Learning English does not need to be confined to a classroom, You can incorporate Language learning into your everyday life.
It’s also not just about reviewing language points, vocabulary or grammar you learnt in class, for homework.
Learning a language is an ongoing process which you can help yourself in. You should also take responsibility for your learning – this is called Learner Autonomy.
So … why not combine your English learning with things which are interesting to you! Make it Useful and Fun!
Here are our 20 Make it Useful & Fun (MUF) Tips and Tools for Learning English:
1. Read in English
Reading books in English is GREAT, however long articles or books require STAMINA to finish. You might not be able to cope with this. Don’t even bother to read books which you will never finish. Moreover, these long books might only provide you with a certain type of vocabulary.
Instead, look at incorporating short bursts of reading or listening into your daily life. This will allow you to focus, and you can even fit them in to your daily commute, lunch break etc.
Just by doing 10 minutes a day you will not only develop your reading skills, but it will also impact upon your accuracy and fluency. Our brain takes in a lot more than just ‘the storyline’ of what we read. Reading provides models and examples of language in use and in context. The language we are reading becomes meaningful. We can see how it is used.Finally – short texts are manageable and do-able. Finishing off a short text in English will increase your motivation.So now that we have established reading in short bursts is a good idea, here are a few ideas of what and where to find interesting English material.
AVOID classics in English, e.g. Charles Dickens novels – the language used is often very dated, and some words and phrases are no longer in use.
2. Read the Daily News
Every day, pick a topic in the news which you are interestedin.
First, read about it in your own language.
Then look up the news on that topic in any English-speaking news website such as the BBC or CNN.
Once you have read about that news item in your own language, it will be easier for you to understand a text about the same news item in English, as you already know the background.
3. Watch the News
Practise your listening skills by watching the News in English.
Most news websites, such as the ones mentioned above contain video clips of news items. Many of the video clips have supporting articles which you can read before – or after – you watch the news clip.
4. TED it
Visit the English website, TED. TED is a non-profit global community that is devoted to spreading ideas. On the English website you will find a number some really interesting short videos, 18 minutes or less, about Life, Business, Education and any other topic you might be interested in!
Most TED videos also have a downloadable transcript so you can read while listening to the video.
5. YouTube it
Search for ANYTHING you are interested in on YouTube. There is so much there in short video clips that you may never need to watch TV again.
YouTube is perfect for a quick daily dose of English Language. Subscribing to channels that feature clips on topics you might be interested in, such as Business news, teacher training, sport, fashion etc is a great idea. Alternatively you may want to watch your favourite TVseries or film in English.Every time you log in to your own account, (you should have a Google Account for this), YouTube will present you with a number of videos that meet your interests.
6. Pronounce- Pronounce- Pronounce
Use online dictionaries to check the pronunciation of certain words. Nowadays many online dictionaries supply the audio clip of words being read out.
Some useful dictionaries are Cambridge and Macmillan, but a quicker way is to just google the word and add pronunciation.
Try it out!
For example; type in the word longevity in one of the online dictionaries mentioned above ad check the pronunciation for it.
You can easily check the pronunciation, which is often given as both UK or British English and as US (American) English.
YouTube too can be used as a tool to work on your pronunciation. It has a vast archive of English pronunciation clips .
7. Stress it
Besides pronunciation, make a note of the stressed syllable.
Use the online dictionaries for pronunciation and make a note of where the stressed syllable is.
After some time, you will start to notice patterns in certain words. Perfecting this will help you sound more like a native speaker.
Visit Slideshare and search for anything you are interested in.
The likelihood is that someone has already created a Powerpoint Presentation on the topic you are interested in.
9. BIO. it
Interested in people? Check out Biography.com . Read the biographies of anyone, from reality TV celebrities to pioneers who have changed the course of history. Whoever or whatever you might be interested in, biography.com will help you find out all you want to know about them
Check the verbs used for people who are now dead versus people who are still living!
10. Movie time
Are you a film buff? Seen a good film recently, or planning to see one?
