Self Study Tips
There are many things you can do to improve your English on your own, and some are totally free. But they do require you to make sure you practise!
- You can subscribe to DailyStep Audio Lessons. These lessons will help you to speak and understand real English, and they will improve your listening skills a lot. My program will definitely work if you follow the instructions properly for each lesson. If you would like a free trial of my lessons, please click here, or to subscribe to regular DailyStep Audio Lessons, please click here.
- A great way to improve your English speaking is to read aloud whenever you can. Even if you make mistakes, reading aloud will help you to speak English more easily. To read aloud, you can use a book or newspaper - in fact, anything with English on it - and speak the words rather than reading them silently.
Even if you don't understand all the words, it will still give your mouth and brain practice in speaking English words, and you'll find that you can form sentences more easily and quickly when you are really speaking English. Reading aloud is also useful because it makes you speak words which you have not chosen yourself.
- You can also try talking to yourself (only when you are alone or you may sound a little crazy!) when you are doing daily things.
This will help you to think in English. For example, you can say 'I am walking down the stairs and going into the kitchen. Now I am making a cup of tea. I like tea because it refreshes me' and so on, while you are actually doing these things. I know this sounds a little unusual, but try it, it works.
- Similarly, you can look out of the window or at the television, and say all the things you see.
For example 'A man in a blue shirt is walking across the road to his car. He is getting in the car now and driving away. '
All these things are simple language, but you will be surprised how much this can improve your brain-to-mouth speed with English. After a while, you'll find that you do not have to translate things in your head, and that when you are having a real conversation, you can express your thoughts much more easily.
And even better, all these techniques are totally free! Try not to worry too much about mistakes when doing this - fluency is the important thing in these exercises. If you want to correct your mistakes, then record yourself while you are speaking and listen again later to hear where you were wrong.
- Please make sure that you keep a little book where you write new English words whenever you learn them. When you have some free time, please review your new words. Set yourself a target each week of how many words you are going to learn, and every few weeks raise the target.
Remember, never learn a word on its own, always learn it in the context and with its correct prepositions etc. For example, don't write 'interested', but instead you should write 'to be interested in something' and 'to find something interesting'. So you are learning the true way to use the word. Then, write a sentence about yourself using this word. For example ' I am interested in learning English' and 'I find learning English interesting.'
I think it's better not to write the translation in to your own language next to the vocabulary, because if it is only in English you will recognise it better and learn it quicker. If you need to write your own language translation, write it in a separate book or on the back of the page ( the other side).
- Make sure you listen to English speaking radio as often as possible. The BBC has an excellent channel called BBC Radio 4, which is all speaking rather than music. BBC Radio 2 has a regular morning chat and phone in programme which covers topical issues. You can hear an example of this show (including an interview with me!) as part of this blog about immigrants to the UK learning English.
- Watch television news programmes whenever you can. News programmes are spoken very clearly, and you generally know what the news reader is talking about because you can see pictures and video. Whenever possible, try to record the programmes so that you can listen and watch them again. You can repeat news programmes on internet apps such as the BBC iPlayer.
- Think about the topics you like talking about in your own language, then find some English materials that will help you to talk about them in English. For example, if you are interested in football or in ballet, look up some websites or buy magazines that cover these topics. Start making your own vocabulary lists around these topics, and learn the words and phrases.
Try talking to yourself about these topics, in response to imaginary questions. Also, of course, try to join groups or classes where you will meet other people who are interested in the same thing.
- Read in English. You can buy graded readers in English (and we have some on our DailyStep Extra Lessons page too), so you can read and understand English stories and books at your own English level. Remember to read them aloud after you have read them silently, and write all the new vocabulary into your vocabulary book or spreadsheet.
Suggested reading for English Learners
Choosing appropriate reading materials can be difficult for learners and teachers. When you are trying to choose text to read in a different language, you may feel overwhelmed. Reading should be interesting and the level should not be too difficult. If you or your students are looking up words from every sentence, the reading level is too high. Here are a number of recommended reading lists that may help you choose some suitable reading for pleasure or study purposes. These include popular English authors and books in many genres, age-appropriate titles, magazines, newspapers and translated classics.
Fiction for Adults
Non-fiction for Adults
Books made into Movies
I hope these ideas are helpful for you. I know that if you try them, your English will improve quickly. All the best with your English study!
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