7 ways to succeed in an online English course

7 ways to succeed in an online English course

Published: Sep, 7, 2022 | By: Lucas Weaver

No matter where in the world you're taking your online English course and what your native language is, there are a few key principles that will allow you to succeed. Practice these habits and you’ll be able to make the most of your English lessons and get to the fluency level that you need.

“If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur.”
-Doug Larson

1. Do the homework

This sounds like the most boring piece of advice ever from an English teacher, but it’s totally true. we’ve taught hundreds of students, and the ones that do the homework always end the course far ahead of their classmates who don’t.

To be honest, your brain is lazy (I should actually say efficient, but lazy has more of a dramatic effect). What I mean by that is that it will only learn when you force it to learn. You have to look at learning as a physical work out for your brain. It doesn’t want to do it, but it will if you push it.

In order to push your brain to learn a new language at a high level, you have to make it practice. You need focus and repitition.

Learning English takes time, just like any other language. When you do textbook exercises, online lesson homework, or whatever else in written form that your teacher may give you, you give your brain a chance to see how that language really works. Then you give yourself the chance to practice it enough that you actually learn your new language skills, instead of just understanding a high-level concept.

2. Speak more in class

Another one that sounds like a no-brainer, but this one is crucial.

I’ve seen countless students who sign up for a course because they know they need to improve their English for something in their life, but they’re so insecure about their English skills that they are too afraid to speak much in class. As a result, they end up not speaking much in the course, and then they don’t improve.

As language teachers, it’s part of our jobs to encourage (almost force, if we’re being honest) students to speak more than they are comfortable. The only way we can get you to speak more and be comfortable with it is by showing you that your imagined negative consequences of making mistakes or not speaking well in front of your classmates are not actually as big of a deal as you thought they were.

3. Take good great notes

Even if your teacher gives great handouts with notes already on them or records the lessons via video, you still need to take notes. Chances are your teacher will say something during the lesson that’s not on the handout they gave you, but besides that, science shows that writing things down helps us remember them.

Don’t rob yourself of the chance to help put those new things you learn in your memory by writing them down, instead of just sitting with your hands in your lap while you’re listening to the lesson.

4. Attend your classes!

This one could not be more of a must. Divide how much you paid for your English course by the number of lessons. That’s how much money you’re wasting when you miss a class. On top of that, consider all the knowledge and speaking practice you’re missing out on.

5. Ask questions

There are two types of question askers:

  1. People who ask every question that comes into their head as soon as they think it.
  2. People who wait for the teacher to finish explaining something fully, and then ask a question if they don’t understand it.

Please don’t be that first type of person. Once your teacher has explained everything that they have in their lesson, if you still don’t get something, you absolutely need to ask them to clarify it and explain it in a different way. You’re not the only student in your class that doesn’t understand it, trust me!

If you’re not in too much of a hurry once your class is over, stick around for a few minutes and ask your teacher to try and help you understand. If they can’t explain it any differently, they may be able to send you some other resource that can explain it better.

6. Welcome corrections & feedback

When your teacher corrects you in class, that’s a good thing! That’s what you’re paying them for. Don’t take it personally, that’s how you grow with your English speaking. If you don’t make mistakes, you can’t improve. They key is to make sure you write down your mistakes so that you can practice them and stop making them in the future.

Making mistakes is okay, it's actually great. But making the same mistakes over and over is not what you're looking for in the long-term. Just learn your mistakes, be aware of them, and focus on correcting them in class and in your homework. That way when you’re out in the real world you won’t have to think about how to speak you'll speak with confidence instead.

7. Be patient

Last, and certainly not least, be patient. You can’t become fluent in English overnight, well, at least not until they finish that computer chip they can put in your brain that allows you to speak other languages immediately. But until that happens, you're stuck reading articles like this.

And by now, you know that the most efficient and effective way to improve your foreign language skills is: time, practice, and patience. Keep making steady improvement and one day you’ll get to the English level where you want to be.

I once had a roommate in Spain who became fluent in Spanish in two months, basically by watching YouTube videos and going to a 2-hour course once a day. Now, maybe you don’t have time to go to a course once a day, but I’m sure you have access to YouTube videos. Whatever time you have, spend it practicing your English.

You’ll be amazed what consistent effort and patience can produce.

Get our monthly newsletter full of learning tips straight to your inbox
Lucas Weaver from the Weaver School

Lucas Weaver founded The Weaver School in 2016. He's passionate about using the latest learnings in neuroscience and education to create the best language learning experience possible for our students, so they can quickly build effective language learning habits that will last for years. Lucas is a graduate of Texas A&M University and after 7 years of living in the Netherlands, he is currently traveling through Southeast Asia while learning their languages along the way.

Start improving your language skills

Create a free account in 60 seconds to book online language lessons with the teacher of your choice.

Create your account