I guess it is safe to say that most Chinese students have learnt English for over ten years while not many of us can use this language to communicate fluently. I am still learning but I would like to share some of my experience of learning English.
My English was ok back in school; I got good scores in exams, but until I graduated from University, talking to people in English was still a bit intimidating to me. Whenever I was asked to give a brief introduction of myself, I got nervous.
So then I went to the English corner to practice, after months my spoken English was improved. Also I wrote some English blogs on an international website, one of them popped up on the front page of the website and some English native speakers began to talk to me. I made some good friends from there and my English communication skill got improve tremendously. I do not have any problem to talk about anything in English now. At the same time I listened to a lot of English materials. I know news would bore and discourage me as I wouldn’t be able to understand much of them, so I began with the English TV series which is easier and much more interesting so that I can be more persistent working on it. Here is the way I do it: I pick the drama that I am interested in and then transfer the video to audio files. I listen to the audio and try to understand them as much as I can. And then I will watch the video with subtitles and check anything I missed out during listening. Then I will listen to them over and over again while I am doing other things. I think this is better for persistence because you can make learning English a habit. You can listen to them when you are on your way home or to work or just doing chores at home. For reading, maybe you would think during doing translation, you have plenty to read but that is not enough. I recently find an interesting way — go to some expat websites. Those English native speakers would write some blogs and discuss things about living in China. Of course there are some jerks who talk about bad things about China. I would debate with them and defend for China sometimes, which gives me the motivation to read. What they said could be wrong but it is interesting to read and of course, their English is good as they are native speakers.
So that is how I learn English and make learning English as a habit of everyday life. I will explain the reason next later.