How To Learn English By Yourself


Learning English can be a challenging task in itself, even if you have the help of tutors or teachers to help you.

But if you are trying to learn English on your own, it can be a much greater mountain to climb.

Yes, it is hard work. It can be exhausting to learn English on your own.

But I am here today to tell you that it can be done.

Take a look at the following steps I have outlined below and take notes.

Let’s get into it right now…

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Set Clear Goals

The first thing you need to do is define your goals.

These must be very clear and easy for anyone else to understand.

Determine why you want to learn English, and what you hope to achieve. Are you learning for academic purposes, career advancement, travel, or personal growth? Setting goals will give you a sense of direction and motivation, helping you stay focused and committed.

If your goals are just vague or unclear, then you need to do some work on them.


Examples of foggy goals could be:

  • I want to be more fluent in English.
  • I want to speak better English.
  • I want to sound like a native English speaker.
  • I want to improve my English skills.
  • I want to understand everything I read in English.


I read these out loud to myself and I just think;

What do these goals even mean??


Here are some much clearer goals. Some examples I have written for you.

  • I want to improve my spoken English fluency so that I can comfortably hold a 15-minute conversation on various everyday topics without struggling for words.
  • I want to achieve a score of 7.5 or higher in the IELTS exam within the next six months to meet the English language requirement for university application.
  • I would like to expand my range of English vocabulary by learning and effectively using 20 new words and phrases related to my field of interest every week.
  • I want to develop my reading skills by finishing one English novel per month and writing concise summaries to ensure full comprehension of the content.
  • I should be able to write a 1,000-word essay in English each week on various social issues to refine my writing style, organization, and critical thinking in English.


Can you see how these goals are so much clearer?


I highly recommend using SMART goals. Check the links I have provided below.

The Essential Guide to Writing SMART Goals


How to write SMART goals


Create clear SMART goals and now you have something to work with.

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Create a Structured Study Plan

As the man said: Plan your work, and work your plan.

Just as you have clearly defined goals, you also need a foolproof plan.

Your plan should be so well-defined that any other person could read it and know what you are going to do every day.

How to do this?

The first thing you should do is separate your goals into the main English skills — reading, writing, speaking, listening and I would also add vocabulary.

Then you need to take a look at each goal, and break them down into smaller goals.

I highly recommend using an app like Todoist to help you create a list of tasks.

So, for example, let’s use one of the goals from the previous section:

I want to improve my spoken English fluency so that I can comfortably hold a 15-minute conversation on various everyday topics without struggling for words.


You might want to break this down into parts such as:

  • Reading — to build vocabulary
  • Vocabulary Notebook — to keep a record of new words and phrases that you learn
  • Voice Recording — to keep track of what your English-speaking voice sounds like
  • Listening — mainly podcasts, and TV shows to mimic what the speakers are saying
  • Shadowing — using this technique to build speaking skills and confidence
  • English Topics — speaking about one new English topic every day


Add each of these parts to Todoist.

Allocate times when you can do the tasks at regular intervals.

You can also use Google Calendar to create time blocks.

For more ways to create a study plan, check out my article below.




(If you need help creating a study plan, contact me — I can help you create a unique study plan to suit your needs!)

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Immerse Yourself in English

You have to surround yourself with English as much as possible.

You can do this at home easily. By listening to English podcasts, and watching English language movies and TV shows.

You can also read English books, and read English articles.

But you really need to expose your ears, eyes and mind to English 24/7.

When you go outside, use your phone to listen to English songs. Learn the lyrics and sing along to some of your favourite English songs.

If you are on the bus, use the time to read English books and articles.

You have to think about feeding English into your mind.

You can do this by

  • Reading
  • Listening

These two things will then help you with

  • Writing
  • Speaking


So, remember.

Submerge yourself in English. All the time.

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Build Your Vocabulary

Expand your vocabulary by learning new words every day.

Use flashcards, or language learning apps, or create a personal word journal. Try to learn words in context, so you understand their meaning and usage in sentences. Gradually integrate these words into your conversations and writing.

You must try to work on building your vocabulary every day.

The more you build your vocabulary, the more it will help you improve your other English skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking.

How to do this?

There are a variety of ways that you can build your English vocabulary.

Check the list below.

  • Flashcards
  • Language Learning Apps
  • English Vocabulary Notebook
  • Reading
  • English Movies and TV Shows


I will cover language learning apps, reading and English movies and TV shows in later segments, but let’s look at using flashcards and creating an English vocabulary notebook.




We all know what flashcards are, right?

You might have seen these when you were much younger. They often have things like animals, body parts or action verbs on them.

