What is independent language learning?

Independent language learning


Independent language learning 


I love teaching English.

Except for one big problem that affects many English teachers and learners… the price of good-quality English lessons.

I want to help as many people as I can to learn English, and at the same time support my family and pay my bills.

But many of the people who need to learn or improve their English can’t afford to pay for regular long-term one-to-one lessons.

One excellent solution to this common problem is independent language learning (ILL), combined with some teacher support.


I created the Botanical Linguist site to share advice about independent language learning, and to support learners of English on their ILL journey.


So, what is an independent language learner?


An independent language learner is someone who is in control of their own learning.

They don’t rely on a teacher to learn a new language or to improve their language skills.

They make choices about what they want to learn, and how.

And they are responsible for how much progress they make, and how successful they are.


How do I become an independent language learner?


By creating your own learning path to follow…

Build your own language learning path


You know yourself better than any teacher. You will know exactly why you are are learning the language, and you will be able to set your own aims and goals.

♦ As an independent language learner you learn the language elements YOU need or want to learn, at the level or levels you need.

♦ And you choose topics that interest you or that you know you need to focus on for your work, your academic progress, or your social life.

♦ You decide where you are going to learn and when. You study when it’s convenient for you and you plan your time to make the best use of it.

♦ There are many different methods and strategies for learning a language so you choose the methods you enjoy the most, and that work the best for you and your goals.

♦ You also know how to find, organize and use good-quality resources for your language learning so you can choose materials that interest you and will help you achieve your goals.


What is the teacher’s role in independent language learning?


The teacher helps you to be a self-directed or independent learner, and provides knowledge and support to help you build your path to success and achieve your goals.


Here are some of the things a teacher can help you with:

  • language skills e.g. grammar, new vocabulary
  • improving your study skills,
  • planning your time efficiently
  • showing you where to find the best materials and resources, and how to use them
  • motivation and organization
  • assessing your level of English
  • evaluating your progress
  • practising your new language skills (e.g. speaking, pronunciation)
  • tell you about new and innovative language learning tools and show you new and interesting ways to learn English
  • explain the language learning process and the most effective techniques or methods for learning a language


Being an independent language learner doesn’t mean you have to learn alone or without support.

You can get help from a teacher when you need it. And from family and friends, and online communities of other language learners.

If you have good study skills and access to good resources, you can be almost entirely independent.

But don’t forget you’ll still need native or fluent English speaking partners for your speaking practice.  An English teacher can be an excellent speaking partner 🙂

Your success will depend on your motivation and commitment. And of course you’ll still have to practise your English regularly.

But knowing how to improve your English on your own means you will need fewer formal English lessons, which will save you money.


What are your favourite ways to learn English on your own?



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