Picking up a book… writing a pen-friend …or doing a language exchange in English are all tried and tested ways to keep improving and practicing your English over the summer months.
In fact I would suggest them all but with the devices and tech tools available to you I thought I would put a bit of a spin on the typical summer learning ideas.
Nowadays you are never very far away from your computer or mobile device, even when you’re travelling on vacation. And chances are a lot of you will have a subscription to watch your favourite films and videos online. So don’t forget to give your favourite English-language movies a go in the original version.
Obviously this can be demanding and is not necessarily something I would suggest for lower level students, but there are many ways you can get support by choosing the films carefully, effectively using tools like the subtitles or breaking up your viewing into shorter chunks.
Change the language settings on your phone or social media to English
Ok, it sounds pretty minor, and it won’t mean that the content of the messages and posts you receive will necessarily be in English, but the useful language for navigating your device and social media will be in the target language and this is something everybody can handle pretty well (and if not you can always switch it back). An added bonus would be using your voice assistant which will now be in English too. A great way to practice your pronunciation. Does Siri (or Google assistant) understand what you’re saying?
Start communicating on social media in English
Don’t have time for a pen pal or language exchange? In today’s ever more connected world there’s a good bet that many of you have English-speaking Facebook friends or other social media connections who post in English. If you’re not already doing so (and you probably are) use these channels to communicate in English as often as possible. Or why not to set up a Whatsapp group for the summer to share your holiday experiences in English?
Of course this is another option you have with many messaging services like Whatsapp, but you could also try something like VOCAROO. Just record your voice online and get a link to share in seconds.
But what should you be recording? Well why not give a twist to that summer reading idea and create your own audio books? A novel might be a bit much to tackle of course, but a short story, a chapter, a poem or even a favourite paragraph are often enough.
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5 ways to watch video more effectively at home
One of the most common pieces of advice I will give students wanting to improve their listening (and quite possibly their vocabulary) is to “watch films in English.” But perhaps the question is: Does simply watching films in English translate into any real improvement in listening and vocabulary, or does it perhaps require a bit more effort than that?
1. Choose your content carefully
That latest Hollywood blockbuster action flick might seems like a good choice, but there are probably more special effects and car chases than actual dialogue. On the other hand, that academy award-winning drama might be too dense, and you would not like it. Obviously much of this will depend on your level and interest as well.
There are loads of other things to watch on TV but films.
THE NEWSprovides a familiar format with plenty of visual support and not only you might have already seen the same news in your own language, but the delivery of most news readers is carefully scripted which generally makes it easier to understand.
SITCOMare another good option. Once when watching a popular sitcom with a group of teen students, I immediately noticed how familiar the format was. There are plenty of pauses and canned laughter letting you know where the jokes are in case you missed them. The language is also fairly simple grammatically but also filled with many of the most common (and current) phrases out there, so you are generally getting pretty useful language as well.
But don’t stop here. A lot of this will be based on your interest.
How about a cooking show or reality? A nature or history documentary?
One thing’s for sure, we’re pretty spoilt for choice nowadays.
2. Use all the tech tools at your disposal
Gone are the days when you needed to plan your time to watch your favourite show. Most of you today have access to high-quality cable services which make it easy to search for your favourite content, record it, watch it repeatedly and even rewind and fast-forward. Turning subtitles on and off is also a possibility, (though make sure they’re not on all the time as this might detract from using other viewing skills like considering the context or looking for visual clues).
3. Watch things you’ve seen before
If you’ve seen Star Wars 10 times or more in your own language you should know the story (and most of the dialogue) inside and out. So why not watch it in English now? The familiarity with the text will help you pick up language quickly and easily as you are already primed for it. And even if you’ve only seen the programme in question once or twice, knowing the story will give you more confidence as you deal with the language.
4. Watch things in little chunks
Short video is often better for you as it holds your attention longer, so things like Youtube (there are even Youtubers who cater specifically for English language learners) and other videos you can access online are often preferable to films. But if you are going to watch something quite lengthy, there is no reason why you can’t split it up into chunks and watch it, say, over the course of a few days.
5. Take notes
And if you’re watching a shorter video or a bit of a longer film it will be far easier for you to focus on specific language. When a new phrase, word or grammatical structure comes up make sure you take note. Go back and listen a few times. Put on the subtitles if you need to and jot (note down quickly) the language in your notebook. So go ahead and turn on the telly, stick in a DVD or surf the net for videos, but don’t think that just being a couch potato and letting it wash over you will necessarily get you any closer to your goals of improving your English. In order for that to happen you’ll need to take a more active role as a listener and noticer of language.
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scru- tinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.
It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a mis- sionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.
The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, re- volves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our world; and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. It has air and water and all that is necessary for the support of animated existence.
Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, ex- pressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from time’s beginning but nearer its end.
The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far indeed with our neighbour. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely approaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow seasons change huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still incredibly remote, has become a present- day problem for the inhabitants of Mars. The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas...
You alredy know how important is to read in English in order to improve.
Here below you can find a list of books you can download freely.
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes - A. Conan Doyle
Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Moby Dick - Herman Melville
Dracula - Bram Stocker
The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
Treasure Island - R. Louis Stevenson
Antonyms are words that mean the opposite or nearly the opposite of each other for one meaning.
Below you can find a list of the most common ones, where the antonym is missing you have to find it out.
above - below
achieve - fail
afraid - confident
alert - asleep
amuse - bore
attract - repel
back - front
body - soul
bitter - sweet
brave - cowardly
cautious - careless
chilly - warm
constant, crazy, cruel, cry, destroy, deep, doubt, friend,
copy, dim, drunk, dull, earth, east, end, exceptional, full
countryman, failure, famous, follow, forgive, fresh, free.