English, the global lingua franca, opens doors to numerous opportunities. Learning it, however, can be a challenge for many. You’ve probably heard the usual advice: read more books, watch more movies, practice speaking, and so on.

At the end of the day though, we must end up dealing with human nature and the natural inertia that keeps us from moving in the direction of change: Somehow or another, we need strategies to help us learn English automatically, and in ways that naturally allow us to progress.

With that said, here are some unconventional yet effective ways to learn English that can make this process easier, more fun, and highly productive!

1. Embrace the World of Television

We tend to give television a bad rap, but while it’s true that too much TV can be harmful, TV shows or Netflix alike can be an incredibly valuable tool for learning English. Whether you’re watching English language TV shows or shows in your first language with English subtitles, this method offers a host of benefits.

English Language TV Shows

Watching English language TV shows exposes you to native speakers using the language naturally. This gives you the opportunity to hear a variety of accents, colloquial expressions, idioms, and cultural references that textbooks often miss. Additionally, it’s an engaging way to improve your listening comprehension skills.

How to do it:

  • Start with shows that match your English proficiency level. For beginners, children’s shows can be a great start as they use simple language and repeat phrases.
  • Listen actively. This is very important; if you just watch TV, you won’t get the result that you seek. Pay attention to how words are pronounced, and how sentences are constructed.
  • Pause and repeat. If a phrase or sentence strikes you, pause, repeat it, and try to understand its meaning and context.

Shows in Your First Language with English Subtitles

If you’re not ready to dive into English language shows, watching shows in your native language with English subtitles can be a helpful stepping stone. This method allows you to associate English words and phrases with dialogue you already understand.

How to do it:

  • Choose a familiar show in your first language and turn on the English subtitles.
  • Actively read the subtitles while listening to the dialogue.
  • Pay attention to how words and phrases in English correspond to your first language.

The idea behind this technique is to allow you to very quickly and directly match and understanding of the context of a TV show that you enjoy with your mastery of the language, or to associate your mastery of your first language with English, thereby allowing you to improve dramatically as you engage in something that you enjoy and that both has storyline and lore that you can follow along with even if you don’t understand specific parts, which means that you can reference things like IMDB in order to cross check your understanding of the events that occurred within the show, which will naturally allow you to calibrate your interpretations and your understanding.

It’s important to note that while subtitles can be a useful learning tool, they aren’t always a perfect translation of the spoken dialogue. However, they can be a great way to start familiarizing yourself with English vocabulary and sentence structure.

In both cases, the key is active engagement. Don’t just watch passively – make it an interactive learning experience. This method not only improves your English skills but also makes learning enjoyable and less strenuous.

As with any other learning method, consistency is essential, so make it a part of your regular routine. So, grab some popcorn and start learning!

2. Shadowing Technique

Shadowing is an active listening and speaking exercise that involves mimicking the speech of English speakers. This method, first introduced by polyglot Alexander Arguelles, is not just repeating after a speaker but doing so simultaneously as they speak.

How to do it:

  • Choose an audio clip from a native English speaker. Podcasts, TED Talks, or audiobooks are great options; The only catch is that it has to be something that you are interested in – it could be a talk about psychology, artificial intelligence, or even a commentary on your favourite Korean drama.
  • Listen once to get the gist of the conversation.
  • Get the transcript of the video, podcast, or conversation if you can.
  • On the second round, start repeating the speaker’s words as they’re saying them. Don’t pause the audio; keep the flow.
  • Try to match the speaker’s pronunciation, intonation, and rhythm.

The idea behind this technique is to mimic the speech of another person, and although you won’t have the chance to copy them in every instance when you’re not watching videos like these, successfully making another person’s speech increases the probability that you will learn speech patterns that allow you to communicate in ways that you think are suitable or desirable.

3. Harness the Power of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing many aspects of our lives, and language learning is no exception. Leveraging AI can provide a personalized, immersive, and interactive approach to supplement your English language learning journey.

Language Learning Apps

Many language learning apps now use AI to provide personalized learning experiences. These apps adapt to your learning pace and style, focusing on areas where you need improvement. Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone use AI to offer personalized lessons, instant feedback, and interactive exercises.

