Staff at English language school ILI Massachusetts in the USA have been busy making some fantastic blogs for students in recent months.
These blogs share tips and tricks in improving and mastering English skills.
You can read their first blog below with links to more blog articles at the bottom of the page.
Top 6 Really Easy Tips and Tricks to Enjoy Mastering your English
Make your Intensive English course amazing
So, you’re enrolled in an Intensive English course online or on campus. What can you do outside of school so that you can excel in the classroom?
Learning English doesn’t happen easily or quickly. There’s no magic pill to swallow at night so that you wake up fluent in the morning. To make fast progress with your business English or academic English skills, you need to immerse yourself in English 24/7.
Learning any language takes practice, practice, practice. But the practice shouldn’t be painful.
Playing English language games like Apple to Apples is one of Top 5 Really Easy Tips and Tricks to Enjoy Mastering your English. Be curious about meeting students from around the world in an Online English Program. Stay interested in exploring a big city like Boston or a small city like Northampton, MA.
Above all, you need to maintain a positive attitude. That’s why the tips below include activities like hanging out at a coffee shop or watching TV to improve your English. Even using your phone is encouraged!
Keep reading for six keys to a can-do mindset while signed up for an Intensive English course online or in-person.
Tip #1: Speak with folks in the local community during your Intensive English program on campus or online.
Say hello to the clerk in a small market, like Thornes Market in Northampton, MA. A simple greeting can lead to a full-blown chat.
Ask the librarian for help at the free public library. “Excuse me,” you could say, “I was wondering if you could help me find an easy-to-read novel.”
Invite classmates to speak English at an Amherst small coffee shop for a surprising cultural experience. (Avoid the chain coffee shops and explore a unique local spot by checking articles like the Best Coffee Shops in Northampton, MA.)
Curiosity is key. Visit a community event like the Amherst farmer’s market and ask a farmer about the food. Explore an international shop like Ten Thousand Villages Gift Shop and ask the shop owner about different items imported from around the world. Ask for recommendations about exciting new local music in a New England record shop like Turn it Up! Visit a famous art museum like the Smith College Museum of Art, read the descriptions of the paintings, and ask classmates what they like and don’t like.
Or just sit on a bench and watch people. What are they wearing? What can you imagine about their lives? How do they act the same or different from people in your country? Ask a classmate what they think or write in your journal (see more about journals below).
These activities are all options if you take an Intensive English course in Northampton, Massachusetts, as well many other places in the USA and New England. There are many ways to jump into the real world, even during the Covid era.
Wearing a mask should not get in the way of practicing English. In fact, you can benefit from speaking loudly, clearly, and slowly to be heard through the mask. The person with whom you’re speaking should do the same, and if you can’t understand what they’re saying, just ask politely, “Excuse me, what did you say?”
Tip #2: Read newspapers during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
Besides speaking English in the real world, it’s a great idea to read about sports, entertainment, or current events in a newspaper.
For the big news of the day, read a national newspaper like The New York Times. To connect with the local community of your Intensive English program online, read a local newspaper like The Daily Hampshire Gazette. For simplified English, explore Voice of America.
No paper, no problem. Install a phone app and scroll through the drama and comedy of the world. Light topics like Hollywood or the NBA work great to keep you curious about culture and language.
Lots of phone apps are making it easy to browse articles while eating lunch or waiting in line. Popular apps like AP News (Associated Press) and Apple News can relieve boredom at the bank or bus station.
By keeping up with the news, you can connect with more people. Reading the newspaper informs you about hot topics to discuss with native English speakers and classmates.
Running out of things to say about the weekend and the weather? Reading newspapers gets you talking and writing about exciting events and interesting issues in your Intensive English program.
In fact, understanding the news of today improves your academic writing. You’ll think of more details and know more vocabulary to improve your TOEFL or IELTS English test answers.
Persuasive academic English writing demands specifics, and English newspapers give you those specifics, from the impact of historic events to the names of fascinating individuals to descriptions of important places–all in effective English.
In terms of vocabulary, newspapers contain short effective verbs, well-known idioms, and powerful adjectives. Adding description and emotion produces more impactful English essays, which can lead to dramatic progress during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
Newspapers tell stories, and storytelling is a key to writing effective English essays, personal statements for university, and business English proposals.
Not to mention the fact that you need to do serious professional networking in order to advance in your career, since being able to speak English is key to success in international business. If you’re a regular reader, you can more effectively make small talk, chat about sports and movies, or discuss economic issues, for instance.
Tip #3: Record your voice on your phone during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
It may feel weird, but weird can be worth it.
When you record your voice speaking English and listen carefully, you may notice pronunciation or grammar issues. After noticing mistakes, you can work on fixing them.
