How to Learn English as a Second Language in 10 Simple Steps

Non-native English users can successfully learn English as a Second Language by following ten simple steps that have been proven effective.
Non-native English users can successfully learn English as a Second Language by following ten simple steps that have been proven effective. | Source

English as a Second Language is not easy to learn.

This is because English has its own set of rules in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciations that might be very different from that of the native language of English as a Second Language learners.

By following ten simple steps, however, non-native English speakers can speak, write, read, and listen to English confidently and effortlessly.

These ten simple steps on how to learn English as a Second Language are discussed below.

1. Set Your English Proficiency Goal

Non-native English speakers wanting to master English as a Second Language must set out their English proficiency goals.

Goals are important because they let English as a Second Language students be reminded of what they ultimately want to accomplish with their English studies.

Some of the questions that learners of English as a Second Language must ask themselves when identifying their English proficiency goals include:

  • What areas of my English as a Second Language skills do I want to improve? Listening, writing, speaking, and/or reading?
  • When do I want see these areas improved? In one year? In two years?
  • How can I measure my improvement? Is it when I can use English as a Second Language with ease when speaking with my foreign colleagues and friends? Is it when I can use English as a Second Language in calls, e-mails, letters, presentations, or conferences?

2. Know Your Motivations and Be Constantly Reminded About Them

It may take months or years to become fluent in English as a Second Language.

Thus, it would be helpful if English as a Second Language students can stay motivated during their long-term studies of the English language.

To identify their motivations in their English as a Second Language studies, learners must ask themselves, “Why do I want to be great at English?”

Some of the answers to these questions may include:

  • I want to put an end to the embarrassment I’ve felt all these years when I’m unable to speak in English.
  • I want to get promoted at work with the help of my high scores in business English tests.
  • I want to be assigned overseas where English is used as a language for business.
  • I want to enter a prestigious university in a foreign country where English is widely used as a medium of communication.
  • I want to expand my business overseas by negotiating with customers, suppliers, or partners in English.
  • I want to gain new friends from around the world through the English language.

3. Get Help from an Excellent English Teacher

A study of English as a Second Language is made more efficient and effective with the help of a skilled and enthusiastic English teacher.

Such a teacher can help students of English as a Second Language by doing the following:

  • Spot students’ errors in English.
  • Explain the errors.
  • Help students avoid such errors in the future.
  • Foster a learning environment that is conducive to learning English as a Second Language.
  • Encourage students to keep on studying despite some difficulties with English studies.

4. Cultivate Your Willingness to Learn English

Not even the most experienced English teacher could ever help students in mastering English as a Second Language if these students are unwilling to accept feedback about their weaknesses in English and to improve.

Thus, it is quite important for English as a Second Language learners to request their teachers to give them as much criticism as possible about their English proficiency.

However, they must take their teachers’ criticisms constructively.

It is also very important for English as a Second Language students to try to learn English with passion.

If students are not passionate about English as a Second Language, perhaps they may need to be reminded about their goals and motivations for studying.

5. Study and Put Your Learning into Practice

Arguably the most important tip for learning English as a Second Language is to study and put all acquired learning into practice.

As the adage goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

To practice English as a Second Language, it is best to run through English speaking, listening, writing, and reading.

Some of the ways by which English as a Second Language learners can practice include:

  • Read English news or blogs.
  • Write e-mails in English.
  • Listen to English podcasts or videos.
  • Make phone calls or video calls in the English language.

Don't waste time and effort in useless English "learning" activities. Learn English as a Second Language by following 10 steps.
Don't waste time and effort in useless English "learning" activities. Learn English as a Second Language by following 10 steps. | Source

6. Use English at Work, School, or Home

People who want to learn English as a Second Language must try to immerse themselves in English as much as possible.

This is because immersion will allow them to become very familiar with English – its sounds, words, phrases, and sentence constructions.

Immersion will also allow them to understand how English is used in a natural setting and in conversations.

Through immersion, they will eventually find themselves developing the habit of using English with ease and confidence.

To be immersed in English, English as a Second Language learners must try to:

  • Read English articles regularly.
  • Listen to English news, songs, or conversations.
  • Watch English TV programs, videos, or movies.
  • Write English letters, e-mails, presentations, blogs, or journals.

7. Enlarge Your English Word Bank

To learn English as a Second Language, it is essential to be taught about English vocabulary or the words, phrases, expressions, and idioms of the language.

Vocabulary will allow English as a Second Language learners to express their thoughts vividly and meaningfully using proper English words.

A limited vocabulary will definitely hold them back from getting their messages across, which could be extremely upsetting.

Some of the ways by which people can learn English as a Second Language by expanding their vocabulary are:

  • reading English articles
  • playing English word games
  • looking up words in an English dictionary

To learn more and more about English words, beginner students of English as a Second Language may also want to invest in a quality bilingual dictionary.

This is because bilingual dictionaries can help them with translating and comparing English words with the words in their native language.

However, they must not be overly reliant on their bilingual dictionaries.

Once beginner English as a Second Language learners have graduated to the intermediate level English proficiency, then they may get themselves a monolingual English dictionary and dispose of the bilingual dictionary.

8. Understand the Rules English Grammar and Don’t Break Them

To learn English as a Second Language, non-native English users must understand the rules of English grammar and how these rules apply.

Grammar is simply the set of rules that describe how words, phrases, and clauses are formed into meaningful sentences in English.

