A good command of the English language is extremely important in business, career advancement and for academic achievements. If English is not your first language, it is often difficult to learn to speak English properly. In addition to some extremely complex grammar rules, you will be faced with learning the correct pronunciation of words, in a language that many have described as the most difficult in the world to master. Take heart, a step-by-step approach, along with good resources is all you need to learn how to speak English.

Assess Needs and Resources

Start by taking a skills assessment at Randall’s ESL Lab (see Resources below) to determine your reading comprehension and speaking ability. Here you will find out if your vocabulary is limited to only basic words, such as common objects like door and table.

Use these skills tests to check to see if you can understand and use everyday greetings and phrases properly. Decide whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced English learner.

Call the Board of Education in your area and ask about continuing education classes for adults. Find out if English as a Second Language course are offered.

Visit your local library to get information about free books, classes, and online courses. Many libraries also have CDs and DVDs. Some even have listening labs.

Hold social gatherings with other non-native English speakers. Together, you can practice English in a comfortable environment.

Develop a Plan of Attack

Set aside some time weekly or daily to learn and practice new English words and phrases. Be realistic about the amount of study time you have available. Start with a few hours a week, and then increase the amount of daily time when your schedule permits.

Create a study plan that fits your current level of proficiency. Include vocabulary, grammar, reading, pronunciation and writing exercises. Set monthly learning goals and track your progress at least once a month at Randall’s ESL Lab or take quizzes at Using English (see Resources below).

Choose books from your library or local bookstore to help you increase your reading level in English. Take free online classes to help you master English vocabulary, grammar and writing skills. Download free audiobooks, MP3 recordings and podcasts from OCulture and ESL Pod to listen to and practice your English pronunciation.

Get study tips or find a study buddy in the student forum at Dave’s ESL café (see Resources below). Practice your English with your buddy on Skype. It’s free to download and make calls to anyone else that has email and Skype installed. Practice speaking English with a friend or relative, if you don’t feel ready to participate in a public classroom on the internet.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Keep a notebook of English words and phrases that you learned and read them aloud daily or weekly, depending on your schedule.

Review and practice written English, spelling and grammar, especially commonly confused words every week.

Use Google’s online tools to translate confusing words from your native language to English. Copy the words that you looked up into your notebook or into a text file on your computer.

Make flashcards that you can use to review English when you are away from your computer or can’t use your MP3 player at Flash Card Friends.

Read English language newspapers and magazines. Find old magazines at your doctor’s office or read current ones at your local library. Pharmacy and grocery stores often have free product brochures and booklets that you can take home and read at your convenience.

Listen to National Public Radio’s informative broadcasts on current events and topics . Check your local public TV station’s schedule for ESL, preschool and elementary school programs. Some broadcast GED test preparation programs. These often have good educational language segments that will useful for mastering English.

Hold social gatherings with other non-native English speakers. Together, you can practice English in a comfortable environment.