While my 14 years old sister goes to school, the courses doesn't help her much to learn English. They are mainly focused on reading and at the end of day, the students really have trouble in writing, listening, and of course speaking. Also, none of the family members have enough time/knowledge to teach her English.

I am looking for a method to make learning English for her fun and interesting. A good example that she really liked was watching a comedy show named Extr@. The show was somewhat entertaining for teenagers plus in the show the actors speak slow and clear which helps her to keep up with it.

Do you know any other method that can help a teenager to learn English?

  • Since you are obviously pretty fluent the most obvious way is to talk to her in English. (note: I checked the original version of your post) Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 12:48

7 Answers 7


Try getting her a selection of books in English. It won't help her pronunciation but will do wonders for her vocabulary. Books are particularly useful since the child can pace herself, stop to check a dictionary, review different sentence structures and expressions. My 9yo is learning Turkish by reading books for a 3~6 year old plus attending classes - the combination works well.

  • I agree that books are very helpful, but as I said she goes to school and already has some books for learning English (learning words, grammar, etc). Moreover, most of the books are boring. I am looking for a fun way to improve her speaking/listening/writing skills
    – Isaac
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 16:52
  • 1
    Sorry, I was referring to novels. You could start looking at "Captain Underpants" or "The Hardy Boys" to work out what level she is at. Amazon often lets you read the first few pages of a book online so you can gauge its appropriateness. My 9yo is an avid reader, so for her there is nothing more fun that a new book.
    – dave
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 18:32
  • Additionally, she can read the books out loud, which can help improve speaking.
    – Shauna
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 16:11
  • Or audiobooks could be helpful too Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 22:52
  • @ChristineGordon - IMHO, less so. Audio books tend to be read at the rate of a native speaker. When learning a language, it is handy to be able to stop and examine each word, possible out of order. If you don't understand a sentence, you can examine each word and guess the ones you don't know given the greater context. This is something you can not really do with an audio book.
    – dave
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 3:17

Hopefully someone else can chime in with TV suggestions... I wanted to recommend that having a pen-pal who is a fluent native English speaker can do worlds of good. My 8yo son has a pen-pal about his age in Germany whose English has improved since they began to write one another.

I'd be happy to write to her (use my blog's contact form to swap addresses) or you can post to the snail-mail thread on Fountain Pen Network to help her find someone closer to her age and interests.

  • Great idea! I hope I can convince her to start this although she may hesitate and show low self-esteem. Thank you :)
    – Isaac
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 16:50

Try kids shows. In kids shows the actors usually speak slowly and clearly and use simple language. Good examples are Adventure Time, SpongeBob Squarepants.

Movies may help also and actually may be better, for longer story content. Anything with a +80% Tomato meter is most probably worth watching, and look for G-rated movies (to ensure simple language). Things like Disney films -- I'd start at the bottom of the list (most recent films) and work backwards.

Don't let her watch the films in her native language! Make sure she watches in English. One thing she might try is her native language subtitles, so she can suss out the meaning of what is being said, but is forced to listen to English.

  • 1
    The local library might have some movie DVD's, too. If you're lucky, those DVD's contain English language + subtitles in your own language. Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 18:06

Language learners need:

• A reason for speaking (Friendship? Shared love of a hobby?)

• A good role model (Live internet radio? Films?)

• No apparent pressure (Intrinsic motivation)

So, you could, for example encourage her to:

• Join an online English forum for her hobby or passion, and get her to take part in discussions relevant to her her interests

• Help her find English language podcasts and YouTube videos of interest to her, and perhaps to create similar 'answer videos' to help her practise talking and speaking

• Find her a pen friend, to increase her exposure to authentic English texts

Good luck!

  • In addition to Edd Turner's GREAT list: find some native English speaking "friends" willing to have skype chats with her over the computer. I'm not sure how to connect up with this - we did this with a German Family I knew and had worked for, but I'm sure there has got to be a resource. Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 23:56

And here are four more tried and tested methods that anyone learning any language can use:

  1. Change the default language on her mobile phone/cellphone/Handy to English - every time its used she'll be confronted by English!

  2. Change the default language on her Computer OS/Login account to English

  3. Change her profile on Facebook (operating language - see bottom of screen on FB) to English

  4. Encourage her to 'play teacher' - if she's learnt something new in class, how is it going to be asked in a test? Can she explain the rule of grammar in English? Can she translate and explain the vocal from and to her native language? Can she see connections between the lessons from 2 weeks and ago and the stuff she larnt this week?

(Added as a new answer as too long for a comment…)


One of the best ways would be to not allow her to use her native language crutch at home (If you can help it). Don't acknowledge requests in her native tongue. Only deal with her requests in English. Only speak English to her. Of course if the household is primary non-English speakers this would be hard to make happen. It doesn't matter if her requests are in poor English or not, just getting her out of that comfort zone will allow learning to happen.

Take away non-English TV. Get her to hang out with Native speakers. When all her friends speak English she will pick it up quickly. Being able to withdraw into the cushion of familiar makes it hard to put the effort into it.

I know when I have traveled to foreign countries, I picked up the tongue pretty quickly by not doing anything in English. I don't go in and try to see if they speak English, I force myself to look it up, and then have to get by with my crappy French, or German, or Russian, and gestures. If

  • -1: The problem is that in your example, it's something you're imposing on yourself. "Changing the world" around a 14-year old is less likely to encourage growth, and more likely to provoke insecurity and tension.
    – deworde
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 23:32
  • The questioner already said the family doesn't have the background to help her much. They would ALL have to commit to learning English and using it with each-other for this plan to work, and even then it isn't likely to help with proper pronunciation. Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 23:57
  • When children move to a foreign country, are immersed at school and in social settings in the native language, they learn it very quickly. When the adults that accompany them work in their old tongue, hang out with people that don't speak the native language and fall back on their primary language, they fail to pick it up. If she won't immerse herself in the local language, she won't ever get it, and she will stay insecure and off balance in perpetuity. My answer may not be what you want to hear, but it is what she needs to do, and the discomfort won't last that long.
    – boatcoder
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 2:57

When I was teaching high school, the ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher used my classroom during my planning period. Several of her students learned to speak English by listening to American music (for one Russian student, this was specifically rap music which I would not recommend since the first words he learned to use well were curse words, but by the time he graduated he had a strong grasp of English). Watching movies also helped many of her students learn English (I think one student watched lots of Disney movies). It also helped that they were essentially immersed in English between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, so the more she can be encouraged to use the language, the more comfortable she'll be with it.

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