Improve Your English With These 5 Easy Self-Study Methods

9 minutes reading time (1733 words)

"Learning English by myself? That's impossible!"

"How can I learn to speak advanced English from home?"

"Can I actually study English at this age and become fluent?

If you have had any of the above-mentioned thoughts at least once in your life, you are at the right place now! You are not alone if you have often wondered how to learn English effectively, yet to find a satisfactory answer.

English is a complex language to learn despite the fact that it is widely spoken across the world. Speaking in English holds a huge triumph in the educated society globally, as it happens to be the universal language of today!

You may have umpteen reasons to become a master of advanced English, ranging from simply wanting to communicate better with your English-speaking friends to pursuing a college degree in a western country.

As English is only a second language here in Vietnam, we are generally not expected to improve English skills beyond a basic level. So when there is a need to become proficient in English, finding the right resource can be daunting. Nevertheless, it is possible to not only learn English but also learn it on your own!

Here's what you need now - A list of the top 5 tried-and-tested self-study methods to try out so you can improve your English, in as short a span as 3 months! Pull out a journal to start tracking your daily learning once you're done reading them. 

The Top 5 Tried And Tested Self-Study Methods 

  1. Test the waters by testing yourself online.

It can be quite challenging to identify what your weaknesses are when learning individually. This is where online practice tests come in. You will find a plethora of websites with the specific purpose of helping people study English from scratch.

This method is ideal for you if you want to improve English skills on your own, without a formal classroom setting. Online tests allow you to test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. You can take these tests at your own pace, try out different tests, and most importantly, keep taking them until you get all the answers right!

When you learn English online, the fear of making mistakes or being judged for wrong English is entirely out of the question. Allow yourself to make mistakes so that you can learn from them and observe gradual improvement.

In fact, you can even start out with fun Buzzfeed quizzes before moving to the tougher ones. Try sites such as Duolingo, Babbel, or Cambridge English, depending upon the difficulty level you are ready for.

The highlight of this method is that it is extremely cost-efficient, in that it is free! To learn to speak advanced English, the first step is to allot a few minutes each day to take practice tests online. Onto the second step now!

 2. Took the tests? Now send the texts!

Let's say you have attempted a bunch of online practice tests and you've gotten pretty good at them. What now? You have to put it to use, surely! To carry out this method, you will need company.

If you have friends and family who are willing to aid you in your pursuit of mastering English, awesome! Do they speak fluent English? Even better, do not let them go! Keep talking to them online or offline. If they don't speak fluent English, it is perfectly fine too. You can still practice with them, and perhaps even improve English skills together.

In case you don't have the right vibe and company to speak and study English with, behold the internet! A simple search will lead you to plenty of groups containing other like-minded individuals with the same goals as you on Facebook, Reddit, Discord, etc.

Joining one or more of these online groups will prove immensely useful because you can practice with other people who have the same goals as you. Together, you can lift each other up and stay focused and motivated.

You may even move your language discussions from text to audio and video calls to improve your pronunciation, in the event that you feel comfortable enough doing so. Try to carry out simple conversations and ensure to remain kind and sportive when pointing out errors and having errors pointed out, respectively.

Make it a habit to text/speak to your online/offline friends in English for a few minutes per day, and track your progress. You could begin your talk with something as simple as how the day was, what food you like to eat, and what your hobbies are. 

 3. Today a reader, tomorrow a leader! 

Now that you have established a basic rapport with your friends online, how long can you keep talking about the same Pho you have for breakfast every day?! It is time to upgrade to the third method: Read, read, and then read some more!

Reading offers you the following benefits:

  • Ensure your conversations never get dull
  • Improve your English vocabulary
  • Increase your general knowledge

The biggest hurdle when you want to learn to speak advanced English is training yourself to think in English. It takes time to translate English sentences into Vietnamese in order to understand them. This process of translation will slow you down unless you start thinking in English.

The best way to develop the ability to think in English is by reading out loud to yourself. Hearing yourself sound out the words goes a long way in training your brain to memorise them and understand them quicker, the next time you hear the same words.

By reading different types of content, you can refine your sentence structure, enhance your vocabulary and spelling, and adapt new phrases and idioms into your speech. Start by reading short stories and news captions before delving into lengthier fiction and magazine articles.

Assign at least an hour per day to read in English. You are getting closer and closer to becoming an English pro, don't stop just yet! 

4. Put pen to paper.

So far, you get to work on your reading and speaking skills. The next area of focus: Writing skills. When taking online tests, you have the option of noting down sample sentences and learning to write them on your own. To go one step further, begin writing down your thoughts by breaking them into simple points.

No matter how random or cheesy you think they are, just write them down!

For example:

"Linh works in Nha Trang."

"My family goes fishing on the weekend."

"I enjoy learning English by myself."

Sure, you can type out your thoughts on your laptop. But in order to fully imbibe and register each word that comes from you, you have got to put pen to paper. The best way to do this is to maintain a diary to fill in every night before you sleep. When you regularly practice writing your thoughts, you sharpen your focus on learning new words and developing more coherent thoughts in English.

You can always cross-check your writings using apps such as Grammarly or Hemingway, to spot any possible errors and work on them. Devote at least 30 minutes per day to writing in English. 

5. See English, Hear English, Speak English!

We have covered reading, speaking, and writing in English so far. Now comes the most important skill of all - Listening. You could listen to podcasts and radio programs in English, sure. But the presence of a visual stimulus creates a longer-lasting impression.

How to learn English effectively and have fun at the same time? By watching English movies, TV shows, interviews, commentary channels on YouTube, and TEDx Talks, of course!

Watching English videos in its many forms has a lot of perks:

  • You will increase your vocabulary by learning new words, what they mean and where to use them.
  • You will learn how to pronounce and enunciate these words based on the accents of the speakers.
  • You will get more and more comfortable with using these words as you familiarise yourself with them.

Allot at least an hour per day to this part of the process, ensuring to not just listen to the words spoken, but to also repeat it to yourself.

Remember to also be patient with yourself and trust the process in the long run. You may not notice your progress at first, but with consistency, you will certainly feel the difference. Before you realise it, bam! You will be exhibiting fluent English in your speech confidently! 

What is self-study in English? 

Self-study is the process of learning a new skill on your own, without the presence of a personal, face-to-face tutor/teacher. You won't get the 'classroom experience' of interacting with your peers while you self-study, but you can still discuss with people who have the same goals as you, in the form of online groups or in-person meetings.

To become fluent in a new language, there are 2 phases: The theoretical phase and the practical phase. While the latter requires you to communicate with other people, the former can be done through self-study. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What is English improvement?

It is the satisfying end result of working hard to become better at speaking, reading, and writing in English. 

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