Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.
If you’re just starting to learn English, or if English isn’t your native language, it can be difficult to know where to start. So many of us have tried to pick up foreign languages in our lives, but most of us have failed. And the reason why is that most of us don’t follow the right methods or stick with them long enough to reach fluency. With so many ways to learn English out there, which one should you choose? This article will help you figure out what method works best for you, so you can speak English with ease!
22 Proven Ways to Learn English
- Start with the basics
- Use visual aids
- Focus on pronunciation
- Don’t worry about grammar
- Listen and repeat
- Speak to locals
- Find a tutor
- Learn with the radio
- Write and read every day
- Use memorization techniques
- Use computers and apps for talking and reading
- Don’t memorize vocabulary, understand them
- Read a lot, but not too much
- Get out and meet new people
- Watch movies with English subtitles
- Take an online course
- Play games in English
- Listen to the news at least once a day
- Visit forums and blogs that are written in English
- Never speak your native language
- Do writing exercises in English
- Use pen pal method
1. Start With the Basics
If you want to learn any language, no matter what level you’re at, it helps to start with some basic phrases. The good news is that there are only about 1,000 words in an average language—and many of those are similar from one language to another. If you can learn those words and how they work together, you can begin formulating more complex sentences from those words. Start by using a simple phrasebook—and once you feel comfortable with those phrases, move on to a grammar book or online class. And don’t worry if it seems too hard at first—after all, learning a new language takes time and practice!
Even for those who learned their native language as children, there were likely times when even everyday words seemed foreign. Imagine how much harder it will be for a complete beginner? But stick with it: In six months, your skills will have improved dramatically compared to where you started. In six years, your English fluency will have skyrocketed—and you’ll hardly remember where you started out!
The key is to build a foundation and then work from there. Once you learn some basic phrases, start adding them into regular conversation. You can also find free or inexpensive lessons online from sites like Wikiversity and Open Culture. These include materials for learning everything from pronunciation to grammar to spelling—all of which are important in becoming fluent in any language. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature—after all, speaking is one of those things that requires constant practice! Just follow the basics, and you'll be on your way to fluency in no time.
2. Use Visual Aids
If you are a beginner, it is natural that you lack confidence. This lack of confidence can hinder the learning process. But you can use visual aids to learn English. Visual aids not only help you learn English, but they can also improve your confidence. Nowadays, there are various types of visual aids that you can use to learn English. Traditional visual aids include flashcards, word lists, and grammar charts. Most people use traditional visual aids to learn English. But you can also use modern technology such as virtual whiteboards, charts, and charts.
Visual aids can help you learn English step by step. You start by memorizing English vocabulary and phrases. Then, you move on to understanding the meaning of English phrases. Finally, some visual aids help you practice English grammar. For example, a note-taking app like Evernote can help you create a vocabulary list. Then you can type or paste a word or phrase into Evernote. You can then use the search option to find similar words or phrases.
You can also create flashcards. You can create flashcards on apps like Quizlet, Kahoot, and Flashcard Machine. Each of these apps has free and paid versions, but the free versions are sufficient.
3. Focus on Pronunciation
Pronunciation is very important. There are many different dialects in English, so it’s best if you stick with one. The American dialect is widely used by people around the world, so I recommend learning how to speak it. If you’re trying to learn an accent other than your native language, I recommend practicing every day for at least five minutes at a time. Try out words and phrases that will get your mouth ready for more difficult sounds and vocabulary. You may sound strange to yourself while you practice, but over time, you’ll notice big improvements!
Also, try not to worry about sounding perfect all of the time—English speakers understand there are always going to be mistakes. Just focus on communicating instead of worrying about being perfect or precise. And remember that everyone learns differently—there’s no need to compare yourself with others! If something works for them but not you, don’t feel bad about doing things your way.
Focus on what works best for you because you are unique—and your uniqueness is beautiful. Remember that it’s okay if you struggle at first; speaking a new language can be really hard at times. You just have to keep trying, and soon it will become easier and more fun than ever before!
You'll get better over time: It's very common for people to make mistakes when they start learning a new language. That's fine; even fluent English speakers make mistakes sometimes too. The important thing is not to give up right away; it might take some time before you learn how to say certain words or phrases correctly.
