you know the meaning.
Speak your sentence out aloud.
2. Review the new word the next day.
Speak your sentence out aloud again, and check that you remember the correct pronunciation.
3. Review the new word the next week.
Did you use it in a sentence in the last seven days? If not, can you make a new, different sentence with the word?
4. Review again one week after.
Repeat step 3.
Do these four steps with ALL new words and phrases. You can take 5-10 minutes every day to review, practise and repeat.
Famous public speakers like President Obama and Steve Jobs practised their speeches again and again to become “perfect”. If you have a meeting or a presentation, start practising early. This way you will feel more confident that your pronunciation and vocabulary are correct. Repetition also helps you with fluency as you become more familiar with how the words fit together.
You can try “speaking repetition” for these occasions:
– public speeches, presentations and meetings
– your introduction (how you introduce yourself to other people at events)
– job interview questions
– typical questions to use in shops, hotels and restaurants
– funny stories and anecdotes
– giving your opinion on news stories
Repetition is essential to improve your pronunciation. Pronunciation is physical – you need to use different muscles to make the sounds in your mouth. These may not be the same muscles as you use when you speak your first language! Repetition can help you with:
– contrasting sounds (like p/b; r/l; i/I; v/w, etc)
– difficult sounds in English (like “th”)
– word stress (example MAN-age, MAN-ag-er)
– intonation and tag questions
– linking between sounds
5-10 minutes a day can help you focus on your own areas of difficulty. Practise with a mirror, so that you can see how your mouth moves to make the sounds.
Repeat grammar exercises when you’re preparing for an English exam like the FCE or PET Cambridge exams. When you’re more familiar with the format and the types of grammar questions, you will improve your score.
But grammar repetition (such as grammar drills) are also really useful for practising new grammar so that the grammar becomes automatic. These types of exercises are helpful for grammar such as articles, preposition choice, and “binary” choices like so / such; then / than; much / many, etc.
Repeated practice WILL help you become more fluent. A great method that we use in the English Fluency Club is to practise speaking a few times before recording yourself. This makes you confident in your pronunciation and vocabulary.
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