In a recent advanced English class at Bridge English in Denver, we asked our students, “What are the best ways to learn English outside of the classroom?” The responses were great! Tracy, Khalid, and Nelson are students in the class and worked together to provide the advice written below.
There are two great ways to learn English outside of the classroom: individual activities and social activities. These two ways are helpful in improving listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. Basically we can improve our English outside the classroom ourselves and also through our social environment, like our host family and different friends. Learning English is not only limited inside the classroom, but also is possible without our teacher and outside the classroom.
First, we will talk about individual activities that one can do to improve and later we will talk about how one can improve in public situations. Outside of the classroom, we may be alone and need to learn English by ourselves. There are some activities that are helpful and allow us to improve our reading, writing, and listening. In our daily life, it is really common to read the newspaper and magazines, which can let us stay informed about our political and social environment and also to familiarize ourselves with news words. After school, it is necessary for us to review our class lessons at home. In order to strengthen our writing skills, writing a diary in English not only records our daily experiences but also reinforces this skill. Sending SMS, mail and Facebook text in English is also another way to increase our understanding of English. Additionally, listening indeed plays an important role in our progress. When we feel upset or stressed, music can be an effective way to relieve the pressure; of course we can’t ignore the benefits of listening to music as another way to learn. The words in the music can help a lot in the learning of English. Different kinds of music use different words, for example the words in pop music are always used in the slang of the local young people. At the same time, the lyrics in classic music or in romantic songs are usually formal. As well as on the radio, it may sometimes be difficult to catch what the host says when they are speaking really fast, which is exactly how Americans speak every day. We need to use our patience and listen to them again and again to polish our skills.
Other than all of the strategies that we can use to learn English on our own, English can also be learned with a group of people outside of the class, in social situations. When we moved to the U.S., with Bridge we were able to live with a host family. They are great people that can really help us become familiar with our new environment. Through chatting and conversations, we can learn the local culture, social norms and about the religion. The more topics we discuss, the more speaking we do. That is a pretty good way to enhance our speaking skills. In our leisure time, we can participate in some social activities such as sports and clubs, which are great places to make more friends. After exercising or the discussion during the club, we can share our experiences and opinions with different people in English. Most people are willing to listen to distinguished ideas and make friends with others, so we have great opportunities to practice English with Americans. Lots of people appreciate traveling because taking photos, capturing nice views and going on a trip with family or friends is really enjoyable. It is inevitable that we will meet strangers during our travels. For instance, we need help from a local when we get lost, need to ask about the price when we are at the store, and even need a tour guide when we first go to a museum. There are a lot of situations that we can talk to others about and make sure that we practice our English.
The places where we learn English are really flexible, either inside the classroom or outside the class. We can be our own tutor, or we can ask other people for help. The most important thing is to practice as much as possible. By doing this, individual and public activities are great ways to develop all of the necessary languages skills.