10 Tools and Tips to Self-Study English Effectively
How confident are you with your English?
Your answer should be: totally confident.
Then you know you can definitely learn English by yourself, right?
If you are confident enough, you can skip all of the expensive English courses and huge textbooks and try to do things your way.
- Why Try Self-studying English?
- 10 Ways to Get Motivated with English Self-study
- 1. Listen to music and learn all the lyrics.
- 2. Watch English videos about your interests.
- 3. Watch English movies and TV shows.
- 4. Learn how to get the most out of English media.
- 5. Test your grammar with online English quizzes.
- 6. Chat with friends online.
- 7. Read e-books, articles and online magazines.
- 8. Write about something you are thinking about.
- 9. Join language exchange websites online.
- 10. Speak English wherever you go.
- Getting by With English Self-study
- And One More Thing...
Why Try Self-studying English?
Many English learners feel nervous about studying alone.
Luckily, all the resources you need can be found at home.
The truth is, the internet is not only your best source for learning English, but also the easiest way to study at home any time you want.
And you do not need to stay home all the time to study. Once you have the resources you need, you can bring them along with you and study wherever you want.
The best part is, you also get to study at your own pace without having to follow the instructor’s lessons or worry that you are not catching up to your classmates. Because you get to study at a comfortable pace, it becomes a more effective learning experience for you.
Most important of all, you become less dependent on others to learn English. Since you are studying alone, you are more motivated to prove that you can learn English by yourself. As long as you can stay motivated, there is a good chance you will succeed.
10 Ways to Get Motivated with English Self-study
So, how do you start your self-study journey? First, you should pick a method you are comfortable with and enjoy at the same time. This helps to build your motivation until you are ready to use other approaches to self-study English.
Here are 10 ways to start today.
1. Listen to music and learn all the lyrics.
To learn English from your favorite music, you must stick to English songs and learn from them as follows.
- Practice with your favorite songs or with popular songs. The second option is better because you hear them playing no matter where you go. You can also hear them using English radio stations online. As for the genre (type) of music, you may want to avoid rock and rap (unless you are an advanced learner), because the lyrics are often too fast or difficult to hear.
- Go to YouTube and search for a music video or audio file you like. Listen to it over and over again until you know the song very well. After that, search for a lyric version of the song. All you have to do is type the full name of the song, the name of the artist (if you know who they are) and the word “lyrics.” The lyrics will show you all the words on screen. If possible, search for the official lyric video (meaning they are actually created by the original singer or artist) so you know all the lyrics are correct.
- Try to sing the song. Once you have memorized the lyrics and have a good feel for the music, you can try to do an a cappella (no music) version of the song or a karaoke version (music only) of the song.
2. Watch English videos about your interests.
Now that you are on YouTube, you can also try watching non-music videos. This way, you can train your English listening comprehension and improve your conversational English (the way you talk to other English speakers).
You can watch:
- Reviews. For example, you can watch a technology video review about a specific model like Apple’s iPhone 11 Review by The Verge.
- Interviews. If you like movies, you can watch interviews of your favorite actors and actresses like Robert Downey Jr.’s interview for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It is okay if the interview is a bit old, as long as you are listening to real English content.
- Videos on FluentU.
3. Watch English movies and TV shows.
Watching English movies and TV shows also helps you improve your speech and comprehension.
If you watch more recent shows, you can hear English speakers talking to each other using modern (current) English. This will help you learn slang terms (like those in the US) and idioms and phrases, as well as expand your English vocabulary.
In case you do not understand what is being said, you can:
- Use subtitles. Once you are more comfortable with what is being said, remove the subtitles and watch again.
- Practice the lines as much as you can. If you do not understand the lines, you can always search for the transcript (written version of the audio) online. For example, the Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb) has a good list of movie scripts you can choose from. Just search for any movie there and read along with the words as you watch the films.
