How to Learn English – An Easy Guide

So, you’re trying to figure out how to learn English. Or perhaps you’re a teacher looking for English learning tools online. After all, it’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Learning it can open doors to many opportunities.

But how do you even begin to learn English? What should be your starting point? Where can you find classes or resources?

In this article, I’ll show you how you can improve your English and explain what makes a successful learner. I’ll also tell you about the four core language skills that you’ll be working on. And you’ll even find a few recommendations for some great courses that will help you learn English online at any level.

So, let's start the first class.

How to Learn English in the First Place?

If you’re reading this article, you can already speak some English. Congratulations! You’re part of one of the biggest language-speaking communities in the world[1]. It's full of speakers of different levels of fluency.

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Of course, you want to get even better. But where do you start?

There are many scientific strategies[2] to learn a new language. For example, grammar-translation is a very old learning method. A student reads a sentence in English and translates it into their native language. This method is great if you want to learn English reading but not so good if you're hoping to improve your speaking skills.

There are also methods like the audio-lingual, which helps you learn English grammar by repeating sentences. These classes don’t use your native language at all, so it can look scary to a new student.

If you want to sound like a native speaker, your best bet is immersion. This means living in an English-speaking country for a few months and being constantly surrounded by the language.

Of course, this might be hard if you’re just getting started. But it can help you speed up the process. Unfortunately, it’s also expensive, and not everyone can have the opportunity to travel.

How to Learn English: American Flag with headphones

It might take some time to figure out which learning strategy works best for you. But whichever path you choose, you will need extra resources.

Of course, there are hundreds of textbooks to choose from. And if you’d like to learn English online, the internet is full of great interactive resources. But more on that later.

As you look for learning resources, you might come across terms like EFL, ESL, or (T)ESOL. These stand for English as a Foreign Language, English as a Second Language, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

ESL is used for students who learn English in an English-speaking country. EFL students learn English in their native country. TESOL stands out as a very American term to use. However, all these terms have more or less the same goal in mind – teaching English as a non-native language.

So, now that you know what learning method works best for you, ask yourself a very important question: why do you want to learn English?

A Million Reasons to Learn English

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s an obvious question, isn’t it?

It isn’t! There are more than a billion English speakers around the world, and probably just as many reasons to learn. Because of this, there are even specialized English courses.

Perhaps the most common reason to learn English is because it’s a school subject. Often kids will learn English grammar from early school years. If they want to study abroad, they might need to send proof of their language skills. School helps build that language foundation.

It’s recommended for kids to start learning new languages from a very young age. That’s because their brains are flexible, like modeling clay. This is called neuroplasticity[3], and it’s the reason why it can be harder to learn a new language when you get older.

Harder — but not impossible!

How to Learn English: a girl studying with a laptop

In fact, there are plenty of adult language learners who succeed. Adult language classes are as popular as ever. And they’re often focused on a specific field. A career can be a big reason to learn a new language, after all.

Business English is popular among entrepreneurs and international companies[4]. For Business English learners, it’s not about how to learn English speaking fluently, but how to talk about business matters without confusion.

Aviation English is an interesting case. It’s spoken among pilots and airports all over the world and serves a vital role. This version of English is used to avoid any miscommunication between international crews. It was developed after several tragic plane crashes.

You can also find niche subjects like English for academic, legal, or military purposes, as well as specialized language for medical students and professionals. English has become the lingua francathe common language—in many industries and social situations.

How to Learn English: A tutor is teaching a student with digital tools

As you can see, learners of all ages and skill levels might have different needs. Some want to learn English reading and writing; others want to focus on their speaking and listening skills. One learner needs to speak English for their job; another does it purely for fun.

So, ask yourself again: why do you want to learn English? Do you just want to learn English grammar and syntax? Or do you want your skills to be more specific?

Core Skills

Now that we know why people want to learn English, it’s time to look at what you really learn when you learn a new language.

Grammar is the foundation of languages. Every language has its own unique grammar rules. Knowing it is how you build sentences with your vocabulary in the first place.

Vocabulary is the other important thing to focus on when trying to figure out how to learn English. Words are the bricks of a language. As you put words together, you build sentences. Sentence by sentence, you build a paragraph.

