How to Learn English Fast
If you really want to learn English fast, here is what you do. This advice is valid for other languages as well. The only difference between English and other languages is that most people learning English have had a lot of classroom instruction, which is not usually the case for learners of other languages.
1) Find the Thinnest Possible Grammar Book
I recommend the Dover series, not only for English, but for other languages as well. Grammar is not something we can absorb right away. Grammar explanations try to account for all the subtle ways a language works, with its many exceptions. These explanations are often difficult to understand. Even when we understand them, we quickly forget them.
So, don’t attempt to memorize grammar! Skim through your grammar book quickly but refer to it often. A small amount of regular grammar review needs to be combined with a lot of listening, reading and speaking. You will gradually get used to the language in this way. This will be faster than trying to master the rules of grammar.
At a later stage in your learning you can use more detailed grammar explanations that can be found on the Internet. Remember, any benefit of reading a grammar explanation is usually quite short lived.
2) Don’t Do Drills and Exercises
These are time-consuming and often frustrating. You are in a hurry and can’t afford the time. You need to spend most of your time listening and reading, and eventually speaking. If you are the kind of person who likes flashcards, you could decide to spend 30 minutes a day on something like Anki or Memrise, but no more!
You will need to immerse yourself in the living language, through listening, reading and speaking.
3) Use Graded Reading Material Where Audio is also Available
There are many sources of graded readers on the Internet. The best kind of graded reading and listening material consists of lessons or stories where the same vocabulary repeats frequently. A good example are the mini-stories at LingQ. Listen and read as much as you can. In fact, LingQ is an ideal place to work on your listening, reading and vocabulary growth.
4) After a Few Months of Graded Content Move on to Authentic Content
Authentic content could be podcasts, movies, videos, music, whatever you can find, and whatever you enjoy.
If you want to learn fast, you will need to spend hours a day listening and reading in order to get your brain used to the language. You can easily find an hour or so of “dead time” while waiting, while in transit or doing other tasks to get your listening in. Then commit to doing the reading whenever you have the time.
Be a little fanatical about committing the time. The time you spend will determine how fast you learn.
5) Step up Your Speaking When You Start into Authentic Content
Don’t speak too much until you feel that you have enough vocabulary to maintain a meaningful conversation. But once you have achieved that level, look for every opportunity to speak. But don’t stop your listening and reading. That has to continue if you are in a hurry to learn.
If you can find English speakers around where you live, talk to them. If you have to pay for a teacher, start taking lessons. But don’t let the teacher “teach” the language. You don’t have time for that.
Spend most of your time in conversation. If you have no one around you to talk to, get on a site like italki and find a tutor. But again, just for conversation. Ask your tutor not to correct you too much while you are speaking, and to send you a list of the words and phrases that caused you difficulty.
6) Go to school if You Need the Encouragement and Help of a Teacher
If you go to school, you have to be in charge. Avoid sitting in a classroom with other learners. You don’t want to hear people who speak poor English, especially those whose native language is the same as yours.
You are better off with fewer hours of one-on-one instruction and more time for learning on your own, rather than spending hours every day in a classroom. You can’t afford the time. You are in a hurry to learn!
7) Commit to English
Pretend you are a native speaker of English, or intend to become one. Don’t worry about your mistakes. Study daily like a fanatic and know that you will succeed. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t resist the language gradually being absorbed by your brain. Be confident that you will continue to improve if you just stay active and determined.
If you are committed, and take charge of your learning in the way I have outlined above, you will learn as fast as is possible. Believe it!