4. Learn how to get the most out of English media.
English songs, videos, TV shows, movies and radio can help you speak more like a native. But sometimes, they are hard to understand. The actors might speak quickly, sometimes interrupt each other, use expressions you may not know and not bother to explain what they mean.
Because of this, it can be intimidating (scary) to jump directly into English media. If you want to avoid getting lost, you can have a dictionary and notebook around. Take note of the words you know and do not know, and look up any unfamiliar vocabulary. You could even jot (write) down key phrases and try using them in conversation as soon as you can.
You can also subscribe to the FluentU English channel on YouTube. You can get tips on learning English using classic movies, silly songs and podcasts.
5. Test your grammar with online English quizzes.
When you self-study English, you often wonder if you are learning what you are supposed to be learning. That is where tests come in.
Once you are done studying, you can take a quiz related to what you just learned. These quizzes will test your grammar, sentence construction, comprehension and a whole lot more.
Do these quizzes weekly or monthly to make sure you are on the right track (on the way to achieving your goals).
6. Chat with friends online.
Chatting with friends online is a fun way to study English by yourself. Unlike talking to a teacher, studying in class or using English at work, talking to friends feels more relaxing because the atmosphere is easier around people you know personally.
Also, getting your friends to speak in English with you makes you more motivated to learn. Not only can you prove to them that your English is getting better, but you also feel more fulfilled knowing you can speak English freely with your friends anytime.
You can chat with friends via:
- Text apps. These can help you check any grammatical errors before you press the “Enter” button.
- Speaking apps. Through speaking apps, you can practice your conversational English.
7. Read e-books, articles and online magazines.
Reading matters as much as listening when learning English. Both sharpen your mind and train you to think in English as much as possible.
When you have to translate everything you hear or read in your mind, it takes more time. But if you practice thinking in English, you will find it easier to understand and speak the language. The more you read, the more exposure to English sentence structure, new vocabulary and formal and casual speech patterns you get.
Fortunately, the internet is a treasure trove (full) of English e-books, articles and magazines. Read about any topic you want (like cooking, gardening or relationships). This is important because every new word learned or old word re-learned is added knowledge and practice for you.
8. Write about something you are thinking about.
Eventually, you will have to apply (practice in the real world) what you have learned through self-study.
A great way to do so is to write something of your own.
You can write about anything, really. For example, you can simply start with a personal journal, where you can jot down your thoughts about everything that happened during the day. Do this every day in English, and you can have a better idea about how good your grasp of the English language is.
After writing, you can try to check your work for any errors. To do this, let a native speaker you trust check your work. If your journal is on a computer, you can also use a program like Grammarly to highlight (show as important) any mistakes in your work.
9. Join language exchange websites online.
As an English learner, you will want to talk to fellow English learners. Luckily, many websites specifically focus on language exchanges—teaching someone a language in exchange for them teaching you their language.
For example, if your native language is Spanish, you can look for a native English speaker who wants to learn Spanish to teach you English in exchange for you teaching them Spanish.
Join the language exchange community and you will feel less alone in your studies and more connected to others.
10. Speak English wherever you go.
Practicing and learning English should not stop at home or with people you know.
For example, if you are in an English-speaking country and you want to buy a specific item, talk to the staff in English. You can start with basic shopping vocabulary. This helps you explain what you want, and also helps you understand the answers that the staff will tell you. The same goes for when you are asking about a service or product over the phone.
As much as possible, try to speak English wherever you go. This way, you get to practice and improve your language skills over time.
Getting by With English Self-study
With hard work and determination, you can overcome any difficulties when self-studying English. Keep your motivation high and remind yourself why you want to learn English.
It is also important to have a goal to keep you going. For example, you can set a weekly goal like learning 20 new words per week or talking only in English with a friend.
Of course, getting your friends to join you in your English learning journey and finding fun ways to learn English will also help you. But at the end of the day, the passion should always come from you.
If you want a little more help with your self-study, try some of these options. Good luck and happy studying!
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.