Reah's Blog | Education, Language, Technology

101 Ways to Improve Your English – For Non-native Speakers

By on Sep 5, 2011 in Education, Language | 8 comments

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Having English as a second language, I played kids vocabulary games, watched English TV shows with captions on, read English books aloud, and thought in English all day—all so I can be fluent in English. How hard can that goal be? Hard but fun!

And as if those “hard-but-fun” activities are not enough to accomplish my goal, I created my own word games, made bike riding an educational activity, and tested myself on how many English words I could spell correctly in an hour.

The last one sounds overboard, don’t you think? But I did it. Let’s say it was the product of too much enthusiasm (and free time?) Ha! That activity made me a better speller though and it is just one of a few examples of what you can do to improve your English too. In fact, at the end of this article is a 101 list of activity ideas, so be ready to fill your to-do lists and desks.

No need to do all the activities listed at the end of the article. No rush too. Just pick out those that match your learning style, personality type, or level of proficiency. You can even just select the ones that use materials commonly found online, at home, at school, at work, or in the library. And if you want to do it with your family and friends, choose the activities that require interaction with other people.

Now, enjoy reading the 101 activity ideas to improve your English and do not forget to take notes of those activities you want to do.

For your convenience, you can download and print the pdf version of this article so you can write your notes on it.

By using images and drawings

1Use an English visual dictionary to learn words referring to people, animals, places, and things.
2Use images to learn descriptive words.
3Take photos or draw scenes and items you see every day, then write their captions in English.
4 Label images indexed in Google Image search.
5 Use Google Translate and Google Images together to learn names of places and things.

By using your first language

6 Keep and use English dictionary with you that translates to your first language.
7 Translate words, phrases, and sentences you always use in your first language.
8 Translate questions you commonly ask in your native language to English.
9 Translate your local TV shows to English at Viki.com.
10 Translate songs written on your native language to English.
11 Fill a jar with strips of paper containing random sentences written on your native language. Then once a day, draw a strip of paper from the jar and translate the sentence to English.

By using real items

12 Learn new words from reading English texts printed in product labels or packaging.
13 Label things found in your house or in your office.
14 Hold or point to the actual item when you are describing it.

By using videos

15 Watch English TV shows.
16 Watch English TV shows with English captions on.
17 Watch news from English-speaking news channels.
18 Watch English videos that teach you how to do things.
19 Watch movies and shows without English subtitles.
20 Watch free lectures that interest you at AcademicEarth.org.
21 Watch English video lessons online.
22 Watch free English documentaries online.

By listening

23 Listen to English radio shows, commentaries, and advertising.
24 Listen to the correct pronunciations of words online.
25 Listen to English audio books, which you can probably find in your local libraries.
26 Listen to English podcasts.

Through Lists

27 Master the 1000 most commonly used English words.
28 List and memorize new English words and phrases you think you will be comfortable using.
29 List and group words that are in any way related or similar to each other.

Through music

30 Learn from singing popular English songs like those from the Beatles and Abba.
31 Sing English nursery songs.
32 Listen to songs made for teaching English grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Through games

33 Play Scrabble.
34 Play Boggle.
35 Answer English crossword puzzles.
36 Play word guessing games.
37 Play English typing games.
38 Choose English as the default language of computer games you play.

By reading

39 Keep and use an English dictionary with you that has sample sentences.
40 Read English books and magazines regularly.
41 Read English webpages that write about topics that interest you.
42 Read book and product reviews in Amazon.com.
43 Read comments written by English native speakers online.
44 Take the meaning of the word from how it is used in the text you are reading.
45 Read blogs that publish tips on English usage, grammar, and vocabulary.

By learning English patterns and word usage

46 Learn and master the basic patterns in English grammar.
47 Compare English grammar with that of your first language.
48 Learn the rules of parallelism and practice using it.
49 Learn how to use modifiers, and practice using them.
50 Learn how to use phrasal verbs and idioms, and practice using them.
51 Get any copy of the best grammar books.
52 Learn English spelling patterns.
53 Spell English words on paper or spell it out loud, over and over again.
54 Research and familiarize yourself with slang words and phrases.

By speaking

55 Spend an hour reading English texts out loud.
56 Recite English words and phrases while exercising.
57 Tell everyday stories in English.
58 Describe everyday situations and events in English.
59 Record yourself speaking in English and listen to it.
60 Talk in English with a friend who is also working on their English.
61 Participate in English discussions at school.
62 Work as a customer service representative who supports English speakers over the phone.
63 Join the conversations in public Google Plus hangouts with mostly English-speaking people.
64 Find a native-English speaker to practice speaking English with one-on-one.
65 Participate in language exchange activities.
66 Participate in English club activities.
67 Join English book clubs in your area.
68 Speak in English when you have a chance.
69 Publish a YouTube video where you share topics about your country, culture, and language.

By thinking

70 Commit yourself to at least one day of thinking in English.

By writing

71 Write in English for at least an hour a day.
72 Blog in English regularly.
73 Write tweets and statuses in English.
74 Write on Microsoft Word without the spelling and grammar checker features on.
75 Write your own English descriptions when you bookmark web pages online.
76 Use correct spelling and grammar when sending text messages to or writing messages online.
77 Write English skits.

While traveling

78 Collect English reading materials as you travel so you can use these as study materials.
79 Read the English public signs and notices wherever you go.
80 Listen to conversations of English-speaking people in public places.

By using other computer and web technologies

81 Use English apps that help you improve your English.
82 Use English as the default language on your browser, search engines, and websites.
83 Answer English usage tests and quizzes online.
84 Use English when searching online.
85 Use search engine operators.
86 Participate in English forums and Q&A site.

Through drama, demonstration, and directions

87 Role play everyday scenes using English in the dialogues.
88 Do a monologue in English.
89 Demonstrate how to do things in English.
90 Practice giving directions in English.

By using other memory techniques

91 Use flash cards for English words and phrases you want to master.
92 Use a mind map to organize English words related to each other.
93 Use a four square to increase vocabulary learning.
94 Recite English words or sentences you want to remember before going to bed.
95 Create your own English practice worksheets or download some from here (soon).

Through Continuous Practice

96 Answer English textbook exercises diligently on separate sheets.
97 Rephrase English sentences in your own words.
98 Practice making your own sentences using the English words you just learned.
99 Describe yourself and your interests in English.
100 Memorize common transitions in English and use them in writing or speaking.
101 Keep your English essays, notes, and audio/video recordings to use as materials for comparison in the future.

This is really a long list, isn’t it? I hope you have found some tips you can put into action as soon as you can!

8 Comments

  1. Bechy

    September 22, 2011

    Post a Reply

    This site is very interesting ,very helpful to those who have plan to take the LET .
    I would love to read this blog every day or even during my work. I’m not good in English
    that’s why I always read any kind of magazines , surfing in internet,Reading emails from our Bosses and Managers.I am very eager to be fluent to speak English because it will
    help me to be having a big opportunity in any aspect of my career.I am planning to take a LET hopefully next year. Thanks for the Tips.

  2. fast_learn_fast_speak

    October 7, 2011

    Post a Reply

    very nice site and mostly helpful for the people who want to learn English fast and with quick results

  3. Super Mario

    October 22, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Thanks for this site!!! Because it helps me a lot to passed the March 2012 LET… Thank you very much Mam Reah, your such a blessings to all of us. Hope you don’t stop in sharing your wisdom and knowledge on how to become a good teacher.

  4. Spencer Mark

    October 27, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Wow, Im impressed with your English skills and what you have done to get to your goal. Now if I can only find a filipina woman as beautiful and educated as you, I would be in heaven. Good work, Reah. Your husband is truly blessed.

  5. CJ

    December 4, 2012

    Post a Reply

    My brother in law is known “to make a run for it” whenever a very friendly nearby American neighbour comes out to chat to him while he was sweeping the concrete driveway of his house…his brother would then say “Why you run away when that guy tries to talk to you?…the reply came….”But he is speaking in English and Im embarrassed because my english is not good…what if i get into a lengthy conversation with him and I cant understand him?…

    Filipina speaks tagalog not english and many filipina gets embarrassed when confronted with an english speaker when 100% of the time one is speaking tagalog with their nanay…malungkot

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