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4 Tips to Help You Learn English – How to Learn English

4 Tips to Help You Learn English – How to Learn English

Hi, I’m Oli. Welcome to Oxford Online English.
In this video I’m going to tell you a little about my language learning experiences and I’m going
to share with you some things I wish I’d known before I started studying languages. I really hope you’ll find these ideas interesting
and useful and you can use them to help you learn English or even maybe another language! First, let me tell you a little about myself
and why I do what I do, and why I’m making this video. I was always fascinated by foreign languages.
I remember the first time I went to a foreign country. I was nine, and I went to Holland. The thing that I liked best was hearing all
of these foreign sounds. I’d never really heard people speaking other languages before. Even then, I thought that speaking another
language would be a really cool thing to be able to do. Being able to open your mouth and produce
all of these foreign words and actually be understood… That seemed almost like magic
to me as a child! My Mum bought me a ‘How to learn Dutch’
book. It didn’t work! I didn’t learn any Dutch. But, I did study French and German at school
for many years. They were always my favourite subjects. When I was around 20, I set myself a goal.
I would travel the world, and by the time I was 30, I would speak four foreign languages
fluently. I don’t know why. There wasn’t much logic
to it. It doesn’t seem like the most coherent life plan, even now. But, that’s what I’d
decided to do, so that’s what I did. I lived in Russia, and studied Russian to
quite a high level. Then, I moved to China. I studied Chinese, including written Chinese. By the time I was 30, had I reached my goal?
Kind of. I could speak Russian, French and Chinese well, and I could still speak some
German, though not so well. Close enough—I don’t have any regrets. Anyway, I made so many mistakes along the
way. I got so many things wrong. I wasted lots of time and energy on things that didn’t
work. There are so many lessons I had to learn the
hard way. So, what were they? I remember my first few Russian lessons. They
were bad. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t learn anything. Why? Because I had just graduated from university,
and in my head, I was still at school. When the teacher asked me a question and I
got it right, I thought: “Great! I achieved something!” I thought this even if I just
guessed the answer. If I got a question wrong, I thought, “I
feel bad!” I felt embarrassed. If we did an exercise or a test, I thought,
“If I get a high score, I’ve succeeded!” Worst of all, I thought that just turning
up to class was enough. After all, I wasn’t responsible for my learning. The teacher was
responsible. That’s the teacher’s job. I hope, I really hope, that you realise that
I’m saying these things because they’re totally wrong, not because they’re how you
should think. Getting a question right or wrong in class
means nothing by itself. Getting a high score in a test means nothing
by itself. Going to five classes, ten classes, or 500
classes means nothing by itself. There’s only one thing that matters: what
have you learned? What can you do that you couldn’t do before? Teachers can make a big difference, sure.
One of the best teachers I’ve had (Hi Lola!), helped me to change how I think. Instead of feeling embarrassed about making
a mistake, I realised that mistakes are a chance to understand something new. Instead of worrying about getting things wrong,
I started to experiment and play with language. Instead of seeing tests and exercises as targets
for someone else, I saw them as opportunities to express myself and explore my own strengths
and weaknesses. I put this at number one because it’s the
most important thing to learn. It’s the biggest mistake I see English learners
making. I see adults, many of whom are older than me, very professionally successful, acting
like they’re still at school, just because they’re in a lesson with a teacher. I’ve seen people copying their homework
from the answer key. I see people—full-grown, successful adults—really caring about whether
they get a question right or wrong in class. None of this matters by itself. All of this—questions
in class, exercises in your textbook, tests and exams, English courses, certificates—they’re
just steps; they’re tools. What’s your goal? To get a piece of paper
that says you speak English, or to actually speak English? If you start at lesson one and finish lesson
100, is that enough? Have you finished? Do you want to get a high score in an English
exam, or do you want to speak such good English that you never need to take an English exam? So, get these old ideas from school out of
your head. Classes, exercises, tests and certificates… All of these things can help you; these things
can give you structure and motivation, and that can be important, but they aren’t the
end goal. These things aren’t important in themselves;
they’re important for what they can help you achieve. Focus on what you can actually do. Because that’s all that matters. When I first moved to Russia, I was planning
to stay for six months. After six months, I thought my Russian was
okay. But it certainly wasn’t good enough. I decided to stay longer. I thought that with six months more study,
my Russian would be where I wanted it to be. After six months, I thought, “My Russian’s
alright, but if I just studied for another six months, it would be good.” I studied for another six months. I thought, “Yeah, my Russian’s not bad.
You know what I need? Six months’ more study. It’ll be really good with another six months.” There were a few more like this, but you can
see where this is going, I think. Even when I left Russia, and I could speak
to a high level, I didn’t feel completely satisfied. It’s not just me. You never feel like you’ve finished. You
always feel like there’s more to do, and more to learn. I promise you, this will be the same for you
with English. You’ll never feel like, “I’m done now.” Often, students ask me things like, “How
long will it take to get fluent?” “How long will it take to learn English?” No one wants to hear, “Forever!” It’s
not a popular answer! But, it’s true. Why is this? I think there are two reasons. The first is that there is always more to
learn. I’m still learning things about English, by teaching, writing and editing other people’s
work. I haven’t finished learning English, just like you haven’t finished learning
