I have had many students come to me and say that they want to speak exactly the way I do. Well, to have that goal is great. But to have a reasonable time-frame in mind to achieve that goal is imperative.
Otherwise, like most learners, you are bound to feel demotivated and lose interest when you don't see results as fast as you expected.
Remember, I didn't start off speaking like this. It has taken me years of study and practice to speak and write the way I do. Language learning is a process. You have to be patient. There are no short cuts. So make realistic goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
One step at a time!
Some learners want to learn English to crack an important interview while others want to improve their overall personality. Everyone has a different goal. You need to be clear about what it is that you want. And choose a course that fits your requirements.
I was fascinated by the English language since my childhood. So I would devour nearly everything that was available at the time in the language of my choice - books, songs, movies. And I still continue to do so. If your aim is as short-term as cracking an interview or clearing an entrance exam, the learning process will be equally short. Needless to add that the result will hardly be long-lasting.
You can't expect to bat like Virat Rohli or Sachin Tendulkar if you aren't willing to put in at least the equal number of hours into practice. So, figure out why you are here. Remind yourself often of the WHY and stay motivated. It's going to be a long process. But once you commit to it, you will definitely enjoy the ride.
Given that it has acquired the status of being the lingua franca, its evolution is much faster than that of other languages .It has various forms, usages and changes significantly across regions and even sectors. Therefore, it is crucial that you know exactly what it is that you want to learn.
Learning English isn't as simple as it used to be in school. English for Business is vastly different from the English used in Academia or on Social Media. Every sphere of life has its own English much like a lot of countries in the world do (American English, British English, Australian English, even Indian English)
So, again, think. Why are you here? What is it that you want to learn? Do you want to be able to communicate effectively at work? Business English. Do you want to mingle well and be confident at social functions - Spoken English. Do you want to excel at writing? Written English. Even that has sub- categories. Phew!
I know of courses that claim to make you a fluent English speaker within a month or within 'x' number of hours. But you have to ask yourself whether that's what you want - a quick fix that hardly meets your needs or a thorough plan that takes you from where you are to your goal in an organic manner
Choose your course carefully.
I cannot reiterate this enough! I have had learners bug me with questions on how to improve vocabulary. Again, as much as you might wish for this to be untrue, there really are no shortcuts. You cannot pick 5 random, unconnected words from the newspaper, write down their meanings, make a sentence with each and think it will be a part of your vocabulary thereon. It doesn't work. Never has, nor will. Period.
You don't need to turn yourself into a walking dictionary of words. You don't even need to know the precise denotation of each word you use as long as you know how to use it correctly. And accurate and effective usage comes only from learning vocabulary in context. There are a lot of factors that play together when it comes to usage: collocations, forms, denotation, connotation, nuances of the language, degree, etc.
So, what should you do? Inhale. Exhale. Be patient. Learn in context. How? Watch English movies. Pay attention to wordplay. Listen to English songs. Watch English videos on YouTube. In other words, surround yourself with English. And make a conscious effort to use new words as often as you can. Remember, any new vocabulary will not become a part of your active lexicon unless you have used it multiple times on different occasions.
Most importantly: read, read and read some more! Devour books in English, articles, newspaper, everything that you can lay your hands on. Just read. Believe me, reading never goes waste. You can check out my article on Why I Love Reading if you need more convincing.
Age - people of different age learn languages differently. Don't worry about having missed the language learning boat. If you are willing to learn, you will learn.
Translations - Avoid translation until you've acquired a high proficiency level in English. Later on, for certain words or turns of phrases, translations will come in handy. But never translate prepositions or entire sentences.
Focus on translating what you want to say, not how you are saying it.