How to learn English from scratch at home: 10 tips

This blog will give you 10 simple tips to help you learn English from scratch at home. Keep reading to see which ones you will find the most helpful!

While learning a new language on your own can be challenging, millions of people have done it. With determination, a clear learning plan, and a good imagination, you can improve your English skills, without having to leave your couch.  

1. Find your motivation

To learn a new language on your own, you need structure, consistency and clear goals. To help with this, it is good to understand your motivation for learning English. Because when you are finding it hard (which we all do at some point) you can turn to this reason, to help you keep your learning momentum. 

When you start, ask yourself the following questions, and answer honestly! 

  1. Why do I want to learn English? 

  2. What keeps me motivated? 

  3. How do I like to learn? 

Motivation is one of the most common problems people learning a new language face. Just remember that it is ok to struggle. But when you do, remind yourself of your goal; a promotion, an exciting trip, or whatever it is that you want to learn English for, and focus on that! You have got this. 

2. Build your English vocabulary  

Expanding your vocabulary helps you feel more confident communicating. Learn vocabulary that is relevant to your interests, find fun ways to learn new words and surround yourself with English.  

  1. Watch documentaries in English about topics that you are interested in. 

  2. Sing songs, read comics, watch adverts and listen to radio in English. 

  3. Write English words on post-it notes and stick them on everyday objects in your home.  

Extra tip: If you cannot find the exact right word for something, use the words you already know to describe it instead. This helps you practice what you already know, without being given the answer immediately. 

3. Put new words and phrases into sentences 

Learning new vocabulary and phrases is essential to become fluent, but you have to know how and when to use them. When you have learned a new word or phrase, a great way to make sure they stick is to put them in a sentence.  

For example, let’s say you have learned ‘I am going to’. Write three sentences using the phrase: ‘Tomorrow I am going to work’, ‘I am going to eat’, ‘I am going to learn English’. 

Without context, our mind struggles to retain information, this exercise helps with that!  

4. Record yourself speaking English 

It is equally important to speak as it is to write. But many fear what they sound like. An easy way to work on your pronunciation is to record yourself speaking. Do not know what to say? Start with the sentences you have written from tip nr.3 in this blog! 

5. Quiz yourself 

Revising is another essential part of learning English and improving your skills. There are plenty of free downloadable worksheets online. For example, you can search for ‘free English quiz A1 level’ (replace the A1 with your proficiency level) or ‘free English online worksheet’. Print them out or fill them out online. Make sure you correct the quiz to see what you are excelling in and what you need to keep working on. After a month take the same quiz to see your progress.  

6. Find English-speaking friends 

Even if it can feel a bit scary, it is important to start talking from day one. Languages are meant to be spoken and it is essential to speak, speak, and speak to make progress. Find a friend who knows how to speak English, post to your social media asking if someone would like to do monthly English-speaking coffee meetups or narrate your life in English. Practice makes perfect! 

7. Join an online English school  

If flexibility and learning from your home are important, perhaps joining an online English school might be the best solution for you.  

It will help with all of the above. For example, when you join EF English Live you get a personalized study plan (based on your goals, availability, and budget), you get private classes with certified teachers, access to over 2,000 hours of self-study exercises and you can join group classes with learners like yourself, from all over the world. With clear progress tracking and a teacher helping you stay motivated, you will be able to make progress a lot faster. 

8. Set your devices to English 

Another way to incorporate English into your everyday life, is to set your phone, laptop and TV language to English. It may seem minor, but any exposure to English is beneficial, especially when you are just starting out. You can also give English-speaking radio a go, even a simple thing as having it on in the background will help you get used to hearing different accents, colloquial phrases, and adjust to the speed that people speak it.  

9. Read children’s books  

They are simple, most often repetitive, and not to mention the captivating illustrations (that help contextualise the new words you are learning). Ask your friends or family with small children if you can have storytime with the kids in English. They get help with childcare, while you get to study with the cutest company, it is a win-win for everyone! 

10. Make loads of mistakes 

We are not saying you should make mistakes on purpose, but it is important to not be afraid of messing up. When it comes to learning English from scratch you will make a lot of grammar mistakes, mispronounce words and mix up words and phrases, but it is in those moments that you learn and improve. No one will judge you for it, in fact most people will be impressed that you are trying to learn something new. 84% of the world’s 1.5 billion English-speakers are not native, they started exactly where you are! 

When you start out, focus on getting as much English into your daily routine as possible, grammar and more complicated aspects will come later. Whether you choose to do it on your own or with the guidance of an online English school, with the right determination and clear goals, you will be mastering English before you know it. Good luck!