How to become bilingual in English?
Imagine… You spend ten years learning English in school and when you leave the school system you still don’t really speak English. Then, one fine day, you decide to get back to it, and there, what are you doing?!! You resume English lessons, purely school, as if you were going back to school. It’s crazy, right?
There is a rather famous phrase that goes around the world…
English lessons will only help you up to a point: they may help you get to grips with grammar , maybe basic vocabulary , but that’s about it! We rarely have the opportunity to speak during these lessons, we often neglect the specificities of oral language and accents, not to mention the fact that it is often boring! We have the feeling that it’s work, that we have to do, like a chore: how can we not want to give up?!
How to better understand oral English?
Here are the best techniques to improve your understanding of spoken English :
What are the alternatives to English lessons at home?
Learn English with music
We all love to listen to music! So how about using it to progress in English, whatever your favorite genre? By listening to and singing our favorite songs, we practice our accent and learn vocabulary and grammatical constructions without even realizing it!
At first, you can use bilingual versions of the lyrics to get used to different English structures, observe how sentences are constructed, and ideas expressed in English, etc.
Once it feels easy enough, start using English-only lyrics to fully immerse yourself in the language!
This technique is great, because there is always new music to discover , so you will never be bored!
Learn English with TV
Do you feel a little guilty when you turn on the TV to watch your favorite series to unwind at the end of the day? There’s a lot more productive things you could do with your time, huh? The good news is that you can turn your indulgence into a way to practice your English!
The opportunities are endless! We can :
- watch English TV from home ,
- watch an exciting series in English ,
- chill out with an English sitcom ,
- practice your British accent with an English show !
The main advantage of television is the visual aspect . Even if you don’t understand all the words, you can tell what’s going on by the actors’ facial expressions, the situation, and even the sound effects!
Another advantage of series and films is their simple plot , this is particularly the case with sitcoms : it follows the daily life of one or more characters, the dialogues are short and easy to understand!
Learn English with YouTube
TV is good, but the language you hear on it tends to be a little… exaggerated. You have certainly noticed that movies and series in French are not very realistic and that it would be weird to hear someone speak that way in real life.
To go further, you can watch videos on YouTube ! What’s great is that these are real people who sat down in front of their camera and talked as if they were talking with their friends: the language is real, with current slang and natural expressions!
Watch the best YouTube channels to listen to authentic English or learn English with teachers on YouTube !
English lessons are even available on YouTube!
Learn English with audiobooks
Do you feel like you don’t have time to do English ?
Listening to English audiobooks is a great way to practice English anytime and anywhere: put on your headphones and see how your daily tasks become opportunities to practice your English!
Learn English with podcasts
Do you often feel like you’re wasting your time ? Walking, shopping, waiting for the bus, taking public transport… If we do the math, it can end up being several hours every day!
Podcasts are a great way to put all that time to good use! You will find them on all subjects, of all durations and they are accessible for free for the most part!
Learn English by watching stand-up
The United States is the cradle of stand-up, also called one-(wo)man-show : decades of shows in English await you and you can be sure that the cream of humor is there!
Discover English- speaking comedians from all over the world and practice English while having fun!
Learn English while cooking
If you are one of the people who have a visual and haptic memory (through touch and manipulation) and you like to cook, why not start cooking in English ? Immerse yourself in the thousands of recipes in English available on the web and make your taste buds travel! This will be an opportunity to learn all the vocabulary related to cooking and food and you will no longer have any problems ordering your meal at the restaurant in English!
? Did you know: on average, we lose about 2 hours a day doing household chores, in transport, or shopping, etc. All this is time that can be used to practice English thanks to the methods we have just listed!
Listen to English everywhere to become English bilingual.
How to better understand written English ?
Read comic books
If you would like to read in English but novels seem too difficult for you, English comics are a great start to diving into the world of English reading! The visual support is a great help (if we don’t understand all the words, the illustrations help us!), the dialogues are short and the plot… exciting!
