10 things successful language learners do…

What do successful language learners do?

How on earth do they do it? You go to the same classes, use the same books, have the same teachers, and yet they seem to barely struggle to pick up new English vocabulary!

If a similar thought has ever crossed your mind, rest assured that you are not alone. Many before you and many after you have and will do exactly the same!

So how do they do it? Well, it’s likely they’re doing at least something different. Although they may spend exactly the same amount of time as you sat in an English classroom, most language acquisition actually occurs outside of lesson time. Often, all it takes are a few small changes to your life outside of the classroom that can make all the difference.

With that in mind, here are 10 things that successful language learners do. Give them a go, and see how you get on!

I like listening to English music. Sometimes the words are hard to understand, so I Google the lyrics and try to sing along to the song.

For me, films are a great way to learn English. I turn on the subtitles because the actors speak so fast. YouTube videos are good, too. I don’t understand everything, but my vocabulary is getting better.

Whenever we learn a new word or phrase in class, I try to use it in conversation outside of class. Sometimes I just text a friend, or sometimes I say it to myself. Recently, I’ve started recording myself talking in English about different topics. At first I sounded terrible, but now I think I sound OK.

It’s so hard to practise English outside of class because I don’t live in an English-speaking country and I don’t have a lot of time to study. I have a one-hour commute on the train every week day, so I try to use this as my study time. I listen to the British Council Learn English podcasts mostly. I also use the Oxford English Vocabulary Trainer app.

I know it sounds crazy, but I try to think in English. When I first started learning, I think I translated everything into my language. It made me really slow. So, I started thinking to myself in English – simple things at first like: “That’s a car. It’s a red car. There’s a tall tree.” and things like that – things I saw. Now that my English is better, my thoughts are more advanced. Sometimes I even imagine whole conversations in English.

I review my vocabulary words for 10 minutes every day. I make a flash card for each word – on one side I write the word and on the other side I write the definition or a synonym. I read the definition and try to remember the word. If I can’t remember the pronunciation, I look it up on an online dictionary. I can play the audio and practice repeating it.

I love drama! My friends call me a ‘drama queen’. So, when we do a dialogue in class, I try to sound English – like Emma Watson or Emily Blunt. If I pretend I’m one of them, my pronunciation is better.

I write to my pen pal. I found him on PenPal World. English is a second language for both of us, so we make mistakes, but we help each other.

I love reading, but my English isn’t very good. My teacher said I should try graded readers. I tested my reading level with the How Good is your English app, and I got some graded readers at my level. I’m so happy that I can read famous English books in English!

My best friend and I study together a couple of times a week. We test each other on words and grammar. Studying with a friend is much more fun!

Have we missed any? If you do something unique to help you learn English, let us know in the comments. You never know, we may add it to the list!

Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and learners top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help people around the world to learn English.

6 thoughts

  1. Excusme sir /mam i am very excited to learn and speak english so i request u to corprate me

  2. My recommendation is to use an English to English dictionary like Oxford Learners Dictionary or some other learners dictionary. Beside that try to learn more phrases. And newer stop learning because it’s never enough.

  3. From my observations the main problem is many people deem languages as if they are lesson subjects. We should show the people they are not just lessons. Languages are one of the most important part of our cultures. And best way to learn a culture living in it or at least observing it. Learning English provided me tremendous amount of benefits. My world and mindset simply have changed. Even it drove me to learn different languages after I had Experienced and Enjoyed learning English. Now I also learn Mandarin and Russian and trying to reach better proficiency in English.

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