English, because you never do. What about the second reason? Partly, it’s just human nature. We focus
on what we can’t do, just like we focus on what we don’t have. What you don’t have is much more interesting
than what you already have, right? In the same way, what you can’t do seems
more important than what you can do. When you learn something new, it’s satisfying
for a very short time. Then you forget about it. You focus on what you don’t know; you
focus on what you can’t do. This is natural. We all do it. All the time
I was studying Russian, I was getting better. I was learning lots of new things. But, it didn’t feel that way. I’m sure many of you who’ve been learning
English for a long time can relate to this! You study and study. You learn new things,
but you always feel like there’s something you can’t do. This is how it is. That feeling never totally
goes away. So, what can you do about it? Accept it. It’s not going to change! Also, remember that how you feel isn’t always
the best guide to how things really are. Just because you feel you aren’t getting
better, it doesn’t mean you’re not getting better. It doesn’t mean you aren’t learning
anything new. It’s just how you feel, and how you will
feel. It’s not a reason to stop or get discouraged.
Keep studying; keep working and you will improve, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I don’t know exactly when I first got the
idea of moving to China. But, I know when I made up my mind: I read
a book called “River Town.” It’s about an American guy who spent two years living
in Sichuan, in southern China. He went there to teach English and study Chinese.
He lived in a small town where there were two non-Chinese people, including him. I loved the book, and at that moment, I knew:
I was going to China. But, I wasn’t as brave as him. I couldn’t
imagine living in a small town with no other English speakers. It sounded lonely. I moved to Shanghai, where there are about
half a million foreigners. I could meet people from many different countries,
and mostly my social life was English-speaking. I wasn’t lazy, though. I studied hard. I
really wanted to get better. After three years, my Chinese was quite good. But, it wasn’t perfect. There was a lot
I couldn’t do. There was a lot I didn’t know. Why am I telling you this? It’s because my Chinese was a reflection
of my life: I chose to move to a big, international city, and I chose to hang out in mixed groups
where the common language was English. So of course my Chinese wasn’t as good as
it could have been. I had a couple of friends who did things differently. One guy in particular did almost everything
in Chinese. He had Chinese roommates, most of his friends were Chinese, and he worked
for a Chinese company. His Chinese was perfect. Not just good, perfect. It wasn’t because he studied harder than
me (although maybe he did). It was because he lived his life in Chinese and I didn’t. I see this a lot with English learners, particularly
in English-speaking countries. Many of the students I meet live in the UK,
but don’t speak much English. They have a community of people who speak their language,
and they don’t go outside that much. I also see this a lot with people saying,
“I want to learn English, but I don’t have chances to speak!” To be clear, I know that big life changes,
like moving to another country, aren’t realistic for everyone. I get that. But here’s the thing. You can’t separate language learning from
the rest of your life. If you go to class twice a week, and don’t
use English or think about English the rest of the time, your progress will always be
limited. Do you want to speak perfect English? Do you
want to master the English language? Yes? Then you need to live your whole life in English. That might not be practical, but even so,
improving your English (or any language) means changing your life. It might mean moving to another country, working
in another company, changing your social circle, or other large changes. And yes, that can be very difficult! It can
involve making big sacrifices. I understand that, but that’s how it is. Language is a part of your life. The way you
live influences what you can learn. How dare you, Oli! I am special! I’m not saying you’re not special. I’m
not special. No one’s special when it comes to learning a language. Learning English, or any language, is very
democratic. Everyone’s in the same position. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how
rich you are, how professionally successful you are… None of that really matters. Let me tell you the last part of my story. Now, I live in Greece. I’ve been here for
around three years. If people ask me if I speak Greek, my answer
is “Not really.” I can communicate in a basic way, and I understand
a lot, but I don’t claim to speak it. After three years in Russia, I could speak
good Russian. After three years in China, I could speak good Chinese. So, what went wrong? I should speak good Greek
by now, right? Remember: I’m not special; none of us are
special. I don’t speak good Greek because I haven’t done enough work. Partly, that’s because I’m busier. If
I’m honest, I’ve also been a little lazy sometimes. Okay, at this point, I want to say thanks
for listening to me. This is a more personal video, and I appreciate that you’re still
watching. So, let me finish by giving you the secret
to learning a language. That’s right: I’ll give you the secret
to learning English, or any language! Don’t get too excited—it’s really boring. YouTube and the Internet are full of people
saying they have “the secret to learning fluent English,” or “a way to learn English
in ten days.” Normally, the secret is “buy my book – 99
dollars!” I don’t have a book, because I’m too busy
to write one, so I’ll just tell you the secret. You can have it for free. It’s consistency. I’ve taught thousands of students at this
point in my career, and the picture is very clear. People who study and work consistently, over
time, get the best results. It’s not necessarily the smartest students
who do best. It’s not necessarily the natural language
learners who do best. It’s not necessarily the most enthusiastic
learners who do best, because enthusiasm tends to burn out. It’s the people who just keep going, who
don’t give up, who work and work and don’t stop, who keep going even when it’s hard
and boring and they’re not enjoying it: they do best. They get what they want. Boring, I know, but it’s true. So, thanks again for watching and listening
to me! See you next time!

