Anyone who has ever tried learning a new language knows that the most important thing is practice, practice and more practice! But how do you practice English? This question was probably on the minds of our moms and dads when they were learning English, but the modern generation of children and teenagers don’t have to worry about it anymore.
In the 21st century, the era of information and digital technologies, only lazy people are unable to find a way to expand their skills and knowledge of English.
So, if you still don’t know what to do or if you’re looking for interesting learning options, check out the list below. Ready, set, go!
Have you tried watching cartoons, movies, and videos in English?
You don’t need to go very far for that. Get some snacks, find a comfy spot and put on your favourite movie… choosing English as the language of the audio! Is it difficult for you to watch even a movie you’ve already seen in English? That’s okay, it’s only your first time. You need some time to adjust to a new language and to how it sounds.
Why is it better to start watching movies you’ve already seen in English? Because at the first stage of the “immersion” into the English-speaking world, it is important to teach yourself to separate the flow of English speech into words and expressions. So, if you already know what happens in a movie or a cartoon you’re watching, you can guess what’s going on and try to listen for the familiar phrases in English.
You don’t have to watch an entire movie! At first, it will be difficult and you might not enjoy it. Take a break after 20-30 minutes! Next time, try watching it without subtitles in the background. Try to listen for English words and phrases that you can recognize!
How about watching cartoons in English with the entire family every weekend? If you want your kids to learn English, watching cartoons with them will make them more interested in learning a new language, and it will also be helpful to you to refresh your knowledge. Small kids can benefit from watching short cartoons like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol etc. Older kids who already have some basic knowledge of English can watch Shrek, Frozen, Rapunzel etc. It’s important to make it a regular activity. Kids will learn English phrases faster than the parents, and they will even start using the most memorable ones in their everyday speech!
Reading in English
If you like reading and listening to audiobooks, try picking up the English version of Harry Potter or the Chronicles of Narnia. An exciting plot will motivate kids to guess English words and phrases from context. Younger children can read about the famous Winnie the Witch and her black cat Wilbur. They have so many adventures!… Have you ever heard of these books? On the internet, you can download the books for free, they have a lot of funny and colourful pictures. There is even a professionally voiced audio book that you can listen to while looking at the pictures.
There are various online libraries where you can read any book in English. Alternatively, you can follow English language group pages on social networks, where they post links to English books for children.
Apps for learning English
Apps are a great tool for learning English. You can brush up your grammar, practice pronunciation, learn new words and expressions and practice using them in speech. Many of these apps are free and gamified with levels and points to be earned. Of course, they won’t teach you to speak English, but they will give you a good head start.
These days, apps for kids are becoming more and more popular. They have useful lessons with cartoon characters as teachers. Each lesson is dedicated to a different topic. Kids get a few words and expressions that are later included into an interesting story to make them easier to remember. There are also apps that teach kids how to read. They learn bit by bit and consolidate their knowledge by doing various exercises.
It’s useful to use the apps for 10-15 minutes every day to keep up the practice. You can use the apps when on holiday so your kids don’t forget everything they have learned during the school year.
Games in English
Gamers can treat their hobby as an additional opportunity to learn English. First, true game lovers prefer the original English versions of the games they play. Do not change the game language to your language, leave the menu in English as well, try to read and listen to English speech and memorize as much as you can! Second, you can play online games with other players from all over the world and try to talk to them in English!
Having a pen pal…
You can also get a pen pal and learn English that way! Of course, nowadays you don’t have to send letters in the post and spend most of your time waiting for them. You could use social networks or messengers and talk to people in English as much as you like. Also, you can do live video chats.
Where do you find such pen pals? Try following fan pages of your favourite singer, band or actor. You can also find friends in the comments section of your favourite YouTube videos or on TikTok. Of course, go for the English videos and accounts.
Blogs and chats on Facebook also provide a great opportunity to pick up some conversational English and express your opinion. You don’t have to be a native speaker to leave a comment, so do not worry about making grammar mistakes. We will tell you a secret, even native speakers make mistakes. So don’t be shy to express your thoughts and emotions and enter into discussions.
Online news podcasts, tv or radio programs are a gold-mine of useful information and authentic English speech that you can listen to and watch every day! Sign up for podcasts on the topics that you are interested in to expand your knowledge and improve your English at the same time.
Kids who love Lego can listen to podcasts about Lego. If they love watching Lego videos, you can motivate them to watch them in English.
The most famous museums in the world now have their own website and online tours available. Tours have audio guides in various languages, and English is always one of them. A National Gallery? The Prado Museum? The Metropolitan Museum? Buckingham Palace? The Louvre? You can embark on an exciting journey without having to leave the house!
Kids love virtual tours in the museums of Astrid Lindgren, the Moomins, Charles Perrault, Lego…
You can find English video tours on the websites of various entertainment parks, for example, you can go on a virtual tour of Disneyland or the biggest oceanarium in the USA and in the world – the Georgia Aquarium.
Karaoke in English
Do you love to sing? Do you always sing along to your favourite songs? Find the lyrics on the internet and sing along. Soon, you will memorise the lyrics and have no trouble at all reciting it. You can aim to learn one new English song each week, for example.
It is impossible to learn English well by just listening to songs, but it will definitely be helpful in terms of increasing your vocabulary and learning new phrases!
It’s very easy to switch your phone, computer, laptop or tablet to English… Or even your microwave and TV! Doing this will mean your brain is in constant contact with English words and you will soon see English as something usual and normal. It will be easier for you to read in English, and it will help developing contextual guessing.
Teach yourself to read English whenever you see it in any public spaces. Pay attention to product labels and food packaging, labels on clothes, instructions for appliances and things like that. We encounter English in our everyday life, but we don’t usually pay attention to it…
Siri, what’s the weather like today?
Do you want to practice speaking English but have no one to do it with? Siri, Alexa and other bots would gladly help you out! Talking AI programs are actively being developed nowadays, and you can find a lot of free chat bots and practice talking to them in English. Try starting with simple topics, like the weather, locations, celebrities etc. Kids especially love talking to bots. If you notice that your child likes talking to Alexa, switch it to English and let them practice!
Nowadays, we have the opportunity to learn English from the comfort of our homes and pick any teacher we like. Just 15-20 minutes of English speaking practice a day, or 2-3 times a week with a native speaker, is enough to pass the psychological barrier and improve your conversational skills and comprehension in order not to be afraid of talking to people.
The Novakid English school for children aged 4-12 offers lessons with native English speakers. Kids learn new material during their interactions with the teacher without any textbooks That’s why the lessons are really fun and engaging. The trial lesson is free!