Updated: Dec 11, 2019
If you're serious about wanting to improve your English, then perhaps you need to switch your life into 'English mode'! This is a little different from just doing English classes twice a week. This means engaging with the language and actively seeking opportunities to learn and practice! The more the better! I highly recommend varying the activities in order not to get bored, and to look for activities which interest you not only for the language content.
Some ideas could include, but are not limited to, the following;
1. Watching TV series and movies in the original version.
Ok, so it's not a very original idea, but it is effective! One of the hardest parts of learning English is the pronunication, and understanding 'native' speakers when they talk in a natural way. Therefore this is an area where you will probably need the most practice!
We recommend NO subtitles and focussing on 'understanding'. If you put subtitles on, you'll probably end up reading them. Which is fine, but not the 'skill' you really want to practice.
2. Listening to English language radio and podcasts.
Like watching TV, listening to the radio or podcasts is great practice for improving your listening skills! Use those moments walking to work, on the bus or in the car.
There are quite a few English speaking radio stations in Spain. For Andalucia and Baleares we recommend Talk Radio Europe (TRE) as it talks about local and international current affairs and news.
For podcasts we love '6 Minute English', from the BBC, as it's short and sweet. However there are loads more.
3. Following some interesting people on Social Media.
There is no shortage of influencers, bloggers, youtubers etc who regularly post interesting stuff across the various platforms. Follow a few and you can learn something new everyday! You can follow people who look at different aspects of the English language, and also people who talk about things that interest you.
For language learning we recommend the following people:
Linked In - Sam Gratton, Daniel Smith, Robert Garbett
YouTube - Papa English, BBC Learning English
Of course the best one is probably this guy (yes, it's me! ;) ) https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisbatetheclassroom/
4. Reading in English
Any type of reading is great practice, and if it's interesting and relevant for your life then even better. Try a variety of forms: newspapers, novels, non-fiction books, comics (add an interesting, and useful, visual element), magazines, blogs etc.
Similarly to the other suggestions I've made, I recommend a focus on 'understanding' rather than a word-for-word study of the text!
5. Look for 'native speakers'
Nowadays, you are never far from a 'native English speaker'! There are Brits, Americans, Australians, and others, absolutely everywhere! Also, as they tend to cluster together, they are usually easy to find. The internet and social media are good places to start looking. Most towns and cities in Spains will have communities of foreign residents, and perhaps regular meet ups. A lot of them will be keen to practice there Spanish, so language exchanges should be easy to set up. Many bars or cafes run activities which will allow you to go along, and practice your English.
In some places you can find tourist resorts and communities of ex-pats, where English is the main language. These are a great opporunity to go along and experience a 'language immersion'. Just the other day I visited a pub in Palmanova, here in Mallorca, and the waiter didn't speak Spanish, the menu was all in English, the TV was showing British sport, and everyone in the place was speaking English! So, who needs expensive flights when we have this on our doorstep!
Phew! That's already a lot, right? What's that I hear you cry? You want MORE?! Ok then, here are a few more ideas that you should probably try to introduce into your life:
+ Changing the settings on your phone/laptop to English language
+ Putting post-it notes all over your home and workplace!
+ Listening to songs, learning the lyrics, and of course, singing them!
+ Finding friends, family, colleagues to practice with.
+ Try out some learning apps. DuoLingo is fun and light.
+ Thinking in English throughout the day - great habit to form!
Finally I would like to talk a little about 'Immersive' experiences. The act of doing an activity, such as walking or cooking, and at the same time practicing English is a great idea. In this way the language itself changes from being the objective, to become the 'means to an end'. By not focusing on the language, like in a traditional class, or even language exchange, you can relax more and the conversation can 'flow' more easily.
In 2020 we'll be running some Intensive English weeks on the island of Mallorca. These will take place in January, April and June. These will be a genuine 'immersion' in the English language. Five days combining master classes in a wide range of English communication skills, with daily excursions around the island in order to practice! All in the company of myself and other native English speakers.
To find out more visit our website:
So, how serious are you about learning English? Are you doing regular classes but not progressing as fast as you'd like? Try some of the above activities and you'll start to see dramatic results!
It's time to make the switch to 'English mode'!
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