Steps to Learning English: Where should you start?



Hi. James.


James Greer.

From engVid.


Not Bond, and I know you think I was going to say Bond.

I know.

But listen, Bond always has an important mission he's got to do, right?


And so do I.

Today we have a mission.

We're going to learn how to study English.

I know in many places, many websites, they tell you, and to teach you grammar and idioms

and phrasal verbs.

But then, there's the big question of you, and: How do you study, and how do you choose

what is important for you at this moment?

Maybe you're advanced.

Maybe you're a beginner.

Maybe you know this, and maybe you don't.

After today's lesson and we do our mission, you'll know exactly what you have to do.


So, we're going to go to the board in a second, and take a look.

What steps should we take in order to learn?

By the time you're done this video, you'll know exactly...

Or you should know where you are, where you need to go, and when you're going to be done.

Ready? Let's go.

E. E is standing here saying: "Where do I start?

Grammar, vocabulary, or speaking?"

Common, and seems to make sense, I mean, you go to learn a language-right?-you go on a

website, they start throwing things at you.

You go to a school, they say you need this, this, and this.

But you don't really know.

So, I'm going to give you the tools to decide that.

First thing we're going to do is: What's the first thing you need?








Well, look.

If you can't say: "bathroom" when you go to a country, you're going to pee yourself.


"Hungry", you won't get food.

You don't need to know everything to get basic information done.

And that's what we should look at first.

Basic information for a beginner really is vocabulary.

And instead of all the fancy stuff you need, you don't need much.

You need you, and a little bit of time, and to have some fun.


I'm going to suggest: For basic communication, get vocabulary.

I'm telling you right now if I see you or any English-speaking person sees you, and

you see...

You say: "Drink. Thirsty."

There's no grammar, but they'll go: "Oh, the bar is over there."

If you say: "Washroom. Please",

they'll go: "Oh, toilet is over there."

They use sentence, you use words.

Sometimes you just touch your belly and go: "Ahh!"

They'll go: "Oh, you want food."

You don't need all that stuff.

People will tell you you need to learn grammar, and this and that.

You don't.

And here's how you get your first vocabulary.

Do what you love to do.

Play video games.

I've had...

I don't know how many students play video games, say they learned how to fire, duck,

words that we wouldn't teach them for a while, because they were playing games.

Other people come in: "Dah-dah-dah-dah-dah, [sings]", singing.

I go: -"What the hell?"

-"I love to sing", and they sing a song, they sound like they're just, you know, from this country.

Then they speak very terrible accent.

You know what I'm saying, right?

[Laughs] But when they sing, it's like the gods have come down.

I mean, literally, you go: "Are you...? You were born here, right?"

Cool slang.

You know? YOLO, you only live once. Right?

ASAP, as soon as possible.

When you do these things, you're learning because you want to learn.

You're not even realising you're learning, and it's going to make you want to learn more


You know, we'll get to the second one and you'll understand.

But you want to communicate in a much better way.


So, get the meaning of basic words.

"Hungry", "food", "toilet", "money".

You know that one, right?

You need those things.

If you have those things, you can start your adventure in learning English.

Okay? And you're going to do it by doing things you love.

Video games, music, cool slang.


Come on.

Now we're making language fun and easy for you, and that's what we should do, because

you'll learn it faster.

All right?

And then here's the bad news: Hard work is on its way, so let's move over to the intermediate.

So if you're still on vocabulary and you can't put a sentence together, you're a beginner.

Okay? But at least you're better than other people.

You know words in a foreign language. Cool.

Intermediate is when we start, and I think you should introduce grammar.

This is when your vocabulary is rich enough that you can say things like: "Need water."


It's not a sentence, so you kind of sound stupid.

I'm saying it right out.

You sound stupid.

Had many students, brilliant people, sounding like...

I called them kids.

And I loved them.

I thought they were great people, but I would call them kids because they sound like two

and five year olds.

"Mommy, water, now."



Not really.


Some teachers don't think it's necessary.