100 thoughts on “4 Tips to Help You Learn English – How to Learn English

  1. The most important thing is never give up to the circumstances and do what you dreaming about it

  2. Hi Olí, that was a really honest and realistic story about learning languages. One of the best online teachers. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. 💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜 my favourite tutor ever

  4. Hello,Oli.I'm from Moldova. Tank you very much .You speak ,you explain like a excellent teacher . Congratulation. Every day i practise,listen,read,write in English. I improve my skils.
    Notice : I'm a self-taught. Everthyng is possible,if you want.

  5. Thank you Oli, I really appreciate every lesson you gave, which helped me a lot in listening and speaking ability, thank you for providing such good learning experience with us.

  6. Teacher you are handsome and i love the way you talk, your smile, your posture and your eye contact. This video is so motivated. Thanks

  7. Oh, Oli, you not only teach me about how to learn English and achieve what I want with English, but you teach me how a language learner should think and do while learning it. Consistency. This word is brought up by authentic conscience and massive experience in pedagogical practices. I can't just say than
    I'm Vietnamese

  8. Thank you for your advice .now is 2018 but this video was for me Greet .Because you have see the truth .Yes I speak german too .i have lived in german ,i have worked .But in my ocupation there ware many foreigns and the level from the speak wasn't good enough.But after i went to school and for my was dificult too because in mine head was broken deutsch.But i study hard and my level is good and i can good anderstand .Now  I try to learn english in italy and it is awkward..because i'm from italy and i live in my country .

