When most people try to learn American English, they take classes, complete workbook activities, have conversations with other students, and maybe write flashcards to help them memorize vocabulary words. While these can all be helpful methods for learning a new language, there are many more creative activities you can do on your own to improve your English speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills.
Here are sixteen somewhat unconventional activities you can try:
Watch (and re-watch) American TV
A lot of English language learners watch American TV and movies (often with subtitles in their native language) to improve their comprehension skills. If possible, you should use a streaming service like Amazon Prime to re-watch movies or episodes of TV shows so you can have more than one chance to hear the dialogue and familiarize yourself with the show or movie’s vocabulary.
Date an American
Even if you’re not looking for a serious relationship, you might consider joining an online dating site and going on a casual date to practice your conversation skills. You could also try speed dating, a low-pressure event where people have a few minutes to chat with another person at their table before moving on to talk to another person.
Attend a Meetup
Meetup is a website where you can find all kinds of groups of people with similar interests living near you and sign up to participate in group activities. Find a group that looks interesting to you and attend an in-person Meetup in your city to build your conversation skills.
Watch YouTube interviews of your favorite American celebrity
By watching short YouTube clips of interviews with your favorite American celebrity, you’ll be able to practice your listening skills and entertain yourself by learning more about this famous person.
Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and sing an English song during a karaoke night. (You can buy a karaoke machine to practice in the comfort of your home, or you can look for local venues that have karaoke.)
Comment on English posts on Facebook
If you have friends who post on Facebook in English, make a habit of reading their status updates on your timeline and occasionally commenting back in English. You can also comment on the ProofreadingServices.com Facebook page in English here.
Go grocery shopping
You need to eat, so why not turn going to an American grocery store into a learning experience? Pay close attention to the labels on food to increase your vocabulary, and purchase your food with a cashier to practice speaking instead of going through the self-checkout line.
Read an American newspaper every day
These days, you can find just about every major newspaper online, so it’s easy to find an American newspaper to read. This will help you keep up with current events and improve your reading skills.
Listen to an American podcast
Start a blog in English
If you want to get better at writing English, you need to practice, so choose a topic you love and blog about it in English.
Read an English translation of a favorite book
Do you have a favorite book in your native language? See if you can find an English translation! Since you’re already familiar with the basic story, you’ll have an easier time reading it in English and picking up new vocabulary words based on context clues.
Change your phone settings to English
You use your phone every day, so why not give yourself yet another opportunity to practice English by changing all your settings to English? Since you’ll still be able to see the icons, you shouldn’t get confused about which button is which, and you will be able to see English words every time you look at your phone.
You don’t have to go to a restaurant every day to read menus. Most restaurants post their menus online, so look for restaurants in your city and spend some time “studying” their menus to learn more food-related vocabulary. Consider rewarding yourself for studying by occasionally going to one of these restaurants and ordering in English.
Carry a small notebook to record new phrases you learn
You’ll have an easier time remembering new words if you write them down in a notebook and challenge yourself to work them into conversations.
Stick Post-it notes around your house
Use Post-it notes to label common household items with their English names so you have an easier time remembering them.
Record yourself speaking
Use a tape recorder, your laptop’s camera, or an app on your phone to record yourself speaking. You could try talking in English about a subject you like, or you could just read from a text. Listen to the recording to get a sense of what words you need to practice pronouncing.
If you’re feeling inspired to try some of these surprising ways to learn English, remember that friends learning English might also benefit from these methods. Pass this guide on to someone you know.