How to quickly learn English: travelers tell

Fluent English is not only x2 to the salary, it is an amazing opportunity to discover the world and feel all its facets.

But how do you learn the language? How to motivate yourself to study? Seasoned travelers shared their personal experience with us.

We are a school of English Skyeng we will be infinitely happy if the stories of these people inspire you to tighten your knowledge. Sign up for a free introductory lesson at Skyeng and find out your language level. And at the end of the article, look for a promo code for 2 more bonus lessons.

Alena Moroz – host of the show “Mediterranean Check-in” on the NLO TV channel

English and I didn’t immediately become friends. My first and only three in the report card for all 11 grades was for English. My mother says: to correct the situation, I walked around the room and constantly muttered something to myself in English. I don’t remember this, but I believe my mother. Apparently, it worked, because I quickly pulled myself up and got into an advanced group, where I studied for the rest of my school years.

The school base is not enough

I thought I was fluent in English until after my third year at university I went to America on the Work & Travel program. There it became clear that we were all taught a non-living language and no one in the United States speaks so clumsy. Therefore, I mastered spoken language already in those four months. Then she acquired her own cool accent, but also completely lost her grammar.

Since that summer, I love English. When I hear a speaker, I immediately want to find a reason to talk about something. By the way, foreigners say that I have an American accent. And the Americans themselves praise and wonder how I picked him up, but nevertheless they do not recognize “for theirs” and fix the European roots, more often German ones.

How to memorize vocabulary

I am an adherent of memorizing entire phrases, not words. Then, at the right moment, the entire replica will jump out and you will not have to pull together the sentence as if by thread. You know, when a person, during a conversation, collects a phrase, like a puzzle, makes long pauses between words.

The technique with phrases really came to me when studying Spanish. If I had to learn English again, I would definitely use this trick.

I noticed a long time ago that just watching films and videos in English does not help to speak. But you can increase the viewing efficiency for free: pause the film and repeat the phrase you heard aloud, trying to copy the speaker’s intonation and pronunciation.

Now to keep fit I:

  • I watch Netflix and various YouTube channels in English;
  • I read articles on interesting topics in Harvard Business Review, The Economist, Science Insider and other specialized publications;
  • use every opportunity to speak with someone abroad.

But, objectively, this is not enough. Without practice, the spoken word dies. And that’s a fact.

Pros of knowing English

Finding out interesting information from the locals, agreeing on anything, smoothing out the brewing conflict, resolving problems with the police – this is not a complete list of what I did, knowing the language. Traveling with and without English are two different journeys. In the second case, you lose half of the impressions.


I’ve traveled to places where the locals don’t speak English. Before the countries of Latin America, for example, I specially studied Spanish and, as it turned out, not in vain, since you can’t get far with English there.

And in African countries, where the locals speak only Arabic and French, which I do not speak, I realized what people traveling without knowledge of languages ​​can feel. I didn’t really like this feeling. As if you are invisible in the world of strangers.


The most incomprehensible English I heard in Scotland. Oh, and most locals have an accent there! Especially for those who do not work in the service sector on tourist routes.

I remember dropping into a car service to rent our mobile home and asking the mechanic where the toilet is. It would seem that the answer to such a question is most likely elementary and consists of simple words like “left, right, straight ahead.” But here the guy answers, and we don’t even understand what language he speaks! Let’s clarify again. This time we realize that this is still English, but still nothing is clear.

Lost in translation

No funny stories happened to me. But my husband, in my presence, amused those around me a lot when he said in a cafe: “Can I get some nipples”, meaning napkins. You should have seen the waitress’s face! Zhenya was saved by the fact that I was sitting next to him, and the issue was not considered as harassment.

Evgeniya Sidorchuk, traveler, chief editor of tripmydream

How did I learn English? Yes, like many: school, university, courses, serials with subtitles, but the most important thing is practice. As soon as you first find yourself abroad yourself, the language barrier rapidly disappears.

How to maintain your level

I try to expand my vocabulary and not stand still when there is no opportunity to practice. For pumping a slang dictionary, I highly recommend Urban Dictionary. I subscribed to their email newsletter and several times a week I receive various tricky words that will not be taught in courses, but native speakers will surely check it out. Real talk!

