How to Learn English Fast and Effectively by Yourself

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⋯ By Melisa Marzett ⋯

Everyone has language ability. Even people who are linguistically challenged can talk, read, and write. However, there are a lot of lazy potatoes who make excuses to say that they are incapable of learning in order to hide their laziness.

These “incapable” people attempt language courses and go around in self-study circles but only spin their wheels.

If you find yourself in this type of cycle, what can you do to learn more effectively?

The Best Way to Learn English Fast

For a start, decide whether you actually need or want to learn the language. If the answer is yes, go ahead and fight for it. If you have doubts, leave it or stop being in doubt.

It is useless to wait. Just do it.

Now specify a goal. Ask yourself why you need to know the language. Is it just to check off something on your “to do” list, so you can say a foreign word somewhere at a party?

It will not work this way. You need a REAL goal.

How to Learn English Fast: Set Language Goals
Set clear goals before you start studying. | Source: Pexels

Here are some great reasons to learn a second language:

  • Trips and guided tours
  • Studying at a prestigious foreign university
  • Friendship, love, raising a family with a foreigner
  • Watching movies, news, or sports on TV
  • Overseas employment
  • Transnational employment or an international business of your own
  • National employment requiring knowledge of a foreign language

Now ask yourself, what is your primary purpose for learning English?

Once you know and have defined your purpose clearly, you can begin the learning process.

Get Organized and Prepare for Hard Work

Be sure-footed and learn the language. Also, try to enjoy the process. It is not about learning foreign languages only but any job or studying experience becomes more effective if it is done with pleasure.

Modern study technologies are great. It is needless to say that audio and video records, online lessons, and seminars are very useful for learning a language. Do not give much credibility to someone who promises that you can learn English after a month, or even for 2 weeks. If you are given such a promise, then it is most likely an attempt to sell you something.

Yes, there are plenty of programs, which are able to help you with learning, but often they only help you with the studying process and not actual language acquisition. Miracles happen in fairy-tales.

Just think about it. It takes 7 to 10 years for a child who hears native speech constantly and whose brain absorbs everything like a sponge to obtain the language.

Are you scared? Do not be.

Grownups can learn faster than children and do it consciously and in an organized manner. At such a learning pace, one may obtain the language for a year to the level close to a native speaker. Keep in mind though, that you will have to work hard.

Set Specific Vocabulary Goals

Let us get to work then.

If you start from nothing, start with learning the alphabet and pronunciation. Those are the basics. There is a conventional image that the alphabet is for beginners and I was sick and tired of it back in school times. It is a mistake to think so. It will be a problem to dictate your name in English, to read abbreviations, and impossible to use a dictionary without knowing the alphabet.

Before you begin studying a foreign language, make a plan with clear achievable goals. An example might be as follows:  I will learn 2000 new words for 3 months. This is 20-25 words a day only. Stick to the plan. The above is also true of any other work: fall behind and you will most likely never do it.

Everyone has a native speech level of one’s own so do not think that a foreign one will be much different. Read, analyze, and find new words in books and on the Internet. Translate your native vocabulary into English. Manuals and tutors fill your head with words, which you may never even use.

This is why it is important not to rely on instructors entirely. Find words on your own and those you are going to need.

Use Context, Language Blocks, and Memory Devices

Now it is about time to open up a simple but essential learning method for you.

It is useless to learn separate words. A word that is out of context does not contain any information. Our memory used context and background information as a way of remembering only what is interesting for us.

Besides, words are easier to memorize when they are in blocks or chunks. A sentence may be a large block or even two words. Combinations of a noun + adjective or a noun + verb are very good.

In addition, it will be helpful if the word blocks are unpredictable, mind-blowing, and funny. For example, “Ding Dong Dell, Pussy’s in the well. If you don’t believe me, go have a smell.” Which means: a kitty fell into the well and if you don`t believe it, go smell it.

It does not sound very romantic but applying these types of techniques and memory devices make things much easier to remember.

Practice and Learn English Every Day
Writing by hand facilitates language acquisition. | Source: Pexels

Use a Notebook and Track Your Progress

In order to go over old ground fast, check your knowledge and also take into account the number of words that you have already learned. Keep an exercise book, which is also going to keep track of your vocabulary. Mark the number of words and keep track of your progress. If you liked something, write it down.

It is very important to do actual handwriting while learning a foreign language due to the motor memory involved.

Covering English words with your left hand or a sheet of paper, read your native words and restore their meanings in your memory, then vice versa.

