Read this blog ! Practice your English! Come on ( venga ya)!. No deadlines (fechas tope). No exams. It's just a fun way to learn the language.
Reading and Writing
You've been studying English for years now, practically all your life. You're an expert at "fill in the blanks" and can look at a "right now" at the end of a sentence and KNOW you have to use a "present continuous" as in "I am reading this blog right now." You can change affirmative sentences to negative and even attack question formation without much mental input. You even read in English when you have to. However, you only have to when you English teacher insists, so you happily cruise through your courses with a minimum effort. A "C" student or "Necesita mejorar"
Does this sound familar? Has your experience with the English language been limited to controlled exercises, out of context, which will really be of limited use in your future?
When you are confronted with a newspaper article about a present world event, an application for the job of your life, an itinerary for a trip to far off places, will you be prepared to decipher it or will you be using those fill-in-the-blanks exercises as your field of reference?
It's time to go beyond. Start reading, reading for pleasure. READ something you're actually interested in. What a novel idea. The then READ some more. Anything and everything could be of interest. Look on-line or pick up a newspaper or magazine in English. Imagine you're applying for a job at a multinational. Read the application form, now, before you're even ready to apply. Interested in travel? Get some brochures and read about exotic places where you will go someday.
And what about writing? Do you write anything in English? Are you keeping a diary in English? You should. You'll enjoy READING what you WROTE some day. Look at all the mistakes! I know a lot more now than I did then! Hey, I've come a long way.
Think about this for a moment. You don't need to be perfect, not yet at least. You CAN make mistakes, but you won't even write badly if you don't try. You want to be a C2. You want to pass the Cambridge First Certificate Exam or the Advanced Exam or the Proficiency Exam. You might be planning to go to the States and need the TOEFL exam. Your international life is out there. Are you getting ready for it?
Think communication. You don't have to be perfect, but you have to try. You don't have to start with a thesis. You could just start writing notes "Back at 1:30." "Please make a salad for lunch" "Meet you in the coffee shop in 20 minutes." "Went for a walk." We're interested in communication here. The simpler, the better. You don't have to be perfect to communicate, but eventually you have to notice your errors so you don't make them forever.
So.... get started.
Reading: Try USA TODAY or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Just a few minutes a day and before you know it those verb tenses and phrasal verbs make sense. Word order? No problem. Learn as you go.
Writing: Write notes to your family and friends or send them emails in English. Work on your TOUCHSTONE or VIEWPOINT blog. Send a comment to me on www.uem.es/shakespeare
Then, a year from now, or maybe years from now, look back at your earliest endeavors. What a long way you've come ! You're living abroad or you're working for a multinational or you're part of the tourism industry or working in International Relations in Spain. Get started !
I remember reading my first articles and books in Spanish when I was 15. And then the letters started, constant communication in English and Spanish, writing and receiving mail from my exchange families and friends, foreign colleagues and later students. And sometimes it doesn't matter how bad your writing is, someone is bound to understand it. Check out the blog post below. Amazing, isn't it?
Now it's your turn.
Fill in the blanks: Rellenar los blancos
Cruise through: sin hacer esfuerzo
far off: lejano
applying for: solicitando
foreign colleagues: compañeros de trabajo extranjeros
is bound to: es probably que