Learning the English language can be one of the biggest challenges for many members of our community. It’s stressful to work on your language skills while dealing with the pressures of getting a job, managing a home and bills, and everything else involved with building a life in a new country. At SABEResPODER we understand and empathize with these challenges, that’s why we’ve put together this guide.
In this article you’ll find a tailored list of free resources and tips that have helped our members overcome language barriers. Don’t forget - there is no right way to learn, it’s whatever method works best for you. It’s just about consistency, so don’t hesitate any longer - take a moment to review some of the resources we’ve shared!
What Are The Steps To Learning English?
Before you start looking for English courses and programs, the first step is to align your goals with your learning process.
What does this mean?
If what you’re interested in is improving your speaking fluidity in order to have more independence in your day to day, you’ll need to focus on courses that improve oral skills. On the other hand, if you are looking to improve your ability to read and write, then you should focus your search on classes and resources that help increase your vocabulary and grammar.
So to start with ask yourself, "What do I want to achieve?" Once you are clear on your goals, it will be easier for you to choose the right tools to achieve your objective.
In addition you’ll want to decide whether it’s best for you to learn online or in person. The information below focuses on learning English online, however if you decide that face-to-face classes are best for you, you’ll also see information below on how to find in-person English classes near you.
Learning English Online For Free
One of the best ways to accelerate learning English in a short period of time is with online resources. There are many sites and apps that offer free courses, here are some options that our community have found helpful:
Duolingo is a web platform and an app for language learning. Unlike other free tools, Duolingo programs are known to be dynamic and fun. In addition, Duolinguo provides a lot of flexibility on the length of couses. When enrolling, a person can choose to study from 5 minutes a day, up to 20. This makes this option ideal for people who are learning English within the confines of an already busy schedule.
AVI of UNAM
The Virtual Language Environment of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México offers access to the “Practice” and “Test” sections. What’s of note with this resource is that it classifies the exercises according to the level of English language mastery: from the most basic (A1), to intermediate-advanced (B2). If you are looking for a more structured English courses, this could be the best option for you.
The United States government offers a great deal of free resources available to anyone interested in learning English. We suggest starting with the LINCS Learning Center, which is focused on reading comprehension. Follow that up by checking out the USA Learns portal which offers exercises focused on speaking, listening, reading and writing. These sites offer a great deal of helpful resources, be sure to check them out!
Udemy offers both free and paid courses, and in the free English programs section you’ll find variety of lessons mainly focused on beginner levels. So, if you want to learn basic English phrases or follow an English course designed especially for Spanish speakers, we suggest you register to this platform.
This is probably the best known site offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The programs are taught by reputable educational institutions, such as Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania. By registering on this site, you can access a wide variety of English learning courses, ranging from consonant pronunciation to business language skills. This resource offers more advanced English learning options, if that’s what you’re looking for this may be a great option for you.
Similarly to Coursera, edX is an open and free platform that offers courses from major universities, such as Harvard and Berkeley. In the section "How to learn English?" you can find programs starting at the beginner level, as well as courses to help you prepare to take the TOEFL (the most popular English language certification).
The British Consulate features a section within its site dedicated to learning English. You’ll find programs to improve your English learning in the workplace, as well specific lessons for students, parents and teachers to learn English. While these resources are can be very helpful just keep in mind that they’re designed to teach British English, so the pronunciation and vocabulary may be different.
9 Tips for practicing English at home
As you begin your English learning efforts, consider the following tips to reinforce your studies.
1. Identify your learning style
You know better than anyone how you learn best. For example, if you know it’s easier for you to understand a topic through logical reasoning, you’d hone in on grammar rules & structures to study English. Identify your learning style and take advantage of your particular skills to accelerate your English learning.
2. Don't underestimate your knowledge
For many of us, when we begin to study English we feel like we don’t know much at all, but the reality is that people rarely start from scratch. You probably already know some English from your exposure to media and music. We recommend that you start by finding out your language level by taking a free online test.
3. Choose the best time of day
Consistency is essential for progressing in learning English, so we suggest that you choose a time of day when you know that you will not be interrupted. Also, take into account your habits: for instance people who tend to get up early are more likely to study in the morning.
4. Don't look for perfection
Remember that you don’t need to be perfect - it's not about speaking like a native, it's about being able to communicate clearly and correctly. Don't let insecurities or fears limit your development and learning.
5. Set goals
It is very difficult to measure your progress if you do not have clear goals. As we mentioned at the start, set the goal you want to achieve (for example: being able to have a comfortable phone conversation in six months) and then set smaller goals to gradually reach that goal (example: learn a new word a day).
6. Practice, practice, practice
If you have always wondered what the secret is to learning English, the answer is very simple: practice. Take every opportunity to speak, write, read, and listen. Remember that practice makes perfect.
7. Turn on the TV and radio
Even if you are doing other things, listening to English “in the background” will help you become more familiar with the language and gradually integrate new vocabulary.
8. Be patient
Do not let disappointment or despair take you! Rome wasn't built in a day, so don't expect to master a new language in two weeks, or even two months. Work on your goals, practice whenever you can, and be consistent. You will get there!
9. See English as a tool, not as an obligation
Lastly, we want to share a little reflection: English should not be an obstacle, but a stepping stone. See learning English as the doorway to new opportunities and focus on the benefits of speaking English, not the difficulty of the process.
Additional Free Resources For Learning English
In addition to the structure learning resources we listed above, we’ve also provided some options to help you reinforce your knowledge.
Word Reference is a very easy to use dictionary that allows you to translate from English to Spanish and vice versa. The best thing about it is that it shows some terms related to the search. For example, when you search for the word “silver” you will find the term “silver lining”, which means “the good side”.
Although we do not recommend using this tool to write in English (translations aren’t always perfectly accurate), it is an excellent option to improve your pronunciation. If you don't know how to say a word in English, just type it in the search engine and then click on the microphone icon. This way, you can hear the correct pronunciation.
Another very useful resource for learning English is YouTube. In order to familiarize yourself with more vocabulary and learn how to pronounce specific words, you can watch videos in English using subtitles. As such you’ll be working both your oral and written comprehension.
Take advantage of moments of relaxation to continue learning English, for instance you can do so while watching a TV series or movie. On streaming services like Netflix or Disney+ you can add subtitles so you can continue to learn English vocabulary and pronunciation. It may be a bit difficult to understand the story at first, but as your ears get used to the dialogues, it should get easier for you to understand.
Lastly, there are a number of social media pages and groups that share content on learning English. The interesting thing about these resources is that they usually come in the form of short form content that’s easy to digest and do not require a lot of time. If you use Facebook, you can follow the Learn English Free page. If you’re more of an Instagram user, we suggest The English Lover.
Get started today!
We hope that with these resources you feel confident to start learning English today! In case you have questions about these tools or other English programs, send us a question through our chat. Our team of experts is happy to help answer any of your questions.