How to do it:

  • Choose a language learning app that uses AI.
  • Spend some time daily on the app. Regular practice is key to making progress.
  • Take advantage of the personalized feedback to improve your weak areas.

AI Chatbots

AI chatbots can simulate conversation with a native English speaker, providing an opportunity for practice anytime, anywhere. The chatbot evaluates your responses and provides instant feedback, allowing you to learn from your mistakes in real-time.

How to do it:

  • Find a language learning platform that offers an AI chatbot. ChatGPT is a great (and free!) choice.
  • Engage in conversation with the chatbot regularly, and seek feedback from it.
  • Review the feedback and corrections from the chatbot to improve your language skills.

AI-Powered Voice Assistants

Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant can help improve your English pronunciation and listening skills. They can answer questions, engage in conversation, and even play language learning games.

Additionally, they offer you the chance not only to improve your English language mastery, but also to improve your efficiency and productivity, thereby allowing you to link your language learning effort to your efforts to save time, which allows you to dedicate more time towards improving your English proficiency without sacrificing other things.

Furthermore, using voice assistants and becoming extremely comfortable with using them in public gives you more experience with utilising the English language in public contexts and also helps you to dramatically improve the fluency and articulation of your speech in order to serve the purpose of facilitating clear instructions to your algorithm of choice.

How to do it:

  • Set your voice assistant on your phone (Alexa, Siri, Google Voice Assistant) to English.
  • Practice giving commands, asking questions, and having simple conversations with the assistant.
  • Begin to use voice assistants in order to streamline your workflow and otherwise perform tasks that would normally take longer to accomplish such as typing or writing, by writing emails in English through dictation, or otherwise.

AI Language Translation Tools

Tools like Google Translate use AI to provide translations between languages. While it shouldn’t be relied on for perfect translations, it can be a helpful tool for understanding the general meaning of a text or for looking up individual words.

How to do it:

  • Use translation tools to understand new English phrases or words.
  • Try translating your own sentences into English to see if they make sense.
  • Type in English in software like Grammarly – this will showcase to you immediately where it is that you have problems with your sentence construction and writing by highlighting problems in your writing and offering simple corrections.

Incorporating AI into your language learning routine can provide a valuable supplement to traditional learning methods. It offers flexibility, personalization, and immediate feedback, making your English language learning journey more efficient and engaging.

However, remember that AI tools are just that – tools. They are most effective when used in conjunction with other methods, such as classroom instruction, language immersion, and real-world practice.

4. The Island Technique

Invented by English teacher AJ Hoge, the Island Technique involves creating a ‘safe space’ for English conversation where learners feel comfortable making mistakes and practicing English freely.

How to do it:

  • Choose a place in your home where you will only speak or think in English. Some fun and interesting ideas include using masking tape in order to cordon off a specific zone of your house, or make the choice to only speak in English while you are sitting in a particular chair or table, or while you are in a particular room. This place will be your ‘island’.
  • You may also choose a particular time of the day to serve as that “island“.
  • Engage in English activities in this ‘island’. You could read a book, watch a movie, write a journal entry, or even think aloud.
  • The key is to create a mental association between that place or time and English, making it a routine part of your day.

The only way to get better at English is to practice it, and this technique helps to break down the barrier between yourself and your practice time by creating a psychological association that is easy for you to act upon – by creating this environment for yourself, you are increasing the potential number of practice opportunities that you will have dramatically increasing the number of chances that in order to practice the English language daily.

This is one of my favorite techniques! It involves not only a transformation of study strategy, but also the creation of an environment for habit formation.

By integrating this not only into your own personal life, but also a part of your family routine, we can begin to create a culture within your household that can naturally improve the chances that the people around you will begin to speak in English and you will have opportunities to improve together as a household! 🙂


Mastering English doesn’t have to be a tedious process.

With these unconventional strategies, you can turn learning into an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Remember, the key to success is consistency. Pick a strategy that resonates withyou and stick with it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – they are an integral part of the learning process.

With patience, persistence, and the right approach, you’ll see significant improvements in your English skills. Happy learning!

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