First, record yourself pronouncing specific vocabulary words that you learn in your Intensive English classes. Then compare your voice to the official pronunciation in your online dictionary. For example, record yourself saying a common word like “comfortable” and compare your pronunciation with the audio on the Longman Dictionary website.
Besides recording yourself speaking vocabulary, you can record yourself speaking short one or two-minute speeches. For example, speak for a minute about a favorite movie, song, or game.
Then listen to your recording critically. Does your voice go up and down like music (good), or does your voice sound like a robot (not so good)? Should you speak more slowly (probably)? More loudly (most likely yes)? Then try again.
Another approach: you can record yourself speaking with a specific grammar goal in mind.
For example, record yourself telling a story from your childhood. When you listen, make sure you use past verb forms.
Make predictions about technology and make sure you use future verb forms (will/be going to).
Talk about the pros and cons of social media and practice saying “on the one hand (+ a pro)” and “on the other hand (+ a con).”
Best of all, you can record yourself speaking about a topic before a lesson in your Intensive Lesson Program. That way you’re better prepared to participate actively.
If tomorrow’s class is a discussion about a reading on medical breakthroughs, record yourself giving an opinion about vaccines or organ transplants.
If tomorrow’s class is about using “as a result” and “consequently” in sentences, write and record yourself speaking your own ideas about the causes and effects of climate change, the pandemic, and social media.
Tip #4: Use technology during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram–it’s all good, as long as you use English. Because it’s social media, you don’t have to worry about using academic vocabulary or difficult grammar–just use short phrases and an informal style.
When writing your social media posts, use a new phrasal verb, idiom, or adjective. Describe a photo, share a moment, or make a comment. Best of all, invite friends to respond. The purpose here is not to make perfect sentences, but to enjoy natural communication. This helps you think in English, which is crucial to mastering your English.
And there’s more to tech than Tik Tok. Did you know Google docs can fix your spelling, even your grammar? There’s no shame in taking advantage of spellcheck.
In fact, Google docs can help you fix small grammar mistakes. When you’re enrolled in an Intensive English program online or on campus, chances are you’ll have writing assignments.
Save your handwriting for your journal. Use your casual slang on social media.
When you write sentences, paragraphs, or essays for your Intensive English program, take advantage of computer spelling and grammar tools to get every detail right.
Tip #5: Write a daily journal during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
Every day is a new experience, so put your day into words.
From small moments to big events, your day deserves a written record. A Google doc or notepad file works fine.
The thing is, you already post on social media and type up Intensive English program homework assignments, right?
So, why not turn off the tech and crack open a hardbound writing journal?
Writing by hand is an underrated skill that comes in handy–no pun intended–in real life, from the office to the market. Experiencing the touch of pen and paper can spark the imagination and immortalize a memory.
The point is not to write many pages or make every sentence grammatically perfect or complex. The point is to become comfortable expressing yourself spontaneously–in the moment, comfortably, and not like a robot trying to make it perfect.
If you write a little everyday, your mind will start “thinking” in English. Thinking in English (while not worrying about mistakes) helps you stop translating from your native language. The less you translate, the better you communicate in person and under pressure.
When you write in your daily journal, you can answer simple questions. What happened? What did you learn? What did you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel? What were the best and worst parts of your day?
A daily journal does not have to be serious. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be consistent every day.
Tip #6: Watch movies or TV shows during your Intensive English program online or on campus.
You may have heard of a little streaming service called Netflix? Or Hulu? Or Amazon Prime?
Don’t hesitate to spend quality time with YouTube, as you watch in English and with purpose.
The purpose can be to follow the lyrics of a song, understand the accents of native speakers, or laugh at the jokes of a comedian.
While enrolled in an Intensive English Program, you’ll study many topics that you can connect to the cinematic arts. For instance, you may study phrasal verbs. English contains thousands of phrasal verbs, verb and preposition combinations that have specific, difficult meanings to master, like run out of or call off.
A great way to learn phrasal verbs is by studying the dialogue of characters speaking in movies and TV shows, from old sitcoms like Friends to newer romantic comedies like 2020’s Holidate.
Action movies are fine, especially if you want to understand a plot that you can then summarize in your writing class or criticize to your speaking partner in your Intensive English program.
However, many superhero movies lack the realistic everyday dialogue as well as the American cultural specifics necessary to learn fluent English fast.
Instead, it might be a better investment of time to watch dramas and comedies where characters live, love, and laugh in the real world. You’ll hear more useful English expressions, observe more daily life, and learn more cultural details. Short TV shows and small-scale films can be found on any streaming service to watch on your phone or laptop. Start now with Top Movies to Help You Learn English Fast and Love the Language More.
International language institute of Massachusetts is based in the vibrant town of Northampton, USA. ILI offers a variety of programs from their intensive English program and university pathways track to TOEFL preparations, academic English business to TESOL certificate course.
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