Learn English Online in 2021
This is YOUR complete guide to learning English online in 2021
Learning English consists of practicing the 4 skills of language and grammar and vocabulary.
In this guide about learning English you will learn about:
- Online Classes
- Online Courses
Table of Contents
Study and Practice
You need to combine self-study and practicing skills. When you have a class with a teacher or a conversation, it is also important to include some time every week to study by yourself.
Find a quiet place and choose one of the skills or knowledge and practice or learn. You need to be consistent with this. Start slowly and increase when you are able to. Set a schedule and follow your schedule. Practice, Study, Practice, Study.
Taking an online class is one of the best things you can do to improve your speaking skills. If you do not have money, then you can find a language partner. You can learn more about this in my article “Practice Speaking Online” here.
Confidence is an important part of speaking English. The more English you speak, the more confident you will feel. It is normal to feel shy and uncomfortable. Speaking a new language is not going to be perfect the first time until you practice a lot.
Reading out loud is a great exercise to practice your speaking if you have nobody to practice with. You need to open your mouth to practice speaking so that your mouth practices making the sounds of English. Practice with real dialogues.
Listening is an important skill to practice so that you can understand people when they talk to you. It is important to listen to a variety of people so that you can get better at understanding different accents and ways that people speak.
Active and Passive Listening
Passive listening is when you have the radio on in the background but you are not really paying attention or watching Netflix. This is not a great way to improve your listening but it is ok to do when you are tired and you do not have the energy to listen actively.
Active listening is when you are listening and paying close attention to the sounds of English and the meaning of the words. Active listening is when your brain is fully engaged in improving your English. Listening for gist and details are good examples of active listening.
Listening for gist and details
Listening for gist is when you try to get a general understanding of the meaning. You listen to audio and you try your best to understand what people want to communicate. This is important practice for a beginner in English.
Listening for details is an important activity for students who reach a B2 level(upper-intermediate) when you can understand 70- 95% of audio and you need to practice listening so that you can reach 100% comprehension.
Using Exam materials
Using Exam materials is a great way to practice these skills. I like the Cambridge Exams so it is a good idea to find your level and choose a listening exercise to work with. You can find some examples here.
These exams give you both listening for gist and detailed listening and also give you a variety of accents. It is also a good idea to watch youtube videos with people from different countries so that you can practice listening to different people.
Podcasts are a great to focus on your listening skills. The great thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while out walking or when you are driving.
For more advanced learners, I recommend Luke’s Podcast.
Reading is a great way to improve your English vocabulary and also learn about the world. It is usually one of the things students find the easiest because you can read at your own pace. I suggest that you choose something that is at your own level and practice a little bit every day. Find something that you are interested in and choose a short book if you want to read a book.
It is a great idea to read from different sources because, like listening, there are different types of reading.
There is skim reading, where you only need to find a few select details. This could be a train timetable or even an article like this one, where you want to find the section that you need the most.
Then there is reading in more detail, where you might need to understand the tone, opinion, or purpose of an article or book. English Exams are a great way to get more practice in this type of reading.
Writing is a good way to practice the new vocabulary and grammar that you learn. It is so important to get feedback on your writing so you can learn from your mistakes. I recommend writing in the “notebook” section of Italki and someone will correct your writing there. You can also ask your teacher to help you too.
Writing can be difficult for many English students and it is one of the hardest skills to practice. Remember speaking and writing are the skills you use to produce the language that you know. If you do not practice these two skills, then you are just keeping all the English that you know in your head!
Try to write about things that interest you or find people to chat with in English on social media. Here is a page I found that from Cambridge English that allows you to get feedback from your writing. Grammarly is another essential tool for your writing. I use Grammarly to check my spelling mistakes and typos for everything I write.
Grammar is very important so that you understand the patterns of language. Studying grammar will help you to improve as you will learn how to use the language correctly. I have taught students grammar that had great speaking skills and their fluency improved a huge amount because they understood how the language worked after our classes.
Online resources for grammar
Lots of great explanations on this website for all levels. Try the quizzes to see if you understand.
One Minute English
An excellent advanced grammar course that you can use to help you with difficult topics.
Studying vocabulary is very important so that you have the correct words to use in English. You should note study vocabulary by itself. It is much better to study vocabulary with another skill(especially speaking).
People learn words with emotion. To show you an example, One time, I lost my keys in Spain. I needed the word for key in Spanish and I didn’t know it. When somebody finally understood what I was saying they said the word “llave”. I never forgot that word because it was an emotionally distressing time for me!
