12 Ways To Learn English From Scratch

If you’re wondering how to learn English from scratch at home, then you’re on the right track. Here, we bring you an extensive list of tips and tricks in learning English.

How to Learn English from Scratch

Although learning English as a second language (ESL) isn’t exactly as easy as simply learning your ABCs, trust us, it’s manageable. Just follow the proven and valuable tips we shared below. We are confident that soon, you’ll be able to increase your English competence and knowledge. Note that being fluent in any new language takes time. So we are not advocating that the following tips will make you fluent right away. These tips are geared towards helping you get a start in the language.

1. Have An Objective

English can be considered as the Language of International Communication.Among all existing languages, it is the most common second language used by people worldwide. 

Considering this, it is no surprise that English is also the language of the internet and even of popular media. Most popular pages and sites are written in the English language. So, if you understand the language perfectly, you would be able to relate to most of the things on the screen — from trending videos, hilarious memes, inspirational content to advocacies that need your support.

The information above is only a few general reasons you would possibly want to learn English. Spend some of your time thinking about why you want to learn the language and how you plan to learn it. Having both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in language learning helps to keep you on track with your learning goals.


2. Understand The English Language

The English language has evolved a long way from Shakespeare to this day in the modern time of internet slang. Learning its history has its perks, but we’re here to tell you to focus on learning today’s English.

While mastering the grammar and structure of English is not as important as being able to converse using it, understanding how the language works can help if your goal is to be fluent in English smoothly.

It’s just like learning other languages, except that it could be easier or harder depending on the alphabet you’re used to. English is also called a “queer” language because the rules don’t always apply to everything. For example, the simple words “do” and “go” have different pronunciations despite having the same vowel.

Aside from pronunciation, other things you have to look out for to understand the English language are:

  • Synonyms and antonyms: There are various ways to express one idea in the English language. For higher fluency, however, even words that express almost the same idea can differ in intensity. For example, “small” is not exactly the same as “minuscule” because the latter may mean that something is even smaller.
  • Sentence structure: Creating sentences in English has a basic pattern. The subject is followed by the verb. An object is optional. 

For example, I (subject) + sing (verb). = “I sing.” 

When you add the object, it will go like this:

I (subject) + sing (verb) + pop songs (objects). = “I sing pop songs.

  • English dialects: Over 160 English dialects exist in the world. Some of the most common are British English, American English, and Australian English. You can either learn these dialects or stay true to the variety of English that exists in your locality. Whatever you choose, it will be best to stick to one dialect if you want to have consistency in your language learning.

3. Learn The Basics

So, now that you have an objective and you have a fair understanding of your target language, the question remains, “How to learn English from scratch?

One good trick is to study phrases instead of words. Yes, words are very basic but remember you have to make your learning realistic. For starters, memorizing words without knowing how they are used isn’t as good as knowing basic phrases that can let you express what you feel and what you want. 

To learn the basics, you can also benefit from watching children’s shows. It may sound silly if you’re an adult trying to learn English, but hear us out. Those who are just learning the language are like young children learning their primary language. Children programs in English will likely use basic communicative statements and even enunciate their sentences slower for viewers to fully grasp them.

Speaking of basics, here are other English basics to keep in mind:

  • Parts of Speech: Learn the functions of the eight parts of speech. Usually, a chart featuring the eight parts of speech will have the picture of an octopus with its eight tentacles representing nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
  • Subjects: The subject of the sentence is vital as it is the topic of the sentence. Note that in this queer language, even a sentence without a subject can express a complete thought, but mostly, subjects are present.
  • Predicates: A predicate talks about the subject. It usually expresses action and features verbs.
  • Combine parts of speech: The parts of speech can be used together to express a more comprehensive thought and keep the sentence going. A sentence may have a noun, a pronoun, a verb, an adverb all at once and more.
  • Sentence Types: There are usually four types of sentences that vary depending on the way one says it. Declarative sentences state a thought. Interrogative sentences ask. Exclamatory sentences express strong emotions, while Imperative sentences are used for commands and requests.

4. Widen Your Vocabulary

Even if you haven’t mastered the rules of English, having a vast vocabulary at your disposal can save you the frustration of understanding an English text or speaker. In communicating with other people, broken English filled with the most important words that can express your thoughts is better than nothing at all.

For instance, hearing your name plus the words “generous” and “apple” can make you understand that someone is praising you for being generous after you gave them an apple. Still, keep learning because being more proficient can help you escape the problems of misunderstanding that can occur even to native speakers.

Here are some ways to widen your vocabulary:

  • Take a vocabulary journal with you: When you actively take note of new words and expressions you hear spoken or written in English, you learn more and better. Actively taking notes doesn’t just mean writing and closing the notebook. It means writing the new vocabulary word and noting how, when, and why it was used. 

For example, the sentence “Excuse me” can be used in different situations. Write down whether it was spoken when the speaker wants to pass through or like to apologize for any inconvenience they might have caused.

