Believe English

Apr 24 2020


You can teach yourself English. It is important that we help each other, and it is just as important that we help ourselves. Here are some things you can do.


Practice Pronunciation

Start with words that you know are difficult for you and do minimal pair drills.
If you can’t think of a word, go looking for difficult sounds using phonetic pangrams. Start with the one we practiced in class. Recognize the words you CAN say correctly. Give yourself a high five. Pick one of the sounds that you are getting wrong and practice minimal pair drills. When you are getting the sounds correct 4 out of 5 times, try using the difficult word in a google voice search.


Listen to things that you like. If you don’t like it, you won’t be paying attention.
Listen in three stages.
Audio only: listen once ( or twice or…) write down keywords and what you think the main idea is. Check your ideas with a friend if you can.
Audio and visual: For TED Talks and movie scenes, listen again and watch what is happening. Visual clues will help you understand better. Check and change your notes.
Audio and visual and text: Now listen and watch with subtitles or a transcript. Check and change your notes.
Often you can get transcripts and subtitles in your own language too.

Summarize what you heard. Write a movie review. Look for friends or comments that disagree with your understanding. Talk it all over a little.

I recommend




Keep a small notebook with you and write.
Write down things you don’t understand. Ask somebody else to write it down for you if you need to. Just writing things down helps us learn and remember them.

When you learn a new word, write a song for it. Just one verse of Happy Birthday is enough. This lets you create context for using and remembering the word. It’s also pretty fun.

I post on Believe English every day. You can write comments on the posts. I reply to every comment. I also have a group Believe English Believes in You.
You can post your questions and ideas there. Every post gets a response from me.

For simple drills you can take short sentences and combine them into one. This helps you build on what you know already.
It works the other way too. Take difficult sentences and make them understandable. One way is to halve the words. If the sentence is 20 words long, write it again in 10 words.


Read, read, read.
Read books. Books are best. The best language and the best for your brain. Read about things that are interesting to you. Read in your first language. Let reading become something you do as naturally as scrolling through Facebook posts.

If you are going to read on Facebook, read the stories and comments on Humans of New York.

I have some poems that you can read along with. I read them at two speeds, provide a paraphrase and commentary.

I also have a book about how you can teach yourself English which I also read out loud.