Some of you may be aware that apart from my online courses, I also teach General and Business English to adults who come to London on intensive courses of between one to three weeks. These clients want to have the full-immersion experience of language learning.
There’s no doubt that immersing yourself in the language you’re learning by spending time in the country will improve your fluency skills immeasurably. Not only will it improve your language skills, it will also give you the cultural context of the language. Listening to spoken English in the classroom is totally different to listening to it on the streets of London.
Although my clients are here for what is relatively a short time in terms of the time required to learn a language, they do see a significant improvement during that period. However, no matter how good the improvement I am always asked the same question at the end of every course: “What can I do to maintain/improve my language skills when I go back home?” In other words, how can I ‘immerse’ myself in English back home?
I’d like to share with you the 5 tips I give my clients on how they can immerse themselves in English.
Tip 1. A Little Every Day
It might come as no surprise to you but learning any language takes practice. The more regularly you practise the language the better you’ll improve. The best way of getting this practice is to fit it in your daily routine.
A little a day is much more effective and sustainable than finding blocks of time every week. If you can only afford 20 – 30 minutes a day, that’s absolutely fine. Block that time off in your diary. That way it becomes part of your daily schedule and more difficult to ignore.
Tip 2. Own Your Learning!
Choose what you’re interested in. If reading books is not your thing, don’t try to read a book in English. It will never last! If you love football, immerse yourself in the world of football by looking up sports articles in English, watching football matches in English or listening to sports broadcasts like BBC Radio 5.
Tip 3. Read Online Magazines, Newspapers or Blogs
There is so much available online now that it makes immersing yourself in English much easier and more accessible than ever. If you don’t have much time each day, online magazines and newspaper articles are a quick and effective way of giving you your daily dose of English. Once again choose subjects you’re interested in.
Tip 4. Watch TV Shows or Films
There are so many TV shows that are streamed and on demand now on the internet that you are spoilt for choice. One of my clients loves the British programme “Top Gear” as he loves anything to do with cars. He has learned many British English expressions that he would not have otherwise heard.
I have an extensive DVD library of films in English which I encourage my clients to watch when they stay with me. I always tell them to watch them with the English subtitles on. Back home, you can do the same with films that you can download from iTunes, Netflix or other sources.
If you don’t have time to watch TV shows or films, another wonderful resource is TED Talks. TED Talks is a series of wonderfully captivating video presentations given by the world’s leading specialists on a variety of topics. These presentations last between 3 – 18 minutes and therefore could suit anyone’s busy schedule.
Here is a blog extolling the virtues of TED Talks by one of my fellow English Language Trainers. Thank you, Justin!
Tip 5. Listen to Music/ Podcasts
I’ve written before about how songs are a wonderful way of practising your English and listening skills. So if you enjoy listening to songs in English your daily dose of English lyrics will do you no harm!
If, however, you’re like me and prefer to listen to spoken radio programmes, then podcasts are a wonderful way of accessing them. You can download the podcasts to your MP3 player and listen to them anytime and anywhere you want. You can do it whilst you’re exercising or driving. The BBC World Service has a good selection.
Whatever you choose, the most important thing to remember is to make your immersion experience fun, practical and convenient.
Ciao for now
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