What can I do to improve my English? (2/4)

In addition to their homework, students often ask me what else they can do in their spare time to improve their English. Therefore I decided to gather some tips together and post them here.

In this four-part series, I’m going to talk about activities which can help you to develop your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. This is not a comprehensive list, so if you have any ideas that you would like to share, you can post them in the comments section.

Writing

Five ways to improve your writing skills

1. Expressing your ideas in writing

Some people keep a diary in the language that they want to learn. They write about their day, what happened to them, how they feel about the day’s events and about their future plans. Other people choose to make these ideas more public and they write a blog about one of their hobbies or interests.

Both of these ideas give you the opportunity to express your thoughts in writing. If you allow comments on your blog, you may also find like-minded people with whom you can communicate in English.

2. Interactive resources for English learners

There are many useful resources out there that have been written with learners of English in mind. They are useful because they often include explanations, interactive exercises or notes on vocabulary. Some sites also give you the chance to share your ideas or ask questions.

There are also many online groups where learners of English can practise together.

If you have learned something new, share it with other learners! This could be on Facebook, on a blog, on Twitter or on a site for other learners. If you explain something to someone else, you are more likely to remember it. If you do it somewhere where more advanced learners, teachers or native speakers will see it, they can help you by giving further examples if you haven’t quite understood something or by answering your questions.

3. Find a tandem partner and write to them regularly

Writing to an English speaker who is also learning your language will help you because, if you get on well with your tandem partner, you will want to communicate with them. Also, on days when you don’t feel motivated to write, whereas you may think nobody will notice if you don’t update a blog, if you know someone is waiting for an answer from you, it may encourage you to start writing again. The internet has created so many new ways for us to interact with people all over the world.

There are more tips about tandem partnerships in the
how to get the best out of language exchanges article

4. Share your knowledge

What are your favourite subjects? If you enjoy communicating with your friends about a particular sport, team, type of music, hobby or interest, find English speakers who enjoy writing about these things too. Your interest in the subject will make the exercise more interesting for you. You are likely to feel more motivated to engage in a discussion and share ideas about a topic if it interests you.

5. Whatever you do – don’t wait till you have constructed the perfect sentence!

Accuracy is important. However I have included this point because some people worry so much about making mistakes that they spend ages agonising over a sentence or comment and in the end, they don’t post anything at all. This is sad because they had something to share, but fear of failure prevented them from sharing it.

Making mistakes is part of learning. Everyone makes mistakes. Learning from your mistakes will also help you to improve your language skills.

Other articles in this series

Reading
Speaking
Listening

More from English with Kirsty

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Kirsty working with students



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