50 Ways To Learn A Language (without a teacher)

Teachers are great. But people have been learning languages for thousands of years without a teacher. It’s not only possible but actually in many ways better and more effective.

Not all of these will work for you. There is no “magic bullet”, no “secret sauce”. Each of us are different. Find and practice the ones that work for you. YOU are special.

Download this list as a PDF and support my work through Patreon.

 

Here are 50 things you can do right now to learn English.

  1. Read newspapers and magazines. Pick up an English newspaper. Read one online – like Metro.

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  1. Listen to podcasts of your favorite topic. Listening is a primary skill that comes before Load up! Listen up!

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  1. Speak to yourself! Yes, stand in front of the mirror and practice. Think about it like you are rehearsing for a play or movie part.

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  1. Single? Get an English girlfriend or boyfriend. You’ll have built in necessity and make great

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  1. Married? Arrange a time each day to only speak English with each other. It will also help your relationship too.

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  1. Listen to music. Head to Youtube and listen to music you love and that shows the lyrics. Search “song name + lyrics”. Try this playlist!

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  1. Watch TV. Set the language to English and also learn how to turn on CC (closed captions) with English. Find a favorite series, show or program and start learning.

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  1. Read comics or manga. Comics have great built in context provided by pictures. This will help you understand and keep you reading. Comics. Manga.

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  1. Keep a vocabulary list. Get a notebook and write down all the new vocabulary you learn whenever and wherever you learn it. Review it constantly.

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  1. With your computer. Turn on your language setting to English. You’ll learn a lot by working in English on your computer. Same with your internet browser – set it to “English”.

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  1. In bed. Before going to bed each evening – review what you’ve learned that day, either through your journal or just mentally. Review is so important. If not in bed – review your learning during the day.

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  1. Go where people only speak English. Either online or face to face. Join English clubs, meet foreigners. Try online discussion groups or webinars. Try these sites.

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  1. Extensive reading. It’s research proven to work! Read books at your English language You shouldn’t meet too many words you don’t understand. Buy or borrow leveled readers. Or try Gif Lingua books online – they’re all free and there are so many interesting ones.

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  1. Watch the news. Every night turn on the English news. You’ll know the topics and story and will pick up lots of language. Many media outlets stream their news on Youtube Live each evening. Like Sky News.

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  1. Translation. Some people learn a lot with translation. Use an online voice translator. Or install a plugin to your browser to translate the webpages you visit or text you want translated. Compare the original with English. Android. iOS.

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  1. Don’t worry, be happy. When learning English you have to get comfortable making Learn to embrace the mistakes you make – you can’t learn incorrect English. Raise your “ambiguity tolerance” and just relax and be happy with what you can do with English.

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  1. Become aware of your mistakes. In order to improve your English, you have to notice the mistakes you are making and then self‐correct. Learn to listen to yourself and the other voice in your head.

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  1. Language exchange. Teach someone your language and in exchange they teach you It’s a great way to learn and also meet new friends. Try it out.

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  1. Funny stories and jokes. It’s a universal thing to tell funny stories and jokes. Read some or listen to some and learn to retell them in English. You’ll also make your friends laugh! Sharing jokes is a great way to learn English. Try these stories.

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  1. Get a dog or cat. I’m not joking! They will always love you and listen to your English. Practice by speaking to them and commanding them only in English. Come. Sit. Don’t.

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  1. Get a job where you use English. If you are an intermediate or advanced level learner – this will force you to use English and improve. It may be stressful at first but after a while, it will get easy!

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  1. Perfect your pronunciation. Other people will need to understand your speech. If you have some problems, try speech recognition and get some feedback on your pronunciation. EnglishCentral is a good option. But remember, accents are sexy. It’s all about being understood.

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  1. Study vocabulary with flashcards that have images. Review them often and try to practice the language in real life, with real communication. Quizlet is the leader here – try these folders of sets only for English language learners.

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  1. Play video games. Many video games are in English or if you play against others, you are speaking English. It’s a great way to learn – but don’t get addicted!

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  1. Parrot. When you are speaking English with another speaker, learn to echo. Repeat what they’ve said and then add your reply. It will help clarify, give you time to respond and help you practice. Example. John: “How’s it going, Jane?” You: “How’s it going? Fine, thanks.”

