Our Tips for Busy People: How to Learn English Quickly
We’ve gleaned these tips from our own language learning experience (every member of our team speaks at least 2 languages, and most speak more!) after having tested tons of techniques, methods, and tools to get results and learn English quickly.
Note: These tips won’t help you become bilingual overnight. It’s simply impossible (even if it is possible to learn a language in your sleep. Don’t believe us? 👉 Check out the study we did.).
They will, however, help you improve enough to feel relatively comfortable using English in a short amount of time. If you follow our advice, in a few short weeks you should be able to participate in a basic conversation without fear, and navigate an English-speaking country without getting miserably lost.
We know you’re busy (that’s why you’re here, right?), so let’s get right to it: 7 tips to help you learn English faster.
In other words, you do not need to learn words you will not use (at least not for the moment). We recommend learning the 20% of things that will serve you in 80% of cases to learn English quickly. Learn only the minimum, and save time.
To make sure you’re learning the most useful vocabulary, focus on something called frequency lists. These vocabulary lists are ranked according to frequency of use, and are sometimes grouped by topics. You can find frequency lists that are based on movie databases, music, poetry, and even episodes of the Simpsons.
Our learning apps are also based on frequency lists to make sure we provide you with the most useful vocabulary.
Note: “useful” is relative. Depending on your goals, the vocabulary lists that you need to learn will not necessarily be the same. The usefulness of a word for you depends on your learning objective.
- Do you want to learn English quickly to go on vacation in an English-speaking country ➡️ Brush up on vocab related to tourism, including common courtesies.
- Is your goal to take an exam? ➡️ Perhaps you need to focus on technical vocabulary, or learn the vocabulary you may find on the TOEFL or TOIEC.
- Have a crush on a Kiwi? ➡️ Stick to social vocabulary, learn lots of questions you can ask them about themself, and maybe throw in a little New Zealand slang.
There are many reasons to learn English and they will not necessarily lead you to the same words.
#2: Practice with natives, no matter your level!
Basically, we want you to really throw yourself into language learning. Practicing a language is the best way to learn it fast. Yes, but how do you practice English at home, or in a small town where there are few native speakers, if any at all?
Well, thankfully there are many language exchange sites, such as Tandem and HelloTalk. These sites allow you to find conversation partners abroad (native speakers, preferably) and talk to them via Skype or integrated chat platforms. It’s also sometimes called a linguistic tandem. The best way to learn English quickly? Talk with a native English speaker for at least 1 hour a week (half an hour in their language, half an hour in yours).
In this video, Alizah explains why you don’t have to go abroad to learn a language.
If you are afraid of not finding your words or making mistakes: do not panic! Speaking a foreign language is like a sport: when you practice, you generally get better! And when you practice with a coach who can correct your mistakes—or in this case, a language partner—you improve even faster.
To get you off to a good start, here are our tips for successful language exchanges:
- 3 Suggestions for Getting the Most out of Online Conversation Courses
- The 7 Golden Rules for Studying with a Language Partner
#3: Nip mistakes in the bud so you don’t lose time repeating them
A super efficient way to make progress is to combine the use of the HelloTalk “Moments” feature with your MosaLingua apps.
The first way to use MosaLingua is by using it to help you not repeat an error using its repetition system. Let me explain: when you are corrected, take the sentence that you made an error with and create a new personal card in the app so that you learn the correct form. You can even add an explanation in the other fields of the card to memorize the rule. Thanks to MosaLingua’s super powerful repeater system, you can permanently memorize these cards and never repeat mistakes.
You can even add an explanation in the other fields of the card to memorize the rule. In our case, this would be: “fewer because you can count the items; when you can’t count, use ‘less,’ ‘Less milk.'” We used English for the example but you can apply the same logic to all languages. Thanks to MosaLingua’s super powerful repeater system, you can permanently memorize these cards and never repeat mistakes.
A second way to use the MosaLingua app to improve your writing is to search for it on the MosaLingua app. If you notice that you made a mistake on a certain word or if your conversation partner reports that you made an error on a word, then you can search for it on the MosaLingua app and add it to your learning stack. If it doesn’t already exist in the app, then you can always add it by creating a personal card.
In both cases, you will be able to write it in the app during the writing step.
Writing it will help you memorize your spelling.
#4: Make use of your downtime
Your typical day is probably filled with tons of dead time. For example? Waiting in line to pay for your groceries, on the subway, the bus or the tram, even on the toilet!
The idea is to exploit the times when you are idle to listen to the radio in English with Tune In, watch a short YouTube video, listen to a podcast or review your flashcards on MosaLingua. Any sort of downtime is good to take the plunge into English (see tip #7 on consistency and repetition).
#5: Making learning more fun
Learning a language shouldn’t be a drag. However, oftentimes people feel it is because they use the wrong method. We know, English class in high school, when you had to memorize the three forms of irregular verbs, was far from exciting. You made the choice to learn English quickly, so you can easily make this activity fun and dynamic.
When it comes to learning a language, we go through four stages: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, writing and speaking. Here we focus on the second point: listening comprehension. An essential point if you are considering going to live in an English-speaking country or just to converse with a native. It is also important in order to accustom your ear to English, to distinguish the different nuances of pronunciation, to learn new vocabulary. You can simply:
- Listen to radio via TuneIn for example
- Watch a movie in English from our list of The Best Movies to Learn British English
- Follow an English Television to choose from a long list
- Listen to audiobooks
- Play with video games in English
- YouTube English Channels to Become Fluent in English
#6: Forget about grammar! (For now)
Although grammar is useful for understanding the mechanics of a language, we don’t consider it essential. At least, not early on, and not if you want to start speaking fast. There’s no need to know all the rules and exceptions right away.
In fact, learning grammar first can actually hurt you more than it helps. Thinking too hard about grammar can hinder your speaking, and getting buried under tons of rules can be a big motivation buster. And, as you already know, practice is essential if you want to learn English.
When you have very little time, be careful not to get bogged down in the details of grammar and lose sight of the big picture. Instead, concentrate on useful vocabulary. Learn full sentences and questions that are already put together for you, and that you don’t have to conjugate. Figure out the context in which these sentences are usually used. And use them. That’s it. You’ll actually end up speaking much more naturally than if you had memorized grammar rules from textbooks. This is a special polyglot tip that our friend Gabriel Gelman calls chunking.
When you’ve gotten your feet wet and are ready to take your skills to the next level, find out why English grammar is actually easier than you think.
#7: Strive for consistency
If you are afraid of not being able to study your English regularly, you can set goals. The setting of objectives has a motivating aspect, essential in the learning of a language. Why not, for example, set yourself a 30-day challenge? The advantage of the 30-day challenge is that it also creates a habit, which you will find difficult to get away from afterward. This habit of learning will become unconscious and acquired. You can also set the goals of learning 10 words a day, 300 words per month, and so on.
Last technique: if you really are afraid to forget to practice your English, set an alarm or schedule a reminder on your phone!
Bonus tip: take a non-traditional English course
We recently launched a training course specifically to help you improve your English speaking skills. For more information, visit our MosaSpeak English page.
Speaking English Quickly Is Possible… Now It’s Up to You!
Whether you have three months, a month or even three weeks, if you apply all these tricks and techniques you will make progress faster and get amazing results. But let’s be clear, for these tricks to work, you have to be MOTIVATED and practice on a regular basis.
Yes I really want to learn English very quickly