It is.

It's like a skeleton in a body.


When you're crawling on the floor, you still need a skeleton, something to hold everything

together, but really it's the muscles and everything else that make you move.

But the skeleton is necessary or needed.

Those are those bones. Right?

These are the bones of the language.

You got, you know, your vocabulary, but these hold everything together, that skeleton.

Now, when you learn grammar, we do this to be understood.

We said basic communication.

To be understood we need grammar.

This is sound...

And you can sound like you understand.


I can't have your girlfriend and all of your money?


I didn't know that.

I understand."

You sound like you understand someone.

You can communicate an idea.

"I would like to be a millionaire, but I don't want to work."


I've communicated: "I am lazy, but I still want to be rich."

Like everyone in North America.

Okay, but we're going to take our vocabulary...

See, this is when you have the vocabulary, you take it, and you put it with some muscle.

You put vocabulary and function words.

That's what grammar is.

It's the words that function.

It's the verbs. Right?

It's the pronouns.

It's all these things that go together. It's like making a hamburger.


You got your meat.

Now you need a bun, some lettuce, and everything else.

This is your grammar.

This makes it good.


So, now you can sound pretty intelligent, not like a child, but some people have great

grammar skills and good vocabulary, but-and this is where we go to the advanced-they don't

sound like us.

They still haven't got it quite together.

We know you're not from here.

This is change it all.

And this is something that I find interesting.

Some students don't want to do, they think it's a waste of time.

And then I remind them: In your country, are there people who don't know how to read and write?

What do you call them?

Some people say (this is a fancy word): "They are illiterate."

I say: "No.

They're stupid."

Because you say: "Hey, read this."

They go: "I cannot read."

You go: "You're stupid.

Didn't you go to school, stupid?"

Don't be stupid.

Learn to read and write.

It's not just for that reason, for your ego that people...

It makes you feel good.

It's also because it teaches you how to think in the language.


Well, when you write something down, you have to remember the author wrote it three years ago.

The author is the writer of the book, could be a male, female, or whoever made it.

They wrote it three or four years ago, and you're not there.

So when they write about it, they have to think in a way that you would understand it

three years later, and not have to ask questions.

Because if you have to say: "I'm confused. What does he mean?

Let me call him up.

Yo, E, on page 47 you wrote this thing.

It's an awkward phrase.

You got a dangling modifier, so I'm not really sure..."

It doesn't work like that.

They have to write it properly so you understand it.

This is when we become advanced, because you learn logical thought, how we put it together.

When we talk about logical thought, we talk about syntax; how the words go together

, how things flow, how we think.

Every language is different, and the syntax is a bit different. Okay?

This will make you think like a native speaker.

You have to put the words and even the sentences in a way that makes sense to us.


Remember I said you sound...?

Here I meant not stupid.

That was it, you don't sound stupid.

Reading and writing makes you sound intelligent, and there's a difference.

Suddenly, I want to hear what you have to say, because you seem to know what you're

talking about, and you present your ideas in a way I can understand.

It also gives you the time to think about the language, so it goes on in your brain,

so it knows how to analyze and present the language for us.

This is something people skip, because they want to speak, and don't realize this is a

very important part.

Reading gives you an understanding of how we're thinking.

You read, you get that.

When you write, you have to write in a way that we would understand it.

Powerful stuff.

And how does it do that?

Well, we have three components or three parts.

Number one, the grammar.

See? Grammar we talked about.

Grammar has to be in something you write.


Then it has to be true.

What you say has to make sense to us.

It's logical.

I can't be just:

"I am an alien, and I live in the sea, and I have fins and baby-back ribs."

It doesn't make any sense, even if the sentence is perfectly grammatically correct.

It's like: "This is not true. I will not listen to you."

And then finally we have to connect them, and this is what we talk about syntax, and

when we put all of these things together, suddenly you're speaking and people understand you.

Accent or no accent, you are an English speaker.

Not quite.


