You are here

Learning languages

Listen to Simon talking about how he learned several languages in a variety of different ways.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


From my point of view, learners should have some basic knowledge of general words and phrases to live abroad and to have language practice with native speakers. I agree with dan w that teachers is a good source of language knowledge.
Even if we don't have an opportunity to travel and to speak with native speakers, language learners can organise some speaking clubs to discuss every day topics. Only after you are sure that your basic knowledge of language helps to live abroad and understand every day English, one can improve it with native speakers.


Improven spoken language depends very much on real use and the person`s attitude towards adjusting their own discurse and communication strategies to a different culture.

I agree with the author. The best practice of learning languages is talking to people, especially if they are native speakers. I have a quite long experience of studding English during all my adult life, but I never be in english speaking environment. That is why I have to increase my level every time when I decide to begin again.

Sorry. I didn't understand the answer of the task: Why were colloquial expressions a problem for the speaker? I checked "they were never written down", but the correct answer was "they were often unnoticed", isn't it? However, Simon says: ... "There were always lots of words or expressions that I didn’t pick up on. In particular with the colloquial expressions, idioms, that kind of thing, that people use in everyday talk, but you don’t necessarily see written down. I didn’t find those very easy to learn at all. " Am I really wrong?

Hello anacarla,

What you say makes sense and I'd even say is correct, but among the three possible answers, I think the best one is 'they were often unnoticed'. This is because when Simon says 'words or expressions that I didn't pick up on' it means that he didn't notice them. Most of these aren't usually written down ('you don't necessarily see written down'), but the point of them not being written down is that this makes them more difficult to notice for a learner like him.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I believe that the best way to learn a new language always depends on each person. In my case, I think it's interesting to attend classes at first, because it helps you to develop basic knowledge that will be useful to lose some of your fears and start practicing on your own, using all the opportunities that we have today: apps, chat rooms, video calls, internet in general, books, movies, music, etc. Teachers are always a good source for help and guidance. In my experience, combining class rooms with activities like reading books and watching movies in their original language really help me to increase vocabulary and train my ears. I also think it is very important to get as much contact us you can with native speakers, not only because of the language but also because of getting in touch with their culture and their own idiosyncrasies.

Personally, I think that all of methods have advantages and disadvantages. Now I am attending classes in British Council Hanoi. That is very useful for me. If you enter a English class, you will understand English language clearly and basically. Thus, your teacher will give more their experiences and shown you how to learning English in the effect way.
On the other hand, the practical English is necessary. You should sure that you hallway practicing skills. That make you could learning English quickly. You should read newspapers, watch television, listen to western music... especially, you should practice speaking more time. By the way. You will learn more new words and know how to use it in other situations.

Hello, i'm from indonesia. I'm poor in english. I wanna study, but sometimes i don't know where to start. There is a lot of material and my vocabulary is still lacking. Sorry, actually i don't know where is i can ask you about my problem in english, so i contacted you through here. I hope can you help me by giving feedback what should i can do first. Thank you so much.

Hello Isna,

Welcome! I'd suggest you read our Getting started and Frequently asked questions page so that you have an idea of how to best use our site. Then you can start anywhere you'd like to, but I'd recommend you start with Series 3 of Elementary Podcasts. Start with episode 1 and continue. If you find it too difficult or need any help, don't hesitate to ask us!

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I am learning English as well. And I think that practising is the best way to improve English, I mean talk to your friends in English, make native friends and talk to them regularly. Watching movies or news or any kinds of English programs is good too. However, speaking is still my worst skills because I am quite shy when talking to others. I have to practice a lot to overcome this difficulty.