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.


How to Plan an Effective Essay by Wilsimara Rocha


Writing is an art! Knowing how to put down your ideas on paper can be easy to many people but to others it can be a very difficult task. To make the writer’s life easier, there are some steps to follow in order to compose an essay effectively. According to Folse and Pugh (2010), essays are short written compositions that share our thoughts about a given topic with an audience. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind some recommendations you should pay attention to while writing an essay, such as the structure and organization of the paragraphs; the use of formal language; the use of low-frequency words to enrich the vocabulary; and the lack of contractions. All these tips are helpful for you to practice your writing skills. Taking these tips into consideration, the purpose of this text is to present the steps to write an effective essay, based on what is learned in an academic writing course.


Developing an essay starts with an introduction that gives background information to the reader. A good introduction should contain a hook and a clear thesis statement. A hook is a phrase or a sentence that keeps the reader’s attention and makes him/her curious to know about what you are going to write about. Regarding the thesis statement, it is the unifying force of the essay, that is, the main idea under which the writer wants to explore his/her points of view. In my opinion, the hardest part in performing an essay is to create a clear thesis statement. For that, you need to know exactly the points you want to develop along your text.

Once you have defined you thesis statement and then finished your introduction, it is time to start developing the body of your essay. In general, the body should contain three paragraphs and each one of them based on a topic, which is the unifying force of the paragraph. In other words, the topic is the main idea you want to explore in each paragraph. After mentioning your topic, you should give examples and details to support it. The recommendation is to present at least two examples or details to enrich your topic and to make your audience more interested in what you are telling them. I can say that sometimes it is hard to find enough details, but they make the whole difference when well highlighted.


After finishing the body of your text, it is time to write the conclusion, where you will summarize all the ideas you have explored previously. In doing so, you should avoid introducing new information or giving details and examples not mentioned along the text. An effective conclusion wraps up, in an interesting way, what was already commented on earlier. You can even add a suggestion or recommendation to your audience, related to the topic you developed. In my opinion, this part can be easier if you are able to present clearly each topic discussed in the body.


As we have seen, the steps to write an essay are simple and if you follow them, you will probably write an effective text. However, it is important remember that the best way to internalize new knowledge is practicing what was learned. So if you really want to develop more and more your writing skills, take the recommendations and tips given here and start to write soon.


Folse, K. S and Pugh, T. Greater Essays. Second Edition, 2010.

How Comics Help your English by Gabriel Keene

When it comes to learning English as a foreign language, people usually think of books and trips abroad as the only ways to acquire it. However, they often forget that an extremely powerful tool is right in front of them, at the closest newsstand: comic books. Although not the primary source of language acquisition, comics may well be the best aid you can find in your learning of English. They can help develop your vocabulary, grammar and even pronunciation, all the while taking you into a new world of stories and characters. In order to take full advantage of them, this is what you should do when reading comics.

First, just like in books and other media, you will be frequently exposed to new vocabulary. However, in comics, you have the unique juxtaposition of images and text that only works in this medium and allows you more opportunities to infer the meaning of a word than any other means of communication. Comics allow you to learn and retain new vocabulary and collocations better because the images are complemented by the text, and vice-versa – one helps you understand the other. So, when you see the hero and the villain stop their fight, gather their breath, and continue it, it’s possible to learn from the caption, “And so they resume the battle!” that “resumes” is a synonym for “continue”, and not “summarize”.

Second, grammar points like question tags, embedded questions and others are often employed in comics, making readers used to them. The constant exposure to lines like Calvin’s father saying: “Calvin, you’re not jumping on the bed, are you? Do you have any idea what time it is?” help readers become accustomed to these structures much more easily. When in class or in an actual foreign-country experience, this exposure will have built a robust scaffolding for them to recognize and make use of conversational structures.

Also, as comics enjoy more freedom than books do in representing sounds and the way people speak, they tend to depict these graphically. This will often help your pronunciation and also your understanding of the sounds in the English language, as long as you can infer that when a certain character’s word bubble has “Ah see”, he or she actually means “I see”, but that’s his/her accent. The same goes for when you read a character’s line as “Howz’ it goin’?” It’s possible to infer that, in the pronunciation for “How’s it going”, the “s” sounds like a “z”, and the letter “g” isn’t pronounced by this character.

Therefore, reading comics will help your English in terms of apprehending new vocabulary and collocations, grammar points and even simplifying pronunciation patterns in order for you to visualize them. Lastly, of course, you will also have a good time and enjoy your studying, or reading, in English. Read more comics if you want to have fun and learn at the same time.