Learning English by yourself can be a challenge but it is possible. There are ways you can improve your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills — even though there is no-one physically around you to help you practise.
Virginia Lang, an Australian English teacher, shares her tips on improving your English by yourself:
1. Place labels around your home🔖📌
Whether it be grammar or vocabulary, memorisation is a part of learning English. Memorisation can also be hard and boring, so Virginia Lang has a number of creative solutions for students.
"Get post-it notes and label everything in your house. Every time you associate that object with the word, you’re more likely to remember it."
English has a number of grammar rules, which students often find difficult to remember.
"You can put them in a place where you’re going to spend a lot of time — possibly the bathroom or your bedroom — where you can remind yourself of those rules," says Virginia.
"It’s one thing to learn it; it’s another thing to retain it".
You can write vocabulary and grammar rules on post-it notes and put them up around your home.
2. Start a blog 🖥⌨
Starting an online blog or journal can be a simple (and free) way to develop you writing skills.
"Start small. Maybe start with some photos and a caption."
Once you have become comfortable with small writing tasks, such as captions, you can then move onto sentences and then hopefully paragraphs.
Virginia also suggests that you find ways to proofread or edit your writing: "You can use spellcheck, you can check it yourself, you can get another English speaker to help you."
You can start a blog by yourself and improve your English at the same time.
3. Change your phone settings🔧⚙
We all use our phones and other devices (such as laptops or computers) multiple times a day.
Virginia advises students to change the default language settings on their devices and apps to English.
"It forces you to think in English all the time."
"It will help you to improve more quickly," explains Virginia.
Could you still use the apps on your phone if they were all in English?
4. Read for interest📚📖
Reading is an important skill and it also helps your writing skills as well. In order to sustain your learning, Virginia recommends connecting reading with your passions.
"Read something you’re interested in. If you’re into sport, read a sports magazine."
When you read, do it actively and consider the tools that you can use while reading.
"Highlighters are great for highlighting new words that you don’t know. Have a good online dictionary or have a good paper dictionary as you’re reading, so you can check the definition and put it to memory as well," suggests Virginia.
Reading English articles and magazines on topics that interest you.
5. Write summaries📜✍
Listening to podcasts and watching videos and television in English are all useful ways to improve your English by yourself. Virginia recommends extending your learning by either writing down or saying aloud summaries of what you have heard or watched.
"Summarising what you’re learning is a great skill. It’s quite a difficult thing to do as well."
If you're already watching videos and listening to audio, why not try summarise the information that you are taking in?