There are many ways to learn a language other than by attending a formal course. Here are a few ideas for ways to improve your knowledge of English. The most important thing is not to get bored, so the more variety you have in the ways that you learn, the more you will learn. Try some of these ideas:

Improve your grammar knowledge using a self-study book

There are many good self-study grammar books on the market. Perhaps the best-known intermediate level book is "English Grammar in Use" by Raymond Murphy, published by Cambridge University Press (Klett Verlag in Germany). Each of the 145 units covers a different grammar topic, with a page of explanation and a page of exercises for you to do. Make sure you buy the edition that says "with answers" on the cover - it has the answers in the back of the book. There are more details about this book and others in the same series on our books pages.

Watching television

This can be a relaxing and enjoyable way to improve your vocabulary and to get a feel for English sentence construction.

If you have cable or satellite TV, then you probably have several channels that are sometimes, or always, in English (did your flat mate really tune in all the available channels?). BBC World has news every hour, plus interviews and other BBC programmes. The business news is well worth watching. CNN gives you a mixture of British and American English. It is broadcast from London but being an American channel has lots of reports from across the pond. CNBC is a channel devoted to business with lots of advanced business vocabulary and in-depth discussions - ideal for business students.


Most DVDs include the original soundtrack of English-language films as well as the dubbed German version. Watching films in English is a good way to learn as the pictures will help you to understand what is being said.


Of course, almost every radio station in the world plays music in English and this is a surprisingly good way to learn the language. If you want to have the talk between the music in English as well, you could try searching for one of the British or American forces (army) radio stations that are available in many areas of Germany. Many English radio stations from around the world now broadcast on the internet.

Comics and cartoons

These are a good way to learn English because the pictures help you to understand the words and so you do not need to look in your dictionary so often. There are some suggestions for cartoon books on our books pages.

English newspapers and magazines

There are many of these available internationally. Here are a few examples:

The Financial Times - This British-based paper is mainly of interest to business people and business English students. It is available in most large railway stations and newsagents.

The Wall Street Journal - This has similar content to the above, but is from America.

The Economist - A weekly magazine full of business and economics related articles.

© M.Wigfall