Learn English yourself. Tips and tools.
It's always a good idea to learn a language with a teacher, either individually or in a class. But what if you can't afford it, or the classes are not enough for you? Even when you learn English with a teacher (and by the way, never settle for just any teacher. It should be a person whose priority is to make learning fun, relevant, and easy for you! It should be someone who understands you and is passionate about his/her job), the language should always be in the background, it should become a part of your everyday life.
Here are some tips, tools, and resources to make learning more efficient:
1. Set your goals and priorities.
It's much easier to study when you know your goals! If you are not having an exam anytime soon, or you are not planning on changing your job, create the goal and the deadline yourself! Like " I wanna start watching my favorite TV shows in English in two months" or "I will have revised all tenses by the end of the year", "I want to start writing a blog in English".. it can be anything! "learn 100 new words each month", "start speaking with no hesitation"... whatever.
As long as you have a plan and a time frame, your brain will know it has to do its best to achieve that goal by the certain time!
2. HAVE FUN!
We learn best when we are having fun! If a word or a grammar rule is explained through a funny picture or video, there is a much higher chance we will memorize it!
There is a whole bunch of entertaining and educational resources for you online. Take Instagram for example!
These guys are hilarious, and they do teach you a lot:
And my account, of course:) My main focus is to help you learn and have a good mood!
Play Vocabulary and Grammar games to make learning more amusing!
Find your favorite comedians, public speakers, actors online and follow them on social media.
Have game parties with your friends in English!
That's what I did with my students and friends back in Russia! It was a great way to spend time together, and a perfect opportunity to practise English!
Find game/film/discussion English clubs in your city and join them!
Watch films and series in English! But start with the ones you have already seen, so you know the context and don't have to focus on the details. Don't turn on the subtitles in your language! They will only distract and confuse you! or you will simply end up reading rather than watching and listening. Don't try to catch every word, relax and enjoy what your see and hear. The understanding will come gradually.
English, in general, is a very idiomatic and metaphorical language. Even more so when it comes to songs. If you translate a song into your language, you will most probably misunderstand it.
Try to feel the song and its mood, look up the whole phrases and lines. Here is a wonderful resource that explains the meaning of the lyrics to you and provides you with a story behind the song! http://genius.com/
Type in the name of the song you want to understand, read the story, click on the confusing lines, and learn everything there is to learn about it.
Yeah, speaking of songs and fun - SING! RHYME!
Listen to the radio! Sing along!
I will never forget the lesson I had with one of my students- we went for a walk in a park and suddenly started rhyming and rapping everything that came to our mind - I would say a line- and then he would come up with one to rhyme with it, like "the sun is shining bright"- "my jeans are very tight"... "there are so many trees"- "why aren't there any bees?"...we went on and on for about an hour! I wish we had recorded that crazy rap!
Well, since then I started using this activity as a warmer at my lessons. And whenever there is new vocabulary, I advise my students to think of funny rhymes for the new words. It's way easier to remember them this way.
Another fun way to remember new things - write a story! Our ego-centered psychology works the way that we remember our creations much butter! I mean, if you read a story by someone, there is a little chance you will remember new words and grammar structures from there, but if you write the story yourself, it will definitely stay in your mind for quite some time! You learned some new vocab or a grammar rule?- use it to write a funny (or maybe horror/ thriller/ sci-fi/ detective) story.
Here is an old post of mine on how to memorize vocabulary. http://www.mafriesto.com/single-post/2015/11/06/Word-of-the-day-or-how-to-memorize-new-vocabulary This post was written with the help of the "words of the day" that you can find in the GALLERY.
3. Speak! Use the language!
Talk to yourself! Oh my, that's one of the best techniques ever. Seriously, it's an awesome way to practise wherever you are! Bathroom? Bus? Traffic jam? elevator? Bed? Boring dinner party? And with your dear self, you can act out any situation possible! Can't you?
Even if you live in a non-English speaking country- go out and talk to people! Pretend to be a tourist! Ask them for directions! what time is it ? meet people!
Find the expat community in your city, hang out with them! https://www.internations.org/
Register on https://www.couchsurfing.com/ Invite foreigners to your place or just show them around.
Get yourself a chat- or a pen-pal!
Travel as a volunteer! You have your own business/farm/organization? invite volunteers to come to you.
4. Don't overwhelm yourself! Take one step at a time.
For example, this great resource provides you with news in different levels- http://www.newsinlevels.com/
If you start reading "New Your Times" right away, you might get demotivated as it's very difficult. Dive into reading the news gradually!
And do it with everything.
Tell yourself to do a certain amount of exercises daily. Don't do too much, otherwise, you will start hating English very soon, you'll get tired and lost.
Make the language a part of your everyday routine.
Here are a few websites to practise your grammar, vocabulary and so on. Do a few tasks daily and only the ones that you find really efficient.
This one is amazing! An American guy recorded a whole bunch of audios and made online exercises for you to learn new words and expressions http://esl-lab.com/
Create a list of words you want to know and this website will help you learn them vocabulary.com It's a great online dictionary, too.
5. Explore! Find the resources that you like!
Visit http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en Explore and find the videos/podcasts/games that you find interesting and productive.
Google! You can google absolutely anything and you will find the answers! Don't be lazy to search for what you want to know! It only takes a minute.
6. Don't be shy! Don't be afraid to make mistakes!
From what I've experienced as a language learner and teacher, it's often hard to overcome the fear of making mistakes! Screw it! Everybody makes mistakes! If you don't make mistakes, you don't learn!
The ones who judge you and make you feel uncomfortable are not worth your attention! English is not a way to show off, it's a communication tool! Your task is to get your message across!
You've gotta understand what people are saying to you and make them understand what you want to say! I've heard a lot of times "I will start speaking when I know enough, when I'm confident". You will never know enough, actually the more you learn- the less you know! Seriously! Language is endless!
Look at the kids around you! They learn to speak step by step, they don't stress about it! They use their body language if people don't understand them! Follow their example!
You will never learn and improve unless you try!
Your accent is beautiful and unique, whatever it is. The way you speak reflects your individuality! Of course, you want to sound like a native speaker! But it's not necessary! You are a native speaker of your own language! And the less you worry and stress about it, the faster you will achieve what you want! Don't worry and do your best!
Love the language and it will love you back! If you see English as a beautiful and fun part of your life, you will succeed in it! Don't see it as something you have to learn, something obligatory and annoying!
Share your ideas, favorite websites, techniques, and tips in the comments below!
Best of luck and Happy Learning!
P.S. And a few more outstanding resources for you to use and learn from:
https://www.grammarly.com/ - the best online grammar checker.
https://www.englishclub.com/ - here you can find a ton of worksheets and exercises, lessons, chats, forums, lists of phrasal verbs and idioms.