‘The Best Method for Learning to Speak English (Step-by-step)‘ is for people who want a useful, step-by-step guide that will help you learn to speak English fluently and confidently.
These are not just ‘theories’ about learning English, but researched, tested, and proven steps that will help you learn to speak English.
Many people go to English courses, or take English private lessons, but they still don’t get results! If you follow this simple English learning plan, you will start to speak better English – guaranteed.
Learn basic English vocabulary.
If you want to speak English, the first thing you need to do is learn the basic English vocabulary. You can do this several different ways. The best way for beginners is to use a program like Duolingo. With Duolingo, you can learn 200-300 words quickly. Everything is translated to your native language, so you can start from zero. After you learn a few hundred words, you can use a ‘word frequency list’ to learn the most useful words in English. Try using a program like Anki or Memrise to learn this vocabulary more quickly.
The best way to learn basic vocabulary is with pictures and simple sentences. When you learn new vocabulary in English, don’t translate to your native language! If you translate everything, it will be very hard for you to ‘think’ in English. Let me give you a very simple example:
When you learn the word ‘apple’, you should think of a shiny red apple. You should see the picture in your mind. You should think about the color, the shape, the smell, and the taste of an apple. You should NOT think of the word for ‘apple’ in your native language.
If you use a program like Duolingo, you need to make sure you understand the new English vocabulary without translation. A good way to do this is write a short basic sentence in English for every new word you learn. Or draw a picture and write the word next to it. You can also write a meaning or definition in English. For example, if you want to learn the word ‘rapid’, write this in your notebook:
rapid = fast
You already know the meaning of the word ‘fast’, so you don’t have to write a translation for this word. Use an English-English dictionary, draw pictures, and write the meanings and definitions of new words in English.
Learn the basic English grammar.
While you’re learning the basic vocabulary of English, you also need to learn the basic grammar. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not telling you to study grammar or memorize grammar rules. Instead, you should learn only enough grammar to understand basic sentences. You can use a book like Raymond Murphy’s Grammar in Use or a more simplified version for beginners such as Essential Grammar in Use. The most important thing is to understand sentences. Don’t think about ‘grammar’. Instead, think about meaning.
Remember – you don’t need to learn lots of complex grammar rules. You only need to understand basic sentences. In fact, you can also do this with a program like Duolingo. Remember – Duolingo is very useful for beginners, but if you want to learn to speak English, you have to start reading and listening to ‘English only’ materials. The main problem with Duolingo is that everything is translated. This is ok if you’re starting to learn English from zero, but it’s not ok if you’re trying to learn to speak English fluently.
Listen to very easy stories and dialogues.
Listening to stories and dialogues is the first step in learning to speak English fluently. If you can understand short stories and dialogues in English – then you know enough to speak English in daily situations.
If you can’t speak yet, don’t worry. Keep listening. Listen until you know the dialogues and stories ‘by heart’. (*know something ‘by heart’ = have it memorized) You will start to know these basic words, sentences, and phrases so well. Then it will be easier to speak.
Listen to music in English.
I love music, and probably you love music too. Listening to music is one of the greatest joys in life. If you can listen to music and understand the words, you can learn the vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar of English effortlessly and enjoyably.
What kind of music do you like? I like jazz, classical, rock, some hip-hop, and some ‘eclectic’ music. I have lots of choices when I want to learn a new language. My favorite artists in Turkish are Nil Karaibrahimgil, Erkin Koray, Baris Manço, and Cem Karaca.
If you read a newspaper article several times, you still might not remember all the words and sentences. However, if you listen to a song several times, you will start to remember all the words and sentences. Think back to when you were a child. You can probably still remember some children’s songs even though you haven’t listened to them for many years!
Music helps stimulate our memory. When words rhyme, or when there is music with words, it’s easier to remember. And it’s fun to listen to music. You can listen to music in your car, while you’re on the metro, while you’re waiting in line, or at home. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’ so you can listen to English music for hours and not get tired!
Read children’s books in English.
Reading children’s books is great way for beginner’s to start improving their English fluency. When I was learning Turkish, one of the first books I read was called ‘Di?lek Tav?an’ (Bucktooth Bunny). My wife laughed at me but I didn’t care. I wanted to speak Turkish. I wanted to understand Turkish. And I thought to myself: “If I can’t understand a simple children’s book, how will I understand the newspaper in Turkish?”
