- Study abroad in an Anglophone country
- Learning English by working abroad
- Plan your next holiday in an English-speaking country
- Learning English by watching the news
- Learn English online: download English lessons for your commute
- Make English learning fun: watch TV series and movies in English
- Improve your English with Young Adult Lit
- Make an English-speaking Skype friend
- Get a headstart by learning English at a young age
Immersion and daily practice are the two most effective way to perfect your English. Regular immersion and practice will help you to speak fluently with English speakers all over the world.
Speaking English will open up a myriad of other cultures to you, and being able to say you are bilingual will make your CV pop.
However, school English classes arent' usually enough to achieve total fluency. If you want to become bilingual, you need to speak English every day, listen to conversations in English, immerse yourself in Anglophone cultures and work on your English pronunciation. Below, we'll give you some advice on how to do all that.
Study abroad in an Anglophone country
If your goal is improving your spoken English and eventually speaking fluent English, you should consider travelling or studying in an English speaking country such as the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. If your future career path would benefit from English mastery, you will achieve the English level you need, master English grammar and achieve fluency if you immerse yourself in an Anglophone culture where you will hear English phrases and vocabulary every single day. To become bilingual, you should aim to spend a year there at least.
Why should you study in an English-speaking country? Not only will you meet English speakers, but a long period of immersion will have you thinking in English, in turn improving your speaking skills and helping you achieve bilingual status. One morning, you may wake up and think "I should have a shower" in English. Your first thought in English is a milestone that tells you you're well on your way to becoming bilingual.
Soon you'll even be dreaming in English! This can take anywhere between three weeks and three months if you are fully immersing yourself in Anglophone culture. Improving your pronunciation and developing your vocabulary will begin right away, but may take many months to perfect, as the English language is known for its tricky pronunciation rules!
You can take up English for beginners at any age. Your language skills won't simply disappear one day. If you follow our advice and practise your spoken English, listening skills and English grammar rules regularly, you can pick up English quickly at any age!
Living with a host family or completing a study abroad program are other great ways to perfect your English. You will be enrolled in an English school or university, depending on your age, and live with an English-speaking family, giving you plenty of opportunities to appreciate the culture. Immersion in and an English-speaking culture is the fastest route to becoming bilingual.
There are so many programs available to study English in Australia for ESOL learners of every level and background. You can sign up to the right course for you, jet off and spend a whole year or just one semester in Australia learning English. For those who already have a fairly high level of English, some programmes offer the opportunity to live at university colleges and enrol in classes at universities in Australia, just like an English speaking uni student!
Learning English by working abroad
If study doesn't appeal to you, you can always improve yourself English by working in an Anglophone country. This could be a temporary job, and if you love it, why not stay permanently?
If the job is in the right field, you can even learn English for business or at the very least a handful of English words relating to your profession.
Whilst the main purpose of your work overseas might just be to pay the bills or fund your travels, the nature of the work isn't very important since your final objective is English immersion and achieving bilingual fluency. If you're just starting out, try to apply for jobs that don't require fluent English or English as a native language. However, ensure any job you apply for involves speaking English every day, as that's the point of immersion. Certain shops, fast-food chains, cinemas or cafes will hire workers with good, but not necessarily native English proficiency, and you will benefit from speaking English to customers every day in your public-facing role.
Plan your next holiday in an English-speaking country
You can't always just up and move abroad - there are many family commitments or financial limitations to keep in mind. However, you can always take a holiday to an English-speaking country and practise your language skills while travelling!
Why not spend your next holiday in Melbourne or Sydney for their beaches, arts and food scenes? Or you could visit Hobart, a smaller city located in Tasmania, for a quieter cultural getaway that is off the beaten track. Wherever you go, focus on visiting Australian cultural sites, and sign up for guided tours in English. That way you can listen to the accent and improve your own accent while you're there.
When travelling, make sure to tailor your destination to your budget and don't overlook more unusual destinations.
Learning English by watching the news
You could learn English by watching the news broadcast of an English-speaking country. This could be local, national or global news. You can listen to news radio, podcasts or watch the news in English. For global news, try sites such as the BBC or SBS. For Australian national news that you can access from anywhere in the world, you can try the video section of the Guardian. Or if you are currently in Australia, there is plenty of national and international news available online through the ABC website.
News broadcasts are often used by ESOL tutors to help students work on their listening. Trying listening to the BBC (UK) and ABC (Australian) to familiarise yourself with different accents.
You can also use the news to brush up on your English expressions and copy the intonation and accents. In the beginning, you may not understand everything you hear, but you can always pick up the essence of the story.
And as you progress in English, you should consider evaluating your language level!
Learn English online: download English lessons for your commute
There are so many English lessons available online. Listen to these during your commute or daily routines.
You don't need to live in an Anglophone country to hear English daily thanks to English-language podcasts and radio broadcasts.
Make English learning fun: watch TV series and movies in English
If the films you like are made in America or the UK, make sure you watch them in the original language, with subtitles if you need extra support. For more information, check out our guide to learning English through your favourite films.
Improve your English with Young Adult Lit
Cast your mind back to your favourite young adult literature. Were you a Harry Potter or Twilight fan? Maybe you read the Hunger Games in your native language! A great way to improve your reading skills is to choose a book or series you've read already, and re-read it in English. This way you already know the story and characters and will be able to follow along, even when the book introduces unfamiliar vocabulary.
We recommend Young Adult Literature for ESOL learners - or, in fact, to anyone learning a second language - as the vocabulary usually isn't too complicated or formal, but the plots are still fun and engaging for adult readers. And it's not all about werewolves and vampires caught up in teenage romance - there are plenty of genres out there to suit your taste - fantasy, horror, science fiction, historical fiction...
Top tip: you could also try reading your favourite childhood comic books or manga in English. This way you can use the pictures to help follow the story, whilst picking up conversational English from the speech bubbles. If the comics weren't originally printed in English, make sure you read an official translation so you can be sure you are learning from good-quality English.
Make an English-speaking Skype friend
The Skype friend is the pen-friend of the 21st century!
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can stay in touch with Anglophone friends over Skype. This is a great way to learn English online without having to step out of your front door. Consider it the ultimate in-home English lesson!
Social networks such as Twitter or Facebook can be great places to find someone who may like to set up a language exchange with you. And you don't need to invest a lot of time - just an hour-long chat each week will do wonders for your English pronunciation.
Get a headstart by learning English at a young age
Of course, you can pick up another language at any age. Don't despair if you've already left school - there is still time! However, if you want your children to be bilingual, start English lessons as early as possible. They can even have English conversation lessons online.
Very young children can begin learning English at four or five through picture books, songs, games and television shows. By seven or eight they could act in English plays and write short letters or cards in English. At ages ten to twelve, they could think about writing a song in English or putting on a show! If they're in high school already, they could benefit from our tips on improving English writing.