February 22, 2021

How to make English fun again (and actually improve your skills)

Are you bored of always trying to improve your English skills?

You’ve been studying English for years, you’ve studied for proficiency exams like IELTS or TOEFL, maybe you’ve even done a university degree in English or use it for work.

But, if the only time you use English is when studying or working, it can get boring. It becomes difficult to improve your skills because when you’re done studying or working, you just want to relax or have fun!

If this is how you feel, here are 5 ways you can improve your skills and make English fun again:

1.   Listening 

Listening to Ted Talks, lectures or business videos is NOT a great way to relax.

To start enjoying English again, watch T.V series or films and listen to podcasts about your interests.

Netflix is a great place to start for TV series. There are several British TV series on there too if you want to practise listening to British accents.

If you are in the UK, all the major T.V. channels have websites where you can stream series, documentaries, news programmes and films.

The websites are: BBC Iplayer, ITV Hub, All 4

There are also many podcasts on many different topics, try these from the BBC to start with.

Tip: Whenever you watch something, turn on the English subtitles so you can read as you listen.

2. Speaking 

The best way to enjoy practising your speaking skills is by making new friends. This can be with native-English speakers or with anyone who doesn’t share the same first language as you. If you HAVE to speak English because the other person doesn’t understand your first language, the conversation will be more authentic.

It isn’t always easy to meet new people, including native-speakers, especially if you are living in a country with Covid restrictions. Here are a few suggestions to get started:

  • Find an online language exchange partner – this is where you find a native-English speaker who wants to learn your first language. You can meet up in real life or over the internet and half the conversation will be in English and half in your first language. It will give you a chance to practise speaking AND make new friends. Here’s a good website to find a language exchange partner
  • Join a club related to your hobby – If you are doing something you enjoy, you already know you have something in common with the people you meet. For example, if you love hiking, you can join a hiking group and meet other like-minded hikers AND practise your skills. The website Meet Up is a really great place to meet people with similar interests to you. If you join in the UK, you will meet many native English speakers. If you are in a different country, see what international meetups are available. Many ex-pats join these groups to meet new people. I used this website when I lived in Bangkok and Tokyo.

Tip: Always meet new people in a public place, meeting strangers on the internet can be risky!!

 3. Reading 

Many of my clients tell me they don’t enjoy reading in English. But many of them are only reading work or university-related texts. If all you read is 50 page academic articles, no wonder you don’t enjoy reading in English!!

Try the following instead:

  • If you enjoy reading novels in your first language, try reading them in English: Start with something short like a book of short stories or you try books that are aimed at older children/teenagers – They are usually shorter but are still really fun to read! (Well, I think so!)
  • If don’t even enjoy reading books in your first language, think about what you do read?
    • If you like graphic novels or comics, read those in English
    • If you like reading blog posts related to your hobbies, search for similar blogs in English
    • If the only time you read is catching up on social media posts, follow some English speakers you find interesting.

Tip: Whatever you read, make time each day to read something in English that you enjoy. Even if it is short, you will start to create a good reading habit.

4. Writing 

Many people HAVE to write in English – they have to write essays for university or emails for work. Neither of which is very fun!

But there are ways to enjoy writing more. You could try the following:

  • Keep a diary – write about your day every evening. A little bit of writing every day is great practice.  Plus your diary is only for you so don’t worry about making mistakes or not being perfect.
  • Get creative – write stories or poems. Creative writing is something that is not done often in language classes but it can be so much fun.
  • Find a ‘pen-friend’ – A pen-friend is someone you haven’t met but you keep in contact by writing letters to each other. These days, you could do this by email. If you have a language exchange partner, who you practise speaking with, why not write them a letter to practise that skill too!
  • Post on social media – whether you write Twitter posts or blog posts, post for fun. The style of social media is not formal but it is still a good way to practise putting your thoughts into writing.

So if you have fallen out of love with English and you struggle to motivate yourself to practice, try some of these fun ways to practise every day. Together, we can make English fun again!

…and we usually learn best when we’re having fun :)

If you want to practise your speaking skills, join my free group The English Café  – we meet on Zoom 4 times a month so you can meet other expats in the UK and practise speaking.