Many English language learners who have lived and worked in the US for a while say they’ve plateaued in their language skills.  They have achieved a certain level of fluency, but often feel limited in their vocabulary and ability to express nuance. They want to continue advancing, but don’t know how.

If you don’t have the time to take a class, there are lots of things you can do to improve your English skills on your own. Here are 5 easy things you can do to advance your English communication skills without a teacher or classroom.

1. Be proactive

Stay engaged in English. Read the news, watch TV, listen to the radio, talk to strangers. The best way to learn is to practice, so make language practice a priority every day. Many language learners spend much of their time speaking their native tongue with friends and family. Go outside of your language group, and put yourself in English speaking environments. When you are with English speakers, participate actively.

2. Follow blogs on topics of interest

Because you are familiar with the topic, the content will be easier. You will also expand your vocabulary in the subject area. Keep a written list of new vocabulary, useful phrases or idioms, and new grammar structures. Post responses on the blog to practice writing skills. Stay engaged in the discussion.

3. Read aloud

Reading aloud is an excellent exercise. It improves fluency, pacing, stress and intonation. Read the same paragraph repeatedly until it flows eloquently. Focus on proper pronunciation of difficult words and sounds.

4. Engage sales associates

Always talk to a few sales associates when you go in a store. It’s their job to help you. Ask as many questions as you can think of. Ask follow up questions.

5. Practice phone skills

Speak to telemarketers when they call.  It is better to practice with unimportant conversations than an important phone call at work. Talk to them at length and make them answer as many questions as you can think of.  You can also practice phone skills by calling customer service rather than using an online chat or email. It’s great practice for a difficult skill.