November 4


How to Learn English from Scratch

By Gordon Gaffney

November 4, 2021

How to Learn English from Scratch

Whether you want to have a new hobby for your free time, climb the corporate ladder, improve your studies or just watch your series and movies without subtitles then your knowledge of English becomes very important.

It is true that we live in a globalised world, we are always being bombarded with different cultures from all sides. We consume American movies, French music, German books, Italian paintings and drawings all the time.

Everywhere you look, there are new people with a different culture and ideas to teach us.

But amidst all this colourful mix, one language stands out above them all: English. The English language is present in almost all of our lives, from the songs we listen to, to the labels on the products we buy.

And in this article, you'll understand how to learn English from scratch once and for all.

4 Reasons You Can Learn English from Scratch

It is the most spoken language in the world

According to Ethnologue: Languages of the World published in 2019, English, among a list of 33 other languages, is the most spoken language in the entire world, with more than 1.2 billion speakers in all.

This includes those who have it as a mother tongue, and those who learned it as a second language.Did you know that there are several countries that use English as an official second language?

Understanding the English language will bring you study opportunities

Various content such as books, documentaries, theses, etc. for study are often only available in English or, when translated, they end up losing part of their material along the way.

How to Learn English from Scratch


Are you interested in studying abroad? Maybe in Canada, France, the USA, Japan, etc? Most schools and universities ask their foreign students to have knowledge of the English language to be able to enter, and some even provide scholarships for this.With knowledge of English, there will be no barriers on your learning journey!

It will open doors to new and better jobs in your career

It's getting harder and harder to get better jobs in today's market, and the employee always needs to bring something good and new to the table in order to stand out from the crowd.

Many job advertisements today, for example, call for knowledge of English as desirable or even often as a requirement.

In case you don't already know you can find out how to correctly put your English fluency level on your CV/resume and see your career opportunities grow!

Learning a new language keeps your brain healthy and improves memory

According to several experiments and studies, knowledge of a new language can lead to positive results in the human brain, regardless of the individual's age.

Alzheimer's risks, for example, drop dramatically as your memory will be strengthened. Your ability to concentrate and multitask also grows.

How To Learn English From Scratch Alone

Know why you are studying

Although it sounds silly, this tip is extremely important in anything that requires a long period of hard work to see the desired results. Without a strong, pre-established reason, over time, you will lose motivation and put your study plans aside.

To prevent this from happening, know exactly why you are learning English from scratch on your own. Is it for studying abroad? Getting a job or moving abroad? Learning a new hobby?Your motivation will be your guiding star during your study journey, always remember it when motivation starts to fail.

Deepen your knowledge and surround yourself with English content daily

In order for your brain to get used to and learn English, you will have to surround yourself with this new language in your daily life. Of course, if you can do an exchange and/or live in an English speaking country, but obviously this is often not within everyone's reach.

Still, there are quick and easy ways to study without even leaving home and/or spending a lot of money and that will bring you the same results if practiced hard.

Some simple tips are:

1. Change the language of your electronic devices (mobile, computer, tablet, etc) to English. This will force you to get used to common words, but which we often ignore, and to fix them in your mind more quickly.

If you like to play, try also to leave the language of your games in English.

2. Activate subtitles! Start watching your movies and series in English only and with the Portuguese subtitles active, over time, change the subtitles to English as well and eventually watch without either.

3. Follow youtubers, bloggers and/or native English influencers below and pay attention, for example, to the way they pronounce the words.

4. Read English books, poems, short stories, recipes. This will show you new words and expressions, and better fix the structure of many sentences commonly used in everyday life in your mind and get you used to reading in English.

Passive Study X Active Study

Although we often think that just reading a few paragraphs of a book or listening to a few minutes of audio in English is enough, the truth is that this kind of passive study only compromises all our efforts and will ultimately be time wasted.

For that not to happen, you will have to start studying in an active way.

But what does this mean? It means that you need to get out of the habit of sitting down to study, just burning a few things into your mind and never putting them into practice. You will need to fit active study into your journey, and some of the ways are:

1. Repeat the new words and phrases you hear aloud. A good tip is to record yourself talking each day for a few minutes. Choose a topic to talk about, recite a poem, repeat what your favourite singer said in an interview.

2. Structure and create sentences on your own, and preferably write them down on paper and repeat them aloud afterward.

3. It's always very important that you force it into your routine and put everything you've studied into practice, so find friends or colleagues to chat in English (preferably native speakers) and get feedback whenever necessary.

There are websites, for example, that connect language learners around the world to practice and improve their knowledge together, you can read my tips on improving your English conversation here.

How to Learn English from Scratch

Interview with singer David Bowie 1999

The Challenges That Will Appear On Your Study Journey - And How To Meet Them!

It's true that not everything is always a bed of roses, and that includes studying a new language such as English. When we start out on something totally new and different for us, we have to face challenges and our own insecurities. Some of them are:

Fear of not having perfect English

All of us, at some point in our lives, feel the fear and shame of failing at something. And with the journey of learning a new language, this is no different.

You will be afraid of pronouncing the words incorrectly, structuring your sentences incorrectlyly, not understanding what is being said… And this is all normal! 

We all go through this phase when we are learning something such as English from scratch, but this phase will be over and you will need to be determined not to give up to be able to reach your goals in English.

If you want to improve your knowledge, click here to learn 6 of the most important verbs used and 3 common mistakes for you to avoid.

Not having a syllabus or study routine

If there is no clear objective, that is what steps you should take, then you will encounter many obstacles in your path and will likely end up not making progress. Take time to plan what your study routine will be like initially.

Do you prefer to study grammar on Mondays and vocabulary on Wednesdays? How much time in your day will you devote to learning English? Five minutes, fifteen minutes, two hours? 

Note: remember not to force yourself to spend five hours a day studying if this is not common in your daily life.

 Adopt a routine that works for you. Whether it's just 5 minutes or 1 hour, the most important thing is how much you will be able to extract and learn from each class.

You can read more about creating a good study routine in English in an article coming soon.

Do not study daily

To reach the level of fluency you desire, you will need to be committed and determined to study every day. This will make you more and more familiar with the language and consequently learn and fix the studied content faster. 10 minutes a day is better than 1 hour a week.

How to Learn English from Scratch

Understand that it will take time

Learning a new language does not happen overnight. Think about your native language, you've been surrounded by this language your entire life - and probably still are. Nobody was born knowing how to speak perfectly well, it takes time.

So never believe the “learn English in 3 months or less” lies. There is no magic formula. You won't achieve native fluency in such a short time.

Only focus, dedication and time will lead to great results.


Learning English has become almost an obligation. Many opportunities will appear with this language in your life, including keeping your brain healthy by studying a new language.

However, achieving fluency in English, regardless of your age, takes time and a lot of dedication involved. With determination and a study plan that fits your routine, you will face all the difficulties that will come your way and see fantastic results.

You can learn how to separate English syllables in an article coming soon. You can also discover how to put your English level on your CV/Resume.

You might also be interested in our video course on sale on Udemy for €29.99/69.99R$ "Eliminate the Mistakes that Portuguese Speakers Make in English". 4 hours of video exclusively for people that speak Portuguese. You can read more about it and watch free videos here.

How did you learn English from scratch? You can leave a tip in the comments!

Gordon Gaffney

About the author

Gordon is The Irish English Teacher, creator of this blog and many products to help all students learning English as a second language, but with a focus on Portuguese speakers.

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