Many advise to use flashcards where a sentence in English is written on one side with its translation on the other side. Flashcards can be used as a temporary teaching guide. Though, they tend to change and get lost. Plus, they are difficult to systematize, which is why an exercise book can be more reliable.

Write a transcription but do not do that everywhere. Save your time. Write where you might have doubts, such as highlighting difficult word pronunciation that you would like to double-check.

Words are not enough on their own. Even though words make sentences, it is important to know how to use them in sentences. Besides, the words are easier to memorize within a context.

Review Grammar and Use Positive Reinforcement

Read grammar rules and reward yourself. Everyone knows about the importance of grammar in any language. Indeed, it is hard to force yourself to read grammar rules and study for long periods, but it is easy to come up with a little reward for your effort. But do not appraise yourself with a candy or a cup of coffee until you re-read three pages aloud and reviewed your notes.

The Pavlovian method of positive reinforcement response works.

Think and Talk in English

Most people don’t think in their second language. However, it will speed up the learning process significantly if you think in English.

How? Begin with often-repeated thoughts occurring your head. For example, that you feel hungry or thirsty. Choose your phrases. Just pay attention to your thoughts during a day and write them down. Translate them with vocabulary or find translations online, then write them down in your exercise book to remember. Repeat them aloud a few times. Next time, make yourself think about it in English.

Develop the skill. Gradually it will become a habit and it will be no difficulty for you to think of routines in English. Take any chance to speak out your thoughts. It would be perfect to find a partner who could learn with you. In this situation, you will have someone to listen to and to answer your questions.

If you could switch confidently to English automatically, the result is going to feel amazing. At first, it seems to be extremely hard but as soon as you begin to enjoy it, it will be impossible to stop you!

Watch Movies, News, and YouTube in English

It would be a good idea to watch movies in English but put your exercise book next to you while watching with a pen and a dictionary (paper or electronic). Press pause, dig in the dictionary and write down everything you want to learn better. Spare no paper.

It is important to get used to the sounds of the language. Use subtitles and try to catch the sounds looking at the lips of the one who speaks. This way, you learn to understand English and see how the native speakers pronounce the words. Watch news on BBC, CNN, and NBC. Even videos on YouTube will be helpful.

Listen to Music and Authentic Audio in English

Also, it is useful to use MP3s or other audio files to learn English.

First of all, find interesting and simple topics. Secondly, if you take an audiobook to listen to or some content in English, find its printed version and read it first. Thirdly, it is better to have both the English variant and your native language version while reading. Try to read along with listening.

In some situations, your attention could get distracted with visual and audio interference. In this case, it is better to focus on one primary skill only. It is the same thing with films with subtitles. Subtitles can often distract from watching and listening.

Fourthly, find lyrics of your favorite songs. Listen to music so it becomes useful and interesting at the same time. In order to find the lyrics of a song, type lyrics in any search engine and the name of the song that you are looking for and enjoy!

Last but not least, if you really want to learn something, be patient.

Learn English by Listening to Audio
Listening to music or audio in English improves comprehension. | Source: Pixabay

Make Time to Study

The time has come to talk about laziness, which follows us wherever we go.

Stay away from it no matter how tired you are and how… lazy. Yes, we all work and get tired but after coming home, we can still find some time (at least half an hour) to learn a language. The early hours of the day are more effective, as specialists say, but we all are different.

And, as articulated earlier, do not forget about your mood. Enjoy the process and rejoice in the results. It will make it to where everything is going to be easier and more fun.

Here is one more important tip. If you want to learn English fast, and are ready to sacrifice other matters, make it your priority and talk with native English speakers. Carve out time and be stretched to the limit. Do not forget to take a break. You can search for native speakers, talk with them in person or online via Skype.

That is how you will get to see noticeable improvements in 3 to 4 weeks.

Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, the perfect age for learning a language is at 1 month or even earlier. Children listen to the native language before they are born. Learning languages, just like everything else, becomes harder with age but it is possible to learn a language at any time.

It always seems impossible until it’s done. However, as we already know, grown-ups have another important advantage – they know or at least should be aware of what they need the language for. Knowing this, we can learn it more meaningfully and purposefully.

There is one more surprising fact which should be mentioned to help motivate you to learn a second language. According to statistics, people who speak one or more foreign languages live longer and suffer less from neurological diseases in old age. The brain, just like other parts of human body, requires constant training for normal functioning.

About Melisa Marzett

Melisa, who writes for, lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She speaks two languages apart from English, which are Ukrainian and Russian due to her Ukrainian roots. She is also planning to learn Korean. She hopes to write a book, which would become a bestseller one day. Until then, she enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, communicating with other people, exchanging experiences, and dreaming!

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Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.

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