British actor and comedian John Cleese once said, ‘he who laughs most, learns best.’
While you don’t need to laugh all the time when you’re learning English, you’ll learn much more if you enjoy it.
But how do you make education enjoyable? And what steps can you take to find the right resources, teacher and learning styles?
Step one: Take advantage of online resources
You have chosen to invest your time, money and effort in learning English, but where do you start?
Millions of websites offer English resources, but if you’re anything like us, you will want to find the best on offer as quickly as possible.
As experienced English teachers who have explored the web for quality resources, we have found and saved the top 25 English websites to learn English which meet the following requirements:
- Error-free – well written with no spelling or grammatical mistakes
- Easy to navigate – clean, well-structured layout
- Readable – engaging content which is easy to understand
Apps such as Duolingo and Babbel offer a fun way to start learning a language instantly. They’re not a substitute for real human interaction, but they can be helpful if you just want to learn basic phrases for your next trip abroad.
Step two: Find the right English teacher for you
If you want to take your language learning further, you will want to find the right teacher.
Online learning communities, such as iTalki, are a popular low-cost option for language learners who are just starting out.
Suppose you are looking for a language school that provides online and in-person courses around the world. In that case, companies like International House or Eurocentres can connect you with experienced teachers.
You may have already got to know your future teacher by following their lessons on social media. You enjoy their teaching style and language tips, so why not contact them to discuss training options?
Learning a language is a journey. Here at Your London Tutor, we understand the importance of having both an expert teacher and customised language training to help you achieve your goals. Our trainers are chosen for their passion, having years of experience and proven results at the highest levels.
Step three: Set goals with your teacher
Once you have your teacher, the next step is to discuss your language goals. You may not have thought about it yet, but your teacher will be able to ask the right questions to discover why you’re learning English and what you want to achieve.
You’re moving to an English-speaking country. Great, you may need the skills to find accommodation, find a job, and make friends.
You’re applying for a promotion at work. Ok, let’s look at how you highlight your abilities in an interview and the language you’ll need to work effectively in this role.
So you want to travel and make new friends along the way. Sounds like fun! We can focus on developing small talk and building conversational English.
Step four: Define your learning styles
Beyond the decision to study face-to-face or online and whether to take group classes or one-to-one training, have you thought about how you learn?
We all have distinct ways of taking in information, and a good teacher will identify your personal learning styles and teach you in a way that is optimal for you.
Personally, I work best in a one-to-one setting. I like to move quickly over the areas I am confident in and take my time on subjects that take me longer to understand. My preferred learning style is to practise using a new skill myself and being corrected, as opposed to being taught in a traditional setting and making notes. Maybe you prefer building a grammatical framework first and being corrected whenever you make a mistake.
Remember, though, that you don’t need to follow just one learning style. Perhaps you prefer to blend different ways of learning to achieve your goals.
Step five: Share your interests and requirements with your teacher
When I started teaching more than 20 years ago, resources were limited. Students would have a coursebook with about 12 standard topics. For listening exercises, your teacher would press play on the tape recorder. You would hear two people pretending to be at a bus stop asking what time it would arrive. In short, it was boring and ineffective.
Nowadays, every lesson can be tailored to the subjects that are most important to you. If you enjoy making origami hippos, no problem – there will be articles and videos online to use in classes. Your learning journey will be fun and rewarding. Not only that, but your teacher will also get to learn about how to make origami hippos. It’s a win-win situation.
Step six: Consider immersion
Ultimately, immersion is the key to learning a language well. Numerous studies have shown that immersing yourself in a language will result in higher levels of fluency.
If you have the opportunity to be in an English-speaking country, you will use the language daily. You will be thinking on your feet and having to respond immediately.
If you’re coming to London, we offer an Explore London immersion course. You’ll travel around London with your teacher, seeing the parts of London that most appeal to you. Every day, you will be listening, speaking, reading and even writing, giving you the consistency you need to develop your skills significantly.
Even if you’re not in an English-speaking country, you can watch television programmes and films, read articles, listen to music, and engage in online discussions.
It’s essential to use the language regularly, play with it, and make mistakes. Doing so will enable you to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Step seven: Start your language learning journey
Once your teacher knows your interests and requirements and has created your personalised programme, it’s time for the fun to start!
The first time you roll new words around your tongue or can have a conversation with somebody you meet can feel fantastic. Use this feeling to put habits in place for when the excitement lulls, which it naturally will from time to time.
Practise, practise and practice some more. Remember that learning a language is about consistency. You will want to keep using English if you’re enjoying it, so join groups that converse in English. They don’t have to be English study groups. It can be even better to choose groups that are based on your interests.
Ultimately, learning English should be fun, so embrace the experience and enjoy the journey.
What has been your experience of learning English? What have been your favourite resources? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below and help other learners find more enjoyable ways to learn English.
About the author
Phil is the founder of Your London Tutor, an English training company specialising in individual, corporate and immersion packages. Since he began teaching in 1999, Phil has taught English at all levels to students from around the world. He can now be found giving English tips while exploring his home city of London on Instagram @yourlondontutor