- Have a positive attitude – Don’t get down on yourself. Learning a new language is not easy but in time you will have more successes.
- Make a commitment – Remember, the hard part is to begin.
- Be curious – Keep asking questions.
- Apply effort – Just keep trying.
- Organize an agenda – Listing what and when to study each day helps.
- Work toward a goals – What are your goals of learning English? Break this down into tangible steps.
- Evaluate periodically – Stop and check to see your progress. Make any necessary adjustments.
- Give rewards – After a certain time or a skill has been learned, praise and treat yourself.
- Keep trying – Trying is more than half the battle. Keep going.
- Invent an English day – Be creative! Once a week use only English all day.
- Talk daily – Speak as much English as you can in any situation.
- Get English speaking friend – What better way than to learn from a native!
- Join clubs – Follow your interests and you will learn English, too.
- Volunteer – By giving of yourself language learning will come naturally.
- Participate in community activities – You’ll understand more about where you live and the people who live there.
- Find a job – Using English on the job will definitely give you practice.
- Invite people over – Encourage new friendships and time to get to know them using English.
- Celebrate holidays – Research holidays in English-speaking countries. Study the history and culture. Celebrate with foods and customs.
- Call on the phone – Do as many routine tasks in English as you can. Talk to your friends, too.
- Start a conversation club – Meet at a restaurant or at a coffee shop and speak English one night a week with your friends.
- Practice – Practice! Practice! Practice! It is a sure way to improve.
- Listen to books on tape – Check these out at your local library or bookstore and follow along.
- Read newspapers and magazines – Usually written on a 4th grade reading level, you can polish vocabulary and stay up on current events at the same time.
- Enjoy music – Follow along with the lyrics. Learn the rhyme and rhythm.
- Play the radio – Find a station that offers something good for you to listen to. If words are unknown to you, ask someone or look them up.
- View television – A favorite sitcom or new show will introduce you to more words.
- Watch videos – Again, vocabulary and grammar and themes become more alive.
- Repeat after hearing – You can get the tone and accent of how to say expressions.
- Write to a pen pal – Not only will you gain a friend, you sharpen informal language.
- Ask questions – No matter where you are, don’t be afraid to seek out others for help.
- Write postcards – Send off a short paragraph in English to a good friend or close relative.
- Write letters for information – You will sharpen your formal language by inquiring to the city government, a product at a store, travel plans to an English-speaking country, etc.
- Fill out a job application – Pick up a bunch of applications in person or online and fill them out. You will learn about concise language and job-related English. Who knows, you might even get a real job out of it!
- Send e-cards – Many of these are free and can be sent for any occasion. You will learn slogans and expressions, holidays and customs, and give someone you know a boost!
- Keep a journal –Write. Maybe about what you did or what you are wondering about. Maybe creative writing like a poem, song or story.
- Study ads – In a flyer, on a billboard, from a commercial…see if you understand what is being said.
- Text in English – Learn some common text language or shorten some English for some short practice. LOL, FYI, ASAP…
- Send emails – Again, a short quick way to put some English words down.
- Call free animated answer machines – Do you want to know the weather today? How about the time? How about your cell phone charges or your current bank account balance? Just listen and learn. You can listen to the message a few times until it’s clear.
- Talk to yourself – Think of how you are going to say something in English and rehearse this over and over.
- Participate in class – If you are taking coursework in English, be an active member.
- Listen to native English speakers – How do they pronounce a certain sound or word? How do they use a specific idiom?
- Name things around your house in English – From time to time, look around the rooms in your house and whatever you spot, say the word in English. Make a list of the words you don’t know and study these.
- Make-up conversation and dialogue – Pretend you are in a situation with another person and go back and forth in discussion.
- Read signs and labels – No matter where you are in transit, be observant of the English language around you.
- Start a vocabulary notebook – List words you know in various categories or list words you don’t know.
- Write words in A-Z order –Make time to write a list of words in alphabetical order. They can be any words or you can categorize them. Can you think of first names in English? Can you think of animals? How about foods?
