So far I have only introduced you to theoretical learning methods. As a practically oriented learner, this will not do you much good in the long run. You have to get into practice. And this is where your friends come in. Find someone you trust or someone with the same goal as you. Write on WhatsApp in English, send you voice messages in English, and start conversing in English on a day-to-day basis. Either you have someone a lot better than you and who corrects you (which can be annoying in the long run) or you look for someone who is on a similar level to you. That does not help you with the correct formulation of the sentences but helps you to put aside your fear of making mistakes and write my essay. Someone who speaks English as badly as you do not will notice that you are making mistakes. You must understand what you are talking about. You learned grammar at Yoda, it doesn’t matter.
- YouTube learning videos
My favorite learning variant, which has mainly prepared me for certain situations, is YouTube learning videos. They are all in English, only subtitles are available. You will get an explanation of everyday situations, how you would probably have a conversation, what is good about it and which formulations you can use better. I wrote down my favorite sentences every time and instead of a dictionary, I created a sentence book.
I think that despite my learner type, all of the exercises weren’t entirely for free. Above all, the practical exercises with friends who corrected me and made suggestions on how to better formulate a sentence helped me enormously not to look like the last blunder.
How I learned to speak English during my trip around the world
Unfortunately, not at all in the first two months. Yes, and I’ll explain to you right away where my mistake was: I traveled with the Germans. Very bad mistake if you want to improve your English. Even if you plan to only talk to your friends in English, you will switch back to German at the latest when it becomes difficult. And that’s the mistake. If like me, you find it difficult to learn languages, you have to overcome this point. Whenever it became too strenuous for me to speak in English, I lazily switched back to German. And even if I didn’t know words, I just used German. After two months, like Gwendolin, I turned my back on the Germans and tried the following tips for you:
- Find host families
What helped me most was spending time with my host families in New Zealand and Canada. Often you will be offered host families for language courses abroad. However, I cannot tell you anything from my own experience.
I am contacting my host families through Help came. That means for four hours of work a day, I was allowed to take part in family life and got room and board for free. Not only is it a very cheap way to travel, but it’s also a good way to learn English. Because you will receive your work instructions in English. I still remember my first small hobby farm in New Zealand. I had to have the work instructions explained three times and sometimes I would write them down and ask the farmer if I understood that correctly. It made me feel stupid. The host families are used to having people with poor English as guests. Besides, the people are very polite. Nobody will tell you how bad your English is, but rather praise you when they can halfway understand you.
Another advantage of this form of volunteering as an English learning tool is that you have to write applications. No, don’t worry, not as ultra-serious as when applying for a bank internship. But a short description of who you are and why you want to work there has to be included. That was quite a challenge for me at the beginning. Fortunately, I have friends who have proofread my applications again and I was able to learn from the corrections for future applications.
- Game taboo
Yes, learning English is like playing taboo. This game where you have to describe terms or mime them without using the word itself. You will often find yourself not familiar with a word and you don’t have a smartphone to hand to translate it. And then you start to describe it – until someone guesses what you mean. Just that you still don’t know if that’s the right word. It is easiest if you search for the word for an object. Then you go into the kitchen, for example, and take a pan out of the cupboard to hold under the nose of your host family.
Just think of it as a fun guessing game. And believe me, thanks to the funny performance, you will remember the words you guessed more easily than if you just looked them up. Because now you have a picture of it.
- The right time for grammar practice
Now you have started practicing, you can watch how others form the sentences and you will get into wrong habits for better or for worse because nobody corrects you. Now, and only now, does it make sense to repeat the grammar. As a kind of self-control, so to speak. You will remember sentences from your last practice for the examples described. And also the mistakes you made.
- Make yourself a dictionary
You will learn a lot of new words. And you won’t need all of them often. Create a small vocabulary booklet on your smartphone. At the end of the day, write down the words that you have newly learned and look up words that you couldn’t think of during the day and that no one has guessed about playing taboo. This will help you to further develop your vocabulary. And if months later, you are back on a farm and you have forgotten what rubber boots mean in English, you can easily look it up and repeat the other farm-related terms.