第60話:How to begin learning English? 英語の勉強の始め方

How to begin learning English? 英語の勉強の始め方

Teacher Mina’s 5 baby steps to beginning learning English
Cherry Blossoms

               The beginning is always the hardest. You might have had this goal of learning English as a part of your New Year’s Resolutions list but here you are, still not knowing how and where to begin. Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog I will be giving you a step by step procedure to kickstart your English learning journey once and for all!


Step 1. Know your purpose and set your goal

               Think about the reason why you want to learn English.

Because I want to travel outside Japan!
Because I want to communicate to foreigners come 2020 Olympics!
Because I want to make foreign friends and possibly a boyfriend!
Because I want to sound like my favorite actor Tom Cruise!
Whatever your purpose is, be sure to make it motivating enough for you to keep on learning. It isn’t going to be motivating to learn every day, but when you remind yourself of your purpose you will always pick up that motivation. Go ahead! Ask yourself now: why do I want to learn English?

Tip: Make your goal doable

               I want to be able to greet a foreigner in English.
               I want to be able to talk about my favorite hobby in English.
               I want to be able to talk about the best travel destinations in Japan in English.
               I want to achieve a 600 in TOEIC.


Step 2. Choose an area you want to focus on

               Is it English for traveling? Is it English for daily life? Is it English for business? For making friends? For TOEIC or EIKEN?
               The reason I am asking this question is that I want to make it easier for you to learn the vocabulary words you need in order for you to start learning English.

English for Travel vocabulary – bathroom/washroom; subway; bus stop; crossing; entrance; concierge
English for Daily Life vocabulary – breakfast; toothbrush; street; cloudy; hospital; 20 minutes
English for Business vocabulary – appraisal; contract; presentation; annual; efficient
English for Making Friends vocabulary – hang out; cinema; exhibit; beverage; go out
TOEIC vocabulary – product; postpone; legible; optional; registration
EIKEN vocabulary – environment; economical; submit; conflict; campus; hierarchy

               Once you have decided this, you can now narrow down your choices for learning especially the vocabulary words. At this point, you need not to worry about grammar yet.




Step 3. Create quantitative vocabulary goals

               Numbers won’t lie to you. Set a goal for the number of vocabulary words or phrases you want to learn in a day and be consistent about it. Start small. Start with only a few words or phrases. Track your consistency. I recommend using an app called DotHabit (App Store / Google Play Store). It is an app which lets you see a visual representation of your progress. It also shows your consistency and the lack thereof. I use it every day to make sure that I am on top of my goal in learning Japanese, in my case.
               Using productivity apps such as this one will somehow trick your brain into thinking that, “Oh! I have to tick this box today or else, my 1-week streak will be broken.”
               Instead of being in this headspace, “I want to learn English because I want to travel abroad,” it might be better to be like, “I will memorize 10 travel English sentences within one week.”
               You’re no longer pressuring yourself to study English. You now have created a habit without you knowing it. You might even see or feel the difference quite early in your learning journey.

数字はうそをつかないよね。一日に覚えたい英単語やフレーズの数を決めて、それをちゃんとやり続ける。少しの量、ほんと数個の英単語 / フレーズ数でいいから。そしてやり抜く。「DotHabitAppleStore / Google Playでダウンロード可)」を使うのをオススメするわ。これは進捗状況をユーザーに見やすく提供するアプリ。ちゃんと続けているかがわかるの。私の場合はこれを、私の掲げた目標設定にあわせて計画的に日本語を覚えていくのに使ってるわ。

Step 4. Seek for a teacher or a conversation partner

               A teacher or a conversation partner will act as your training wheels in learning English. Now that you are beginning to learn English, they will be your guide in gaining confidence to speak your target language. They should be experienced and patient enough to understand and student’s learning process. They should build you up and give you encouragement. They should be able to motivate you when you feel like you are backsliding.
               If you are looking for one, be sure to check our homepage exl-english.com to get a free trial lesson from me, Teacher Mina or Teacher Marilou.

ステップ4:先生 / 英会話パートナーを見つけよう
「先生 / 会話の相手」がいると英会話の進捗がはやまるよね。今まさに英会話を学び始めるところなら、それこそ先生たちが会話に自信をもたせてくれるはず。生徒となる人の学びのプロセスを辛抱強く経験させてくれるでしょう。やる気が続かなそうなときにもモチベーションなるしね。

Step 5. Step up your game

               Whether striking a small chat with a stranger in an elevator or even taking an EIKEN 5 test with elementary school kids is a big challenge for you, those are still valid. By this time, you are now taking your English learning challenge a notch higher because you are taking on difficult tasks.
               Step up your game. Take challenges. Be scared of the challenge but take it anyway!



               After step 5, I am pretty sure that you will be learning and speaking English more independently or with minimal guidance from your teacher or conversation partner. You are also probably building up your grammar and pronunciation. Wherever you are in the language learning journey, stay hungry for bigger goals.
               You can do it!

