This article is primarily aimed at non-native speakers and ESL speakers who might find these ways to improve your English useful. Of course, that doesn’t preclude native English speakers finding some ideas here for how to increase vocabulary or improve reading/writing skills, but you might find some of the tips a little basic for your needs. I’ve taken these tips from various sources including ESL sites and language schools, so I have faith that you’ll reap benefits from these ways to improve your English.
1. Watch English-language Television and Films
One of the best ways to improve your English fluency is simply to immerse yourself in English-language TV shows and films. Although films and TV shows may not always feature standardised English, it will get you accustomed to hearing regional variations of English and may expose you to words which are not commonly found in textbooks. If you struggle at first, use subtitles to aid with your understanding; as you grow in confidence, turn off the subtitles and only use them when absolutely necessary.
2. Read English-language Newspapers
Similar to exposing yourself to as much English-language TV as possible, another of the easily accessible ways to improve your English is to read newspapers and/or magazines written in English. Not only will your English language skills improve, but you’ll also keep up-to-date with Western news stories.
3. Read Children’s Books
Although it may not seem like one of the best ways to become fluent in English, you will find that children’s books and magazines are exactly what you need. Beginners to the English language will find the simple vocabulary of children’s publications aimed at their ability level. As your language capability grows, you can move through the age range of books. Honestly, try it!
4. Expand to Book Series
If you find that you are able to read children’s books, expand into a series or upgrade to young adult fiction. By reading a book series, such as a trilogy, you will find that you start to find reading more enjoyable than single books which follow one story. Many libraries will stock classic English series, such as Nancy Drew, so give it a shot. Another way to maximize the learning potential to read a book series in English you have enjoyed in your native language – maybe Harry Potter. You already know the stories so it will be easier for you assimilate the language.
5. Keep a Vocabulary Book Handy
You’re going to improve your spoken English by keeping a vocabulary and phrase book with you wherever you go. If you see or hear a phrase or word you are unsure of, look it up – the worst thing a beginner to a new language can do is not bother to learn new and exciting words.
6. Speak English!
This is perhaps the most important and one of the most useful ways to improve your English. Make sure that you speak to as many native speakers of English as you can. If you are in an English-speaking country this is significantly easier, but you should be able to find a tourist or an immigrant who can speak English. Don’t worry about making mistakes; the speaker can help you to improve and learn.
7. Listen to the Radio
Listening to radio stations such as the BBC World Service is an excellent method of improving your English. If you listen to both English and American radio stations, you’ll find that you grow more used to different accents and regional phrases.
8. Use the Internet
A vast number of websites use English as their primary language, so using the internet to expose yourself to the English language is very useful. But, reading websites where the English is not native is not one of the ways your English will improve, so make sure you choose good home-grown UK/US/AUS sites. Read articles on websites aimed for children to start off, and gradually move to a site such as BBC News. This is the sort of method that you can do in your spare time, rather than setting aside specific time to practice English.
9. Write in English
Knowing how to improve your English is more than just being able to speak English. To really understand and master the language, you will have to practice writing as well as speaking. Letters and diary entries are a good way to start out writing English.
10. Do Your Homework
Make sure that you are doing the homework you are being set in English classes if you are taking them. Dedicate yourself to your English classes; it will soon pay dividends.
There are plenty of ways to improve your English and it’s a case of finding the ones that are most enjoyable and work best for you. These hints can also be used by English speakers learning another language – just substitute English with the one you are learning. Have you used these methods to learn a new language?