How to learn English

There are so many books that offer English language courses containing grammar rule explanations, vocabulary exercises, reading comprehension texts, pair work tasks and many other useful materials. The last thing we want to do is to bore you by repeating all this information here on our website. The purpose of our articles is this: In most of the EFL/ESL books some facts are missing that we consider vital for you to know if you want to master the English language or any other other language.

The biggest drawback of any language course book is that as soon as you open it the language becomes the purpose. What does that mean? The book gives you explanations and definitions but the truth is that you don’t need this information when you want to communicate with another person.

As a matter of fact, all the grammar rules are likely to hinder you in your efforts to communicate. You don’t believe us? Well, let us ask you a question: Did you learn English at school? (Oh, yes if you did learn it you will say: «Ah, that was long ago and the teacher was bad and the class was large and I didn’t know why I should learn the language anyway.»)

Whatever your excuse might be — it’s a fact that you «learned» English at school and maybe later in your professional training for several years. Let us put another question to you: Do you speak English? The likelihood that you answer that question with a convincing «Yes, of course I do!» is rather small. If you spoke English fluently you probably wouldn’t waste your time reading this text. Have you ever asked yourself why you haven’t managed to achieve the success you wanted to? Chances are you didn’t like your English lessons, you didn’t like having to cram new complicated grammar rules into your head, you loathed vocabulary test papers, it didn’t feel good when the teacher asked you a question in English you couldn’t answer because you didn’t even understand the question. Your grades in English were never that good and that’s why you decided that you probably «Don’t have a talent for languages». This is nonsense. The fact that you speak your mother tongue freely is proof that you can acquire any other language. Period.


You still don’t believe us? Very good. No wonder you are sceptical after the language learning experiences you had at school. You didn’t make much progress. Why? To answer this question we should first take a look at how exactly we learn new information. What are the requirements for a successful learning process?

You need a sincere interest in what you are doing or better still you need a thirst for knowledge. You will only learn if your subconscious mind is ready to learn. If you feel bored or even forced to work you will waste your energy with motivating yourself. Enjoy what you are doing or don’t do it. So, you might say, there are many unpleasant things in life which I don’t enjoy at all but I still have to do them. Sure, life is full of unpleasant circumstances that we have to deal with and that’s the very reason you should have fun when you learn a language. How to learn and have fun at the same time? We’ll look into that later but now let’s illustrate another important principle with the following example:

Imagine you are sitting in a classroom with 10 or so other students and the teacher asks you to stand up and walk through the room. What would you feel like if you carried out your teacher’s request? You most certainly would be inhibited because all the eyes in the room would be focussed on you. You wouldn’t feel relaxed. You would feel awkward because you didn’t understand the reason your teacher wanted you to walk through the room. Now imagine how you would walk through the room if your teacher asked you to open the window? This time you would simply follow his request not even thinking about how to do it and why. This time your walking through the room is not the purpose but the logical means to open the window. We only feel comfortable when we know why we are doing something for a purpose.

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Torsten Daerr comes from the EU, he studied Russian and English as a Second language and completed an excecutive vocational training program in the retail sales business. He is currently engaged in two major projects:

www.english-test.net - an English language training center and
www.leipziger.ru - a Russian language newspaper

By Torsten Daerr