10 easy ways to improve your English

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So you’re already enrolled in an ESL class and learning English through a course. Or perhaps, you’ve already finished a course but you want to learn more so you can participate better in class, or ace that interview for a job, or just generally be able to fit in at your school or workplace. The following are 10 easy activities you can do to supplement your English lessons:

  1. Watch TV shows and films in English

  2. Watching TV shows and films help train your ears to understand and get used to English (and they are entertaining as well!). English shows are also helpful for context. You can see the situations in which the conversations happen and better understand how and when certain words are used. You can even turn on the English subtitles so you can verify what the characters are saying or read along to the dialogue to practice saying the words.

  3. Read aloud

  4. Set a specific time to read a newspaper or magazine. Go to your room or any place where you can be alone to read one to two articles aloud (especially if you’re shy and don’t wish to bother anyone). Be mindful of how you pronounce the words. Don’t worry about your accent. It’s all good as long as you say the sentences clearly.

    If you do not know how to pronounce a word, search for it in a dictionary. Better yet, go to a dictionary site like Merriam-Webster and click on the listen icon to hear how the word is pronounced. You can also use howjsay.com.

    Another benefit to reading the newspapers is that you’ll be aware of current events. Your knowledge may also come in handy when you need to make small talk with your neighbors or friends.

  5. Read English materials

  6. Read newspapers, magazines, and books. Cultivate the habit of reading to enrich your vocabulary, get used to sentence phrasing, and understand idioms, expressions and colloquialisms. Also, the knowledge you gain from reading is never a bad thing.

  7. Listen and sing with English songs on the radio

  8. Just like watching English TV shows and movies, listening and singing to English songs is a fun way to improve your proficiency. Choose a song that you like and learn the lyrics by accessing it online. Maybe start with simple ballads (as the words are clearer and easier to understand) or even country songs, which usually tell a story.

    “There are plenty of opportunities to improve your English continually even after you are done with your ESL course. Choosing fun activities will help if your enthusiasm is flagging.”

  9. Learn a new word everyday

  10. Write down a new word every day in a notebook. Also, write down its definition, and use it in at least one sentence. Try and practice using these words in your conversations or in your writing.

  11. Carry a dictionary

  12. Whether you prefer the printed version or an application (there are many you can download for free on your mobile or tablet), always having a dictionary on hand makes it easier for you to look up word meanings. This is an effective way to build your vocabulary.

  13. Keep a journal

  14. Make it a habit to write a few sentences every day. For instance, you can write about things you are grateful for (gratitude journal), things that you like about Manitoba, or just simply describe a person, place or thing. This is a good way to practice using new words you’ve picked up and improve your grammar. You can ask your teacher, or a friend to look at a few of your entries and comment on them. Later on, you can compare your newer compositions to the old ones to see your progress.

  15. Surround yourself with English-speaking people

  16. You learned your native language by being surrounded by it every moment of the day. If you do the same with English, you will learn it faster because you will hear it constantly and you will be obligated to answer in English as well. The more you do this, the more confident you will get and the better you will become.

  17. Ask

  18. If you do not understand what is being said to you, it will be better to ask the person to repeat or explain what he/she said than pretending that you understood perfectly. Just remember to be polite when you ask.

  19. Never stop learning

  20. There are plenty of opportunities to improve your English continually even after you are done with your ESL course. Choosing fun activities will help if your enthusiasm is flagging. Good choices would be joining a book club, volunteering at your local community centre, taking a cooking or art class, joining English Online’s Coffee Chats, or any other activity that is aligned with your interest and that will need you to listen, speak, read or write in English.

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Community Resources

Go to your nearest library for the latest books (or search online at eLibraries Manitoba). You can also ask the librarian for suggestions on which books and (audio books) are appropriate for ESL learners.

Check out the latest Leisure Guide for fun activities that you and your family could participate in. These events, courses, and classes are usually for free and provide you with new venues to be active and practice your English as well.

ESL Notes.com’s The English Learner Movie Guides has everything you need to start learning English while watching movies. It has a list of good movies to start with, plot summaries, list of major characters, glossary and vocabulary list of cultural references, and questions for discussion. (As cited from Larry Ferlazzo’s edublog).

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