English is fun to learn and although it is considered relatively easy to master, the language has over 750,000 words and spellings and can make even the most skilled learner hesitate. The art of learning the language in a short time can seem impossible. But I’m here to disprove it.
Check out my 10 tips to improve your English, and hopefully you’ll be fluent in English in no time!
- Read everything which you can get your hands on
Classic literature, paperbacks, newspapers, websites, email, your social media feed: if it’s in English, read it. Why? Well, the text will be full of new words and phrases, along with things you already know. This will make it easier when you learn, as the reuse of words gives you new examples in a different context, which reinforces your knowledge. On the other hand, learning new words and expressions is fundamental when developing your vocabulary, especially in a language like English with so many words!
- Write down new words
This is a classic tip for a good reason: it works! When we learn new words, we often enjoy the way they sound and it feels impossible to forget it. But believe me, not everything sticks the first time. To counter this, get into the habit of always carrying a notebook or use a tool like note. When you hear or read a new word or expression, use it in a context: write it in a sentence or note what it means. This saves time as you don’t have to go back to the word and ask yourself, “What did that mean again?”
- Talk to other people
What is language for if not for communication? We humans have become experts at communicating without speaking – thank you Whatsapp! – but when it comes down to it, a language sticks much more easily when you do more than read or write it. Just think how many times you’ve heard people say that they “understand, but can’t speak English”. Many English learners find it difficult to speak English and have made it an insurmountable obstacle. Do not do that. Find native English speakers when you’re on exchange, taking a course on site or remotely.
- Listen to podcasts or watch YouTube – in English
Do you like humor? Policy? Cooking? With topics covering every imaginable interest, there’s an English-speaking podcast or YouTube channel out there for you. Subscribe to a few different ones and listen, or watch, while commuting to school or work. At first you may find the local dialects difficult, but persevere and eventually you will understand everything they say (while also gaining a whole new vocabulary from a native English speaker).
- Go abroad and improve your English
If you want to improve your English the best way is to go and study in an English-speaking country! It’s not a secret that English is the most spoken language in the world. With a long list of countries to choose from, you can choose the ideal place to learn based on hemisphere, weather or favorite city. Think Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, USA, Canada or South Africa, to name a few!
- Use your friends
Do you have friends who write and share posts in English? Don’t let them disappear into your feed: see what posts they share and commit to reading one or two posts each day. It can be news or newspaper articles, videos, interviews, blog posts, songs, or whatever: if it’s in English and the topic interests you, it will be helpful!
- Ask A LOT of questions
It is important to be curious and it can help you to have a good flow when you speak. When you learn English, you will accumulate a mountain of questions. Don’t hold on to them, be curious and look for answers! If you’re taking a course, ask your teacher (after all, that’s what they’re for). But if you’re learning on your own, don’t worry: find answers in blogs or on language websites, ask those who know, or read on forums. You’ll be glad you did!
- Do as the stars do
Try new ways to learn by watching interviews with English-language actors or singers you like! First watch the interviews once to hear what they are talking about. Then look again and then take the time to write down interesting expressions and words. The slang, stories, humor and anecdotes in the interviews will give you plenty to work with!
- Start with what you need
When you learn English, it will probably go much faster if you constantly remind yourself why you are learning it. Are you going to study abroad? Then focus on words you need for your studies. Are you going to a conference on the other side of the Atlantic? Look for tips on conversation starters that you can use when talking to the other participants. Are you going to take a sabbatical abroad? Use travel and tourism vocabulary as your guide.
If you want to improve your English and hope that you will somehow magically learn everything at once, you will probably end up confused and burnt out. This brings us to…
- Don’t be too hard on yourself
When it starts to feel like you’re getting nowhere – which happens to all of us at some point – don’t say “I can’t speak English”, or “I’ll never learn this”. Remove those phrases from your vocabulary! They only erase the progress you are making and convince you that your English dreams are impossible.