4. Don’t Worry About Grammar
A lot of people are nervous about speaking in English because they worry that their grammar is wrong. They think that if they don’t speak perfectly, then others will be disappointed or even angry with them. But here’s a secret: Most native speakers aren’t perfect either! When I moved to America, I was embarrassed at my accent and didn’t want anyone to know where I was from. But over time, I realized that no one cares! Your attitude towards your accent is what matters most—as long as you are confident in yourself and have good intentions. So go ahead, speak up—no matter how much you still have to learn!
One of my favourite learning tools is having conversations with native speakers. What you’ll learn is invaluable, but it doesn’t matter if your grammar isn’t perfect. Because what you really want is for them to understand you. So don’t be afraid to use incorrect grammar in your conversations! One mistake is not going to ruin everything—the most important thing is for everyone involved in the conversation to understand each other.
I know, easier said than done. Sometimes you’ll feel like your bad grammar is ruining a conversation and making people dislike you, but that isn’t true! Instead of worrying about what other people think about your grammar, focus on what you want to say and how they are reacting. For example, if you used incorrect grammar in a sentence but it still makes sense, don’t worry too much about fixing it—just keep going!
5. Listen and Repeat
The first and most obvious tip for learning how to speak a language is, listen to speakers of that language. But if you’re not surrounded by English speakers (or if you don’t have any around) and don’t have regular access to media or resources in that language, it can be hard to find what you need. Your next best bet is finding someone who speaks both languages fluently, who can correct your pronunciation and let you know when your sentences are coming out weird. But most people don't know any fluent speakers of another language.
That’s where something like DuoLingo can come in handy. With DuoLingo, you get personalized feedback on your pronunciation and fluency, so you can keep improving. You may not be able to get actual language lessons for free (they tend to be costly), but it's a great way to start learning. Even if you don't understand what they're saying, over time you'll become familiar with the sounds of words and how they work together. It takes effort—but that's true of any worthwhile skill or project—and it will be worth it in the end when you can go anywhere in the world and communicate with people easily.
The final tip for learning how to speak English is, repeat what you hear. Give it a go! The next time you’re watching your favorite movie or TV show, turn on closed captioning (the words will show up at the bottom of your screen) and follow along with what people are saying. Then pause after each sentence and repeat it aloud.
6. Speak to Locals
If you’re living in a foreign country, speak as much as possible with your fellow expats. These conversations will help reinforce everything you’ve been learning about how words are used and heard. In addition, it will be nice to have some non-native friends who share your love of learning and culture. There’s no greater way to immerse yourself than speaking with native speakers face-to-face.
Set up coffees or get together for drinks—just use every opportunity to get out there and speak. You’ll learn more than you can imagine! Also try talking with people online via blogs, forums, Skype, social media—it doesn't matter so long as you're practicing what you've learned by speaking out loud. Start slow; only do one new thing each day that involves speaking English beyond your comfort zone, but aim to get more comfortable each day by upping that number.
7. Find a Tutor
Finding a tutor is an excellent way to start speaking and practicing the English language right away. This will also help you avoid making common mistakes and having embarrassing conversations with native speakers. Finding a private tutor isn’t as hard as it seems, either; just ask around at your local community center or local university for recommendations, or start by doing a quick Google search. Many public libraries also host classes and events where you can meet up with fellow English learners and practice speaking in real-time. Once you find someone who works well with you, try going through some of these tips together—after all, it’s much easier to learn from your own mistakes than from someone else’s!
8. Learn With the Radio
Listening to radio broadcasts is one of the easiest ways to start speaking and understanding English. The format and pace of a radio show makes it easier for you to comprehend native-level audio, and regular exposure will help you build your vocabulary and grasp of spoken idioms. You’ll also get a more organic feel for the conversational flow. And on top of all that, learning by doing (listening) is more effective than rote memorization (watching). So go ahead, tune in; it’s time you got fluent!
This one seems difficult for non-native speakers of English, which is unfortunate because it's a very effective and rewarding way to learn. Radio allows you to learn and understand natural spoken language at your own pace. That gives you control of how much and how fast you want to learn English.
We're not saying that watching movies and TV is a bad way to learn. In fact, it's a great way. We're just suggesting that there are other effective ways of doing so. Watching these videos can help you get familiar with spoken idioms and slang, but listening is a more natural process for learners of a new language. Radio allows you to do just that—listen and follow along at your own pace.
9. Write and Read Every Day
Read as much and as frequently as you can. Not only will it help improve your grasp of grammar and vocabulary, but reading is an enjoyable activity that will keep you interested in learning. Also keep in mind that everything counts: newspaper articles, how-to books, children's books; anything written in English counts. It doesn't have to be at college-level material either—picture books are a great place to start, especially if they're about topics that interest you or your family. Reading with friends or at book clubs is also a good way to learn more quickly—having someone discuss what they read with you can help fill in gaps of comprehension. This approach helps expand your knowledge quickly without overwhelming you with lots of new words all at once.
