If you’re like many English learners, you want to learn English faster.
Usually, my stance is “enjoy the process, eager student”, BUT there are several ways that you can speed up your learning.
And these ‘tricks’ are not rocket science. They will not take hours for you to use, BUT they will have a nice impact on your learning.
Now, before we start looking at these 5 ways to learn English faster, I want you to do two things.
1 – Share this post with your friends. I’m sure they want to improve their English faster, too.
2 – Sign up to my brand new masterclass – How to avoid the 5 mistakes all learners make. The email course is free and you’ll become a better learner because of it.
NOTE 1: There is a difference between fast and faster. Fast means quick. Fast means, learn English in 24 hours (which doesn’t exist by the way). Learning English faster might still take a while, but it will be quicker than what you were doing before.NOTE 2: You can download the vocabulary list for this article. Just click here.
Have you ever heard the expression, “You have a brain like a sponge”?
This means that you’re really good at absorbing information – just like a sponge does to water.
Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, right?
Well, if you put a dry sponge on water, it will eventually absorb so much water that it sinks to the bottom of the bowl.
It becomes so heavy that it can’t do anything. And this is exactly what happens to you when you learn English.
Most English learners do this:
(Tip: If you want to learn English faster, don’t do this ^)
What most learners forget to do is USE the language that they are learning.
If you really want to learn English faster, start using what you are learning. This means, if you watch a video, read something or listen to a podcast, then write a message on Facebook or to your friend and tell them about it. You could recommend people to read or listen to something that you enjoyed.
For example, you could recommend this article to your friends on Facebook:
“I’ve just read a great article about how to learn English faster. My favourite point was #3. Point #3 tells us to look for the same words in different contexts. You should read this article because I think it can help you, too. Read it here: “
See what I mean?
Do This: After you read, watch or listen to something, write or speak about it. Use the language that you learn.
Would you rather learn words by:
You probably answered with 2, right?
That’s because conversations, stories, TV shows and articles provide you with a context to learn new language.
It’s like seeing animals in their natural habitats. It’s why people pay £1000s to see animals relaxing in Africa rather than go to their local zoo.
Context is king because it will show you when, where, why and how to use the language. It’s also more interesting than word lists. Being interested in something can also help you to learn English faster.
Do This: Try learning English from context, not from just sources created for English learning.[Note: there are times when a word list is useful. For example, if you’re learning English for university, then it can be really useful to find the most common words from a list. For general purposes, don’t always rely on lists]
You know when you see an actor in a movie or TV show and you think, “Where do I know him from!?”
That’s the power of seeing different things in different places.
What you do is aim to encounter the same or similar words through different contexts (that word again!), which will help you memorise and remember the words better and learn English faster.
This was a topic that came up recently in an email from Julian from Doing English With Julian (If you’re not on his email list, you are missing out!). Julian talked about encountering the same words across different topics.
I agree with him, but I also think that you can make it even simpler than that.
I think that you can encounter the same words in the same topic, but across different media (such as finding the word in an article, and then finding it in a podcast).
It’s better to encounter the same word in a podcast, a TV show, an article AND a movie, than it is to see the same word 20 times in a word list.
Do This: Don’t just watch TV shows or read articles. Try listening to podcasts, reading novels and watching documentaries. Expand your learning materials.
Knowing one meaning of a word is just the start of the battle. Many common English words have several meanings.
I know what you’re thinking: “Great… more work for me…”
But no, you’re wrong. It might actually be easier to learn the many meanings of one word, than it is to learn many words.
So, if you find, learn and use a new word or expression, see if you can use it in another way.
Now, I don’t think you should go out and find words which have multiple meanings – this would mean looking for a word list. But you should see if the words that you already know have multiple meanings.
Do This: Take a look at the most recent new words that you have learnt. Do any of them have multiple meanings?
When I ask most English learners how often they review, they usually say, “never” or “sometimes”.
Usually they, just practice a language point or a word until they ‘know’ it, and then move on to something new. Because new is interesting and old is boring.
But it is common knowledge that if you don’t practice language, then you won’t naturally use it. Right?
Well, there’s a saying that “you never forget how to ride a bicycle”, and many people believe that learning a language is like riding a bicycle, but I disagree.
Riding a bicycle never changes. You do the same action over and over again. Learning a language is much more difficult as it changes. You respond and react differently each time. Language is a set of patterns, like riding a bike. But riding a bike is one pattern, while using a language is thousands of patterns.
Now, research suggests you won’t completely lose your language. BUT, if you don’t practice it, you won’t use it automatically.
Do This: Review everything that you learn frequently.
Hopefully now you have a few ideas on how you can start improving your English faster. Part 2 will be on its way soon.
So what should you do now?
How about you? What do you think? How can you learn English faster?
Sam is the founder and creator of English For Study. He's also a lecturer in EAP/Academic English. Apart from making Academic English easy, he likes learning languages, lifting weights and eating good food.