  9. Sir I am from India.
    I really impressed you very much..
    I really fell so much shy while speaking English .
    I think now what should I speak.😊👌😊😊😊😊

  10. Could you make a video on phonetic chat for explanation?
    I want to learn .
    It will a great thing which lead me speak English fluently👍👍.

  11. Thank you so much Oli. Your advice sounds pedagogycally interesting and encouraging. Am francophone from Republic of Benin (West Africa), and am keen on speaking English. I read English books day in day day out. This is the third time am reading Born Bad by Josephine Cox. But I really get frustrated at times cause I am 4 times better at written English than spoken. I don't often practice spoken and I really need to.

  12. Thanks Oli for me this lesson was very personal and very useful. I agree that consistency is the key of everything in our lives.

  13. Thank u for the tips is really help us ,iam learning language now atcollege I'm quite good but ism always feel need more and more

  14. Hello welcome my life dificul ricwest aer you problem money my planig not good my stop english 10 day sarry my ricwest theik you

  15. Your video has picked me up. I'm in a bad mood after long time struggle to study English. Yes. It's boring but I will keep going. Thank you very much. I'm Vietnamese

  16. I agree with you entirely. I wish I'd known these ideas before I started studying languages. I waste a lot of time. Thank you, Oli.

  17. Your videos are always really helpful, Oli. I look up to the people like you, so honest, so clear about learning a language. Well done!

  18. Thank you for such a wonderful video.
    I realized that studying English is kind of boring and there is no special way to improve its ability.
    The only way to improve my English skill is continue studying English every single day .
    And someday I hope I can get to be a good English speaker.

  19. Hi, Oli! Thank you so much for your video! I am from Ukraine and my native language is Russian & Ukrainian. I admire you. You can learn this hard (not for me, because I am native) language. You learn Chinese. Wow. It is so nice. You inspire me to improve my English. Thank you so much!

  20. Hello oli welcome you my home suport me 1000 parset you english my chalen speak my life my happy thak you good bye

  21. English is vitaly important in the modern time, anyway English is an important resource of communication to the foreign visitors, I therefore thinking of heading out to increase my vovabilary regularly. .

  22. I really want to speak English fluently sir, can someone help me please. My fb Zahraddeen Ya'u Adam KY

  23. Thank you indeed.. It was the best English lessons that I have ever done. I am so proud of your great lessons. Thank you Sir

  24. Oli, you’re my biggest motivation about learning English right now, and you are really amazing teacher. Keep going and motivate more people about learning different worlds 💪🏻

  25. Hello …
    Well i don't have a good english but i am trying to learn it better and better and also i can speak french 💕not much but i am good at this
    Well i can speak 5 languages i love❤❤❤ to learn new languages like you
    You are amazing 😱😱
    And also when i watched this video,i feel so ashamed of myself😳

  26. I like it, I'm interested. "Accept it"… or die. One else…"buy my book for 99$"…really funny.

  27. Que gran video, me resulto bastante motivador, justamente cuando me decía que me sentía un poco cansado de estudiar. Saludos desde Mexico.

  28. Your all video are very interesting we learned a lot of English from your video thank you for making such a nice video

  29. Thank you so much for this video but I want to know how to learn and speak English in a French or an Arabic country where the most of the people don't speak english?

  30. Спасибо! Вы очень хороший учитель. Буду рада помочь вам с русским языком. С уважением, Ольга.

  31. could u please make videos to usage of BE in english i try to learn this sentence usage since i start my career. still i didn't get good explanation.

  32. thank you very much for your honourable information

  33. Hello teacher Iam Meriem from Algeria Iam student 2 nd year in univ could yu give me yr email or what's up to communicate with yu I need help in my study I want to learn more English and other languages .have a good day

  34. Why did you choose Greece? Can you speak any Greek now?
    Γιατί επέλεξες την Ελλάδα;
    Μιλάς καθόλου ελληνικά; ❤

  35. Thank you for this amazing video . I want to speak English fluently but l cannot change my country what l do , please .

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