How to get more out of your language lessons

Everyone knows that language lessons aren’t enough to fully master a language – you need to do some work by yourself outside of class. But what should you actually do? Many students don’t know what to do apart from homework set by their teachers.

Firstly, we all hear about watching films and tv shows in English to improve our language skills and this is actually a good way to hear the language, especially if you watch them with English subtitles so that you relate the sounds that you hear to words that you see written down.

You could also find a topic that interests you and follow people online who talk about that topic. For example, if you enjoy cooking you could follow cooking blogs in English. This would give you a good source of authentic English as recipes on blogs often have explanations before the recipe. You would get the double benefit of practising your English and trying out new recipes.

A similar way to take in the language is to read news articles in English. If you aren’t confident in your level of English you can read articles on CBBC newsround which is aimed at British children so you get the advantages of reading authentic language at an easier level than other articles. When you read authentic articles, you should look up some words or phrases that you don’t know or that you can’t work out from the context. Another nice bit of practice when reading articles is to underline any set phrases that you recognise so that you remember them. You can also highlight any phrases that you would like to use in your own writing to make your vocabulary in your writing more varied.
You can also build on what you’ve done in class to improve your English.

After each lesson it’s a good idea to review everything that you’ve done in class – you can look at activities again and use the answers to try to work out where you went wrong the first time. You can also highlight any nice phrases from class that you want to use in your writing. You could use a notebook to write down all of the nice words and phrases that you want to use in your own writing.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to keep each piece of writing that you do in a folder. You can then look back at previous mistakes to make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice. This is a good way of improving your writing, learning from your previous mistakes and allowing yourself to try more difficult grammatical structures in your writing.

I know that asking you to try all of these techniques is a long shot because I’m sure you have a job and are very busy outside of your language classes. But why don’t you spend a few minutes on English outside of your class and try one of my suggestions this week.