You can find many simple and useful sentences in children’s books. Also, many children’s stories have lots of repetition and useful structures for daily speaking. When there is lots of repetition, you learn English faster. At the same time, you learn many basic words and sentences that every English speaker should know.
If you’re learning English, you are very lucky because there are so many excellent children’s books in English! My favorite children’s books are by the author, Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss wrote many creative and comical children’s books including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Sneetches, and The Lorax. These books are loved by both adults and children. And because these books have so many rhyming words, you will improve your English pronunciation and rhythm when you read them.
Practice your first English dialogues (pronunciation with a teacher)
By now, you should know at least a few hundred words in your basic vocabulary. You should understand basic English grammar – at least present, past, and future. You should also have read (and listened to) many English stories and dialogues. Now – you are finally ready to start speaking English!
It’s important not to ‘rush’ when you want to speak English. If you try to ‘force’ yourself to speak English too soon, you’ll make lots of pronunciation mistakes. And then, it will be hard for you to change these bad pronunciation habits.
Trying to speak too soon can also make you frustrated. Sometimes it’s hard to pronounce the words correctly. You need to be very patient and take as much time as you need. You should be relaxed and you should work with an experienced native speaker. You should feel comfortable with and trust this person.
When I was learning Turkish, I tried to practice speaking with my wife. My wife is a native Turkish speaker, but she wasn’t an experienced Turkish teacher. She often got impatient with me, and I started to feel like I ‘couldn’t’ speak Turkish. This was completely wrong!
You can speak English. You have more than enough ability. At the beginning, it might be difficult. You will make mistakes. And this is completely normal!
For now, your only goal is to get used to speaking English. Little by little, you will become more comfortable. Speaking the words in English will become easy. When someone asks you a question, you will be able to answer.
Practice your first dialogues more.
Yes! Now it is time to practice speaking English more. Practicing a dialogue only a few times is not enough to speak English fluently. You have to practice so many times, it becomes automatic.
After practicing basic daily English dialogues with an experienced English teacher, you can start practicing in real life situations. If you’re living in an English speaking country, you have many opportunities. You can speak English at the bank, the post office, the grocery store, the library, and when you go shopping.
If you don’t live in an English speaking country, you can practice English dialogues on the telephone. There are many ‘online English Skype’ lessons. These online lessons can be very useful if you use them correctly. Tell your teacher that you do not want an ‘English lesson’. You just want to practice speaking. If you want, you can call the international ‘customer service’ lines for a product that you own. This is an easy (and free) way to practice your English speaking anytime you want.
If it’s difficult for you to speak English on the telephone, you can write your sentences before you call. You can plan everything you want to say. Of course, you can’t plan everything, but you can prepare for your English conversations, and it will be a little easier to speak.
Listen to more stories and dialogues.
Ready for the fun part? You have 100% permission to be a ‘couch potato’. In fact, you should spend as much time as possible – reading English magazines and comic books, watching TV, listening to music, and watching movies.
English stories and dialogues. Novels. Biographies. YouTube videos. Whatever you like! If it’s in English and you like it, it’s a good resource. It really doesn’t matter what you choose. The only important criteria is: Use real English materials.
Course books and lesson books are boring (usually). And the truth is: you don’t need them! A single magazine article or a scene from your favorite film can be 10 times more valuable than an English course book.
Listen and watch. Watch and listen. Use your iphone. Listen to English mp3’s. Watch English videos. Don’t think about grammar. Learn new vocabulary as you go. Have fun. And always understand more.
Start reading the newspaper in English. Start with the comics. And advertisements. Understand everything.
The newspaper is a great resource for improving your English. You will learn lots of interesting vocabulary. And you will hear many amusing fiction stories from politicians of all nations!
When you start reading English newspapers, you will see how the governments of different countries are different… and remarkably similar! When you can read and understand English, you can learn many things about the world.
When I grew up in America, I thought America was ‘normal’ and every other place was ‘different’. Then, when I was in middle school and high school, I started reading lots of books – and I realized: nothing is ‘normal’. It’s only normal because we grew up in this culture.
When I went to university, I had friends from many different countries – and I understood: everyone has a different ‘normal’.
When I started living in Istanbul, I also saw many people who thought their culture was ‘normal’. Turkish culture became ‘normal’ for me very quickly. But I know many friends in America who still think America is ‘normal’.
Read. Read and learn. The newspapers will start to be very amusing for you.
Start watching a series.
This is maybe the most fun – and definitely one of the most effective ways to learn to speak English.
