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Five ways to improve your English by yourself

Notebook, glasses and pen on a table. A laptop in the background out of focus.
There are a number of ways you can learn English by yourself.

Unsplash CC: Trent Erwin

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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.

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.

Nine blank yellow post-it notes
You can write vocabulary and grammar rules on post-it notes and put them up around your home.

Unsplash CC: Kelly Sikkema

2. Start a blog

Starting an online blog or journal can be a simple (and free) way to develop you writing skills.

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."

A hand on a computer mouse, next to a computer keyboard and mug
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 will help you to improve more quickly," explains Virginia.

Smiling woman holding a smartphone
Could you still use the apps on your phone if they were all in English?

Unsplash CC: Rawpixel


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.

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.

A hand holding an open magazine
Reading English articles and magazines on topics that interest you.

Unsplash CC: Blair Fraser


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.

Seated man with laptop and drink looking at his phone
If you're already watching videos and listening to audio, why not try summarise the information that you are taking in?

Unsplash CC: Muhammad Raufan Yusup

Learn English Hacks is a Facebook Live series featuring Australian teachers where they discuss challenges learners face and how to overcome them. For more information, visit our Learn English Facebook page.