My name is Daniele and I am the Marketing Manager at TextRanch. There’s one question I hear very often—How did you learn English?—and it’s usually followed by another familiar refrain: How can I improve my English?
I’m not a native English speaker. I’m actually Italian—but I even hear these types of questions from my Italian friends: How do you speak so well? Did you learn it in school?
Well, let me explain how I learned English and let’s see if my experience can be useful for you, too!
First of all, yes, I learned English in school. I was lucky enough to have good classes and brilliant English professors who never spoke to us in Italian. Everything—every single conversation, all of the lessons, every last word—was in English.
But that’s not all.
I’m from the generation in which personal computers first became available for home use. Everything on our PC was in English (I’m speaking about software and video games, in particular) so I had to learn the language—or at least try.
That said, if you’re interested in improving your English proficiency and accelerating the learning process, I recommend the following tips. They worked for me!
Whenever You’re Alone, Think in English
This might sound strange. It may feel foolish. Even so, it’s still the most effective way to learn English more easily.
Every time you’re alone and having a “self-conversation,” do so in English. Whether you’re in the shower thinking about life or in bed trying to fall asleep, force your brain to use English as the default language for your inner dialogue.
Sometimes you won’t know which word you need—that’s normal. When that happens, express the thought using other words. For example, pretend you don’t know the word apple. Simply refer to it as the fruit that’s red, yellow or green, roundish, and led Newton to formulate the law of gravity. Then, go to Google Translate or even better, pick up a dictionary—it’ll do a lot more to improve your memory, trust me—and check the English translation for the word. You’ll remember it!
Listen to Songs in English and Learn the Lyrics
It’s so simple, but so effective.
- Select a few songs that you like in British or American English.
- Find the lyrics on Google.
- Read the lyrics without listening to the music, then try to translate them. Do not cheat! Avoid Google Translate. Use a dictionary instead to translate the song into your own language. Remember: practice is the key to success. If you use something like Google Translate, you’ll have the translation but you won’t learn how to translate.
- Does the translation sound good? At this point, since you’ve already translated it yourself, feel free to use Google Translate to check.
- Now it’s time to listen to the song. Keep the lyrics in front of you and try to follow as the song plays. You can repeat this step multiple times, ideally at least once a day.
- The more you listen to the song, the better you’ll remember the lyrics. Eventually you’ll come to know them by heart. At some point, you’ll realize you don’t need the lyrics in front of you because you have all the words memorized!
This exercise sounds easy (and repetitive) but it’s extremely effective for several reasons:
- Songs are written and produced to be remembered and are typically very repetitive.
- Songs often contain common informal phrases and words you’ll never learn in books.
- If you pick an artist you like, the process will be easier. You’ll likely even enjoy it.
- If you go to concerts, you’ll be the fan who knows all the songs by heart!
On a personal note: I did this with a lot of Beatles songs. I still know all the lyrics to I Want to Hold Your Hand and Help! If you don’t know where to start, try those two songs. If you’re not a big fan of The Beatles—shame on you!—you can pick something from bands and artists such as:
- Green Day
- Justin Timberlake
- Katy Perry
- Your personal favorite(s)
Configure the Language of Your Phone and Social Media to English
This is a simple thing to do, but the thought of it scares most people. The most common objection? I’ll never be able to understand anything!
Not true! You’ll have a new language displayed on a familiar device that you already know how to use. There’s nothing new. The settings page will still be there; the Like, Comment and Share buttons will still be there, too. They’ll just be in English instead of your native language.
Read English Articles on the Internet
Yes, it’s this simple.
Read blog articles, Wikipedia pages and the news exclusively in English. Don’t use Google Translate. Just read and try to understand.
If you hit words you don’t know, look them up in the dictionary. Then keep reading.
- If you’re a sports fan, catch up on your favorite team’s latest news in English on Sky Sports.
- If you’re into curiosities, check out the website BigThink.
- If you just want to read some news, visit the BBC.
Yes, there are many other things you can do. I’ll probably write a follow-up blog post about them.
Don’t forget: PRACTICE is the only way to learn English. Practice includes first reading and listening, then writing and speaking. Once you’re able to handle reading and listening with confidence, you can tackle writing and speaking without fear of making mistakes.
But even if you do make a mistake, don’t worry—it’s part of the learning process.
If you’d like your written English corrected, we’re here to help! If you have other ideas, questions or feedback, just comment below. I’ll be glad to reply to everyone!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
6 Replies to 4 Useful tips to learn English (From my personal experience!)
I can understand English so well but i couldn’t speak very well and at that time i feel so nervous
ican undertand English so well but in couldn’t speak and right well and that time i feel so nervous to send or speak with my collegeos
Thank you for your suggestions here! It’s quiet helpful what I feel.
I have to improve my English. I’m afraid to write in English. But when I’m speaking, I’m completely blocked.
Ciao! Gracie mile!
Thanks for this Blog. very useful
Thanks you VERY much
I love this
How can I improve my understanding of native-English speakers? Part 1
How should I write messages to friends and family during self-isolation?
British government outraged by new EU regulations regarding the use of English
What typical English phrases might I need during these difficult times of Covid-19?