10 Super Useful Tips to Teach Yourself English

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!

Here are some strategies and tips to help you teach yourself English.

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10 Tips to Teach Yourself English

1. Use Children’s Books, Movies, and TV Shows

It may sound a little stupid, but using resources for children is the perfect way to begin learning English.

Why? 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. 

2. Listen to Everything and Anything

Surround yourself with English. Have the radio playing in English in the background. Learn with native English podcastsWatch English TV shows.

If you live in an English-speaking area, just listen to their conversations. Soon, without even realizing it, you’ll be having conversations in English too.

Why? 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.

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.

3. Learn with Music by Looking Up Lyrics and Singing Along

Instead of just listening to music, learn English from it.

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. Listen and sing along with the words.

Why? 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.

4. Use the News to Learn English

Why? You’ll improve your chances of participating in English conversations by listening to or reading the news in English. You’ll also build up your knowledge of current events and learn 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. Or you can try getting your news from TIME For Kids.

Here’s a video on other news resources for learning English:

5. Watch Movies to Learn English

English movies are engaging and will help you learn culture at the same time.

For intensive learning, you can even focus on specific movie scenes and then break down what each phrase means. If you’re aiming to learn conversational English and slang, then movies are some of the best resources for that.

You can turn on subtitles so that you can more easily understand what’s going on. While you’re watching, you should keep notes on the English words you hear. See how much you can understand without having to use a dictionary.

It can be hard to start learning with movies right away because a lot of things are going on. Also, the characters might be talking too quickly or using specific English vocabulary for the situation. You can practice with shorter videos so that it’s easier to follow along.

Once you’re comfortable with short English videos, you can then start watching full movie scenes. This is a fun way to learn a lot of English vocabulary that you can use in real life. It’s also great because you can more easily remember the words and phrases when they’re in connection to a picture and scene!

Extra tip: try the FluentU app, which helps you learn English with movie scenes, music videos, and more. Here’s a video with 9 great movies for learning English:

6. Learn English from YouTube

Like cooking? Exercise? Philosophy? Whatever your interest, you’ll be able to find a channel that you can learn English with.

There are also many YouTube channels specifically made for ESL learners. Here are some really great YouTube channels for learning English.

7. DIY Flashcards

DIY (do-it-yourself) flashcards are a great way to practice words and phrases.

Just write the words on index cards, with the English on one side and 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. If you don’t want to carry around a deck of flashcards, think about using the FluentU app.

8. 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).

Why? You’ll be able to communicate naturally and stay in touch with friends (while having fun).

9. 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. Reply to other users and try to get conversations going, or post some useful information that people will want to respond to. 

10. 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!

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