Young Learners Weekly Challenges
So. You made the decision to study English with the Kaplan Young Learners Program. You moved to a foreign city. And now you’re learning English in an international environment. Congratulations! To help you make the most of your experience, we’ve devised a list of weekly challenges for you to complete week by week as your study period develops.
Whether you’re living in residences or staying with a host family, there are a range of challenges to suit everyone. From academic challenges to social dares, this checklist should challenge your English language skills and help you to develop socially and culturally. How many of the challenges can you complete? We bet you can’t complete them all before your course finishes!
Challenges for Week 1
It’s your first week at Kaplan and everything is new, so here are some challenges to help you avoid homesickness and settle into your first week:
- Make a list of the things you want to achieve during your stay. Making new friends? Progress a language level? Making a list of everything that you want to achieve will help you to test your progress as the course develops, and will show you how far you have come.
- Introduce yourself to someone from a different nationality. Making friends from different nationalities is a great way of improving your English AND a brilliant way to learn about new cultures.
- Be a tourist and get to know the local area. The best way to settle into a new city is to act like a tourist and get to know the local area. Go find out where to buy your food shopping, or which coffee shops makes the best cappuccinos.
- Try your new city's national dish. A great way to get to know a new city is to eat like a local. Studying in London? Then make sure to get yourself some fish and chips. Studying in New York? Don’t miss out on New York’s famous pretzels and bagels.
- Write down 5 new things you have learnt this week...in ENGLISH. Repeating and revising what you have learnt outside of the classroom is the best way to improve your language skills. Whether it’s vocabulary tips or new words, aim to write down 5 new things that you have learnt at the end of every week, and read them before bed to help them stick in your mind.
- Start collecting memorabilia during your time abroad. Have you ridden the tube this week? Then keep your ticket. Been on a tour of the Guinness Factory in Dublin? Keep hold of that pamphlet. It may not make sense now, but these seemingly useless pieces of paper will come in useful later on….
Challenges for Week 2
Now that your first week at Kaplan has come to an end and you’ve settled in your new home, it’s important to set yourself targets and challenge yourself more. How many of these will you tick off?
- Ask lots of questions. The most important thing you can do when learning a new language is ask questions. If you’re unsure on something or have doubts, ask your teachers – this what they are here for.
- Start a new hobby. Fancy trying yoga? Go to a yoga class. Love running? Join the local running team. Being away from home in a new city is the perfect opportunity to re-invent yourself and try new things. Joining a club is also a brilliant way of making new friends, and you can practice your language skills with native English speakers.
- Write a postcard in English. One of the best things about studying abroad is being able to send your friends and family souvenirs from your trip. Sending your family a postcard with an update of what you’ve been up to in your first two weeks gives you the perfect opportunity to practice your English writing skills. If they don't speak English, write a quick translation for them – think how proud they'll be that you can write the same thing in two different languages!
- Order from a menu in English. Now that you’ve been learning about food and drink in your classes, put what you’ve learned into practice and instead of pointing at what you want from the menu, communicate your order to the restaurant staff in English.
- Download an English podcast. Whether it’s cooking or football, fashion or golf, no matter what your interests are, there’s bound to be a podcast for you. Simply download one to your iPhone or mp3 player and listen to it on your commute to work. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll begin to understand simply by listening to people speaking English, and you’re bound to pick up some new vocabulary from a native English speaker. Bonus!
- Visit a local tourist attraction. One of the best aspects of studying in a new city is the opportunity to visit the tourist attractions that are now on your doorstep. Living in London? Be sure to go and learn about its history at the Tower Of London. Studying in Washington? Go take a selfie in front of the White House. Make it your mission to visit as many tourist attractions as possible before your course is over.
Challenges for Week 3
With your language skills improving and your confidence increasing, why don’t you challenge yourself to some of these fun and challenging tasks? Remember, the more effort you make the more you’ll get out of your Kaplan Experience.
- Extend your reading list. Whether it’s a newspaper or magazine, a novel, tube advert or a menu, read whatever English text you can get your hands on. As well as improving your reading skills, this will also expose you to new vocabulary.
- Change your social media language channels to English. In a society where young people spend half of their time on social media, what better way to enforce your language skills than to read your social media posts in English. By making this simple change, catching up with what your friends are up to online is an additional way of developing your language skills, and forces you to think in English outside of the classroom.
- Ask for a bus ticket in English. Now that you’ve been living in your new city for a few weeks, a great way to improve your English is to get to know the local transportation links. Practice your English by asking for a bus or train ticket, AND get to know the local area better.
- Cook a meal for your housemates or host family. One of the best parts of living abroad is the exposure to new foods. Get yourself a recipe book (in English) and choose a meal to cook for your host family or house mates. Not only will you expose yourself to new vocabulary and educate yourself about the ingredients, you’ll also get major brownie points for cooking for your friends.
- Watch a TV program in English. If you’ve been ticking off the challenge checklist as you go, you would have already had some practice in this by watching and listening to English podcasts. When you have a spare half hour, watch an episode of your favourite TV show in English. Whether its slang or vocabulary, you’ll be surprised by how much you’ll pick up simply by listening to people speaking English for 30 minutes.
Challenges for Week 4
How many of the above challenges have you managed to tick off our Kaplan checklist? We’ve saved the hardest challenges till last, so we’ll be very impressed if you make it to the end of the list…
- Host a ‘potluck’ evening in your flat or house. Did cooking for your friends and host family go well? This time get everyone involved and host a ‘potluck’ dinner, where each guest has to cook a dish from their country. The more nationalities that are involved, the more foods there are to try and the more there is to learn about different cultures and their national dishes.
- Go see a film in English. After you’ve watched a few TV episodes in English, your next challenge is to watch a film. Even if you don’t understand the whole film, observing the body language, slang, humour and stories will give you an insight into the local culture culture, and will help you to cement your language skills and speak English like a native speaker.
- Listen to English and American music. In addition to watching films and TV shows in English, another great (and fun) way to practice your English is to listen to English music. Listen to a few English songs, and write down any words or phrases you don’t understand – it’s now your challenge to google them and find out what they mean.
- Write a blog. Now that you’ve been studying English for a month, it’s likely that you’re writing skills have improved and so should your confidence. Writing a blog is a brilliant way of improving them even more. By writing a blog of your study abroad experience you’ll not only get the chance to practice your writing skills and compare your progress on a weekly basis, but you’ll also have something to show off to your friends and read back on in years to come to remind yourself of the amazing experience you had.
- Learn a football chant. Are you Arsenal’s biggest fan? Or perhaps you prefer Manchester United. No matter who your favourite football team are, challenge yourself to learning their football chant – in English.
- Make a scrap book. Remember back in your first week we asked you to start collecting memorabilia from your Kaplan Experience? Here’s where it’ll come in useful. By now you should have a pretty big collection of admission tickets, maps, restaurant receipts, tour pamphlets and post cards. Add these little souvenirs into a scrap book, and write a small description of where the souvenir is from and what you did (in English.) By the end of it, you would have re-capped on everything you’ve done during your Kaplan Experience, and will end up with a scrap book where you can treasure all your memories.
How many of our challenges did you manage to tick off during your stay with Kaplan Young Learners? Let us know in the comments below!