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Strategies for Acquiring Basic English Proficiency

Updated: Nov 24

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Practice your speaking

Introduction - Strategies for acquiring basic English proficiency

In this article, I list a number of simple strategies you can use to acquire basic English proficiency. I also suggest several of My 'simply better' Methods Modules to help you practice your English skills to achieve fluency. While many points emphasise strategies for learning English, remember that practice makes perfect and I can help you with that.

Strategies for Acquiring Basic English Proficiency

Acquiring basic English proficiency can be a rewarding journey that opens doors to communication and opportunities. It doesn't need to be daunting; with the right strategies, anyone can make steady progress. Here. now, are the essential strategies for achieving basic English proficiency.

1. Vocabulary Building:

Vocabulary is the cornerstone of language. Start by learning common, everyday words. You don't need to know thousands of words right away. It is believed that a vocabulary of 2000-3000 words is basic proficiency. Begin with basic words like "family," "house," "food," and "colors." Use flashcards or language-learning apps to help you remember and practice.

Read my other articles to help you increase your English vocabulary.

2. Reading Regularly:

Reading is an excellent way to improve your English. Begin with simple books, children's stories, or news articles. Reading helps you encounter new words in context and exposes you to correct sentence structure and grammar. Don't worry about understanding every word at first; focus on the overall meaning. For more practice in reading comprehension, subscribe to my free Monthly Newsletter called 'simply better' English at the Home page.

Read my article that explains why reading my Newsletter has a number of benefits not just valuable reading practice.

3. Listening and Speaking:

Practice listening to spoken English. Watch English-language TV shows, movies, and YouTube videos with subtitles. Try to mimic the pronunciation and rhythm of the language. Be careful, though: If the subtitles are generated by voice, mistakes can be made as the program gives subtitles based on what it thinks it heard.

Do engage in conversations, even if they're basic. Speak with friends, language partners, or even yourself to gain confidence.

4. Grammar Basics:

While grammar can be challenging, understanding some basic rules is essential. Learn about verb tenses (past, present, future), sentence structure (subject-verb-object), and common prepositions (in, on, under). Grammar workbooks or online exercises can be helpful. If you've learned grammar and need a refresher, I provide basic grammar, especially the tenses in My 'simply better' Method: Module A. Ask me how to get my free PDFs of Basic English Lessons and Mini-Lessons.

5. Language Apps and Online Courses:

There are numerous language learning apps and online courses available. They offer structured lessons, interactive exercises, and opportunities to practice listening, speaking, and writing. Popular choices include Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Coursera.

6. Daily Practice:

Consistency is key. Set aside a specific time each day for English practice. It could be as little as 15 minutes, but regular practice helps reinforce what you've learned. My 'simply better' Method: Module A is the perfect way to help you practice on a daily basis, anywhere and anytime. I have written several articles that explain more about this unique method.

7. Language Exchange Partners:

Connect with native English speakers or other learners for language exchange. You can help them learn your language, and they can help you with English. This is a fun and effective way to practice speaking. But, read the article that explains why chatting can be counterproductive.

8. Writing Practice:

Keep a journal or write short essays in English. Start with simple topics like describing your day, your favorite food, or your plans for the week. Writing helps reinforce vocabulary and grammar knowledge. My 'simply better' Method: Module B extends Module A by teaching you a simple process to practice structured writing.

9. Join Language Classes:

Consider enrolling in English classes at a language school or community college. These classes often provide structured learning and opportunities to practice with others. Sometimes they are free. When you think you've learned enough, then consider getting My 'simply better' Method: Module A that helps you practice the English you've learned. Stop learning English and start practicing. Your English will develop as you practice by yourself or with others, especially if you've taught your partners the method in Module A.

10. Immersion:

If possible, immerse yourself in an English-speaking environment. Visit English-speaking countries, take part in English-speaking events, or join English clubs in your local area.

11. Learn from Mistakes:

Don't be afraid to make mistakes. They are a natural part of learning. When you make a mistake, try to understand why it happened, correct it, and move on. Learning from your errors is a valuable part of the learning process.

12. Use English in Daily Life:

Incorporate English into your daily routine. Important: change your phone and computer settings to English. Label items around your house with English words. This helps reinforce vocabulary in practical contexts. Keep a notebook handy to record new vocabulary.

13. Expand Your Horizons:

Explore different aspects of the English language. Learn about idioms, slang, and cultural expressions. These nuances can make your English more natural and relatable.

14. Learn from Native Speakers:

Listening to native speakers is vital. It helps you understand accents, pronunciations, and colloquialisms. Watch interviews, podcasts, and radio shows featuring native English speakers.

15. Be Patient and Persistent:

Learning a new language takes time. You won't become fluent overnight. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing, even when progress seems slow. If you have learned some English but want to be more proficient, then I urge you to get My 'simply better' Method: Module A to practice all your English skills.

16. Set Goals:

Create achievable language-learning goals. For example, aim to have a five-minute conversation in English with a native speaker in three months. Having clear goals gives you something to work towards.

17. Celebrate Your Progress:

Acknowledge your achievements along the way. Whether it's successfully ordering a meal in English or understanding a song, small victories are important motivators. Mastering the phonetic alphabet (see Point 22 below) is a cause for celebration.

18. Cultural Awareness:

Understanding English-speaking cultures can enhance your language skills. Learn about customs, holidays, and traditions to improve your comprehension and ability to engage in conversations. If you're planning to relocate to another English speaking country, it's beneficial to become familiar with the culture of that country.

19. Self-Study:

Take initiative in your learning. Explore English websites, read English news, and watch documentaries or educational videos. There are vast online resources to aid your progress. Subscribe to my Newsletter. It's easy to do and takes minutes to subscribe at the Home page.

20. Get Feedback:

Don't be afraid to seek feedback from native speakers or teachers. Constructive criticism can help you pinpoint areas where improvement is needed.

21. Use English in Your Hobbies:

Integrate English into your hobbies and interests. If you enjoy cooking, follow English recipes. If you love music, listen to English songs and learn the lyrics.

22. Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA):

Understanding IPA can help you with pronunciation and accents. It's a handy tool to know how words are pronounced correctly. In My 'simply better' Pronunciation Module I provide instruction in learning this alphabet.

23. Study Common Phrases:

In addition to individual words, learning common phrases for various situations, such as greetings, shopping, and asking for directions, can be very practical. Learn phrasal verbs, idioms and other expressions to develop your vocabulary.

24. Keep Learning Fun:

Learning English should be enjoyable. Engage in activities you find fun, like watching English cartoons, playing English word games, or trying English cooking recipes.

25. Seek Professional Help:

If you're struggling to make progress on your own, consider hiring a tutor or taking lessons with a language instructor. They can provide personalized guidance and address your specific needs. Be aware, that working with a personal tutor or taking classes can be expensive.


Remember, the journey to basic English proficiency is unique for each individual. What's most important is staying motivated, practicing consistently, and using the strategies that work best for you. With dedication and patience, you can achieve your goal of basic English proficiency and unlock a world of opportunities for communication and personal growth.

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About the Author

Michael Finemore, MA (Research) CQU, TEFL/TESOL Certificate, an experienced English Teacher, is the Owner-Operator of Apex English Tutoring.

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