Don't forget about writing, too. Writing is an often-overlooked aspect of language learning that can help you learn vocabulary, grammar, and spelling at a much faster rate than simply reading alone. It's also good practice for speaking, which is key to learning how to speak English fluently. If you've never written in English before, it may feel awkward at first. But writing makes your brain work differently than when you're reading, which can make even complex concepts more digestible—and it has great benefits for people who are dyslexic or have other learning disabilities. It doesn't matter if your grammar isn't perfect; just try to write as much as possible and focus on expression rather than perfectionism.
10. Use Memorization Techniques
One of the most effective ways to learn English vocabulary words is by using memorization techniques. One way is to use flashcards, which you can easily create using Microsoft Word or another text editing program. You can include pictures on your flashcards or just write out single words. Another popular technique involves creating an already learned list, where you write down all of your new vocabulary words in one column and all of your already-learned words in another column. This technique makes it easier for you to remember already-learned vocabulary while studying new ones.
Yet another technique involves using mnemonic devices, which are memory techniques used to help you remember facts, rules, names, or places. For example, if you’re trying to learn new words for kitchen items in the English language, use a rhyme scheme that’s easy for you to remember.
You can also use mnemonic devices for learning verb tenses. In addition, you can create a story that focuses on a word you’re trying to learn. The more memorable you make something, the easier it will be for you to remember.
11. Use apps for Learning English
These days, most people can learn a language for free, in their own time and at their own pace. The most popular apps for learning a language are Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. They’re free, which is part of why they’re so popular. But they have drawbacks: Most importantly, they might not teach you everything you need to know about the structure of English—so that when you start to speak it or write it on your own, things won’t feel quite right.
Rosetta Stone, for example, is good at teaching you vocabulary and common phrases. But its grammar exercises are often limited. (For example, it might present you with sentences like You walk me home instead of I walk home with you.) If your goal is conversational fluency—the ability to speak English fluidly in real-world situations—you need more than just words and phrases; you need to know how language works on a deeper level as well. The only way to get that knowledge is through classes or other resources that focus on grammar, not just conversation.
Alternatively, if your goal is less focused on conversation and more focused on reading or writing skills, Rosetta Stone might be better than traditional language classes for you.
12. Don’t Memorize Vocabulary, Understand Them
If you’re trying to learn a new language, think about it as acquiring a vocabulary rather than memorizing lists of words. Memorizing word after word might help you pass a test, but it’s not going to make you fluent. You need a broad understanding of how those words fit into your life and how they work together in conversation. The more deeply you understand a language, whether through natural fluency or immersion, meaning that you understand each element inside and out, from nouns and verbs right down to idioms and slang, the faster your progress will be—and more importantly, it will stick with you long after that first lesson is over.
One way to achieve that is by asking yourself simple questions about new words. A good question will help you understand how a word works, what it means, and where it came from. Is it an adjective or an adverb? Is it formal or informal? What sort of relationships does it have with other words in its sentence? Practice applying those questions to new vocabulary that you come across. Start by taking one common word you use every day—do, for example—and start asking questions about it. Who do I do something for? Whom do I do something for? Do they have any special preference in doing things? You don't even have to stop there.
Is understand a verb or a noun? What’s its role in our sentence? What does it mean exactly—that I understand what people tell me, that I like understanding things, or that something is hard to understand? Some of these questions will be easier than others; some might give you an insight into how a word is used, and others might feel silly. That’s OK. The point isn’t that you should know every answer off by heart—it’s that you use those questions as a starting point for your curiosity and knowledge about language.
13. Read a Lot, But Not Too Much
If you’re trying to learn how to speak English, you need more than just listening comprehension. It’s equally important that you practice speaking so that your fluency can improve. If you’re not sure where to start, focus on books rather than movies or TV. You’ll be able to read a lot more at a much faster pace, and it will help sharpen your reading skills as well as your pronunciation and intonation—all of which are critical for learning English. After all, everyone knows it’s easier (and sometimes more interesting) to learn from written material rather than visuals alone.
If you’re not a fan of books, don’t worry. There are plenty of other resources for spoken language learning, such as short stories and novels read aloud. Podcasts and audiobooks can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to listen while driving or cleaning your home. And if reading makes you fall asleep easily, try an audio podcast or radio broadcast that keeps your mind focused on listening rather than falling asleep.
