30 Uncommon Ways to Learn Real Life English

Screen shot 2013-06-05 at 1.55.47 PMWARNING: Do not read this article if you are easily offended, take life too seriously, hate cats, or are clinically insane.

This article contains uncommon ways to learn English that may or may not be legal, moral, or otherwise appropriate.

This is here purely for entertainment value and we are not liable for stupid people doing any of these things.

A lot of stuff in this article is said tongue in cheek [in a joking way], although there is a lot of good, practical information as well.

So, let’s get started…

1. Go to jail in a foreign country.
When you’re in jail, you’ll have no choice but to speak English. The prison guards and your fellow jail mates will likely only speak in English and they’ll only have English material for you to read. It’s like a free English immersion. What could go wrong?

2. Refuse to speak any language but English with the people you live with.
If any of your roommates or family members try to speak in your native language, just tell them that you don’t speak that language. Act like you don’t understand anything they say, unless it’s in English.

3. Practice tongue twisters.
Tongue twisters [phrases that are extremely difficult to say] are a fun way to practice your pronunciation, rhythm and flow of English. Check out the article Improve Your English Pronunciation with Tongue Twisters.

4. Join a cult.
If you really want to immerse yourself in a language/culture, why not join a cult [a religious movement or other group with strong devotion and weird beliefs or practices]? Though you may be forced to kill yourself or, even worse—never allowed to leave, surrounding yourself with English speakers who all believe the same thing will be a great cultural experience for you. And remember, you’re not fluent until your understand the culture.

5. Teach your friends English.
Instead of doing the same boring stuff you always do with your friends, why not teach each other English? Teaching something is one of the best ways to solidify your own learning.

6. Hold an English speaking event.
If you can’t come to the RLE parties, then why not start a party of your own? Get as many people as you can to meet at a bar and have everyone speak English to each other.

7. Talk to your friends about the importance of learning English.
If your friends don’t speak English very well, then constantly lecture them about the importance of learning English. This will do two things. One, help strengthen the importance of learning English in your own mind. And two, annoy all of your friends who don’t speak English so they won’t want to talk to you.

8. Have an English study group.
Community is powerful. Invite a few friends over to your house once a week to help each other with English. Think of it like English classes with no teacher, where the students direct the class.

9. Watch TED talks.
If you don’t know about TED Talks yet, you’re must be living under a rock [you’re unaware of current events]. TED has amazing 18 minute speeches about any and everything you can think of. And they have subtitles and transcripts in almost every major language. Check out the articles Why TED Talks Will Change Your Life (+Bonus) and 19 Ted Talks That Will Transform Your Language Learning and Life.

10. Read comic strips.
Comics are short, fun, and easy and usually have new ones updated every day. Learn English with Comic Strips—Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield the Cat.

11. Do yoga. If you live near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, then come to the Real Life Yoga Picnics to practice your English. Hurry! Trevor (the yoga teacher) is moving to Rio at the end of July. Note: Trevor has already moved on but you can find many videos on YouTube.

uncommon ways learn english12. Get a crush on a native English speaker.
Getting obsessed with a native English speaker, like Chad (pictured on the right), is a great way to fuel your English learning (especially if they don’t speak your native language).

13. Start arguments on online message boards.
Starting arguments on the internet is like a free way to have your grammar checked for accuracy. People who argue on the internet love to be grammar nazis [people who always correct people’s grammar]. Plus, arguing is a good skill that leads to a longer and happier married life.

14. Go on Reddit.
WARNING: may ruin your life. Reddit is known as the front page of the internet, and is scientifically proven to be the most addicting website on the internet. Fortunately, everything is in English and it’s a little hard to get accustomed to the layout. Seriously, don’t go there.

15. Put your phone, computer, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. into English.
Get immersed in the language by putting everything you possibly can into English.

16. Kidnap a kid that only speaks English.
If you can find a little kid that only speaks English, what better way to improve yours than to kidnap [to take someone away illegal by force, generally to obtain money for their safe return] him? You’ll make a lot of money from the kidnapping and will be forced to speak in English with the kid and while negotiating with his parents for how much his life is worth to them.

17. Talk to your pets in English.
It’s been scientifically proven that pets respond best when you talk to them in English. Whether you’re trying to teach your old dog new tricks or you’re just talking in your cute, high-pitched animal voice, your pets will like you more if you speak English to them.

