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The Gachon Herald
English expert column
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Updated : 2013.12.25  23:32:08
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  By this time, you have been studying the English language for many years. I'm sure you have read and tried many options for improving your skills. Now, let's think about the big picture, or your overall approach or plan. Consider using the concept of SWOT or strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O), and threats (T) to help in your strategy for learning English skills. 

Strengths and Weaknesses
  Start each new semester by assessing your strengths and weaknesses and by setting goals. It is important to honestly assess your strengths, weaknesses, and skill level. This is your time to set your goals to improve upon your weaknesses and use them as your inspiration to learn. For example, if you have less than average listening skills, you cannot realistically expect to improve them by sitting in English class once or twice a week. Develop a strategy by listening to a set amount of English language programming such as listen and read, on a daily basis. Remember, you are training your ear for that language.
  However, don't forget that we must constantly reevaluate our goals to determine if we are on track or if we need to realign them. Therefore, at the end of the semester, review your goals and determine your next steps.

Opportunities
  Take advantage of opportunities available while you are a university student. These may include speaking sessions, mentoring, programs, and other resources (including professors and students) available on campus.
  If you want to work on your speaking skills go to the Global Zone to practice. You can find a speaking level for your needs by choosing between either basic sessions or advanced sessions. The best part of the Global Zone is that you are able to talk to your fellow students in English. You may be surprised about all the new and interesting things you will learn!
  Find the right study buddy or two! Have you noticed that when you work out with a friend (or your team), even the most painful workouts are more fun? A friend can encourage you, support you and push you to achieve your goals on a consistent basis. The icing on the cake is enjoying the process of learning while achieving your goals. However, you must remember that it's not all about the fun. Make sure that there is a specific objective for each session and that each person has a specific study related task to accomplish. After all, it is important that study sessions be productive.

Threats
  Make a list of threats to your goals and eliminate or minimize them. These may be in the form of bad study habits, negative thoughts or even outright fears. While it is important to honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses, do not be overly negative or harsh. Do not live in fear of making a mistake, because you will make mistakes. The key is learning from those mistakes and becoming a better student.
  Arrange your study time so that you are studying English in chunks or shorter periods of time. If you need to study your vocabulary but do not have enough time, consider the many different ways you can study it throughout the day so that you are repeatedly practicing. New vocabulary can be looked at, listened to, said aloud in a sentence, and written in a sentence. Use a vocabulary journal to keep track of your practice.
Remember that learning English, or any language for that matter, it not simply about learning the language itself. It is also about exposure to different people, it is about exposure to different ways, and it is about exposure to a different culture. Ultimately, as we learn more ways to express ourselves, we learn more ways to communicate, and we learn more ways to share. When you think about it, that is an enormous amount of power in your hands. It is the power you derive from learning.
   
  Professor Portia Fay Gray

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