A big picture with the English word next to the picture.

But you can use flashcards to help you with all kinds of English words and phrases.

Better still, you can make your own flashcards.

Just create a picture and put the word or phrase next to the picture.

Canva is ideal for this.

Put the flashcards on your phone and you can now practice everywhere.


English Vocabulary Notebook


You do have an English vocabulary notebook, right? RIGHT??

This is essential for ANY English learner.

All you need is a simple notebook and a pen. Then every time you see a new word or phrase, you write it in your English vocabulary notebook.

Then you look up the meaning in the dictionary and write the meaning down.

Finally, you write a sentence of your own using the new word or phrase.

So, using the word CHAOS, we can have the following three items in the notebook.




Meaning: Chaos refers to a state of extreme disorder, confusion, or unpredictability in which events or elements lack any discernible pattern or organization.


Example sentence: The sudden power outage caused chaos in the busy city, with traffic lights not working and people trying to navigate through the streets in confusion.


So, please build your vocabulary. This will start to show in ALL your English skills over time.

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Practice Regularly

I think it goes without saying that you have to practice regularly…

But I am still going to say it.




This is why clear goals and a clear plan are so important to you. If you have your goals and plans organised, then you know exactly what you have to do every single day.

You have to practise ALL your English skills.

Ensure that you allocate time to practice

  • English Speaking
  • English Listening
  • English Reading
  • English Writing


And you will then see results.


Maybe you are aware of the Kaizen method? This is a method of daily practice that says if you try to improve by just 1% every day, after one year you will be 36 times better than before.

You can read my article on this below.


Kaizen and the Art of Studying English


Practice. Every. Single. Day.

Don’t Worry So Much About Grammar

Many guides out there will tell you how important English grammar is to helping you improve your General English skills.

I disagree with this.

I would say not to worry too much about grammar.

Yes, there are rules that you must learn and adhere to. But spending hours poring over grammar books and understanding the difference between first conditional and third conditional will not help you in speaking.

Just because you know what a modal verb is, it doesn’t mean that you can understand everything you hear in English.

In fact, for many students, thinking too much about grammar can disrupt your English learning process. It can make you feel down about your English ability.

I say concentrate on vocabulary first.

Learn as much vocabulary as you can.

Learn phrases and collocations.


And read.

I am a huge fan of reading (more on that later) and I think this will help you improve your English much more than being an expert on English grammar.

Try to think of the following things when learning English.


Learn Naturally


When you were a child, how did you learn your own language?

Did your mother or grandfather correct you if you made a mistake?

Did they point out the grammar rules every time?

No, of course not.

They might have said: No, not this, say this instead.

And just corrected you in a very simple way.

They just tried to help you communicate more effectively. To open your mouth and speak.


Be Fluent — Not 100% Accurate


The aim of learning English should be to communicate.

If you worry too much about being accurate, you will never open your mouth and speak.

This is the problem for many English learners. They worry so much about making a grammar mistake that it prevents them from speaking.

This is not the goal!


Reading and Speaking — Every Day!


You need to learn how English works in context. This is why grammar cannot help you learn English.

I advise you to learn grammar functions by reading and speaking.

Then you are learning how the English language works in the right context.


Collocations and Phrases


I am also a big fan of collocations and phrases…

Learn lots of phrases and this can help you sound like a native speaker.


Don’t worry about grammar! Please!

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Use Language Learning Apps

Language learning apps can be very useful.

They can be a great aid to your English learning.

These are the apps I would recommend that you use:





These apps can be a great way to help you learn and remember new vocabulary and your other overall English skills.

But I would strongly advise relying too much on these apps. They can be useful as part of your ongoing English learning plan.

Don’t lean too much on them, though.


YouTube is a fantastic resource for learning English on your own.

And it’s all free!

English Learning Channels

Of course, the first thing you can check out are the English learning channels.

There are hundreds to choose from.

These channels come down to personal preferences. So find a channel — and a host — that you like, then stick with that.

Many of the channels have playlists. These are often in the form of mini-courses you can do.

Try these channels and see what you think:

BBC Learning English


Bob The Canadian

Rachel’s English


English Stories

YouTube also has thousands of short stories and short story channels.

I personally think these are a great way to practice English.

YouTube usually provides subtitles for these stories. So you can listen to the story and read the story in the subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

This is great for shadowing.

I highly recommend doing this!

English News

If you like to follow the news, there are also many English news channels to follow.


Your Personal Interests


And there are YouTube channels on every known interest in the world.

If you like running, there are hundreds of running channels to choose from.

If you like flower arranging, there are channels for this.

