Here in Charlotte, I meet a lot of people who live their lives in their first language, using English as a second language only rarely. It can be a struggle to keep a second language in your brain when you don’t use it every day. However, you don’t have to use a language every day to remember it. There are many ways to keep your language skills fresh and to keep learning, so that when you do need to use your second language, it will be at the tip of your tongue.
Explore the Community
One of the most common pieces of advice I give to clients is to get out in the English-speaking community. Step out of your comfort zone on a regular basis and put yourself in situations where English is the only choice. Maybe that means shopping at a different store, trying out a new restaurant, or making conversation with a stranger on the street. These are all great ways to work on your speaking and listening skills in English, and you might even encounter something new that you never knew you liked.
Read a Book
I’ve written before about the benefits of reading. Reading a book in a second language is a great way to keep the grammar and vocabulary in your mind. Different authors have different ways of communicating, so reading can be an excellent way to grow your verbal skills while you learn new words. Plus, during ten-minute moments of boredom, you can accomplish much more by reading a book than by perusing social media.
Listen to Music
There is a special connection between music and language. You can take advantage of this connection by listening to English language musicians. Listen to the lyrics of different tunes and choose artists who sing in a way that you can hear most of the words clearly. Some words may be too fast to decipher by ear; in this case, look up the lyrics online. The more you hear the song knowing what the lyrics are, the more words of the song you will remember. Sing along – I like to do this while driving – and practice your pronunciation.
Watch Some TV
English-language television, especially sitcoms, are one of the best ways to keep your comprehension abilities sharp. Sitcoms are an excellent source of English grammar and vocabulary, and they are absolutely brimming with cultural information. In fact, many sitcoms, such as The Office, Friends, and Seinfeld became so popular, they are often referred to in conversation among native speakers. By watching sitcoms, you can learn new idioms, slang, and cultural rules for interactions. Try to keep the captions turned off if you can. If you must use captions, then be sure they are in English, rather than your first language.
Google In English
Almost every internet search you perform during the day is part of an inner monologue, the conversation you have with yourself in your mind. In order to ensure that you are still thinking in English part of the time, make a point to perform some of your internet searches in English. Just by asking that question in English and considering the possible answers in English, that entire train of thought can occur in English, rather than your first language.
If you are motivated to become more self-sufficient with your English, then sign up for a free consultation to find out if speech training is for you. Our valuable services can provide you with the key information that no one tells you about speaking English as a second language. Our services are available in person at our office in Charlotte or via the web wherever you are.
at the tip of your tongue: in your mind, ready for you to say :: when you do need to use your second language, it will be at the tip of your tongue
encounter: find :: you might even encounter something new
perusing: looking at, looking through :: you can accomplish much more reading a book than by perusing social media
tunes: songs :: Listen to the lyrics of different tunes
lyrics: the words in a song :: Listen to the lyrics of different tunes
decipher: decode, interpret, understand:: Some words may be too fast to decipher by ear…
sitcoms: situation comedies :: English-language television, especially sitcoms, can be a great way to keep your comprehension abilities sharp
brimming with: full of, overflowing with :: they are absolutely brimming with cultural information
monologue: a speech or conversation where only one person is talking :: Almost every internet search you perform during the day is part of an inner monologue
train of thought: a line of reasoning, how someone thinks through something to reach a conclusion :: …that entire train of thought can occur in English…