Some people who are trying to learn English as a Second Language view grammar either as challenging or boring.

Regrettably, such an attitude towards English grammar prevents these people from fully learning English and how it is used correctly.

Grammar can be interesting if perceived the right way.

With this in mind, people who are trying to learn English as a Second Language must commit to memory that grammar will help them become fluent in the global language of English.

9. Practice Pronunciations

To learn English as a Second Language for oral communications, non-native English users must familiarize themselves with English pronunciations.

The importance of being familiar with English pronunciations cannot be downplayed.

If non-native English users are not skilled in English pronunciations, then they are likely to be misunderstood.

If they are misunderstood, then they may feel downright embarrassed and utterly frustrated.

Thus, people who try to learn English as a Second Language must practice English pronunciations in the following areas:

  • pronunciations of specific sounds of English
  • English word stress
  • English sentence stress
  • English sentence intonation

10. Forget About Mistakes But Learn From Them

In the course of learning English as a Second Language, non-native English users may realize how often they commit mistakes in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

These mistakes are a natural part of the learning process and somehow expected.

Thus, they should not deter learners from studying English as a Second Language.

It is, nevertheless, very important for learners to gain knowledge from their mistakes.

Committing a few English mistakes is forgivable.

However, committing the same mistakes over and over is just absurd.

Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

How to Learn English as a Second Language

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Comments 19 comments

SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

SANJAY LAKHANPAL 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

Nice and useful hub.


Second Language profile image

Second Language 3 years ago

This is a useful list of tips that I am sure will help people in their goal to learn English. Even if people only choose to follow one or two of these tips it will help them a lot.


alihendrix profile image

alihendrix 3 years ago

Hello ! thanks for sharing your blogpost


aboubaker 4 years ago

it is interesting! if you want to get sth just live it


ltlearning profile image

ltlearning 4 years ago from Argentina

very useful tips for an English learner student, Thank you for this hub


Anju Arya profile image

Anju Arya 4 years ago from India

You have given very good suggestions. Thanks, I will follow them and improve my English. Thanks again.


Taleb80 profile image

Taleb80 4 years ago

Kerlynb

I have a big problem in listening skill & whenever I listen or watch English programs, I find myself changing the channel within minutes.

Do you have any advice for this?

I voted Awesome.

Thanks for sharing your skills.

If you go through my hubs & correct some of my English mistakes, it will be a big favour from you.

Yesterday, I printed three of your hub & read them before sleeping.

Thanks Again.

Taleb80


Dawit T profile image

Dawit T 4 years ago from Denmark

You're right. It's hard work to learn a new language. But since English is just about everywhere, it makes it easier to learn because of the exposure of the English language. Ex. TV, Internet, cinema and increasingly our own native has gotten a lot of English words (a least here in Denmark).


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Yes ,This is really great,you must learn this


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@elqalatawy What a nice thing to say! So kind of you to visit my hub. Many thanks! :)


elqalatawy profile image

elqalatawy 5 years ago from Egypt

Hi kerlynb,

You deal with the subject in an intelligent way, as you seem to be!


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@Kawaljit kaur Thank you for your comment. Really hope this hub would help other ESL learners.


Kawaljit kaur profile image

Kawaljit kaur 5 years ago from JALANDHAR, Punjab (India)

kerlynb

your hub will definitely prove very useful for those who want to learn it as their second language. Hats off. Voted up.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@novascotiamiss Very useful tips you gave us here: watch English TV programs and movies, gain friends who can speak English, use English with peers, and most importantly, not to be afraid of making mistakes in English. Thanks so much!


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@suzettenaples It is always a delight to read your comments :) Thanks again for your kind words. You may not know it but comments like yours just remind me that I'm doing something worthwhile. About the will to learn English, I think some people just don't have it. There are also some people who have the will to learn but are not open-minded enough to receive negative feedback from their teachers :(


suzettenaples 5 years ago

Another excellent article. You are doing extremely well in English, and I'm not just saying that to be nice. I have Italian cousins in Italy who have studied ESL for years, and they have not reached your caliber in English. And they even work in businesss, where they have to speak and write in English everyday. You are much better than you give yourself credit for. (See, even I ended my sentence with a preposition which, in English, you are not supposed to do.) Although, I am not certified in ESL, I did teach it to a student of mine who came from Guatemala to live in the U.S. Your comment about really wanting to learn English is so important. The will to learn and conquer the English language is a must, because as you said, English is a difficult language to learn.


novascotiamiss profile image

novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

One great way to improve your english is by watching english speaking TV programs and movies. That's fun and effortless learning. You will pick up many new words and get used to other people talking. With many languages the main obstacle is that you learn it at school and you make conversation with your peers who have the same level of education. Once you get out into the real world you don't understand a word as native speakers may talk very fast or have a different accent. Having pen pals in a different language is also a lot of fun. Don't worry about making mistakes, being able to express yourself is more important. Once you reach a certain level you can start working on your mistakes.


kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ Author

@kitikits Thanks for dropping by kababayan :) You gave another good piece of advice - be a voracious reader! Many thanks!


kitikits profile image

kitikits 5 years ago from Philippines

I really enjoyed reading this blog. I agree with all of these steps especially Step 5. Speaking from experience, my English skills weren't improved until I started reading novels and other publications. It really pays to read. Looking forward to the part 2!

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