Having a hard time improving your English? Its normal to hear and practise English for three to four hours in the classroom but once you leave the classroom there’s the temptation to return to your native tongue and the material learnt from that day is easily forgotten. Here are some simple tips to keep the learning going, even outside the classroom!
Language learning is not an independent process. It helps to practise with each other. Set up a weekly or even daily socialising activity with your friends. It could be grabbing a cup of coffee or doing homework together. Set ground rules that no one is allowed to speak anything but English during the whole gathering.
Make it a habit to watch something in English every day. It could be the news, an episode from your favourite TV series, a short video on YouTube, or even a movie. If you find it difficult to follow; then turn on the subtitles. After a few days, try watching without subtitles and test yourself to see how you do.
Listening to songs is a great way to learn too! Take notice of the words and try to understand the overall message in the song. If you don’t understand most of the words, then find something slower and easier to follow.
Read, read, and read!
Read at least 30 minutes a day when you find a moment of peace. Start by choosing books that you have already read in your native language or those that have been made into movies that you’ve watched, for example the Harry Potter series. This makes it easier for you to understand what you are reading. Oh, don’t be shy to read out loud to practise your pronunciation at the same time as well!
There are a lot of valuable and free resources online now. You can subscribe to English podcasts that you can listen to while walking, taking the train, or doing any mundane activity. British Council Learn English Podcast, Culips ESL Podcast, and Podcasts in English are just a few examples with great topics and a variety of levels.
You could also change your social media, computer, phone, iPad, email, and other types of settings to English. This can help you familiarise yourself with English faster with the small aspects of your life.
Use English as much as possible in different situations: go grocery shopping, order at a restaurant, chat with your neighbour, etc. It will feel intimidating initially but once you start doing it, it becomes much easier! Most importantly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s all part of the process.
Here at the British Council, we believe the learning doesn’t need to stop after leaving the classroom. English helps build valuable experiences wherever you go.
For more information on our SMART English course, please visit www.britishcouncil.my/smart for more details.