Skyeng also helps me maintain the level. This is not just English via Skype, but learning on a cool interactive platform and a whole ecosystem of applications and functions.

In addition, I watch original TV series and films, read English-language media and books. Well, and, to Fortunately, I have been able to travel quite often lately, which is the best practice.


Tempering by force majeure

A couple of years ago, my friend and I managed to lose our suitcases on our way to a volunteer camp in France. We had a flight from Kiev to Nice with a transfer in Paris. Even during the check-in for the flight at Boryspil, we asked the airport employee whether we need to pick up our luggage and re-register it. She replied, they say, the luggage will arrive at the place of arrival. We walked up in Paris, flew to Nice, but there are no suitcases. I had to contact Lost & Found and practice my then average English there. We studied all the luggage terminology with a bang, and our English turned out to be quite convincing with fright – two days later the suitcases-travelers returned to us.

Me, English and Jose

In 2015, I cooked for several weeks at a children’s camp in the Swiss countryside – such was the volunteer project. Of the Russian speakers there, besides me, there was only one girl, but with her we almost always spoke English in order to be on the same wavelength with the others. Then my English just blossomed, but at first I felt out of place. My colleagues, volunteers from different countries of the world, chatted incessantly in English, and I could only dream about it. However, there were exceptions, for example, Jose. A boy from Spain, having arrived at the camp, knew only “Hello” and “Thank you”, but in three weeks on the project he could already explain himself minimally and support the basic dialogue. Of course, sometimes he confused some words, but this had its own charm. “Let’s go to the chicken, Jenya”, – he cheerfully told me, inviting me to the kitchen.

All in the same camp, one of my colleagues was Michael from Scotland. He spoke in amazingly clear English – not a single incomprehensible word. Once I decided to take him out into the open and say: “Michael, is it really how you communicate in life? Is this the very same Scottish English? ” In response, Michael gave me a tirade in Scottish English, from which I only understood “Well” and “That’s it”. Explains, I understand that if I speak Scottish, even the British themselves will not understand me.

Nikolay Malyarenko – captain, organizer of yacht tours

I studied English at school with obscure exercises. As a self-respecting lazy person, he did only the minimum necessary to prevent the parents from being summoned to the director. As a result, when I arrived in the United States in 2012, I did not even understand the airport employee, who was trying very hard to explain something to me.

The series helped me a lot to learn new words. I just forced myself to watch everything in the original for a couple of months.

Now I conduct business correspondence in English, communicate with partners. At sea, I also have to speak English, I communicate with the coast station by radio, requesting permission to enter the port.

Do you speak English?

On my travels, of course, I had to hear completely incomprehensible English. The Scots, for example, themselves understand how bad everything is and are happy to switch to a style where they can simply answer “yes” or “no”. For example, there was a case with a taxi driver. We tried to agree on a pick-up location over the phone and after ten minutes of the driver’s inaudible hums, I asked: “Maybe you wanted to say that you are waiting under the hotel?” He was very happy that he could say “yes” and not break his tongue.

The Hindus went further. When they can’t remember the English word they want, they just say it in Hindi. Then, by the way, they are very surprised that they are not understood. After a week of communication with the guide, I understood where this habit came from. Hindus from different regions speak English among themselves and have long mixed a lot of surzhik, and now they simply do not notice that these are different languages.

Italians are even cooler. In Sicily, they can talk to you in Italian and pretend not to notice that you are a newcomer and speak English with them.


Andrey Burenok – seasoned traveler, founder and CEO of tripmydream

When I moved to Kiev and tried to build my career, I realized that knowledge of the language this is at least + 300-400 dollars to my salary. Therefore, every day, without a break for holidays and weekends, I learned new words, learned grammar, and practiced. Books nbut that moment was actually not enough, I got out some newspapers, magazines, listened to English-language radio. I wrote down new words for myself on small pieces of paper and studied them on the way to work. I drove one way for an hour and a half and taught. And vice versa. Thousands of three or four words in a couple of years, I definitely learned well. This allowed me to get a job in a good company, I began to earn significantly more.

But definitely English Is not only money. Thanks to my knowledge of the language, I travel freely, communicate with people, get answers to all questions, I feel comfortable in almost any country.

It surprises me that many people still don’t know English. Now there are so many sources from which to draw knowledge.

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