Another helpful tip is asking your friends and family for suggestions. If you know anyone who learned English as a second language, ask them what resources they recommend. And if you’re not sure where to start, there are lots of online resources that can help—search Google or YouTube for learning English or English learning, and you’ll find plenty of options.
Instead of focusing solely on reading books, it can be helpful to listen to people talking about topics that interest you.
14. Get Out and Meet New People
This may seem a little counterintuitive, but it makes sense. The longer you sit alone in your apartment, thinking about how difficult it is to learn a new language, the more difficult it will become. You need to get out and start speaking English as often as possible if you want to progress. One good way of doing that is by enrolling in an English-speaking class or finding someone who can help coach you along. This can be hard for foreigners who live outside major cities (but let's be honest: moving to one makes sense). Another option is finding friends on Facebook or other social networks; after all, language barriers are no match for Google Translate!
There are also plenty of free and paid apps and sites that can help you improve your language skills through real-life interactions. Two popular ones include HelloTalk, which connects you with native speakers for chats, and MyLanguageExchange, which lets you meet people from all over for virtual language exchanges. Whether it's a study partner or someone who helps you review vocabulary before a big test, don't be afraid to reach out if you want additional help. You won't regret it!
15. Watch Movies With English Subtitles
Watching movies is a great way to boost your listening skills and it’s fun, too. But if you want to be more than just a movie-watcher, you should watch with subtitles. Hearing someone speak in English without having an opportunity to read what they’re saying gives you only half of the information and cuts down on your comprehension and fluency. By watching with subtitles, you can get both sides of communication in one go. It might seem boring at first—especially if you’re used to full-audio entertainment—but it will make a big difference in your speaking ability when you get used to it. Be patient; over time, subtitles will become second nature. Eventually, watching movies with any sound at all will feel weird!
You can also watch movies with friends who speak English as a way of practicing conversation. If you’re more comfortable on your own, pop in a DVD and try watching without subtitles first, so you can hear and see all of what’s going on at once. Then, if you need help keeping up with what’s being said or understanding certain words or phrases, ask for help from someone fluent in both languages. You might find it easier to ask someone who speaks your native language to explain parts that you didn’t understand than asking another student who is learning it as a second language. That person will be able to give examples and relate them better by using familiar experiences and contexts that you know well.
16. Take an Online Course
Taking an online course is one of the best ways to get started learning the English language. The beauty of language courses is that you learn real-world skills that are applicable across disciplines, meaning you’ll be speaking conversational Spanish or conversational French before you know it. These platforms and tools will help you speak in another language: FluentU: FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news, and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons. It also offers flashcards and quizzes so that once you’ve finished a video, you can test your knowledge with fun exercises.
It’s important to note that there are different types of courses. The best online language courses combine video and audio lessons with quizzes and tests so you can practice what you’ve learned. Not all online courses are created equal, so look for reviews before you sign up for one. Try FluentU today! It's an all-in-one language learning program that's ideal for beginners. It offers hundreds of videos—for a wide range of spoken languages—that walk you through from your first word onward.
17. Play Games In English
One of my favorite ways to learn a language is by playing games. There are lots of board games, card games, video games, and more that are based in English. This is especially useful when you’re learning new words because it reinforces your lessons in a fun way. Here are some popular games for improving your ability to speak or understand English: Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Apples to Apples (in both editions), Phase 10 (in both editions), Clue (in both editions), Uno (in both editions), Taboo, and Apples to Apples Kids.
It’s not just board games that can help you learn English. Check out video games too! Many people think playing video games is a way to just have fun, but it can actually help you learn language skills in a fun way. This is especially true for online gaming where you’re likely to meet other players who are native speakers or learners themselves. You can talk with them about games, share tips, and maybe even form friendships that will last beyond your gaming sessions! If online gaming isn’t your thing, there are also console versions of many popular online multiplayer games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft.
18. Listen To The News At Least Once A Day
The news is a great way to learn new words and phrases, but it’s not always easy for beginners. If you’re just starting out, look for news shows that are more slow-paced or have shorter stories. Many local television stations will have their own news station on YouTube, which makes it easy for you to follow along with what’s going on. When I first started learning English, I watched BBC News at least once a day. The BBC has an excellent understanding of how people learn English as a second language, so everything they say is very clear and broken down into smaller segments.
