A cosmopolitan city with a small-town feel, Denver has an array of world-class museums and attractions to keep you occupied between ESL classes. But local excursions are more than just fun things to do; they’re a fabulous way to practice you’re English skills in a real-world setting.
Here are our top-five favorite places in Denver to get you started, and tips on how to maximize your English learning while you’re there:
1. Denver Art Museum: Partially housed in a fantastic piece of architecture by Daniel Libeskind, the Denver Art Museum boasts one of the best collections of Western American art in the world, in addition to art from across the globe and a string of exciting visiting exhibitions. English Tips: Take a guided tour for great listening practice, and engage with your guide by asking questions. The museum also hosts a monthly mixed-media/lecture event about an exciting topic in the field. This is especially great for students in the Academic English Program to practice listening and note-taking in a lecture setting. See a calendar of events here.
2. 16th Street Pedestrian Mall: Stroll and shop along the one mile pedestrian promenade through the heart of the city as you watch an array of fascinating buskers (street performers) entertain the masses. Hop a free shuttle that traverses the mall if you get tired. English Tips: Engage with some of the buskers – ask questions and give compliments (but prepare to have a dollar or two to give, they’re not entertaining for free). Shopping and dining are also great ways to practice your English, and force you to speak if you’re feeling shy.
3. Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Travel from the age of the dinosaurs to outer space to inside the human body… all without leaving Denver. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has enough ecology, cosmology and biology to satisfy ESL students for at least a day. English Tips: Watch an exciting educational film on a giant screen at the Phipps Imax Theater (yes, it counts as English practice!). Or catch a space show at the planetarium.
4. Denver Zoo: The fourth most popular zoo in the country, the Denver Zoo houses naturalistic habitats for its animals, such as the Primate Panorama, Tropical Discovery and the soon-to- open Asian Tropics. English Tips: Make sure and catch some of the animal feeding shows and demonstrations. Watch sea lions dive for fish and elephants stand on hind legs (it’s for their veterinary care, rather than entertainment), while practicing your English skills through listening and asking questions.
5. Elitch Gardens Amusement Park: A roller coaster theme park and water park in one, Elitch Gardens is sure to make the most stolid English student giddy. Plan to spend the day, as there are more rides, shows and water slides than you could conquer in a couple of hours. English Tips: You’ll spend a good part of your day in line at the rides, so take advantage of that time to ask people around you about how scary the Tower of Doom really is. Also, check out a show or concert to hone those English listening skills.
This just scratches the surface of the city, and we didn’t even mention day-trips into the surrounding mountains! Visit our blog on Colorado winter activities for a taste and stay-tuned for some of the lesser-known hidden gems of Denver. See VISIT DENVER, the Convention and Visitors Bureau for more info.