5 Tips for Success in English

English is an amorphous subject. Unlike Math or Science, it is characterised by subjective interpretation, vague concepts and abstract notions. If it is true that English differs from concrete and definite subjects such as Math or Science, then it is also true that success (and the process to it) in English will look different from success in these. 

While success in anything, and in school particularly, is characterised by discipline, dedication and determination, the path to success is different depending on the desired destination. 

Especially for English, a clear and definite path is necessary to navigate the thick and oftentimes intimidating jungle of sentences, words, literary devices, and aesthetic features. 

So, without further ado, I give you five steps to success in English as determined and refined by the personal experience of your’s truly. 

1. Vocabulary 

This is straightforward. English is the study and application of words to describe concepts and phenomena. An extensive vocabulary brings clarity and vitality to a piece of writing. I implore you to frequently learn new words.

A good vocabulary is one thing; a discriminating and discerning usage of your loaded lexicon is just as essential as having one - being undiscerning with vocabulary produces something similar to vomit on a clean kitchen floor. An unregulated logophillia, like any excess, is unappetising. 

With regards to being an effective wordsmith, I recommend the following rules: 

  1. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  2. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

2. Read other books 

Reading books has two benefits: a personal and a practical one

  1. Reading increases your empathy. Empathy helps you understand and relate to people, which is important in English as it develops your ability to understand the characters within a novel and how their character contributes to important ideas in the concerned text. 
  2. Reading exposes you to a variety of perspectives, ideas, and concepts which may be directly applicable/complimentary to your studies at school.

I recommend 30 minutes of reading a non-school book each day. Not only is it a beneficial practise, but I found it an easy way to take a break and recharge during the school week

3. Practise 

Practise does not make perfect. Perfect practise makes perfect. If you are presented with a task - an essay for instance - firstly, practise essay writing, and secondly, have it marked. You will not become a better writer if you don’t address the incompetencies in your writing. It is not enough to rely on self-reflection and analysis - you must allow another individual to deconstruct your work and objectively (and hopefully gently) point you to correction. This is a tried and tested way to improve.

4. Read analytical pieces

Every piece provides a different perspective. The goal of English, especially in your senior years, is to teach you to analyse and synthesize different perspectives so as to say something meaningful about an issue. It is impossible to analyse and synthesise something that isn’t there. The concept of analysis is meaningless without content to support it. 

5. Discuss English with your friends

Your friends are your best English assets. Although they will be experiencing the same material or content, they will be interpreting and thinking about it differently. Like analytical pieces, they provide a different and oftentimes insightful perspective on similar material, which is an invaluable resource to have in any English assessment. 

In conclusion...

English is a daunting subject. However, armed with the right tools and resources, something as intimidating and seemingly unmanageable like writing an essay or preparing a persuasive speech can become as easy as having a conversation with your friends (literally). Have confidence in yourself. Use your resources. The tools to your success are at hand, but it is up to you to implement and give practical reality to them. Make the step, start small, learn a new word each day, read something new, and you will amaze yourself by the great results that will inevitably follow. 

Written BY
Corban Eriksson

Central Gold Coast Tutor

Date Created
February 9, 2021