For this reason, vocabulary lists do not work for me but some people say they work so I listed a few of the better ones below.
You absolutely need a notebook to write down all the new words that you find and review it as often as possible. These new words should come from when you are studying grammar or taking an English class.
If you find that people do not understand you, then practice some listen and repeat exercises. If you want a pronunciation channel on youtube, check out Rachel’s English or this American English Pronunciation course
Online English Classes
Cambly lets you talk to English native speakers from all around the world. You can speak when you want and it is very easy to call a teacher.
It is a very flexible platform and you can also reserve an hour with your favorite teachers. It is one of the fastest ways to start speaking English online.
Italki is the biggest platform in the world to learn English.
There are around 3,000 teachers available from every country in the world.Italki is not like a traditional school(or many other online schools) as it does not provide the lessons.
Italki provides a place for you to find a teacher. You need to book a class with a teacher in advance.
Preply has over 2,500 English teachers and you can have an English class and it is a cheaper option to learn English.
You can have a one on one class with an English teacher from only $4
Online English Courses
Online courses are a great way to study English in a structured way. Usually a teacher will provide all the lessons that you need to improve your English.
My recommended choice is Espresso English
Espresso English courses are great when you need to improve something specific. This is great if you need to improve your speaking or listening skills for example.
Language learning is a journey
Learning English is a journey and it doesn’t really end. You just need to follow these 2 things:
- Practice and study
- Keep going
Some people think this is a bad thing that it takes a long time to become proficient in English. I think if you love learning then you will continue and most people actually love the feeling of achievement from learning a language that they learn a second or third language.
Many people find have different problems when learning English so I wrote this section on Mindset to help you if you have a specific problem.
Learning English is a project, a journey. When you start this journey you need to think about the destination.
Where are you going?
The good thing about the learning English journey is that everything you do in English will help you to get to where you want to go.
Listen to English, Write something in English, Practice your pronunciation,
All of these things will help you to improve your English.
But, That’s not all. You need to get more specific. Why do YOU need English?
Do you work in tourism?
In that case, you need to have excellent communication skills(Speaking and Listening) to interact with the guests.
Do you want to do a Masters in an English speaking country?
In that case, you need to improve your reading and writing skills so that you can write a thesis.
Think about where your destination is and then we can start to think about how to get there.
Why are you learning English? Spend a few seconds thinking about your answer to that. There may be many reasons that are important for you.
Here are some of the main reasons:
To advance your career
To meet more people around the world and gain the understanding that comes with that.
To learn more about things that don’t exist in your country/language.
Your reasons will be different to other people and that is ok. This is your journey. Ok, now it is time to be specific and set goals to achieve them.
Let’s take an example:
You want to speak fluently and have a conversation with a native speaker.
In order to have this conversation, you need speaking and listening practice. So, how do you do that. You can take an English class or find someone to practice English. I guarantee you know someone who speaks English.
Find this person and tell them you want to practice English. Have a conversation and introduce yourself and tell that person a little bit about your day. If you don’t know a word, allow your friend some time to help you. Later that day, think about that conversation and write down the new words in your notepad.
You need to have basic conversation 100 times and then you will feel comfortable and you will be able to move on to talking about more difficult subjects.
This is a great way to start but it doesn’t matter what your level is, You need more practice.
Levels of English
The levels in English are as following:
A0 = Absolute Beginner
A1 = Elementary
A2 = Pre-Intermediate
B1 = Intermediate
B2 = Upper-Intermediate
C1 = Advanced
C2 = Proficient
Find out your level now and make a plan on how to reach the next level. You always need to practice the 4 skills of English and grammar and vocabulary.
Here are some ideas for each level:
A0 = Absolute Beginner
Listening/Reading and grammar are important at the beginning. Try to understand English. Start writing the new vocabulary.
A1 = Elementary
You need to start speaking, It is difficult but you need to force yourself to speak English every day.
A2 = Pre-Intermediate
A good mix of all skills and grammar/vocabulary here. Try to focus on your weaknesses and develop a good study routine. Keep going
B1 = Intermediate
Grammar is so important here. You need to know the Present Perfect and how to use it. Practice Speaking and Listening a lot!!
B2 = Upper-Intermediate
Vocabulary is one of the main differences I see between B2 and C1. Advanced level students can use the language in a more complex and fluent way.
C1 = Advanced
Using English in a way that natives do and exams are the best way to become proficient in English.
