4 things everybody can do to improve their English

Simple ideas you can use every day to help you gain confidence

Let's GAIN confidence!

Read the news

It might be difficult to buy an English language newspaper, so use the Internet instead.

How often do you spend each day reading the news? 20 minutes? 30 minutes?

If you have 15 minutes spare two or three times a week, try reading a news article in English. It’s not as difficult as you might think, if you consider these tips:

Find a newspaper you like: Try a few newspapers, and choose one that you like. Maybe you like the way it looks, or maybe you understand the first article you find. You decide!

Here are some examples of newspapers in English.

The Guardian

BBC News

New York Times

The Washington Post

News (Australian news source)

How can you choose a good article to read?

We suggest reading about something that interests you. It’s important to be interested in what you’re reading; that will help the learning process. You could simply visit the news website you choose and find an article with an interesting headline.

Alternatively, if you have already read the newspaper in your language today, try and find an article in English that talks about the same topic you have read about. This means you already have an understanding of the general theme of the article.

Don’t read an article about Ugandan politics if you don’t know the topic, and aren’t interested in politics!

Some of the newspapers we linked above have categories for each country. You could try looking at articles about your country. Here is the Guardian’s content for Spain, for example.

When you’re reading…

When you start reading, don’t worry about understanding every word the first time. Try to understand the general meaning of each paragraph. This is your first objective, and it will help you lots. The second time you read, you can look up words you don’t understand in the dictionary. Choose your favourite two or three new words and commit them to memory.

Read our article on Tips for reading in English for more information and examples.

Talk to your phone

Yes, we said talk to your phone, not on your phone. Your phone can help you improve your pronunciation and gain confidence.

This isn’t exactly what we mean. This is a bit crazy.

Try asking Google/Siri some simple questions, and see if your phone understands you. For example:

What’s the capital of France?

How many fish are there in the ocean?

What’s the population of New York?

If you’ve just learned a new word, try saying it to your phone to see if it understands you.

Read our article on Using your phone to practice pronunciation.

Hopefully now you can gain more confidence!

Watch something in English

We don’t have to tell you this is not the best way to do it, right?

These days there are many sources of video in English. YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, news websites and TV are just a few examples.

More and more videos are also subtitled as well, which is fantastic!

We recommend using subtitles in English to help you, whenever this is possible.

Read our article on Learning and improving your English with video for more details, but here are some tips:

Watch something you think you’ll understand: a film with a complex plot is not the best idea, but an animated film aimed at families might be good, for example.

Watch a video about something that interests you: Think about things you’re interested in or a hobby that you have. If you’re interested in the topic, you have an incentive to watch all the video.

Don’t watch a very long video: If you have a lower level of English, don’t watch very long videos. Watch something shorter. This will help you to relax and enjoy what you’re watching and you won’t get bored or stressed.

Watch something you have seen before in your own language: This helps a lot because you are already familiar with the plot and the characters. Just as an example, an older TV series like Friends could be good.

Change your apps to be in English

Don’t be nervous. You can always change back.

For some extra English practice, change a couple of apps or social media accounts to English.

Don’t be afraid! Start with one or two that you regularly use, and see how it goes. You could do this with apps on your phone, or social media accounts or your web browser.

If you’re feeling very confident, change the system language of your phone/computer for an immersive English experience!

What do you think of our tips? Would you add anything to this list? Let us know in the comments below.


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