The English anti-course - the best ways to become bilingual in English is to learn while having fun through a ton of activities
How to become fluent in English 🙋
How do you become fluent in English? Through exciting resources, which will allow you to become bilingual in English!
Imagine spending ten years studying English at school and then, when you finally get out of the education system, you still can't really speak English. Then, one day, you decide to pick English back up again and what do you do? You start taking traditional English classes as if you're going back to school. Crazy, don't you think?
There's a famous phrase which fits perfectly here:
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
You will only find English classes useful up to a certain point - they can help you become familiar with grammar, maybe some basic vocabulary, but that's pretty much it. People rarely get to speak during their foreign language classes, it's often the case that certain aspects of learning English, such as the spoken language or accents are left neglected. Not to mention it can get boring! We're often left with the feeling that we're doing work, that we have to do it, like a chore - how could you not want to stop?
Why continue taking traditional English classes if they don't work for you?
Today, we'd like for you to explore other ways of learning English. Look at it as the English anti-course!
How to get better at spoken English
Here are the best techniques to improve your English listening comprehension skills:
What are some alternatives to English classes?
Learn English through music
We all love listening to music! So, how does using it to improve your English sound to you? You can enjoy music to improve your English whatever genre you might prefer. When you listen to and sing along with your favorite songs, you are practicing your accent, you are learning vocabulary and grammar painlessly, without even realizing!
At first you can use bilingual versions of the lyrics, both in English and in your native language. This will allow you to get used to the different structures found in the English language, analyze how sentences are formed, how to express your ideas in English, etc.
Once you get comfortable with that, start reading lyrics only in English in order to fully immerse yourself in the language.
This is a great technique, because there will always be new music to discover, so you'll never get bored!
Learn English with TV
Do you ever feel a bit guilty when you turn on the TV to watch your favorite show in order to relax at the end of the day? There are so many productive things we could do with our time, right? The good news is that you can turn your guilty pleasure into English practice.
There are so many opportunities:
- watch English TV at home. There are several American TV channels you can enjoy online, such as ABC News, Bloomerang or National Geographic, to name a few!
- Watch an exciting TV series in English;
- Relax with an English sitcom, like Friends, The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother.
- Practice your British accent with an English show, like Broadchurch, Doctor Who or Sherlock.
The biggest advantage of television is the visual aspect. Even if you don't understand all the words, you can guess what's happening thanks to the actors' facial expressions, the situation, and even the sound effects.
One advantage that many TV shows have compared to movies is a simple plot. This is especially true for sitcoms. They tend to follow the daily life of a single or several characters, with dialogues that are short and easy to follow.
Learn English with YouTube
Television is good, but the language we hear there tends to be a bit... exaggerated. You have surely noticed that in movies and TV shows in your native language - they're not very realistic and it would be a bit odd to hear someone speak that way in real life.
So, in order to go to the next level, you can watch YouTube videos! What's great about that, is that you can see real people sitting in front of their camera, who speak the way they would to their friends. The language is real, with current slang and natural expressions.
Discover the best YouTube channels to practice your English!
You can find English classes even on YouTube!
Learn English with audiobooks
Do you ever feel like you don't have enough time to learn English?
Listening to audiobooks in English is a great way to practice anywhere and at any time. Just put in your earbuds and see how your daily tasks turn into opportunities to practice your English!
Learn English with podcasts
Do you often have the feeling you're wasting your time? Walking, shopping, waiting for the bus, commuting... If you do the math, that could add up to several hours of dead time per day!
Podcasts are an excellent way to make good use of this time You'll find podcasts on all kinds of topics, different lengths, and they're mostly free.
A quick list of great podcasts to practice your English with:
- Stuff You Should Know
- Stuff You Missed in History Class
- My Dad Wrote a Porno
- Entrepreneur on Fire
- New Zealand History
But we'll come back to podcasts in a dedicated article in the future!
Learn English by watching stand-up comedians
The United States are the birthplace of stand-up, also known as one-(wo)man-show. There are decades of shows in English which are waiting for you and you can be sure that the cream of the crop will be there.
Explore some of the best English-speaking comedians from all around the world and practice your English in a fun way:
Learn English while cooking
If your memory is visual and haptic (you remember through touch and manipulation) and if you like cooking, why not start preparing some interesting dishes in English? Dive into the thousands of recipes in English available on the canvas and let your taste on a world tour! That would be the perfect opportunity to learn all the vocabulary related to cuisine and food and you will never have trouble ordering at a restaurant in English again!
