1. Watch movies with subtitles in English or no subtitles at all!
Watching your favorite English shows can also have an educational twist! This can be an effective and fun way to build your vocabulary and reinforce your listening skills.
What I like most about this exercise is that it’s fun! And all it takes is just a comfortable place and your computer or TV.
If you’ve been studying English for a while and you’re interested in taking it one step further, you should consider turning off the subtitles when watching a video or a show in English. And make sure you keep a notebook at hand.
At first, it’s perfectly normal to feel that you’re missing half of the dialogues, but it’s just a matter of habit. The more practice you get, the more you’ll understand. And because you’ll be picking up new vocabulary, your English comprehension improves as well.
Alternatively, you could turn on English subtitles until you feel comfortable enough to turn them off. The important thing is not to depend on the subtitles for a long time, and to challenge yourself and push your limits once you get comfortable.
I always enjoyed learning through movies and series simply because they’re full of phrasal verbs and colloquial expressions, typical of spoken English. I think it gives us a closer look at how people actually talk in casual interactions.
Not ready to watch an entire movie or episode without subtitles or subtitles in English? Not a problem! You could start with movie trailers or sneak peeks.
If you need definitions, synonyms, and common structures, Vocabulary.com is a great resource.
2. Practice answering questions.
Maybe you don’t have a problem with writing or listening to others in English, but having a conversation is a whole different story.
You feel stuck whenever you want to express yourself in English, or at its worst, your mind goes blank.
When I was studying English, one of my weakest points was thinking of an answer when I was asked a random question. So I came up with this activity to overcome this problem. I simply planned ahead and practiced possible common answers.
Here is how it works:
From experience I can guarantee you that this simple exercise is such an effective way to build your confidence when talking to others in English. The key is to keep this practice short so you can add it to your daily routine. For example, you can practice while you’re having breakfast, right before dinner, or before you go to sleep.
I also recommend recording yourself while doing this exercise. Playing your own audiotape allows you to spot those parts of your speaking you’d like to work on more.
If you’re really short on time, you can choose a question or a topic and simply think about how you would answer it while engaged in other things such as, going for a walk, waiting for an appointment, on a bus ride, etc.
Wonderful time killer, isn’t it?
Of course, it would be ideal if you can find the time to practice answering the questions out loud. But if you can’t, this exercise will still benefit you greatly. It will help you stop translating in your head from your native language because you’ll be teaching yourself how to think directly in English.