Updated: Oct 30, 2019
English is the most popular language that people want to learn. This has been true for a long time and learning English has been increasing in popularity with every passing year. Everybody has their own reason for wanting to learn English. Whether you are studying English to get a better job, a higher salary or you want to go to an English speaking university, using the right methods to study is incredibly important to ensure your success.
The standard way people learn English is by enrolling in a language school either in their own country or in an English speaking country like the UK and the USA. Both of these options have their advantages but they can be expensive and the experience is often not personal enough. Students don’t often get their own English learning needs addressed by going to a language school. Another way people use to learn English is by watching TV shows and movies which can be useful but most of the time the right method isn’t applied. Then there are self-study course books and online courses in which people can also spend a lot of money to learn English. The problem with self-study is that it depends on each student’s motivation and discipline. Overall, learning English is a challenging and expensive endeavor, especially when the right methods aren’t applied.
All is not lost, though, because there are methods for learning English that can be effective for anyone and that can be applied at almost no cost to your wallet. In this article, we will discuss how to learn English in broad strokes.
Why study English?
As mentioned earlier in this article, everyone has his or her own reason for learning English. These reasons can affect the motivation a person has as well as his or her discipline when studying English. It might be surprising to know that there are both good and bad reasons to learn English.
I’ve met plenty of students in my career who have spent a lot of money and time to learn English because their school told them it was important to do so. More often than not, they were never given a good reason. They just had to trust their teachers that learning English is something that had to be done. Parents are also guilty of doing this to their children. The problem with studying English because someone else told you is that there is no specific goal to help keep you motivated. If you feel that the reason you’re studying English is that someone told you to do it, then you will find it a big challenge to improve and progress.
Another bad reason people have to learn English is trying to copy friends and family who are good at speaking the language. Don’t get me wrong. Friends who can speak English well are a great resource when you’re trying to learn it. The problem is that a lot of people compare themselves to their more advanced friends. This can easily kill a person’s motivation to learn English. Everyone has his or her own way to learn new things. The speed of progress also depends on a lot of things. If you’re trying to learn English because your friends are doing it and they’re already pretty good at it, then you will struggle to enjoy the language.
There are plenty of studies and books that show that to learn English you should have strong positive feelings about it, including an enjoyment for learning the language. You don’t have to like the sound of the language or the way people speak it. What is important for learning English is to have the right reasons. These will keep you motivated to continue studying and learning even when you’re not in the right mood.
For starters, a lot of people learn English because they want to travel and make more friends. This can be a powerful motivator. In my years of teaching, it’s almost always these kinds of students who progress the most. The reason for this is that they truly enjoy learning the language. They like speaking it with others because it helps them make new friends and exchange ideas with people from all over the world. This isn’t a reason most people will be on board with easily. Once you start seeing that as you learn English you’re better able to speak to other people, then you’re motivation will be boosted.
The ability to travel independently and without the need for a guide is also a good reason for learning English. Travelling with confidence is something that a lot of people want to do and studying English can definitely help with that. Even when travelling to a country where the English level is quite low it’s still possible to speak English and make your trip more enjoyable. Even better, when you learn English you’re better able to find your way to the more interesting places and spend less money by finding more information about where to go and how much to spend.
Learning English can also help you get a better job, a higher salary, and even a promotion. More and more companies are doing business with other countries so the need for staff who can speak and understand English is growing. Some companies will increase your salary if you pass a certain exam, like IELTS and CAE, while others expect their higher-level managers and executives to know how to use English in a business setting. Additionally, there are jobs for which learning English is a core skill, such as travel agents and hotel receptions to name a few. Marketers are also expected to be able to write and speak English at a high level and in a way that is culturally appropriate. Needless to say, learning English for work and career purposes is a powerful motivator.
Getting into an English speaking university is also a strong reason to learn English. This is one of the more challenging motivators depending on the type of degree you’re going for. In the UK, undergraduate degrees will expect that you’re able to write at least at level 4 or 5, which means your grammar and range of vocabulary should be of an advanced level already. For Masters degrees, level 7 is the normal expectation and that is a whole other article itself. Going to university abroad is also an opportunity to speak and network with people from all over the world. Learning English for this purpose is definitely beneficial.
Moving to a foreign country, especially an English speaking one such as the UK and Australia, is another big reason why people learn English. The first 2 years I spent in China I couldn’t speak Mandarin Chinese almost at all. I could only say “hello”, “thank you” and when I was buying or ordering things I could point and say “this”. That’s it. My life was extremely difficult even though I had my wife. Once I started learning Chinese and actually tried using it, my entire life there changed. I was independent, I felt confident, I got better jobs, and I made more friends. This can be a struggle for some people who may have been forced to move to another country for one reason or another. The advantage, though, is that you would be learning English whilst living the language and once you see your new skills are producing you results, you will be motivated more often.
Beyond these reasons, there are people who are learning English for smaller ones, namely their significant other speaks English or they simply think it’s fun. I’m currently trying to improve my Chinese skills because my 19-month-old daughter will be speaking it soon and I want to be able to use the language with her. Some people say that getting a girlfriend or boyfriend who speaks English is a great way to learn and that can be true if they are patient. Finally, some people think that learning English is fun and that keeps them motivated with their studies. Every new piece of vocabulary excites them. Different ways to use grammar encourage them to try saying things differently. This is by far one of the most powerful motivators that enable people to progress with their English learning.
