Now that you are living in high tech city, you have many reasons to improve your English. Communicating in English will help you to be successful at work and in your community.
You can find many English learning classrooms which you can choose from full-time or part-time classes during the day or evening. However, not everyone can go to English classes. If you are working at a job every day and also taking care of a family, it can be very difficult to take time to go to classes. If you are able to take the time to go to English classes you may also want to learn faster and study at home. For these reasons it is useful to know some strategies for practicing English on your own.
There are many ways to learn English outside of the classroom. The ideas you will read about here are from adult teachers and learners. You will find out about some of the many internet websites where you can learn for free as quickly or as slowly as you like. You will also find out more about the Eduhyme English Tests and think about what your level of English is right now, and what level you want it to be in the future. Information is also provided about some internationally recognized English language standardized tests.
1. Make everyone your teacher
When other people are speaking in English, think about how they say something. Repeat what they said silently in your mind. Then repeat what they said quietly to yourself. First say it slowly and clearly, then say it to yourself at the same speed and rhythm as the person you were listening to.
You can do this anytime, anywhere…when you’re with people, while watching a movie, at work, at school…the world is your classroom! Don’t worry if people think you’re crazy, just put on headphones or earbuds while you’re talking to yourself and everyone will think you’re talking on your cell phone.
2. Talk to people
You could talk about:
It’s OK to talk about the weather every day, and many people do this in almost any situation to open a conversation. We create friendships by suffering together!
Snow again, I miss summer! Crazy mosquitoes, we need winter!
Hi, I’m your neighbor, I just moved in last week …(names, etc…)
Have you lived in this area for a long time?…(years, etc.)
Seems like a friendly area, I like it…
Do you work close by? What kind of work do you do?
…your children, your children’s’ school
How old are your kids? What school do they go to? Are you happy with the teachers over there?
3. Ask a workmate to join you for coffee break
Let’s get out for coffee sometime, maybe Friday? People like it when you are interested in them. Ask them about:
- their job How long have you worked here? What do you do?
- their family Do you have family here?
- things they like to do So what’s up for the weekend?
You could talk about:
- life in your country,
- your family,
- your life and goals in Canada,
- your job,
- your free-time interests.
4. Make a study group
Meet with other English learners once a week to study together. Do exercises from your English class together or try some of the on-line learning websites recommended in this document.
5. Make an English club
Meet once a week or once a month with other English language learners. You could have a supper club or a movie club. You could go to a park, a museum, or just sit and listen to music together. You could show pictures and talk about your country. Make sure you speak English most of the time, or if you can, all of the time! Challenge yourself at the first meeting to speak only English for 30 minutes, then 60 minutes the next time, then 2 hours the next time.
Go to a community centre or your children’s school. Ask if you can volunteer. You can be helpful and practise English at the same time.
7. Watch television and movies, listen to the radio and listen to English music
Relax and try to understand the general meaning even if you don’t know every word.
8. Record yourself speaking English
Listen to your voice. Do you sound different than a first language speaker? Pretend that you are an actor in a movie and you are speaking English with an Italian accent…now try a Russian accent…a British English accent…now try a Canadian English accent! Whenever you think people don’t understand you, try out that Canadian English accent, it just might work.
9. Use Google
Go on the internet to search for information about stores that you want to go to. Find out location, store hours, search for products and prices. Find the telephone number and call it…ask what time the store is open until, or ask if they sell something and what the price is.
10. Use the Library and borrow books for free
Ask about EAL (English as an Additional Language) books and kits and bilingual books. Ask for a tour of the library.
11. Understand the main idea of what you read
After you read for a few minutes, tell yourself the important ideas. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything.
12. Read children’s books
Read children’s books with your children and talk about the pictures in English. After they have gone to bed read more children’s books in English…nobody has to see how much you are enjoying reading them! There are many high quality award winning children’s books you can borrow from the library for free. While you’re at the library make sure to take out some children’s books to read to your children in your first language too, there are many languages available.
13. Use maps
Learn the names of the streets you use. Use Google maps to practice following directions. Use Winnipeg Transit Navigo to choose a bus route.
14. Write a note to friend or teacher
Tell him or her what you did today, or what you are going to do tomorrow.
15. Keep a journal
Write about your day. Write directions to get from home to downtown.
- Write about one of the pictures you have saved on your cell phone.
- Write a recipe for how to make your favorite food.
- Write about your memories of your country.
- Listen to a song on YouTube and write about how it makes you feel.
- Look at old and famous art, or new and controversial art and write about your thoughts.
- Write to your mother, even if she is not alive anymore. Tell her about your life.
16. Send an email
Ask someone that you trust who speaks English as his or her first language if you can practice your English by sending them emails. Tell them they don’t even have to answer if they don’t have time, you’re just practicing.
- Write a shopping list in English. Talk to the cashier at the grocery store. Try easy English recipes.
- Use these phrases: “Please repeat that. What does mean? How do you spell ? Sorry, I don’t understand.”
- Practise other phrases you will use in your life.
- Speak English with your family a little bit each day.
- Think of other ways you like to practise English.
- Write new words or expressions. Review them, use them!