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How to Learn English Fast
What’s the quickest way for you to become fluent? You might be surprised to hear that the answer is related to Italian vegetables. To be more specific, the answer is related to Italian peas.
In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Paretto noticed something interesting about the peas in his vegetable garden. 20% of the pea pods, contained 80% of the peas. Another way to say the same thing would be that 80% of the pea pods in his garden contained only 20% of the peas. A small number of the pea plants were producing most of the food, while a large number of the pea plants were producing very litte food.
Pareto also noticed something similar with Italian landowners. 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. This 80/20 ratio can be seen in many situations, especially in the business world.
80% of sales are made to 20% of customers.
The richest 20% of the world earn 80% of the world’s income.
20% of employees do 80% of the work.
These numbers are not always 80/20. They might be 70/30 or even 90/10. The numbers aren’t really important. The main point is that all effort is not equal. Some effort produces great results and other types of effort produce very little results.
The way we use our time is not always an effective way to get the results we want. If we apply the 80/20 rule to learning English, we could say that 20% of our effort is generating the most improvement in our language skill. And 80% of our effort is generating very little improvement.
You want to focus your time and effort on the 20% that will give you the most benefit, and cut back on the 80% that gives you the least benefit.
The numbers aren’t really important. The main point is that there is a lack of balance in most systems. We can see this with vocabulary. There are over 250,000 English words, but you only need about 3,000 to understand a newspaper. And to speak conversational English, you need even less. Some words are much more useful than other words. If you studied all 250,000 words equally, it would take you a very long time to become fluent.
The most common English words are also the most useful English words. They are just a small percentage of the English language, but knowing them deeply and practicing using them will give the biggest boost to your English fluency. Learning very infrequent words that are rarely used will provide the least benefit.
To become fluent fast, you always want to focus on the 20% that will help you the most, and decrease the 80% that is helping you the least. But before you can do this, you need to be very clear about your goals.
Be specific. What are your English goals? There are many different possibilities.
Maybe you want to understand fast English.
Maybe you’re trying to improve your speaking confidence.
Or maybe you have some specific purpose, such as learning computer related technical English.
Whatever your goal is, if you look closely, you’ll probably find that the 80/20 rule can help you learn faster. Tell us about your English goals in the comments.