If you ask me
English in two months
A student recently emailed me asking the following question:
“Wie schaff ich es innerhalb von 1-2 Monaten flüssig Englisch zu sprechen oder anders gefragt, was ist dazu nötig das zu schaffen?”
This roughly translates to:
“How do I manage to speak English fluently within 1-2 months or in other words, what is necessary to do that?”
As a language teacher, this is a question I would love to answer with something like – “it’s easy! Pay me to be your teacher and I’ll help you”.
But as a fellow language learner and realist, I have to say that learning a language is an extremely difficult and time-consuming task. And for a quick fix, there would need to be some extreme measures taken on behalf of the learner to have any hope of getting anywhere near their target language level.
If I had a magic chip that I could insert into your brain to get you there any faster than your own learning capabilities allow, I would be a millionaire… No forget that! I would be a billionaire! A trillionaire!
I should patent that… somebody?
Anyway, my answer to my dear student was as follows:
So firstly, let’s just start off by saying that in my humble opinion, while learning to speak a language from zero to fluently in the timeframe you mentioned is not a realistic goal, it is definitely possible to make great leaps and bounds. However, this would require a great deal of commitment.
I like to think of it as like wanting to lose x-amount of kgs and reshape the body into a muscular fit machine with longer lasting effects.
We all know that to achieve this, one would have to make a plan and commit oneself to doing the hard work involved. No exceptions!
It is exactly the same with language learning… and just about anything else in life we want to master 😉
Some tips to think about:
- Don’t aim to be a native speaker. Aiming first for a B2 level would provide a level of fluency sufficient enough for all your basic business activities. From there, you can always specialise in further areas of interest e.g negotiating, sales, etc. and then move on to achieving a C1.
- Try taking an official TOEIC test. This will give you focus and motivation while at the same time concentrating on Business language skills. See my other blogs on TOEIC and the TOEIC courses I offer.
- Full emersion – This means using the language everyday without fail. Everything you want to communicate you must be able to do in your target language. This is obviously difficult but necessary for quick learning.
- Find a speaking partner and only speak with them in the target language. Speaking is key and speaking partners are plentiful.
- Create an environment where you have to speak the language, e.g. change the office work-place language in the company, get all colleagues speaking English, communicate with all business partners in English (at least those who can and I am sure there will be many), teach the kids English, speak English with your partner or spouse…. Pretty much anything you can do to maximise the use.
- Consume all forms of entertainment in English – News, books, magazines, series, movies etc. Stop being lazy and watching series in your native language. If you have the time to consume time-waisting entertainment, then at least use it productively.
- Obviously, it would be great to go and live in an English speaking country for a few months but this is probably very unlikely to happen. Instead, aim for a one-week home-stay with an English teacher in Britain where you can immerse yourself in the language. There are teachers who offer this. Before going however, try to do as much of the hard learning work first here in Germany, e.g. Vocabulary and grammar. This way, you can make the trip to Britain a reward for the effort you first put in here at home and you will also get much more out of the trip.
- Don’t let imperfect grammar stop you from using the language. Grammar comes second to all when learning a language. You will often learn this simply by using the language on a daily basis as your skill level progresses. It is also much more fun when you can apply new grammar techniques and understanding to what you already know. If you are in a situation where you have to write an email with perfect grammar then get someone to check it for you or use one of the many translation apps on the web. Goole translate or Deepl will do the job these days and if you need to check Grammar, then I suggest Grammarly.
- Get yourself an inexpensive phrase book to keep in your pocket which you can take out in little 2-minute windows during the day whenever you have to wait.
Below are some links with great ideas for learning a language in a short period of time. They repeat some of what I have mentioned above and also add to the ideas. There are also ideas for different apps to learn from with pros and cons.
I currently run TOEIC preparation courses with a variety of clients. While I don’t want to make this email a sales pitch, it could be something worth thinking about either just for you or for your employees. I offer both 20-week and 40-week courses with a focus on intensive learning for business communication. The courses can of course also be done in shorter to longer time frames, however this depends on the commitment and availability of the participants and what their end goals are.
I know there are a lot of ideas to think about and it might seem an impossibility. But I do think it is possible if you really want to commit yourself. The big advantage you have is that you are not an absolute beginner. You already have a grasp of the language which you can continue building on.
I hope this helps and, as always, remain at your service to talk about it and help in anyway I can.
Oh, and one more tip…. Next time you have a question, write to me in English 😉