English Language Tips September 11, 2017 by

St Giles

Five Ways To Improve Your English Outside The Classroom

Five Ways To Improve Your English Outside The Classroom
By Vern Eaton, St Giles Vancouver

It’s easy to think that your classroom is the only place you’ll learn, but in reality, what happens outside the classroom is just as important. In classes, we look at things in detail, giving you the words and structures to build your own communication skills. However, if you really want to improve your English quickly, you need to make every day part of your learning experience. Here’s five tips on how you can do that:

1) Read, Read, Read
Consume new words like fast food. Gorge on adjectives; feast on conditionals; have the rich dessert that is active/passive conversion. Seriously though, it’s called immersion learning, so immerse. Read anything you can – free newspapers, posters, shop signs, cheesy thrillers, even 50 Shades Of Grey. Actually, not that. You can either look up every word you don’t know, or just work out the general meaning through context. Either way, you will slowly absorb all these succulent new phrases.

2) Turn off the subtitles
A common mistake is to settle down in front of a movie or TV show then spend the next ninety minutes reading what’s being said. This is fine as a reading exercise, but there’s so much more you could gain if you just turn off the subtitles. Eighty percent of communication is body language; when you learn English fluency, you’re also learning how to adjust your body language to fit the new words (this is why you find it hard to understand someone when you can’t see them). Don’t worry about understanding everything, just let the story flow and you’ll be amazed how quickly your listening improves.

3) Play With Your Words
A beautiful cat decided every foreign giraffe had incremental jaws, killing llamas’ mothers needlessly. Obviously, parents queued restlessly, so the unbelievable villains withered xenophobic young zebras.

4) Socialise
Language is a living, breathing thing. Textbooks are just information; real communication happens in thousands of daily spontaneous, unpredictable instances. By leaving your nice, safe homestay, you put yourself in a position where you have to use your English skills, whatever their level, with strangers. In public places. Before you run screaming, remember that no-one will ever correct your grammar in a pub. It’s time for freedom of expression, so just express.

5) Make mistakes
Lots of mistakes. All the time. Mistakes are incredibly useful in the classroom, as it helps the teacher quickly identify where you need the most help. What we want to build, though, is your own internal teacher; a little voice in your head that hears something wrong and corrects it. By speaking and writing as much as possible in your free time, you will build a strong intuition as to what is right or wrong. It takes time, but remember that making mistakes is a vital part of learning, so don’t be afraid of making them.