  • Bring an English dictionary with you: Whether it’s a physical copy or a digital one, having a dictionary on hand will help you easily grasp what is being said. However, it does not always depend on your dictionary. For example, effective usage of a dictionary comes when you come across a text vocabulary that you find hard to understand.

5. Read Anything In English

No, you don’t have to buy books in English to read English. Look around you. There is probably something there written in English. Get your hands on it and read it, whether it’s a newspaper, a magazine, a cereal box, or even signages. There’s plenty more English content to read if you have internet access, ranging from memes to blog sites!

The good thing about familiarizing yourself with the English that surrounds you is you get to learn quickly in context. Seeing the new worlds repeatedly is also a good reinforcement of what you learn.

How to read more in English? Follow the tips below:

  • Determine your level of proficiency: If you’re still a beginner, children’s texts would be a big help to you. You can’t force yourself to read a 300-page novel if your English isn’t at that level yet. You’ll probably only end up being frustrated and stopping on page 5 or earlier.
  • Read once a day: Go to your local library and maybe pick up a children’s book for beginners, or newspapers, magazines, and English novels for those in more advanced levels. You don’t have to finish a whole story if it’s too long. A chapter a day goes a long way.
  • Read something that interests you. Go and have fun with what you’re reading! If you like baking or cooking, pick up an English cookbook and start manning the stove like a five-star chef! Are you highly interested in current events? Read news in English and maybe do a little digging to get to the root of issues. You’ll definitely learn the language and more along the way.
  • Review what you read in English: Master the 5Ws and learn more through reviewing the “who, what, when, where, and why” of what you read. This technique can apply to any type of reading material. 

For example, if you just read a news article, review what is being talked about. When did it happen, and where did it happen? Why did it happen, or why do you think it happened? You can either write or verbalize your answers.


6. Download English Apps

As a supplement to the tip above, change your devices’ language to English so you can be forced to read and think in English every time you engage with the screen.

Aside from that, there are plenty of applications in English which you can download to enhance your learning. Turn your social media into an English learning app by changing the default language in which it is displayed. 

If you’re keen on learning English for free using existing language learning apps, we’ve created a detailed and curated list of English language-learning apps


7. Study Online

The beauty of studying online is that you can learn anytime, anywhere. So, if you want to know how to learn English from scratch at home, going online is the answer. We already mentioned that English is the language of the internet. Using the internet as a starting point is pretty broad, and that’s a good thing. You can learn English everywhere you click!

  • Befriend English-speaking people online: If you’re a little on the shy side, a simple following would do. Expose yourself to English content, from text posts to podcasts or videos. Take time to digest one or two posts from your English-speaking friends and understand what they’re trying to express and share with the general public.

  • Ask questions. As you go through your learning, you’ll probably find yourself with more questions than answers. Why is this word pronounced like this? Why is the spelling like that? Does it really rain cats and dogs? 

Whenever you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s better than remaining uneducated for a long time.  If you have no one to answer any questions you have, go online and search for blogs and forums that will answer your question.

  • Subscribe to English content: Whether it’s a YouTube channel or a free English language podcast, making a daily habit of tuning in to one of their contents will help you a lot in mastering English. This is a good way to learn, especially if you have very little time to be on standby and study. Just play a video or podcast whenever you’re driving, commuting, cleaning, or taking a bath, and let your brain familiarize itself with hearing the language.

8. Enroll In An ESL Class

Mastering ESL or English as a Second Language can demand more effort than you alone can give. It helps, of course, to have someone else teach you. However, if you don’t have any budget to spare, don’t worry because there are ESL classes that you can still get for free.

Here is an easy way to get yourself ESL lessons without breaking the bank. Note that these are best suited for college-level English.

Go to Google and search for “ESL Classes near me” or “ESL Classes in City”. You will get a list of the available classes in your area. You can read their reviews and contact them to get more details. Most schools are more than happy to call you or meet with you to explain how their specific program works.

ESL Classes in Singapore Map Listings
ESL Classes in Singapore Search Results

9. Personalize Your Learning

Learning should be fun, so what better way is there to learn a language than to do it while taking part in the things you love? List down all the activities you love to do and try stepping it up by doing it in English.

To learn a language is a life-long pursuit. New words get coined every day, and new situations always arise. If you are determined to learn a language, you have to make it a part of your everyday life as early as now. 

