how to teach yourself english
ESL | ESL | Parenting | Phonics | Teaching | Teaching English

How To Teach Yourself English

Learning a new language is rewarding and exciting, especially if it opens work, travel, and study opportunities. But what if you don’t have the resources to go to a language school or hire a tutor? Can you teach yourself English?

Teaching yourself English is possible with motivation, persistence, and patience. Start with primary digital and print resources, commit to daily study, and practice speaking and listening regularly. Self-study is individualized, flexible, and cheaper than language classes.

A lack of money or access to language classes need not stop you from learning a new language. You can teach yourself fluent English within six months to a year, provided you have the motivation, persistence, and teaching resources. In fact, many students prefer self-study for its flexibility.

Can You Teach Yourself English?

Many people have successfully taught themselves to speak a foreign language via self-study.

With the explosion of free online resources, there is no need to attend formal language classes, as you can access all kinds of curricula, worksheets, etc., from your home.

Apart from finding the ideal resources to help you, learning to speak any language fluently requires you to be motivated and persistent in practicing regularly and working hard.

You Can Teach Yourself English With The Right Motivation

Studying any language requires effort and motivation, even more so when you are going alone.

Your reason for learning a language will motivate you, which is why people tend to tail off in their lessons if they are studying English because they’re bored or have nothing else to do.

Consider what about the language and culture attracts you and what makes you want to learn English. For example:

  • I am fascinated by English history and would love to visit the country to do a tour.
  • I want to be a chef and attend culinary school in England.
  • My business offers three-month secondments to the US, but I don’t speak English.

These general aims can motivate you to begin learning the language, but it is even more motivating if you give your dream a realistic deadline:

  • I want to book a tour of England next summer, so I need to speak basic English by then.
  • The culinary school takes new students every April and September, so I need to be fluent by April 2024. I need a C1 certification to be accepted.
  • I will be eligible for a secondment in a year.

Knowing how long you have to study a language gives you a chance to strategize and create a study timetable.

How To Learn English Quickly
how to teach yourself english

You Can Teach Yourself English With The Right Resources

Learning a language by yourself means that you need to find resources that work for you, probably by trial and error. Let’s look at a couple of resources you can use in combination.

Teach Yourself English Using Books

Before the internet, most language studies were done using books or a combination of books and recordings, which still make a helpful resource.

You can find books for every level, from beginner to advanced; select the appropriate study material.

Take care to avoid old-fashioned grammar-heavy courses as they don’t support learning to speak effectively. Contemporary materials are fun and interactive.

Teach Yourself English Using Digital Resources

Fortunately, there are endless digital and online tools, some of which are free and others reasonably priced:

How To Learn English Quickly
how to teach yourself english

You Can Teach Yourself English With Persistence

Self-learning English isn’t easy or quick, so you will need plenty of persistence and perseverance.

One way of ensuring that you keep going is setting up a study timetable or study plan for yourself that you commit to so that you can measure your progress. Having a set curriculum or course of study will make this easier; if you don’t, spend time planning what you want to study over the following months.

Ideally, it would help if you got into the habit of daily study: at least an hour is essential. Your routine needs to include time to study new material, time to review and revise, as well as time to practice.

You Can Teach Yourself English With Practice

The best way to learn English is to practice: reading, writing, listening, and, most of all, speaking. Learning a language alone makes speaking practice tricky, but there are some ways to get around this:

  • Use a language exchange app, like iTalki or HelloTalk.
  • Find a language club online or in person. It’s fun and encouraging to practice with other learners and native speakers, sharing your challenges and resources.
  • Travel to a native-speaking country is the ultimate practice as you are forced to navigate life using the language.
  • Talk to yourself in the mirror. The more you practice alone, the more you get used to speaking, so you will be ready for conversation.

Why Teach Yourself English?

There are many good reasons for self-study or self-learning English.

Self-learning Is Individualized

It may be obvious, but self-learning means that you study by yourself. Working alone appeals to many people who find classmates distracting or learning in a classroom difficult for personality, mental health, or disability reasons.

Additionally, you know your aims in learning English, be it as a hobby or for business development. You can tailor your course of study to your specific needs, rather than doing a course where the curriculum doesn’t entirely suit you.

You can also choose learning styles that match your personality and abilities, choosing topics that pique your interest so that you are motivated and encouraged to keep working.

Self-learning Is Flexible

Another reason for self-studying English is because it is flexible.

Time flexibility means you can fit in your study around your schedule of responsibilities and social activities when it suits you. You can take as long as you need or study as much as you like.

Self-study also allows you the flexibility to study wherever you are: at lunchtime in the office, on the train, at a coffee shop, or on the couch. You don’t need to travel to a language school or another city or country.

Self-learning Sets Your Own Pace

Many people choose to self-study because they can choose their own pace. Formal language schools often work at the speed of the slowest person in the class, frustrating those who want to advance more quickly.

On the other hand, if you know you’re a slower learner or don’t have much time to study, you can set your own manageable pace without getting stressed.

Self-learning Saves Money

Language courses can be costly, whether you’re attending a college or working with a private tutor online: you’re looking at thousands of dollars per year.

