English Advice: How to improve your English
One of the most common questions English teachers hear from their students is, “How can I improve my English?” The best answer (other than, “Study at ELC!”) is, “Practice, practice, practice.”
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” But not all practice is the same. And how do I practice outside the classroom? Well, there are many ways to improve your English even when you’re not in class. Here are 3:
#1: Read, read, read!
Believe it or not, many native speakers learn new words in their own language by reading. So imagine how much new English vocabulary you can pick up by doing the same. You can write down any new words in a notebook that you keep with you as you read. “But what should I read?”, you may ask. Well, anything and everything really. Of course, depending on your English level, you may want to choose different options. For example, if you’re a beginner, you can buy a book for English learners. Try the True Stories series (amazon.com), which has books for different levels. Each book has many interesting stories about people from around the world.
If you’re at an intermediate level, you could try newspapers. The Boston Globe is $2 per paper. It is also available online (www.bostonglobe.com) for just .99 cents a day and a subscription is $6.93 a week. There are also free newspapers, such as The Metro (metro.com), which is available at local train stations. If you’re an advanced student, why not read a book? Maybe choose a movie that was originally a novel, like The Hunger Games, Eat, Pray, Love, or Harry Potter. Speaking of movies…
#2: Watch movies and TV series
With Netflix (netflix.com) available in many countries, you have countless movies and series to watch whenever and wherever you want. You can learn a lot of slang (how native speakers really talk!) and really improve your listening skills. After you read the books mentioned above, you could see the movie and compare. Or see the movie first, then read the book. Also, there are so many good shows including comedies like, “Friends” and “Masters of None”, Sci Fi shows like, “Stranger Things”, and documentaries/travel show like, “Departures”.
Watch with your friends and then talk about them, in English!
#3: Speak with native speakers (or non-native speakers)
There is no substitute for just speaking. I know, I know…”How can I find a native speaker in my home city?” Well, first of all, you don’t have to. Talk with your friends or family. I’m sure you know other people who want to practice and improve their English too. Make a game out of it. Choose a few hours a week when you have to speak English only. If you catch your friend speaking their native language, they have to put a dollar in a jar. If they hear you speaking your language, you have to do the same. After awhile, you’ll have a nice collection of money and you can have a party (an English party!).
Also, if you live in a city, there is a good chance that there are native English speakers around. Some of them may be interested in a language exchange. You can meet for an hour at a cafe and for the first 30 minutes you can chat in English, and for the last 30 minutes you can talk in your native language. Check the internet, or local colleges for native English speakers in your area.
So, you can still practice and improve your English when your not in class and even from the comfort of your own home!