How to become good at English
How do become good at English? We are drowning in the mass of information available today and yet we are always hungry to learn. If you have come across this article, you still don’t know what makes some people good at English, while you are still struggling to progress. Fortunately, there are skills you can learn and behaviors you can adopt today to become good at English. Our team of polyglots reveals all its secrets to you. Are you ready ?
How to speak English well
Certain behaviours and certain habits make it possible for some people to express themselves naturally, and spontaneously in English. Here they are :
You have to like to express yourself. It’s not just about talking, because when we talk, we don’t have time to check if everything we say is correct, whereas to progress, we have to check. You need slow practice in which you control everything you say or write.
Check and recheck everything. We still do it despite having been learning English for years (even decades!). When you doubt the meaning, usage, or pronunciation of a word: check it!
Those who are good at English are curious. They constantly want to learn more about the words and expressions they already know: their etymology, their usage, the register in which they are used, etc.
Check if you are formulating things correctly. We often manage to get our message across, but clumsily or bizarrely for the ears of English speakers. A tip for speaking like a native is to Google different turns of phrase and see which is the most popular. The number of results is usually a good indicator.
How can you get GOOD at English? To be good at English, make sure you pronounce all the words you use correctly. How did you read the word good above? If you said /gud/, then you have a gap in English pronunciation because you have to say /gʊd/. Don’t worry if you made this mistake, since it’s an English sound that doesn’t exist in Hindi, so many learners overlook it. However, to be better at English, you have to know all its sounds well.
To be able to distinguish the nuances of language. To become good at English, you must learn to speak idiomatically. Saying something that’s grammatically correct is a good start, but it’s not enough. You must also learn to express yourself idiomatically in English:
- Do you always say take a coffee when you place your order? Yes, even if we understand perfectly what you mean, we immediately notice that English is not your native language. It’s more natural to use the verb have when talking about food or drink. Then say I’ll have a coffee, please.
The slightly strange turn of phrase of the previous example comes from the fact that we tend to translate directly from Hindi. The problem is that the two languages do not work the same way. Be aware of false friends (words that sound similar in Hindi and English but mean different things). Another example is that Hindi speakers tend to forget auxiliary verbs when asking a question:
- Do you want to come? (with a rising intonation) surely comes from the translation of the sentence “Do you want to come? », but in English, you have to add the verb do to construct this question correctly. Then say Do you want to come?
- Accept the differences between Hindi and English. English speakers distinguish between these two sentences:
- I live here now. = I live here now.
- I have been living here for 5 years. = I have lived here for 5 years. (with emphasis on the duration of action)
How to understand English better
A common problem with our learners is that despite years of effort and a decent understanding of written English, they fail to understand spoken English! Is this the case for you too? There are many reasons why you probably lack oral comprehension:
English spelling that is not phonetic. Knowing how to write a word does not necessarily mean that you will be able to recognize it orally, let alone use it yourself.
The lack of vocabulary. Even though you can sometimes guess the meaning of an unfamiliar word, you still need to know a certain number of words to understand everyday English.
- Neglect of the spoken language. Did you spend long hours reading and translating in English with little audio and practice? This is a mistake to avoid.
Do you recognize yourself in the problems I have just mentioned? Here are the solutions to become better in English, with better oral comprehension:
Study English phonetics. This is the best advice we can give you. If you do it correctly, phonetics will be a revolutionary tool that will allow you to analyze the music of English, understand everything and express yourself with a better accent. But how do you learn English phonetics?
Integrate more into your learning. Surround yourself with audio and allow yourself periods without text to set aside written language. What’s great is that you choose the materials you will use. The possibilities are almost endless: movies, series, podcasts, audiobooks, music, etc.
- Choose your content more carefully. Prioritize unsuitable content. If you’re a beginner, expose yourself to authentic English from time to time. Although it is scary at first, if you always rely on adapted and contrived content, you will be limited to understanding English that is spoken slowly. Start by listening to and analyzing the lyrics of a song. Watch short snippets of videos with subtitles on YouTube. Work with a scene from your favorite series or movie. Expose yourself to speaking English to understand it better and not feel discouraged, do it gradually.
How to Memorize English Vocabulary
If you don’t have the right technique, then the words you thought you already knew will escape you during a conversation, they will remain gibberish when you listen without visual aid ( subtitles or other). So here are my tips for memorizing English vocabulary once and for all:
Learn the vocabulary in the correct order. One mistake to avoid is wasting your energy on words that won’t serve you. The most common words are repeated, while the others appear only occasionally. Prioritize important words, essential for any conversation in English. There are 5000 of them and if you master them you will understand 96% of everyday English.
Learn in context. A bad habit at school is to memorize lists of words with their Hindi translation. The problem is that you will end up confusing everything, understanding nothing, and searching for your words. To avoid this, use example sentences. Whether it’s the situation in which you first came across the word or while searching YouGlish, give context to the words you’re studying.
Learn all word forms. Do you learn words without checking their pronunciation? Do you ever memorize a verb only in the present simple, without knowing how to conjugate it in the past tense? If the answer is yes, then don’t be surprised if you’re still searching for your words! To get the words right, follow our guide to learning a word in English.
- Revise. When you learn a new word, you forget it after a while. This is called the forgetting curve. It was highlighted in 1885 by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, in his study of memory:
To show our brain that this is important information that we want to remember, we have to expose ourselves to it several times. 11 times to be exact. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about this, as there are courses that rely on a system of spaced repetitions to revise English.