From there, you can create a page, then a chapter, then a whole book.

How to Learn English: learning colors of tree leaves with paper notes

But there are different ways to work on your grammar and vocabulary.

When it comes to learning a foreign language, there are four core skills to keep in mind. These skills are listening, reading, writing and speaking. These are the four main ways you use a language.

You’ll notice that all four skills are connected. When you work on one, you can improve on another – or even all the remaining skills.

I could get into how the brain works when you work on each skill. But that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to figure out how to learn English. And part of that learning is figuring out which skills are your strongest and which are a little weaker.

So, let’s take a look at the four core language skills.

Listening

Let’s start with your ears. Listening is important to help you develop communication skills. Hearing spoken English will help you get the sound for the language. You will also learn language patterns.

How to Learn English: A girl is doing a listening exercise

Listening in English can be weird. The way words are said can be different than the way you write them. So, listening helps you understand how to speak later.

At the start, you might want to take things slow. If you’re taking a course, your teacher will already know this. They will talk slow to you at first and start talking faster as you improve.

If you use pre-recorded listening tasks, you will notice some dialogues are similar. Thanks to listening tasks, you can start finding language patterns. That way, your knowledge gaps can be filled in.

Remember, English is a global language. There are many different ways to say the same thing. So, if you hear the same word said differently by an American and an Australian speaker, don’t worry. Both are correct.

Writing

At first glance, English writing isn’t too complicated. It follows what we like to call an SVO structure. This stands for Subject-Verb-Object. Here’s an example to make it easier:

John has an apple.

So, 'John' is the subject, 'has' is the verb, and 'an apple' is the object. Simple, right?

How to Learn English: A woman is teaching English writing

However, as you dive deeper, there are tons of exceptions to the rules. If you want to learn writing, first you need to learn English grammar well. So, pay attention and make sure to proofread your work.

There are different styles of writing in English. If you’re learning English for your career, you’ll probably want to know how to write a CV. It’ll be very different from writing skills you want to, say, write a letter to a pen pal.

Writing is very important if you want to use English online. A lot of people use the internet in English. If you want to talk to them, you’ll have to write in English as well. Fun fact: English even has its own internet dialect[5]!

Reading

Reading can be one of the easiest ways to learn English grammar. It’s written, so you don’t have to worry about hearing or writing a word wrong. And if something is confusing, you can always use a dictionary.

How to Learn English: A man is learning English reading

There are different levels of reading[6], from elementary to expert. They come in various lengths and vocabulary difficulties.

If you want to learn English grammar, a textbook is your best friend. But one book isn’t enough to see how the grammar works in action. The best way to learn English reading is to look at what we read every day.

How is English used by native speakers? Find a news portal and read about what’s happening in the world today. Of course, reading this article right now also helps!

Once you feel comfortable, try reading a book in English. You don’t need to start with Shakespeare or Hemingway. You can find your favorite book in English. That way, you will be able to read along. Perhaps there’s even a parallel text, written in your language and English.

It might sound funny but find some children's books. You are learning a new language just like you learned your mother tongue as a child. So the vocabulary will be more comfortable for you. This way, you will learn English reading step by step.

Speaking

Do you want to know how to learn English speaking? Truth be told, the easiest way is to just do it.

It’s always nice to have a friend you can practice speaking with. Especially if that friend is a native English speaker. You can repeat what they say and ask them to correct your mistakes.

How to Learn English: A woman is watching an online class

However, you can also just stand in front of a mirror and talk. You won’t get feedback, but you’ll see how your face moves when you make specific sounds. It’ll help you become more confident speaking out loud.

English has some sounds that can be hard for a beginner to pronounce. Sometimes you say the same letter in a word three different ways. It can get confusing.

But don’t worry. The tongue is a muscle like any other. You have to train it like an athlete would train their arms and legs. Some words might be trickier than others to get right. You just have to be consistent.

You can also use the other three core skills when you speak. Write down what you want to say in advance, then read it out. Listen to the way a native speaker talks and repeat it. Mistakes will happen, but after a while, you’ll notice you can correct your own speaking.

What Makes a Good Learner?

