Last Updated on December 28, 2022
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How to learn English quickly: 10 tips
English is a fun language to learn (here are 9 reasons why it rocks), and even though it’s considered an accessible and relatively easy one to learn, with 750,000 words and spelling that can throw off even the most skilled learner, learning English fast can seem impossible. But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t – as long as you have the right strategy.
Here are our top tips on how to learn English quickly:
1. Read everything you can get your hands on
Classic literature, paperbacks, newspapers, websites, emails, your social media feed, cereal boxes: if it’s in English, read it. Why? Well, this content will be full of juicy new vocabulary, as well as a fair amount you already know. This helps you improve quickly, as re-exposure to learned vocabulary gives you new examples in context, therefore reinforcing those words in your mind. On the other hand, learning new words and expressions is essential to building your vocabulary arsenal, particularly in a language like English with so many words! However, don’t just read and move on – next, you’ve got to…
2. Actively take note of new vocabulary
This tip is a classic one for good reason: it works! When learning, we often enjoy a new word of phrase so much that forgetting it seems impossible. But trust us, not everything sticks the first time. To fight this, get into the habit of carrying around a funky notebook or using a tool like Evernote. Whenever you hear or read a new word or expression, write it down in context: that is, in a sentence and with its meaning noted. This saves you time as you won’t return to that word and ask yourself: “What did that word/expression mean again?”
3. Talk with real live humans
What is a language for if not to communicate? Sure, we humans have become experts at communicating without opening our mouths – thanks Whatsapp! – but when push comes to shove, it’s true that speaking a language helps it stick in your head far better than only reading or writing it. Just think of how many times you’ve heard people say that they “understand, but can’t speak English.” A lot of would-be English speakers have turned talking into a huge insurmountable barrier that only serves to psyche them out. Don’t be like that. Seek out native speakers for an informal language exchange, enroll in a course, or take classes online.
4. Subscribe to podcasts or Youtube channels (in English)
Like humor? Politics? Blogging? Cooking? With topics covering every interest imaginable, there’s an English-speaking podcast or Youtube channel out there for you. Subscribe to a few and listen while driving or watch during the commute to school or work. At first, you might find the native accents difficult, but stick with it and you’ll soon start to understand what you hear (as well as learning lots of new vocab from a native speaker!)
5. Go abroad
If there’s a better way to learn English than being immersed in it while living and studying in an English-speaking country, we’d love to know! It’s no secret that English is the most widely-spoken language in the world, and with a long list of countries to choose between, you can select your ideal learning environment based on hemisphere, weather, or favorite city. Think Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa to name a few!
6. Use your friends
Have friends who post online in English? Don’t gloss over them in your newsfeed: scan the items they share and commit to exploring one or two each day. They might be news or magazine articles, videos, talks, blog posts, songs, or anything else: if it’s in English and the topic interests you, it’s going to be helpful!
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7. Ask a lot of questions
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also propelled the language learner to fluency! As you learn English, you’ll soon collect a mountain of questions. Don’t sit on your doubts – be curious and resolve them! If you’re enrolled in a course, ask your teacher (it’s what they’re there for, after all). But if you’re learning alone, don’t worry: find answers in blogs or language websites, ask other learners, or read through forums. You’ll be happy you did!
8. Take a lead from the stars
Mix up your learning by picking a native English-speaking actor or singer you like. Now, head online, find a bunch of interviews they’ve given – and watch them! Watch once for gist, then again, taking time to note down interesting expressions and words you hear. The slang, stories, humor, and anecdotes that come out of these interview are sure to give you plenty to work with!Get the latest on travel, languages and culture in the GO newsletterSign me up
9. Start with what you really need
Your English studies are likely to go far more quickly if you constantly remind yourself of your motives for learning. Are you going on a study exchange? Then, focus on vocabulary related to your studies. Have an overseas conference? Brush up on conversation starters to use with the other participants. Going on a gap year? Looks like travel and tourism vocabulary will be your guide. If you simply launch into learning English hoping to magically learn anything and everything at once, you’re likely to end up confused and burned out. Which brings us to…
10. Don’t kick yourself while you’re down
When you start to feel like you’re not making ground – which happens to all learners at some point – don’t say, “I don’t speak English,” or “I’ll never get this.” In fact, ban those phrases from your vocabulary! They only blur your understanding of the progress you’re making and convince you that your dreams of speaking English well are impossible. Instead, say “I’m learning English and making improvements everyday,” “It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it,” “I’m so much better that I was six months ago,” and other phrases to remind yourself of the big picture.
