The Best Way to Learn English Fast: How to Learn English in 20 Steps
Learning English is a common goal for millions of people around the world. Today, a staggering one billion people worldwide speak English or are learning it.
There are many reasons to learn English. All English language learners are motivated to learn English for many different reasons. Some need to learn English for school or work. Others may be planning to move to an English-speaking country. Some are planning to travel to the US, the UK, or Australia for the first time. They want to get around easily. Or they’re traveling somewhere English isn’t the first language, although it may still be the second or third language understood by the local population.
Last Updated June 2020
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And some want to learn for the simple pleasure of becoming fluent in a new language.
Mastering English is an exciting challenge that opens doors to many cultures. Any non-native speaker can learn to speak fluent English. Anyone determined and willing to try something new can make this dream come true.
You don’t have to live in an English-speaking country to start learning the language. If you’re eager to learn English, or if you’re looking to improve the skills you already have, here are 20 great tips:
1. Make a list of your English-language learning goals
When learning a new language, consider why you need or want to learn the language and how you plan to use it. Are you learning English for work? Is your company requiring you to demonstrate fluency? Do you need to learn English to pass the TOEFL exam to enroll in a US or UK university? Are you planning to travel? Some goals may take a few months to reach; others a few years. There are many resources available to help English language learners achieve their goals.
2. Take a course that matches your level
Studying on your own can only get you so far. If you’re serious about learning English, it’s best to enroll in an English course that aligns with your goals. You can take the traditional route and join a school or community center, which will likely follow a “beginner to advanced” track at a fixed curriculum, pace, and schedule. E-learning sites like Udemy are another option, though, which will offer you more flexibility about what topics you’ll learn, how fast you’ll learn them, and the amount of time you’ll spend studying the language.
3. Learn English grammar
Even if your goal is to learn enough English to travel, it’s always a good idea to understand basic grammar. There is no getting around it – English grammar can be pretty complex, full of irregular verbs, bizarre spellings, and unusual conjugations. And English isn’t entirely phonetic, so how a word looks is not necessarily how it sounds.
Learning grammar is an essential part of learning any language. There are countless online resources to help you master grammar. You can start by reading English Grammar 101 to get a general understanding of the rules of English. Keep in mind, there are many common grammar mistakes you should be aware of as you practice. Pay close attention to tenses in English and familiarize yourself with prepositions. Lastly, spend some time learning the spelling rules.
4. Learn a new English word every day
The more English words you know, the better you will be able to express yourself. The only way to improve and expand your vocabulary is to learn more words. Learn a new English word every single day and put them to use.
If you’re not sure where to start, try making flashcards of the most commonly-used words. Once you’ve covered the basics, use a thesaurus to develop your vocabulary even further and start using more sophisticated words to express yourself. Another way to build up your English vocabulary is by reading newspaper articles. Subscribe to a print publication, read a few articles each morning, and circle new words. You can also watch television programs in English with subtitles on to hear new words pronounced.
5. And don’t forget to record those new words in a vocabulary journal
Whenever you come across a new word, write it down. Many English language learners carry a notebook or journal for this purpose. Keep this book and a pen handy. Before you know it, you’ll have a book of new words to review while traveling or taking a break.
6. Find an English-speaking conversation partner
When it comes to learning English, practice is crucial. Ideally, you want to regularly speak the language to master pronunciation, oral comprehension, and overall speaking skills. One of the best ways to improve your conversational English is to practice with a patient conversation partner. If you don’t know any English speakers, see if there are any language exchange programs in your area. These programs let you learn from an English speaker in exchange for teaching them your native language. Look for opportunities to learn in your community. Find a conversation partner. Some schools and community organizations have volunteers who will work with English-language learners once or twice a week for free.
7. Read a book written in English
Whether you’re beginning to learn English or are hoping to achieve almost native proficiency, reading is a great way to get the finer, nuanced points of English expression. If you enjoy novels, an online literature class will expose you to works that are widely considered to be classics. If you’re just getting started with English and can’t handle advanced literature just yet, start with a children’s book. They can help you to master the basics of grammar and sentence structure and storytelling elements like cause and effect.
8. Watch movies in English with subtitles
Do you enjoy watching movies? If so, do you have a favorite genre? Do you like action, horror, or romance? To give your English language skills a boost, pick one and start watching. If you’re afraid you won’t understand everything, you can always put subtitles on in your native language. Even with subtitles, English movies can boost your vocabulary and oral comprehension.
