self-study

10 Useful Tips to Teach Yourself English

Do you love learning English, but don’t have enough time?

Or do want to learn more English, but not your formal English class?

If so, we’ve got some good news.

You don’t have to have formal English lessons to improve and fine-tune (perfect) your English skills.

In fact, you can become your own teacher!

Yes, that’s right.

No more traveling across the city just for English class.

No more having to do boring grammar exercises.

No more having to clean your home for your private tutor…

…because there are some other awesome and very effective ways that you can learn English – without the help of an English teacher.

You might be thinking, “No way! Have I been doing it wrong all this time?”

No, you haven’t been doing it wrong, but perhaps you haven’t been doing what works best for you either.

Here are some strategies and tips to help you teach yourself English. And what’s even better is that you’re going to have a fun time too, so much that you might even say “goodbye” to formal English education all together.

10 Useful Tips to Teach Yourself English

1. Take It Slowly

If you’ve made the decision to learn English without the help of a teacher, you need to take things slowly. Don’t expect to read some English, go to bed and wake up fluent.

Set realistic goals and dedicate a set amount of time to learning English every day. Thirty minutes is good, but if you can do more that’s even better. Learning English alone means you can choose the time, the place and method; however, it’s really easy to say I’m too tired or I’ll do it tomorrow! No one ever learned a language well with this attitude, so you really need to want it… you can do it!

2. Think Like a Child

It may sound a little stupid to you, but using English resources for children is the perfect way to begin learning a language. Children’s books, movies, and TV shows are basic. When an English-speaking child learns for the first time, they’re going through the same steps as you are now. It all begins with basic vocabulary and sounds.

When you use children’s books and movies together with your other self-study textbooks and language learning materials, you’ll understand more. There will be very few things you don’t understand and this will boost your confidence. There’s no better feeling than being able to understand something in another language.

3. Listen to Everything and Anything

One great thing about learning English is that almost everything these days is in English. This gives us more opportunities to be connected with it every day.

If you think about it, when children learn their mother tongue for the first time, they don’t learn by reading or writing. They pick up (get) words from people around them – their parents, brothers and sisters, favorite cartoons and so on. At first, they understand little or nothing. But as time passes, they acquire (get) more vocabulary. This vocabulary slowly turns into phrases, and these phrases are then placed into full sentences, which will eventually allow the children to hold and understand simple conversations.

Surround yourself with English. Have the radio playing in English in the background. Learn with native English podcasts. Watch English TV shows, and if you live in an English-speaking area or an area where many English tourists go, just listen to their conversations. Soon, without even realizing it, you’ll be having conversations in English too.

4. Enjoy Music to Learn English

Everyone loves music. We may have different taste. You may like metal music whereas I love pop, but we both like music. Most of the world’s music is produced in English these days and even foreign artists are joining the club and producing their hits in English.

Instead of just listening to the music, use it and learn English from it. Without even realizing it, every time you listen to your favorite Beyoncé track, you’re learning. The best thing about learning from songs you love is that they’re catchy (they’ll stick in your head) and furthermore, the language is everyday English so you’re learning how the average person speaks.

Listen and sing along with the words. Look up the lyrics and try and get a feel for what they’re singing. Choose your favorite phrases and write them down in your notebook and don’t forget to practice using them with every opportunity.

5. Use the News to Learn English

Knowing what’s going on in the world is great for your own knowledge, but it also gives you something to talk about with friends, family, colleagues and so on. People often discuss news-related issues, so if you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t participate in the conversation.

Now you can improve your chances of participating in English conversations by listening to or reading the news in English. You’ll not only build up your knowledge of what’s going on, but it’s also a great way to pick up new vocabulary.

If you don’t have enough English to understand the news completely, try reading or listening to it in your native language first, and then listening to it or reading it again in English. Don’t worry if you can’t understand much. You could also turn to children’s materials again and get your news from TIME For Kids.

The more you listen and read the news in English, you’ll be able to participate more fully in English conversations – and no longer be the quiet foreigner!

6. Watch Movies to Learn English

Most movies come from Hollywood and all Hollywood movies are in English. This means that if you love watching movies, English movies are a fantastic way to learn more English.

At the beginning, watch movies that you’re already familiar with and have already seen in your native language. It helps to be familiar with the story, as it’ll give you context for unfamiliar words.

Again, sit there with your notebook and write down phrases that you think are useful. Practice using them and later try to imagine your own conversations with these phrases. You could write natural-sounding dialogues or even speak to yourself in the mirror (we won’t tell anyone!). Remember: the more you repeat, the more you remember.

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 7. Learn English from YouTube

YouTube has every video imaginable. It has old sitcoms, movie trailers, TV commercials, how-to instructional videos and much more. What are you interested in? Are you interested in music? Fashion? Golf? Dog training? Whatever your interest is, type it into the search area on YouTube, select a video, then watch and listen. When you’re interested in a topic, you already have background knowledge about it, so therefore learning and understanding is going to be much easier.

There are even YouTube channels specifically made for ESL learners. Here are nine really great YouTube channels for learning English.

There are also online English courses especially made for English language learners from other nationalities that allow you to learn at your own pace (speed). The famous British broadcast station BBC has its own channel for English language learners. Subscribe and keep up to date with the latest.

8. DIY Flashcards

DIY (do-it-yourself) flashcards are a great way to practice the phrases that you’ve heard and want to learn. Go to your local office supplies store and pick up some index cards, and then write phrases or words on each one with your translation on the back.

Whenever you have a free moment, flick through (quickly look) the cards and see how much you remember. It’s a great way of testing yourself. Start with the English side showing first and try to remember the translation in your native language. Once you’ve mastered all of the cards that way, then flip them over and try to recall the English when looking at the translation – it’s a bit harder.

9. English Club

Do you have a group of friends who are in the same position as you? If the answer is “yes,” then you need to make the most of this. Organize a group of friends who will meet every week, either at home or in a local café. Ban (don’t allow) everyone from using their own language when the club meets. Only English may be spoken. Nominate (choose) one person each week to bring something interesting (maybe some information about new English websites they’ve found, a cool magazine article or recommendations for easy-to-understand movies).

You’ll be able to communicate naturally and also have a fun time doing it. Keeping language learning fun is important for your own motivation. If you do the same old things all the time, it’s going to get boring. This is the perfect way to keep things interesting.

10. Join Online Language Forums

Another awesome way to practice your written English and communication skills is to join a number of online forums where people discuss matters that interest them. Reddit is a widely-used site that covers a vast range of topics (called “subreddits”), so that’s one place to start. Know that there are online forums for everything, though. Whether you want to discuss tips on how to learn English properly or how to care for your new Labrador puppy, an online forum will exist for your interest.

Reply to other users and try to get conversations going, or post some useful information that people will want to respond to. Don’t forget to reply to people who post comments under your topic, because if you don’t, this method of learning English without a teacher is going to be ineffective.

Like anything good, it takes time. You can’t expect to become fluent in English in the first few months or even years, but the great thing is, the more you help yourself at home, the quicker this is going to happen. Surround yourself with English and always have fun!

Oh, and One More Thing…

If you like learning English on your own, then you’ll love FluentU. FluentU uses popular talk shows, catchy music videos, and funny commercials to teach you English:

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If you want to watch it, FluentU’s probably got it.

FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. How? There are interactive captions. In other words, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.

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FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” then you see this:

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FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

You can learn any video’s vocabulary with FluentU. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.

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FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The coolest part? FluentU knows the vocabulary that you’re learning. It uses your vocabulary to recommend you examples and videos. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.

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