I hated English and I was bad at it. Terrible. I was probably the worst English student until college, where I decided to study on my own. This is a story of how the first of January 2017 I started learning English and how today, four years later, I can consider myself a fluent English speaker.
First, let’s start with what I'm not claiming. I'm not claiming this is the best method or that it's suitable for everyone. I'm just going to explain how someone who is not good with languages and that hated studying them for almost all his life, turned things around. Furthermore, I'm going to explain in great detail all the steps I took, and what I think was the key to my success.
Second, let's continue with what this blog is not about. This is not a way of trying to sell you anything because as I'll explain. I didn't pay a single hour of tuition, a single online course or a single textbook.
What I will do is walk you step by step about what I did and why. So maybe you can get some insight into your journey.
You have a decision to make
It all started with a decision. “I want to learn English”. And what I figure is that I didn't really want to study so, that's what I didn't do. I didn't “study”. My only strategy was to expose my brain to English and give it time to figure it out. Just like I did with Spanish when I was born.
If you have to get something out of this blog, let it be this
Look at learning English in this way. For your brain to learn English, it has to make the right connections and that takes time and exposure. Do anything you want but do it in English.
It is completely right that watching a lesson is more effective than a random film. But eventually, it's about the same. If you are having trouble sitting through a lesson, just change to something more engaging. Watch a video of your favourite topic. Learn the meaning of an English song you've always liked.
Quantity beats quality in this case. What you are looking for is hours of “English exposure” and the more fun you are having the more likely you are to keep going. And the number one reason people don't learn English is that they stop studying or don't put in the hours.
How did I get started?
Now we are I'll explain what phases I went through, so you can have an idea of what to expect if you start this journey from zero. First, 99% of my time in the first months was not with text. But with audio + text which means English YouTube videos with English subtitles. What I was looking for was the most basic of classes, where a native English speaker talks about the fundamentals of English in English. And the funny thing is that watching the teacher talk was as much of a class as the content of the video.
Important tip: only use Spanish to translate things I don't understand. Everything else has to be in English. Audio + Subtitles.
I was doing this, where I would watch a YouTube video about English until I could understand (by reading the subtitles) 90% of the phrases the teacher is using. The most important part here was that I would try to look for an engaging YouTube Video where they would talk about an interesting thing about the English Language. I knew it was not as time-efficient as a pure English class, but it was much more enjoyable, so I could do it longer without getting tired.
The next important milestone I started to focus on was pronunciation, and I believe it was an excellent decision to focus on it so early on. And no, I didn't especially care about sounding like a native, but then, why would I study focusing on pronunciation? It improved my listening abilities massively. By knowing how thing are “technically” pronounce, and the sound that forms the language, I could identify and understand a lot more words than before.
After a couple of months of doing this for two hours every day, I notice a huge difference. I went back to one of the videos I first watch, and I could understand almost all of it (by reading subtitles) which was a huge motivational boost.
Tip: keep some videos that you've watched in the past, and come to them after a month of studying, you'll see how easy it's become.
Something you want to look forward to is the moment you can kind of understand a podcast. Whichever you find interesting. Because this will improve your “English Exposure” a lot as you will be able to listen to a podcast while doing almost anything.
Something that helped me a lot, was getting used to listening to podcasts as early as I could. Because once I was somewhat comfortable with them, I could add an hour of English every day while in the gym, cooking, walking, etc.
Keep it simple and Focus on your execution
I could give a lot more details and some specific strategies. But I'm not going to because ultimately, it doesn't really matter. Just keep it simple and focus on your execution. Promise yourself that you'll do an hour a day of English and that you'll keep it fun.
You already have all the information you need. Start today and don't stop. If you are learning English, then you can subscribe to get a blog every week and this way you'll get a richer vocabulary and probably learn some useful phrases.
Finally, as appreciation for the people who are supporting this blog with a free subscription. I'm going to give some golden rules and minor tips that I would follow: