I learned Japanese to a very high level (fluent enough that I worked in a Japanese company, in Japanese) “at home”, and it’s also what I teach my clients.
When I say “at home” I guess you mean without classes. But honestly? Classes or no classes is simply a preference.
They’re neither sufficient nor necessary to improve in English, anyway. Or, in my experience very effective. The quality of ESL schools in most countries is fairly dubious at best…
So-called English teachers who’ve never learned a second language themselves, who still think “grammar and words” is the best way to teach, who have no clue about any of the developments in second-language research and who are reliant on textbooks (whether they’re appropriate to the student or not) so he (or she) doesn’t have to put any real effort into lesson planning…. yeah, you get the idea.
Anyway… I digress.
To improve in English two things have to happen:
- You’ve got to put time into learning and growing your English (study).
- And you’ve got to do stuff with that English (preferably real things, in the real world – none of this “speaking to practise” rubbish, which is just kinda pointless).
If you do those two things every day, you’ll improve.
Find some good learning materials that match what you want to do in English (so if you want to speak well in conversation, find materials that give you natural, accurate samples of dialogues and conversations) and spend time every single day studying them. Then take the English you’ve used and use it in the real world (again, use… none of this “speaking to practise” bullshit).
Improving is as simple as that.
But BOTH steps are 100% necessary.
And of course, make sure you’re using high-quality materials to learn from. Textbooks and notoriously crap, and you should avoid anything that’s basically just “grammar and words” teaching. Ultimately, if you’re learning the wrong thing it’s all a waste of time anyway.
Also, if you have mindset/ confidence issues, you’ll also need to sort those out (you can use the best method in the world and the most amazing learning materials… but if you don’t do anything with it because you don’t have the confidence or think you can’t, well, it’s all a waste of time).
If you want more detail on what method you should use, what materials are best as well as the mindset side of things, I created a free training which shows you the 5 key changes you’ll need to make to see faster progress — you can access it by going here.
Dr Julian Northbrook