10 Tips for Learning English
Learning a second language is hard. Been there, done that. If you decide to learn a new language, you should celebrate your decision. This is a bold choice, whether you have to learn a new language for work or school or pursue it for self-improvement. I use the word “choice” on purpose because even if it is an obligation, you need to choose to open your mind to this brand-new information and encourage yourself. Get ready because you are on a unique journey, and you’ll love it!
For me, studying English was not so easy. In Turkey, we have English lessons starting in primary school, but the language was too hard to learn for my classmates and me. I believe the main reason is that learning a language is all about memorizing grammar in our educational system, nothing more. Learning grammar is important, but having perfect grammar is useless if you cannot use it to express yourself. That was the main problem in my journey to learn English, and I was not alone on this road.
Most people struggle with reading, writing, listening, and/or speaking. For a long time, I had understood what I read and listened to but could not write or speak. It took years to become a woman who does not feel an irresistible desire to run away when someone asks me something in English. Finally, I feel more confident using it in my daily life. This didn’t occur by magic, though. I just used these tips. You might already know them, but with some consistency, they can provide all of the magic you need.
The immersion technique is the basis of learning English or any language you want to learn. I know that most of us cannot relocate to a foreign country to make our language learning process faster, but we can adapt this technique to our lives! This is the main idea of the tips I have taken advantage of, and I am sure you will see the benefits of these as well. Are you ready to write a new chapter of your language learning journey? If so, then read on!
1. Watching series and movies with English subtitles was one of my most helpful learning language methods.
You may think that “oh come on, this is the most common advice of all time!" Well, it is because it works wonderfully. Although it is a good method, it has some difficulties too. It can be harder to focus on what is going on in the show, so let me tell you how I avoid distractions: I watch a series that I have seen a million times!
If you love to watch some shows over and over again, you know what it feels like. I am a huge fan of Friends and The Office, so these are great options for me to watch with English subtitles. Because I already know which sarcastic joke Chandler will make, I can focus on the sentence and learn new words and even expressions by doing that. Plus, I do not miss some language-based jokes anymore, and this makes Michael Scott much funnier. I am sure you are addicted to some series and movies too, so give this a try! It will not make you bored, because learning a new language does not have to be boring!
2. Listen to music, read the lyrics and sing it out loud (even if your voice is terrible)!
We have an expression in Turkey that says “music is food for the soul,” and I cannot agree more! Of course, all of us listen to some foreign music, so this tip does not offer you something new, but it helps a lot in the learning process. It includes listening, reading, and speaking exercises at the same time! If you want to challenge yourself a little bit more, try to memorize the lyrics. This helps me to focus on the meaning of the sentences more. Also, some lyrics can be very complex. You may understand them by reading, but memorizing it and singing it can be much harder. This is a great way to effortlessly practice!
3. Read some fun, interesting content.
Don’t listen to what other people consider boring and interesting. Treat yourself by spending time with some topics that make you excited and know about these more. If you are a gamer, read about newly released games, for example. It does not have to be something serious. The main idea is that you should read some content you enjoy. For me, these are related to discovering travel destinations, researching ingredients in skincare products, reading some blog posts about creative writing, and so on. These topics can change from time to time, but be sure that you read some writings written in a daily language.
Do you want to do more? Start writing about these interests! No one has to read them; do it for yourself. Not ready for that? Then keep reading my other suggestions because I realized that if I do not enjoy what I do while learning a new language, it does not work at all. I am sure it is the same for you too, so finding enjoyment is the only rule we have to obey.
4. After some reading practice with short writings, read a book!
I know some English books focus on improving reading ability, but it was hard to find which book was great for me. I love reading a lot, so a book lower than my English level bored me to death, and one higher than my level made me feel like I could never learn English. So I decided to start with the same tactic I used for watching series and movies. I started with some books that I had already read and loved!
Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books, so it was an excellent choice for me to read the story in English. I knew that reading it would be easy to follow. Even if there were some words that I did not know, I could simply understand them without looking them up in a dictionary. I cannot tell you how proud I was of myself when I read its original version. It gave me the courage to read more novels in English and the ability to read a book in English for the first time. No one will give me a medal for that, but if you have struggles in these abilities, you can easily imagine what I felt (and yes, I want a medal for that).
5. Write your notes and reminders in English!
As a copywriter, I have too many thoughts and to-do lists on my mind all the time. I’m sure you do as well. Like you, I've had "lightbulb moments," where I discover an amazing idea or the perfect solution to a problem. I wanted to record these ideas anyway, and I realized that writing these notes in English is such a simple and fun activity! It does not require too much time, yet it makes you get used to thinking in English constantly.
6. Meet a friend from a different country and talk, talk, talk!
This is the step I like to write about a lot. The Covid-19 pandemic has been affecting our lives so harshly, and we will never forget these troublesome times. But as a silver lining, it made me use an app to meet with strangers to practice my English when I was about to lose my mind at home. I met my Mexican friend that way. His goal was the same as mine - to practise his English, and this mutual goal began a wonderful friendship!
You can share your cultures, explain interesting views or fight against the prejudices of your countries, discuss politics, or talk about shared interests, like movies. Doing these in English is an amazing way to effortlessly practice. If you are as lucky as I am, you can meet someone who has the same sense of humor and interests, so practicing English can strengthen bonds. As a plus, you will probably want to learn your friend’s native language. For me, I want to learn Spanish as soon as possible.
7. If you can do so, travel and meet local people!
I miss traveling so much these days, but I want to talk about it as a part of my learning experience. When I flew to Sweden years ago, I met someone on the airplane. His English level was not so good either, but we encouraged each other to keep talking. It was the first time I spoke with a foreigner, and I swear my speaking skill improved during the flight!
Seven years after my first abroad experience, I talked with a landlady in Macedonia for almost two hours. It was the second time that I had communicated with a foreigner for that long of a time. That lady told me that she had met so many Turkish people and I was the only one who could talk that much! It made me realize that knowing grammar or memorizing words is nothing if you do not have enough courage to express yourself. So I blame our educational system for making us memorize all the tenses but never supporting us to talk or write, to use the language actively when we were kids.
Meeting with these people was a great experience because it showed me that even if you are not great at speaking, you will understand each other if you try to talk. Never be afraid of making mistakes in the learning language process.
8. Express yourself with simpler sentences.
This is golden copywriting advice, too. If you do not believe me, hear what David Deutsch, a professional marketer, says: “Simple sells. Very simple sells very well. Scientific studies show that what is simple is more convincing than what is complex. Use simple words, simple sentences, and simple logic. And keep your offer simple as well, because a complex decision is often a delayed decision.”
A complex decision is often a delayed decision. What a wise sentence! Usually, no one needs fancy words in daily life. If you cannot express yourself with complex sentences, stop translating that specific sentence in your mind and find a way to say it with different words as two sentences or more. This tactic works in advertising and it works with speaking and writing in a second language too!
9. Use your phone, laptop, and other devices in English.
Here is another simple yet effective piece of advice from me. This tip has the same logic as some of my suggestions. It is very easy to use my laptop or smartphone in English as I already memorized their interfaces. It helps me to see the right terms because let’s face it, we are not native speakers. It can be hard to decide which word is better to describe a very specific term.
Installing applications in English also makes this process faster. You cannot believe how helpful this is until you try! At first, these changes can make you a little bit nervous but don’t worry, you will get used to it in a matter of hours.
10. Find a good language course to learn the basics and improve your language skills with the right mindset.
Do your future self a favor and learn a new language. It is one decision you can never regret! At ReDefiners World Languages, our mission is to create multilingual global citizens through equal access to language learning opportunities. We offer classes in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Mandarin for kids and adults. By taking our classes, you will learn how to speak the language, navigate unfamiliar cultures, and equip yourself with tools to become a global citizen. For more information, please visit www.redefinerswl.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.