When we put all these three together, and we go to speaking, and you master speaking,

which will happen if you take these steps - you will notice you are being understood

when you speak.

Not five times: "Sorry?

Huh? Sorry?

Sor-, sorry?

Oh, okay. Oh, I'm sorry. No. Sorry?" No.

You will speak, you will be understood.

When I speak, and some of you think I speak very quickly.

And you're right.

My students actually often laugh go: "You don't speak quickly on those videos.

You speak quickly in real life."

But I like it when people understand me.

You will find that you understand me more.

You will have more understanding what I say, and English people say.

You won't be guessing what they're saying.

You will actually understand them.

Finally, you know that accent that you really don't like, and you wish you could get rid of?

You will.

Speaking and using a practice of speaking helps you with proper pronunciation.

That's what helps you with being understood, and actually helps you with understanding

other people, because you realize it's not the absolute pronunciation, but where you

put the stresses, what the meaning is.


All this comes with language or speaking.

You can communicate and have mastered the language.

That's what we talk about by speaking, and I wrote that for a reason.

When you are speaking, it's right or it's wrong.

There's no time to think about it.

That's what your practice in reading and writing is for.


So once you can actually speak, you're done.


You've learned a new language.

Now, look.

I want to do... I want to go through a couple of hints to help you out in a second or two, and then

I want you to go out there and practice.

Figure out where you are.

You'll know, because I've already told you.

You're either a beginner and you got to work on your vocabulary.

That means most of what I said you didn't understand.

Or you're intermediate, you got something out of what I'm saying, but you know you can't

express yourself that way.

You're advanced, you're already smart enough to be writing every day and reading every day.

Or you're basically fluent and native.

Get outta here.

Go outside and play.

That's what you should be doing.

You ready?

Let's go through those helpful hints.


So, we've talked about where you might be as a learner; advanced, beginner, or native.

Now, I want to give you some more basic hints on acquiring or getting the language.

Are you ready?

Okay, basic hint number one: 30 minutes a day goes a long way.

Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, 30 minutes.

If you're not willing to spend 30 minutes learning, you really don't want to learn.

All right? You need to practice regularly.

Give you a good hint or a good example.

When you were a baby, you were trying to walk.

You would fall down.

You would never stand and walk, you kept falling.

But every day you tried, and sometimes hours, hours, hours.

Then one day, you started to walk, then you started to run.

If you told that baby that 30 minutes a day was a lot of work, you'd be sitting in a chair

for the rest of your life.


So, 30 minutes a day.

Hey, an engVid video is 15.

Boo, half your work's done.

Am I a genius? Yeah.

Helped you out.

Okay, so 30 minutes a day is a good thing to do.

Okay? It goes a long way to help you retain or remember the information.

Number two: Spend five minutes and review what you did the day before.

I know, it's 35 minutes, but it's still not an hour.


So, before, you know, you do your new lesson, think for five minutes:

"What did I do yesterday when I did English?

Did I...?" Was it...?

Were you reading?

Did you write?

What did you write about?

Were there any things you wanted to change in your writing?


So, remember, in your 30 minutes, that can be 30 minutes of writing, 30 minutes of reading,

30 minutes of going through the dictionary looking for words you need, basic words. Right?

Or, I don't know, listening to, like I said, an engVid video.

Watching it twice.

The first time, you watch it; second time, make notes about things you want to learn


That's 30 minutes.


Five minutes review is good, because it's like eating food.

If you take a burger, just put it in your mouth, it's not as good as when you take it,

and chew it and taste it.

When you taste it, that's where the joy comes from.

That's what you should do with language.

Just taste it. Play with it a bit.

Number three: Imagine yourself in a situation where you have to use the English you've learned.

That could be part of your 30 minutes.

Read for a little while, stop, put the story in your head, close your eyes, and imagine it.

If you imagine it, it becomes real.

When it becomes real, it becomes useful.


If you just write some grammar down and you write some rules, and you never think about

using it, then guess what?

You won't.

So, why don't we take a couple minutes with our review?