With self-study, you can decide to use only free resources or invest in a limited number of resources.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Self-Learning

Although self-learning has many advantages, there are also some challenges. Let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of self-learning:

Individualized curriculumHave to create own curriculum without required knowledge of language study
Sets own goals for studyMay not lead to certification
Suits solitary personalityNobody to practice with, coach, encourage, and support
Develops self-sufficiencyMay feel lost and unfocussed
Flexible scheduleSelf-discipline is required to maintain a schedule
Flexible study locationEasy to be distracted by work, home, and social life
Sets own paceCan work too slowly or too quickly to achieve fluency goals
CheaperInvestment in qualified teachers and a good curriculum

How Long Does It Take To Teach Yourself English?

How long you take to learn English depends on how much time and effort you are willing to invest. However, if you want to learn fluent English within three to six months, you must attend a language school or find a private coach.

Can You Teach Yourself English In 15 Days?

There are advertisements online that suggest you can learn English within 15 days. You will not be fluent in English within two weeks if you start self-learning the language as a beginner.

However, within two weeks, you can learn to greet people and have simple conversations about family or the weather.

If you can already speak some English, an immersion course (in a native-speaking country) will improve your English enormously within two weeks.

How Long Does It Take To Learn English 
how to teach yourself english

Can You Teach Yourself English In Six Months?

It is unlikely that you can learn fluent English in six months doing self-study. However, you will see significant progress within six months, especially if you devote a couple of hours a day to study.

To learn this quickly, you need to take an immersion course in an English-speaking country, where you have five hours of lessons and two hours of practice per day.

Can You Teach Yourself English In A Year?

You can learn English in a year, even if you start as a beginner and if you self-study.

A year is an average time it takes an adult to learn fluent English if you are willing to devote about five hours per day to study and practice.

We have a series on how to learn English which you can access below, including how to learn English quickly, How long does it take to learn English, How to learn English effectively. We have these in the list below.

Five Tips For Teaching Yourself English

Self-learning English is possible with enough motivation, persistence, and practice. Here are some tips for success on your English journey.

Get Started

It is good to plan and strategize how to teach yourself English, but it’s also essential to start learning. Don’t get bogged down in timetables and how overwhelming learning a language is, as you can discourage yourself.

Begin by downloading an app, watching YouTube videos, and checking out some online programs.

The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll learn to speak English.

Build A Basic Foundation

The temptation with self-study is to want to advance too quickly without laying down a basic foundation of simple greetings, the most common verbs, nouns, numbers, etc.

Choose resources that build your knowledge and skills slowly but surely. A beginner’s curriculum is a good idea when you’re starting and allows you to make adequate progress.

You can then add interesting and topical resources as you learn.

Commit To Daily Study

Teaching yourself English requires enormous self-discipline as you have no teacher or classmates to hold you accountable.

Committing yourself to daily study helps learning to become a habit. Set a daily study reminder.

For best results, commit to 30 minutes to an hour of study five days out of seven, or every day if you can.

Remember that study does not only mean learning new vocabulary or rules. Repetition and revision consolidate what you’ve learned already, forming an essential part of daily study.

Also, work on adding additional study to the day – revise vocabulary while commuting or standing in a queue, for example.

Practice Speaking And Listening

When teaching yourself, it’s easy to focus on vocabulary, grammar exercises, reading, and writing.

However, speaking and listening are crucial to learning a new language and are difficult to practice on your own. Here are some suggestions to help you:

  • Listen to native speakers of English – movies, TV, podcasts, and YouTUbe videos are all good resources. Start with simple children’s productions and work your way up.
  • Listen to audiobooks or books being read aloud while simultaneously following in the book. This activity is helpful for listening skills, pronunciation, vocabulary, and spelling.
  • Practice pronouncing the sounds of English by listening and relistening, then repeating the sounds and recording yourself.
  • Read aloud to yourself.

Practicing speaking and listening alone can only take you so far. If at all possible, find other people to practice speaking English. There is nothing better than speaking English in a real-life context to build connections and consolidate learning.

  • Find a language club or language exchange to practice with other students. There are interactive programs online, such as Rosetta Stone.
  • Speak to any colleagues, friends, or family members who can speak English.
  • Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.

Immerse Yourself In English

If you’re lucky enough to be in an English-speaking environment, you’ll be surrounded by English conversation, announcements, music, billboards, and advertisements. Your brain unconsciously picks up a lot of language like this, even when you’re not focussing on the information.

One solution is to create your own immersive experience at home by surrounding yourself with English. For example:

  • Listen to music with English lyrics when commuting or doing chores.
  • Leave the TV on English programs while you’re cooking or cleaning.
  • Label items in your home with their English names.
  • Page through English newspapers and magazines.
  • Change your social media to English.
How Long Does It Take To Learn English 
how to teach yourself english


Teaching yourself a language can be highly gratifying, requiring motivation, commitment, and self-discipline. If you’re willing to find study resources, revise and practice daily, and spend time on your studies, learning English within six months to a year is possible.


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