I am learning Russian and English. I speak in English and understand everything most of the time when my friends talk. I understand about 60% of the words in movies and news. I also struggle with speaking.

I started learning English roughly two and a half years ago and I am now at level B1. I have taken many courses, but they didn't help me much. I learned most when I travelled and had English-speaking friends. English is very important for me, because I read articles and search the internet in English. But, why I still make so many grammar mistakes? And I don't understand why I make sentence the English way, but in my own way (I mean word order).

(My Russian is worse than it because I started to learn it 13 months ago. I am sure I do something wrong when learning a language.)

How do I improve my language at level B1, especially syntax and other areas of grammar?

  • Since your question is about improving a language in which you have reached B1 and you reached B1 only in English, the question is about improving your English beyond B1, right? How to improve your Russian (now at A2) sounds like a different question. You can improve your question by adding some more background info: e.g. how you have learnt English until now and what resources are available to you? For example, did you attend language classes and do you want to continue with them? (If not, why not?) This will help us formulate more concrete advice.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 13:15
  • I had take many courses ,but they didn't help me. I learn mostly when I traveled and had English speaking friends . English is for me so important language , because I read articles and search in internet in English . But after that period ,I don't understand why still make so much grammar mistakes. And make sentence not in English way , in my own way ( I mean word order ) . Learning language is challenging for me . I don't write in correct word order even in my mother tongue .
    – non nomen
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 13:28

5 Answers 5


Reaching level B1 after learning English for roughly two and a half years is not bad. There are several ways in which you can improve your level and especially your grammar.

  1. Extensive reading, also known as free reading or reading for pleasure: find texts about topics that you are interested in and just read. Obviously, the text can also be fiction. The point is just reading without looking things; feel free to skip what you don't understand. (If you start to look up things or get worried about understanding everything, it's no longer extensive reading but intensive reading.) This way, you get a lot of input, and that is the point. If you find that many books written for native speakers are too difficult, you can try to find graded readers or this Suggested reading for English Learners.
  2. If you use spaced repetition software, you can use it to learn grammar. You can do this by creating cloze tests in your flash cards. You can see an example of a English grammar cloze test on EnglishLearner.com. However, you should have only one sentence or gap exercise per flashcard. The sources for your cloze tests can be grammar books or any material you read, e.g. from your extensive reading. (See also How can I put grammar rules into flashcards? and Is doing a huge amount of grammar exercises helpful for learning English?)

Last but not least, be patient and try to spend a little bit of time on your English every day.


I would say that achieving B1 level in English and A2 in Russian are very good results.

From my personal experience I would recommend:

1. In order to increase vocabulary: Read books, watch movies with closed captions in the language that you are learning. When you encounter an unknown word stop the movie and lookup the word. If you are reading books on an e-reader such as Kindle you might be able to press a finger on the word on a touch screen and get translation. I find that either one of those activities is more fun than just sitting with a textbook.

2. In order to improve grammar: Use textbooks with exercises. By exercises I mean not filling the blanks, or multiple choice, but actually writing complete sentences on a blank page of paper following the instructions from the textbook. I would expect that such a textbook focuses mostly on grammar (rather than on vocabulary) and introduces grammar rules chapter by chapter in the order of their complexity.

3. In order to practice speaking/writing skills: Try finding a partner on a language exchange site such as this one. Someone who knows the language you are learning, but wants to learn your native language makes the best partner. Such activity requires more planning and effort than #1, or #2. But you can email people, or Skype/Whatsapp them and discuss books, music, movies, travels, etc. You just need to find areas of common interest. Each person writes in the language that he/she is learning and the other partner corrects mistakes.

The activities in the first section help with "consumption" of the language, but not with "production" of the language. In order to improve speaking and writing one needs to speak and write.


I think reading is one good way of expanding vocabulary. I however would like to share a tip that is usable when you are already at about B1 level: junk literature! I mean detective novels, love stories and so on - the stuff that most people would not read in their native language. Yet, the story is usually engaging and simple enough to keep you going, even when you do not understand all the words. This type of books are also written in a rather simple language - but you may want to experiment with a few authors, since some are more difficult than others (and translations are often easier than the books written by native speakers). Finally, there is often a great choice of books of this kind, as compared to the availability of graded texts.


It is a very good result! I can congratulate you!

I've been learning English for 3 years. My speaking English is not fluent, but I have a strong grammar knowledge.

I suppose, in order to improve the grammar of English, you should

  • use textbooks and do a lot of exercises. I can recommend you read Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy. In this textbook, you can find simple explanations of important rules.
  • try to analyze every sentence you would hear or would read and ask yourself questions, such "Why this construction was used?" If you can't give the answer, try to look for it. It will help you to build correct sentences in English.
  • try to use all the constructions you have learned in your speech.
  • study English every day, because when we stop, we go back.

Good luck!


First of all, don’t worry as everyone can make grammar mistakes, even native speakers. Also, another factor may be related to the fact that you translate what you want to say from your native language into English instead of just thinking in English. Don’t give up, continue to study and practice and you’ll improve for sure, it just takes some time and perseverance.

In order to improve your grammar, you can use the lessons and exercises in the Intermediate to upper intermediate section of the British Council website (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/intermediate-to-upper-intermediate), the Books4Languages English Grammar B1 Level free textbook which includes both lessons and exercises too (https://open.books4languages.com/english-b1-grammar/) and the exercises with explanations provided by the Exam English website (https://www.examenglish.com/grammar/b1_grammar.html). Moreover, you can also make use of the free lessons offered by the BBC website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/lower-intermediate) which also includes various activities to practice both grammar and vocabulary.

Also, you can try with intensive reading (you approach the text you are reading in an analytical way and pay much more attention to the structure of the sentences and word usage) so you can have a better understanding of how sentences are structured, their word order and the use of certain words over others (this way you can improve your vocabulary too).

As for your speaking skills, you can try to speak with some native speakers on language exchange platforms like MyLanguageExchange and Speaky. You can do some practice by yourself too (for example, you can talk to yourself about your day before going to bed or say what plans you have for the day out loud in the morning). Also, you can try to schedule some shadowing sessions on your agenda by using videos from your favourite Youtuber or the TED Talks (this way you can also improve your pronunciation).

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