これら5つのステップをこなせば、あなたの「先生 / 英会話の相手」からちょっとしたガイドを受けるだけで、個人でどんどん学び、話しができるようになる。さらには文法や発音まで気遣うようになっていくでしょう。あなたの勉強の旅路がいまどこであれ、大きな目標に向けて貪欲であれ!

               -Teacher Mina


第59話:Learning English Series: Pronunciation Practice with Tongue Twisters Part 1 / 早口言葉で発音トレーニング:その1

Learning English Series: Pronunciation Practice with Tongue Twisters Part 1 

Learning a language involves a lot of skills and one of them is being able to say words in their correct pronunciation. 

It is very essential to master pronunciation not only for the purpose of sounding good but also to aid you in being more comprehensible. 
Tongue twisters could also be likened to physical exercise. The more you practice, the better you would sound. Although they don’t mostly have meaning, they have a lot of words and sounds that help in speech therapy. 

In this blog post series, I want to share with you some tongue twisters and pronunciation practice resources that might help you work on your pronunciation, focusing on some critical sounds of English. I challenge you to give these a try and see how you’d do! 

Image taken from: https://unsplash.com/photos/N_V13fMHtiE


Exercise for the sounds /l/ and /r/

These sounds have got to be the most confusing and difficult sounds to produce for most Japanese learners who are studying English. 
Because these two are interchangeable in the Japanese language, it is takes a lot more effort for learners to produce these two sounds with distinction. Here are some steps to get you producing these sounds well in no time. 


Step 1: Know Your Speech Articulators
If you’re having a hard time with producing the either of the two sounds, you can start by referring to the image below. 
Knowing the correct positioning of the tongue helps with the proper production of these sounds.

Image taken from: http://genki-saga.com/?p=3028


L: 舌の先端が上歯の後ろの歯茎についた状態で発音する
R: 舌を上顎につけずに口の中に引くように発音する

Step 2: Work Your Way the Pairs
Practicing pair words also help a lot in familiarizing with words that have these two pair sounds. This resource website has a list of words divided into different categories ranging from elementary to advanced levels.  


Step 3: Don’t Get Tongue-tied with Tongue Twisters!
This is now the part where it gets more challenging. Since tongue twisters mostly come in phrases or sentences and they’re often spoken quickly, making mistakes with pronunciation is more inevitable. No need to worry though for you have all the chances and time to practice by starting slow. You can pick up the pace whenever you are more comfortable or when you’ve finally mastered the correct pronunciation of the words.

This website provides a list of short tongue twisters that help a lot with pronouncing difficult sounds like /l/ and /r/. The speaker also pronounces the words very clearly and slowly.



Next week I will be back with more pronunciation exercises and tongue twisters for other critical sounds of English. I hope you found these helpful and interesting! Good luck and have fun!     


-      Teacher Marilou

1.   comprehensible (adjective) (形容詞)- capable of being comprehended or understood; 理解できる
2.     liken (verb) (動詞)- consider or describe as similar, equal, or analogous; 例える なぞらえる
3.     interchangeable (noun)(名詞)- exchangeable;  置き換えできる
4.     take effort (phrasal verb) (句動詞)- to work hard on something;努力をする
5.     distinction (noun) (名詞)- differentiation; 区別
6.     familiarize (verb)(動詞)- make familiar with; 習熟させる
7.     inevitable (adjective) (形容詞)- incapable of being avoided or prevented; 必然的な
8.     pick up the pace (expression) (語句)- to go faster; ペースをあげていく


第58話:Learn English through Songs: My Top Picks / 歌で英語を覚えよう

Learn English through Songs: My Top Picks

Just as I have mentioned in my previous blog post, listening to music is one of those things I like doing when I’m free. I mostly do my tasks with some music on. Whether I’m doing house chores, studying or relaxing, there has to be some music in the background to accompany me. Music doesn’t only turn tedious tasks to enjoyable ones but in fact also makes you learn something new. It helps you learn a new language without even realizing it! So without further ado, I’ll be sharing with you artists you can listen to, as well as some recommended songs you will surely enjoy listening  and singing along to all day!
Image from: https://unsplash.com/photos/d4ZYpoGjUXo 


1. Artist: Taylor Swift
Why listen to her: Taylor mostly writes her songs in a first-person point of view so when you sing along to these tunes, you’ll get to have a feel of talking directly to the listener. There’s also a good variety of words and expressions in her lyrics ranging from simple and casual ones to more complex and poetic lines. Her songs are also relatable and fun to listen to.  

What song to listen to: Shake it off

Why listen to it: You’ll get to learn some useful phrasal verbs. It’s also great for pronunciation because she repeats some words in the chorus.

Taylor Swift:おすすめの理由は、彼女の歌のほとんどが、自分が相手に話しかけているような感じなこと。だから聞き手に直接話しかけているような感じになれるのよね。歌詞にはシンプルでカジュアルなものから複雑で詩のようなものまで多彩な言葉や表現方法が出てくるわ。聴いててとっても楽しいわよ!

