Congratulations! You’ve officially decided to learn and conquer the English language!
You’ve probably been thinking about learning for a while, but some things made you hesitate.
That’s totally fine.
It’s good to think seriously before taking on this exciting but challenging journey of learning English.
Becoming fluent in English isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s definitely worth it and can be done well with a smart plan of action.
Every journey has to start somewhere, and it’s optimal to have that starting point be one that keeps you confident and optimistic.
If you’re looking for some motivation and tips on how to start mastering the English language, then you’ve come to the right place!
We’ll outline some beginning steps you should take to help you prepare for the long road of learning ahead.
Step 1: Identify your English level
Before you even start your learning journey, you must understand your current level of English. Be honest with yourself as you ask: how much English do I know, and what do I need to learn?
This may be a little difficult to figure out, especially if you don’t really know what an English learner should know at each level.
English for beginners covers the basics.
Beginners should know simple and common phrases. Beginner English also includes English you would use to tell some basic information about yourself as well as English that you’d need for emergency situations.
If you’re a beginner English learner, these are the things you should know or learn:
- Basic verbs
- Simple grammar tenses to let you talk about things happening now, in the past or in the future
- How to say basic information about yourself
- How to tell time and say what the date is
- How to write or say short sentences
English for intermediate learners goes further.
You’ll still be focused a lot on the basics, but things will get more complex and you’ll learn to speak more at length about different things. You’ll become relatively comfortable with common speech. If you’re an intermediate English learner, you can expect to learn and know:
- More grammar tenses, including mixed tenses and future tenses
- Modal verbs
- How to hold a short conversation
- How to tell a short story or give descriptions
- Everyday common English
English for advanced learners assumes you know your basics by heart and are familiar with a lot of English verbs and vocabulary.
Advanced learners will be focusing their attention on enhancing their communication so that they can speak and understand native-level English. If you’re an advanced English learner, you can expect to learn and know:
- Less common verbs and vocabulary
- How to use most if not all grammar tenses
- Direct vs. indirect speech
- How to actively participate in a long conversation on a variety of topics
- English slang and idioms
Once you know your English level, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Set goals based on your personal English learning needs
Your English learning journey can last for a very long time.
But if it was planned well from the start, it can be a pretty smooth ride from beginning to end.
That’s why you need to figure out your goals for English. Ask yourself, “why am I learning English?” Are you learning English as a hobby, or do you need to learn for professional business reasons? Do you have to learn English fast or do you have a lot of time with no strict deadline?
Understanding your reasons for learning English means you can set goals for your studies. With goals, you can chart your learning course and plan your schedule as well as the materials you need for your education. When you know what to aim for, you can focus on the study practices that will work best for you.
You can use the chart above to make sure your goals are “smart” goals.
This step is very important, so take your time understanding what purpose English has for you! It saves a lot of time, stress and doubt in the long run.
Step 3: Choose your learning method
Once you understand your goals, you can think about how you can reach them—that is, what kind of learning method will you use to learn English?
Here are some of the common ways you can learn English:
- Online courses—in which you take a course, with or without a strict curriculum, on an online platform
- In-person classes—in which you go to a class in a physical location
- Language exchanges—in which you learn English by speaking with a native speaker or by traveling to an English-speaking place
- Self-teaching—in which you learn English by yourself, with your own gathered learning materials
Each method has its own pros and cons. Ultimately what matters is how you personally study best and what method fits your goals.
You should also think about other current needs, such as your schedule and how much money you’re willing to spend.
You should also be open to trying a different learning method than what you’re used to. For example, many learners are used to in-person classes as their usual way of studying, but it’s not always possible to join a class (especially if you’re no longer in school or have a daily job).
Do some research to see if other learning methods may work just as well, or even better, for your English education. Don’t be afraid to combine several learning methods! This can make your studying much more interesting and powerful, as well as possibly helping you to improve and progress faster in the language.
Nowadays, self-teaching has become a very practical method of learning languages, and it’s growing in popularity for determined learners. It might seem a bit scary to think of learning English on your own. But it’s very possible when you know how to find the right tools.
That brings us to our next step!
Step 4: Find the right resources
Along with picking the right learning method for you, you should also be looking for the best resources and materials for good and effective English learning. There are many things out there that can be helpful to your education. Which ones are the best for you? Which will help you achieve your learning goals?
The list of possible English learning resources is very long, but here are just a few:
- Books (both study textbooks and regular English-written books)
- Digital apps
- Online websites
- English-language entertainment (movies, shows, music and so on)
If you like learning English with authentic sources, one great resource to start with is FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU is a great resource for all levels because it teaches you real English. You listen to native speakers and learn English as it’s actually spoken. What’s more, since you’ll learn from videos that all come with interactive subtitles, you’ll get exposure to both spoken and written English. That means you can get a lot of practice with the language with every clip!
Additionally, you can also use FluentU’s English YouTube channel.
FluentU’s English YouTube channel takes videos like movie trailers and scenes from TV series and transforms them into engaging and entertaining English lessons.
For instance, you can learn how to use 10 powerful English verbs with the movie “Spider-man:”
Or learn tons (a lot) of new words and expressions with this analysis of the trailer of “Aladdin:”
If you like learning on YouTube and watching English movies, imagine having the two of them together! Subscribe now to FluentU’s English YouTube channel so you don’t miss any new videos!
“The more the merrier” is a pretty good saying to follow when it comes to picking your resources, but make sure that you choose resources that are challenging enough to keep you engaged.
You should stock up on a variety of learning material so that you can always have something to learn from. If something is no longer helpful to you, move on from it. If you improve beyond what a resource can offer you, make sure to find something that matches your new level of English. Of course, you can hold onto old resources for review purposes. You can’t ever get enough of practicing the basics, after all!
If a resource costs you money, don’t just buy it right away—do your research to see if it’s worth the cost. You can do this by checking what other people have said about it if any reviews were written, or if the resource offers a free trial, you can try it out yourself.
This is your English learning journey, so you want to be equipped with the best you can get without wasting time or money!
Step 5: Fearlessly dive in
Finally, the very last step is simply this: start your learning without fear.
The first steps of any adventure are often the most important, and a lot of the fears that keep you from moving forward can disappear when you make plans and preparations.
This is what it means to start smart. The map you make for your learning journey should be detailed and specific. It should make you confident in your future progress.
Of course, while you’re learning English, some things may not go as planned. Sometimes things take a little longer for you to learn, or sometimes life gets in the way and makes it hard for you to spend time studying. Make sure that your studying practices and plans are flexible so that any interruptions or setbacks won’t cause you anxiety. Expect the unexpected.
Also, here’s one of the most important things to keep in mind: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, make many of them and don’t be embarrassed whenever you do! Mistakes are opportunities for you to better understand the language. They’ll help you remember and improve your English. Write down what went wrong, study and figure out why the mistake happened and then find out how to fix it. Keep doing this, and you’re sure to improve with confidence and not make the same error again!
Learning English will require a lot of time and patience, but with enough determination and effort, you’ll reach your destination. All the hard work you put into learning will be worth it. Remember to be proud of every step of progress you make.
Best of luck!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.