How to Learn English Effectively

There are a few basic methods or practices, when followed regularly, are sure to produce positive results in the long run. The methods mentioned below are non-exhaustive:

  • Read and review more books in English outside the syllabus. Review both vocally and in written forms as a group. (Library membership subscriptions make great birthday gifts)
  • Read newspapers – Start from favourite sections (such as sports or cinema) and eventually to cover the entire newspaper. Discuss the news in English within a group.
  • Learn a new word/phrase from the dictionary and use it during the day’s conversation. One can learn the meaning and usage of about 360 words/phrases within a year and even more when in a group.
  • Speak in English or try to do so in schools/professional environments.
  • Learn through fun:
    • “Word-builder” – played by a group where each player says the word starting with the last letter of the word said by the previous player
    • “Name-Place-Animal-Thing” – group game where every player has to write down nouns starting with the letter selected by each player
    • Scrabble – played with small tiles printed with individual letters of the English alphabet on a tabulated board. Each tile has a specific point and a player has to build a word (usually non-nouns from an accepted dictionary) on the board using the tiles.
    • ”Boggle” – The letters of the English alphabet are printed on the six faces of a cube and several of these cubes are shaken in a box. After shaking, the cubes fall into a square and the player with the most number of word combinations from the letters seen is the winner.
  • Solve crosswords. Cryptic crosswords, commonly found in leading newspapers, are unlike regular crosswords. They require a creative approach to solving and can help understand several phrases and words.
  • ‘Just A Minute’ (JAM) – players speak on a given topic in flawless English while other players try to point out the speaker’s mistakes correctly if they want to speak. The speakers can also argue based on the rules of the language to defend themselves. All this with a time limited to a minute. Each player is awarded points based on the total time spoken or the number of mistakes found correctly.
  • Watch English movies or television programmes – Most movies and TV series now display subtitles (or ‘subs’) at the bottom of the display. Instead of reading the subs, listen to what the characters are saying and glance at the subs only when the sound quality is low. This helps understand the accent and context of the words used. Most of the visual media in India originate in the USA. To understand the British accent and context, listen to British TV channels such as the BBC News. Watch videos with subs on PCs or laptops at slower speeds in the beginning.
  • Learn a non-English European language – French, German, etc. have contributed many words to English.
  • Being moderately active in online social media seems to help learn some new words though it is largely not beneficial for learning spellings and grammar.
  • Use mobile dictionaries and other smart ‘apps’ – some apps lock the smart-phone’s display. To unlock the display, the user has to answer a question. This is an interesting way to learn a lot more than just meanings and etymologies.

These different methods and practices can be useful for learning other languages also. Several methods, when followed together in combination, can increase fluency.

To summarise, reading, listening, speaking and writing more in English is sufficient to learn English better. But this can be done via means such as games to make it more enjoyable. Furthermore, as English is a language of foreign origin, a student must not be shy to make mistakes and learn from them. This is all that will make learning English easy.

Written by Abhinav Kadambi, a freelance content writer with

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