(Crowdsourced) Tips for Learning English

I was just now looking for an old file on my Google Drive and encountered the list below. I am not sure exactly when it was from but I thought there were some useful (and some interesting but perhaps not that useful) pieces of advice there.

The docucument I found had the following message:

Hello!
I (@michaelegriffin)  thought it would be fun and interesting to crowdsource some tips related to learning English. My idea is to use the tips in an upcoming discussion class. I’d like to have my students evaluate them and create their own lists. So, the idea for this page is to share tips you have heard or given in the past. It doesn’t matter if you think the tips are good or useful because my students will be asked to evaluate the tips.
Just for reference, my students are graduate students who are roughly intermediate to upper-intermediate in terms of English skills.

Please go ahead and add any tips that come to to mind! Thank you!
I might post the collection of them on my blog.

My original idea for this list was to use it in class and have students evaluate the advice and consider what might be useful and not so useful. I also hoped students would consider possible downsides to certain pieces of advice. as well.

It is so nice I was able to get such a variety of responses and ideas. I remember my students truly appreciated the ideas and the chance to think about the ideas and add their own.

I should note that most of the silly ones were from me (but not the one specifically about one Mr. Michael Griffin).

I thought it might be interesting or useful to share the pieces of advice here. I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to those who contributed ideas to this document! It would be so fun for me to hear about anyone using this list in class so please feel free to do so! Enjoy the list and thank you again to those who shared ideas.

  • Talk to yourself as you walk down the street and ride public transportation.
  • Read as much as you can. Read for fun.
  • Use an app to memorize words.
  • Never memorize single words, you need to remember words as a part of a chunk.
  • Listen to podcasts as much as you can.
  • Talk only to native speakers because you don’t want to pick up the wrong accent.
  • Get surgery on your tongue if you have trouble with particular sounds.
  • ‘Read like a writer’- Read a text (anything really) and ask yourself why the writer chose to write that phrase, sentence, or paragraph they way they did. Ask yourself about word choices, collocations, grammar, and more. If you cannot answer your own questions or your answers lead to more questions, ask someone else those questions.
  • Read according to your interest. You will probably pick up vocabulary and phrases you can use sooner rather than later.
  • Find a teacher like Michael Griffin. Seriously. Lol.
  • Listen more. Listen a lot to sites like EnglishCentral. Randalls ESL Lab. ELLLO.org. Watch episodes of your favorite sitcom over and over in English. Not CSI Miami type complex stuff, Friends, Third Rock from the Sun or the Simpsons is better.
  • Don’t asked for help by natives speaker because they’re grammars are shockingly worst!
  • Use sites such as memrise or quizlet for vocabulary practice.
  • If you start listening or reading something, make sure you listen/read all the way to the end, even if you don’t find it interesting or if it’s too hard/easy.  You’ll always learn something from it.
  • Short and regular bursts of any activity to learn English are better than longer & less frequent ones.
  • Recording yourself speaking in English and listening to it afterwards can be a revealing experience.
  • Make an appointment with yourself in your weekly diary for when you’ll do your English activity.  If you don’t write it down it probably won’t happen!
  • Commit to doing some practice every single day, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
  • Go to the library and ask the librarians how to use the library e.g. online courses, events, using the catalogue; then join the library!
  • Switch the language preferences on your TV, phone, software, wikipedia, so that you can integrate little bits of English into your everyday life.
  • Don’t wait to be perfect before speaking the language: start by speaking out loud to yourself, record yourself, find a speaking safe space with a trusted friend, make a low stakes phone call in familiar context
  • Choose someone who has the same L1 as you and whose English skills you admire. Think about why you admire their English: Fluency? Pronunciation? Confidence? Use this person as a non-native model.
  • Keep a record of the time you spend learning English between classes – 10 minutes a day, every day for 6 months. Use smiley faces for work done, but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t have enough time. Just start again.
  • Make personalised sentences whenever you come across new chunks of vocabulary. Try new expressions out in real life (with friend or teacher) as soon as you can.
  • Choose a goal for using the language that will keep you motivated.
  • Try to remember what you learned last week, test yourself.
  • Record yourself with sound recorder or video camera on your mobile phone to practise pronunciation.
  • Language can be full of surprises, exceptions, and ambiguity, Don’t let this hold you back.
  • Use Google’s speech-to-text function to test your pronunciation.
  • Use freely available material interesting to you to practice listening, like dramas and documentaries on YouTube.
  • Get a part-time job where you’ll need to use some English.
  • Sing along to (English language) pop songs you like. Singing’s healthy, too.  
  • Start a conversation with a random person in the street – you could ask them the time, for example. This works if you’re in a country where the language you’re learning is spoken. Do this every day.
  • Find your own best way to practise: Try a couple of the tips and see how they work for you. Stick to the ones that seem to be working well for you, do them on a regular basis-because they work well, they won’t feel like burden. Then you can try a couple more and so on and so forth. You can find a million tips, the trick is to find the one(s) for you! Good Luck 🙂
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