There are over 373 million people who speak English as a mother tongue or who are native English speakers and another 1.08 billion who speak English as a second language. It is the most widely spoken language in the world; followed by Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, and Spanish. Knowing how to communicate in English can improve your ability to do your job and boost your career prospects as well as help when travelling, and being confident when speaking with other people.
So, whether you want to take your first steps in English, improve your current English skills, or even become fluent in English, here are certain suggestions to follow. Some of them are quite formal whereas others are more informal. It really depends on your availability, your schedule, and your needs. Here are some of the best ways to learn English
ENROLL IN AN ENGLISH COURSE
There are a variety of different English courses that you can take.
Language school offer all kinds of English lessons whatever your level and will help you boost your confidence and different language skills. The choices available to you vary between traditional face-to-face lessons and strictly online lessons and between individual and group classes. You can choose to focus on different skills such as conversation skills or working in English. Any training course should include work on vocabulary, grammar and both oral and written comprehension and expressions. This will enable you to be the best English speaker you can be.
Exam training classes also exist, which will lead to taking an exam which confirms your English level, useful for job applications and school entrance boards. IELTS and TOEIC are very popular exams to sit and taking an exam preparation course will ensure you are the best prepared and get the result you want and need. You can search online for school near you.
USE YOUR ENGLISH
Find someone to practice with. In most countries and cities there are “English meet-up” groups that meet several times per month just to talk in English. At the start of the meeting, a topic, chosen by the group leader, is pulled out of a hat and everyone discusses it for 10-15 minutes. Once that topic is exhausted, another learner chooses a second topic and it restarts. Not only do you practice your English this way but you also meet other English speakers of all levels and discuss different current topics with them.
You can also find an exchange partner either online or face to face. There are millions of people who want to speak English or another language fluently. So, check on Skype for example, in foreign bookstores, in international cafés or at the Foreign language departments at universities to see someone wants to set up a language exchange! Some people want to learn Mandarin, some people want to learn Spanish, and so on. No matter your mother tongue language, you can find someone to exchange with, who will help you practice your English in exchange for them practicing the language that they want to learn.
GO TO A BOOKSTORE (ONLINE OR OTHERWISE) OR NEWS WEBSITE
Taking the time to read in English will help you improve your vocabulary. You can choose a book which you’ve already read in your mother tongue, so that you know the story already, read a book that was made into a film that you have watched or find a book that is adapted for your level. Many British publishers publish these types of books, and you can also buy e-books if you prefer to read that way or if you don’t have any English bookstores in your area. Don’t focus on understanding every word however. Get a feel for the story first by reading a few chapters at a time and then go back and check any vocabulary that was difficult. There are also English training books for general English and also for exams so that you can prepare IELTS or TOEIC from home.
Online articles are shorter than books but also relate to very specific topics so the vocabulary can be difficult to understand at first. However, if you choose specific articles and focus on the vocabulary, it can be a useful tool to develop your vocabulary in one specific area and especially prepare you for IELTS. The BBC and The Guardian are free online newspapers with an excellent level of English and a range of subjects.
LISTEN TO ENGLISH ANY WAY YOU CAN
There are a few online learning apps such a Duolingo and Babbel which you can start from the beginning or further along if you aren’t a beginner. They go slowly so that you can really build on your basics. You can find interesting vocabulary and grammar exercises as well as oral comprehension.
If you are slightly more advanced, BBC Learning English is highly recommended. They have a lot of listening like the news of the day or office conversations that come with videos. You can learn vocabulary, grammar and even perfect your pronunciation with the different videos that they have.
Finally, if you are more advanced and you want to expand your English fluency, then you should listen to podcasts. The idea is that you find a podcast that interests you as this will encourage you to listen and especially to continue listening. So, if you like gardening... find a podcast on gardening! If you like swing dancing, then find a podcast on swing dancing! Whatever your interest is, there is a podcast for it!
WATCH VIDEOS IN ENGLISH
There are hundreds of Ted Talks in English. Like podcasts, you can find a Ted Talk on anything that interests you. If you want on focus on business English, you can learn about how to make your business better or how to make a better presentation... or if you want to learn about a new hobby for example, watch a video about how to paint... or how to remodel your house. The important aspect is that you are watching someone and listening to someone who is a native English speaker or has a very high level of English - the more you do that, the more fluent you will be in English!
If your level is high enough and if you dare to be brave... you can watch a series or a TV show in English. As with books, it’s useful to start with something that you already know– that way you do not have to focus on story, because you already know it. You can focus on the English. If you don’t feel confident enough to watch without subtitles, then put them on in English! It can be very complicated to listen to something on one language and to read in another
Hopefully, these tips will be helpful for you to learn how to practice your English, perfect your English and eventually become fluent in English! Don’t forget that you can also check your skills and level along the way by doing internationally recognized tests such as the TOEIC and the IELTS!