There are many fun and interesting ways to improve your English skills outside the classroom. Here’s some of our best tips to help you accelerate your learning. Try just a few, and you’ll be speaking English with confidence and precision in no time.
1. Have a good reason to improve
Many students struggle with another language simply because they don’t have a good reason to learn another tongue. Without a good reason, you can lack motivation.
Matthew Youlden, who speaks 9 languages fluently, says motivation to keep learning in the long run comes down to knowing why you want to learn in the first place. Good reasons include:
- Wanting to get to know someone better in their native tongue.
- Doing better at study.
- Having more job opportunities.
What’s your reason for wanting to learn English? Write it down and keep it in mind. You’ll be surprised how the right reason can help keep you motivated, even when the learning gets tough.
2. Talk to yourself
When you’re on your own, talking to yourself in English can be a great learning tool. You can practice key words or phrases so they are always fresh in your mind, and tackle those tough words you’re less confident with, without feeling self conscious. It’s a good technique that you can practice anywhere,
3. Stay relevant
One of the most important points in learning English (or any language) is to stay relevant. That means learning parts of the language you can actually use in conversations. What do people talk about? What are key phrases you’ll need to use every day? These are great starting points for learning the most useful and common parts of the language first.
4. Keep it fun
Learning through fun and engaging activity can be beneficial no matter what you are studying. When it comes to learning English as a second language, here are a couple of fun activities you can try to keep it light and fun:
- Make up songs in English.
- Play word games like “I spy”.
- Write a poem in English.
- Add English captions to pictures or comics.
Anything that stimulates your creative mind while practicing the English language will be beneficial to your learning and development.
5. Learn from children
There’s an old saying that children are better learners than adults, but research suggests there’s no link between our age and ability to learn. Perhaps, the key to learning isn’t our age, but the way we behave when we are younger. For example:
- Children are less self conscious when learning: If you’re worried about what people think of your English speaking, try to be more childlike and let your enthusiasm take over your anxiety.
- Children are playful: Being creative and playful as you learn is generally more fun and engaging.
- Children aren’t afraid to making mistakes: As we grow older, we start to think that we should know everything already, and can sometimes be afraid to make mistakes. Whether it’s learning another language or learning how to make pancakes, mistakes are all part of the journey.
Children’s tv shows, books and songs teach vocabulary and grammar in a fun, and easy to understand way. So don’t be afraid to tune into the afternoon kid’s tv shows, or to rent some children’s books from the local library!
6. Keep notes on hand
First, get yourself a handy notebook and pen, or a note-taking app on your phone. Now, as you go about the course of the day, write down any words or phrases you hear or read, and research them later.
You can also keep difficult phrases or commonly used sentences recorded in the notebook. That way, they’re always at hand.
7. Find a language partner
Having a friend or loved one to practice with can be the most enriching way to learn a new language. In some cases, you and your friend might be learning English together, giving you someone to converse and practice with.
In other circumstances, you might find a friend who already speaks the language but wants to learn to speak in your native tongue. In these situations, you can ‘swap’ languages, so both of you are being challenged to learn the language and translate for each other.
8. Watch movies and TV in your new language
There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in another culture and language to really get a feel for what to say and how to say it. Listening to popular music and watching films in that language also creates conversational talking points for when you meet someone and want to show off your new language skills.
9. Word of the day
To learn a new word, some of us have to use it as many as 150 times before it sticks. That’s why a ‘word of the day’ could help you memorise those tricky, hard to remember words.
It’s simple – just pick a word every day and try to use it as many times as you can in conversation. Sometimes it can lead to some funny conversations, but it’s all in the name of practice.
10. When you make a mistake, correct yourself
When we make a mistake, many of us try to avoid it by moving on. If you’re committed to learning your new language, it’s actually better to acknowledge the mistake and repeat the phrase, correcting the error. This teaches your brain and with practice, will create a habit of saying the word or phrase correctly over time.
Inspired to start learning?
The most important thing to remember when learning a new language is to never feel embarrassed. Conversing with native English speakers is undoubtedly the best way to learn, so if you have the opportunity to speak with locals, do it! Being able to have a simple conversation in another language is hugely rewarding, and it will only make it easier to stay motivated as it becomes easier and more natural for you to converse.
Learning to further develop your English skills? Lonsdale Institute offer a range of English courses that cater to all levels – from absolute beginner to advanced written and conversational English. Contact Lonsdale Institute to find out how you can take your English skills to the next level.