I’ve met a lot of English learners during my time working at an English school. Some people start in the same classes but finish with different levels. Some couples travel together but many times one half of that couple is more successful in their English studies that the other.
Why is that? It could be that some people are better at studying than others. It could be that some people have a natural gift at speaking foreign languages. There are many reasons why this could happen, but after many years, many students and many friends, I have discovered one common theme:
They speak. They speak and speak and speak.
Learning English at school is not enough. You MUST immerse yourself in the culture of where you are visiting and speak English even after your classes end for you to get the most out of your time in that country. Here are are the secrets that my friends have discovered in order to perfect their English whilst living in Australia:
Do NOT live with people who speak your native language.
I know it’s comfortable to come home and relax by speaking in your native tongue, but I have proof that people who do this do not excel in their English studies.
Find natives to speak with.
Practising with your classmates is great, but you have to reach out to local people if you really want to understand expressions, accents and the culture of the country. You didn’t come here to speak with other foreigners! Get onto meetup websites, language conversation clubs and visit the local bars! Australians are very friendly but you need to reach out and say hi to them. They may have their friends already, but they’re always happy to make more!
Don’t be shy.
I’ve seen couples travelling together where one half is always out meeting new people and talking all day. The other half prefers to stay home because they are shy and worried about their English. Let me tell you – it will never improve like that! We won’t judge you for getting out there and trying! What do you have to lose? You don’t want to look back on your time here with regrets.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I’m not sure about other English speaking countries, but in Australia NO ONE will get mad at you for asking an English question. If someone asks us to repeat ourselves, usually we are sorry for not being clear or slow enough the first time!
Have you lived abroad? What are some of the things that helped you to improve your language skills?