More ways to learn English
I know what you’re thinking – why would I want to use my free time studying after a day of studying? As a fellow language learner and EFL teacher, I will confidently state that much of your English language learning will be done through use in everyday scenarios. What you learn at school is the recipe in the cookbook, now we need to put your cooking skills to the test.
Methods of learning English come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s my advice for best utilising your homestay to improve your language learning experience:
Chat to your homestay family
One of my biggest takeaways from my study abroad experience in Japan is being able to practically use Japanese as a spoken language. Talk to anyone and everyone you can. It doesn’t have to be complicated English. Speak as slowly as you want, using any new words or phrases you learnt in class the day before. Your homestay family are a great place to start as they will be the most understanding. It can be as simple as bringing up the weather. This opportunity does not come around often!
Playing board games after dinner or over the weekend is a great way to get involved in family life. Challenge your homestay family to a game of ‘Scrabble’ if you’re feeling particularly studious. Otherwise, ask them if they fancy playing ‘Charades.’ Card games could work too, perhaps even co-operative video games?! The teamwork aspect will help you to refine your English in a pressurised yet casual environment.
Download an English learning App
Depending on how long your tube ride is, you could always download a language app to keep you busy and prep yourself for school. My personal favourite is ‘Memrise’ but there are plenty of free and paid options out there to give a go. 10-15 minutes a day is enough to put you ahead of the game. This way you have something other than the train ads and other passengers to look at!
Expose yourself to English
Rainy day with no classes? Not feeling too sociable? Whatever the excuse, you can always stick around at home. Just having the TV or radio on in the background gives your brain a chance to passively absorb some key words and intonation. The news channels are a great source of English as well as a way of generally keeping up to date with world affairs. You could also go all the way and sit down with Netflix. Watch a show IN English WITH English subtitles for an extra challenge.
Get out there
Finally, mingle! You don’t need to introduce yourself to everyone in London. But try to hang out with people who don’t speak your language. That doesn’t mean avoiding your fellow countrymen and women, but the more comfortable you become with people from your own country, the less English you will use. And before you realise it, you’re flying back home. There will be extra-curricular groups that hold language events outside of school too. Check with your school, skim Facebook and ask around. (In English!) There’s something out there for everyone.
Don’t forget to breathe
But just like any physical workout, one of the key elements of training are the breaks in between. Allow your mind to rest. No one is going to mind if you sit down with a cup of coffee in Hyde Park as you take in the excitement of being abroad. There is a lot to see in London.