How to learn English on your own by Âmara Aline Moraes Gonçalves

Learning a second language is an arduous task for some people. However, there are many tools to improve or even learn English on your own. Some years ago, it was extremely challenging to be a self-learner. People had to go to libraries or buy expensive books to do researches. Nowadays, with the gigantic progress of the Internet, we can find people teaching languages at no charges, not to mention the mobile applications available for free to help you improve it even more. Here is a guide to help you enhance your skills in learning English by yourself.

First of all, you need to find out what’s important for you. What’s your purpose? Your eagerness will determine how well you can do at the end. I have a student who always says that her goal is to speak like Rachel, a famous American sitcom character. She doesn’t want English in her life neither for academic purposes nor professional, but she knows exactly what she wants and I’m not afraid to say that she will get there.

Second, you should think of your background. Did you have any contact with the language in the past? How was it? Was it at a regular school or in a language school when you were a child? It’s good to know where you can start. That will help you invest the right material, such as books, videos, CDs and other powerful tools. You can’t start with an advanced grammar, for instance, if you are a beginner.

At present, the Internet is a great tool to help you with your English. On video websites such as YouTube, there are many channels to help you with dialogues and grammar as well. Some websites even offer chat groups where you can practice with more experienced students by videoconference. That should help you with your speaking skill.

Furthermore, something very important, too, is to listen as much as you can. No one can learn how to speak a language without listening to it. You can read or write in English, but I must say that speaking the language would be impossible. Watching TV shows and listening to favorite songs in L2 will help you with that. When listening to the same word several times in a movie for example will make you learn it in an inductive way -“researchers have found that thinking inductively is more effective”, says Larry Ferlazzo, a Social Studies teacher in his blog (

Moreover, invest in you; there are many good books available in the market. Some of them have easier versions in comics of classics like Hamlet and other significant masterpieces with audio. Remember that the audio is really important to help you with right pronunciation and intonation of the language. Have you ever talked to a person that studied English for years and admits they don’t understand a word when it isn’t written?

Eventually, expose yourself; don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you have any friends who speak English or are trying to learn it as well, put yourself out there. That’s one of the reasons why kids learn English faster than adults. They just want to understand and be understood. Adults are too worried about putting the words together and in the right place. I’m not saying that grammar isn’t valuable but you have to allow yourself to try it.

Finally, think in English. Don’t translate all the words in your head. This will take you too long to come up with a sentence. Make your vocabulary using pictures and put them on a Power Point Presentation. Repeat the words out loud looking at the objects so your brain will get the message. Instead of telling your brain: apple=maçã, just look at the picture, say it and speed it up, so you won’t have time to translate it in your mind.

Developing skills in a second language can be demanding and challenging, but with the right encouragement, this project can be enjoyable and entertaining. The result of such hard work is unquestionably worthwhile. Unsupervised learning is not for everyone, but if you want to attempt self-learning and if you are a confident person, you will certainly accomplish your goals.


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