Looking to improve your language skills but not sure how to learn English? Learning a foreign language is a long process, and along the way you’ll need to make a lot of decisions. How often should you study? Should you get a tutor or study on your own? How can you make sure you practice English every day? What should you do if you find yourself getting bored?
In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step you need to follow for how to learn English. We’ll explain how to set up a study schedule, which tools you should use, how you can keep yourself motivated, and more. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to know for the best way to learn English.
How to Study English: 9 Steps to Follow
Below are the nine steps you need to take in order to become a master of the English language. By the time you read through all of them, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to learn how to speak English.
#1: Set a Goal
Your first step for how to learn English is to set a goal for yourself. Setting a goal serves two purposes. First, having a goal makes you more motivated because you have a concrete aim to work toward. It makes it easier to track your progress and decide how well your studying is going. Second, remembering your goal and the reason you started learning English in the first place will help keep you motivated when your English studying gets tough or boring.
Remember, there’s an important reason why you decided to study English! Some sample goals for learning English include: Reaching a certain score on the TOEFL, reaching a certain score on another exam that tests English language skills, being able to understand your favorite English show without subtitles, or being able to hold a conversation with an English speaking friend. There are many more goals you can pick, so choose one that’s important to you.
#2: Create a Study Schedule
Once you’ve set a goal, you need to figure out when you’re going to work on reaching it. A study schedule is the best way to do this.
With a study schedule, you’ll set aside time so you know when you should be studying, and you can set regular goals. It’s often helpful to set aside the same time regularly to study. This makes it easier to remember when to study and helps you plan the rest of your schedule around your English learning. Below is a week-long sample study schedule.
|Sunday||12:00-13:00||Write at least 500 words in English diary||Writing|
|Monday||18:00-20:00||Read a chapter in English textbook||All|
|Wednesday||12:00-13:00||Practice Flashcards during lunch. Learn at least 10 new vocab words.||Vocab|
|Thursday||18:00-20:00||Read a chapter in English textbook||All|
|Friday||17:00-18:30||Attend English speaking club||Speaking, listening|
|Saturday||14:00-16:00||Read 100 pages of a book in English||Reading|
The more detailed your study schedule is, the more it’ll help you. Try to plan out exactly what you’ll be doing for each study session, like in the example above. Also, make sure you’re setting aside time to practice each of the four main English skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
#3: Decide Which Tools You’ll Use
Your next step is to choose the tools you want to use to help you with how to study English. Below are six of the most common English-learning resources. For each one, we give an overview of what it is, as well as pros and cons. During your studying, you’ll likely use more than one tool, and you may end up using all six.
Individual tutoring is one of the fastest ways to learn a language. In my experience learning French, the week I spent studying with a French tutor taught me more than the month I’d spent trying to learn the language on my own. With one-on-one tutoring, you’ll meet with a tutor (either in-person or online), discuss what you want to learn and where you want to improve, then each session your tutor will have a lesson prepared that you’ll work through together.
The lessons can be tailored to focus on specific English skills you want to learn, or you can ask to study all parts of the language. Tutors can be expensive, but a good one will figure out exactly what you need to study, make lessons tailored to you, and motivate you to keep learning.
- Effective way to learn English
- Lessons are tailored to your needs
- Can learn all the English skills this way
- You need to find a time that fits both your schedules
- Some people find one-on-one tutoring intimidating
- Quality of tutors can vary, and you may need to try several before you find a good fit
In a language class, you’ll meet regularly with a teacher and a group of fellow students. Each class, the teacher will lead you through a lesson plan. The best classes are interactive, have small class sizes, and teach you a variety of skills. They can be a great way to practice your speaking skills, meet other people learning English, and keep yourself accountable with your English learning.
However, you tend not to learn as quickly in a class as you do from one-on-one tutoring, since the class often moves at the pace of the slowest student. There are many English classes available, and you can probably find one near you by Googling “English language class [your town]” or contacting a local university to see if they offer classes.