Read the information in English
The next step is to get information in English : if you think about it, information is much easier to understand than fiction, because the language is clear and concrete . Very often, these are subjects that we have already heard about, so we are not completely swimming in uncharted waters.
As you can imagine, the English-speaking media are very numerous and the latest news is always available in English!
Read Wikipedia in English
The largest encyclopedia in the world: all the information you want is just a click away!
Learn about the topics that interest you with the English version of Wikipedia : the articles there are usually more complete and more regularly updated than those in other languages!
Read fiction in English
What could be better than enjoying your favorite works in their original version? Thus, not only will you immerse yourself in English culture, but you will also learn new vocabulary , new grammatical constructions and new expressions !
Here are some tips to optimize your reading in English:
We advise you not to look up every unknown word in the dictionary : you risk quickly losing the pleasure of reading!
Don’t make a vocabulary list ! I doubt you understood every word when you read your first novel in French. You didn’t look up all the words in the dictionary and that didn’t stop you from learning them, anyway! You’ll remember important words naturally in English, too.
- If you don’t understand a word immediately, try to identify its root . It could be an unknown form of a word you already know !
Kill two birds with one stone! : read aloud to work on your pronunciation and accent while enjoying an exciting story!
Reading e-books is a great way to learn English for free!
How to write better in English?
By writing, you will exercise several skills: expressing your ideas, forming grammatically correct sentences, enriching your vocabulary and improving your spelling ; in the end, you will also know how to translate better into English!
Here are some good places to practice written English:
Where to practice written English with others?
On forums : if you want to share your ideas and thoughts on a subject, write on forums! A more modern equivalent of the forums you are familiar with are the Facebook and Telegram groups. You can easily find an English-speaking group focused on your interests and passions!
On chat rooms : you can easily find an English correspondent and exchange e-mails in English with him/her !
On Twitter : it’s not exactly the first site you think of when you want to practice written English, but writing short messages on Twitter, whatever the subject, can be a very good exercise because it requires you to be clear and concise; you can talk about a political issue or what you just ordered at the restaurant! Keep in mind that Twitter uses a lot of contractions and texting ! It is also one of the first places where new slang terms appear !
- About Lang-8 : Lang-8 is a site that allows you to write short texts on a subject of your choice that a native speaker will correct afterwards! In exchange, you will have the opportunity to correct the texts of French learners.
Keep in mind that each of these sites has its own language register which requires different politeness formulas !
How to practice written English alone?
If you don’t feel ready to communicate with someone else in English, you can start with some exercises to improve your written English on your side:
With dictations : starting with dictations, you will focus on spelling and grammar, without worrying about wording. It’s a great way to learn new phrases that will come in handy when you start writing on your own. Many sites offer you dictations ! The advantage is that there is something for all levels and it doesn’t take a lot of time!
- English to-do lists : get organized and practice English at the same time! Write down what you have to do by date and time . This exercise does not require an advanced level and it will help you remember everyday phrases; answer the question What did you do today? will then become child’s play (English speakers like to exchange banalities)!
Not understanding what you have written is not a reason to forget to do the dishes!
It is very intimidating to write in a foreign language, we know it, that’s why we advise you to use an automatic corrector !
Writing to progress in English
How to speak better in English?
All the techniques that we have just listed will also help you to speak better in English !
How to work on your English accent
Where to start 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 the different sounds is the first step in being able to reproduce them! Don’t be discouraged, it is actually possible for a French person to lose their native accent and speak English (or any other language) with an impeccable accent!
If you have trouble pronouncing a sound in English, pay attention to how natives move their lips, mouth, tongue to produce it and identify where it is coming from. These are some great ways to check your pronunciation!
It is also necessary to choose an accent to acquire . Our Phonographs and the Click & Speak method use American English, but it’s up to you to decide which accent you like the most! If you are moving to an English-speaking country, it will make more sense to learn the local accent, but if you want to learn English for another reason ( to travel , for work, or just for fun), the American accent is certainly the easiest to articulate!