We’ve already discussed different learner types. However, if you want to learn English, your end goal is probably to be able to communicate.

Learning a new language can be hard at first. There’s a lot of new information like spelling, grammar, and pronunciation. But there are steps you can take to make it all easier.

How to Learn English: A wall of post-it notes that say

For one, it’s very, very, very important to be consistent. You have to make sure you stick to it. Set aside twenty minutes every day to read something in English or listen to the news. Find a practical method that you can use daily and follow through.

Remember the vocabulary[7]. You won’t figure out how to learn English speaking if the words aren’t there. Keep a notebook with all the new words you learn. Put post-it notes around the house. Surround yourself with new vocabulary wherever you can.

As the Latin saying goes, repetition is the mother of study. It’s very appropriate for language learners. If you learn a new word, write it down ten times. Say it out loud. Come up with a sentence that uses the word. If you learned a new rule, look for examples in other sentences.

If you want to be a good learner, you have to make mistakes. So, don’t cheat. It’s fine to ask a friend to check your work. But don’t ask them to do it for you. See your mistakes as lessons, not failures.

How to Learn English: Children are learning numbers with paper notes

Learning can be about having fun. You don’t have to stick to old textbooks or boring videos. Change the audio and subtitles of your favorite movie to English. Read the lyrics of songs you like and see how much you understand. The more you use English every day, the faster you’ll learn.

Who teaches you is just as important as how you learn. Sometimes a teacher can make or break the student. They should be inspiring, knowledgeable, and understanding. Thankfully, if you learn English online, you have the luxury of choosing your teacher.

Learn English Online

As of writing this article, the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing, and traveling abroad can get complicated. So, total immersion might not be an option for you.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to immerse yourself in the English language. In fact, I can offer you just the tool.

How to Learn English: Learning Platform Udemy

Udemy is the largest online learning platform in the world. Since 2010, it has built a community of over 44 million learners and 180 thousand video courses. With such a range, you’re sure to find something to fit your needs.

Udemy’s catalog offers a wide range of ESOL courses for all learner levels, as well as classes to become a better teacher. Many of these courses were created by EFL teachers sharing their knowledge and experience.

You’ll find both paid and free courses on the platform. However, if you take the paid route, you’ll also get an official certificate once the course is finished. Unlike other platforms, Udemy doesn’t offer as many university courses. But if you’re not an academic-level English learner, Udemy courses will do their job just fine.

Here are a few recommendations of courses to help you learn English online.

Mastering Parts of Speech and Sentence Structure in English (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: Mastering Parts of Speech and Sentence Structure in English course on Udemy

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Offered by: Adrian Nantchev
  • Duration: ~1 hour
  • Price: FREE
  • Certificate: No
  • Level: Elementary to Upper-Intermediate
  • Where to apply? Here

Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or money for weeks-long language classes. Thankfully, that’s where this free English language course can help you out. With a runtime of just 1 hour 2 minutes, it’s the definition of a crash course.

Adrian Nantchev, the author of the course, is a TESOL teacher who spent several years teaching in China. He is dedicated to making English language classes available to everyone.

How to Learn English: TESOL Certified Teacher on Udemy

If you join this course, you won’t be simply a learneryou’ll be an explorer. And if your primary concern is how to learn English speaking fast, it has you covered.

Among other things, this course will teach you more about:

  • Nouns, verbs and adjectives
  • Prepositions, conjunctions and interjections
  • Articles, determiners and syllables

And have I already mentioned that this course is completely free? That’s right – you don’t need to pay to access these video classes. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting a certificate for completing this course, but it doesn’t make the knowledge any less valuable.

So, if you’re interested in this short course that’s packed with knowledge, what are you waiting for?

Start the course NOW

English Grammar: Tenses with Animations, Sounds and Quizzes (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: English Grammar with Animations on Udemy

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Offered by: Lasha Gegidze
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Price: €19.99 (before discount)
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Level: Elementary to Upper-Intermediate
  • Where to apply? Here

This short video course will help you learn English grammar at a beginner’s level. It dives deeper into the use of verbs. You only need some basic understanding of English verbs to be able to study, so it’s great for new learners.

