Help learn better English, please.

By sultan_emerr ยท 13 replies
Oct 25, 2007
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  1. What are some good methods and ways for a Japanese student to study and learn written and spoken English, with emphasis on composition, in order to prepare for English Language exams in four months, to be able to enter a top rated Japanese High School?
    Thank you in advance for your help.
  2. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,182   +469

    One way NOT to do so would be to study posts on internet forums, even this one. Your use of English is already better than the majority of native English speakers I've seen on the internet.

    I can only suggest that you practice writing compositions and essays on a variety of subjects with a knowledgeable mentor, teacher or tutor to review and correct them. Your thoughts should be organized and your writing clear and concise. Well, that is what I think anyway.
  3. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    Software wise, I would recommend a translation software called SysTran. I've been using it for work. Works really well, not free though.
  4. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    The internet is where languages go to die. Buy books for English language teachers or something like that instead.
  5. Maikeru

    Maikeru TS Rookie Posts: 86

    Ditto on what mailpup said!

    I haven't seen a recent copy of the exam you're going to take, but a lot of the stuff (if I recall correctly) seemed to be basic English composition that a decent book would be able to help you with.

    I've helped some of my Japanese friends learn better English, so feel free to send me a private message if you want some pointers. :)

    The biggest piece of advice I have for you? Benkyou, benkyou, benkyou!!!!

    Ganbatte yo!
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I've grown up speaking English, and retained almost nothing from my 2 foreign language classes in high school.

    With that said, one thing that has advanced my writing and speaking (when necessary) skills was reading scientific papers (journal papers). Of course this is worthless if you can't find something you already know something about, but the writing style used there I've found is more 'proper' than just about anywhere else, and I think learning the better way to write something is useful.

    Of course my posts on Techspot don't really use what I've learned by doing that :) But that is really just because I'm usually pressed for time when I'm here and am trying to get an answer out in as short of time as possible.
  7. 29dave

    29dave TS Rookie

    Search for TOEFL practice exams on Google or other search engine
  8. ravisunny2

    ravisunny2 TS Ambassador Posts: 1,986   +12

    That's pretty much a crash course.

    Some English language tapes, like the one suggested above, can help comprehenshion & speech.

    For composition, reading a text book will help, but practise is a must.

    But, since time is short, you will probably be best off joining a professional short term course.
  9. beef_jerky4104

    beef_jerky4104 Banned Posts: 822

    You already speak very good English, apparently better than me. Language tapes do help though.
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,182   +469

    ...better than I. :)
  11. Exonimus

    Exonimus TS Rookie Posts: 77

    Sure he does! =), but it could be for someone else. He didn't say it was for himself, after all. I. myself, have been doing bilingual education for a few years. Now I'm in the regular Dutch school system and the English lessons kind of suck. I also second the 'professional English course' idea. You(?) might also want to read as many books as you can to really get a feel for the language. I know time is short. Also, if you can a place where you can really listen to the language, that would be great. I'm not sure if there are many places like that in Japan. Language tapes are a great idea. I'm not sure how good/bad the your regular English class is, but you might also want to ask for extra exercises, English texts, recommendation on good books, etc. The main idea is to really get involved in the language. Good luck!

    edit:stupid, stupid, stupid! you also really need to practice writing like mailpup suggested. Again, you might want to ask your (regular English)teacher to check whatever you wrote, if you can't find a proper English course.

    edit: you might like if you need explanation on certain grammar rules, or just want some exercise.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,967   +2,524

    The Deep End Of The Pool.....

    Learning is a process greatly enhanced by necessity. So immersion is the best teacher. So, say it, spell it, say it, then talk about it with someone else. Reading is a great teacher since the whole time you get a "do over", by sitting with your Japanese to English dictionary open.

    The trouble with acquiring any language is that a single language is location dependent. US English, UK English, and Australian English all have very divergent forms of "slang" and/or "idiomatic expression". Elle Macpherson (Aussy Supermodel) once did a skit on the US TV show, "Saturday Night Live", about an Australian phone sex line, and nobody in the "colonies" understood a single word. Funny though, very, very, funny.

    One of the Japanese ice skater girls, Yuka Sato, I believe, said she got the basics of English from watching cartoons.

    Idiomatic expression is a stumbilng block, since it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the subject at hand. (Hench, "idiomatic"). My favorite example of this is, "Piece of Cake", which means something is, (or was), easy to do. In Spanish, it would be said, "Pan Comida", which is literally, "Eaten Bread". I suppose that they're both carbs. The fact remains that it must be acquired on a case by case basis, and the only way (in this facet of a Language), is through rote memorization. Wish I had an easy way to tell you.

    Anyway, the only real answer is also the answer to, "how do I get to Carnegie Hall"? Practice. Best of luck.
    That said, we both know if you don't use it, you lose it. I forgot Algebra, (in major part), right after I got my report card.
  13. lizzo

    lizzo TS Rookie

    Read great literature. It's time consuming, but it's the most effective. It improves your vocabulary, your ability to construct grammatically correct and creative sentences, and your ability to construct coherent, vivid, and stylistic essays. I think learning the tradition of the language (through literature) is also important, since it indirectly teaches you common words and phrases to use for expressing a particular emotion, action, idea, or opinion. Somehow, I think it also provides you with the cultural tools to engage creatively the language and its speakers by making you "own" the language, if you know what I mean. (Own the language and be understood at the same time)

    If not, you can try reading short stories and essays by great writers and thinkers. Pick up a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style, Robert Fiske's The Dictionary of Disagreeable English, and the latest Chicago Manual of Style. I kid you not. One month with these books (read them from cover to cover), and you can ask your classmates to pay you to write and edit papers for them.

    Finally, pick up a challenging English test like the ones in GREs and GMATs.

    I'm supposedly fluent in French, but my vocabulary is peanuts. It's improving though with Exupery, Camus, and Proust. :)
  14. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    As many people have said, do not study English from the Internet ;) . Needless to say, a native speak can usually speak with more grammatical mistakes than a non-native speaker. Typically, a great resource of literature would be in a book of that language. Most/All books are edited, and will usually contain little to no errors. Just make sure you pick up the right kind of book though :p .

    I, over the coarse of the past 5 years, have taken Spanish. Now, although I am not fluent, I can still speak. I found that it is a great help to watch television as well (news programs will most likely use the best grammar). From your posts, you seem to have a great "grasp" on the English Language needless to say :D !

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