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101 ways to Learn English

Simple advice to set you on the road to being fluent in English

Here are 101 things (in no particular order) you can do to improve your English

  1. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn. Keep trying new things, keep making mistakes and you'll keep learning.
  2. If you are in an all-English-speaking environment. Make a note of different ways of saying things and try to use them.
  3. When you are out and about or online and you see new words or phrases, take a photo so you can check later.
  4. Practise every day. Decide how much time a week you are going to spend studying and stick to it. (Remember- be realistic).
  5. Practise the 4 core skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. They will all help you to improve in different ways.
  6. Keep a note of new words/phrases you learn. Choose 3 or 4 to practise each day.
  7. When you find a new word/phrase think about how you could use it in sentences and try to use it in a conversation.
  8. Talk to your pet in English
  9. Visit EC's free Learn English website at least once a day and complete a lesson or download our learn English podcast and practise your English in just 5 minutes. 
  10. If you're interested in learning connected speech, choose an English-speaking show you like and turn the subtitles on for a few minutes. For those few minutes, focus intensely on the difference between the pronunciation and the written form.
  11. Know yourself. If you're not a morning person, don't study in the morning.
  12. Make use of commutes and dead time to review what you have learnt.
  13. When you are learning new words don't learn the word on its own also look at the words around it to help your fluency.
  14. Give yourself a long-term goal, for example taking a test. You'll find that you work harder when you need to study for something.
  15. Saying that, it's better not to study just to take a test. Think of the bigger picture. What can you do when you have a good command of English? How will the quality of your life improve?
  16. Give yourself short term goals too and reward yourself when you achieve each one. Be realistic, don't set unachievable goals or you will lose motivation when you don't complete them. What can you realistically complete in the time you have?
  17. English is about communication, set goals that are personal not linguistic because these are more motivating, for example I want to be able tell my friends about my holiday.
  18. Know what works best for you. Think about what methods have been successful for you in the past.
  19. But be open to new ways of learning. Learn how to reflect not just on what works but what works best.
  20. Get help! If you don't understand something you've got to ask someone. Ask your teacher, classmates or friends for help.
  21. Review! Review! Review! Make sure that you take the time to review things you have studied in the past.
  22. It's not a good idea to study on your own for more than 30 minutes at a time. Take regular breaks, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
  23. Don't be in such a hurry to move up a level. Learning English is about your progress, not your level. As long as you're progressing, you're in the right level.
  24. Remember, you can learn from everyone whether they are the same level, a lower level or higher than you.
  25. Watch movies / tv shows you've already seen in your own language. It will be easier to follow and you can focus on specific language areas you’re interested in.
  26. Read graded readers. These books are specially written for your level. Read a whole novel. You can do it! You'll feel great afterwards.
  27. You could also try reading a book that you have already read in your language. It will make it easier to follow and allow you to enjoy the experience.
  28. Online articles are a good place to find passive constructs. Read through an article and see if you can find the passive sentences (remember - we don’t use these as much when speaking).
  29. Read for the general meaning first. Don't worry about understanding every word.
  30. Go back to the article and identify the key words. Try to guess them from context.
  31. Look up key words to confirm your guesses.
  32. Go and tell someone about the interesting article you've just read, using your newly learnt key words.
  33. When you learn a new word, think of all its other forms: Beautiful (adjective), beauty (noun), beautifully (adverb).
  34. Learn prefixes (dis-, un-, re-) and suffixes (-ly, -ment, -ful), these will help you to figure out the meaning of words and build your vocabulary.
  35. When recording vocabulary, group words together by category. For example: transport (bus, car, train, plane, ferry).
  36. For new words, count the syllables and find where the stress is. Only one stress per word and always on a vowel. Two syllable verbs normally have a stress on the second syllable (beGIN). 2 syllable nouns (TEAcher) and adjectives (HAPpy) often stress the first.
  37. Use your inner voice while you're going about your day to practise in English. Tell yourself a story about your previous weekend or even just a commentary of what you can see as you go about town.