So!!! Write down your goals NOW. Make it specific and start practicing.
You need to have the habit of practicing and learning English. In this section, I will give you some tips to help you to form the habit of practicing English.
An accountability partner is a friend that you can send a message and the start of the day or week and tell him or her about your study plan.
This is a solution if you find that you start the week with good intentions but you don’t do the work. If you tell someone that you are going to do something, then you will feel bad if you don’t do it.
Make the daily goal small
If you only have to study for 25 minutes, then it won’t seem very difficult. Just study for a little bit and then you can do something else relaxing. Getting started is the hardest part.
You will find that you are enjoying studying and learning after 10 minutes and then you won’t want to stop.
Finish your study when you are enjoying it.
This is a good tip if you want to keep studying and practicing for a long period of time. If you finish when you are enjoying it, then you will want to go back the next day and do some more.
You remember the good experience from the day before.
Learning English is one of those skills that builds and builds over time.
If you stop because you are busy with something else, that is okay, Just set 25 minutes and start again.
Try to find what you enjoy about learning English. I enjoy speaking to people so for that reason I try to talk to people as much as possible when I learn a foreign language.
Try different things.
There are so many things that you can do to improve your English.
I believe that trying different things will help you to improve all the different parts of learning English.
Just reflect after your practice if that helped you and if you enjoyed it. If you find something like this,
Keep doing it!!
Obstacles are the things that block you from achieving your goal.
In this section, we will discuss procrastination, overwhelm and distraction.
Procrastination is when you don’t want to study English at this moment and you think you can do it tomorrow.
We all procrastinate but you need to pay attention to why you procrastinate.
Are you scared to talk to that person in English?
Please don’t be.
Meeting people is a new experience and if you treat it like a learning experience then it will always be a good experience.
If you have a 15-minute conversation with someone in English, then that is always a win for you.
Learning a new language is hard but you need to learn. Pay attention to the things you are doing every day.
Are they helping you to learn English?
This is a feeling that you have too many things to study and you can’t ever see yourself speaking amazing English.
You are too busy.
This is probably the most common excuse that people give that they can’t learn a new language.
Make a plan to practice one of the four skills Monday-Friday and stick to the plan. If you are busy then it is even more important to start studying immediately.
Just focus for 30 minutes on one skill every day if you are busy. You can definitely find that time.
Another thing that helps is that you just set your goals to improve one level.
Don’t think about the finish.
Focus on the process and keep studying until you reach the next level of English.
Then take a break and make a new plan.
The world is full of distractions, Facebook, Youtube, etc.
Studying without distraction is something you need to practice.
Be prepared to feel distracted.
It happens to everyone.
“Oh, maybe I will just check Instagram for one minute.
Don’t do it.
Try to reward yourself if you study for 30 minutes.
FOCUS is the most important thing you have.
This is the reason a lot of people do not make progress in English.
They get to the stage that it is hard and just don’t do the hard work.
The hard work is worth it, just keep something to remind you why you are studying English.
It is like going to the gym, you need to practice consistently for a period of time.
Confidence is important when you are learning English.
It is important for speaking well but most importantly it is important so that you can have fun. If learning English is not fun for you then you need to do something to CHANGE that.
Learning English should be also about discovering new cultures, making new friends and understanding more about the world.
Let’s look at some of the common issues that people have when learning English.
Learning English can be difficult for both shy people and extroverts.
Shy people have difficulty starting conversations.
It is, of course, a very important part of learning English to have conversations in English. If you are shy, I highly recommend having an online class. You can find a supportive teacher and try to have weekly conversations with him/her.
When you feel a little bit more confident, try to have a conversation with another teacher.
This will help you to see that you CAN communicate with a variety of people in English.
People judging you
One thing I see a lot as a teacher is students that are afraid of looking stupid.
They sometimes know the answer but they are afraid of people judging them.
I know this because this was my experience when I was learning French at University. I knew the answer but I didn’t say anything!
You need to understand that you will not be able to communicate at the same level as you can in your native language but that is ok.
You are trying to improve your life so try not to let your ego control you and start speaking.
Fear of making mistakes
This is the type of behavior that people do when they need everything to be perfect before they start.
Making mistakes is a part of learning English.
It is actually a valuable part of English because with feedback about your mistakes you can learn how to improve.
This is similar to your people judging you, You need to relax your ego and just let the language flow
Done is better than perfect.
This is the end of your learning English online guide.
Best of luck with your progress!
One Minute English