オススメの曲:Shake it off

Sample Lyrics (歌詞抜粋):
Phrasal verbs (出てくる熟語)- stay out, get down, come over

I stay out too late, got nothing in my brain.
You could’ve been getting down to this sick beat.
Won’t you come on over baby? We can shake, shake, shake

Pronunciation practice (発音練習におすすめ)

And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Other recommended songs (その他オススメの曲:Mean, Lover

2. Artist: Niall Horan 

Why listen to him: Coming from a well-known boy band that released fun and catchy love songs like “What Makes You Beautiful”, Niall is no beginner in making light and likeable songs. He also doesn't over-pronounce words making them clear enough to catch.  

What song to listen to: Heartbreak Weather

Why listen to it: It is an upbeat song but words are sung in a slower pace. The rhythm of the song is easy to follow. It also uses verbs in different past tenses.

Niall Horan:おすすめの理由 / What Makes You Beautiful」のような面白くてキャッチーなラブソングを提供してた超有名バンドからの輩出、なので彼は明るく感じの良い曲つくるわ。過剰な発音なく歌ってくれるのでクリアでわかりやすいの。

オススメの曲:Heartbreak Weather

Sample Lyrics (歌詞抜粋):
Verbs (Past tenses) 様々な動詞の形が出てくる(過去形)

Andyeah,we were dancing,dancing to Bruno
And I couldn't turnaway from you
And I was blinded by the sparks
I was holding you close in the dark
Finding reasons to stay where we are

Other recommended titles (その他オススメの曲): 
Slow hands, Too Much to Ask 

3. Artist: Adele 
Why listen to her: Not only that Adele has a voice that will definitely make you feel the song’s intense emotions, but she also enunciates the lyrics clearly. Her songs are usually slow and soulful which makes them perfect to learn English with. She also speaks a clear London accent which is great for getting used to new words and phrases.  

What song to listen to: Someone like you
Why listen to it: Great for familiarizing with verbs in the simple past tense.

Adele:おすすめの理由 / その歌の激しい感情を伝える彼女の歌声、これはもちろんだけど、やっぱ発音がはっきりしてることね。彼女の楽曲は基本ゆっくりで魂がこもっていて、英語勉強に最適。発音はロンドン流で新しい単語やフレーズに慣れるのにとてもいいわね。

オススメの曲:Someone like you

Sample Lyrics (歌詞抜粋):
Verbs (Simple past tense) 過去形の動詞が出てくる
I heard that you're settled down
That you found a girl and you're married now
I heard that your dreams came true
Guess she gave you things, I didn't give to you
Old friend, why are you so shy?
Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light

Other recommended titles (その他オススメの曲): Hello, Send My Love (To Your New Lover)

4. Artist: Bruno Mars

Why listen to him: Bruno Mars’ songs are undeniably catchy because of their melodies and lyrics. Some of his songs are also perfect for learning English slang just like his tune titled “The Lazy Song”.

What song to listen to: Just the way you are

Why listen to it: This song is great for beginning learners of English as it helps them practice the simple present tense of the verb. The song also uses simple vocabulary making the song easy to sing along to and understand.

オススメの理由 / メロディーと歌詞ですぐわかるけど、彼の歌は間違いなくキャッチー。「The Lazy Song」っていう曲なんかまさにそうなんだけど英語の俗語を覚えるのにいいわね。

オススメの曲:Just the way you are

Sample Lyrics (歌詞抜粋):
Verbs (Simple present tense) 現在形の動詞が出てくる
Oh, her eyes, her eyes
Make the stars look like they're not shining
Her hair, her hair
Falls perfectly without her trying
She's so beautiful
And I tell her every day
Yeah, I know, I know
When I compliment her she won't believe me
And it's so, it's so
Sad to think that she don't see what I see
But every time she asks me, "Do I look okay?" I say,

Other recommended titles (その他オススメの曲): The Lazy Song, It Will Rain

Learning a language isn’t always dull and difficult. It can also be fun and easy at times. Good thing we always have entertaining ways to learn a new skill, right? You can listen to these songs for free by going to YouTube or Spotify. You can also listen to them or even download these songs through your iTunes subscription. I hope you take the time to listen and learn a thing or two from these recommendations and let me know what you think about them. Happy listening!

-      Teacher Marilou 



1.     House chore (noun) - tasks such as cleaning, washing, and ironing that have to be done regularly at home (名詞) - 掃除、洗濯などの家事
2.     tedious (adjective)- too long, slow, or dull; tiresome or monotonous (形容詞)-長ったらしくて退屈な
3.     first-person (noun)- a literary style in which the narrative is told from the perspective of a narrator speaking directly about himself or herself (名詞)- 一人称(IWeであらわされる)
4.     relatable (adjective)- that someone can understand or feel sympathy for(形容詞)話される / 関係づけられる
5.     well-known (adjective)- widely or generally known(形容詞)- よく知られている
6.  over-pronounce (verb)- to pronounce (a word, syllable, etc.) in an exaggerated, affected, or excessively careful manner (動詞)誇張して発音する
7.     upbeat (adjective)- lively and cheerful (形容詞)- 生き生きとして元気そうな
8.     intense (adjective)- extreme and forceful or (of a feeling) very strong (形容詞)- 激しい
9.     undeniably (adjective)- certainly true (形容詞)- まぎれもなく