As the world continues to grapple with the threat of COVID-19, our social lives and daily interactions have changed as we know it. Social distancing, remote working, and quarantine have become the new buzzword, amid lockdowns and government restrictions on physical meetups. As people adjust to the new normal, there has been a seismic shift towards virtual networking, video conferencing, and online teaching to keep our schedules on the move. For those keen to improve their English language skills, what learning opportunities does the quarantine offer, given the absence of face-to-face interactions with your teachers and a competitive learning environment with peers?
While striving to improve your English skills, here are a few things you need to remember first:
- Learning needs to happen daily. Read, write, and speak in various forms on a daily basis. Continuous learning is the key to becoming proficient.
- You will find distractions aplenty in the form of social media websites and apps – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc are all designed to keep you hooked to their content, no matter how useless it is. They will try to keep you spending as much time as possible on clicking endless links, reading inflammatory content, or maybe even interesting ones (but of no real worth) to trigger your emotional nerves. Control your social media time.
- In tough times like these, it’s easy to get mentally stressed out. Humans are social animals and we love to connect with interesting people in real life, travel to explore new places, learn about unique cultures, and keep ourselves active. But with the ongoing pandemic, we are all confined to our homes and there’s no easy solution in sight. So keep hanging there and find different ways to keep yourself busy. Like learning a new skill, working out, and of course, becoming more adept at English.
Here are 5 easy ways you can improve your English skills during the quarantine. It isn’t necessary to follow all these steps daily – just working on some of them will do the job. Keep rotating the tasks on a daily basis e.g. Tasks 1,2 and 3 on Monday; Tasks 2,4 and 5 on Saturdays and so on:
#5 Watch English movies and TV shows with subtitles
Action item: Re-enact your favourite scenes
One unfortunate consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the massive layoffs and furloughs in businesses across the globe. With the pandemic and lockdown bringing life to a virtual standstill, most people have been either working from homes or trying to spend their time binging on movies and TV shows on OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Now you can either watch one TV show after the other seeking visceral thrills or you can turn this into an opportunity to improve your English. Note how different characters speak in various situations and the terms, phrases, and expressions they use. Always switch on the English subtitles.
Make it even more interesting by reading aloud the lines the same way as the actors speak onscreen. You could also memorise some of the interesting ones spoken by Walter White in Breaking Bad or Tyrion Lannister is Game of Thrones.
#4 Read English books, magazines, newspapers
Action item: Note down the interesting phrases in a notebook/doc file
Since you’re spending all your time at home, there will be ample hours to catch up with your reading. It’s no secret that reading improves your comprehension skills, helps you craft more structured English sentences, and levels up your vocabulary. Read anything that interests you – novels, non-fiction, biographies, self-improvement books, magazines, and even comics.
If you’ve just begun your reading journey, the Pep Talk India blog is a good starting point. You can also read from a variety of topics like English speaking and writing, building successful habits, and learning about great speakers at the Pep Talk India store.
#3 Listen to podcasts, watch YouTube channels that inform and educate
Action item: While listening to the advice, focus on the speaking styles
Podcasts are perhaps the easiest way to become more productive and learn about new things while being engaged in other work. You can listen to a podcast while you are on the go, while doing your office work or even while cooking or cleaning your house.
While listening to any podcast, focus on the way the speakers are conversing with you or with each other. Note where they pause, where they put stress on their words, and at which points do they sound animated/excited. This will help you in your real-world conversations with people. Keep making an effort to speak the way native speakers do and you will eventually be better as time passes.
#2 Maintain a writing journal
Action item: Write essays, opinions, movie and TV show reviews etc
Another good habit you should pick up while in self-isolation is to write daily. Maintain a writing journal (it could be a physical notebook or a word document) in which you can jot down all your thoughts. You could write an interesting story, pen down a poem, write a review of the latest movie or TV show you watched, scribble a book review, or just write about how you feel about the current socio-economic situation in India. Whatever interests you – from religion and politics to science, sports and entertainment – just keep writing. Once you make a habit of writing on a daily basis, you will have a good collection of your thoughts and ideas at one place. This could even serve as a good way to establish your credibility with professional recruiters who look for candidates with clarity of thought and creative ideas.
#1 Sign up for online classes
Action item: So that you can become confident speaking in a virtual environment
While improving your English from the comfort of your home may seem like a great proposition, for many people, going solo does not cut it. Without a speaking environment with fellow learners and an expert to provide critical feedback, they feel they are not achieving the level of improvement they desire. Moreover, in the foreseeable future, online interviews and communication through virtual conferences are likely to be a key part of any professional process – be it while applying for job or giving a presentation to a client in the US.
To improve your English speaking and communication skills online, join Pep Talk India today 😊