  38. You can't learn English with only a book. Like driving a car, you can only learn through doing it. Find opportunities to speak. Try to find a local language exchange event.
  39. When learning grammar, form is important but not as important as understanding how to use it in conversation.
  40. Keep an English diary or journal. Start by writing a few sentences a day and then get into the habit of writing more. Try out new words, phrases and language points you have learnt.
  41. Why not start an online blog and share your writings with the world?
  42. When writing a text, brainstorm as many ideas as you can without worrying about grammar or spelling. Then think about the structure of your text. After that, write your piece.
  43. When you've written something in another language, it can be hard to see you own mistakes. Leave a break before rereading it or give it to someone else to check for mistakes.
  44. Keep an eye on your punctuation as it can totally change what you're trying to say. Check out the difference in meaning between these two sentences: "A woman without her man is nothing" and "A woman: without her, man is nothing."
  45. Sing your heart out! Show the world your beautiful voice! Learn English songs and sing along with them to improve fluency and intonation… anyone for Karaoke?
  46. Join an online group (e.g. Facebook / WhatsApp/Discord).
  47. Record yourself on your phone describing a person, your room, or house or place you like. You can even describe the actions you are doing. Listen again the next day to see what you said. You can evaluate and improve your own speaking.
  48. Once you have come home from living in and English-speaking country having the radio or TV on in English, helps your brain think you are still there and aids language retention
  49. Use music sites with the lyrics. Read out loud along with your favourite tracks again and again. This is great for intonation, pronunciation and rhythm.
  50. Ask your helpful teacher if you can record their lesson. This is a great way to review. You can also listen to your teachers' speaking speed and intonation.
  51. Your dictionary should be an aid, not your main teacher. Try to guess the meaning of words first rather than going straight for your dictionary.
  52. Use an English/English dictionary as it will help you to keep thinking in English and not translating.
  53. If an English/English dictionary seems scary, there are learner's dictionaries for English students of your level.
  54. Don't give up! Stay positive! Sometimes you will feel that you aren’t learning quickly enough. Everyone feels like this, don't worry about it. You'll get there in the end.
  55. Enjoy it! We learn more when we are having fun!
  56. If you get nervous when speaking, take two deep breaths before you say something. You'll speak better when you feel relaxed.
  57. Keep yourself motivated by looking back at the textbooks and audio material you used in the past. You'll be surprised at how easy they seem to you now! Congratulations, your level is improving!
  58. You are never too young or too old to start learning English. Don't make excuses not to learn. What are you waiting for?
  59. Set small achievable goals for your language learning and check that you can reach each target in the time you set. The small goals will build towards bigger improvements but will keep you motivated.
  60. If you haven't achieved the results you wanted yet, it's not because you're bad at languages, it's because you haven't found your own special way of learning yet.
  61. Use resources which match your level. Don't use texts/listening exercises which are too difficult. Use materials which challenge you but don't frustrate you.
  62. Try reading articles or books that are a level lower than yours – focus on reading quickly to build your reading fluency and confidence.
  63. Don't worry about making your accent perfect. It's an important part of your cultural identity to keep your accent.
  64. There are many types of English: British, American, South African, and so on. None of these are wrong or not as important. English is English.
  65. Instead, be aware of the differences in American and British English and choose your words accordingly. For example: Elevator (US) / Lift (British).
  66. Use online flash cards from your phone (quizlet); there are pre-made subjects for you to use and It's also interactive, with the ability to create your own study set.
  67. Use post-it notes and stick them around your home. You can use them to label things. Stick one on your pet dog!
  68. You can't ignore phrasal verbs (two-word verbs), there are hundreds of them in English and they're widely used. Don't try to learn them in lists by verb, learn them in context.
  69. Sometimes it helps to take a second to think about what you're going to say. Native speakers say "Ummm" or "Uhhh" to give them some thinking time.
  70. Meet new people. Make the effort to mix with English speakers in your town. You could join a club or go to bars where foreigners hang out. Buy one a drink, they love that!
