Language learning is one of the most challenging learning activities. It is time-consuming, requires consistent work and effort to achieve good results. Apart from the classroom work, learners need to practice the language on their own as well in order to fix the acquired knowledge and skills and add new ones. In this article, we will speak about the main activities each learner can perform to have effective language practice outside the classroom. You can send these tips to your students.
Speaking to Yourself
This activity may sound quite weird but it is worth practicing on a daily basis. Language production is a whole lot of conversations. You ask questions, reply to others, react to opinions, empathize, etc. Ask students have debates and real conversations with themselves out-loud. Why out-loud? Firstly, when you speak, you train your brain, mouth, and tongue to coordinate with one another. You teach them to produce the correct sounds and shapes at the correct time. You need to provide your tongue with the muscle training it needs to perform during real conversations. Secondly, the spoken language is different from the written one in terms of the spontaneity and improvisation that comes with real-life conversations. So you can build your monologues on tiny conversations and then move to longer ones. Here is an example.
- “Today was so tiring.”
- “Well, I had a lot of work today and, in the evening, I met up with friends.”
Voice to Text
Many mobile devices and computers have a voice to text feature that lets you dictate notes and messages instead of typing. By changing the language of your device, you can talk to your device in your target language, and see how much it understands. This is also a good way of testing your pronunciation!
Translate Random Conversations
While walking on the street or on public transport you hear a lot of conversations. Try translating them in your mind and you will quite easily spot your language gaps in terms of vocabulary and grammar. I personally used this technique when a student and it was quite effective. I considerably enlarged my vocabulary in this way.
This is a great activity to improve your pronunciation, reading comprehension and train your mouth muscles. You can read any material that comes to hand. It can be a journal, book, reviews on different topics, etc. While reading pay attention to not just the words you are reading but also the message they communicate to us.
Use Materials with Automatic Checking
Nowadays, the web is full of materials designed for language learning. You can find a lot of reading, listening, writing materials with answers online on different topics and language levels.
TalkEnglish has listening lessons for Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced students. You have the possibility to listen to a conversation, complete a multiple choice quiz, and read a script of the audio.
ESOL Courses has multi-level reading articles with post-reading activities (multiple choice, grammar exercises, and discussion activities).
These two websites are just an example of authentic resources any language learner can use while practicing alone. There is a wealth of other material online which can be found quite easily.
Watch Movies, Videos
While practicing alone students need activities which apart from being useful and informative need to be also pleasant and enjoyable. So you can watch movies in the target language with subtitles. Youtube videos and Ted Talk arsenal are another great way of improving listening skills, widen the vocabulary, and gain general knowledge.
Write a journal
You can write a diary, summaries of articles/books/videos, notes throughout the day, write something down every day. Later you can come back to review your writing. You’ll notice some parts have improved and can correct mistakes.