Blue Flower

Have you been struggling with English language irrespective of all the efforts? Maybe you have been trying to solve the problem the wrong way and following incorrect instructions.

You might have spent 10 to 13 years in school learning English. Sometimes you may have even gone to paid private tution classes. Still you might not be confident and comfortable with English.

Learning English is simpler than you think!

This article is meant to help you learn how to learn English. It is not meant to teach you English but teach you the tips on how to learn English. 

By the way, you might be wanting to read this article in you own native language to understand this. Well, that is where the problem to start with. Let's learn English in English. Let’s learn how! 


Rule number 1:
Invest one hour of your time each day to learn English

Learning takes time

You should be willing to invest time to learn.

You need to spend at least one hour every day to learn English. Maybe you can spend 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. You can even spend four 15 minute blocks of time to learn English everyday. 

When you start, the most effective would be to spend four fifteen minute blocks, one early in the morning right after you wake up, one before you go to school or work, one after your work or school and one right before you sleep.

What should you spend these time slots of one hour?

Read, read, read!

Spend a lot of time reading material in English.

Watch, watch, watch!

Spend a lot of time watching videos, films and TV news in English. 

Rule number 2:
Read English material as much as you can

What can you read?

You can read 

  • Books
  • News papers 
  • Online articles 

The key question that might be running through your mind is that:

I do not know English, so how can I read?

It is fine that you do not know. 

It is fine that you do not understand. 

Just keep reading, even if you do not understand.

Why? Because to learn a language, you need to learn the patterns in the language

You need to get used to the patterns of the language first. 

You will get used to language patterns if you keep reading.

Think of how you learned your native language. You listened to your parents and neighbors talking and learned the language. 

And you learned to read and ket reading in the native language.

And you learned your native language in native language. 

Similarly, you need to learn English in English to learn English faster.

Did you know? Those who know more than one language has better brains according to research!

But do I not need to understand?

Yes you do! 

But I don’t understand as I do not know English. So what is the point of reading? 

There is a technique for this.

First just read. Underline or note down words that you do not understand while you read. Keep reading and do not stop to look for meaning of words you do not understand. Just keep nothing down those that you do not understand. And the list of words you do not understand might be long when you start this practice. That is OK. Keep reading. Read a chapter of a book (do not read the full book in one go), an article in a newspaper or a magazine or an online article till the end.

Second: Use a dictionary and find meaning for unknown words.  Note down the meanings of the words that you underlined or noted down while you were reading. Have the meaning side by sie to the unknown words written down. 

What kind of dictionary should I use?

Initially, use a English to native language one.

E.g. English to Sinhala

Then as you get more familiar with the English language, learn to use an English to English dictionary.

Learn English in English

If you learned your native language in your native language (Sinhala in Sinhala or Tamil in Tamil)  then you can learn English in English. 

This is why you should use an English to English dictionary as you progress. Once you learn how to use an English to English dictionary, your rate of learning English language will speed up.

Third: Read the same material again.  And now, as you read the same material again, look into the meanings of unknown words that you noted down for the words that you underlined. In this second read attempt you will understand the material that you are reading and you will also learn the patterns on how to use these new words that you just learned.

Some tips on what you can read online

BBC Future:

CNN Features:

Rule number 3:
Watch lots of English material, so that you can learn to speak

What should I watch?

  • English movies 
  • English news 
  • English talks 

 How should I watch?

Without subtitles!

If you watch with subtitles, you will be reading in Sinhala (or Tamil or whatever the native language) and not listening to English! If you want, you can watch English videos with English subtitles, which will help you initially to understand what is being said in the videos. 

Some tips on what to watch

Ted Talks:


BBC Reel:

CNN Videos:

Rule number 4:
Learn English while you read and watch! 

Learn the language while you spend time reading articles and watching videos.

Every time you find a new word or phrase that you do not understand, note those doen and later look up the meaning of those. Note that, initially you will have to focus on understanding words better, and as you improve with words, you will have to pay attention to phrases.

Phrases are used to provide meaning specific to a language in a context. When you keep reading and keep watching in English, you will increasingly learn the language patterns and will learn how to understand the contextual meaning and how to use them in your own writing and speaking. 

Habits of learning

When you repeatedly do something, that becomes a habit. 

Make reading a habit – read even if you do not understand. 

Make watching a habit – watch even if you do not understand. 

Then, focus on learning the English language as you develop the habits of reading and learning.


What are some learning sources? 

English course for beginners

BBC Learning English

Learning activities from Cambridge English

Learn English with movies, TV and music

English courses

How to learn English?