What Are the Best Tips for Learning English as a Second Language?

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  • Written By: Dee Jones
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2019
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Learning English as a second language can be a challenge, but there are several things a student can do to make it easier. Taking a second language course, or signing up at a second language school, can be a good first step. Reading novels, watching movies and listening to music in English can also be helpful. A person who is learning English as a second language can benefit from speaking only in English for about 15 minutes a day, even if he or she is only talking out loud to himself or herself.

For many people learning English as a second language, the first step is either taking a second language course or signing up at a second language school. Before choosing a second language course or school and paying any fees or tuition, it is important for a person to do enough research to make sure that the course or school will be able to help him or her learn English successfully. One shouldn't enroll or sign up for any course or school that isn’t accredited or doesn’t meet international Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) standards. One good way for someone to find a good second language school or course is to ask for recommendations and opinions from friends or acquaintances who have already taken this route. They can make suggestions about which programs are worthwhile and which ones should be avoided.


When learning English as a second language, regular exposure to that language can be very beneficial. Just as children pick up their native language through daily exposure, daily exposure can help when a person is trying to learn a second or even third language. Those who are trying to learn English should watch television shows and movies in English and should listen to music and radio programs in English. Daily exposure not only will help the student pick up and learn to recognize new words, it also will help him or her to pronounce those words correctly.

One excellent way of learning English as a second language is reading in English on a regular basis. Those who are trying to learn a second language should make a habit of reading something in that language every day, whether it’s a nonfiction book, a novel or a newspaper. Students can also benefit from reading the English versions of novels that they have already read in their native tongue.

Finally, anyone learning English as a second language should try to speak in English on a regular basis. While taking classes and studying the vocabulary of the second language is certainly helpful, there is no denying the benefits of actually speaking and having conversations in that language. If the student knows anyone who speaks English, he or she should try having conversations with that person every day. If that isn’t always possible, the student should at least talk out loud to himself or herself in English for at least 15 minutes each day.


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Post 1

Watching movies and TV shows in English is definitely helpful for learning conversational English. Just make sure you're watching shows where English is correctly used, and aren't full of profanity. It's embarrassing to have to tell a grown person they just used a profane, vulgar or obscene expression just because they heard it somewhere and didn't know exactly what it meant. I had to do that once at college. It wasn't fun.

I'd hate for someone who wasn't really familiar with English to watch a movie like "The Departed" and think all English speakers talked that way, and worse, picked up that a liberal use of a certain obscenity that appears a record number of times, is acceptable.

Reading newspapers, especially, is a great way to learn standard English. The grammar is usually good and the articles also teach the reader something about the English-speaking culture.

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