Visit the Internet Movie Database to read the synopsis (summary) of the film. You can also read the biographies of the actors, quotes from the film, trivia, bloopers, and much more. It is great fun!
11. Spy it
Do your background checks on countries. Visit the CIA webpage and look up their World Factbook .
Check out the CIA’s detailed descriptions of countries, flags of the world, and country comparisons. How does your country compare?
12. Plan a trip
Planning a trip? As the Boy Scouts’ motto says: BE PREPARED. Do your research in English.
Look up the English version of tourist information websites about a country you are planning to visit. Read all about it and plan your trip using English resources!
Plan your next trip in English, using sites such as, Viamichelin.
Here you can:
- plan your route (as in Google Maps)
- look at accommodation (as in Booking.com or Trivago.com)
- check the weather
- and lots more – all in one site.
Watch videos about that country on YouTube, for some more English language practice.
13. Culture Vulture
For the culture vultures out there – have a look at The World Heritage Sites List (WHS list) .
Read about some wonderful places which you could add to your bucket list. Some of those World Heritage Sites could even be in your own country, or a neighbouring country. These wonderful heritage sites might only be a few hours’ drive away.
If you are struggling to understand the English version, look up the place of interest in your native language. Read about it in your native language then try reading the English version again.
14. Business English
If your interest is Business then find out what’s in the News in Business worldwide by browsing through: BusinessWeek
If you are really interested in Business, then you will also enjoy reading about the ideas from the Masterminds of Business – the Management Gurus who have shaped business thinking.
On this site you could also read about the 12 different styles of management which have influenced the world of work. Who knows, they could influence your business skills too.
You can also:
- read short biographies of these Management Gurus
- listen to a radio interview about them
- and read the transcript of the interview.
Follow the CLIL4U Language Course designed by ETI
…. and while doing so, learn all about CLIL – an EU Education buzzword.
17. Sing it
To find the words to a song, visit sites like lyrics or simply google the name of the song + lyrics. Once you have them, of course, singalong! This really helps with your pronunciation.
Check out this site to learn about current environmental issues
19. Cook it
If you are a ‘foodie’ and cooking is your idea of heaven, try out this website for mouth-watering recipes in English from all over the world. Not only will you be practising your English, your family and friends will love you.
Some sites are especially designed for recipes without allergens:
Allergy Free Vintage Cooking
Kids with Food Allergies
And if you’re a oenophile and pairing the right wine with your menu is important to you, here’s an interesting website
Download the above infographic here.
In addition; used to introduce some new information that adds to or supports what you have said previously
E,g, Simon moreover, is well aware that accidents are bad for business.
used to introduce a suggestion that is a second choice or a possibility.
E.g. ETI will make travel arrangements for you. Alternatively, you can organize your own transport.
synopsis : noun
a summary of a piece of writing, a play, etc.
E.g.The programme gives a brief synopsis of the plot.
an embarrassing mistake that you make in public
E.g. I love watching all the blooper shows on TV.
Bucket List: noun
a list of things you plan to do before you ‘hit the bucket’ , which means die
E.g. Travelling to Malta has been on my bucket list for years.
a person who is an expert on a particular subject or who is very good at doing something
Alain, ETI’s resident computer and electronic guru, was given information about protecting our security
a written or printed copy of words that have been spoken.
E.g. A transcript of the interview was published on our website.
buzzword : noun
word or phrase, especially one connected with a particular subject, that has become fashionable and popular and is used a lot in newspapers, etc.
E.g. CLIL is the latest buzzword in the education field
a person who likes a particular sport, activity or subject very much and knows a lot about it
E.g. This coffee is regarded by aficionados as one of the world’s finest.
smelling, looking, or sounding delicious.
E.g. Here is a mouth-watering recipe that is easily made and all the family.
foodie: noun, informal
Someone who is very interesting in different kinds of food and cooking
A person who knows a lot about wine.
Blog piece written by Sandra Attard Montaldo. ETI’s ,Director of Academic Development & Training.
Sandra also leads the ETI team on two EU Projects, ETI is currently involved on, METHODS, and CLIL4U.