Learning a second language takes time and commitment. To improve your English, you have to practise speaking from the time you learn those initial basic phrases until you are proficient enough to participate fully in conversational situations.

You have to persevere until the grammar rules become second nature and you have an arsenal of vocabulary.

You need to rattle off idioms and similes and slang expressions like native speakers.

You have to be able to express your ideas in succinct and eloquent English.

So, you can do all that — now what?

The threat of nationalism on global growth is on everyone's radar. Everyone, whether they be in an academic field, financial or in the global market, is striving to gain that lucrative advantage — the one that will put them first. English has long been considered a key selling point, giving English speakers the edge — but how long will that last in the current climate?

The question is: should we be prioritising learning English at all?

Communication technology just keeps getting better and better.
Modern-day technology allows instant communication, anywhere and with anyone, at the touch of a button. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt)

Technological Advancement

Believe it or not, mobile phone use only started to become commonplace a little over ten years ago. And, back then, they couldn't even do a tenth of what they can do today — voice messages, texts and 'snake' were the only features. In a relatively short period, mobile devices have gone from being a symbol of status to an essential part of daily life.

Who saw that coming?

We are constantly searching for connectivity with WIFI and have our eyes glued to screens of varying sizes. We watch movies, do our banking and download app after app.

It is not uncommon for foreign language words to be incorporated into English. A large number of the Indigenous Australian languages have words that are commonplace in Australian English today.

It works the other way too — particularly in the area of digital technology where English words for electronic items are prevalent worldwide.

  • China and Japan adopt English words, or translate them literally, for technical terms and expressions used in daily conversation.
  • Although not many English words are used in French, they occasionally incorporate some technical vocabulary, including email and webcam.
  • English terminology is frequently adopted into German with nouns such as computer and software remaining unchanged, while English root words like download and boot are conjugated as German verbs.
  • Iceland uses a combination of its own technical terms and borrowed ones from English.
  • Some terms, including interface and cartridge, are spelt phonetically in Polish.

With the high volume of English vocabulary that is borrowed by non-English speaking countries, staying competitive in the global workplace really requires a good level of fluency in English.

Learn English in your Leisure Time with Entertainment

You don't need to spend your money on formal English lessons alone.

Everybody Loves a Good Movie

Name a movie.

Chances are that the first movie that popped into your head was a Hollywood blockbuster.

Australia produced the first-ever feature-length film in 1906 with The Story of the Kelly Gang, and now has a healthy rate of movie production, but falls well behind the UK's rank as the second-largest exporter. Unsurprisingly, American movies and their themes are rated the highest internationally.

Of course, all these movies are in English.

What better way, then, to improve your aural skills by watching these movies — and flick on the English subtitles too for some reading practice.

How About Some Music?

Australia has the sixth-largest movie market in the world, and artists from Britain and America are continually ranked globally as having the highest number of sales and downloads.

The entertainment industry also recognises the popularity of Japanese and Korean music, J-pop and K-pop. Who can forget the chart-topping success of Psy's Gangnam Style a few years back?

There is little contest, however, with English songs continually outselling all music from other countries, worldwide.

Listening to music is the perfect way to keep learning English outside of your English courses. You will pick up new words and phrases and improve your pronunciation simply by singing along.

Practise Listening Skills in Small Snippets Through Podcasts

Perfect for listening practice, particularly at an intermediate level, podcasts are available on all sorts of topics, single presenter or multiple speakers, video or audio-only. It's as simple as picking what you're interested in, downloading it and playing it wherever and whenever you're ready.

If you really like a particular podcast, you can subscribe to it and each recent instalment will appear on your chosen device when it's available.

Some podcasts focus on listeners who learning English:

  • ABC English and the British Council both host podcasts for people who want to learn English, at any level. Some chapters focus on preparation for tests such as IELTS.
  • Podcasts focusing on business English or technical English are also available, with information about the vocabulary and syntax of business language, and tips on developing spoken language that demonstrates competency and enthusiasm.

Almost any topic you're interested in, whether it's movies, sport, finance or culture, can be found on a podcast which is narrated by a native English speaker. It's an enjoyable way to boost your comprehension skills.

