English is a language that is totally weird when you look at it as an outsider. The fact that it is so widely spoken, yet there are differences between American, British, and Australian English show just how silly the language can be. As an outsider, the idioms and wordplay can be some of the most challenging things to overcome when trying to understand people in practice. The fact is that you are going to need to learn more than just the words, the structure, and the pronunciation to do well with the language. You are going to need to learn a little more about context with language. Here are a few tips of how to get better at speaking and writing English.
You hear stories about this all the time because it really works. When you are trying to learn English the way that people talk, you can get an okay idea from sitcoms. The proliferation of Netflix has made it so much easier for people to access American or even British sitcoms that can help them learn the language. There are also plenty of reality shows that can show you a bit more natural of a conversation instead of something that is scripted. There is a great clip on the internet from the Graham Norton Show where Chris Pratt shows off his love of The Only Way Is Essex by mimicking the accent from the show, which comes from his hours of “research.” This is a totally viable way to learn how people speak, although it is not a great way to learn proper grammar.
The only thing that you do not get with a book is the pronunciation, although you might solve that by listening to the audiobook. You should still follow along reading though because reading is not just helping you to grow your vocabulary, but it also makes you a better writer. The vocab is a part of that, but reading can help inspire you with sentence structures that you are not used to using, which will help you vary your writing and improve that way. Seeing good writing gives you an idea of what to strive for and highlights what is bad writing as well.
This is something that applies not just to what you do before you write, but as you are writing. When you learn writing in elementary school, they teach the hamburger method of essay writing, which is an introductory paragraph that previews three main points, three body paragraphs covering each point, and a conclusion summarizing your points. It feels a bit cookie cutter, but the goal is to show you that people respond well when you organize your ideas and walk them through within a structure. I think one of the most interesting things about Chris Rock’s comedy is that you are always on board with his premise because he makes sure that you are focused. He will repeat a theme before and after jokes to keep you in the space that he wants you. Structure allows for control, so make sure you understand that for your writing.