During these strange times, we’re more isolated than ever and international travel isn’t as widely available as it once was. So, it’s a good time to put your language learning on hold, right? Wrong!
So many students would love to be in the UK right now, improving their English surrounded by their international classmates. Until that time comes again, I’ve put together my top tips for how to keep practising your English from the comfort of your own home.
1. Keep immersing yourself!
Nowadays, everyone has Netflix or Amazon Prime, so make the most of this and make sure all the movies and TV shows you watch are in English. If you have a lower level and struggle with comprehension, you can switch on English subtitles to help you. Do not use switch on subtitles in your own language, this won’t help you at all! You can also make other small changes like switching the language on your smart phone or Facebook account to English, you’ll learn some interesting new vocabulary and can pretend you’re actually in England!
2. Be your own Teacher!
You’ve all heard of Ted Talks, but have you heard of Ted ed? This great website has thousands of Ted talks with worksheets and activities to do before, during and after watching the videos. Not only do you get to listen to interesting discussions related to maths, society, literature and health, you can also test your comprehension and learn some interesting new language. Check it out here: https://ed.ted.com/
3. Read and read some more!
It’s so important nowadays to keep up with the latest news if you’re checking the news everyday anyway, why not do it in English? The BBC have a fantastic selection of videos and articles with tonnes of activities to do before, after and during. They cover standard grammar and vocabulary but also pronunciation and functional expressions. Check them out here: https://www.esl-lounge.com/student/reading.php
If you don’t think your level is strong enough to read news articles, or you’re not interested in current affairs, you can head over to the ESL lounge instead https://www.esl-lounge.com/student/reading.php. They have loads of things to read and activities to help understand what you have read. It’s all organised by level and really easy to navigate.
4. Write, right?
Cambridge English have created an amazing service to help students practice their writing skills. This is an invaluable resource for exam students, if you’re hoping to pass IELTS or a Cambridge exam, you must check out https://writeandimprove.com/?lang=en-GB .
It’s so user friendly, simply create a profile by choosing your level and what type of writing you want to practice, whether you need help with essays, letters or articles, spelling, structure or grammar, simply upload your piece of writing and receive instant feedback from the experts.
5. No classmates? No problem!
Of course, nothing can match the experience of learning a language in a classroom with a group of likeminded people. Not only do you improve your language skills, you learn so much about each other’s cultures and make friends for life. While we’re all a little more isolated, there are some great virtual communities you can access to set up language exchanges.
The first one is Speaky (https://www.speaky.com/) a social media platform which connects language learners from around the globe. It boasts members from over 180 countries so there’s no doubt you’ll find someone who shares your interests who you can have great conversations with. The second is Lingoglobe (http://www.lingoglobe.com/) sign up and specify which languages you already speak and which you want to learn, you’ll make international friends and get access to interesting language learning resources.
6. Learn on the go!
Learning a language requires a lot of time and effort but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. There are apps you can download to your smartphone which make sure you do a little bit of practice each day by setting reminder alerts. The first great option is Memrise. It has two different types of content; some which has been uploaded by the company and some which comes from its user community. If you pay for more than the basic membership, you have access to a much wider variety of content, including videos uploaded by native speakers. You can download your course and work offline and they even teach you some really interesting memory techniques to help you better retain vocabulary. The basic, free content is also really useful and you can definitely improve without upgrading. Another popular option is Duolingo, you take a quick level test then work your way up through the levels to advanced. There’s grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, translation and speaking practice. It’s important to remember that these apps can help you learn, revise and improve but you’re unlikely to achieve full fluency without formal training or spending a period of time in the country where the language is spoken.