Mastering how to learn English is no longer a skill; it’s become a necessity in today’s world.
Understanding the nuances of the most widely spoken language in the world means that you’ll be part of 1.35 billion speakers — roughly 17% of the world’s population.
Because of this, it’s important for you to have a strong grasp of the language.
Most programmes around the world are taught in English, especially those in the best universities in the world. Others in non-English speaking countries are usually taught partly in the language.
More than that, technology has helped open the world up — now more than ever before. Everything from what you watch on Netflix to how Amazon runs its billion-dollar empire uses the English language.
These are just two examples of why knowing how to learn English is key today. There are countless more reasons.
“Being in front of a laptop has been my comfort zone, so travelling to another country without my family and being in an environment where English is not the first language, as well as trying to understand different cultures, has been an amazing experience for me,” Zainab Bie tells Study International.
Bie is a climate action advocate whose passion has connected her to global communities in the US, Egypt, Tunisia, and many more.
Recently, the University of Delhi student was part of a panel of speakers that spoke during the SB 58 (short for the 58th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation) of the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change in Bonn, Germany.
How many people in the world speak English?
Given that roughly 17% of the world’s population speaks English, it’s not surprising to see that it is recognised as an official language in 67 different countries and 27 non-sovereign states (a country that is under the command of another country).
They include some of the most popular destinations for students to study abroad, such as:
- The US
- The UK
- New Zealand
It shows how far the English language has come since it emerged from the dialects and vocabulary of Germanic peoples — Angles, Saxons, and Jutes — who settled in Britain in the 5th century CE.
How to learn English fast: 10 most effective ways for beginners
1. Set realistic goals
The journey of how to learn English fast starts with taking things slow.
Setting unrealistic goals will only stress you out. You will lose motivation and burn out.
Instead, set smaller milestones. Learn a few new words each week or write a full sentence per day without help. Progress is made by taking small steps.
2. Start with the basics
How to learn English fast? Start with the basics, such as the alphabet and essential grammar rules. This is a great way of building a good foundation.
Your vocabulary will grow over time, but try to pick up common words and phrases that you can use daily.
There is a reason many language classes begin by learning how to greet people and order food — these are basic everyday activities.
If you can master these, then it is a lot easier to explore more complex sentences.
3. Read, read, read
Books let you take your time to understand and get a feel for each word. This is perhaps the most powerful way to master how to learn English fast.
Don’t be ashamed when you reach for young adult novels and simple books; this gives you a chance to absorb some culture and improve your English.
If a book is too intimidating, try articles or blogs for beginners. You can even read the news or social media posts (the latter will help you pick up slangs).
Reading will not only increase how many words you know but also expose you to different writing styles and grammatical structures.
Listening to English audio is a great way to improve your listening comprehension and get used to the different accents of the English language. Check out podcasts and audiobooks.
4. Movies and music
This is possibly the most fun step in your “how to learn English fast” journey.
Movies are enjoyable, and the less you use subtitles, the more likely you are to pick up words and phrases. The more exposed you are to a language, the greater your absorption.
With music you can opt to learn songs in English that you already know in another language, so you better recall its meaning.
Disney songs are a great way to learn English because the language is simple enough and the catchy tunes make it a lot more fun.
5. Write it down
Note down new vocabulary as you learn it is a great way to improve your memory.
Studies show that writing down information, instead of typing or using your phone, is better for your ability to retain information.
This is because writing on physical paper can lead to more brain activity.
Use a notebook to record what you learn and practice creating sentences or paragraphs to improve.
6. Use apps or go to a class
There are many different apps and websites that can help you learn English. They provide exercises and feedback — best for those who want some instruction from the smartphone they hold in their hands.
Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone offer interactive lessons, vocabulary exercises, and pronunciation practice.
If you’re a people person, it may be better to join a formal language class.
Whether it’s an online course, community college class, or language school, a qualified teacher can offer valuable feedback, correct mistakes, and provide a more deeper understanding of the language.
7. Have lots of chats
Practice makes perfect, and conversing regularly with native speakers or fellow learners is invaluable.
Join language exchange groups, find a language partner online, or participate in language exchange events in your community.
Engaging in real-life conversations will boost your confidence and improve your speaking skills.
Joining language meetups or events in your local community or online provides an excellent opportunity to practice English in a social setting.
These gatherings often include language exchange sessions, cultural activities, and discussions, allowing you to interact with native speakers and fellow learners in a supportive environment.
8. Use flashcards
When thinking about how to learn English or any language for that matter, flashcards are a common tool used.
They are a classic yet effective tool for memorising vocabulary.
Create flashcards with English words on one side and their meanings on the other.
Regularly review and test yourself to reinforce your memory and expand your vocabulary.
9. Play some games
Learning a language is a fun activity and keeping the fun aspect goes a long way in your progress.
If you are not enjoying yourself, you are less likely to stick with learning English so find ways to make learning English fun for you.
Learning through play is not only enjoyable but also effective. Add games into your routine to make the process more entertaining.
Apps like WordBee, Scrabble, or language-learning board games can help boost vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills while keeping you motivated.
10. Be patient with yourself
How to learn English? Be patient. Learning any language takes time and effort. Don’t be upset if you don’t see results immediately.
It is a gradual process that requires dedication and patience.
Consistency is key, so establish a daily routine for language practice. Embrace the challenges, learn from your mistakes, and appreciate the progress you make along the way.
Pronunciation may seem elusive, grammar rules perplexing, and acquiring new vocabulary can be overwhelming.
Patience becomes your ally in these moments, allowing you to embrace challenges as part of the learning process rather than as a source of discouragement.