15 Tips When Learning English

When you are trying to learn English, there will be a lot of information to cover. English might be considered by many to be one of the easier languages to learn, but there are still many spelling and grammar exceptions that confuse even those who were born speaking English or have been fluent for a long time. Don’t let this get you down! 

There are many tips and tricks when learning English that will help you learn faster and retain words and phrases easier. Learning English might be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Here are 15 of the best tips and guidelines to follow when learning English to make the task easier to manage.

As a former public school teacher for English language learners, I’ve had years of first-hand experience to see what works and what doesn’t. Read on to find out more about what I’ve determined as tried and true in learning English.

Make Sure You Have A Schedule 

Give yourself a schedule to follow when learning English to make the process more efficient. Your schedule will help you hold yourself accountable, ensure that you have enough time in your day to day activities to study and practice English, and it can make you feel less overwhelmed. 

There is going to be a lot of material to learn, and you are going to have to practice often. Having a schedule can help you keep track of what you are learning and the progress you have made. It will help keep you on a steady pace to your goals and break the long process into more manageable segments.

You can decide what tool works best for you to keep to your schedule. Whether it’s Google Calendar or something more concrete such as this popular organizer from Amazon, the important thing is that you find something that works for you.

Don’t Get Discouraged When Learning English

Make a conscious effort to stay positive when you are learning English. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t making any progress.

Some days you might feel like you are struggling more than usual to understand something that you are reading, writing, or listening to. Remind yourself that it’s not going to be easy, but the result will be worth it at the end. 

This positive reinforcement can go a long way and keep you engaged in the learning process. 

Read Anything That You Can Find

While you might not be able to read every English word yet, finding some reading materials close to your current reading level is extremely helpful when you are trying to learn English.

This is because you are interacting with the words in everyday situations, which is often different from the type of reading that you will do if you are taking an English language learning course.

Children’s books might be a great place for you to start. The pictures will give you some context, and it will help you start to recognize and remember patterns and phrases that are simple and more common.

We offer two children’s books that could be useful on your journey to learn English. Jump to Japan is a vibrant picture book full of relevant vocabulary while Fun Jokes for Kids is an excellent way to practice idioms and multiple meaning words.

It is a good idea to read anything that you can find in English too because it reinforces the vocabulary and sentence structures that you have already learned while also assisting with learning others. 

Read Aloud to Learn English

It might feel weird, but try reading out loud as often as you can. This way, you are practicing both reading and speaking at the same time. You can master pronunciation better and practice speaking the language out loud without the pressure of being in a conversation with someone else.

Record Yourself Reading to Learn English

Record yourself when you read. You can make your own private YouTube channel or use the record function on your smart phone. Listening to your practice will aid in your language progress and it will also be encouraging to document it over time and see how far you’ve come.

Watch Movies and TV Shows with the Subtitles 

This is a great tip for learning English because you are continuing to learn the language in a setting that doesn’t feel like a lesson or have the same pressures of being in class. We call this low-stakes.

You have several options to consider:

  • You can watch in English, with your native language as the subtitles, to practice listening to English words and sentence structures while matching them to the words that you are familiar with.
  • You can watch in your native language with English as the subtitles to practice reading in English. You will still hear everything in a way that you understand while also being able to see how it would be translated into English.
  • You watch in English with English subtitles. Admittedly, this might seem a bit more advanced but reading and listening to the words at the same time is actually an immersion method used in our U.S. public schools all the time.

Whichever method you try (and you should practice all at some point), you can practice your English simply by watching your favorite TV show or movies! This tip helps with learning the phrases, the vocabulary, and the typical communication formats found in English conversations. 

Bonus Tip: Watch the same video or movie over and over. Teachers (and research) know repetition is key to language acquisition! A popular movie I’d use with my EL students is SpongeBob Squarepants, like this one from Amazon.

