Here are three learning activities you can do this summer which will have a huge impact on your English. I’ve chosen one “passive” activity that’s fun and enjoyable; and two “active” things which will give your English a great workout.
Read For Fun
Reading is a brilliant way to increase your English vocabulary and improve your grammar awareness. It’s enjoyable on its own, but you can also read in a more active way, taking notes of new vocabulary and phrases. Here are seven tips for fun reading:
1. Choose a short story
If you have never read a story in English before, start with a short story. It’s easier to finish than a longer story, and you’ll get a great sense of achievement – which will encourage you to read the next story!
2. Choose a book in a series
This is also really motivating. When you finish Book 1, you’ll want to go on to Book 2, and so on. One of my students did this. She’d never read a book in English before, and she loved the first in the series so much that she went on to read all three.
3. Choose a “graded reader”
These are simplified books that you can find at different levels of English. Because the vocabulary is simpler and the stories are shorter, you can read them faster and more easily.
4. Get a book with audio
There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can either buy a book on Amazon and pay extra for the audio. (Look for the program “Audible” where you can get the narration.) Or you can get a graded reader which comes with a CD.
5. Check out your local library
A great low-cost idea! You can borrow English books without buying them. Another of my students does this. Every week she reads a new book in English.
6. Use the “sample” feature on Kindle
You can send a sample of the book to your device so that you can try the books before buying them.
7. Use the dictionary feature on Kindle
Just click and hold a word that you don’t know, and a dictionary definition will appear. A student who does this can read a few chapters every week, without stopping at every word to look in a dictionary.
Get Free Writing Feedback
Write and Improve is a free service from Cambridge English. You need to set up a profile, but then you can choose your level and write a task. When you finish a task, you get automated feedback. You can then go back and change your work and the program will analyse your writing again. You can do this as many times as you need to make progress.
There are a wide variety of tasks, also including business writing and IELTS writing.
Work On Your Pronunciation
This summer you can make great improvements in your English pronunciation. Here are some ways to do that.
1. Focus on the sounds which cause you problems
Try the “minimal pairs” exercise. This is where two words are identical – except for one sound (the sound that you need to practise).
You can find some examples in this blog post.
2. Listen, repeat, record and compare
This activity can work in different ways. You can listen to the audio of a book, repeat and record sentences or paragraphs, then compare your recording to the original. Or you can listen to a TV show or film, and repeat what the actors say. One student even used a voice recognition system to record and compare his voice with the narrator’s voice.
Extra tip: Record yourself on your mobile phone. When you listen to yourself, is there anything you should improve? Record yourself again to hear your improvements.
You don’t have to study for hours and hours to make a huge improvement in your English. A great place to do short, but really effective activities is the English Fluency Club. Every week there’s a new (quick) challenge to practise your English!
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– 2 Complete English Fluency Programs (self-study at your own speed, when you want)
– 2 Live group lessons every month to practise speaking and pronunciation
– Weekly Challenges with video feedback
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2 personal lessons on Skype
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