Learning a new language is a journey. It takes many years of practice and dedication to achieve fluency, so what can we do daily to help us continually move closer to our goals?
Learning English doesn’t have to be a daily 4-hour study grind. If you only learn one new word every day, in a year you will have learned 365 new words. Think about if you learned 5; in 5 years you’d know 9125 with only 5 new words a day! Learn in steps to keep your learning stress free and fun.
Snowball Your Learning.
The snowball method is one of the most powerful strategies to use while learning English. It’s important to realize that language learning is a lifetime journey. Some days we will be ready to tackle the challenge, and some days we won’t be. That’s okay!
You don’t need to spend hours every day studying English, but it is important to spend time with English every day.
It is generally accepted that a speaker of English needs to know at least 10,000 words to become fluent. If you only learned 1 new word every day, it would take you almost 28 years to become fluent in English, but that’s only ONE new word a day. What about 2, 3, or even 10?
|New Words Per Day||Years Until Fluency|
|1 new word||27.4 years|
|2 new words||13.7 years|
|3 new words||9.1 years|
|4 new words||6.8 years|
|5 new words||5.4 years|
|6 new words||4.6 years|
|7 new words||3.9 years|
|8 new words||3.4 years|
|9 new words||3 years|
|10 new words||2.7 years|
Think about it! If you started today to learn 10 new words every day, 2 years and 8 months from now you would be fluent in English.
And this is only learning individual words. The best way to learn English vocabulary is in context. When you learn vocabulary in this way, you also learn valuable information about how to use English. Additionally, when you learn in context, you are not only learning individual words but also phrases and sentences.
You can see why this is called the snowball method! You can easily leverage your existing knowledge of English to learn more English faster. This leads to a situation where you aren’t only learning new words, but you are learning entire phrases and sentences.
This will really cut down on the amount of time it takes you to reach your language goals. Think back to the chart, as the number of words you begin to learn in a day increases, the time it takes you to reach your goal decreases.
But the question still remains, “How should I do that?”
The closest thing to effortless learning is to make your learning enjoyable. This means engaging with English content you find fun. Language is an enormous subject. It literally encompasses all of reality.
Whatever you find fun, you can find English content about it. Do you like playing the guitar, traveling, owning pets, cooking new food, or scuba diving? There is quality English content about all of those topics, and you can learn English by using them!
I’ve already written an article about learning English with YouTube, but it’s such a useful language learning tool that I’ll talk about it again.
There are millions of hours of free English content on YouTube. On top of that, the YouTube player allows you to add subtitles to the videos and change the audio speed.
This makes the content on YouTube accessible to every learner, no matter their level. Can’t understand what the person is saying? Slow down the audio, or turn on subtitles.
The amount of content on YouTube available for free is stunning. Type anything you like into the search bar and you’ll be presented with quality content produced by passionate folks from around the world.
This makes YouTube unmatched as one of the best resources to learn English with.
Movies are another useful tool for learning English. Learning using movies exposes you to native level English used naturally. You learn about how English is used in natural situations. It’s completely different from stuffy textbook English that nobody actually uses.
One important thing to note, however, is that this strategy only works when you watch the movie entirely in English. That means no subtitles in your mother tongue!
The reason is, when you start including foreign language subtitles during the movie, you are actually practicing reading your native language. You aren’t learning English any more! If you need something to read during the movie, use English subtitles so that the entire time is spent in English.
It may mean that you don’t understand everything that happens in the movie, but that’s okay! As you expose yourself to more situations where you are using only English, you will find that understanding becomes easier. This is a process. Don’t expect to become fluent over night. Remember our snowball method.
The small gains you make over time add up in a big way!
Do you consider yourself a gamer? Well, you’re in luck because not only are the majority of video games produced in English, but there exists an entire community of people willing to speak to you in English when you play with them online!
The kind of English you’ll hear playing video games will be face paced and natural. You will practice your English skills in all types of ways: listening, reading, and even speaking! You can make real friends playing video games online, while having fun.
If playing isn’t your style, you can watch live streams of games hosted on Twitch. You’ll be exposed to the same type of English practice here too.
Of course, no list of study tips would be complete without mentioning reading. There are millions of books written in English. If you enjoy reading, you can enjoy reading in English too. There are books written in English for any type of book you enjoy.
Reading exposes you to a lot of new vocabulary and phrases used naturally.
But books aren’t the only reading material available for you. Over 90% of the content on the internet is written in English. You can learn English by reading this too. You’re doing it right now by reading this blog post!
Tons of fascinating content is produced for free and posted online daily. You can enjoy the process of surfing the web and collecting streams of quality content you find on it.
What about comic books or magazines? The type of reading material available in English seems endless!
Don’t Forget to Write!
When you produce your own English content, you are learning too! Writing things down in English helps shift phrases and vocabulary from your passive memory into your active memory.
What this means is that instead of only recognizing a word or phrase, you’ll be able to use it too!
You are practicing this ability when you write anything. You don’t have to write down complex or important things to practice your English.
Here’s a list of ideas about what you can write:
- A grocery list
- A daily to-do list
- A reminder note to yourself
- A comment on an article or video you enjoyed
- A short story or poem
- A journal about your day
- List all the words you can think of that begin with “r”
The possibilities are endless!
These are only some of the things you can do every day to practice your English. Use these ideas as a starting point for making English a part of your every day life. Remember that it more useful for you to spend 10 minutes studying English every day, than to spend 2 hours studying English once a week.