Top Tips for Learning English Outside the Classroom

Today, one of my regular face-to-face students asked me for advice on how to continue to learn English on her own after she finishes her course next week. I thought it was a great question, so I opened it up to the whole class to see what ideas they had.

Reading materials that will help you learn english faster, while having fun.

The first idea that we came up with was to read as much as possible–newspapers, magazines, online news sites (CBC, BBC, the Guardian, etc.) and so on. We also talked about reading for pleasure; that is, finding something you enjoy reading. It doesn’t have to be great literature; it can be a trashy novel that you read at the beach–as long as it’s a good story that you enjoy. That way, you can learn language in context. Instead of trying to memorise endless lists of phrasal verbs or trying to understand every single little grammar point, you get a sense of how words and phrases are used together in everyday English.

I also suggested reading something like the Harry Potter series, because most people will probably have already read them in translation, and/or will have seen the movies, so they already know theĀ  story. That allows you to focus more on the phrases, idioms, and expressions (“chunks” of language), and lets you compare the different ways the same idea might be expressed in English versus your own language.

Places to find English speakers to help you practice conversation.

Next, we all agreed that finding friends or coworkers who speak English is a fantastic help. Working or volunteering in a place where you have to speak English is a great way to learn, because it is real-life communication and not just dialogues from a textbook. Watching movies or popular English TV shows was also mentioned, and many students use subtitles, and even rewind several times to hear a certain phrase over and over so they can learn it and use it later.

Online sources to support your learning English.

Finally, we talked about the fact that there are so many wonderful online resources available today, ranging from YouTube grammar lessons, to online quizzes, to online teachers and tutors who are there to help you one-to-one, in the comfort of your own home and at a time that works best for you.

If you would like to learn more about the personalised support and feedback I offer, I’d love to hear from you!