1. Read, read, read
Books, news papers, websites, e-mails, sociale media, the back of your cereal box: if it's in English, read! Why? Reading English will help you to find new words and makes you easily remember the words you already know. This way you can extend your vocabulary. Besides, you'll learn if knowing specific sayings are essential for completely understanding the language.
2. Write it down
A classic, but it really works! When you discover a word you don't know: write it down. Use a notebook or an online program/app like Evernote. Try to use the new word every time you get the chance to use it. This way it'll be easier to remember how to use the word correctly.
3. Talk to a person
Why do we use language? Exactly, to communicate! We can easily survive by communicating online, without having to use our voice. Having a penpal is fun, but why not think a little further than Whatsapp this time? Actually speaking a language gives you so much more than only writing it. How often do you hear about people understanding a language, but not speaking it? That's why you should look for native speakers, dive into their culture and dare to make mistakes.
4. Follow English people online
Bloggers, vloggers, politics, humour: follow the English! Listen to an English podcast about a subject you're interesting in, while traveling to work or school. This way you get to know the different accents, but also slang and saying that really make a language special. A bit more real than this perfect robot voice in your Duolingo-app.
5. Cross the water
There's no better way to learn English than actually going to an English-speaking country and practise your English daily. English is one of the most used language in the world, but it's even better to stay in a country where the language really is spoken. Luckily, there's still lots of possibilities: Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, South Africa... to just name a few. Pack your bags and get a free langauge course while being on vacation!
6. Use your friends
Do you have native English speaking friends or do you know Dutch people who write a blog in English or share lots of English content? Read them and share them on your own profile. Read or listen to at least two articles, videos, blog posts or songs a day. This way you'll be practising language on a daily base.
7. Ask questions
When you begin to learn English, you'll immediately will have questions as well. Ask them! If you're taking a course you can ask your teacher, but otherwise there's lots of answers to be found on the internet. Google knows almost everything! And asking is never stupid - only not asking is. Insecurity doesn't help to get to know a foreign language better, so just ask your questions!
8. Start with what you need
If you really want to get to know a language, you'll have to be able and have other conversations than just smalltalk. If you've been talking about the weather, asked how the other person is doing and ordered your drink, it's about time to start talking about something else. Read about your studies, work or interests. Are you planning to go study abroad? Start with learning your studies vocabulary. Are you going to a conference? Practise questions you can ask the participants and learn your work's vocabulary. Are you taking a gap year? Increase your vocabulary when it comes to traveling and tourism. If you really want to learn all at once you'll probably get a burn-out, so focus on what you need the most.