Find A Course Format That Works Best for You

When you are studying the English language, using an English course that best fits your needs and strengths as a learner is a huge help. If you are using a method that is the most effective for the type of learner that you are, you are more likely to see success and to have this success quickly.

The type of class most valuable to you depends on what level you are at when you begin your English learning journey, too. 

Maybe you are completely unfamiliar with the language, or perhaps you have a beginning knowledge from taking a course several years ago. Which type of English class is for you? Here are some popular course formats to consider when picking out your class.

One on One Classes

A language course that is just you and the teacher one on one is one of the more intimate and personal ways to learn. In this class format, you and your teacher can personalize the class for your needs and goals with learning English. This might be helpful for you if you are a slower paced learner or have very specific goals to focus on in your studies.

Group Classes

This class format is less customized to individual needs, but you can benefit from paired activities in which you have conversations with someone who is also learning English. You may get more practice speaking and listening in this type of situation. Everyone learns and practices new grammar and words at the same pace, which could be difficult if learning paces vary.

Skills Classes

A language skills class focuses specifically on one aspect of learning the language. This could be a conversation class, an academic class, a business class, or even a specific topic class. You need to know the words and phrases of an industry or situation, like tourism. 

Online Course

An online course is a great option for those who learn well on their own. Some of these courses do have instructors, but you most likely will not have the same type of student-teacher interaction with an online course as you would in a one-on-one class. You may get to work at your own pace, but you also might have to completely motivate yourself to study and practice.

Listen to English Whenever You Can

Reading and having conversations in a new language is certainly important when you are trying to become fluent in the language, but simply listening to English can be a huge help as well.

Some ways you can listen to English to improve your listening skills are: 

  • The Radio: The radio is a great place to practice listening in a new language because you get a wide variety of topics and situations, such as advertisements, talk shows, and music.
  • Podcasts: You might listen to podcasts when learning English because you can pick out the topics that are most interesting to you or that focus on the phrases found in the area of English that you need to learn.
  • Music: Don’t forget to listen to music in English! Listening to music can help you remember words and phrases better and also challenges your listening skills. You can listen to your favorite English-speaking singer or try children’s music like this CD from Amazon. Children’s music has a lot of benefits: catchy, simple, and repetitive!

The approach of listening to English is a simple way to dramatically increase your exposure to various pieces of the English language. It helps with learning:

  • Intonations
  • Tones
  • Pronunciations
  • Rhythms
  • Contexts
  • Patterns

This is also a great trick because many of the expressions and vocabulary you will hear are in a natural, everyday context, making you more familiar with basic English. Even better, this is something you can easily do while driving or doing other tasks! You can continue to learn even when you’re not in a formal class setting.

Go to English Speaking Places to Learn English

Visiting or living in a place that speaks the language that you are trying to learn is one of the very best ways to learn a new language, no matter which language it is. If you are in a place where everyone primarily speaks English, you will be fully immersed in the language.

When everyone speaks English, and written English is everywhere, you get to live your daily life surrounded by the topic you are studying. 

Often, this forces you to practice the English language in situations that you might otherwise use a language that you are more familiar with. You probably have no other choice but to use English when you need to communicate! While this might be intimidating, it is truly a very effective way to learn English quickly, simply because of the high level of exposure. 

English is a very widely-spoken language, so you have many options to visit. You might go to the UK, to the United States, Australia, or South Africa. While each location uses primarily the same structures and phrases, you can also learn variations in vocabulary and phrases from place to place.

Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

It is normal to make mistakes when learning a brand new language! Not only are the vocabulary words new and different to you, but sentence structures and use of things like pronouns are as well. Everyone makes a mistake from time to time. 

Making mistakes is a great way to learn because when your teacher- or even yourself- catches a mistake, you are able to think through it and practice it again. Searching for a different way to get your point across helps you practice your grammar and communication skills in English.

If you’re making mistakes, that means you’re trying. Don’t let this hold you back, but rather embrace the mistakes and use them to learn. If you don’t know something, make sure you look it up instead of skipping over it.

