English belongs to the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. More than 1.3 billion people speak it as a native language and a second language.
English is the 2nd most spoken language in the world. Speakers of English as a second language outnumber native English speakers by more than two to one.
The English language surely dominated the world in terms of communication. Now English is the language of diplomacy, international communications, business, higher education, science, ICT and the Web.
English is a global language or lingua franca. The English language’s growing appeal as the thriving second language develop people’s interest in it.
However, the triumph of the English language also made potential novices who want to learn it as a second language shrink in fear. The English language’s official or special status in more than 75 countries made it a must-learn language.
The number of people fearful of the English language is not meagre. Correct instructions, lack of resources, poor materials, and fear of rejection make the language a struggle to learn.
Learning a new language can be difficult and requires patience, commitment, hard work and willingness to make mistakes. English is no different. Following well-rounded instructions, directions, having robust and proper approaches can make it easier to learn the language.
In this article, I curated and listed 100 most useful ways you can follow to improve your English and become good at speaking and writing in English. To make this easier to read and understand, I segmented the article with focal points that you can factor into when learning.
Motivation For Learning English
- Before you begin your English learning journey, ask yourself: “Why do I want to learn English?” “What purpose does it serve?” Learning English must be something you should aspire to do.
- Knowing the purpose of studying English will help you set your goals. You may want to learn everyday phrases used in the English language, or English will help you fulfill your education. Whatever your goals are, set them straight.
- Make an agenda dealing with the period you will need to complete your goals. Allot 30 minutes or an hour to study English. You may begin slowly, but be consistent.
- Keep asking questions until you’re satisfied with your learning efforts. Don’t ignore the voice in your head.
- Prepare yourself mentally for future efforts that you will keep trying no matter what.
- Make a commitment to study English. Studying English requires a lot of eagerness. Sign a learning contract to be aware of the commitment.
- Don’t let mistakes pull you down. Everyone makes mistakes. Be confident. Have a positive attitude. You will progress through mistakes.
- Challenge yourself to read, study, listen to and even say things in English.
- Measure your progress and evaluate gradually. Make necessary amends to reduce your shortcomings.
- When you finish learning a certain chapter fully or earning a skill, congratulate yourself. Having an admirer will inspire you to improve more.
- Try to fix a figure who you will follow when speaking. The figure can be an actor, a news presenter, or a powerful person.
- Recognize your flaws and be prepared to remedy them.
- Surround yourself in English-speaking environment.
- Try to speak English phrases for everyday use.
- Speak as much English as you can in whatever the situation could be.
- Find an English-speaking friend. Practise speaking with him/her. Practising and learning it from a native will improve your communication skills.
- Join clubs that offer English-speaking environment and English-writing materials.
- Insert yourself in activities that require speaking or writing English like tutoring for English.
- Find a job that requires English. Don’t get down on you if you are still not a pro. Using English on the job will surely increase your communication skills.
- Invite a friend who speaks English over to your home. Ask things in English. Also, build new friendships with people who know English.
- Participate in celebrating holidays that are common in English-speaking countries.
- Talk to a friend over the phone in English. Perform as many everyday tasks as you can in English.
- When shopping for groceries or asking for instructions, use English. Even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know English. Visualize how you could have handled the dialogue in English.
- Organize a meeting with friends every week to speak English.
Communication Factors To Become Good in English
- Speak a little English regularly. Try to make it a daily routine. The best way to learn a language is to speak it.
- Speak English with your friend or yourself. Speaking is the best method for improving.
- Record yourself speaking English. It may sound awkward to listen to yourself at first. But, you will get used to it.
- Listen to a fluent English speaker and record yourself imitating him/her. This way you can compare the differences and improve your speaking skills.
- Read aloud. It’s not the same as speaking naturally. But, reading aloud is effective for exercising vocal muscles and learning common phrases.
- Keep an English diary or journal. Start off writing a few sentences every day, then develop the habit of writing more.
- Watching TV offers a chance to hear something English correctly. If you’re a student, then listening to TV news can help form sentences apt for formal situations.
- Watch short video clips, then pause. Work out what you hear mentally and repeat them. YouTube can be a great source for listening and learning while enjoying quality clips.
- Listen to videos while resting your focus on sounds and words. Opt for short clips, with lengthy clips, you may lose attention.
- Listen to an English channel on radio.
- Read children’s books. They have easily digestible vocabulary stock.
- Read newspapers and magazines daily. You can increase your vocabulary stock and stay updated too.
- Listen to music and discern the lyrics.
- Subscribe to YouTube channels that offer something good for you to listen to.
- Sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Friends will introduce you to new words. Watch them.
- Whatever you hear, repeat. You can get the tone of saying expressions and develop your accent.
- Write postcards, keep them short and deliver it in English to a friend or close relative.
- Exchange letters with a pen friend. This will hone your informal language skill.
- Write query letters. Writing letters asking the city government, or a store, travel agency to provide information will sharpen your formal language.
- Write complaint letters to the services you have a bad experience with. It will sharpen your formal language skills too.