Did you know that on average, we waste about 2 hours per day doing daily tasks, commuting, shopping, etc. All of that is time we can use to practice English by using the methods we just listed!
Listen to English everywhere to become fluent in English!
How to better understand written English
Read comic books
If you'd like to start reading in English, but novels still seem too challenging, then comic books are an excellent start to dive into the world of written English! The visual support helps a lot (if you don't understand a word, then the illustrations will help), the dialogues are short, and the plota are exciting!
Read news in English
The next stage is to inform yourself in English. If you think about it, the news is much easier to understand than fiction, because the language is clear and specific. You'll also often reading about topics you've already heard about, so you wouldn't be diving into unknown waters.
As you can imagine, there's a large amount of English-speaking media, and you can always have access to the latest news if you look for them in English.
Read Wikipedia in English
The biggest encyclopedia in the world - all the information you could ask for at the tip of your fingers!
Read about topics you're interested in on the English version of Wikipedia. The articles are more complete and more regularly updated than those in other languages.
Read fiction in English
What better than to enjoy your favorite works in the original language? By doing so, you will not only learn new vocabulary, but new grammatical constructions and expressions!
Here are a few tips to make the most out of your reading in English:
- We do not advise you to look up every unknown word in the dictionary. You risk to quickly lose your interest in reading!
- Don't make vocabulary lists! I doubt you understood every single word when you read your first novel in your native language. You didn't search for words in the dictionary and that didn't come in the way of learning, did it? Similarly, you will naturally remember the important words in English, too.
- If you don't immediately understand a word, try identifying its root. It might as well be an unknown form of a word you already know.
Kill two birds with one stone! Read out loud to practice your pronunciation and your accent, while enjoying an exciting plot.
E-books are a great way to learn English for free!
How to improve your English writing
When you write, you're actually practicing several skills - expressing your ideas, forming sentences which are grammatically correct, enriching your vocabulary, and improving your spelling. All of this will eventually allow you to better translate in English, too!
Here are a few good places where you can practice your written English:
Where can you practice your written English with others?
On forums - if you want to share your ideas or thoughts on a certain topic, write on forums! A more contemporary equivalent of forums which you surely know are Facebook or Telegram groups. You can easily find an English-speaking group with people who share your interests and passions.
On chat rooms - you can easily find an English-speaking pen pal and exchange emails with them.
On Twitter - that's not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you want to practice your written English, but posting short messages on Twitter, whatever the topic, can be a great exercise, which challenges you to be clear and concise. You can talk about a political issue or about what you just ordered at a restaurant. Keep in mind that people use a lot of contractions and SMS language on Twitter! Here are a few examples:
- OMG = Oh my God
- Ikr = I know, right?
- Irl = In real life
- LOL = Laugh out loud
Social media is also among the first places where you can discover new slang terms.
On Lang-8 - Lang-8 is a website which allows you to write short texts on a topic of your choice and native speakers will correct them for you. In exchange, you'll have the opportunity to correct texts of learners of you own language.
Keep in mind that each of these sites has its own language register which requires different kinds of salutations! A very neutral salutation you can use with almost anyone is:
How can you practice your written English alone?
If you don't feel ready to communicate with someone else in English yet, you can start with a few exercises to gain confidence in your writing skills:
Do dictations. They will help you focus on spelling and grammar, without having to worry about forming the sentences yourself. This is a good way to learn new ways to express yourself, which will be useful when you make the step to begin writing. There are many sites which offer to do dictations. The advantage is that you can enjoy that exercise at any level and it doesn't require much time!
Write your daily tasks in English. Get organized and practice your English at the same time. Write what you have every day. This exercise doesn't require an advanced level and will help you remember daily phrases. Answering the question What did you do today? will become a piece of cake!
Not understanding what you've written is no good reason not to do the dishes!
It can be very intimidating to write in a foreign language, we know that, that's why we'd advise you to use a spell checker!
Write to improve your English
How to better speak English
All the techniques that we just mentioned will help you speak English better, too!
How to work on your English accent
Where should you start with if you want to improve your English accent?
Listen to a lot of content in English and get used to its specific sounds. Learning to identify and distinguish different sounds is the first step to learning to articulate them. Don't get discouraged, it really is possible for any non-native speaker to lose their foreign accent and to learn to speak English (or any other language) with an impeccable accent!
If you're having a hard time pronouncing a sound in English, pay attention to the way native speakers pronounce it - how they move their lips, their mouth, their tongue to articulate and try identifying where the sounds from. These are a few excellent ways to check your pronunciation.