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  1. Become a foodie. Get cooking with English recipes. You’ll learn lots of English and also always have delicious food in the house! Buy an English recipe book or try the many recipes in English on Youtube.

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  1. Narrow reading or narrow watching. Follow a series. Books, Netflix, TV ….. You’ll get to know the characters, their language and accent etc …. This will help provide context and understanding and help you learn English. Try this cool series – Fortune!

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  1. At the pub. Adults can visit international pubs or get a drink while traveling and practice their speaking skills. After a few drinks, you’ll also feel more comfortable and be speaking like the Irish!

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  1. When you take a trip, book a flight to an English country. You’ll have many opportunities to learn English. At shops, signs, meeting people etc ….. Kill two birds with one stone! Have a holiday and learn some English!

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  1. Video pals. Pen pals are mostly long gone but now you can turn on your video and connect with an English speaking and practice partner. There are many online services that will help connect you. Or try Back Talk, a 24/7 chat partner.

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  1. Children’s books. They have simple English and pictures to help tell the story. A narrative (story line) really helps people learn a language! We told stories for thousands of years and our brain is hard wired for a good story. Plus, many are repetitive to help with your practice.

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  1. Word Knowledge. Learn about the suffixes and prefixes of English. Also root words. Notice how English has many borrowed words from Latin, Greek, French. You’ll often be able to guess the meaning of words or expressions based on your own prior knowledge.

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  1. Study Collocations. Collocations are two or more words that often go together. Learn vocabulary by learning collocations. Learn the words that go together often. Ex. Get. Get a job. Get married. Get over it …. Words is a great video showing collocations.

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  1. Keep a journal or diary. Many learners benefit from writing about their English language learning journey. Write about what you learned, how you feel about your learning, what you did to improve. Review your journal for inspiration from time to time!

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  1. Dictation. This will help your listening skills. Listen and pause after one sentence. Write it Continue. Review after to notice your mistakes in listening, grammar and spelling.

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  1. Use an English – English learner’s dictionary. If you use a dictionary, try to use one that is in English only. The more you are in “English” mode, the better. Oxford’s is famous.

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  1. Test yourself. Take an online test from time to time. Note your score and redo the test at a future time. It will motivate you to see visibly, your improvement!

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  1. Online exercises. There are many online exercises and apps that will test your knowledge and give you instant feedback and correction.

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  1. Post It Notes. At work or home – put notes on everything so you’ll remember their name. It works!

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  1. Be consistent. A little each and every day is better than a lot just once in a while! Set a specific time to learn English each day. Stick to it!

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  1. Record yourself. Take the time to record yourself speaking. Use your phone (they have a recorder!). Listen after and notice how you can improve – your rhythm, your grammar, your vocabulary.

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  1. Sing your heart out! Either in public or privately. Loads of Karaoke on Youtube or download a player and songs for your computer.

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  1. Grammar check. When writing, use a grammar check for spelling, punctuation and Grammarly is a good option for advance learners. Take the time to review your mistakes or errors.

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  1. The radio. Video didn’t kill the radio! Keep English radio on when around the house. It will help you pick up the language.

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  1. Set goals. Goals will keep you motivated. Finish X by Y (time). Pass a test. Order a meal in

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  1. Verbs are the flypaper of language. Learn the verbs of English and other words will stick to them. So when learning vocabulary, concentrate on verbs over nouns. Or when learning nouns and adverbs – link them to a verb or verbs.

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  1. Think in English. Try it, it’s possible! It will help make new neural connections – so activate your inner speech and practice that way.

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  1. Mentally review what you are going to say in a certain situation that is coming up. Maybe you are phoning someone in English. Review what you’ll say – even write it down.

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  1. Start A Blog. Advanced learners can start an English only blog and share themselves with the world. It’s a great way to improve your writing skills.

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  1. Just do it! After learning so much, you will have to “DO” and activate your knowledge. By writing, by speaking, by communicating. Put yourself out there and use your English! You can do it!

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ddeubel

Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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1 Response

  1. Liban says:

    Pour moi ce très important pour anglais

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