The school is not the only place where you learn English – there are plenty of ways you can improve your English skills at home. In fact, it is indispensable to practice English outside of your school as well, in order to be able to achieve a higher command of the language. Here are several ways that you may improve your language skills at home:
1. Read English books or magazines
Reading is probably the best way to acquire new vocabulary and is extremely helpful when learning a language. In fact, reading will help you improve your language skills in several aspects – grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension. In case your level of English is not very high, you may try reading a book you have already read in your native language, and read it in English this time – this way it might be less difficult and you will understand some unknown words more easily. Or, if you are just a beginner, read some magazines in English – the language used in magazines is often much less complex than the language used in literature. In case you are not very keen on reading books, you do not have to read literature or poetry to improve your English – find some text about a topic you are interested in and read about it in English. For instance, you can read an article about your favorite band or movie. In any case, the important thing is to READ, whatever the type of text might be.
2. Watch television in English
Picture: The Hunger Games scene with subtitles.
Watching movies, TV shows or news in English is an excellent way to improve your listening skills. Some European countries use dubbing (as is the case in Spain), which means that the audiences listen to Spanish actors when watching a Hollywood movie, for example. It is much more useful to watch the movie or TV show in its original version. Not only will it allow you to improve your listening skills, but you can also pick up on some useful vocabulary items. Beginners can watch the movie or TV show with subtitles in their native language; however, it would be more useful to watch with English subtitles – this way you are hearing the words and seeing how they are written at the same time! The best thing about this is that you will be enjoying yourself, while simultaneously improving your English.
3. Listen to music in English
Just like watching TV programs in English, listening to music in English is a way of improving your language skills while enjoying yourself. Listening to English lyrics improves your listening skills. In addition, learning the lyrics by heart can help you in acquiring new vocabulary items.
4. If you have international friends – skype with them in English
In case you have friends from other countries with whom you still keep in touch – skype with them! Not only is it better for staying in touch since you are able to see and hear each other instead of just writing messages to each other, but you are also able to practice your speaking skills. If you notice your speaking skills are getting rusty, schedule a Skype date with a friend to get back on track.
5. Use applications for learning languages
Finally, a great way to improve your language skills is to use applications for learning English (or other languages), such as Rosetta Stone, Mindsnacks or Duolingo. Apart from grammar and vocabulary, these often offer practice for pronunciation, listening and writing. Younger students may opt for apps that consist of mainly games, in order to make learning easier and more fun. It is enough to set aside 10-15 minutes a day.
All things considered, learning English should not happen only at school, and should not consist only of memorizing vocabulary lists and learning grammar rules, but it should be fun and enjoyable as well. All of the aforementioned ways may help you strengthen your English skills while at home, and without putting in too much effort.
Indispensable – essential, necessary
Keen on – interested in, enthusiastic about
Simultaneously – at the same time
By heart – by memory
Rusty – out of practice
Back on track – going in the right direction again after a mistake or failure
Opt for – to choose
Aforementioned – previously mentioned