SIX TRICKS TO HELP YOU LEARN ENGLISH
1. Take advantage of a long commute
If you’re stuck in a traffic jam or a hot metro carriage every day to get to and from work or university, you can do something productive, rather than avoid making eye contact with sweaty strangers or play Candy Crush. Download English podcasts or radio shows to play on your phone while you wait! All of the radio shows on the BBC are available worldwide on their website, to listen to live or to play on ‘catch-up’, or find a topic you are interested in, for example sport or science, and find an English-speaking podcast on iTunes or Spotify to pass the hours and improve your listening skills.
2. Make English-speaking friends
Immerse yourself in an English environment by spending time with English speakers – there are lots of friendly guiris in Madrid to practice with and learn from. ‘Intercambios’ are a great way to meet native speakers and speak in English, as long as you help them with their Spanish in return! Most Irish pubs and lots of bars across the city will have an intercambio evening and you can arrange to meet up with someone who wants to learn Spanish for a private intercambio. Also, grab opportunities in your job to talk with foreign colleagues or clients in English. You’ll be speaking like a native in no time!
3. Create a study group between classes
How many times have you learnt new language in English class, felt confident using it, then forgotten everything for your next class the following week? Why not meet up with your classmates on the weekend for an hour to help things stay in your mind. You could do your homework together, go through what you learned and answer each other’s questions, or simply meet up for a caña and speak English together!
4. Use technology in English
Think of all the time you spend on the internet a day, on your laptop or phone. This time can be used to learn English! Swap the language to English on your internet browser, Facebook, Twitter, etc to learn all the language associated with social media, technology and the internet. Downloading a news app in English on your phone can also give you bite sized English practice, while reading about what’s going on in the world. It may seem like a small step but it can make a big difference!
5. Create a goal for yourself
When learning anything, working towards a certain goal helps with motivation. Learning English is no different. Objectives like going on holiday to an English speaking country, going on an international business trip or studying abroad can give you that extra push to improve your English skills.
6. Don’t be shy!
Have fun, speak English to people with confidence and don’t worry about making mistakes! Mistakes are part of learning, and you will progress more quickly by pushing yourself and making errors, rather than staying safe and not taking a chance. No one will care about or judge you for your Spanglish or your accent so go ahead and speak English!
Hyland Language Centre