The author of the course, Lasha Gegidze, has years of experience teaching English to foreign language speakers. So if you’re just figuring out how to learn English from the ground up, this might be the perfect place to start.

How to Learn English: English Grammar with Animations Instructor on Udemy

Along with the classes, you’ll be able to access a free interactive PDF book. So even once you’re done with the course, you can come back and keep your skills fresh.

The course focuses on English verbs. In just over two hours, you’re going to learn about present, past and future tenses. You’ll see how the tenses differ and when you should use which tense. By the end of the course, you will be able to tell stories and talk about your plans.

This concise course is a great How-to-learn-English starter if you want to improve your speaking and writing skills. It only costs €19.99, which is less than you’d pay for a private English tutor.

And even if this price mark seems a bit much to you, don’t worry! Udemy has special offers and discount codes, so you only have to pay a fraction of the price! So, why not try this course out?

Start the course NOW

English Grammar Launch: Upgrade Your Speaking and Listening (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: English Grammar Launch on Udemy

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Offered by: Anthony Kelleher
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Price: €39.99 (before discount)
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Level: Pre-intermediate to intermediate
  • Where to apply? Here

This English Grammar Launch course is an excellent choice if you’re in the early stages of learning. Not only will you get access to six hours of video content, but also over 30 extra resources that will show you how to learn English speaking in the best possible way.

This course was created by Anthony Kelleher, an ESL teacher with ten years of experience. So, you’ll be learning from someone who really understands what it takes to learn English.

How to Learn English: English Grammar Launch Instructor on Udemy

If you already have some foundation and want to learn English grammar in-depth, this course might be a great option for you. It aims to teach you target grammar structures and help you speak like a native.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to use “had better” structures
  • When to use “enough” and “too
  • What the difference between “so” and “such” is
  • How to talk about the past using “used to
  • How present simple, continuous and perfect work
  • How to discuss the past and the future

Each lesson comes with mp3 files. These files let you hear how the grammar rules are used in English. There are also audio transcripts so you can really understand the vocabulary.

Note that this course is for British English learners, so if you’re learning American English, it might not be the ideal choice for you.

The course comes in at €39.99, which is a solid price for the amount of content you’ll receive. However, you can use one of Udemy’s special offers to get access to the course for less for a limited time.

Start the course NOW

Business English Course for ESL Students (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: Business English Course on Udemy

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Offered by: Shayna Oliveira
  • Duration: ~ 5.5 hours
  • Price: €59.99 (before discount)
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Where to apply? Here

This is the most specialized learner course on our list. This course is aimed at learners who are looking for a Business English course. It’s focused less on how to learn English reading academically, and more on how to negotiate, write emails, or give presentations.

Created by CELSA-certified EFL teacher Shayna Oliveira, it provides in-depth content into the most important aspects of Business English. Along with nearly six hours of video classes, you’ll have access to over 70 downloadable materials.

How to Learn English: Business English Instructor on Udemy

The Business English Course for ESL Students is structured into forty lessons over four sections:

  • Business English Basics
  • Business English Intermediate Topics
  • English for Different Business Areas
  • Business English Specializations

Among these sections, you’ll find classes like “English for interviews”, “Letters & emails”, “How to talk about finance, retail and marketing” and “English for computers and the medical field”.

This course costs a hefty €59.99 – it’s the priciest one on the list. However, there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, it’s a specialized course for business professionals, so it won’t be useful for just any learner. It also offers a huge amount of additional materials. Around six hours of content along with extra downloadable exercises and audios – you’ll get your money’s worth in no time. Not to mention with the Udemy special offer, you can get it for up to 72% off!

So, if you want to know how to learn English for Business, try out this Udemy course today.

Start the course NOW

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TEFL Essentials: Teaching English as a Foreign Language (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: TEFL Essentials Course on Udemy

  • Platform: Udemy
  • Offered by: Fiona Loves English
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Price: €24.99 (before discount)
  • Certificate: Yes
  • Level: Native-level of English
  • Where to apply? Here

Are you striving to become a TESOL teacher? Is it your life’s goal to show others how to learn English easily? Then this TEFL Essentials course is just for you!

