Have you ever spent hours studying to improve your English, only to forget it the very next day?
This used to happen to me all the time when I was learning Korean or Spanish.
At first, forgetting what I learned made me think that I was one of those people who simply aren’t good with languages. The thought of spending so much of my time studying without making any improvements was frustrating and demotivating.
But then I read an article about different learning styles and realized that I wasn’t bad at learning languages, I just hadn’t yet found the best way for me to learn a language.
If you’re trying to find the best way to learn English, you’ll want to take a balanced approach that challenges your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills.
That reminds me of a great English idiom you may have heard: Everything but the kitchen sink. That means that you combine every resource possible to deal with a situation.
This post’s tips will include everything but the kitchen sink so that you can mix and match many different techniques and resources to discover your own best way to learn English.
How Can I Find My Own Best Way to Learn English?
The formula to mastering the English language is inside of you. It’s not about memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary words; instead, you need to find a way to learn English that’s related to your own interests.
One way to boost your English skills and improve your overall proficiency levels is to create a weekly learning schedule that lets you practice different skills. This means setting aside a little time each day to focus on something new. For example, you can study grammar on Monday, speaking on Tuesday and so on.
Not only will that help you become a balanced English speaker, but it will also expose you to a bigger variety of English material to help you learn.
The best way to learn English is by turning everything into a learning experience, including the time you spend on your computer or mobile device. Many social media sites have pages or groups that are dedicated to helping people learn languages. YouTube, for example, has a nearly endless supply of resources to help English students of all levels build vocabulary, learn grammar rules and improve their speaking and listening skills.
Knowing Your Learning Style Can Help You Discover the Best Way for You to Learn English
As soon as I learned about different learning styles, I discovered how to master foreign languages in a way that works best for me. After all, we all learn differently. Textbooks, flashcards and lecture-style English classes aren’t for everyone.
But for all learners, the best way to learn English and other foreign languages is to find a way to enjoy what you’re learning.
For some people, that means watching movies and listening to music, while others enjoy writing creatively in diaries and having conversations with their English friends.
If you’re taking an English course, try not to limit your learning experiences to what you do in the classroom. In this article, we’ll see that the best way to learn English is through cultural immersion that’s fun and enjoyable, so your studies don’t feel like work.
Looking for the Best Way to Learn English? Try the “Kitchen Sink” Method and Let the Learning Flow!
We’ll start looking at different resources in a moment, but if you want to get a fully-immersive English learning experience that helps you build all of your skills while including fun and exciting resources, you should definitely check out FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Improve Your Listening Skills
Building your English listening skills has never been easier. With so much English material available on the internet, you’re guaranteed to find something that’s educational and entertaining for you.
Movies are a great way to boost listening
Your computer or television can become a powerful learning tool to help you boost your listening skills and learn how to speak English naturally.
In fact, studying English through movies has been extremely successful for a lot of learners because it’s a fun way to learn English, it shows you how to use words in their correct context and it also teaches slang and commonly-used expressions.
Listening to English songs is super
Music is a wonderful English learning tool, especially if you find an addicting English song that you can listen to for hours nonstop.
We all get songs stuck in our heads from time to time, so you might as well make the next song that gets stuck in your head an English song! Simply search for the lyrics to your favorite song and learn how to sing along.
As a bonus, when you learn the lyrics to a song you can also improve your speaking (well, singing) skills by singing the song in karaoke! There are several English songs that are especially good for karaoke because they’re easy for English learners to sing, and you can also learn lots of great new English words and phrases from them!
Improve Your Reading Skills
Some learners are intimidated by the idea of reading in English, but if you feel that way, it’s probably just because you haven’t found the right thing to read yet!
If you want to improve your reading skills but think your textbooks are dry and hard to follow, then you should try using some real-life English material instead.
Popular books are a fun way to improve your reading skills
For me, learning a language through books has been a great way to build my vocabulary and see how grammar rules are put into place. I found that the Harry Potter series was a great starting point. As long as I had a dictionary by my side, the first book held my attention without being too difficult to understand. Each book after the first one is a little more challenging, which means that you can follow an interesting story while you improve your English skills bit by bit along the way.