If you can understand the main ideas of a newspaper article in English, then you can start watching English television series.
There are some AMAZING television series you can watch to improve your English speaking: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Heroes, Lost, House, Battlestar Galactica. There is an endless list!
Choose a series that you think you will like. Get the DVD or sign up for Netflix. Start with Season 1 Episode 1. And watch the whole season. Get ‘addicted’ to the series.
You can use subtitles in English if you want, but don’t use subtitles in your own language. It’s not necessary to understand everything. If you understand enough to enjoy it, that’s enough!
Watch and listen. Watch and learn. There are many useful English sentences and phrases that you will hear when you watch a television series in English.
Read your first book.
Have you ever read a book in English? Now is the time.
I remember the first book I read in Turkish. I had tried to read a book in Turkish 5 or 6 times. Every time, I gave up after 2 or 3 chapters. I couldn’t understand everything and I would get frustrated easily.
Finally, one of my friends from Sabanci University wrote a short novel and sent it to me while I was staying in America. The book was short. Only 96 pages. And the language was not too difficult.
I was motivated to read it because my friend had written it and sent it to me. It was an interesting story. Even though I couldn’t understand 100%, I understood enough to follow the story. And I learned many new words along the way.
You can find 1000’s of interesting books in English on Amazon as I’ve mentioned before. You can download the free Kindle app to your laptop, iphone, android, or any other device. There are many free Kindle books – and every bestseller in English!
Find a book that you really want to read and download it. If you really want to read and understand the book, you will find a way to learn the vocabulary and understand the book. Remember: it’s not necessary to understand 100%! You can always go back and read the book again. The most important thing is to make progress every day and finish the book!
Join Social Activities in English
You can read books in English. You can understand films and series in English. You’ve practiced basic dialogues and you’ve done 100’s of hours of listening practice. Wow! You should understand a lot of English by now!
It’s time to go out and use your English in the real world. I’ve heard many people say ‘I can speak English better after I’ve had a few drinks.’ Is it true? The only way to know is to try it.
Of course, you don’t have to drink. In fact, many of the best English conversations happen over a nice cup of tea or coffee.
The point is:
Go out. Meet new people. Speak to people who don’t know your native language. Practice speaking and communicating in English. But don’t think of it as ‘practice’.
Instead, just go out and meet people and have fun! The point is to use English in real situations.
- Attending events in English (conferences, seminars, networking events),
- Making new friends from different countries
- Traveling – visiting new countries and meeting new people
There are many social/networking groups that you can join in any major city in the world. Internations.org and couchsurfing.com are two great organizations. You can start meeting new people from around the world. Just remember: be polite, be understanding, and be respectful. Meeting new people from different cultures is a great learning experience. If you approach others with genuine kindness, you will gain more than you ever imagined.
Attend Professional Training.
One thing that separates professionals from amateurs is ‘Professional Training’.
When I was 6 years old, I started playing the violin. I took lessions from a local teacher. I loved the violin. Still do. I practiced hard, and at the age of 11 or 12, my parents decided it was time for more ‘Professional Training’.
So we researched to find the best violin teacher in the area. And I started lessons with her. At first, I was excited, but then…
She made me change my hand position! She made me change my playing technique! And she made me start from the beginning with this new ‘technique’.
I hated it!
I had to play like a ‘baby’ again. I had to play ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’. It was embarrasing!
But then, I started getting used to the new hand position and the new technique. My hands and fingers got stronger. And my playing started improving a lot. Faster than I had ever improved before. Suddenly I was ‘the best’ in my class. And I loved the violin more than I ever had before.
Amateurs will always ‘get by’ on the skill they have. But professionals will go the extra mile. They will seek the best training. They will do whatever it takes to get the best training. They will even go back to the beginning if necessary.
You might be the best doctor, the best lawyer, the best professional in your field… And you know how hard you worked to get that success. You know what you invested to get the ‘Professional Training’ you needed. If you want the advantage that ‘makes a difference’ in English, you know how valuable ‘Professional Training’ will be in this area…
Which is why this 13th and final step is ONLY for professionals who want to be the best. For everyone else, it’s not really necessary. After all, if you can read newspapers in English, understand English dialogues, speak English on the telephone, and understand English films… that’s amazing! And it will, without a doubt, enrich your personal and professional life and incredible amount!
Did you enjoy this guide?
Please share this link
on Facebook or Twitter.
And if you want more info about learning English, join our email list here: