When you’re at upper-intermediate or advanced level (B2 and above), you already know a lot of English. You can have a conversation, read easily and understand other people speaking in English.
Probably the methods you used to get to this level were structured. For example, many people study English through a series of coursebooks with a graded syllabus.
But at advanced level (and if you aren’t studying for a particular exam), the best way to learn English is not through more graded textbooks. Here are some alternatives for you, depending on the reason why you’re learning English.
If you’re learning English for your career
For career progress (ie a better job or a promotion), you’ll need to get better at
- how you present yourself in English (making a good impression, speaking clearly and confidently)
- how you interact with others at a professional level (speaking with impact and authority)
- how you can contribute to discussions (listening well, expressing your ideas)
Often, your technical English isn’t a problem. You know the vocabulary and concepts related to your job. Instead, it’s everyday English – moving through conversations, giving your opinion on a range of subjects, etc which is more difficult.
Tips for learning English
- Watch discussion shows on TV (news and analysis) for up-to-date general knowledge and current affairs.
World news, documentaries, etc are good places to start. They’ll give you conversation subjects and key vocabulary for talking and sounding knowledgeable.
- Read widely and make notes of collocations – the words that naturally go together.
For even better learning, write your own example sentences and try to use them when you speak.
Collocations will help you speak more fluently and naturally and are one of the best ways to get to advanced English level.
- Take part in industry events (conferences, training events, exhibitions and trade shows). These can be online as well as offline. They’re a great place to meet people in your industry (so that you can network) and they help you to get practice talking about your industry.
- Watch Ted talks
This is another way to get useful vocabulary and collocations on a wide variety of subjects. (Check that the talk also has subtitles to help with understanding.)
If your job involves communicating with people from around the world (but if you have difficulty understanding their accent) TED talks are also a good place to get practice listening to different types of pronunciation.
- Consider coaching to highlight areas to work on
Sometimes, all you need is to know where you make mistakes so that you can correct them. This will make you feel more confident about your English – and confidence is crucial when you want to get ahead in your career.
- Take an advanced English course. Advanced English Speaking in 100 Steps gives you a checklist of advanced grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and phrases as well as tips for speaking with authority and influence.
If you’re learning English for fun
If you’re learning English as a hobby, the best way to learn at advanced level is to do the things that keep you motivated.
Tips for learning English
- Develop a love of language
Your “passion” might be English literature, or films, or songs. Are there groups or clubs that you can join where you meet other people with the same interests as you?
Or is learning English itself your passion? Do you get personal satisfaction from seeing your own progress?
- Learn with others
It’s really motivating to share your journey with other people. One way to do this (and to get regular practice speaking) is to join me in the English Fluency Club. (Get your first month at a 50% discount when you type OFFER into the coupon code area at checkout.)
- Take a few English lessons / a short English course
This helps you to get an idea of your English level – as well as what to focus on for continued improvement.
- Make English a daily habit
A couple of ways you can do this: set yourself a regular time every day (this helps if you don’t have much time). Or, set a learning schedule, where one day you practise speaking, another day you read, the next day you listen to English, and so on.
- Look for patterns and other short cuts.
For example, adjectives and nouns with similar meanings share the same preposition. Or verbs of the mind (know / doubt, etc) are generally in the simple – not continuous – tense.
These patterns and short cuts help you to become more accurate quickly, because you just need to learn one rule or principle, rather than lots of individual rules.
More Help To Get To Advanced Level
Check out this page for training courses and other resources to help you get to advanced level in English.