The material in this guide may include information, products or
services by third parties. Third party materials comprise of the
products and opinions expressed by their owners. As such, I do not
assume responsibility or liability for any Third Party materials or
The publication of such Third Party Materials does not constitute my
guarantee of any information, instruction, opinion, products or
services contained within the Third Party Material. Publication of
such Third Party Material is simple a recommendation and an
expression of my own opinion of that material.
No part of this publication shall be reproduced, transmitted, or sold
in whole or in part in any form, without the prior written consent of
the author. All trademarks appearing in this guide are the property of
their respective owners.
The purpose of this book is to assist you in reaching a high level of
English. Having said this, everyone is different, and what works for
some might not work for others (for a variety of reasons). This book
and the content on it reflect personal experiences of Alan Combe, an
an online English teacher. His experience and advice may or may not
transfer effectively to your English learning situation.

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My name is Alan, thank you very much for downloading this ebook.
I have been an English teacher here in China for the last 14 years and
have taught English to many different students at many different
levels from Kindergarten to High School, from beginners to IELTS
students to businessmen. These days I teach online, and have
students from all around the world.

I meet a lot of students who ask me the best way to study English by
themselves, so here is an ebook to give you some tips on how to boost
your English self study.

If you have time, checkout
website - http://pronhelp.com
Facebook page - pronhelp.com
Youtube Channel - Alan teacher
Youku Channel Alan-teacher
Weibo - pronhelp.com

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Table of Contents

Disclaimer ……………………………….. page 2
Introduction …………………………….. page 3
Goal Setting …….……………………….. page 5
Routine ……..…………………………….. page 6
Reading ……..…………………………….. page 7
Speaking……. …………………………….. page 9
Listening ……….…………………………. page 10
Writing …………………………………….. page 11
Conversation .…………………………….. page 12
Conclusion …..…………………………….. page 14

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1/ Goal setting

Have a long term goal and set easily achievable short term goals to get

How can you make a cake without knowing what it should look like,
you need the different steps to make it.

How can you know where to drive, if you don't know where you want
to go?

Decide where you need to go, decide what you need to achieve. The
more precise your goal is, the easier it will be to achieve it. If you just
say "I want to improve my English" your results won't be as good as if
you say "I want to get increase my IELTS score by one band score in 6

The more specific your goal is, the easier it will be to know exactly
what to study to reach your goal.

This goal is your long term goal. Usually it's too difficult to reach your
long term goal in one step, so you need to divide your long term goal
into short term steps which are easily achievable. To improve your
grammar, then to improve your vocabulary, improve your
pronunciation and so on.

Although you want to self study, it's often helpful to get help setting
out your goals and needs, and to confirm that you have finished each
step. Alan can help you do this, get in touch with him at
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2/ Routine

Set time aside every day or week which is your language learning time
and tell your family, so they know not to disturb you.

Are you serious about reaching your goal, or do you just want to
impress your friends by talking about it? If you're serious, set time
aside each day to study to complete your short term steps, and your
long term goal will soon be achieved.

If you have a time limit on your long term goal, then it will probably be
easier for you to make this step.

Yes you can study on the bus, yes you can study in the toilet, but
you must complete the time that you set aside each day. If you have
set aside 15 minutes, then do 15 minutes, not 5, not 10. If you set
aside 30 minutes, then study for the full 30 minutes.

Tell your friends and tell your family that you will switch off your phone
and won't be in contact during this time. Their support will help you a

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3/ Reading

One of the biggest problems my students have when they read an
English book or article is that they keep needing to look at a

One of the best ways to solve this problem is to try to 'read through'
the word so you can guess from the context, from the words and
sentences surrounding it.

But first, there's the word itself. You need to ask yourself:
Does it start with a capital letter? If so it will probably be a name if not
at the start of a sentence.

Is it a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb? Does it have 'a', 'an' or
'the' before to tell you it's a noun. Does it have 'ed' or 'ing' ending to
tell you it's a verb? If it's before a noun it may be an adjective. Does it
have an 'ly' ending to tell you it's an adverb?

Does it mean something good (positive) or something bad (negative)?
Does it have a prefix that can help you? For example 'un', 'dis' or 'im' if
it's negative.