Great for listening. And great for shadowing.

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My Lesson Plans!

And I must mention my own lesson plans…

I have written two series of lesson plans that you can find below:


Fantastic Tales


Talking Points


In these lesson plans, I place a strong emphasis on reading and speaking.

The Talking Points lessons have an article for reading and Fantastic Tales have a short story.

These are followed by reading comprehension questions, discussion questions and many other exercises and activities that you can use as part of your English self-study plan.

Check them out and let me know what you think!

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Practice Speaking Aloud

Don’t shy away from speaking English aloud, even if you’re learning by yourself.

Engage in self-conversations, repeat sentences from movies or podcasts, or record yourself speaking on different topics. This practice will improve your pronunciation and speaking confidence.

I am a big fan of reading. And I am also a big fan of speaking English out loud.

You may see in many of my guides where I encourage students to speak out loud.

The more you do this, the more you will

  • Boost Your Confidence
  • Become Accustomed To The Sound Of Your English Speaking Voice
  • Practice Speaking English
  • Stop Thinking About Yourself Speaking English

How To Do This?

As I previously mentioned, you can do this by shadowing.

This means;

  • Listening to Podcasts
  • Watching Movies and TV Shows
  • Watching YouTube Content

Simply listen to the speakers and what they are saying in English and try to shadow what they say.

Another useful thing you can do is read out loud.

Take a story you are reading, an article or some news item and read it out loud.

Better still if you stand in front of a mirror and do this.

It’s good for your confidence and it will help you with your English-speaking skills.

Join Online Language Communities

Yes, you are studying English on your own.

But there is no need for you to be totally isolated.

You can connect with other English learners, such as yourself, online. There are so many online English forums, social media groups, and language exchange platforms.

If you are totally isolated, you will lose track of your English learning level or ability. You might lose confidence in yourself, too.

But by engaging with other English learners, you can get feedback on your English level. You can also learn new ways to improve your English skills.

There is no need to be totally isolated. We will live in an internet age.

So make contact with other English learners such as yourself.

Read Regularly

Now we are into my favourite subject — reading.

Reading in English exposes you to various writing styles, vocabulary, and sentence structures. Start with materials that match your language level, such as graded readers or simplified news articles. As you progress, challenge yourself with more complex texts.

You can find literally thousands of reading resources online. And your local library may have a big selection of books written in English.

If you are having trouble finding reading resources, try the options below.

I have also written several guides on English reading. Check them out below.

Reading English for Pleasure

Great Websites To Improve English Reading Comprehension

How to Master your English Reading Comprehension

How to Read English News to Improve your English!

20 Amazing Benefits from Reading

How to Read English Every Day

Read Books You Want to Read



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Watch Movies and TV Shows

Do you like watching movies and TV shows?

Of course, you do!

And you can watch movies and TV shows and study English at the same time.

As I mentioned before, watch English-language movies and TV shows and turn on the English subtitles.

Now you are good to go.

The trick is to just watch one scene over and over until you can recite — or shadow — everything the actors say in English.

I wrote a full guide on how to do this. Check it out below.

How to Study English by Watching Movies

Seek Feedback

Receiving feedback is essential for improving your language skills.

If possible, find a native English speaker or a proficient language user who can provide constructive feedback on your writing and speaking.

Drop me a line and I will help you with this. I can give you 15 minutes for an assessment.

Contact me here — Drop Me A Line

Alternatively, you can use online platforms to submit your work for evaluation.

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Be Patient and Persistent

Language learning is a journey that takes time.

Be patient with yourself and acknowledge that progress might not be immediately noticeable.

Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and remain persistent in your efforts.

Remember the 1% rule. Make tiny improvements every day and you will succeed.

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Reflect and Adjust

Regularly evaluate your progress and adjust your study plan accordingly.


  • Are you meeting your goals?
  • What areas need more attention?
  • Are you sticking to your plan?
  • Does your plan need updating?


Adapt your plan to address your evolving needs and challenges.

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Celebrate Your Successes

Celebrate your milestones and successes along the way.

Learning a new language is a remarkable achievement, and recognizing your progress will keep you motivated and engaged.

Any time you feel you have made some improvements over a certain period of time — say one month, three months, etc — then treat yourself.

You deserve it!


In conclusion, learning English by yourself is an achievable goal with the right strategies and mindset.

Set clear goals, create a structured study plan, immerse yourself in the language, practice regularly, and make use of the technology and resources available.

Stay patient, persistent, and open to continuous learning.

Remember that each step you take brings you closer to mastering the English language and opening up a world of opportunities.

Best of luck to you — and don’t give up!

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