What is the best way to learn English quickly?
Embarking on any new language can be a daunting task. It's taking on a fundamental life skill – a skill most of us can barely remember learning the first time around. The entire process of learning a language is complex and fraught with difficulty – and English, supposedly, is particularly difficult for non-native speakers, with its inconsistent rules and idiosyncrasies.
No language can be learned overnight, and there is no magic fix. But with a few straightforward steps, and a dedicated attitude, it's entirely possible to be competent and conversational within a few months. Learning English quickly needn't be a headache.
Why learn English?
English is the true lingua franca, the world's global language. It is the most widely used language in the world, spoken by well over a billion people in every continent. Significantly, in addition to almost 400 million native speakers, there are as many as a billion non-native speakers, suggesting that English as a second language is a vital skill for much of the world.
This is reflected in where you find English. It is a dominant language in business, science, I.T., aviation, seafaring, diplomacy, medicine, the internet, and many other industries. In an increasingly globalised world, English is expected as a basic requirement on any respectable CV – and bilingual speakers can enjoy much better employment prospects than those who speak only one language.
Learning English opens you up to masses of entertainment and arts. It's the language of centuries of culture: of Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen; of Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth; of Hollywood, the Beatles and Britpop.
It's an official language of some of the largest and most important countries and organisations in the world, including the UN, the EU, the US and the UK. And as the one language to unite the world, it breaks down cultural barriers and acts as a common tongue for native and non-native speakers alike.
Learning English is a crucial step to becoming a truly 'global citizen'. It’s a means of communicating in any country, in any part of the world.
Rapid language learning
Taking on any new language in a short amount of time is no mean feat. It takes commitment, motivation, and a dogged willingness to learn. You should have an optimistic outlook on your prospects, and maintain a positive approach in the face of inevitable low points.
There are a number of tactics to learn a language in a short, concentrated period of time:
- Get a dictionary, grammar and phrase book
- Think and speak only in English (consider temporarily abandoning your native tongue and speak only in your new second language)
- Spend time in an Anglophone country
- Study with a professional language tutor
Learning English in an Anglophone country
Spending time in a country where English is the predominant language is a key factor in picking up the language skills quickly and accurately. No lesson in the world will ever compare to experiencing the language in its everyday, home-grown, original form.
By visiting and staying in an Anglophone country like the UK, you are given the opportunity to witness, firsthand, English as spoken by the English, with all of its unique quirks, sensibilities, anomalies, and charms.
When spending time in the UK, everything you do becomes an English lesson. A simple task like going to the shops becomes an important test for newly-learned vocabulary. An encounter with a stranger asking for directions becomes a key grammar test. Ordering food in a restaurant forces you to improvise and think on your feet – with a bit of guesswork for good measure.
It's essential that you make the most of your time and totally immerse yourself in the language and the culture. Be sure to become an 'active' learner. Encourage yourself to take part in activities that expose you to the English language. Go the cinema or the theatre. Read newspapers and watch local television.
Take part in 'conversation groups', a recent and popular phenomenon, in which learners can meet and converse with native speakers in a relaxed and formal setting, and work on their new skills through a simple conversation. There are numerous organised meetings across London and the UK.
Throughout all this, consider speaking only English. It's easy to spend time in social circles with people who speak your native language, but by avoiding your native tongue as much as possible, you are more likely to learn English quickly and efficiently. This method has proven to be very effective, as it forces you to confront any issues you have with you new language head-on.
The benefits of language schools
You can move to a new country, get the best phrase book money can buy, and immerse yourself head first into a new culture, but your language learning will get nowhere until you have the knowledge, experience and steady hand of a professional tutor. Studying in a respected language school is absolutely essential to learning a language quickly, and dedicating several hours a day to your new language will allow for fast, effective progress.
A dedicated language short course will focus on every part of the language learning process: speaking and pronunciation, listening, reading and writing, vocabulary and grammar. These courses provide focus and guidance, and offer support during times when there might be a psychological stumbling block.
Language schools also give you an incredible opportunity to meet people in the same boat as yourself. There is a definite amount of camaraderie to be had among fellow language students, especially if you are engaging in an intensive short course. Many language students form friendships for life, and as you learn together you can support one another on your respective journeys.