Tips, tools, resources

Our focus as teachers is for you to be able to communicate. Accuracy is important, or course, but don’t get too hung up on it. English is a very forgiving language.

What makes a good learner?

Be wary of ‘revolutionary new’ methods. How well and how fast you learn depends on you. You have to spend time learning: it’s not a passive process. But it’s not just hours spent on grammar exercises. Work on developing these qualities:

Don’t worry. You will make mistakes and sometimes look silly, but this is the only way to learn.

Observe. Notice how the language is used in your reading and listening, and copy it!

Relax. Be comfortable with not understanding everything. It will come.

Become obsessed. Do something every day, and do everything you can in English (your shopping lists, your phone language…)

More tips

Find a reason. It’s very motivating to have a specific goal, maybe a favourite movie or book you really want to understand, a person you want to get to know better, or an important event coming up.

Learn a song. Not for the grammar but for the fluency, so you can speak some phrases quickly (even if you don’t understand what they mean).

Try to lose your native filter. English is a different language with its own ways of expressing things that don’t always translate directly.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone who has learned a foreign language started from zero, and everyone is at a different point in the journey. You’ve done well just to start.

Enjoy it! Learning a foreign language is not easy but I believe it is the most satisfying thing you can do with your life.

Recommended digital tools

Duolingo app. It’s a good starter, but it can get a bit dull when you get more advanced.

Memrise app. Excellently addictive for increasing your vocabulary.

British Council LearnEnglish website. A wealth of resources, references and exercises.

Sounds: Pronunciation app by Macmillian is a useful tool to help with pronunciation, and it has both UK and US.

Linguee is a good bilingual dictionary. And I’ve just discovered a new alternative, TREX. But ideally, don’t translate and use an English dictionary (the Oxford English Dictionary or OED is the authority on the language).

In the real world

Vocabulary Stickers. I bought these little labels for my mum to help her learn Spanish. She loves them, and I think you will too.  You stick them to the stuff in your house and office to help you remember the names of everyday things, they are colour-coded, and easy to remove when you are good enough not to need them anymore. Use this link and I get a referral commission.

Language exchange. Find someone learning a language you speak, and who speaks the language you’re learning. Meet for an hour, talk for half the time in one language and half in the other! It’s very motivating. Look in your local library or language school for people who want to practice. Online, you could try Meetup, tusclasesparticulares (in Spain) or LingoBongo for the Barcelona area.

Local library. In Barcelona, the libraries have loads of resources to help you learn and practice English, as well as regular conversation groups.

Language holiday. Go to an English-speaking country for an intensive language course. I work with English Steps in Leeds, UK, a language school for adults where you can stay with the teacher and do voluntary work or other activities apart from the classes. Use promo code AG1 to get a discount. Or local Barcelona company A London can organise work/study trips to London.