If you’re determined to learn English (or any language, for that matter), the hardest part can be using it consistently. To use more English everyday, you need a plan.
When I first started learning German in college, I complained a little bit about having German class Monday to Friday for an hour and a half. Then my dad told me that it was necessary to learn the language, as I needed all the practice I could get. As it turns out, he was right (thanks, Dad!). When learning a new language, you need to practice a lot. It’s a “use it or lose it” type scenario.
So how do you work more English into your daily life if you’re not immersed (living in) in an English speaking country or not in college? The good thing is that it’s quite easy. Here are a few ways you can use more English every day to help you gain fluency:
Read everything you can get your hands on (find). Newspapers, magazines, online articles, etc. Have a dictionary or dict.cc handy if you need it! Use every trick you know to help you learn and retain (remember) vocabulary.
Children’s books are also a really good place to start. Who cares if you’re an adult buying a picture book or Pippi Longstocking in English? No one. And if it’ll really help you learn the natural flow of the language, what have you got to lose?
Dedicate (set aside) a certain amount of time each day to reading something in your second language, and you’ll see great strides (lots of progress) in no time!
Read Out Loud
This is a trick that I’ve tried while struggling through a particularly difficult book for German class. When you read out loud to yourself, you can sound out words you may have problems with before using them in conversation. Reading out loud can help you figure out the cadence (pattern, tone) of the language and help you practice your pronunciation . It’s also a great way to learn noun-verb collocations, match prepositions to verbs, “feel” where the commas go (breathe when you see a comma!), and feel more comfortable hearing your voice in the new language.
Try it! You have nothing to lose! (I’ve even been caught on the metro more than once reading out loud.)
Talk With Other English Speaking Friends
If you know that you have other friends who speak English, ask them to speak English with you – even if it’s just for a short time.
Send emails back and forth, text, Whatsapp, talk on the phone… whatever you think will help. Try and talk to them as much as you can in English and see how quickly your skills improve! As an added bonus, you’ll get closer to your friends, too, and I can guarantee you’ll laugh a lot!
If you haven’t heard of Duolingo, today’s your lucky day!
Duolingo is one of my favorite free apps for your phone. You can learn all sorts of different languages in a game-like program, and English is one of them. Of course, it won’t replace good old English classes (like those we have at Bespeaking), but it’s a really good supplement (addition) to get in English every day.
Set a goal of how many lessons you want to do per day, and get practicing! Each short lesson takes about five minutes and includes vocabulary matching, speaking practice (into the microphone), translation, dictation, reading, and comprehension. It’s pretty cool.
TV and Movies
I wish I could learn everything while sitting and watching my favorite films.
Films and TV are an awesome way to learn a new language. Keep the show or movie undubbed (in the original language), and turn on subtitles instead. Being able to read what they’re saying in your native language while hearing the language you’re learning is excellent practice. And it’s pretty much like relaxing! How great is that?
Have you used any of these tricks to help use more English? Have they worked? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and can’t wait to watch more movies to improve her German!
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