How to learn English fluently
I want to start by clarifying the word “fluency” for a bit because it’s often misunderstood by a lot of people who are learning English. Fluency in a language is a measure of confidence and effectiveness. Being fluent in English doesn’t mean you can use complex words or grammar. It means you can say what you need to say without needing to think for the right way to say it. Furthermore, it means that you’re using the right words and grammar as precisely as possible. It’s important to understand that fluency isn’t the same as complexity. When people are learning English they begin by becoming competent in the basics. It is possible to be fluent by just having a good grasp of using basic English words and grammar. As long as you’re using these basic elements correctly and without needing to think for too long, you can consider yourself quite fluent. So, how can we learn to speak English fluently?
Practice new grammar and words immediately
Whether you’re learning English at a language school or on your own, you will continuously be introduced to new language elements. The best way to make yourself fluent is to focus on using your new knowledge at once. Next time you go to the grocery store, start thinking about all the new fruit and vegetable vocabulary you learned. Practice your use of past tenses by asking your friends about what they did that day. You need to create opportunities for practice. Remember: learning English is about learning a new way to communicate. If you want to improve your English fluency, you need to communicate as much as possible.
Get a language partner
This is especially helpful for people who are learning English in their own country. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to practice the language with native English speakers. There are many websites and apps on the internet where you can sign up and find a language partner. You can make use of several methods to learn English with a language partner. Just remember that you will have to be ready to teach them your language as well so it’s best to perhaps agree on the topics you will be discussing ahead of time. Overall, it’s a great way to learn English as well as a way to make new friends.
Fluency depends on how much you use the English that you learn. This takes time. If you want to get better at English in less time, there are some methods you can use to study.
Quick methods for learning English
Learning a language fast is about two important things: how much time you put in every day into your studies and what methods you are using. In this section, I’m outlining some of the key methods that are used to learn English quicker.
How to learn English at home
Learning English at home involves mostly self-studying. The advantage of studying English on your own is that you can choose your schedule, pace, and methods for learning. On the other hand, you don’t have the luxury of a teacher who can give you feedback on your progress. What is important is to set up a plan that will include your short-term and long-term goals as well as when you will be studying and for how long.
The other challenging aspect of learning English at home is choosing the materials that work for you and your study plan. There are many to choose from. Podcast courses, online courses, online teachers (like me!), coursebooks, and blended learning courses are just a few of the available options you have when trying to learn English at home. It’s important to think about their unique advantages and disadvantages when choosing the materials you need to study English at home.
How to learn English on the Internet
The Internet is a gigantic treasure trove of services and materials that can be extremely helpful when you’re learning English. Whether you’re learning on your own at home or need some extra material to complement your English language course, the internet can be an incredible tool in your journey. There are some amazing websites that can teach you grammar and vocabulary, all with their own unique study method.
Learning English on the internet also makes it possible to learn wherever you are and that includes using your smartphone. Some of the best mobile apps have some interesting and fun ways to help you learn English faster while you are on your way to work or traveling.
How to improve your English grammar
Grammar is rarely anyone’s favorite subject when they’re learning English. In fact, grammar can inspire fear in some people because of how complex it can be in the English language. It’s important to understand that grammar isn’t just a set of rules but it also conveys meaning. Focusing on the meaning of each grammar point can make your life a lot easier when you’re learning English.
What’s also important to realize is that some English grammar isn’t used very often and that can be helpful to save you time when studying. You should still study these grammar points but maybe not as intensely as others.
How to improve your English speaking
Speaking is one of the hardest things to practice when you’re learning English in your own country. It’s not just because you have no one to speak English with. That can easily be solved by getting a language partner or using social media. The problem is also that you aren’t always in control of what you’re practicing. When learning English, you want to focus on using the language elements you’re studying. There are several methods for practicing your speaking and improving your fluency that can be done whether you have access to a native English speaker or not.
How to improve your English pronunciation
Pronunciation is often mistaken for accent by people who are learning English. The truth is that pronunciation is about how clearly and distinctly your words are sounding. It’s about being able to make different sounds, which can often be different from one language to another. In order to improve your English pronunciation, it’s important to, first of all, build a good foundation. There are some methods that can be used to improve your basic English sounds. While pronunciation can feel like something that takes a long time to learn, there are some quick methods for recognizing sounds and making associations with your own language.
How to improve your English listening
Listening is one of the skills that most people struggle with a lot when they’re learning English. The problem is that there are many accents and they can feel quite different. When you study English, it’s important to begin listening as soon as possible so you can get used to the speed of the language. Listening to podcasts has been proven to be a great way to improve your listening. Of course, watching TV shows and movies in English can also be beneficial for various reasons. It’s debatable if using subtitles is helpful or not. Whether you listen to podcasts or videos, it’s important to follow an organized method for your English listening.
How to improve your English reading
Just like with listening, reading in English requires a certain methodology and approach in order to improve quicker. When learning English, it can be quite beneficial to start reading novels and books you enjoy in English. With the right method, you can learn a lot of new vocabulary and improve your reading comprehension. If you’re at the early stages of your learning, you can also try leveled readers which are normal books but written in simpler ways. Leveled readers have had a lot of success in encouraging people when they’re learning English.
Learning English is a journey with a beginning and an end. The best way to make it a successful journey is to also make it an enjoyable and rewarding one. With the right methods and good planning, your English can improve at a faster pace while making sure you are learning effectively.
There you have it! I hope this has been useful. If so, share this article with someone who wants to learn English, follow us on Instagram and try making some examples in the comments below!
See you in the next lesson!