Learn English conversation first, because it is the key to the entire language. In other words, you must focus first on the spoken language and real conversation. Master English conversation before you worry too much about reading and writing.
By “real English conversation”, I mean English as it is actually spoken by average native speakers in their day to day lives. By this definition, CNN and the BBC are not “real English conversation”. In fact, an announcer reading a teleprompter isn’t conversation at all!
There is nothing wrong with CNN or the BBC, but that style of English is not the style that is used in homes, in offices, and on the street every day. Announcers, for example, are very careful to speak in complete sentences, to avoid most slang, to speak very clearly, and to avoid using filler words.
Real people constantly speak in sentence fragments, constantly interrupt each other, constantly use idioms and slang, constantly smash words together into strange contractions, constantly speak quickly and constantly use filler words! That’s why so many students have trouble when they visit the USA, Canada, the UK, etc…The English they hear on the street is nothing like the English they learned in school and nothing like the English they heard on the news shows!
Think about it this way: casual conversation is the FIRST kind of English that small children learn. Children first learn to chat with their family and friends. They become totally fluent at real conversation before they learn to speak formally and before they focus on reading or learn writing.
Follow this same natural approach. First, completely master everyday casual speech. After you can speak fluently in real conversations, then and only then focus intensively on reading. Read, read, and read some more.. but read easy novels… NOT textbooks!
After you have completely mastered easy English novels, and can easily finish a Stephen King novel in a week or two,..then you can learn formal speech. Formal speech is the kind of speech you might use for a business presentation– the kind of English you hear on CNN or the BBC.
And finally, and last of all, focus on writing. The truth is, you will acquire strong writing skills simply by reading a lot of novels. At this point, after mastering reading and formal speech, you will already be able to write well. So all you need to do is learn formal or artistic writing (depending on your goals). Take a writing class for NATIVE SPEAKERS and learn the fine points of writing powerfully and skillfully.
Follow this approach and you will master the English language.
Most important of all, remember: learn English conversation first!