The Level of English Language
I come from a non-English speaking country. Everyday I read some online news (bbc.com, time.com, or cnn.com), just to improve my English. I still believe that I can improve my English by reading. But, I think I have come to a phase where I only read, but I cannot produce well (I mean: conversation and writing). I understand, about 80% of the text I read (I think it is more than enough), especially when I read about football and current politics.
But, I always think this way when I talk: should I use past tense or present perffect tense? should I use "the" or not, etc. What's wrong with my English?
I can't see much wrong with it at all personally, apart from your spelling of 'perfect', but that might well have been a typo :)
Your writing seems fine to me! Most "native speakers" don't care about the distinction between past and present perfect, so why should you? Take it easy! You're doing well.
Hello Aquatar and Nightingale: are you native speakers?
But I still think that the native speakers will be aware that, for example, I should put "the" in the sentence I speak.
From my own experience with chinese, the key point of learning a langauge the right way is by listening. I don't mean listening to TV, but to have prolonged sessions of listening to certain dialogue repeatedly. In early stages, make your ears used to very simple conversations recorded on your player. put the earphones and listen to it while walking in the street, or jogging, or in your way to school or work, or at home if you have the time for that. listen to it not only 10 times, but 20 times or 30. This way, you will find yourself able to repeat that converstaion by heart, and you will be also able to recognize your own mistakes in pronounciation when it differs from the sound you are used to hear it from the player over the past 30 times. Don't jump to harder converstaion, untill you master the simpler ones. This way, you will have alot of confident to speak, and you will just find words hitting your memory so easily.
The next step is try to use some of what you heard in those conversation in a real chat with others face to face. Don't talk much, just keep it simple, but with selfconfidence. NEVER feel shy to speak a foriegn langauge fearing of doing mistakes. on the contray, you should be proud of yourself being able to speak that language even it if was the slightest bit of it.
The first time I ever came to the Far East - more specifically, China, was four years ago. At that time, I did not have time to study chinese extensively because of my work, only few courses. (not to show off) now When I speak with chinese people over the phone, they get shocked to konw that I am a foriegner. I picked the right langage and accent with a soild base for my chinese just by listening to records of my courses.
Bye the way, I personaly find it very wrong to pick a languge just from socializing with people around you. Native speakers talk fast, eat some letters, connect words together in a way differes from one sitiation to another. This way, it takes much longer time to separte words from each other in a conversation. You will never get to know how words looks when separated from others, and will prounounce them when apart as if they were in a sentence, which will look very wired and way far from being close to natives! My advise is to take very baisc course in the beginging at least to have the chance to hear the right clear pronounciation of words from someone who is dedicated for that purpose. Gain some confident before fumbling out with natives.
I think, that watching movies in English, without subtitles is also a good solution. Especially movies made in Britain, or with british actors, where language is clear and easy to understand. My favourite ones (when it comes to language) are: Lord Of The Rings (all three parts), Pride and Prejudice and all Monty Python's films. Listening to internet podcast's helps me a lot too. I just download mp3 files, put them on my player and listen on my way to school. at home, if I have problems with understaning, I can check the text of each episode on website.