Here are some ways to personalize your learning experience and have more fun:

  • Watch movies and dramas in English: For beginner levels, having subtitles in English is enough. It teaches you to read fast while allowing you to understand the context through the video. If you’re feeling a bit more advanced, try watching a whole new series or movie in English without subtitles and review what you have just witnessed.
  • Follow your favorite star: Do you have a favorite English-speaking celebrity? Time to do a bit of research and learn more about your faves by going online and watching or reading all their shows and interviews. Watch once to rave on how adorable they are, twice to get a gist of what’s happening, thrice to focus on their statements and expressions, and four times for good measure. They’re your favorite, anyway, so you won’t easily get tired of them, right?
  • Practice singing English songs: If you’re more into music, fill your playlist with English. Don’t just vibe with it — learn from it! You can search for the lyrics online and dwell on what they mean. Songs are poetry, and learning what the singer wants to express is a way of understanding more about the queer but wonderful English language.

10. Communicate In English

We learn a language to communicate, not just to pass exams. It may be difficult at first, but remember what we said a while ago, broken English is better than nothing at all. If you persist, you’ll get better and speak clearer in no time.

Don’t be shy to talk in English and approach English speakers, whether in person or online. As long as they’re not suspicious strangers waiting to pounce on you, it should be fine. 

Many people can understand but not speak the language. You want to be better than that and use English to its full potential. It is not enough for you to understand. You also have to be able to make others understand whatever it is that you genuinely care about.

  • Talk to real people: Don’t settle with just talking to your voice assistant. Humans are beautiful for the way they speak with varying tones that you can never fully predict. 

People have plenty of ideas they want to communicate. By talking with a diverse group of English-speaking people, you are not only expanding your vocabulary, but you are also expanding your appreciation and your heart — not literally, of course.

  • Listen then answer: Don’t just repeat what you heard. Answer and communicate. Give feedback. 

While a common strategy to learn English is to listen to native speakers speak and then repeat what they’re saying, it is not as efficient as learning to listen and then respond. When you answer after listening, it means you understand what was being said and know when and how to reply to it.

  • Don’t be discouraged: Let’s face it, there are people out there who will come at you even though you just made a bit of an error in your grammar. Don’t mind them. Thank them and correct yourself. Remember that there are also people who’ll rejoice in your courage to learn something new.

Be friends with fluent English speakers who’ll affirm your attempt at speaking English and give you constructive criticisms only when something goes wrong because of what you have misspoke.


11. Practice The Language

The four basic macro skills in learning a language are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Two are inputs (listening and reading), and two are outputs (speaking and writing).

Mastering one isn’t the point, but practicing all four. When someone speaks, you should first listen. You put the information in your mind through your ears before processing it. After processing, that’s the time to say — but only when you need to.

When you read, you can either talk about what you read or write about it. That’s the way it goes. When there’s an input, an output follows if it’s necessary.

  • Listen: Listening is vital to have peaceful communication and to avoid having misunderstandings. Sometimes, listening is more important than talking. This advice is usually more relevant when someone is expressing their grievances, and they need you to “lend them an ear”.
  • Speak: Practicing the language in terms of speaking could be harder since it involves confidence, which is why so many people can understand English but not speak it. However, you need to talk in order to learn. You need to be able to ask questions and give feedback to be understood and keep the conversation going.
  • Read: It has been mentioned that you should read any reading material you can get your hands on. Reading is like listening — but with your eyes. Even now, you are reading and practicing your English. You are doing a good job!
  • Write: Not everyone with a pen in their hands is a writer, but everyone can write. To be good at writing English papers, you have to practice, practice, practice. A good tip is to write brief reviews of books you read or series you watched. 

12. Incorporate English In Your Daily Routine

You learned your first language because it is the language you use every day — whether it’s in your home, school, or even in your workplace. If language learning works that way, it is high time you incorporate English into your day-to-day life.

Studying English for an hour or two won’t guarantee mastery. As we said, language learning is something we all can do for the rest of our lives. How can you incorporate English into your daily routine and make it as natural as breathing?

  • Speak with a native speaker’s confidence every day: You’re not there yet, but you have to claim fluency as early as now. Don’t mind people who will bash you for your broken English cruelly. They’ll get tired soon enough, but you lose if you get tired first. Remember that progress, no matter how slow or little, is still progress.
  • Talk in English – even when you’re alone: If you think talking to yourself is strange, then think again. It is actually beneficial, especially when you are mindful of it. You can start by reading out loud when you’re alone. Talking to yourself in English is good because it helps you practice conversations that can take place with other people.
  • Record your voice: If you can learn from other people’s podcasts, then you can also learn with your own recorded voice. It might be uncomfortable at first, but if you record your voice when you talk in English, you’ll find that you’ll soon be more natural at it. It will also help you spot any pronunciation errors or areas that you might want to improve at, like the speed of how you talk.
  • Label it! A good way to widen your vocabulary is to write down the English equivalent of your things at home. Seeing these notes every day will help you remember the words faster and retain them for longer.

Final Thoughts

So, there you go, English learner! Don’t ever give up learning English, primarily if your only concern is financially related. There are so many ways to learn the language for free, and all it takes is your perseverance to master the language.

We discussed some of the best and proven tips for you to learn English from scratch. What is the best method that has worked for you? Let us know in the comments below.

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