11 Tips on How to Surround Yourself with English

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Research says that babies usually start trying to utter meaningful words between 9 and 14 months. Do they go to any language school at that age? Of course not. So how do they do it?

They learn from their surroundings by watching different things and listening to their parents or other people around them. And the process starts right after they are born. However, the process is too slow and time-consuming.

At the age of around 1, a baby usually utters their first word; at 3, they can form complete sentences. Therefore, if you want to learn English, depending only on your surroundings, you can do it in the same process. In that case, you must always have been in an English-speaking environment or an English-speaking country.

Learn English

However, adult ESL learners usually don’t have an extended period to learn a language. Therefore, they generally want to speak the language within a short period. Thus besides surrounding themselves with English, they must either practice following proper guidelines or take a course.

Self-learning is undoubtedly the best learning. If you have enough time and a strong will to make an effort to learn English, you don’t need to take paid courses. Instead, you can learn by yourself through proper planning and dedication. 

Even if you take a course from a good institution, you still have to practice by yourself. And through surrounding yourself with English, you can have different ways to practice 24/7 and make your journey towards your goal easier.

Here are some different ways that can help you surround yourself with English.

Label Everything Around You in English

Are you wondering what I mean by labeling everything around you in English? Well! You may not label everything, but you can do as much as possible. This is an excellent way to learn new words.

Suppose you are from Bangladesh, and Bengali is your mother tongue. If there is any furniture you don’t know what it is called in English, find a dictionary from Bengali to English or take help from Google Translate.

Now, you can write the English word on a small piece of paper and stick it to that piece of furniture. Then, whenever you look at it, you will see the word and eventually learn it without effort in a few hours or days.

Let me give you another example. Suppose you have recently joined a hotel as a cook. Most of the staff speak English. They often ask for different things, such as spices, kitchen utensils, etc., from you. In this case, if you label the jars of those things in English, it will help you to avoid miscommunication. On the other hand, someday, you will be able to learn the English names of those things.         

Change the Language Setting to English on All Your Devices

In this era, we use electronic devices for various purposes, from waking up to bed. We cannot think of a single day without them regardless of where we are—at home or office.

Whether you are a student, a teacher, or a businessman, you use devices like a cellphone, laptop, desktop pc, tablets, etc. You will hardly find any device that doesn’t have English as a functional language. And ESL students can use this source to learn English.

Suppose your mother tongue is Hindi. Naturally, Hindi is the language you are comfortable using. However, suppose you change the language setting of your cellphone from Hindi to English. In that case, it can help you learn several technical terms passively.

Not only your cellphone, but you can also change the language setting of your other devices, including tablets and laptops. Also, many smart devices support voice commands. If you have any at home or office, set English as the language of instructions.

Write Every Little Thing in English

Learning is a process that involves different steps—big or small. You can never imagine how some simple changes in your habit make significant differences. So can you remember what the great painter said

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Vincent Van Gogh

Suppose you are planning to buy some groceries from a nearby shop. While making a list of the goods, do it in English. If you find any goods that you don’t know what it is called in English, google them. It will help you enrich your vocabulary and improve your spelling.

You not only make the grocery list, but you can also write every little possible thing in English. From texting friends to writing a letter to someone close, try to write them in English.

If you keep doing this and make it a habit, you will see improvements within a very short time. Then, find some other ways where you can use English in need. Remember! The best time to learn something is when you are in need of learning it.

Keep Some English Books Around You

For ESL students, a motivating environment is vital to keep the pace of learning. Keeping some English books around can give you that environment. In addition, it will remind you of your English learning mission.

You can keep dictionaries, fiction, grammar books, or anything you love to read. Make sure you have them beside you whenever you feel like reading anything. Make a habit of reading books for at least 15 minutes daily.

Find some books of your level and start with the ones with simple language or a simplified version of your favorite book. If you read books regularly, it will help improve your vocabulary, grammar, and writing.

However, reading books may not help improve your speaking skills significantly. Still, it can improve your pronunciation if you read them aloud. Also, as you learn new words from reading books, it can improve your speaking level. 

Hang Some English Quotes on the Walls

What is your favorite English quote that motivates you when you are in trouble? What are the words that help you to keep yourself away from frustrations? Keep those inspiring words or quotes in front of you all the time. 

You can hang them on your room’s walls. They will help you keep up the motivation and move forward. It would be good to place them in such a place so you can’t avoid looking at them.

You can do the same with your cellphone, tablet, or laptop’s wallpaper or screen saver. Whenever you open them or work with them, you will be able to find inspiration from them.

Watch English Movies and Tv Shows

Watching English movies or tv shows is an effective way to improve your language skills. You can experience the authentic use of different expressions you may not find in a textbook by watching movies. If you are a beginner, movies can be an excellent source for learning English. At the same time, it is also a good way to pass your leisure time.

Watching English movies like “Hunger Games” or tv shows like “Friends” or “Sherlock’  can significantly help you to improve your listening and speaking skills. This is because, in such films, you hear characters using English naturally. You can learn correct pronunciations and accents as most English movies have artists who are native English speakers. You can improve your speaking skills by repeating what you hear on the screen.