18. Think in English.
Anytime you notice yourself having a thought in your native language, try to translate it into English. If not, write it down and figure it out later.

19. Learn how to talk dirty in English.
One of the best ways to practice English is while having sex. If your partner doesn’t speak English, they’ll be more turned on [sexually excited] and you won’t have to try as hard to speak correctly. Sorry, no resources here, find them yourself.

20. Date a native English speaker.
What better way to learn English than to date a native English speaker? Ladies, I’m currently available.

21. Get a tattoo in English.
The more English words that are permanently on your body, the better your English will be. Try getting a tattoo on your back or forehead that says “I speak English.” This will encourage other people to talk to you in English and will help you make new English speaking friends.

22. Refuse to speak anything but English with your coworkers and boss, regardless of whether or not they can speak English.
Say it’s good for the company for people to learn English. This also makes it easier to ignore people you don’t like that don’t speak English well.

23. Count in English.
Anytime you’re thinking in numbers, whether counting your reps [repetitions] while at the gym or doing math, count in English.

24. Listen to podcasts.
It’s amazing how many people still don’t know about or use podcasts to learn. It’s the easiest way to improve your English because it doesn’t take any time, you can do it while driving, walking, cooking, etc. Check out the Real Life English Podcasts.

25. Ask random people in the street or at bars if they speak English.
This is a great way to make new friends, overcome your fears, and improve your English. Ask people, “Excuse me, do you speak English,” and take it from there. This works even better if you live in a native English speaking country.

26. Record videos of yourself speaking about certain topics in English and put them on Youtube.
There’s nothing like listening to yourself speaking English to improve your skills. Check #13 for more about creating discussions around your videos.

27. Make as many mistakes as you can.
Make it a goal to make as many mistakes as you can while speaking English. The more mistakes you make, the quicker you’ll learn. Learn to take your ego out of it.

28. Go to a Vipassana course.
Vipassana is a donation-based 10 day meditation retreat. All the directions for meditation are first said in English and then said in the countries native language. It’s a mini-immersion that is teaching you one of the most valuable skills you can learn, meditation see #29.

29. Meditate.
Yes, daily meditation will greatly improve your ability to speak English. Your focus, concentration, clarity, and patience will all greatly improve which translates into the rest of your life. Check out the article How Meditation Can Improve Your English (and Life).

30. Translate.
Translating articles from English into your native language is an excellent way to practice your English. Especially if you’re translating articles that are ABOUT learning English, like articles you’re reading now.

What Else?

What other uncommon ways of learning English can you guys think of? Post your suggestions in the comments below.

  • adonis says:

    very nice! LOL

    this article is so amazing hahaha

    Trevor, you have good ideas to improve our English Language!


  • Ethan Zinho says:

    Awesome article, Trevor. I laughed so much!

    Another tip I'd suggest is join Couchsurfing and look for English speakers in your community. Write them and see if they'll do a language exchange with you (you help them improve your native tongue, and they help you with your English).

    I used this to improve my French in Brazil, and ended up making a good friend! Couchsurfing has tons of other benefits for travelers and language learners, too. So everyone should join it.

    • Amanda Cavallaro says:

      I laughed so hard hahahahahha

  • he…he…, thanks… =D

  • It's queer but interesting…I am thinking of a crime to commit in order to be jailed.

  • Really interesting, I was speaking in english to my old pet, I think she understood because she moved her tail fiercely, jeje.

  • really funny! I loved it! 😀

  • onother method I use is to record myself using my cellphone sth that is very accessible, I speak about what happen during the day and then I listen to it before going to bed, in this way I can check my fluency and the mistake I make.

    • Max Ahumada says:

      I do exactly the same! I just speak about whatever comes to mind no matter if it's extremely silly. I just try to use as many words as possible

  • I also download interviews ( actors. singers) then I convert them into mp3 files and instead of music I listen to them when I'm on my way to work.

  • Jaya Pun, from Nepal says:

    what an idea Travor ? Anyway thanks for your suggestion.

  • Yuli says:

    What an out-of-the-box ways to learn English, love it, especially #20. LOL

  • Go to a bar and find people to talk to them in English.

  • Try talking to Siri on your iPhone. The lady won’t understand what you’re saying unless you pronounce it right.

  • Trevor says:

    Thanks for all the responses and suggestions everyone. ^_^

  • Divertido y original combinaciones perfectas! Gracias! 🙂