Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

September 19, 2009

An A to Z of effective language practice

Learning a language well takes time and effort but it can be fun and exciting along the way. Here is my A to Z  list of how to improve and develop your language skills to reach your goal.

An A to Z of improving language skills.

Application: You need to apply yourself to learning a language well. Don’t get disheartened, progress can be up and down – just keep going!

Bite-size: As with any skill the best way to develop and improve is by practising little and often!

Collocation: This aspect of language is a good area to concentrate on for advanced students. (See my post on this June 12th 09)

Determination: You’ll need some of this to achieve your goal

Enjoyment: Make sure this is included in your study or you’ll soon get bored and frustrated – pick what you like – there’s a lot of choice out there!

Future Tense: The future tense is bound to come up. It’s a big and sometimes confusing area of grammar but one that it will pay you to tackle

Gapfillers: A space online for advanced students to hang out in English, practise, collaborate (visit Gapfillers)

Haiku: Why not try something different, be creative! Write a poem (haikus are a good, short, format), a blog – just for fun – find somewhere online to make a contribution (we have a haiku section on our Gapfillers wiki)

Idioms: Try learning one or two of these a week and use them as soon as you can to test and help you remember.

Jaw: You’ll need this to get to grips with pronunciation. Get out your mirror and start articulating!

Karaoke: Learn some songs – a fun way to study. Choose your style of music and sing along!

Listening skills: This is so important and is often a weakness in students. Surround yourself with different types of listening examples try out some local radio phone-in programmes they’re fast and furious with lots of different voices and accents and can be fun too! Look at my posting on improving listening skills (August 10th 09) for more ideas.

Modal verbs: Another important area of grammar to master – you can send your language performance up another notch if you use these skillfully!

Non-defining relative clauses:  This always sounds impressive – check it out!

Onomatopoeia:  Why not try some poetry, it’s good for vocabulary, read it aloud for pronunciation, it makes you think and best of all it’s often quite short! (onomatopoeia)

Phrasal verbs: The ‘must have’ accessory of every English language student! There are so many – learn bit by bit.

Quirky: Learning languages should be fun (and a little bit serious) – choose a fun group activity where you can use your language and practise your skills – or start one in your area.

Repetition: This is part of the training – drilling and memorising – make it more interesting by turning your verb list into a rap or funny song

Spelling: This is a problem for everyone – even native speakers! I have my dictionary next to me all the time, I have to check too!

Tenses:  Do you know them, can you use them?

Understanding: Language learning is all about understanding and communicating. Take time to listen and assimilate the information. Fluency does not equal speed! Don’t forget the cultural side of language learning – this needs understanding too!

Verbs:  They come in all shapes and sizes and exhibit lots of different behaviours – make sure that you spend time sorting these out. Remember that advanced students often make elementary mistakes so take care! (see my posting on doing a language audit –  June 16 2009)

Words:  The protons and neutrons of language! What can I say – the more you know the better your performance.

Xerox:  Don’t be a photocopy collector! Your language knowledge doesn’t equate to the size of your study file. Read and copy out the most important rules or examples. The copying process is part of the learning – old fashioned perhaps but it works!

Your/You’re:  Don’t do this – one of the most common grammar /spelling crimes today! Or try yoga for concentration or speak to a local yokel for practice!

Zzzzzzzzzz: Sleep refreshes!



  1. […] into action. Therefore, I had the students work in pairs and read Berni Wall’s article, An A to Z of Effective Language Practice. The student pairs chose 5 of 26 tips to discuss. Each pair chose 2 language practicing activities […]

    Pingback by Goal-Setting with English Language Learners | Teacher Reboot Camp — November 19, 2009 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  2. Shelly, I’m thrilled that your students were able to do so much with this piece! I really think you should work on the karaoke though!

    Comment by rliberni — November 19, 2009 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  3. […] An A to Z of effective language practice […]

    Pingback by 10 top tips for improving IELTS Scores « Rliberni's Blog – Radical language — January 18, 2010 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

  4. […] An A to Z of effective language practice […]

    Pingback by 10 goofy ways to practise speaking skills. « Rliberni's Blog – Radical language — February 13, 2010 @ 10:19 pm | Reply

  5. […] An A to Z of effective language practice […]

    Pingback by Pronunciation – Some practical tips. « Rliberni's Blog – Radical language — February 18, 2010 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

  6. That’s a decent list, those are some good tips 🙂 the only one I’d question is “haiku” – not sure writing English in a Japanese verse format is going to help learners so much!

    Comment by Eldon Reeves — March 4, 2010 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the tips! It is a bit of fun! Actually I have used haiku with advanced students to get maximum meaning out of the minimum of words. It’s also a good introduction to poetry.

      Comment by rliberni — March 4, 2010 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

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  9. Really, through this page i acquire plenty of knowledge.

    Comment by gaurav sharma — October 6, 2010 @ 7:32 am | Reply

    • Gaurav, thank you for your comments. I am happy that you are finding these posts useful. I would love to hear more about your English language learning journey and the areas that students find difficult.
      Berni 🙂

      Comment by rliberni — October 6, 2010 @ 7:35 am | Reply

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