Engoo Blog Study

8 Habits of Effective English Learners [Updated]

8 Habits of Effective English Learners [Updated]

If you are reading this blog, it probably means you want to improve your English skill. There are many other people like you reading blogs like this that are about Spanish, Korean and other languages. Everyone wants to get better! But how?

What are the most effective language learners doing and how can others do the same?

This article collects some of the best tips you can find for learning languages. Use them yourself and soon, people will be coming to you for study tips!

Effective language learners…

...are proactive

A neon sign that says "GO" in white letters

Great learners find situations to use English even if it isn't necessary in their daily lives. These days, everyone should be able to interact in English, even if it is only online. There are lots of possibilities: joining an English-learners club, posting on social media in English and using AI are just a few examples.

Instead of thinking of language study as something you do for only a short time each day, look for ways to add it into your normal, daily routines. The more you do this, the more English will become natural to you.

...pick a study method quickly

What do learning languages, losing weight and quitting smoking all share? They are all things many people want to do — and there are many different products and services designed to help them. In fact, there are so many that you could spend months and months trying to find the best ones. 

Looking for the "perfect" way to learn will probably just waste a lot of your time. Of course, you should explore different study methods, but eventually, it's time to stop researching and start working.

Once you have found a good method for you, don't waste time looking at others unless you feel the original method is no longer helping you. Using your time effectively will make a big difference in your ability to improve.

...set specific (and realistic) goals

A person climbing to the top of a mountain

Learning another language is a great thing to do. However, if your goal is simply to "speak English," it may be easy to get frustrated and lose motivation. 

Why? Because that goal is too big and too vague. People who are effective at learning languages (and doing many other things) know the importance of setting goals that are realistic and specific. 

So you should ask yourself exactly what it is that you want to be able to do. Do you want to travel to English-speaking countries without a guide? Do you want to watch movies in English without subtitles? Do you want to give a TED talk

Being specific helps you focus your study time and gives you something clear to aim for. Once you've set a specific goal, look for smaller goals on the path to the big one. These will help you measure your progress and keep you motivated as you continue to study.

...aren't scared of mistakes

"You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs."

What this common English idiom means is that reaching a goal usually requires an unpleasant or uncomfortable experience along the way.

People who are good at learning languages understand that making mistakes is natural and that they will probably make many on the road to fluency. They know that mistakes are important because they lead to a better understanding of the right things to do next time.

If the people you are studying with are too strict when your English isn't perfect, you should probably look for a better study environment. Remember: if you aren't making mistakes, you probably aren't making progress!


A young woman studying at a table near a large window facing a park

It's natural to want to go to the next chapter or move to the next section of your study materials. After all, there are so many more questions to answer and idioms to learn. Reviewing things usually is not as exciting.

However, if you are always going forward, you may forget what you have already learned. So it's a good idea to start your study sessions with a quick review of what you studied in the past. This will make stronger connections in your mind and help you keep new information in your memory. 

In addition, be sure to use what you've learned in real situations as much as you can instead of simply memorizing things. Learn it, review it, use it, remember it!

...are good listeners

You shouldn't learn a language only to talk; communication is all about both input and output. If you are watching a movie or reading a book, there is no chance for you to respond, but in a real conversation, you will need to understand your partner before you can give a good response. 

That's why effective learners work to improve their listening and comprehension skills. This is good news for anyone who doesn't live nearby many English speakers. Even if there aren't people around you to speak with, you can still practice by listening — to music, to audiobooks, to podcasts, to almost anything!

To help prepare you for real chats, we have an article all about listening: 'How to Be a Better Listener in Your English Conversations'

...connect the language to their interests

If you're like most people, your motivation to study will probably go up and down over time. Effective learners avoid this problem by finding ways to connect their study to their other interests.

For example, they may watch YouTube videos about their favorite topics in English, or use online message boards to communicate with English-speaking fans of their favorite musician, book series, etc. They may even play online games with English speakers in different countries.

Think about how you can turn your hobbies into new ways to practice using English. If you are enjoying your study time, you will be more excited to do it whenever you can.

...stay positive

A large block with a smiley face surrounded by smaller blocks with smiley faces

Effective learners understand that progress takes time. That means they don't get discouraged and quit if they haven't made big improvements quickly or if they don't pass a test the first time.

When they experience difficulties, they learn from the situation, stand up and try again. This is a great attitude to have no matter what you are trying to achieve in life.

Your turn!

Effective learners succeed because they are proactive, they always look for opportunities to practice, and they aren't afraid of making mistakes. Additionally, they keep a positive attitude and are realistic about their goals and the time it takes to reach them. 

If you haven't been doing these things, it's OK; you can start today! The sooner you copy these positive habits, the sooner you can start to make more progress toward reaching your own English goals.