- Fill out job applications and job-related theses. You will be aware of job-concerning English.
- Send e-cards to your friends and your loved ones. These e-cards can be free, and sent for any occasion. E-cards will help you learn slogans, expressions, holidays and customs from them.
- Take an interest in studying ads. You can see ads on a billboard or in a flyer or while surfing the Net.
- Write text messages to your friends and family members in English. Also, be aware of some acronyms that are used regularly — like LOL, FYI, ASAP, etc.
- If you own an Apple device, install Siri. Use Siri to listen to weather, and particular time of the day. Listen to how Siri how responds to queries and delivers responses.
- Participate in English classes and be an active and vibrant member.
- Study various accents of the English language. How do they pronounce a certain word? What certain idioms do they use?
- Listen to native English speakers and repeat what they say.
- Hold conversation with yourself and make-up dialogue. Make-up a particular situation and pretend how you will hold and respond.
- Identify things around your house or in your home in English. Look around your room and form sentences with whatever you spot.
- When travelling, try reading signs and labels in English. Be mindful of the English language around you.
- Start a vocabulary notebook. Write new words you learnt and include the words you need to know. Review the notebook regularly.
- Categorize words you learnt in alphabetical order. Categorize any words you study in A-Z order.
- Brainstorm how you’re going to hold a conversation in English and rehearse this repeatedly.
- Watch DVDs and movies. The practise is better than watching TV, since you can go through DVDs again and catch information you missed at first.
Pronunciation Issues on English Speaking & Writing
- English uses word stress, unlike Japanese or French. Count the syllables for every word learnt and find where the stress is.
- Learn vowel and consonant sounds in English. Study the Phonemic chart.
- Study weak and strong forms of common words.
- Get used to the ‘schwa’ sound. Schwa is the most common sound in English.
- English speaking is different from its writing form. For example: live, ough, bow. They are called heteronyms and have multiple pronunciations.
- When talking, native English speakers tend to link words together, so the words sound like one. Study how consonant > vowel and vowel > vowel words are linked.
- Pronunciation of certain words varies depending on the region the words are spoken in. So, study accents and observe how greatly they vary.
- Some may find it difficult to pronounce sounds like “r”, “th”, as they don’t exist in their native language. Study the differences.
- Practise tongue-twisters. For example: pink lorry, yellow lorry, a proffer copper coffee pot.
- Study minimal pairs. These pairs vary only by a single sound. For example: sit, seat, wet, wait.
Learning English as a Whole
- Identify your learning method. You may learn by memorizing, speaking, reading, or other methods.
- Read something every day. Children’s books, newspapers, magazines, Websites, novels, etc.
- Install a thesaurus app on your phone. Try Merriam-Webster Thesaurus
- Check out bilingual dictionaries to learn English meanings.
- Learn relevant sentence examples along with new words. You will find words easier to remember if you follow that technique.
- Learn root words. Root words are those to which affixes (prefixes and suffixes) are added.
- Keep a study partner. A study partner will help you reach your goals. Both of you can focus on achieving a target.
- When you learn a new word, study its all other forms — noun, adjective, adverb.
- Browse through your local library that offers books for boosting your English skills.
- Practise translating a native text to English regularly.
- Learn fixed and semi-fixed phrases. They are: to be honest, in a moment, in fact, my friends and I, etc.
- Study collocations. A collocation is a group of words that work together. For example: fast food, not quick food.
- Learn to replace regular verbs with phrasal verbs. For example: call off – cancel, put off – postpone.
- Learn short automatic responses. They are: OK, no problem, right, fine, just a sec, etc.
- Read articles that interest you. Find English articles on various topics on the Web.
- Whatever recipes, foods, vegetables you like, learn their corresponding English words.
- List words that rhyme. For instance: fall, call, mall, tall, etc.
- Practise telling stories in English. You can tell stories to younger ones and practise narrating in English.
- Don’t try to speak English quickly. It doesn’t make you a better English speaker. Learn to pause for effect.
- Read your favorite English newspaper or magazine regularly.
- Learn how to add prefixes and suffixes. Form sentences with multiple forms of a word.
- Learn how a word morphed into its current state. Studying its etymology will help you remember it easily.
- Participate in TOEFL, TOEIC, and other tests. You can always find sample tests online.
- Identify aspirated and non-aspirated words.
- Practise spelling names, numbers and dates regularly.
- Learn about ellipsis, linking sounds and assimilation.
- Try to speak lower not higher. Speaking lower shows your authority and command.
- Build up the habit of using contractions more. Contractions make your speech more efficient, save time and energy.
- Practise solving cross-words. Start off with children’s puzzles.
- When the time calls for it, add idioms and slang to your sentences.
- Stock up on synonyms and antonyms. Refine your communication skills with varied words that offer similar and opposite meanings.
Bottom Line – English as a second language may prove difficult to master for many. Lack of proper guidelines and pointers further hinder a learner’s growth. Therefore, consider following the tips and techniques listed above for achieving top-notch speaking and writing skills. Just spend 15 minutes following the tips each day for the next 2 weeks, you will surely notice improvement.