- Go to the movies – Read a review and enjoy some popcorn while listening to English or reading the subtitles in English of a film you have chosen to see.
- Check out bilingual books – This is a quick way to gain some new vocabulary as the words you might not know are right on the page in your native language.
- Have a study partner – To help with motivation and keep both of you on target plus adding a little fun…another person might do the trick.
- Go to the library – Check out interesting magazines or a new book. Attend a film discussion or concert. The library has lots to offer to boost your English skills.
- Teach or tutor – Share your native language and culture with a local school or senior citizen center. Tutor in that language or try to use English and share what you know with others.
- Translate writing – Take a native text and translate in English.
- Read high interest topics – So what are you interested in? Find some English resources and R-E-A-D!
- Study menus – Whatever foods you like to eat, try to say the words in English. If you are at an English-speaking restaurant, order in English.
- Research a subject – Find out more about something. Maybe it is the school system or local government. Maybe it is about memory or a health topic.
- List words that rhyme – Write down a few words in English and see how many others you can think of that rhyme. Or check out a rhyming dictionary (digital or print) and read list of words that rhyme. Use these in speaking or writing.
- Subscribe to English materials – Order a favorite magazine or paper in English.
- Use assistive technology – Check out the latest software or devices that may help with English. Splurge on one item that will really impact your learning.
- Study prefixes and suffixes – A dictionary will have a list of these to study. Read to understand how the beginnings and endings of words are changed by a few letters.
- Learn etymology of words – Look up how a certain word came to be. Read about the history and how the word has changed through time. This might help in remembering the meaning or proper usage of the word.
- Practice TOEFL, TOEIC and other tests – You can check out books at the local library or at the bookstore. You can find sample tests online. Or you can register for the real deal.
- Travel – Plan a trip to a place that uses English and then mingle with the natives.
- Carry notecards – Write down vocabulary, expressions or sentences to study on index cards and have these with you to review whenever you have a few minutes free. Review these words throughout the day and add to your set of cards.
- Post notes – Write down important words you want to learn and post them around your house. The more you see them, the more you will remember and learn.
- Imagine – Can you picture yourself using English in different situations? Can you picture yourself saying the words?
- Role play – Set up real-life simulations by yourself or with others and practice what to say. Maybe it is at the checkout line at the grocery store, a company for a job interview or greeting someone for the first time.
- Assess different aspects of language – Register for some language assessments and then target areas you need help with. Vocabulary? Grammar? Speaking? Listening? Writing?
- Take a class – You can take a class at the community college in many different areas of interest. You will learn English content and meet some new friends.
- Join a sport – What are you good at? What have you always wanted to do? Join a local gym or get involved in a recreational sport. You will have fun, get good exercise and learn some English along the way.
- Do cross-words – You can pick up some inexpensive puzzle booklets at the bargain store. Maybe start with children’s puzzles or an easy level first.
- Play word games like Pick-Two, Scrabble and Boggle – Find a learning shop and explore the language games. Pick-Two is like an individual scrabble version where you build your own words. Scrabble and a scrabble dictionary will increase your command of words. Boggle is a fast action game of wooden cubes that flip to make words.
- Play board games and cards – Try out any English-speaking game and you’ll pick up lots of words and phrases. Read the directions for more words. Monopoly, Sorry, Life, even Poker…there are hundreds to choose from.
- Look up unknown words – Okay. Okay. I know that this can be a drag. But, you can look up a word or two every so often and this will help.
- Add a word a day – Start with the letter “A” and write one word down. The next day go to the letter “B” and continue throughout the month. Review your words from time to time and you will see how your vocabulary has grown.
- Add idioms and slang – If you hear something, try to figure out the meaning or ask. Study idioms and slang and when the time is right, use one!
- Read children’s books – What better way to build understanding then to start with books that kids learn from.
- Cut up pictures – Find old magazines or books and cut away. Paste the pictures to notecards and write a word or phrase below each picture to study.
