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Learn English online

Let this be the year you master English

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English is arguably the most widely spoken language in the entire world. Although there are actually more native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and Spanish than there are native English speakers, it’s estimated that about 2 billion people can speak English on some level. This means that no matter where you go, you can probably find someone who can speak some English, and in many places, it’s become the de facto lingua franca between people who don’t speak each other’s language.

If you want to visit an English-speaking country, it’s important to learn to speak at least a little bit of English before you arrive, as many English speakers don’t speak a second language. There are many great places to visit in every English-speaking country, from the vast beauty of New Zealand to the wild west of the United States.

With the Tandem app, you can find a language exchange partner in Britain, United States, or any other English-speaking country to learn whichever variety of the language you would like.

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Why Learn the English Language?

1. English is a global language
The fact that it’s the most widely spoken language in the world, as we already mentioned, is probably the most obvious reason to practice English. If you travel to a country where you can’t speak the local language, chances are (as long as you’re not in a remote location), you’ll be able to communicate with the locals in English.

2. It opens up the job market
Knowing business English can really improve your chances of getting a good job. Many career paths require some knowledge of English and it also gives you the opportunity to travel with work.

3. TV, Film, and Books!
Once you’ve got to grips with the basic vocabulary and grammar, there’s an absolute plethora of books, TV programs, and films in English waiting for you. As English is the predominant language of the media industry, knowing the language lets you consume all types of media in another language other than your native one.

4. Go study abroad
Studying abroad can be one of the most enriching experiences for students. It gives you a chance to experience a new culture first-hand and get to know people from all over the world - most likely English will be your common language!

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English Grammar Learning

English grammar is a pretty large topic to cover. Instead of going over all the aspects at once, we’ll quickly cover the most important tenses you need to know, followed by some tips on word order.

English Verb Tenses

A common difficulty for English learners is knowing when to use the simple present tense and when to use the continuous present tense.

Out of the 12 verb tenses in the English language, there are 5 that are used most commonly: simple present, continuous present, simple past, simple future, and perfect future. A common difficulty for English learners is knowing when to use the simple present tense and when to use the continuous present tense. We can take a look a the difference between the two now.

The simple present tense is used all the time in English, so it’s a good place to start for English beginners. It is used to express regular actions or habits, as well as things in general and unchanging situations, such as “She doesn’t eat meat”.

The continuous present tense, on the other hand, is used the express actions that either are or aren’t happening right now, for example “I am watching the TV” or “I am cooking dinner at the moment”. Alternatively, it can be used to describe actions that will or will not happen in the future, “I am going to the cinema tomorrow” or “I’m not playing tennis after work.”

When you’re happy with your progress in English verb tenses, you can start looking at verb conjugation, which is the process of changing the form of the verb depending on the person, tense, mood, and number.

Here’s an example of how to conjugate the verb to do in English:

Tense Verb Conjugation
Simple present I do
Continuous present I am doing
Simple past I did
Simple future I will do
Perfect future I will have done

English Word Order

When it comes to word order in English, there isn’t much flexibility. English is a SVO language - or a subject-verb-object language. Other SVO languages include French, Swedish, and Vietnamese.

In this sentence structure, the subject (the person, place, animal, thing doing the action) comes first, followed by the verb (main verb or helping verb) and then the object in third place. If you have a place in the sentence, that comes after the object. Any expressions of time generally go at the end of the sentence, after the place. Let’s take a look at this in action.

Subject Verb Object Place Time
I eat lunch at home
Jessica waters the plants in the office every Friday
They play table tennis everyday

American English vs British English

When you learn to speak English, one thing to keep in mind is that there can be a few differences between American English and British English, such as the words used or even the spelling of some words.

For instance, “practice” in the US is spelled “practise” in the UK. And words like “color,” and “favorite” in the US are spelled with an extra “u” like “colour” and “favourite” in the UK.

Here are some other examples of word differences between US English and UK English:

US UK
Truck Lorry
Eggplant Aubergine
Apartment Flat
Pharmacy Chemist
Elevator Lift
Appetizer Starter

Besides the difference in spellings or words, there are also many different accents to grapple with, from New York City to Received Pronunciation, to Cockney. Our blog post on English accents covers some of the most popular ones you might want to train your ear to understand!

Basic English Phrases

English is a stress-timed language. In simple terms this means that you stress individual syllables - each syllable is irregular (either long or short). Whereas, French, Spanish and Italian, for example, are syllable-timed languages.

Take a listen to some of these basic English phrases and notice the different stresses on each syllable. Once you’re set with these, you can challenge yourself with some British slang words!

Hello!
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How are you?
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I’m fine, thanks
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Nice to meet you
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Thank you very much
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You’re welcome
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What’s your name?
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My name is…
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Happy Birthday!
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Welcome!
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I’m sorry
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Bye!
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See you later
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Where do you come from?
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I come from England
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Resources for Learning English

Luckily, as so many people want to learn English, there are plenty of online and offline resources to complement your English courses or online lessons. Check out the resources below to improve your listening, reading and writing skills.

1. Tandem
With the Tandem app, it’s never been easier to connect with English language exchange partners and native speakers and have a conversation. We’re a little biased, but Tandem is one of the best resources out there to learn English online. Sign up for Tandem here and start learning to speak English for free with other language learners.

2. Films in English
The Harry Potter films are probably the most popular films for those learning British English. The stories are well known across the globe, so they’re relatively easy to follow for English learners. For your American English practice, you can watch Forrest Gump, a definite fans’ favorite film released in 1994 and starring Tom Hanks.

3. Practice Writing with the British Council
The British Council has a whole section on their website dedicated to learning English. If you’re looking for a resource to improve your English writing, you should take a look at what they offer. Their writing practice activities come highly recommended for all different levels. (Added extra: they also have sections to help you learn English grammar!)

4. Podcasts are still totally trendy!
As mentioned in our blog post on the top free podcasts for learning languages, The BBC: The English We Speak is a great resource for intermediate and advanced English learners. Each episode is only 3 minutes long and introduces its listeners to fun everyday English vocabulary or slang words.

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