4 ways to practice English (that aren’t watching Netflix)
Before I suggest the 4 tools that you can use to help you practice English daily, I believe it’s important to understand WHY you should be practicing English daily outside of class.
Have you ever felt like you’re putting in a lot of effort but you’re not getting to the next level in English? Do you feel like you’re stuck at an intermediate level? Maybe you understand your teacher in class but in more natural English-speaking environments you feel lost. Perhaps you understand sentences with basic vocabulary but when someone speaks to you with phrasal verbs or idioms, it’s difficult for you to comprehend.
This is a very common problem to have at the intermediate level and a very frustrating one as well. You feel like you’re doing the work in class but it’s not paying off because you can’t keep up with native English speakers when they don’t slow down their speaking for you. You begin to feel like it’s not worth it to keep paying for English classes.
I’ll give you an honest, simple answer.
Chances are you’re not doing your homework. No, I don’t mean actual homework. I would never recommend studying for hours a day from a grammar/text book - you would hate me for suggesting it and you would probably quit after only a few weeks(or less). I wrote more about this here.
What I mean is you need to expose yourself to natural English and sources that provide new vocabulary for you. This should come from things that you actually enjoy listening to/doing and that don’t take much effort for you. This is how we remain consistent and retain more information.
If you ask any bilingual person when they became fluent, it’s very likely that they won’t be able to tell you. It just happens. There is a moment where it just becomes easy after some time without you noticing. This is because your brain does the work for you and connects all the information you input. For this reason, it’s important to be comfortable with not understanding. Even if you don’t understand every word that is being said, you are still gaining knowledge that will ‘click’ for you later on.
SO HOW CAN I PRACTICE?
If you clicked on this link it’s probably because you’re tired of hearing ‘watch a show/film on Netflix to practice listening’. Many of us don’t have enough time to sit and watch Netflix, or we simply don’t have Netflix.
Here are four different ways you can practice that are quick, easy, and entertaining. You can do these on your morning/evening commute to/from work. You can do these while you’re sitting at the doctor’s office waiting to be called in. You can do them on your mobile phone from absolutely anywhere/anytime.
Ok, first I’m going to include a shameless plug for my own Instagram page, @blanca.oxinity, where you’ll find weekly quizzes, idioms, and other quick, fun content that will provide you with new vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. But as a full-time, busy teacher, I would be lying if I said that ALL of my content is original. I get my inspiration and some of the content that I post from other great ESL pages, like @tips4ielts @mister.ingles @idiom.land @pronunciationwithemma @amigosingleses and lots of other pages. All you need to do is search for ESL on instagram and you have many pages to choose from.
This is a great option for the busy person that needs a quick way to incorporate a few minutes of English practice everyday. Let’s be honest, we spend way too much time on social media anyways - might as well make it productive time!
I’ve mentioned this one before in this blog post. I’m mentioning it again because it
really is that fun and helpful. Lyricstraining.com is an online app (you don’t need to download it, you can click on the GO TO WEB option at the top of the Home Page) that allows you to choose from thousands of songs to listen to and practice your prepositions and other tricky words with.
How it works:
Choose a song from their extensive library. Start with a song you already know and love. Or choose their Song of the Day if you don’t have a favorite English song.
Choose your level. I recommend Beginner because it can be quite difficult for fast songs.
Be sure to switch to Choice Mode at the top of the video screen.
Play! Choose the correct word to complete the lyrics that will show at the bottom of the screen.
Lyricstraining is so fun that I, as a native speaker, am hooked on playing. You’ll find yourself getting competitive with yourself and playing multiple songs a day.
The Oxinity game
Once you’re a student at Oxinity, you will have access to our educational game. This game consists of scoring points and moving to the next level. You’re playing against yourself. If you’re as competitive as me,you’ll soon be hooked.
And the best part is it’s not just a game. The game uses artificial intelligence to help you practice the material that your teacher believes you need more practice with. For example, if you did an activity in class about prepositions, but you didn’t quite master the skill, your teacher will mark that you need more practice and the app will incorporate the skill into the game.
You’ll be having fun and improving the EXACT skills/concepts that you need a little bit more practice with. You’ll learn without even realizing it!
Get signed up here!
Podcasts are a great tool to sneak in a few minutes of English listening while you’re on the train on the way to work, while you’re at home cooking dinner, while you’re relaxing and taking a bath at night, or just while you’re sitting on the sofa and don’t feel like watching TV.
There are podcasts on just about any topic that could interest you. Personally, I like to listen to podcasts about Slow Living and Minimalism. If you’re interested in this topic, I recommend the podcast Malama Life. She lives in Hawaii and speaks slowly and calmly. But that’s just one genre out of many, many more. Fanatic about cycling? There’s a podcast for you. Love cooking? There are tons of podcasts for you. Just about any topic you could be interested in has a podcast.
I recommend using Spotify because they have a large selection of podcasts. To find your perfect one, just open your search engine and type in:
Spotify [topic] podcast
You’ll get a list of podcasts on Spotify about your topic that you can listen to whenever you want. You’ll get other platforms and websites that provide podcasts as well. I haven’t tried them, but let me know if you do!
In summary… Yes, you should still be going to English class - your teacher and Oxinity’s big data software know exactly what you need to practice and know when/how to correct the mistakes you make to guide you to the next level. But you can’t rely only on this. You’ll become frustrated and believe that you aren’t making progress fast enough.
I hope this list was helpful for you! If it was useful, if you have any suggestions for improvement, if you have any questions, or if you just want to say hello, please message me on my Instagram or my Facebook.