Students often ask, "What level of English should I study?"
The answer is the English you study should feel easy.
Experts say, when you read or listen to English, you should understand 90-95%. You can study anything—from a textbook to a TV series, but the English should not feel too difficult.
First, you need an area of English where you are confident. That’s your foundation. Simple things should not take effort.
You have a problem if you have spent time building your vocabulary, but you still have trouble saying basic sentences. That problem happens when you spend too much time understanding new words and not enough time practising fundamentals.
When you read or listen to English, you should understand at least 90%.
Reading easy English gives you strong fundamentals. Reading easy English means you can read quickly. That helps you think quickly in English. Thinking quickly helps with everything.
Many students speak too slowly. They want to speak quickly. But often, they don't have a speaking problem—they have a thinking problem. You can only speak as quickly as you can think. If you think slowly in English, you will speak slowly. The same is true for listening. You need to get used to common English patterns, English grammar and all the other basics.
Efficient study time
You should use English to understand English. If there is one new word in an article, you can usually use the English you know to understand the new English. You can maintain your flow of reading while learning a new word.
If there are a dozen words you don’t know well, you’ll have to stop and check. You’ll probably check in your first language. And those words will probably be far above your level—not words you will use. You lose your study flow.
Energy matters too. Think about it like this; imagine you want to get healthy and build up your muscles. You walk into a gym. You walk to the heaviest weight. You try to lift it, but you can only move it a little bit. After a couple of tries, you have no more strength left. That’s a bad way to get fit. No fitness coach will ever tell you to do that.
Language is the same. You will tire yourself out quickly if you try to learn very difficult material. Too many new words, new phrases, or difficult grammar is too heavy. It’s good to be a little tired after you study. It's bad to become exhausted too quickly.
So your daily English practice should feel easy. Then, with daily practice, you’ll develop fluency and mastery.
But your daily English can’t be boring. It must be interesting. That's another problem: how can simple English be interesting? Read next week's blog post to find out.
You can also take this lesson on finding the right English to learn.