Fiona, the author of this course, has a decade of in-person and online TEFL experience. It’s perfect for those who are working to obtain their CELSA certificate and become qualified ESL teachers.

"TEFL Essentials" offers 38 classes over the course of 3 hours 52 minutes. You’ll also have access to additional downloadable materials to make your studying easier.

How to Learn English: TEFL Essentials Course Instructor on Udemy

After taking this course, you will:

  • Be able to identify different types of learners
  • Recognize the qualities of a great teacher
  • Have a plan to organize seating
  • Know how to create a lesson plan
  • Be able to write a learner profile
  • Effectively mark and explain errors
  • Help students learn English reading, writing, speaking, and listening successfully

It’s worth mentioning that the course was updated in summer 2022 for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, whether you want to travel abroad or help others learn English online, this course has you covered.

Start the course NOW

Tricky American English Pronunciation (Enroll Here)

How to Learn English: Tricky American English Pronunciation Course on Coursera

  • Platform: Coursera
  • Offered by: University of California, Irvine
  • Duration: 21 hours
  • Price: FREE
  • Certificate: Yes (paid)
  • Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Where to apply? Here

Are you happy with your grammar skills but find it harder to find the best way how to learn English speaking? You might want to check out the Tricky American English Pronunciation course offered by Coursera.

With the help of this course, you’ll be able to speak clearer and build sentences with ease. In just 21 hours, you’ll become a more confident speaker and convince people English is your mother tongue.

How to Learn English: Tricky American English Pronunciation Instructors on Coursera

You’ll first learn about tricky American English consonants and vowels. The courses will explain what consonants and vowels are, and help you determine what sounds are the hardest for you.

The classes will also look at some interesting pronunciations in English songs, as well as other useful things you should know. The instructors use not only academic language, but also common expressions like “gonna” and “wanna” for “going to” and “want to”.

You can audit this course completely for free on Coursera. However, if you want to receive a certificate and access the tests, you should go for the paid option. Note that the assignments will ask you to submit recordings of your voice. Interested? Click here to start studying.

Start the course NOW

Looking for something more advanced? Are you preparing for a language certificate exam and are looking for a place to start? Check out our guide to the best TOEFL courses. Not only will you learn if TOEFL or IELTS is the better certificate for you, you’ll also find even more courses to help you learn English online.

Conclusions

So, what have you learned today about how to learn English?

For starters, there’s more than one way to learn English. From more general content, like how to learn English listening, reading, and grammar, to more specialized use like English for Business or Aviation. It all depends on what you need.

We’ve also looked at the four core language skillslistening, writing, reading, and speaking – and how to improve them. Remember that you might not learn them all at the same pace.

This is where your first class ends and the next one begins. Now that you’ve had some pointers for how to learn English online, it’s time to get started! Whether you're learning grammar, speaking, or teaching itself, you will go from a beginner to a pro in the blink of an eye.


Scientific References

1. M. Szmigiera 'The most spoken languages worldwide 2021'

2. Rosamund Mitchell, Florence Myles and Emma Marsden 'Second Language Learning Theories'

3. Ping Li, Jennifer Legault and Kaitlyn A. Litcofsky 'Neuroplasticity as a function of second language learning: Anatomical changes in the human brain'

4. E. Frendo 'How to Teach Business English'

5. Calley Pierce 'Internet English and the Evolution of Grammar'

6. S. D. Krashen ‘Applying the Comprehension Hypothesis: some Suggestions’

7. Scott Thornburry 'How to Teach Vocabulary'

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FAQ

How to learn English easily?

If you're wondering how to learn English with ease, you can look at one of the language learning strategies.
If you want to learn English reading and grammar, you should try grammar-translation. You will read a text in English and translate it into your native language. This is helpful if you are a strong visual learner.
You can also use digital learning tools for an interactive learning experience. They can help you work on your grammar, writing, listening, and speaking.

Where can I learn English online?

If you want to learn English online, you can access courses on learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera.
Udemy offers a wide range of English language courses for all learner levels. You can also find specialized Business English courses, as well as courses for teacher training.
Coursera has digital courses offered by renowned universities. The courses can help you train your pronunciation or prepare for a language exam.

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