Almost everyone who learns a new language will find their skills put to the test in everyday situations. Casual communication is, in some ways, more complex than perfect English. It doesn't always follow expected rules, and it’s influenced by all sorts of factors, like where the speaker is from and how old they are.
With that being said, mastering English for everyday life is also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding challenges you can set yourself. Have fun in the knowledge that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process – in fact, the more you practise outside of the classroom, the better! Here are five simple activities to develop your confidence and your fluency.
Stay plugged into your learning as you go about your day. On the MRT? Download an app or game that either directly tests your language skills or simply uses repetitive English phrases. Out for a walk? Listen to a podcast or audiobook – you’ll be surprised how many of the words stick if you do this regularly. Here’s a full list of our podcasts and learning apps for you to explore.
Branch out from textbooks
What are your interests? Fashion? Current affairs? Sport? Every day, read at least one item in English (for example, a blog post, news article, or chapter of a book) on a topic you find engaging. Reading widely will help you to infer meaning and context while building your vocabulary.
Increase your practice
Practice and repetition are the surest ways to improve your language proficiency. As well as absorbing English from as many different sources as you can, challenge yourself to use the words you have learned by making small talk, or keeping a diary in English.
Connect with people
The whole purpose of language is to connect people. When communicating, we are constantly adding signals and gestures that help us to understand each other. Lean on other English students to not only speed up your learning (because it will!), but for the other important advantages like finding encouragement, motivation and community.
Some people find that posting content on social media, or on a blog, is a great everyday tool for learning. For example, on Instagram, share your photos and add descriptions in English, or use Twitter to test how precisely and succinctly you can express yourself. Look out for groups on Facebook that have been set up for English learners, and you could even change your settings to English for an extra challenge.
How the British Council can help you master English for everyday life
Our General English courses can help you to gain confidence in speaking and communicating in ordinary situations. As a student, you’ll receive one-to-one advice and support on using English in the real world from our team of expert teachers. In addition to your lessons, you’ll also be able to attend MyClub social activities each week, giving you the opportunity to practise in a relaxed and welcoming environment, while making friends from around the world.
Find out more about General English, our everyday English-speaking course.