- Use the language. Even with the best English training, you have to use the language in everyday life. Find English practice resources that appeal to you and spend hours improving without feeling like working!
How to be good at English grammar
What makes some people better at English than others? Here are the secrets of those who assimilate English grammar easily, while you stumble on incomprehensible rules and conjugations:
Having been exposed to English for long periods will make you know how to use grammar rules instinctively instead of conjugating verbs in your head before ordering at a restaurant. By using language, we accumulate thousands of correct examples in our heads that we can use to create new sentences from the same patterns unconsciously. Exposing yourself to English will make the difference between rules and intuition. If you think you’re bad at English grammar, answer me honestly: do you spend time using the language? If the answer is no, then I invite you to discover our resources to practice English in a fun way! Choose content that appeals to you and you’ll accumulate the necessary practice time in no time.
- Don’t throw your English grammar books in the trash! Grammar rules can be a great way to analyze and understand the patterns you accumulate through practice. Although it seems contradictory at first glance, they are two sides of the same coin. However, if you didn’t follow the natural order of learning modern language, then it likely failed. Turn to theory only to better understand and appreciate what you already have heard or read in English. The same way you learned your native language: you spent several years listening to it and then reading it before you started studying grammar rules. Those who have the best command of a language can use it in all registers.
How to get good at English fast
To learn English quickly (or as quickly as possible), you need to optimize your efforts and determine your priorities.
Focus on the most important words. You can master the most common vocabulary quite quickly and thus make faster progress. Aim for the 600 most used words in the English language, to hold simple conversations and understand basic things.
If you are going to speak English in a specific situation, imagine how that might turn out. Brainstorm, brainstorm, and try to come up with words and phrases that are likely to be used in this conversation. Look them up in the dictionary and get ready.
Focus on what will serve you. If you’re planning a trip to an English-speaking country, learn how to order in restaurants, ask for directions, and introduce yourself. I doubt you’re talking about animals or global warming in these situations! Discover the English vocabulary of travel!
Take the time to master the basics. Learn how to introduce yourself and talk about your life. The things that are talked about the most are repeated and if you learn to express yourself in this first conversation fluently, without looking for your words and with a good accent, you will seem very good in English! It’s a way to cheat or “fool” others and sound better in English than you are.
- Don’t forget to learn the correct pronunciation of all these words! As we have already mentioned several times on our blog and in this article, most learners neglect the spoken language. Result: they have a bad accent that prevents them from communicating effectively. To pronounce English well, always check the pronunciation of words: new ones and those you have known for years. You’ll be surprised how many words you thought you knew the correct pronunciation of!
How to become multilingual in English in 1 month
Is it possible to become bilingual in English in 1 month? Let’s do the math together. According to European estimates, one needs 1200 hours of practice to reach level C2 or to become bilingual. Even if you devote 18 hours a day (let’s say that’s the maximum, you’re still going to need to eat, go to the toilet and even sleep sometimes!), you can accumulate 540 hours in 1 month, or a B2 level.
So in theory, if you start from scratch, you could reach level B2 in a month at the most, but this is not realistic for the vast majority of people.
So what can you accomplish in 1 month? Even if you don’t work and have no other responsibilities, I doubt that doing much more than two hours a day is possible: you lose motivation and concentration. You will total 60 hours at the end of the month, almost an A1 level if you are a complete beginner. Disappointing? Maybe at first glance, but keep in mind that learning English is an investment for life. After one year, you will have accumulated 720 hours of practice, or a C1 (advanced) level!
No matter what gift of tongues someone might have, you need to devote the time to it.
How to become excellent in English
Being good or even very good at English is one thing, but maybe you want more. Be bilingual, take advantage of all the content available in the Shakespeare language, watch movies without subtitles, read information to develop yourself in your field and be one step ahead of others, have English-speaking friends, exchange with them, and even why not move to an English-speaking country? Whatever your goal, you are reading this article because you want to become bilingual, so here is how to become excellent in English:
In vocabulary, you have to master the 5000 most used words in English. This figure represents 96% of everyday language, so with such a rich vocabulary, you will be able to understand everything (you will be able to guess the meaning of the other 4% of the words) and express yourself in any day-to-day situation, work with English-speaking clients or even live in another country!
In grammar, assimilate the 86 grammar structures necessary to use the 5000 words cited above in context.
In phonetics :
- The 39 sounds of American English including 14 absent from Hindi.
- Stress or syllable stress in English.
- The sentence accent constitutes rhythm in English.
If you are looking for a course that allows you to reach the level of English you have always dreamed of, progressively and intelligently, then discover our Click & Speak training. It brings together everything we have talked about in this article to maximize your efforts and your time and become excellent in English at a lower cost.
How to become multilingual in English, step by step
One way to organize your English learning is to follow the levels of the CEFR which has 6 levels, from A1 (the most basic level) to level C2 (the bilingual level). We have already written very comprehensive articles, with all the vocabulary, grammar, and topics to reach each of the following levels:
- How to Become A1 in English
- How to Become A2 in English
- How to become B1 in English
- How to become B2 in English
- How to become C1 in English
- How to become C2 in English
Keep in mind that the efforts to reach each of these levels of English are not identical. The difference between level A0, which is entirely beginner, and level A1 is smaller than that between level C1 (advanced) and C2 (bilingual).
There may be genetic factors at play when it comes to learning modern language, but it’s still hard to distinguish between nature and nurture (some people are taller than others, some are faster, etc.). You can become as good at English as you are at Hindi (and better at both if you put in the time). We hope that you see things more clearly and are now motivated to learn English seriously.