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August 18, 2019


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I used to take a speaking course conducted by a native speaker. But, he never let the students speak more than two or three sentences at a time and was rather lenient. While it was a chance to practice my listening skills, soon I felt like I was in a lecture hall. It was not the first time that my teacher let me down. After several disappointments, I gave up looking for a person who would really be interested in my improvement and started preparing for exams on my own. I do not know what results I will get. But,anything is better than wasting your money and time on teachers that do not care about your future and only think about money. At least, I am not indifferent and lenient towards myself like those selfish teachers.

Same here, I had a native English speaker as my tutor. She spoke more than I did as she tried to give me more ideas and vocabulary which I was weak with. Although it was helpful, the improvement was VERY SLOW. Insufficient practice time, of course, leads to bad results.

It has been mentioned before that listening is a key foundation skill. One cannot contribute to conversation if one cannot make sense of what the other person is saying. I would suggest at least (and preferably far more than) one hour of listening every day.

Listening recycles a lot of vocabulary, improves your pronunciation, and comprehension. How else are you going to learn phrases? Reading them does not make them stay in your brain so well, and who knows, you are pronouncing them wrong inside your own head. Hearing them again and again is much better. Learning new words is not just about meaning; it is about pronunciation too. So listening on the bus, while you are walking, or waiting, cooking or whatever is key. Download audio-books, TED talks, films, whatever. Change your environment to one where you are at least hearing English as much as possible.

Even if you cannot find a native speaker to practice speaking skills, with good listening skills (and massive vocabulary) you will at least understand the other side of the conversation, and also know what your own pronunciation should sound like, although exactly reproducing some of the weird sounds in English - like "th" - might still elude you.

Make listening to English part of your everyday life.

Where do we get it?

Hi everyone, I have several ideas.

Firstly, I think we all have access to English audio or video resources, in which we can immerse ourselves. By doing so, we can easily have an English environment. After sufficient language input, we will automatically think in English in our minds.

Secondly, we can search for English clubs in our neighbourhood. I believe some English lovers have already set up English corners in cafés or libraries. To take my own city(Suzhou, China) as an example, there are English groups which I can join to hear speeches and have small talks with strangers. If there are no such organizations, I believe we can set up one.

Finally, we can enroll in English courses, where we can have classmates of similar levels and teachers who can help us in this process. Of course there are irresponsible teachers, but I think we can learn well with not only their help but also the atmosphere of learning together with classmates, because we are not learning alone. Moreover, if we are lucky, we can meet great teachers like Simon, who can provide us with the right learning methods and enduring language support.

In my opinion, I believe that this English environment is truly worth for some reasons.
1. Your efforts - getting English language is meant for you.
2. Your inside English ability - With some people, they are good at listening, vocabulary, reading and even writing. They just need a right environment to correct own mistakes and achieve their goals like IELTS score.
3. They have time, for years to master English.

From my personal experience, I have great efforts and I have put myself in the best environment - I learnt at Philippines for 4 months and a period of 6-month self-study, to do my best in order to achieve my band 7. But I came to realise that it was impossible because I lack of the inside English ability. I just got band 5.

So I think I need enough time to absorb knowledge. Now I feel I am nearly band 6-6.5, but not really to get band 7+ at about 1 year later. I do some research and some people achieved their goals by self-study but still not for me. I hope I will get the best environment to improve as fast as I can because I am quite old - 31 years old. I have just realized what I want to do for my future so I start to run quite late.

I admit that I am feeling stuck or isolated as I learn English. I hope to learn English at England because I love its culture, architecture and football. I only follow and believe Simon’s methods for most things.

For those who are an introvert like me, I think there are many ways to create an English environment. I frequently listen to podcasts, Youtube videos relating to my favorite topics every morning. I also spend around an hour on reading English news and then read out loud transcripts to record. After 2 or 3 days, I listen to that recording again and try to write down what I hear. Furthermore, when I take a shower, I sing along English songs, talk to myself in front of the mirror. I try to communicate in English with my family members as much as possible, so we can correct mistakes one another.

Ideally, we learn best when we immerse ourselves in the target language environment. However, it is , of course, not the one and only way to improve our learning. We can create our own environment by forming the habit of using that language on a regular basis. Start small by switching your phone language to English, watching English drama with subtitle, listen to the news, write a journal.

Hi Simon
This is Amin from Iran where we don't really speak in English. So you told us yesterday, one of the ways to accelerate our learning is to immerse ourselves in an English speaking environment or community. That's a wonderful idea in my eyes. But how can we do that?
Please create a community, giving us the chance to speak, text, or even have a face to face conversation like Whatsapp video calls and things like that.
I'm a big fan of you. I've been following you for like a year since I decided to learn English in the best possible natural way without showing off like the way most are learning in this way.
Please help us out with the best solution in this lonely hard English learning journey.
Thank you for all your useful stuff being posted daily and for your constructive comments and useful advice on learning English and on top of that thank you for giving your time helping us to learn English without even charging us a penny.


I hope this discussion continues. I'll share my own ideas about 'learning environments' this weekend.

Sir, I have the following thoughts to improve the learning environment when some one is alone at home.
.Collect audios and videos and make a playlist which interest you.
.Read blog of experienced teacher or examiner which has created tested and proven technique for teaching the students such as iels-simon.com
.Make a routine of reading English stuffs everyday at 3- 4 hours for more than 3 -4 months.
Record of your speaking voice for correction of grammar , fluency ,vocabulary and pronunciation

In my view environment have greater impact and which help to boost our outcomes as quick as possible. Therefore, we have to use the English language as major medium to communicate with other people during our daily activities. Nowadays, however, computer and mobile resources are also contributing learners to improve their language literacy.

Immersion of the language can greatly contribute to its acquisition. One can subconsciously learn different words and its practical application through constant exposure. However, if the learner does not practice regularly, this can lead to passive learning which is not that appealing to some.

well that,s the big issue for every one i think people should listen more and write more how much they can, it would be helped them as you know sir if we do not give input how would we expect output for instance, think about your childhood days how we learned listening some thing so,now we are familiar with our mother tongue same thing we can do with alien language.

I am stuck on the English learner road,
I learned English for about 10 years when I was a student, never talked with a native speaker.
after graduated, start to learn by self. So far , I read more than 50 fiction books in English, Half guess, half understand, Can`t feel any improve in terms of English ability.
Joined online conversations with natives , rear speak , just listen
Listen English podcasts almost everyday, like Daily show , English baby,
seem catch the meaning but don`t know why people laughing in the podcast.

want to improve speaking and writing,
Do not know how to.

This discussion reminds me of a Writing Task 2 question.

"Some people think living in a country for a period of time is needed to learn the language and culture. To what extent do you agree or disagree?"

Not the exact words.

I think the best method to learn English is that you put yourself in English environment by watching English films , thinking in English instead . It doesn't pragmatic but it will accelerate your ability to learn English . I was born in the countryside where it is scrare you see a foreigner to pass by , don't even mention about talking to them . I study English by exchange language with foreingers throught Skype !

Friends, I wanna give a tip about English learning. First of all, as we are an English learner, we have to give up keep translating English from our native language in our minds immediately. We should think about only English. I know this is not easy for us. But if we don't learn it, we won't speak fluently anytime. The only way to speak fluently is consistency. By doing that we will have internalized the language which we will want to have. Be exposed to yourself in English anytime anywhere without hesitation. See you. By the way Simon you are really good...

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