The ESL Department

Techniques to Teach Yourself English

Below is some sample lesson material from 50 Top Techniques for Studying English.

An ESL Guide for Independent, Self-directed Study

The Hardest Language in the World? The Most Important?

The Largest Vocabulary? The Most Difficult Spelling and Pronunciation?

Students, businesspeople, teachers: welcome to the real world of learning English one verb at a time.

This book is a guide to the best techniques for studying and learning English by yourself, without a teacher, and about how to do it day and night. It's about the things they don't tell you in language school. It's about memory work and learning a lot of vocabulary; not just learning it, but remembering it,keeping, recalling, and using it. Always. Forever.

We have a term to describe this: Massive Vocabulary Acquisition (MVA). This is what this book is all about: self-directed study, also known as independent study or self-instruction. It looks at what students need to do after language class is over, after the homework is done.

You can't do it in a month, or a summer; you need years. Learning English, or any other language, is not easy, it's rarely fun, and it's definitely not quick. The truth is, learning a language well is one of the hardest things in the world.

Technique: All the News That Fits.

A notebook, a favorite pen or pencil, one sheet of paper or a single file card, and an English-language newspaper: sooner or later, everyone tries this technique. It's a useful and inexpensive way to learn new vocabulary by reading. How to begin? Concentrate on the headlines.

Why? Because they:

What you do with newspaper headlines is this: cut them out and then paste or staple them together on a sheet of paper. Carry the sheet with you, or place it on your desk or somewhere where it's visible. Photocopy it. (Because newspapers are dirty and full of ink, which comes off on your hands and clothes, you probably won't want to carry them around with you; it's much better to make copies of them.)

The headlines' large type will easily get your attention, helping with your recall and your reviewing. For writing down words and headlines, make use of a 3-point writing plan: cards, sheets of paper, notebook(s).

And of course the same is true for magazine headlines. And of course they all have websites to visit.

Question: What is your favorite style or type of newspaper?

And what are your favorite sections within the newspapers? Do you prefer the Sunday papers, or other days? Which articles do you naturally prefer studying, and what kind of vocabulary are you trying to memorize? (For example, there's less slang in the major world newspapers, which emphasize educated usage and tone; popular magazines and tabloid papers are more slangy.). Which type of article will you remember better, and be more interested in reading through to the end? Which type will help you learn more vocabulary?

What comes next, after newspaper work? Answer: Book titles, and bookstore and newsstand sweeps.

Some examples of different headlines:


Newspaper headlines are a "niche" area to exploit for new vocabulary; headlines can be cut out, collected together, and then photocopied. Take the copies everywhere; use them as bookmarks, bring them to lunch, read them on the bus oron line at the post office.

Order the Study Guide Online

Should you want to acquire the self-instruction course for ESL and EFL, you can order the study guide online.

In addition, for further, individual study via email or in person, we work with you using our other textbook, Advanced Techniques for Learning English. Both texts and course are presented in simplified, intermediate-level English. See the Services page for more information.