  71. Be the person to start conversations in English. Try to keep the conversations moving and use listening words ('really?' / 'go on...'/ 'what happened then?') Don't wait for others to speak to you. Get in there!
  72. Bear in mind that conversations are a two-way event – listening is just as important as speaking.
  73. It's not enough to only learn lists of English words. You need to think about how to use them in conversation. Conversation involves chunks of language.
  74. Verb systems and time markers are used by English speakers to talk about the timing of actions. You might not have the same systems in your own language. It's important that you learn these and when to use them.
  75. English has a few irregular verbs and only three forms to learn. To start it's a good idea to focus on the most common ones.
  76. Keep it up! If you take a break from speaking English, you will find that you soon forget some of what you have learnt.
  77. Don't worry! There's lots of easy quick ways to keep your English knowledge fresh.
  78. Don't despair! it's never too late to come back to English, with a bit of work you can pick up where you left off.
  79. Don't be put off by a bad test score. There’s more to language competency than passing a test. Do some work on testing strategies and retake the test.
  80. Learn English with a friend. You’ll have someone you can practise with, and you can motivate each other to study.
  81. Remember, the way we write English is not the same as how it's pronounced. For example, 'Ough' has over 6 pronunciations. Familiarise yourself the Phonetic Alphabet. It will help you correctly pronounce words in the dictionary.
  82. Get used to the 'schwa' sound [ə] - an unstressed and toneless neutral vowel sound. 'Schwa' is the most common vowel sound in English. For example, the 'a' in about and the 'u' in supply.
  83. Keep in mind that it feels like it takes longer to improve when our level is high. Don’t think that you’re suddenly not learning anymore, it's just a less noticeable progress.
  84. Make sure that your English matches the occasion. It's OK to use slang with friends but not in a business meeting. Decide in which situation it's appropriate to use the words and phrases you have learned.
  85. If you have a specific need in your life (e.g. a presentation you have to give at work or school), you can book a specific live online English course or a personal EC teacher to work through it with you and give you feedback.
  86. Idioms are used a lot in conversation but it's more important for a learner to recognise them rather than replicate them.
  87. We usually link words ending with a consonant sound to words beginning with a vowel sound (consonant > vowel). We link words ending with a vowel sound to words beginning with a vowel sound (vowel > vowel). Practise these to improve your listening and pronunciation.
  88. Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Write down which areas you want to improve on and work on improving them.
  89. Unlearn your mistakes. Listen out for your mistakes while you're speaking and don't be afraid to correct it if you hear it. Over time, you’ll get annoyed with yourself and gradually you'll stop making it.
  90. For fluency, try image training. Most conversations follow a common script, before you go to that restaurant think through what the waiter is likely to say to you and how you will respond.
  91. Consider what stories you will tell before you enter a social situation, what have you read, seen, watched that you can talk about? This preparation can really help you to be more fluent and accurate.
  92. Much communication comes through body language and gesture. These can be different between cultures and countries.
  93. The easiest one - Sleep! You'll learn more after a good night's sleep. You'll be able to concentrate more.
  94. Take an English language course in an English-speaking country. If you can't travel think about our online courses.
  95. If you are studying abroad, mix with people from other countries not only people from your own country. It's not a good idea for you to live in a shared house with people from your own country. Enjoy a more cultural experience by spending time with other nationalities.
  96. Ensure your teacher is a qualified English language teacher and not just a native speaker. There is more to learning a language than just speaking. Consider choosing an established school like EC to source your private teacher. 
  97. Once you have a basic level of English explore the different ways you can say the same thing. This makes your English more interesting to the listener and it shouldn’t be too difficult for you because you already know the basics. For example, how many ways can we say, 'Goodbye' in English?
  98. When you are on your English course, be prepared for your class. Do your homework as soon as possible and hand it in on time. Review your notes and your last lesson a few minutes before the class. Doing this will refresh your memory and you'll be warmed up for lesson.
  99. Make the most of your time in class, be focussed and participate fully. You won't get a second chance!
  100. Use English whenever you can. It's as simple as that!
  101. Last but not least, learn English with EC!

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