Learning a new language can be a challenge, and English, in particular, is full of complexities.
If you’re wondering how to learn English faster and more completely, look no further!
Here are 9 expert tips that will help you find the best way to learn English:
1. Look for patterns.
This is the most important tip for English learners.
Language can’t be defined neatly into rules, and rules are often bent or broken.
So the best thing to do is to look for patterns and spot things that are generally true for English.
Looking for patterns will help you pick up details like “verbs in the past usually have -ed at the end”.
Also, you’ll notice sets of words that we often use together. For example:
- “We’d love to hear from you.”
- “We’d love to have you over.”
- “We’d love to see you.”
- “We’d love to come visit.”
These patterns will save you time and effort when speaking English and will help you use language in a more natural way later.
2. Do things you enjoy, in English.
The best way to learn English is to engage with it regularly and in a way that keeps you motivated to come back for more.
Some people love studying English more than anything and learning the language is a source of fun. But most of us have other interests too.
Think of something you enjoy doing already, and try to find ways to do that activity in English.
- Do you enjoy playing video games online? Join English-speaking platforms, or set your device to English to get regular exposure to the language every time you power up your console.
- Do you play team sports? Join an English speaking group in your community that plays your sport. Even outside of English speaking countries, it’s possible to find expat groups that are a mix of foreigners and locals.
- Do you have another hobby like knitting, sculpting, yoga, or music? Great! The same rule applies – find out if there’s an English speaking group with the same hobby near you and see if you can join them.
This way, you’ll get regular exposure to English whilst doing something you enjoy.
You’ll be surprised how much you learn from your new friends!
3. Engage with English language media.
Another great way to gain regular exposure is to engage with media in English.
This makes English available to you no matter where you live, thanks to the availability of these sources online. For example:
- You can find podcasts in English for basically any interest you may have. Seriously, I challenge you to find a topic that someone, somewhere, hasn’t made a podcast about!
- Many popular magazines and online newspapers come in multiple languages. Next time you are reading your favourite magazine online, see if their website allows you to switch to an English language version.
- Of course, there’s always books. An easy way to start is to find your favourite book, then read it again in English. This way you have a general sense of what is going on, but can see how the book is different in English. For a bigger challenge, try reading a new book in English straight away.
- Nowadays, it’s easy to find TV shows or movies to watch in English online. Try alternating between having subtitles on and off for this. Whenever possible, try to keep subtitles in English (more on this below in tip 8).
Did you know that Busuu recently teamed up with The New York Times and The Economist to offer video and article content as part of our English course?
You can also learn English with our interactive video course – London Central.
4. Don’t just focus on memorising grammar rules.
In the world of language learning, some people believe that grammar is most important and deserves all of your attention.
Other people think grammar is helpful, but only a small piece of the overall language puzzle.
People in the second group understand that grammar rules are fuzzy, often broken, and usually come with a list of exceptions and special use cases.
Plus, widely spoken languages like English are constantly changing.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but the point here is:
Don’t just memorise grammar rules and then be able to speak flawless English.
5. Keep track of interesting words & phrases.
As you read, watch, and listen to things in English, keep track of new words, and phrases.
This is similar to tip #1 (look for patterns), but it goes a little deeper than that.
Keep a list of the words and phrases, and put these lists in places where you’re likely to see them.
Try to use them next time you’re speaking or writing in English. This helps you keep track of what you’ve learned.
Find a system that works for you (a notebook, a memo app, cards…) and use it to keep track of your words and phrases.
6. Schedule time into your day for structured study.
One thing most language learning experts can agree on is that language is best learned through regular exposure.
Even if it’s only five or ten minutes a day, finding a regular time to think about English will help keep you learning new things faster than you forget them.
Find a sustainable pace and time that works for you and your schedule.
It doesn’t need to be two-hour sessions, maybe it’s just the first ten minutes in the morning after you wake up.
Busuu offers a Study Plan feature, which helpfully allows you to schedule your language learning and set up reminders.
Turn your language learning into a habit, and make sure it’s a habit you can keep up with.
This kind of regular, structured study will be much more effective than intensive 3-hour classes in the evenings once a week.
7. Think about how you’ll use English.
Think about why you’re learning English (e.g. to study abroad, travel, or for business).
Now, think about the kinds of scenarios where you’ll use English.
If you’re studying, you’ll likely be listening to long lectures and need to be able to follow the speaker and take notes in English.
Whereas if you’re travelling, you’re more likely to need a range of phrases you’re comfortable speaking in different situations.
If you’ll be doing business over the phone, you’ll need to be able to listen to somebody on the phone (with no body language to help you) and respond appropriately.
Each of these situations is slightly different and means you should probably do more or less listening, reading, writing, and speaking practice.
If you’re a student going abroad, you could watch videos of online lectures or TEDTalks and take notes on the topics to practice that skill.
In short, try your best to replicate the situations you expect to find yourself in for more authentic skills practice.
8. Don’t try to be perfect. Nobody is perfect.
The hardest thing about learning English is getting over the fear that you will sound silly, or won’t be perfect.
Most of us are much more articulate and clever in our own languages, and it can be embarrassing to step into another language where that comfort with words and phrases is gone.
We think others will judge us or think less of us for sounding foolish.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and being corrected, and trying again.
This is the same with any new language, and mistakes and errors are part of the journey.
Also, remember that the point of language is communication.
If you managed to say something, and someone else understood what you meant, then you’re successfully using language!
9. Have fun!
Lastly, remember that learning English should be fun.
It unlocks so many exciting and rewarding opportunities for you too.
From the tips above, you’ll see that there are plenty of fun ways to study English, that don’t just involve memorising grammar rules.
Find a method that you enjoy the most and stick with it.