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7 Tips: Improve your English outside the classroom

Posted by IH Aberdeen on 22nd May 2015
7 Tips: Improve your English outside the classroom

'How can I improve my English outside the classroom?' Students often ask us this question.

Studying helps of course! But sometimes it's helpful to put the books away and activate the English that you already know. 

Here are 7 tips for improving your English outside the classroom. Try all of these, and you'll improve your English in no time at all!: 

1. Make mistakes 

Do you worry about being correct all the time? In your free time, it’s important to relax and enjoy speaking English.

When you are with your friends or at home with your host family, try for at least one hour a day to speak without thinking about being correct. Focus on what you want to say and don’t worry about the grammar! It will help you build fluency and confidence.

2. Do what you love… in English!

Are you bored to tears(1) by those IELTS reading tasks? You are not alone! Studying a language can be hard work and sometimes you want to relax and put those textbooks away.

But you can still enjoy yourself and practise English! Why not do the things you love doing… but in English? You love reading about football or fashion? Read about that in English. You love cooking? Follow some recipes in English. Are you a yoga fanatic or a black belt in judo? Why not join a local club…? If it’s something you are passionate about, you will enjoy it more and you might meet other people and make English-speaking friends who share your interests.

3. Do what you already know… in English

Do you always focus on learning new vocab and grammar?

To get some good practice, why not go back to things that you are already comfortable with?

Watch your favourite films with English subtitles, look up the lyrics to your favourite English-language songs, read one of your favourite books in English. If you’re an expert on world history try reading about that topic in English. It will be much more enjoyable and relaxing!

4. Confront your enemies

Do you avoid using language that you find difficult. Maybe it’s a word that you find difficult to pronounce, a grammar point that you always get wrong or a phrase that you always make a mess of(2). It’s natural to avoid using these and to find other ways to say what you want to say.

When you are feeling nervous in your IELTS speaking exam, it might not be a good idea to try a third conditional if you are not 100% sure about how to use it. But in daily life – who’s listening?  So, in your free time, outside the classroom, try using the words and phrases you always avoid. Your enemies might soon become your friends!

5. Fall in love with a Scot…  or get a job

OK, so this might not be possible… Maybe you are already married or don’t have the time for a job! But the point is to find yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to speak English. Speak as much as you can with your host family. Join local clubs or interest groups to meet local people who share your interests. Make friends with students who don’t speak your language. When you have no choice but to speak and think English and you will learn much more quickly.

6. Listen to other people… be a spy

Did your mother tell you it is rude to listen to other people’s conversations? Well, don’t be afraid to eavesdrop(3)! When you are sitting on the bus, or waiting for a friend in the café, listen to other people around you. What are they saying? What are they talking about? What phrases and words do they use? You might not understand everything. But you might learn some new phrases and get real listening practice from native speakers… and maybe even some juicy gossip(4)!

7. Talk to yourself… you’re not crazy

Only crazy people talk to themselves, right? Maybe… but some of the world’s biggest geniuses are crazy! It may sound strange but it works. There is so much everyday language that you don’t learn in the classroom.

When you are making breakfast in the morning or walking down the street, try speaking to yourself in your head in English. Imagine you are describing in English to a friend what you are doing, step by step. Try describing what you see around you. How would you say it in English? What words would you use? You will discover a lot of words that you don’t know. And you will surprise yourself with the things you can already say!  

Useful language

(1) To be bored to tears (by sth) – to find something extremely boring
(2) To make a mess of something – to do something badly that creates a difficult situation
(3) To eavesdrop – to listen secretly to what other people are saying
(4) Juicy gossip – exciting, shocking or sensational gossip

In short - keep trying guys, and keep up the hard work!

 

To find out more about studying English at IH Aberdeen, email us on info@ihaberdeen.com , or call on +44 (0)1224 634006

Want to improve your speaking? Why not try our Natural English course?

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