- Cheaper than one-on-one tutoring
- Good way to meet other English learners
- Regular classes help keep you motivated
- Can still be expensive
- Need to find one near you and that fits your schedule
- Usually not the fastest way to learn a language
Another option is an online program such as Rosetta Stone or Duolingo. These programs give you structure and lesson plans to follow, but they don’t have a teacher guiding them. This makes them cheaper and lets you study whenever you want, but their quality can vary widely. You can find other examples by Googling “online English learning program” or something similar.
- Can study whenever you want
- Cheaper than tutoring or in-person classes (some are even free)
- Provide structure and pre-made lesson plans for you
- Quality can vary widely
- LIttle or no individualization
- Some people are less motivated when they don’t have an actual teacher
A textbook can be a great way to help improve your English skills, and the best ones will teach you many different skills and make the learning interactive by having regular exercises and quizzes. Good textbooks will also include audio clips so you can practice listening and speaking skills as well. However, be careful not to rely too much on a textbook. Reading a textbook is one of the easiest ways to study, and it can be tempting to just sit on the couch and read a few pages rather than doing something more active like writing or speaking in English. A textbook can be a good resource, but make sure it’s not your only resource.
- Great way to learn and review grammar rules
- Can read it whenever and wherever you want
- Usually include tests and quizzes so you can check your progress
- More passive than interactive learning
- Doesn’t provide much or any speaking practice
- Can be boring, which can cause you to lose motivation
Listening to podcasts is a great way to strengthen your English listening skills and learn about a topic that you find interesting at the same time. Podcasts are audio recordings that are usually less than an hour in length.
There are many available, so you should be able to find some on a topic that interests you, whether that’s sports, celebrity news, science, and more. Some podcasts specifically for English learners include The English We Speak and Breaking News English. In order to make listening to podcasts more active, make a list of any words you don’t know while listening and look them up afterward.
- Great way to practice listening skills
- Usually can find a podcast on a topic that’s interesting to you
- Can listen anywhere from your smartphone
- Most are free
- Passive, rather than active, studying
- Primarily only good practice for listening skills
Flashcards are another good tool to add to your English resources list. You can either make your own flashcards by using index cards, or you can create a deck online. When making your flashcards, one option is to write the word or phrase in your native language on one side and its English translation on the other side.
You can also write the word in English on one side and its definition, part of speech, and a sample sentence on the other side. Flashcards are a great way to learn vocab. For other ways to learn new English words, check out our guide to learning English vocab.
- Best way to learn new vocab or short phrases
- Free or very low-cost
- Easy to practice in short sessions when you only have a little free time
- Can’t be used to study more complicated phrases or grammar rules
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#4: Try to Find Other English Learners
If you can, you should also try to find a study buddy who is also learning English. The best way to learn English is with someone else! First, a study partner can help motivate you and keep you accountable because they’ll also know if you’re sticking to your plan and making progress. Second, studying with other people makes it much easier to practice certain English skills like speaking and listening. You can certainly speak English to yourself, but you’ll learn how to speak English much faster if you have a conversation with someone else.
Third, even if their own English isn’t perfect, your study partner can still give you advice and feedback on how to improve your English and catch any mistakes you haven’t noticed. And, finally, studying with friends can make learning English more fun. Instead of sitting in your room with a textbook or in front of your computer, you can practice your English by getting a meal with your friends and speaking in English, watching an English movie and discussing it together, or many other activities. Learning English doesn’t have to be boring
If you don’t know any other people who also want to learn how to speak English, there are lots of places to find someone online. Meetup.com is a site that allows people to create groups on topics that interest them. Many areas have a group for people looking to practice their English, and if there isn’t one by you, you can start your own. Italki and Verbalplanet are two other sites where you can connect with other language learners.
#5: Start Studying!
Once you have your study plan, goals, and the resources you’re going to use organized, it’s time to start learning English! Remember to keep referring back to your original goals, and don’t be afraid to make changes to your study schedule or the resources you’re using if you feel you aren’t making the progress you want to be. In the following steps, we give advice on how to keep your studying interesting and efficient.
#6: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
One of the main things that holds English learners back from improving their language skills is the fear of making mistakes. When I first moved to France, when my language skills were still pretty weak, I was terrified to talk to people. I knew I’d make lots of mistakes and sound like an idiot. Many people learning a language have the same fears, but, if you want to make progress in English, it’s important to accept that you’ll make a lot of mistakes and also realize that making mistakes really isn’t a big deal.
