1. Don’t study grammar too much
This rule might sound strange to many ESL students, but it is one of the most important rules. If you want to pass examinations, then study grammar. However, if you want to become fluent in English, then you should try to learn English without studying the grammar.
Studying grammar will only slow you down and confuse you. You will think about the rules when creating sentences instead of naturally saying a sentence like a native. Remember that only a small fraction of English speakers know more than 20% of all the grammar rules. Many ESL students know more grammar than native speakers. I can confidently say this with experience. I am a native English speaker, majored in English Literature, and have been teaching English for more than 10 years. However, many of my students know more details about English grammar than I do. I can easily look up the definition and apply it, but I don’t know it off the top of my head.
I often ask my native English friends some grammar questions, and only a few of them know the correct answer. However, they are fluent in English and can read, speak, listen, and communicate effectively.
Do you want to be able to recite the definition of a causative verb, or do you want to be able to speak English fluently?
2. Learn and study phrases
Many students learn vocabulary and try to put many words together to create a proper sentence. It amazes me how many words some of my students know, but they cannot create a proper sentence. The reason is because they didn’t study phrases. When children learn a language, they learn both words and phrases together. Likewise, you need to study and learn phrases.