Moving to an English speaking country to improve your English skills is BIG. It's a huge decision, it's a big investment of time and money. And I want you to get the most out of the experience (because boy, will you see a huge improvement in your English conversation!)
It doesn't matter if you live in England or America, if you're moving to Australia of living in Canada. In this video, I'll share 9 tips to help you make the most of your time studying and using English in an English-speaking country!
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Hello I'm Emma from mmmEnglish! Since you're here at mmmEnglish, I think it's safe to assume that you're learning English right? But tell me, do you live in an English-speaking country? Or are you planning to one day? Perhaps you're planning to study in America or live in London for a year to improve your English. Maybe you're trying to get your visa to work in Australia or Canada.
I'm curious. Let me know in the comments if you are planning to study or work in an English-speaking country because living in an English-speaking country can be an incredible opportunity to improve your English so if you ever have the opportunity to do it, well do.
But just because you moved to the UK, Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand, it doesn't mean that you will suddenly speak perfect English like magic. It is totally possible to live in an English-speaking country and rarely use English at all.
So today I'm going to give you nine tips to help you make the most of your time abroad. Now I've got nine but perhaps you've got a few of your own tips too. So if you do, please add them to the comments if you think I've missed any.
Even if you don't live in an English-speaking country, you will still be able to apply some of these tips to the way that you study English in your own country. Now living in a new country is never easy and even more of a challenge if you need to use a different language but if you participate in your new life, you will notice a phenomenal improvement to your English language skills.
But before I go on, make sure you subscribe to the mmmEnglish Channel. Click that button right there and share this lesson with your friends if you think it could benefit them. Share the love.
Tip #1 – Don't live with someone who speaks your native language
And in my opinion, the most important one today. Now I'm sure that you would feel more comfortable sharing a house with a friend or a family member or at least someone who speaks your native language, right? You'd probably have a whole lot of fun with them. They will probably understand your jokes, they cook meals that remind you of your mum's cooking and share lots of nice memories from home.
But this is not going to help you to improve your English, right? At the end of the day, no matter how motivated you think you will be, you won't be motivated to keep practising your English when it's so easy just to fall back to speaking your native language.
So don't even give yourself the option to be comfortable. Don't give yourself the option to be lazy and kind of cruise-y. If you find a roommate who you'll have to keep practising English all day. As you discuss what you're going to make for dinner or you're thinking ‘Who took the dog for a walk?‘ or ‘Whose turn is it to clean the bathroom?‘
In this situation, you'll have the ability to continue learning and using English and improving every day.
Okay so what if you don't know anyone else who you can live with? Well, that brings me to tips number two and three.
Tip #2 – Don't limit yourself to only native English speakers
Native English speakers are not the only people that you can learn from. Other English language learners, who don't speak the same native languages as you, are an incredible resource for you. Spending time with or even living with other English-language learners can be a great way to avoid speaking your native language.
And doing so will help you to feel less nervous or stressed about making mistakes, right? You'll feel more comfortable asking questions or trying out new vocabulary with someone who is also learning just like you. Someone who is patient and willing to help. You'll share new words as you come across them and chat about some of the embarrassing moments that you've had.
But what if you don't know anybody else who's also studying English? How do you find these people?
Tip #3 – Connect through social network
Don't just sit around and wait for new friends to find you, connect with people through social networks. Facebook groups, Meetup groups, your local library, or community groups are a great start.
Most cities around the world have hundreds of online communities full of people just like you. So find groups of other expats or language learners or non-native English speakers who are living in that city. Connect with those people. They're going to really understand the challenges and frustrations that you're having because they've probably had the same experience as you, right?
So they can be a really invaluable support, especially when you're first starting out.
And there are so many websites like Craigslist, Gumtree and others where you can find homes with spare rooms and move in with housemates instantly. Even AirBnB is a great place to start and connect with someone local.
Tip #4 -Don't watch the football game at home
Whether you like football or not, push yourself out of your comfort zone and head to the local bar to catch the game. Even if it's not something you normally do at home, heading out to take part in local social events is a great way to meet people, to learn a little bit more about the culture and probably learn some local slang too.
Come on! What a joke!
And if a football game really doesn't suit your style, then check out any other sporting event then check out any other sporting event or a comedy show – you get the picture.
