9 Tips for Learning English as a Second Language (the Smart Way)


In today’s fast-paced globalized world, it is essential to be bilingual, to be able to speak eloquently and effectively in the English language.

English is the universal language for communication and the bridge between people who speak different mother tongues.

Are you learning English as your second language? That’s great!

Of course, learning a language is much easier when you are a child. But how fast you will make progress mainly depends on the style and methods of learning and your attitude.

To help you reach your goal more quickly and easily, this post has some great tips for learning English as your second language!

Does Learning English Has to Be Hard?

Many of us struggle to master a language because of the laborious process that it is by nature.

There are many nuances to a language and in order to get better at it, it requires a lot of effort, time, dedication and most importantly, persistence.

We can be very tempted to give it all up and get frustrated because getting the hang of the language and seeing yourself improve is the challenging part of the learning process.

Another concern is about how “dry” or in other words, how boring it can be to learn English. Unfortunately, a traditional understanding that learning a language consists of reading translation books and grammar rule books day and night exists in people’s mind and it’s tough to scrub it off.

The fact is that, learning a language is indeed fun and in order to create such an environment for yourself, you need to be patient, don’t be too hard on yourself and do not make a big deal out of this.

It’s certainly possible to get better at a language, no matter how old you are, or how fast or slow your learning pace is!

Follow the 9 tips for learning English as your second language the smart way!

#1: Watch News Channels, Documentaries and Movies

This may seem like such an odd piece of advice but this is the no.1 thing that you should do in order to learn English.

Let’s just clarify what we mean by this; it’s not about lounging back, chewing on popcorn and watching a movie or a documentary leisurely.

This is part of your learning process, whereby you have to watch the movie or documentary attentively, by paying attention to the way people conversate or the way information is being constructively expressed.

You will certainly learn how to speak eloquently by watching the news channel if you choose to observe the way the news readers pronounce words.

Beyond listening, you have to try pronouncing complicated vocabulary words for yourself and try giving a small speech or so.

Watching documentaries and movies will be of great entertainment, an excellent platform to gain knowledge as well as to increase the vocabulary bank in your brain and help you develop your critical thinking skills.

#2: Read

When you have developed your skills up to a level where you can read a novel or articles comfortably, you should start cultivating this as a habit.

Reading is one of the best ways to learn a language after listening and practicing conversing.

As you read, it is important to look out for the way sentences are structured, the kind of words that are being used, and the way stories are being told or the way history is being told in a gripping manner.

Soon enough, you will become a book worm (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). You will continue to seek out more books, you will have a continuous thirst for knowledge and to quench that thirst, you will read more and more.

This loop of reading and wanting to read some more will help you to grow your language skills tremendously.

Though one thing that has to be kept in mind is all this takes time and it does not happen overnight. One needs the patience, persistence, and diligence in order to cultivate this habit, then follow it tenaciously with the goal of learning the language.

If you fear to jump into reading novels, you can start off by reading simple news articles written by journalists on CNN, BBC, RT.

Keep in mind to read alternative sources instead of just reading one particular source because it can be biased and one-sided opinion laden. When reading a piece of article, never look at anything superficially and always cross-refer to other sources.

As you progress further, you can read more complex articles like that of, The Economist, as the language is handled at a very professional level and worldly issues are very well criticized by talented journalists.

#3: Conversate

Holding a conversation with someone in English fluently can be difficult to begin with. This comes with practice over time and what’s important is to not feel shy or embarrassed about being unable to conversate well in the initial stages.

Remember that an expert was once a beginner and it takes lots of time and many shameless attempts to get better at something.

As you speak to someone, observe the way they construct sentences, the way they punctuate and express, and attempt to mimic that initially.

Soon enough, as you become more familiar with the language and as you gain confidence, you will find your groove and style of speaking.

The key is to practice, to never feel embarrassed or fear failure.

#4: Practice Writing

Speaking is one thing and writing is a whole new arena.

Mastering a language includes being able to speak well, as well as to write well. This, again, comes with practice.

For a start, you can write a daily journal in your diary. Write about simple things, like what you had done in that day, what you were feeling throughout the day or you can write about things that make you feel happy or about things that make you feel sad. Express your inner thoughts and feelings in the form of words and keep this as a habit.

You can then proceed to even write short stories! If you have the habit of writing prose or poetry in your mother tongue and if you think you are a creative linguistic individual, you should not hesitate to write stories in English.

Reading great authors’ (e.g. Anita Desai and George Orwell) books will make you realize that great writing does not come from rich and ornate prose, but rather it comes from the succinct story-telling, the fine details and the incredible choice of words.

So, grab a pen and write what you want without hesitation. Read through what you have written and create a new draft each time, and every draft should be better than the one preceding it. Be your own critic and you should certainly seek help from others as well.  

#5: Travel

This is a piece of advice that not many people will give but it certainly makes a difference.

We’ve already established that fact that English is the universal language for communication in this day and age.

If you happen to travel around the world, you will place yourself in situations where you have to speak in English to function in the country you have visited. From asking for directions to speaking to locals and introducing yourself to new people, you will have to conversate in English.

Compelling yourself or creating a situation for yourself whereby you have to speak in the language will help you to develop your language skills to a great extent.

The experience will be unforgettable and what you learn on that trip will be deeply embedded in you and hence you will never forget what you have learned.

#6: Tution

Schools have high expectations with regards to the academic performance of their students and there is a huge emphasis on the performance in the English language due to its importance in the world.

Students who take up English as the second language will certainly struggle in the initial days and this may persist if they do not get sufficient help. Hence, students seek external help through English home tuition, through online tutoring services or even in tuition centers.

Learning the English language through home tuition (one-on-one) is especially useful because the tutor’s attention is completely on that student. Hence, the tutor can assess the student’s abilities and capacity and construct a personalized teaching style to guide the student well.

#7: Be Confident

It is unfortunate that many people who don’t speak English as their first language feel embarrassed that they are unable to hold a conversation in English fluently.

Instead of looking at it as something that they can potentially learn and get better at, its being looked at as an embarrassment to begin with. Think of it this way: an English-speaking man does feel embarrassed to mispronounce a word in your mother tongue and neither are other judgmental towards him.

Power, money and the skin-color superiority are factors in the larger political scheme that have caused these feelings of insecurity and inferiority among non-English speaking individuals.

Having a restricted mindset and the fear of getting things wrong will never help you in any way. Be confident enough to make mistakes and learn. (Easier said than done, I know!)

#8: Be Tenacious

It’s a laborious process and it can be extremely exhausting. You need to keep yourself motivated throughout the journey and never give up.

This quality of determination and persistence is essential to keep you going. Never quit from what you have set out for because you will make it; it is only a matter of time!

#9: Enjoy the Ride

If you enjoy what you do and if your heart is in it, you will achieve success and there is no doubt about it. You have to genuine with your efforts and you have to enjoy the journey. You only live once so never take anything to be a burden or a make-or-break challenge.

Love what you do and your path to success will be paved.

The Bottom Line

You are well equipped and you have all the resources you need around you. You need to utilize the resources you have, and the moment you choose to help yourself, others will be willing to help you.

There are many English tuition teachers who are well-versed in the language are willing to teach English online or in-person to students no matter how weak they are.

There is no one way to get better at something; it’s always a culmination of many different tactics and strategies.

Most importantly, keep in mind that patience is necessary because mastering a language takes time.

About Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson was born and raised in Malaysia. He is working as a tutor and a part-time blogger for ChampionTutor, an Online Tutoring Services Provider. In his spare time, he loves to read, write and watch movies.

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