Make Sure You Practice A Lot

The best way to learn a new language is to use it as often as you can. As they say, practice makes perfect! As mentioned in the previous tip, you shouldn’t avoid using English just because you are afraid of making a mistake. What should you practice as often as you can and preferably every day? You need to practice all four domains of English:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening 

You can’t expect yourself to learn a set of words one day and have them memorized the next day. Repetition will really help your brain remember words and phrases for a long time, even when you start focusing on the next set of words. Make sure you practice all four components of language frequently so that you have constant exposure, and they stick in your brain.

Study Social Media to Learn English

Many English language courses focus on the use of English in:

  • Academics
  • Business
  • Other formal settings

While this might meet your needs professionally, reading the posts others who speak in English share to social media can be an interesting way to learn. They’re more likely to be talking about topics that are interesting to you, fun for you to read, or pertinent to current events. 

They might share a variety of things to learn from as well. This could be

  • Blog posts
  • Magazine articles
  • YouTube videos
  • News updates

These and other social media content can be entertaining for you and make learning more enjoyable, and thus more motivating to keep you going.

Pace Yourself to Learn English

The human brain can only learn so much information at once! If you overload yourself with too many new words each day, you might actually lower your chances of successfully retaining the knowledge. Give yourself enough time to learn a set of words or phrases before going onto another set. Practice memorizing a set of words or a new piece of grammar.

Use them in reading, writing, and speaking before you move onto others. It is a good idea to expose yourself to them repeatedly to increase your chances of successful memorization. Make those words a consistent part of your English vocabulary.

Use an English Dictionary to Learn English Easily

Carrying an English dictionary that translates to your native language with you, especially during lessons, is crucial when learning English. This way, you can look up any words you are unfamiliar with right on the spot. If you are reading in English, look up words you don’t know or can’t remember that are reoccurring in the passage that you’re reading. 

This is also helpful when you’re watching tv shows or listening to English speaking radio. If you hear a word and don’t know what it means or how it is spelled, giving the dictionary a quick look can help you put things together. The translation dictionary can help connect the dots when you’re learning English, which helps you learn the language quicker overall.

Ask Questions to Learn English

Even native English speakers need to refer to teachers, friends, or other resources from time to time. English can be a complicated language, and you might not understand exactly why certain parts of a sentence go where they go or when you should put them in a certain order. If a question does arise, ask your course teacher or look up the answer on the Internet.

Asking questions can help clarify any confusion you might have. A good explanation saves you time in the long run because you will be less likely to make mistakes when you understand what you are saying and how it should be formatted or pronounced. 

Carry A Notebook with You to Learn English

Writing down notes when you learn new vocabulary can help you remember what you just learned. If it’s not written down, you might not remember to come back and review it later.

A good tip when learning English is to jot down words or phrases in a little notebook like this from Amazon that you can carry with you daily. Make sure you also write down the meaning or the context so you can refer back to it next time.

Label Items with Sticky Notes

This unique tip to label items around your home or work place can help you learn basic English vocabulary, and make sure you remember it. Take a pack of sticky notes, write a different word on each of them in English, and stick them right onto the item. This could be things like table, chair, tv, or anything else that you see a lot in your home.

Stick them in places that you will notice easily.

After a while, you can add more sticky notes or write more complex words or phrases. This way, you expose yourself constantly to the English words and phrases that you are trying to memorize. Even seeing the words subconsciously can make your English learning journey easier and quicker.

Bonus Tip: Ever so often, move the sticky to a different spot on item to keep it fresh.

The Final Talking Point to 15 Tips When Learning English

When you are learning a new language, you have to study new words, phrases, sentence structures, grammar, and pronunciation. There is a lot to cover!

This can feel very overwhelming at times, but it is possible to do, and there are methods you can try to make the whole process easier. Trying these 15 tips for learning English can help you learn faster and more effectively. Stay positive and keep practicing!

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, department leader at various levels and organizations, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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