Best Practices for English Language Learning

· Teaching,Motivation,English Language Learning,Practice,Media Literacy

The English language is a common lingua franca, often serving as a bridge connecting diverse cultures and facilitating international communication. With nearly 1.5 billion speakers worldwide, English is a valuable language to master. The journey to fluency can be daunting, but thankfully, there are a wealth of strategies that can help English language learners — also known as multi-language learners or multilingual learners — along the way.

In this article, we will delve into some of the best ways to learn English, so that learners can navigate this journey with efficiency and confidence.

Immersive Learning: Surround Oneself With English

Immersion remains one of the most effective methods for language acquisition. When learners immerse themselves in an environment where English is the primary mode of communication, they are constantly exposed to the language in its authentic form, encompassing its nuances, idioms, and cultural contexts.

This continuous exposure facilitates spontaneous language acquisition, much like how a child learns their native tongue. Beyond mere vocabulary and grammar, immersion allows learners to grasp the rhythm, intonation, and pragmatics of English, leading to a more natural and intuitive understanding. By actively engaging in real-life situations, learners can practice and reinforce their skills, accelerating their journey to fluency.

Living in or traveling to places where English is primarily spoken is the most effective method of immersion. However, language immersion doesn’t require physical travel. Other techniques include:

  • Listening to English podcasts or radio stations.
  • Watching English movies or television shows with subtitles.
  • Engaging in conversations with native speakers.
  • Participating in local language exchange groups or clubs.

Another fantastic way for students to immerse themselves is to take online courses in English. With THINKING PRO courses, students will be exposed to news media in English, which can further help with immersion. THINKING PRO allows students to practice English at their own pace in a fun, engaging, and gamified way. By the end of the program, students will not only have had ample English practice, but will also have improved their critical thinking and news media literacy skills—essential in any language and for all areas of life!

Learn more about THINKING PRO here, or demo our suite of Interactive Learning Videos.

Consistent Practice: Make English a Daily Habit

Consistency is key in English language learning (ELL) for several reasons. Firstly, language acquisition is not a linear process, but rather a cumulative one, where each lesson builds upon previous knowledge. Consistent practice ensures that learners reinforce what they've learned, reducing the likelihood of forgetting essential concepts. Secondly, the brain's neuroplasticity — its ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections — is enhanced with regular exposure to new information. By consistently engaging with English, learners stimulate their brains to adapt and become more receptive to the language's structures and patterns.

Furthermore, consistency establishes a routine, transforming language learning from a sporadic activity into a habitual practice. This routine not only aids in retention but also fosters discipline and motivation, propelling learners forward even when faced with challenges. Habit-forming is an essential learning strategy; a study in Educational Psychology Review found that “habits are critical for supporting (or hindering) long-term goal attainment, including outcomes related to student learning and well-being.”

“Habit-based interventions,” writes author Logan Fiorella, “may support durable changes in students’ recurring behaviors by disrupting cues that activate bad habits and creating supportive and stable contexts for beneficial ones.” In this way, habits can promote valuable and sustainable language learning.

Good habits for ELL, which is also known as ESL (English as a Second Language), include:

  • Reading English newspapers or magazines. This English reading practice can also help build media literacy and critical thinking skills.
  • Writing daily journal entries in English.
  • Setting aside dedicated time for vocabulary and grammar exercises.

Utilize Technology: Harness the Power of Digital Tools

Now more than ever, there are a host of resources available at students’ fingertips. Leveraging technology can make the learning process more interactive and tailored to individual needs. The convenience and easy access of digital resources also makes them more attractive to use on a regular basis.

Students can take advantage of technology for language learning by:

  • Downloading language learning apps.
  • Participating in online language exchange communities.
  • Using digital flashcards for vocabulary retention.
  • Streaming movies or TV in English for English listening practice, or watching favorite movies or series with English subtitles to promote reading comprehension and vocabulary development.
  • Taking online video lessons taught in English, such as our Interactive Learning Videos here at Thinking Habitats.

Feedback Is Crucial: Seek Constructive Criticism

Mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process. However, without feedback, it's challenging to identify and rectify them. Engaging with teachers or language partners who can provide constructive criticism is invaluable.

Constructive feedback provides learners with insights into their strengths and areas of improvement, allowing them to refine their skills with precision. Moreover, feedback from proficient speakers or educators offers learners a real-world perspective on their language use, highlighting nuances and subtleties that might not be evident in textbooks or apps. This guidance can be instrumental in improving pronunciation, intonation, and pragmatic usage.

Furthermore, constructive feedback, when delivered with encouragement, can boost a learner's confidence and motivation, reinforcing their commitment to the language learning journey. In essence, feedback acts as a compass, guiding learners towards effective communication and deeper linguistic understanding.

“Feedback in Second Language Teaching and Learning” breaks down various types of feedback that educators can offer students. These include:

  • Corrective feedback (CF): This type of feedback helps second language learners notice specific language forms. CF can be:
    • Explicit or direct feedback: This involves directly correcting linguistic form or structure at or near the linguistic error. It can be through crossing out a word, phrase, or morpheme, or providing written explanations.
    • Implicit or indirect feedback: This form of feedback points out the type of error made without providing a direct correction. Methods include underlining or circling an error, or using coded feedback (e.g., "PS" for an error in the use of the past simple tense).
  • Effort feedback: This type of feedback focuses on the effort a learner puts into a task. Successful learners who receive effort feedback are likely to continue working hard, expecting future successes.
  • Ability feedback: This feedback pertains to the ability of the learner. It can influence how learners perceive their capabilities and can impact their motivation to continue learning.

Whether feedback is corrective, effort-based, or ability-based, it can have profound implications for learners. It can shape their learning trajectory, influence their motivation, and play a pivotal role in their overall language acquisition journey.

Cultural Context: Understand the Culture Behind the Language

Language is deeply intertwined with culture. To truly grasp English usage, it's important to understand the cultural contexts in which it is spoken. This deeper understanding can be fostered by:

  • Studying English literature or history
  • Engaging with cultural events or festivals
  • Keeping up with current events via news media
  • Traveling to English-speaking countries

Mastering the English language is a rewarding endeavor that opens doors to a world of opportunities. By adhering to these best practices, learners can ensure that they are on the right track to achieving fluency.

For those seeking to elevate their English learning experience, or to help their students do so, consider exploring THINKING PRO. This platform offers a unique opportunity to be exposed to and analyze authentic English content such as news media. Not only does it hone language skills, but it also cultivates critical thinking abilities, ensuring a well-rounded learning experience. THINKING PRO is also aligned with WIDA, ensuring excellent curriculum standards for multilingual learners.

Dive into the world of English with THINKING PRO and embark on a transformative learning journey!

Here at Thinking Habitats, we use thinking tools to empower young people to lead successful lives and contribute to the wellbeing of their communities. Our online platform has helped ELL students improve their critical thinking, reading comprehension, and news media literacy, and has had significant individual and community impacts. Try THINKING PRO today, and join our students who feel more empowered in decision-making, more mindful with their news engagement, and more connected to their local community!


Fiorella, L. (2020). The science of habit and its implications for student learning and well-being. Educational Psychology Review, 32(3), 603–625. 

Kozlova, M. (2021, May 19). The benefit of immersive language-learning experiences and how to create them. Cambridge English. 

Petchprasert, A. (2012). Feedback in Second Language Teaching and Learning. US-China Foreign Language, 10(4).

Statista Research Department. (2023, June 16). The most spoken languages worldwide 2023. Statista.