Take online English classes here.

Why do scientists use English for their papers?
English lessons are a must if you want to enter a scientific field. (Source: Pixabay Credit: MasterTux)

The English Language Dominates in Science

Prior to the mid 20th Century, German was the language of scientific papers and conferences. However, owing to several factors, including the political climate at the time and advancements in medicine and physics, English soon started to take over, first in Europe, then spreading over the world.

In modern times, scientific papers are dominated by English with around 98% of them published in this language.

These days, science belongs to everyone, not just academics. Environmental issues and health topics have moved to the forefront of public responsibility.

When you learn new scientfic vocabulary and expressions, you are more easily able to participate in community discussions and actions.

Target your English Lessons to Maximise your Success

Around 2 billion people worldwide speak English as a second language or as their native language — and the number is growing. Whether you are just interested in adding to this number, or if you have to learn English for your career or lifestyle, it makes sense to grow your language skills.

Global Trade will Remain Intact for the Foreseeable Future

While the media may be talking about tighter border security and stricter importation laws, goods are not going to stop being shipped around the world.

English is, and will remain, the language of business and trade.

Whether you've been studying English for some time, or are just beginning, you may wish to consider supplementing your English skills with business English, particularly if you are looking to be more competitive in the employment sector.

World Travel: Tourism and Hospitality

International travel and the discovery of unfamiliar cultures and destinations is a massive worldwide industry.

As with business, English is also the primary language of tourism.

Preparing for travel by taking English conversation lessons online is becoming increasingly common by people of all ages and nationalities.

Employees with Multiple Languages are Ranked Higher by Employers

The job market is highly competitive — and is not dependent on any one nationality or language.

Technology, science, fashion and other global industries do not restrict their search to a particular country or the native language of that country.

Academic research can not limit itself to the history, economics or culture of only one nation.

Employees, particularly trade professionals and technicians, and sometimes education specialists, who are proficient in English and at least one other language, have the potential to command a higher salary and enjoy the benefits of being competitive.

Check for English conversation classes here.

English can take you right around the world.
Learn English to open the doors to the global stage. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt)

If you're feeling overwhelmed by how much there is to learn — take a look at our tips to help you with your English learning journey.

Stake your Claim over English

Here are a few fun ways to learn which will help you consolidate your skills for the global stage if you're learning English as a foreign language.

◊ Writing Skills and Reading Skills

  • maintain a journal in English
  • watch movies using the English subtitles

◊ Vocabulary and Grammar Knowledge

  • play word games
  • take fun online quizzes
  • seek 5-10 new words or phrases a week and use them every chance you get
  • make your own slang and idiom dictionary
  • focus on the use of verb tenses

◊ Listening Skills

  • watch movies
  • listen to music and podcasts or audio books

◊ Speaking Skills

  • find native speakers and practise speaking English
  • use and speak English every day — no matter what your level is

You'll be surprised to find you're better than you think!

Increased practice leads to improved fluency. Being more fluent leads to a huge boost in confidence and the desire to keep learning English.

Above all, the confidence boost comes with the realisation that it's fun to learn English.

Enrol in English Courses to Get Ahead in your Career

As an English as a second language learner, you are poised to join the 2 billion English speakers around the world.

An ability to speak English fluently can improve your chances of gaining employment in your chosen field.

Your prospects of joining a multinational company will be enhanced by becoming proficient in business English.

Alternatively, you can put your experiences and new skills to good use as an English teacher in your home country. You may try online tutoring or producing a podcast.

If tutoring appeals to you, build your profile with Superprof and start promoting your English tutoring services to non native speakers. You could also offer lessons teaching your native language and about your culture to native English speakers.

If you live in Australia, you may wish to work face-to-face with other ESL students, either teaching English or offering support and guidance as they adapt to their new lifestyle.

Many community centres and volunteer groups run free English courses and conversation classes for migrants which you may wish to volunteer for.

Whatever you decide to do with your English proficiency, know you've made a great choice.

Find out how you can access higher education and online resources by learning English.

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Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.