You may find it less intimidating to practice with other English learners who are also probably making mistakes, or you can study with a native English speaker who is learning your language so you can both correct each other. Above all, it’s important to remember that making mistakes when learning a language is inevitable, and it’ll happen to everyone. Try to find the humor in it and laugh it off.
For example, I had a friend who was studying abroad in Central America while learning Spanish. One day, she tried to tell her host family that she was afraid of cockroaches (cucaracha), but she actually said she was afraid of spoons (cuchara). It took her weeks to realize why her host family always gave her cereal with a fork, but once she understood, she just laughed and made sure not to confuse those two words again.
#7: Incorporate English Learning Into Your Daily Life
Once you’ve gotten the hang of studying English, it’s important to start incorporating the language into your everyday life. You can do every lesson or practice session you put in your study schedule, but if that’s all you do, you won’t be making as much progress as you could be.
When learning any language, repetition and consistency are important. You want to be frequently thinking about and using English, even if it’s just for a few minutes or seconds at a time. Doing this regularly will ensure that the language stays in your head and makes using it feel more natural.
When I was learning French, I’d often try to practice the language during free time I had. If I was waiting for the bus, I’d read the signs nearby and see if I understood all the words. While waiting in line at the grocery store, I’d see how many foods I knew French names for. Little things like this don’t take a lot of effort, and they can really make a difference in how quickly you learn the language.
Here are other ways you can incorporate English into your daily life:
- Write your grocery list in English
- Put English subtitles on while you’re watching TV
- Listen to music or a radio station that’s in English while you’re working
- Keep an English diary and jot down notes about what you did that day
- Write your social media posts in English as well as your native language
- Download an English dictionary on your phone so you can easily look up any word you don’t know
- Translate any posters or billboards you see nearby into English
- Read the labels of products that are in English when you’re shopping
#8: Make It Fun
Many times, people think that learning English means spending hours stuck in your room with a grammar book or flipping through stacks and stacks of vocab cards. While not every second you spend studying English is going to be enjoyable, it can still be a fun experience overall!
The best way to study English is to make it fun and interesting for you. By making learning English fun, you’ll be more motivated to keep learning even when things get a bit boring or you’re frustrated at your lack of progress. The key to making English studying fun is to connect it to things you already like to do and interests you already have
Love cars? Get some English-language car magazines and read through them. Into sports? See if you can find matches with English-speaking announcers and watch those on the television. Have a favorite book? Find an English translation of the book and use that as your reading practice. Talk about your favorite TV show in English with a friend, join an English-language online group for a hobby you love, learn the lyrics of your favorite English song, etc. There are lots of opportunities out there to make learning English something you’re excited to do.
#9: Assess Your Study Plan Regularly
As you continue learning English, you should pause periodically and think about how well your study plan is working. Are you making the progress you want? Does your study schedule fit the rest of your schedule? Do you still feel motivated to keep practicing?
Learning English is a long process, and you shouldn’t think that the study plan you came up with originally will work perfectly the entire process. About every month or so, stop and think about how well your study plan is working and where you can make improvements. Not making the progress you want with your speaking skills? Change the way you practice and maybe try some new resources. Keep missing your study sessions? Change the time you set aside for studying so it works better with your schedule. Losing motivation to keep learning? Try a new method or recruit a friend to help you keep studying.
By regularly updating your study plan, you’ll ensure you’re doing exactly what you need in order to reach your English goal.
Conclusion: How to Study English
If you’re not sure how to learn English, it can help to have a guide to show you which steps to follow before you dive in and begin studying. The best way to learn English is to have a plan set up before you begin studying with a set study schedule and regular goals to keep you on track.
If you want to know how to learn English well, follow these nine steps:
- #1: Set a goal
- #2: Create a study schedule
- #3: Decide which tools you’ll use
- #4: Find other English learners
- #5: Start studying
- #6: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
- #7: Make English part of your daily life
- #8: Make learning English fun
- #9: Assess your study plan regularly
If you follow these steps, you’ll know exactly how to learn English, and you’ll keep yourself progressing and motivated until you reach your English language goal.