9. Once you’re comfortable with your listening skills, turn off the subtitles
Once you’re confident in your English listening skills, try watching movies without subtitles. This will help you improve your listening skills. If your skills are strong and you are ready to test your ear, watching movies without subtitles is a good way to know if you need to further develop your listening skills.
10. Use your hobbies and interests to motivate yourself
Sometimes when we’re starting to learn a new language, we need to find ways to stay motivated. If you enjoy reading about finance, travel, pets, or food, read about these topics in English. Look for an English newspaper or magazine about your favorite subjects, or visit websites or blogs about these topics. When you’re ready, you may even want to join in a conversation about your favorite topics on a discussion board.
11. Buy a computer program
Though a bit pricey, language-learning software can be a viable way to learn English – especially if you’re serious about learning but don’t have time to attend a physical classroom. If you’re already taking online courses, you can use these programs as a supplement. It never hurts to add other tools and resources to practice, build, and maintain your new skills.
12. Watch news programs in English
This is a great way to practice listening. News anchors often speak slowly and clearly. Watching news programs is a good way to sharpen your pronunciation. For most English language learners, improving English pronunciation is a top priority. Lastly, watching news programs from a particular English-speaking country is a perfect way to learn more about local events and culture, especially if you plan to travel there.
13. Find a popular television show in English
Most English-speaking countries are known for their television shows. In the US, the UK, or Australia, locals will be happy to tell you about their favorite sitcoms (situation comedies), dramas, or reality shows. Take some time to tune in. TV programs are a great way to hear different accents and test your listening skills.
14. Work on perfecting your accent
When it comes to mastering any language, pronunciation is key. Remember, there are many different dialects of English. English in New Zealand is not the same as the English spoken in Scotland. English spoken in the US is not the same as the English spoken in Jamaica. Think about where you will use English and what dialect you want to learn. If you always dreamed of studying abroad in Australia, perfect the Australian accent by learning how Australians pronounce things. If you’re looking to move to the US, you probably wonder how to learn American English and master the American accent. There are a ton of online resources like YouTube videos, online courses, and even free blog tutorials.
15. At the same time, don’t worry too much about your accent
Depending on your personal and professional goals, you may not need to drop your accent. Many non-native English speakers have successful, lucrative careers speaking English with an accent. What matters most is that your listeners understand you. If you are confident in your speaking skills and no longer need to perfect your accent, consider other ways to improve your English skills. Find a listening class on Udemy to better understand fast native speakers or perfect your pronunciation at your own pace.
16. Practice writing in English
Do you understand the difference between a simile and a metaphor? As you improve your speaking, listening, and reading skills, make sure you also improve your writing skills. Consider an English writing course. Some courses may allow you to try writing common types of essays. As you improve your writing, you’ll gain more confidence. If you want to raise your English writing skills, look at some complex sentence examples.
17. Make time to get some real-world practice
If you already live in an English-speaking country, practice calling local stores to ask questions such as, “What time do you open on Saturday?” Order food at a new restaurant. Make a phone call in English. If you do not live in an English-speaking country, practice your writing skills by using a company’s live-chat function if you have questions about a product or order.
18. Travel to an English-speaking country and use English while you’re there
Immersing yourself in an English-speaking environment is a challenging and exciting way to begin. When you visit an English-speaking country, not only can you practice your speaking skills, you can also practice listening, reading, and writing. Try listening to announcements on trains as you travel.
19. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
Every single person learning any new language is going to make mistakes. It’s part of the learning process. You may use a new vocabulary word wrong or mispronounce a word and need to repeat it. But don’t get discouraged. Let your friends, classmates, and colleagues know you’re learning. Some of them may be learning too. If possible, try to build a supportive community with other English-language learners.
20. Re-read your list of goals frequently
Remind yourself of your goals — and the new doors a new language can help you open.
Bonus tip: Never stop learning
Regardless of your skill level, goals, and where you live, learning English is possible. If you’re a beginner, the best way to begin learning English is to take an introductory conversation class. Udemy offers many fun and interesting online courses designed to meet the needs of students at all levels.
You can practice your speaking skills by learning and reciting nursery rhymes or reading and discussing funny stories in the news. If your English skills are intermediate level, challenge yourself with a more advanced course. Or you can take your grammar to the next level with an advanced English grammar course.
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