If you’re learning English, it’s likely that you have taken an English lesson at some point in your life. You may have spent years learning English in school; you may even be enrolled in an English course now.

Unfortunately, just being enrolled in an English lesson or going to class once or twice a week isn’t enough to actually learn English. To succeed in your English course, you have to put in work, participate, and be an active learner.

How to Get the Most out of Your English lesson

1. Participate in class

Participating in class means answering the teacher’s questions, sharing an opinion, volunteering to read a paragraph, and so on. Many students don’t like to participate because it makes them nervous: you may say the wrong answer, or you may be afraid of what other students are thinking about you.

However, when you participate in class, you are forced to pay attention to what the teacher is saying and doing, and you must think critically about the topic you’re currently studying. This helps you remember the information more than you would if you were not participating.

Participating in your ESL lessons also enables you to practice speaking English. You’ll probably do speaking exercises with a partner or small group, but when you actively participate, you get extra opportunities to speak.

What’s more, it gives the teacher a chance to listen to you and correct you if you make a mistake.

2. Ask questions

This is important! If you have a question or you don’t understand something the teacher has just explained, ASK him or her to explain it again or clarify. It’s common for students to keep their questions and doubts to themselves; they don’t want to feel silly  or draw attention to themselves.

However, if you don’t understand something, especially if it’s a more basic concept, then you may not understand even more difficult concepts that build up over the course of the lesson. Plus, it’s very likely that if you are confused, other students are also confused. So you’re doing everyone a favor!

3. Read as much as possible

Even if you’re not studying reading specifically, reading is a fantastic way to learn vocabulary, grammar, and more. Read newspaper or magazine articles, blogs, menus, Facebook posts – anything. You don’t have to read a novel; there are plenty of materials out there for beginners too.

Reading about subjects you are passionate about or want to learn more about is an excellent way to improve your English; you’ll be more motivated and invested in the topic. For example, if you love photography, read articles or tutorials about photography in English.

Learn English

When you read, you’ll be able to see vocabulary and grammar that you’ve studied in your English lessons used in real life, which will clarify or deepen your understanding of it.

4. Help your classmates

All of the students in your English program will be at slightly different skill levels, and everyone will have different strengths and weaknesses.

You may understand spoken English better than your friend, but your friend may be better at grammar. So help each other! If another student is struggling, help him or her. You’re all in this together, and you can take advantage of each other’s strengths.

This is not simply an act of kindness; it’s science. Research has shown that when one person teaches another, the teacher often learns just as much as the student, if not more.

5. Use what you’ve learned outside of class

This is critical. If you only practice English in class, you really hinder your learning. After all, you’re learning English to be able to function in the real world, not just the classroom. Plus, you have unlimited opportunities to learn and use real English.

If you live in an English-speaking country, you can order a coffee, ask for directions, or have a conversation about the weather with the nice woman next to you on the bus.

It may be a little scary at first, but start small and interact with people a little more each day. You’ll build confidence, and your English will improve.

If you don’t live in an English-speaking country, you can still practice. Listen to and read as much English as possible, and try to find opportunities to speak English too.