Continue reading news stories in the English language. It’s important to continue learning new words and phrases so you can use them in real-world situations. If you hear a word or phrase that’s unfamiliar, try using it yourself when talking with someone else. If they have any questions about what you said, ask them for clarification and move on with your conversation. Doing so will allow you to practice your pronunciation as well as ensure that it really is a word you need to know.
19. Visit Forums and Blogs That are Written in English
One of the best ways to learn a language is by reading and writing about topics that interest you. Just as practice makes perfect in your native tongue, it’s true in a second language too. If you want fluency, there’s no better way than posting on forums and blogs written in English. There are thousands online—from travel forums to gadget blogs—and many cater specifically to non-native speakers. This gives you plenty of chances for practice without embarrassing yourself (too much). Topics like technology or business tend to use more formal language than others—frequently using words like in terms, with, and by—so look for these if you're just starting out.
It’s easy—and common—to feel out of your depth when posting online. Even if you're not sure of every word, don’t be afraid to post. A common sight on many forums is non-native speakers asking questions like Where is a bank near me? How do I set up my computer? You don't need an answer for everything (although people on forums are usually happy to help), but it's good practice to try using your words and ask questions rather than asking for them outright.
Most importantly, go in with confidence! When you're ready to start writing about topics that interest you in English, just follow these three steps:
1) Find a forum that interests you
2) Introduce yourself
3) Start sharing your thoughts!
Each will build off one another to get you communicating better. Just remember that there will be some grammatical errors along the way, so always take time before posting—read over what you wrote several times and make any edits necessary before hitting send. This will ensure your posts make sense and helps prevent embarrassment! Never forget: Practice makes perfect! Get started by visiting Babbel today!
20. Never Speak Your Native Language
If you’re trying to learn the English language, don’t make your learning experience any harder than it needs to be. For instance, never speak in your native language when you are around someone who speaks that language—or at least not for long. If you do, it will cause two problems: One, you’ll never improve your fluency in the English language because speaking in your native tongue creates a natural barrier between you and that other person; and two, even if they do understand some of what you’re saying, they won’t understand everything—and that will create confusion. It's just better to speak only one language at a time while learning another one.
21. Do Writing Exercises in English
The best way to learn English is to write English, right? While studying English in a classroom, you may pick up enough vocabulary, spelling, sentence construction, and grammar to get by. But if you really want to improve your English, you need to practice your writing skills. Building your writing skills takes time and practice. Fortunately, there are many writing exercises you can do at home to hone your skills.
Writing exercises can help you learn English by allowing you to practice your writing skills on your own schedule. You can work on them every day, or only when you have time. You can write both about your interests and the topics that interest you, but it's also good to learn to write in English about topics that are new to you. This challenges you to think about the language in new ways, and it exposes you to new vocabulary and grammar.
Writing exercises in English give you plenty of practice, and it's important to write a lot, so you stay sharp. You'll also want to pay attention to how you write. Pay attention to things like spelling, punctuation, and grammar, and strive to write clearly and coherently.
Writing exercises in English are extremely rewarding, but they can also seem daunting at first. There are no shortcuts to mastering a language, but it's helpful to give writing exercises in English a try.
22. Use Pen Pal Method
Pen pals were popular in the 19th century when Americans were searching for ways to stay in touch with loved ones far away. Some people were in war zones, while many were living in foreign countries. In those days, mailing a letter could take several months.
Today, the Internet has made long-distance communication much easier. Although email is fast and efficient, many people still prefer to write letters. And the Internet has made pen pals easier.
Through sites like Facebook and Meetup, you can find friends in other countries who share your interests. It's easy to find groups devoted to gardening, yoga, travel and more. You can also join online groups dedicated to specific interests, such as writing or photography. Some groups are international. Others focus on a specific country, such as France or Ireland.
Once you find a group, you can introduce yourself and ask if there's anything you can help each other with. For example, if one of you is living in France and the other in the U.S., you could offer to proofread each other's work. If you live in a large city, for example, you could offer to walk someone's dog.
It doesn't have to be a pen pal relationship. If one of your friends has young children, you can offer to watch his or her kids while your friend goes out.
You can also offer to mail items to each other. If you work in an English-speaking country, you could ask your friend to send needed supplies, such as new clothes or school supplies.
If you're in the U.S., you could ask your friend to mail you items from your native country.
The pen pal method is a great way to practice your English. And it's a great way for you to learn about someone else's culture.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Muhammad Rafiq