You should also choose a specific accent you want to acquire. For example, our course, Click & Speak, uses American English, but it's up to you to choose the accent you like the most. If you're moving to an English-speaking country, it would make the most sense to learn the local accent, but if you want to learn English for any other reason (for traveling, for work or just for fun), the American accent is one of the easiest to articulate.
What makes accents different? That's a good question to ask yourself. Once you realize why different accents sound different, it will get much easier to imitate and articulate them.
A few key points are:
- Vowels - the main difference between accents lies in the vowels that are used. They are the ones which carry the melody of the language.
- Word stress - it can sometimes vary from dialect to dialect.
- Slang and vocabulary in general.
When you look up a word in the dictionary, don't forget to not only look at its meaning, but also its phonetic transcription, preferably in IPA! That will allow you to study the sounds that are used in a word and where to place the accent.
How can you become fluent in English without leaving your country
Meetups in English
Having a good accent in English is great, but in order to become fluent in the language, you have to speak! There's no way around it.
If you live in a big city like Paris, Berlin, Tokyo or Mexico City, for example, it's extremely easy to find English speakers to meet up with. When you hear someone speak English, ask them where they're from, if they're enjoying the city/ region, if they need any help. We're all human and we all love meeting new people and making new friends.
And yes, of course, there will always be people who will ignore you or who will be rude, but you won't see them ever again. As the mother of Jackson Brown said (and not Mark Twain as many believe):
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
You're looking for an English course in your city? Why not just make some friends there!
Think in English
Most of our thoughts do not really require an advanced level. If you think about it, it's mostly mundane things - what we need to buy from the supermarket, our daily tasks, whom we need to call, etc. Try to either think about what you have to do in English or to translate it into English in your head. It's a very effective exercise, because you'll be able to identify the words you're missing in order to speak about a certain topic. It's also useful, because, if you think about something, chances are that you're going to want to talk about it with others, too! Look at this exercise as a way to prepare yourself for your future conversations in English in real life!
You have to start with simple thoughts!
Sorry, I don't understand you!
Can't find native English speakers in your region? If you're feeling brave and you want to test other people's level in English, try ordering at a restaurant or coffee shop in English or maybe ask for directions in English (even if it's your own city!).
Just imagine that you don't understand your native language! It's a little-known technique to help you improve your English, but it's useful if you don't have a native speaker "on you".
Here are a few other ways to surround yourself with English, to create a little English-speaking bubble wherever you might be!
Set all of your devices in English
On average, we look at our phones every 12 minutes. This can be time wasted online or valuable English practice - it's up to you!
Set your computer, your phone, your tablet, etc. in English. You would be surprised by the number of words you'll remember!
Use the Internet to practice your English
We use the Internet all the time, so if you use it in English, that's some extra practice! Here's why and how the Internet can become a platform where you can practice English:
- It's easy to access and use. If you're reading this article, then you already have access to the Internet, so you can use all the techniques we have covered.
- Endless information and possibilities. Most of the techniques we've talked about are available on the Internet.
- Communication - the world really has become a small place. We can talk to a person who's on the other side of the world in real time. It would be such a shame if you don't take advantage of that!
- Choice of language - you surely already enjoy all of these opportunities that the Web has to offer. All that's left, is to simply change the language!
Enjoy English courses online!
You're wondering which English dictionary you should choose? If your level allows it, try using monolingual dictionaries when you're looking up a word - that will help you to surround yourself with English even more. Little by little, you'll no longer need to translate everything from one language to another in your head and you will really start thinking in English!
Video games in English
Whatever your hobby may be (dancing, cooking, drawing, etc.) you can find a simulation game of it in English! That will help you learn specific vocabulary related to that field, you'll make new friends who share your interests, and you'll also be able to enjoy the visual aspect. For example, if you're playing Sims, all of the objects have labels in English, which will help you memorize the vocabulary. What's more, it's so fun - you can spend hours doing it and this time, without feeling guilty!
Video games - an alternative to English courses for all ages!
The opportunities to practice English really are all around you! You can do almost anything you want in English, without even being in an English-speaking country. Learning English does not have to be something boring. On the contrary, the more you enjoy it, the more time you'll spend doing it and thus, the more you'll improve!
We hope that you have found some interesting techniques which will help you combine pleasure and progress!
If you liked our English anti-course and our techniques to become fluent in English, then you should also check out:
- The Click & Speak method - our own complete training program, which will help you finally understand and speak real English with ease. You'll have access to 7,066 Monologues and 365 Dialogues, which are lively, exciting, and will allow you to become fluent.