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As for the surrounding words and sentences. Lets start at the
beginning, what kind of an article or book is it? A kids book or an
academic article? Where is the word? At the beginning in the
introduction? In a body paragraph? In the conclusion?
For more details about prefixes and suffixes, go here

Reading is very good for making grammar rules become habit. Books
are available according to taste at amazon.com, Young Adults genre is
a good place to start for adults.
Articles are available at www.breakingnewsenglish.com and
www.linguapress.com as well as many magazines such as Time
Magazine and The Economist.

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4/ Speaking

To practice your speaking, you have to put yourself in the place of the
listener. Use your phone or computer to record yourself, then listen for
mistakes. Listen one time for each of the following mistakes: Fluency,
how often do you stop or hesitate? Does your speaking sound smooth?
Grammar, is your simple grammar correct? In China getting gender
correct is difficult. Have you got it right?

Some students are unsure about doing this. If you are, you can email
alan@pronhelp.com and ask about the service that corrects mp3s of
your speaking. It's not an expensive.

Using one of the many language partner websites will also help you
even if your partner isn't a native speaker. Italki.com is the best known
of these websites.

As for pronunciation, if you go to pronhelp.com/alan-reading/ You can
repeat after me and copy the way I read. This is a basic but very
effective method to change your accent. My Youtube channel Alan
teacher, has several videos that help with the difference between
different sounds (phonemes).

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5/ Listening

Listen to real conversations and presentations, try to make the words
you can hear into sentences, then check the script. Just like reading,
it's very easy to stop listening when you hear un unfamiliar word. Just
like reading, you have to guess and keep listening to establish the
overall meaning. This skill takes practice, practice and more
practice. elllo.org, breakingnewsenglish, and VOA are just a few
of the websites that have huge amounts of listening material. Some of
them let you listen using different speeds. Very useful.

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6/ Writing
A very common problem is that many learners aren't taught anything
about punctuation. Using capital letters, full stops and commas are
essential for readers to understand what you have written. Even
putting capital letters at the beginning of a sentence and at names
makes a big difference.

For more advanced writers, essay structure is a simple and effective
tool that makes it much easier for the reader to understand. Having an
introduction, two or three body paragraphs, and finishing with a
conclusion sets out your ideas clearly.

This leads me to another common problem, especially here in China
where good writing includes lots of description and flowery adverbs.
Essays in exams like IELTS and TOEFL are marked by foreigners who
appreciate clear and concise writing. Clear and concise writing is also
easier to understand if mistakes are made, whereas flowery writers
can lose the meaning very easily, and also lower their score.

You can practice your writing by writing to a penpal, and you can find
penpals here https://mylanguageexchange.com/Penpals.asp,

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7/ Conversation
The great thing about conversations is that you can decide which
direction they go in. So you can practice your English conversation
with your friends, language partner or online language partner. But
you can also pratice your conversation strategies. These don't need to
be 15 or 30 minute conversations, you can start with between 1 and 2

For example:
A/ Hi Jenny
B/ Hi David. How are you?
A/ Oh not bad. How about you?
B/ I'm ok.

When Jenny asks David "How are you?" she knows David will say
something like "I'm great", " Not bad", "Ok' or " Terrible". She knows
David is not going to answer "Green" or "Aeroplane" or "Hamburger".
She is ready for the David's answer, so it's eay to continue the

This is a very simple example, but it works for most conversations. Of
course there are other strategies for 'surprise' answers and different

Another important strategy you need when chatting to a foreigner is to
remember to give some information about yourself too, otherwise you
will ask a lot of questions and the foreigner will think you are an

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For example:

A/ I went to see a great movie last night. It was really exciting and it
was called The Fast and the Furious 8. Have you seen it yet?
B/ No I haven't, but I want to. I've seen all the other ones.

A great website for conversation topics and starter questions
is http://iteslj.org/questions

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All these methods help each other, as one method improves, others
will too.
The method for routine will help you organize yourself
The method for reading will help your writing 聽
The method for writing will help your speaking
The method for speaking will help your listening
The method for listening will help your conversation
The method for conversation will help you reach your goals
Reaching your goal can mean a new life

Sometimes it's easy to work alone, but sometimes it isn't. If you need
someone to help you or guide you through your self study contact
alan@pronhelp.com and book a trial lesson to start to plan your

Thank you again for downloading this ebook and thank you for


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