10 tips for learning English While Living in another country
Imagine the scenario: You’ve relocated to an English speaking country and you are struggling with the language. How do you adjust to your new environment? Learning English is not as difficult as you may think, especially when you are constantly surrounded by the language. Here are some tips on how to learn English while living in another country, and how to practice and improve your language skills.
Live with native English speakers
Whether you’re moving abroad on your own, or are going with friends and family, a great way to pick up English is to live with native speakers. By living with English speakers, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice your language skills – from listening to their conversations, to observing their pronunciation; you’ll be exposed to endless vocabulary, phrases, and conversations. Living with English speakers will also take you out of your comfort zone, encouraging you to speak in English in order to communicate with your roommates.
Label things in English
A simple way of improving your English and widening your vocabulary is labelling things in your home. Simply putting a stick note on items such as "phone," "microwave," or "toaster" will help you to associate the words with the item, and will eventually help you to embed it into your memory.
It sounds simple, but one of the best ways you can learn English is by imitating those who are around you. Not sure how to pronounce a certain word? Copy the things you hear other people saying. Trying to distinguish between which greetings are acceptable in social situations? Imitate a native speaker. From copying facial expressions to conjugations, shadowing a native speaker is one of the most natural ways to language fluency.
Take an English course
Whether you are looking to immerse fully in an academic course that specializes in English or you are interested in creating a flexible schedule of classes around your life, taking an English course is one of the best ways to jump right into the language. You will be studying with professional English language instructors while also creating a community of other international learners, many of whom may be in the same situation as you. Contact us to find out more about what sort of courses Kaplan has for you.
Read, Read, Read
One of the best and most effective ways of improving your English is to read as much as possible. From books and newspapers, to emails, menus, transport maps, cereal boxes, or social media feeds, it’s important for you to read as much as you can get your hands on. Each piece of English content will give you a new selection of vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation, while each publication will give you a new interpretation and context of different writing styles.
Find a job or volunteer
A great way to learn some English and improve your language skills is to get a job. With benefits that include increased conversation and exposure to vocabulary, working in an English speaking profession will force you to speak English for the majority of the day. If possible, try and volunteer somewhere where there will be lots of customer interaction, or in a front of house role, as this will require you to speak English to customers. If getting a job isn’t an option for you, volunteering is another way you can improve your language skills.
Watch English TV programs
If you’re looking for a more light hearted way to learn English, try watching English television and films. Whether you’re a beginner with a basic understanding of English, or are learning at an advanced level, there are plenty of benefits to watching English TV programs and films. For beginners, watching English TV in your native countries subtitles not only gives you the opportunity to visually associate translated words with what is on your screen, but also has the added benefit of letting you hear how words are pronounced. For those who are at more of an advanced level, turn off the subtitles and see how much of the conversation you can understand – if you’re struggling, turn on the English subtitles, and read the dialect across your screen to fill in any gaps.
Listen to English podcasts / the radio
In addition to watching English TV programs and films, another great way of improving your language skills is by listening to English radio stations and English music. Simply listen to the songs, and write down any song lyrics or words that you don't understand. Before you know it, you’ll have a wider vocabulary and a deeper understanding of how words are pronounced.
Change your social media channel language to English
Once your English has started to improve and you’ve gained a little confidence, another great trick to improving your language is changing your social media channels to English. Whether it’s Google or Facebook, seeing status updates in English will expose you to new vocabulary, and will force you into thinking in English. Soon you will fall out of the habit of thinking and reading things in your native language, and thinking in English will become part of your routine.
Make a list of all the vocabulary you’ve learned
One of the most important parts of learning a new language is reciting and repeating what you have learned. Whether it’s in a notebook or on a sticky note in your room, keep a list of all the new words. Try to include a definition or an example of how to use the word, and every day before bed, go over your list and practice using them in a sentence. This way, not only will you be exposed to words, phrases and grammar, you’ll also be studying them, forcing your brain to think in English.
On another note, write down anything that you hear and don't understand. That way, this will save you returning to the word / sentence at a later date and not remembering what it was or what it meant.
No matter what happens or how long it takes, don't loose faith. Becoming proficient in a language takes time and patience, so go easy on yourself and take it day by day. Set yourself weekly objectives, practice every day, and soon enough you’ll find yourself engaging in conversation. If you're interested in learning more about Kaplan English schools in your new country, learn how you can study English in the UK, US, Canda, Australia, or New Zealand.