There’s one big secret to faster language learning. You have to use tasks. Not textbook tasks, not homework tasks, but real world tasks. With tasks, you’ll use English as it’s really supposed to be used: as a tool for communication.
Identify Your Need
Think of the kinds of tasks you will use English to do. Do you need English for your job? Do you need an intensive English program for school? Or are you going on a vacation? Do you need to improve your speaking, listening, reading, or writing? Once you know what you will need English for, you can start planning better practice for faster learning.
Think of Tasks
When you know your need, you can think of the specific things you’ll use English to do. If you’re going on vacation, you might need to ask directions, or ask for tourist information. But if you need English for your job, you’ll need to be able to read information that is relevant to your workplace.
Find a Learning Partner
For any language-learning task, you’ll need a partner. English is a language, after all, and languages are used to communicate. In order to improve your English, you must practice it in a sensible way. Only feedback from someone you are trying to communicate with will help you to learn.Even if you want to improve your reading and listening, you should find a partner to help and critique your work.
Picking the Right Partner
The immersion technique encourages you to surround yourself with native-speakers and learn through exposure. But in learning with tasks, you should pick just one person, or maybe a few people to practice specific tasks with. You can practice your real world skills later.
Some people learn better with a tutor. A tutor will be able to plan and prepare lessons that will address your weaknesses. You will have to find a tutor that believes in task-based learning for this to work.
On the other hand, some people learn better with friends. Conversations with a friend will feel more natural and may be more similar to the real world conversations you’ll have in the future. However, a friend may not be as good as a tutor at fixing your mistakes.
Practice Your Tasks
Role play is an excellent way to practice your speaking and writing tasks with a partner. When you role play, don’t write out your dialogue beforehand. Instead, create a dialogue map. Write down the gist of what you need to say at each point during the interaction.
For example, instead of writing: “Excuse me, where is the bus stop?”
Try writing: Politely ask for a location.
This way, your task will be flexible, and you will be forced to use your own words to communicate.
These tasks don’t just exercise your speaking and writing. If you are practicing with a partner, you will have to listen to or read their English as well.
Real World Practice
Soon, you’ll be ready to take your new skills and exercise them in the real world. This will give you feedback that your partners simply can’t. This is the point where you will practice in a similar way to those who use the immersion technique.
Unfortunately, you may not live in an English-speaking country. If this is the case, then continue to practice your tasks–but with a new person. Make sure to vary your tasks with new partners as much as you did with old partners. Many cities have English Speaking Clubs where people come together to practice their English.