How can I improve my English standard?

This is a question that so many people in Hong Kong ask!

The answer is easy: learn and practice more!

Most people will respond with "But I have been learning English since kindergarten!" I do try to learn but I never get more confidence.

The two most common problem functional areas in HK are grammar and lack or vocabulary. The other main problem is the lack of opportunity to use and practice English. Although English is an official language in Hong Kong, it is in fact a foreign language for most people. There is little chance for people to practice English since almost everyone speaks Cantonese for day to day conversation within the office and at home.

Grammar can be improved upon. A quick diagnostic test (such as the Oxford University Test) will enable you to find out your real problem areas. prepositions, articles and verb tenses are the most common errors in Hong Kong. Analyzing the form and structure and utilizing the verb form by writing an article using it can help cement your understanding and thus prevent future errors.

Vocabulary is another problem area. With grammar mistakes you can still communicate your message, but without sufficient vocabulary you will never be able to communicate at all! Reading is a great way to improve vocabulary. There are lots of free articles on the internet these days, many aimed at native speakers. Just do a search for "free articles". Newspapers sites are also in abundance and UK dailies such as the Guardian publish on the net for free. You can print the article and take it with you to read on your journey to work.

When you are reading look at how the phrases are put together. Most native speakers remember phrases and *chunks* of language rather than individual words. Why? Because English words often have several meanings. By remembering the words inside a *phrase* you will also remember the correct meaning!

Start improving your English today!