"I just learned this new vocabulary.

James said something about a pharmacy.

Now, imagine I had to go...

What did he say I have to say?

'Can you help me with...?'"

Now, imagine asking the...

There you go.

Next thing you know, you're in the situation, the words come out of your mouth.


Number four: Set goals.

What do you want to do with your English?

I know. "I want to speak English today."

It's not going to happen. Sorry.


Just like if you want a burger, you have to actually catch a cow, kill a cow, bring it

to the store, grind it up or make meat for it, then put it on the barbecue.

It doesn't happen.

Right? There's many steps to it.

So, in this case, set goals.

Maybe a five-minute conversation with a native speaker.

Two-minute, one-minute conversation.

Maybe it's learn turn... Ten words really well.


So you read a book, you pick out ten words you don't know, go to the dictionary, write

it out, then write out sentences with those words.

Talk to... Try and use them in a conversation with somebody

so that they become something you've digested,

that means taken in and you understand.


You understand it completely.

Apply for a job.

Here's one. You...

It's the 21st century, bub.

Get on the internet.

"I would like to work for your company."

Send it out.


See what responses you get back.

Now, most of them will say: "Hey, your grammar is really bad." Right?

Or you can do a phone interview. Say: "Hey, can we do a Skype interview for this job?"


Just because you're not living here right now doesn't mean you can't put it into practice.

And through your mistakes, you can learn, and then go back and use that for your 30

minutes of work. Right?

"They didn't like my accent.

It was too strong. Okay, work on pronunciation.

They said my grammar skills seemed to be a bit weak.

Okay, work on grammar skills.

My vocabulary was limited.

I noticed I kept repeating the same thing.

Okay, work on vocabulary.

Work on synonyms."

You will start making your own lesson plan based on you, not on what some book or some

teacher tells you to do.

Finally: Travel.

I should do, like, say this. Right?


I know.

This is not easy.

You don't have money. Right?

You don't have time.

But why are you learning it?

Everything you really want, you have to do something.

We call it a sacrifice.

You have to give something to get something you really want.

You want to eat, you buy food.

The food's not free. Right?

You want to really use your language, you got to travel.

You don't have to be...

Do a big trip.

You can find things on the internet where it's exchange.

Somebody's family comes to your house, you go to their house for two weeks, or something

like that.

Governments do exchanges where there's learning programs. Right?

Hey, you can go to startup programs.

"Hi. I want to learn English. Send me to a country."

Some people, if you give a good enough story: "I live in a farm out in Lithuania.

My family is, you know...

Always wanted me to do better with my life, and we know English is important.

So, my father's willing to give up three cows to have me go to Canada."

Put it out there. Somebody will go: "Oh, come on, man. I'll give you the money."

You know, miracles happen.

Things can happen, but you got to do something.

Travelling is the one thing that makes you go out there, because you got to do something.

You can't pretend you want to learn, because you have to put your money there.

That will be hard, and I admit that.

But once you do, if you're doing all of these things, there's nothing sweeter than getting

off a plane, and saying: "Hi.

Can you help me this?

I'm looking for a friend of mine", and the other person going:

"Sure, no problem. Let me take you."

And you're understood.



I think it's cool.

Anyway, where do I start?

You know where to start now, whether you're a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or you're


I've given you some helpful hints that you can use starting right this minute. Right?

You're watching one video, so 15 minutes of your time is done.

Hit the next one, or go do the quiz.

All right?


Listen, hope I've done my part for you.

Now it's time for you to do your part.

Study, practice, review.

And when you can and if you can, and if you can get the help, travel, see the world.

All right? Listen, I got to go.

You have a great day.

All right?

Don't forget to do the quiz.

Where? www, eng, as in English, vid, as in video.

I probably did that backwards.

Right? engVid.

Doesn't matter. You know. Go to

Don't forget to subscribe.

It's somewhere around here. Somewhere.


And once again and always, thank you very much for being a part of our family.

All right?

Have a good one.