This can sometimes be daunting or scary to put yourself in a situation where you may not know anybody or you might be forced to chat with the locals. So local people tend to be more relaxed and and willing to chat in these situations. Often, they'll happily explain the rules of the game and tell you why the other team are no good. But if you don't feel comfortable joining a conversation or cheering from the sidelines..
Tip #5 – Don't put pressure on yourself to start speaking immediately
… Especially if you're new to a place or if speaking in public makes you feel stressed or anxious. It's okay to just observe, watch what other people are doing, watch their body language, listen in on conversations, try to understand what's going on. Being there and experiencing it will help you to understand it. Watch what the locals do so that you learn more about the way that they interact and the things that they talk about in social situations.
Don't let your fear of making mistakes or not knowing what to say keep you at home. Allow yourself to be surrounded by English, that way you're learning, not hiding. Don't allow yourself to hide in your new home because you'll tell yourself that you don't have the confidence.
But before you know it, you'll start feeling more comfortable about joining those conversations.
Tip #6 – Don't expect to learn only in informal situations
Living with someone who doesn't speak your native language, finding groups of other English learners, meeting people at the pub, they're all great ways to improve informally. But it's super to have a mix of formal and informal learning opportunities.
Try to find a local tutor who can answer all of your questions that you just need to ask, right? Keep track of all the things that confuse you. Actually, that's my next tip, so keep watching but go to your tutor with a list of questions. Ask them how to pronounce difficult words or about a strange expression you heard, how to say that phrase that you really needed at the coffee shop yesterday or what you heard your neighbour yelling down the street.
Even if you only meet your tutor for a month or two when you first arrive, it would be a great investment – both in time and in money. As long as you make the most of it.
Now what was I saying earlier? I think I had something that I wanted to tell you so it was quite important. If only I'd written it down.
Tip #7 – Don't forget to keep track of your questions
Whether you carry around a small notebook to write down tricky words that you come across or maybe you take notes on your phone, whatever. But come up with a simple and easy system to remember the language questions that you think of at any time of day. When you come across a word that you don't know or a phrase that you're unsure how to use correctly or just a general grammar question. If you don't make a note of it, the chances are that when you finally have the opportunity to ask someone like your tutor, you'll have a hard time remembering what those questions were. And then you'll miss the opportunity.
Making mistakes or recognising times when you feel confused are the best learning opportunities so take advantage of them, write those things down.
Tip #8 – Don't get a job that requires you to speak in your own language
Learning a language takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Sometimes it can get really frustrating and of course when we're tired, it's really tempting to take the easy route, right? We all do that.
But while it can be easy to give up or get lazy in the comfort of your own home, it's not like that in the workplace, is it? In the workplace, you must keep working on your English. So get a job where you have to work in English.
This will be a challenge. It's going to be a huge challenge for you. At work, there's no giving up or slacking off. You must use your English, you must find ways to improve and communicate clearly so that you have a better experience with your colleagues and with your customers, right?
Now you may be thinking ‘But Emma, my English isn't good enough to get a job. No one will hire me if I don't speak fluent English.‘
Well that brings me to number nine.
Tip #9 – Don't make excuses for yourself
If you try to find a reason why you can't do something or it's too difficult or even impossible, you will always find an excuse. It's easy to find reasons why you can't do something, why you shouldn't do it. And it's easy to tell yourself that you're not good enough. It's safer right? You reduce the risks of making mistakes.
Well, I say, stop making excuses and just go for it! The best and most exciting things happen on the other side of fear. So every time you hear yourself making an excuse, then block that thought and do the opposite.
All of these tips may sound like great ideas but the decision to make these changes comes from you. It doesn't matter how great your teachers are or how long you studied English for. Or if you live in an English-speaking country or not. So often we just sit back and watch these opportunities pass us by. There are so many opportunities around us and those people who take them will benefit the most.
So let's recap from the top.
If you're living in an English-speaking country, don't live with someone who speaks your native language.
Don't seek out only native English speakers.
Don't wait for new friends to find you.
Don't watch a football game at home.
Don't put pressure on yourself to start speaking immediately.
Don't expect to learn only in informal situations.
Don't forget to keep track of your questions in some way.
Don't get a job where you have to speak your own language.
And don't make excuses yourself. Take action.
So those are my tips. Do you have any of your own tips to add? I'd love to hear about your experiences living in an English-speaking country. And if you know someone who is living abroad right now or is planning on moving to an English-speaking country, then make sure you share this video with them.