Children’s books are also good for beginners
Some other great resources that aren’t too difficult but are enjoyable for all ages include:
- “Charlotte’s Web” – “Charlotte’s Web” is a classic story written for young learners, but it’s definitely interesting enough to also capture the attention of teens and adults.
- Classic children’s books – If you’re a teenager or an adult, you might not think preschool books are useful. However, their simple language and heavy use of pictures make them perfect for building basic vocabulary.
- The Roald Dahl Collection – Roald Dahl is one of the most popular and famous English-language authors, and every one of these books is filled with interesting stories and colorful language that you won’t find anywhere else.
Looking for something more challenging? Try the news
If you’re learning English to advance your academic or professional career, you need to learn more formal ways of speaking. The type of English used in the professional and academic worlds isn’t typically the same relaxed style of speaking found in most movies, television shows and songs. But you can familiarize yourself with a more formal style of English by reading the news.
Sites like the BBC and CNN are filled with stories and video clips about America, the United Kingdom and other English-speaking parts of the world. The New York Times and the BBC even have sections dedicated to English language learners; those sections have interesting stories and activities that focus on improving readers’ vocabulary and comprehension. While you can access the New York Times’ Learning Network for free, you can find a lot more valuable (and challenging) reading material with a subscription that gives you full access to the site.
If you have advanced English skills and are looking for articles that can help you build your advanced vocabulary while learning about a range of interesting topics, check out TIME or The Economist.
If you live in the United States, you can find cheap magazines on Magazine Line that cover topics like news, politics and much more. Some magazine subscriptions have around 70-80% taken off the full price!
Improve Your Speaking Skills
Many of us learning a new language struggle to improve our speaking skills simply because we don’t have someone to practice with. Fortunately, social media platforms have helped eliminate that obstacle by creating ways to connect with people from different parts of the world.
Use voice chat on your favorite messenger programs
Many learners use messenger programs like Skype and WhatsApp to chat with teachers or other learners. Because these platforms allow you to hold actual conversations, type messages and share files, they’ve become useful tools to improve the learning process, as long as you already have people who you can chat with.
Tutors are great for speaking practice
Verbling is a popular program that students use to help them learn English, and it’s perfect for people who don’t have many contacts on messaging apps like Skype and WhatsApp. Verbling will connect you to a professional English tutor who can help you overcome your weaknesses and improve your strengths. There are hundreds of tutors to choose from, at different prices to meet your budget, so chances are there’s a tutor on Verbling who’s ideal for you.
If you’d prefer meeting for a one-on-one, in-person class, then you should definitely check out WyzAnt. It’s another service that helps match students with tutors, but although it also offers online tutoring options, its main focus is in-person tutoring. These in-person classes are currently only available in the United States, but if you happen to live there, then it can be a great way to find a professional teacher who can become your new English buddy!
Improve Your Writing Skills
Building writing skills can be more difficult than improving your other language skills, especially at the beginning stages. It requires time, patience, a lot of practice and a good teacher who can give you valuable feedback. For most students, finding someone who can proofread your writing assignments and give you English writing help can be tough. Fortunately, there’s a site dedicated to doing just that.
Lang-8 is a popular website that helps language learners with their writing, and it’s perfect for learning how to use complex grammar and testing out different writing styles. Learning to write isn’t easy, even for many native speakers, but using Lang-8 as your personal blogging platform is a great way to build your writing skills and meet new friends.
Balance Your Resources to Make Your Study Time Exciting
You’ll probably find that taking a balanced approach to learning English is more enjoyable. This is because it adds variety to your learning experience. You get to learn English through a number of fun and interesting ways, and for most people, that’s much more enjoyable than studying the same generic learning material over and over.
By dedicating a little bit of study time each day to improving your skills, in no time you’ll find your own best way to learn English.
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. 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 or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.