What differentiates the accents? That’s a good question to ask yourself. When you identify why accents “sound” so differently , it becomes much easier to imitate and reproduce them!
Some key points are:
Vowels : the main difference between the various accents lies in the vowels used!
The tonic accent : it sometimes differs from one English dialect to another to another!
- Slang and vocabulary in general.
When looking up a word in the dictionary, don’t forget to look not only at its meaning, but also at its API transcription ! This will be very useful for you to know the sounds used and where to place the accent.
How to Become Bilingual in English Without Traveling
Dating in English
Having a better accent in English is good, but to become bilingual in English, you have to speak it !
In a big city like Paris, for example, it is very easy to meet English speakers . France is a very touristic country, you certainly meet foreigners every day: look around you! When you hear someone speaking English, ask them where they’re from, if they’re enjoying the city, etc. ! We’re all human and we love meeting new people and making new friends!
Yes, of course, there will always be people who will ignore you or be rude, but you will never see them again! As Jackson Brown’s mother (and not Mark Twain as is sometimes believed) said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed with what you didn’t do than with what you did. “. ( Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do ).
Are you looking for an English course in Paris?
Why not make friends in English instead!
think in english
Most of our thoughts do not require an advanced level; if you think about it, these are very mundane things: what to buy at the supermarket, household chores, who to call, etc. Try to either think of what you have to do in English or translate it into English in your head! It is a very effective exercise, because you will be able to identify the words you are missing to talk about a subject. It’s also useful, because if you think of something, chances are you’ll talk about it with other people too! See this exercise as a way to prepare for your English conversations in real life!
You have to start with simple thoughts at the beginning!
English? What’s that?
Can’t find native English speakers in your area? If you’re brave and want to test other people ‘s English , try ordering in a café or restaurant in English, or even asking for directions in English (even if it’s your own town!).
Just imagine that you don’t understand French! It is an unknown technique for progressing in English but which is useful when you do not have an English speaker “on hand”.
Immerse yourself in English
Here are some other ways to surround yourself with English , to create your own English-speaking bubble wherever you are!
Switch all your devices to English
On average, we look at our mobile every 12 minutes. It can be lost time or practicing English: the choice is yours!
Put your computer in English but also your laptop, tablet, etc. You will be surprised by the number of words you will remember!
Use the Internet to practice English
We use the Internet all the time, so if you use it in English , it’s even more convenient! Here is why and how the Internet can become a platform for practicing English:
Easy to access and use! If you’re reading this article, you have access to the Internet, so you can use all the techniques we just talked about!
Endless information and possibilities! Most of the techniques we just talked about are available on the Internet!
Communication : the world has really become very small: we can speak with a person on the other side of the planet in real time! It would be a shame not to enjoy !
- The choice of language : you certainly already take advantage of all these opportunities that the Web offers you, all you have to do is simply change the language!
Take advantage of online English lessons!
Wondering which English dictionary to choose ? If your level allows it, try using monolingual dictionaries when checking a word: this will help you surround yourself with even more English. Little by little, you will stop needing to translate everything from one language to another in your head and you will be able to really think in English!
video games in english
Whatever your hobby (dancing, cooking , drawing, etc.), you can find an English simulation game ! You will learn the specific vocabulary related to this field, you will make new friends who share these interests and you will also benefit from the visual aspect: for example, if you play The Sims , all the objects have labels in English, this which facilitates the memorization of vocabulary! Plus, it’s so much fun: you can spend hours playing, and this time without feeling guilty!
Video games : an alternative to English lessons for young and old!
The opportunities to practice English really are everywhere ! You can do almost anything you want in English, without even being in an English-speaking country. Learning English doesn’t have to be boring! On the contrary, the more you enjoy it, the more time you will spend there, and therefore the more you will progress!
We hope you have discovered some interesting techniques that will help you combine pleasure and progress!