You can also enrich your vocabulary and learn new forms of sentences from watching movies. Learning new words is difficult, but films can give you visual clues about words. This will undoubtedly help you to memorize the meaning of that word.

If you can make the best use of the experience of watching movies to learn English, you will be surprised to notice your improvements. Here are some tips on how to watch movies with enjoyment and learn English from them simultaneously.

  • Enjoying the movie should be your primary purpose, and learning English is secondary. Thus don’t be too much conscious about learning. But remember! If you can enjoy the movie, you will definitely learn something passively. So, make sure you select the films you love to watch.
  • Don’t bother to understand every word. Use English subtitles if it’s too difficult to catch.
  • Listen to their pronunciations. Try to imitate the way the characters are speaking the language.
  • If you love any movie so much, re-watch it. You will identify that you understand better now compared to your first watch.
  • You can mimic a scene or a monologue from your favorite movie. Try to pronounce the words as they were in the film.

Try to follow the above tips. You will find notable positive language improvement as time goes by! Keep watching movies and tv shows you like most and learn English without knowing that you are learning English.

Listen to English Songs

A study finds that roughly 7.11 billion people listen to music and an average person listens to more than 961 hours of music in 363 days. What about you? Do you listen to music too?

If you listen to music, you can use this recreation means as a resource for learning English. However, if you don’t listen to English songs, start listening to them today. Listening to music in English can improve your comprehension. In addition, it can significantly affect your listening skill and improve your pronunciation and vocabulary.   

The positive side of practicing English by listening to English songs is that you can do it at the home, office, or while traveling. So no matter where you are, if you feel like listening to songs and the environment allows you to, just listen to English songs.

Suppose you listen to music on video platforms like YouTube. In that case, you can search for lyric videos of your favorite songs. Then, listen to those songs with lyrics showing on the screen. It will help you to catch the words you might have missed.

You can sing some songs too. While listening to songs, try to sing along. Imitate the way the singer is singing. It will help you to practice pronunciation, and gradually your articulators (tongue, lips, teeth, etc.) will be accustomed to English sounds. 

Read Books, Stories, Newspapers, or Anything You Like to

Among the four skills of a language, reading is one. Reading English texts can help you improve your overall language competence. In addition, reading newspapers, books, and stories is an excellent way to learn how language can be used differently.

Reading English texts can help you to learn about English-speaking culture. Here I have shared WHY, HOW, & WHAT you should read to improve your English.

Listen to Radio, Audiobooks, and Podcasts

Listening to different audio materials can bring tremendous changes in your listening and, to some extent, your speaking skills. You can listen to the radio, audiobooks, and podcasts. Here are some tips that may help you learn English from audio sources.

  • Get some time every day to listen to English audio materials. First, select some daily, weekly, and monthly radio shows you love listening to. Then, subscribe to some podcasts and YouTube channels related to your interests.
  • Don’t limit yourself to one radio station or podcast to avoid boredom. Instead, explore stations, especially those with simplified English.
  •  Listen to English interviews on the radio to experience real-life natural conversations.
  • Take notes of interesting words, phrases, or idioms in your vocabulary notebook when possible. Also, if you like someone’s speaking pattern, try to mimic it. 
  • Don’t bother understanding everything. Just keep listening. Rather than focusing on words, try to understand the overall idea shared by the speakers.
  • Listen to radio, podcasts, and audiobooks while traveling. It will help you to enjoy the journey without feeling bored.
  • Listen to audiobooks once you go to bed. You can fall asleep listening to them. Once you make it a habit, you will find that listening to audiobooks of your interest even helps you to go to sleep.

Play Games in English

Playing games on a computer or cell phone is a common pastime for young people nowadays. If it is your hobby too, you can make good use of this to learn English. You can passively learn English and enjoy your time at the same time.

  • Play any games in English. Change the language setting of your game from your native language to English.
  • If the game supports live talk online with the opponent, play with an English-speaking opponent.
  • If your game requires a team, make the team with people interested in learning and speaking English.
  • If the game supports chat options, ensure that you chat in English.

Make English-speaking Friends

The best way to learn English is by talking to someone in English. And the best partner for practicing English can be a native English speaker. You can usually get the correct pronunciation and accent from a British or American friend.

In this era of social media, you can easily make English-speaking friends online through Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. However, it not necessarily has to be a native English speaker always. You can make friends with ESL speakers with good command of English.

If you can make English-speaking friends, you will be able to learn about their culture. Remember! Language is one of the essential aspects of any culture. So if you can learn about English culture—British or American, your journey of learning English will be easier.

In Conclusion

The human brain should be trained to think. So, when you surround yourself with English, your brain will learn that the English language is part and parcel of your life. Your brain will accept that this language is natural and essential in your life.

As a result, your surroundings unconsciously push you to learn English more. I hope the tips will help you to create an English-learning-friendly environment by surrounding yourself with English.

Niaj A A Khan is an ESL Instructor with over 7 years of experience in teaching & developing resources at different universities and institutes. Mr. Khan is also a passionate writer working on his first book, "Learn English at Ease."