- Join a book club – Even if you don’t finish the book, you will learn from others discussing the author and something about the characters or storyline.
- Look up synonyms and antonyms in a thesaurus – When you stumble on that word or if you want to use another word for some common word you always say, then check out a thesaurus for some additional words to use.
- Study multi-meaning words – So you hear a word you thought you knew but it is said in a different context like the word “bowl”. You can go bowling which is the sport or you can watch the Super Bowl or Rose Bowl. You can go on a quiz bowl and compete to earn prizes.
- Keep a chart of what you have learned – By keeping track of what you have learned, you will be motivated to see your progress and this will help you keep moving towards your goal(s).
- Attend lectures – Find something that interests you and go and listen.
- Prepare a talk – Do you have to give a speech on something at work or school? Do you need to tell someone something? Spend some time working on this ahead of time with word choice and practice delivering it. Then you will be ready.
- Memorize – It can be as small as a new word or phrase, maybe a sentence or two, or even longer. Eventually what you commit to memory will become effortless and natural for you to use when you want.
- Audit classes – So you always wanted to learn how to arrange flowers or to do yoga? Now is your chance. Usually the fee is reduced for auditing a class or you can find inexpensive classes at a community or rec center. Not only will you learn English, but you will be able to impress your dinner company with that flower arrangement or get a little healthier.
- Buy an English-written calendar – Lots of language learning in an easy way. There might be daily messages or quotes to read or holidays to learn about. You can think in English about the days of the week, the seasons and months of the year. Convince yourself to write on your calendar in English.
- Try out some recipes – What do you like to eat? Find a recipe written in English complete with measurements and ingredients. Make it and share.
- Read catalogues – It does not have to be a holiday but you can look at items you might order for a friend, a family member or yourself. Read the descriptions of the items and make a wish list. Order something when the time is right.
- Order online – Search for items you might want to purchase.
- Apply an expression from your native language to English. It might not be said the same way, but you can translate the individual words anyway. Compare them. How similar are they?
- Improve study skills – What skills work for you in your native language? Do you outline or use a guide of some sort? Do you use mnemonic devices or review in some way? Try to apply these to your English study to maintain the pace of learning or to give yourself that needed boost.
- Learn commonly misspelled words – There are lists of words that are commonly misspelled in the English language. Search for these online or buy a book of words. Use the correct word when you can. Is this good advise or advice? Should you adopt or adapt this idea?
- Practice tongue twisters – So you heard, read or found a tongue twister. Try to say the sentence or phrase. Use alliteration in your spoken or written language when appropriate. (Leonard and Lila Lou learned a language with LOE- lots of effort!)
- Understand the sounds your native language does not have – So what letters or sounds in English are not in your native tongue? Practice these by listening to native speakers and listen to the sound(s) until it is made correctly.
- Record your voice – Tape your voice in natural conversation, reading or in a prepared speech. Improve on targeted areas.
- Learn business English – Write a list of situations that you expect to encounter and then study words that can be best used in these situations. Prepare for business meetings before the actual meeting.
- Use English-English dictionary – If you need to look up a word, look it up in an English dictionary and read the pronunciation and definition in English. If you don’t have a good English dictionary, buy one.
- Learn the words to the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance – Most sporting events or community meetings begin with an anthem or pledge said in unison. Practice the words in English so you can join in.
- Take an online English course through TalktoCanada.com – Check out this website and find things to help you with English. Read the online English blog for tips on learning English. Register to take a class.
*These are just a few words in English (out of over 450 words) that use the suffix “tion” to mean “state or quality”.
I invite you to tell me what other tips have helped you with studying English or which tips from this list have helped you the most. How is your progress towards English perfection coming? Write to me and share any questions or insights.
Just remember, there is always something more to learn about a language. Now it is my turn to look up some words “adumbration, monition, ratiocination, venation, bifurcation, ostentation…” You get the idea. There is always something for everyone to learn on the way to English perfection!