Read books, watch American sitcoms, attend classes – these are the common answers international students get when they seek advice on how to improve their English.
Granted, many of these traditional methods are effective. Classes, for example, can give you a targeted approach to learning English for specific purposes, like academic writing.
But when it comes to fun (or weirdness, depending on your interpretation), these methods aren’t exactly top of the list to inspire language enthusiasts.
Life’s too short to learn English the boring way. Here are five other uncommon but fun and effective ways to improve your English instead:
1. Date someone who speaks English
What better way to learn English than to date a native English speaker? Better still, date him/her, learn to flirt in English and meet all his/her friends and family.
If you’re lucky, you might even fall in love at the end of it.
2. Refuse to communicate in any language but English with your housemates
International students often fall into a catch-22 situation when looking for accommodation while studying abroad. Rooming with fellow citizens means you’ve got a shared bond and makes transitioning to a foreign city and academic system that bit easier.
But this inevitably includes speaking in your mother tongue and losing the golden opportunity to converse with locals in your host country. Rest assured that there’s a way for you to stay friends with your housemates and improve your English at the same time: impose a rule that everyone in your flat has to speak nothing but English or pay some kind of penalty.
3. Practice tongue twisters
Nothing fixes your pronunciation better than a tongue twister. For beginners, try one-liners like, “She sells sea shells by the seashore”, or, “Round the rough and rugged rock the ragged rascal rudely ran”, or, “Quizzical quiz, kiss me quick” (this can be applied to method #1 above, too). Harder than it looks, isn’t it?
4. Start debates in class or through online message boards
What is college if not the bastion of academic freedom; where people from all walks of life are able to put forth and explore opinions in the name of expanding mankind’s depth of knowledge? For the sake of this noble quest, as well as to brush up your English skills, state your most controversial opinions in class and try to defend them as best as you can. If you’re shy in person, head to online forums. You’ll be surprised how many new words and concepts you can pick up doing this.
5. Get a pet
It’s been scientifically proven that dogs understand some human words and cats can recognise their owners’ voices. If talking to humans, especially foreign ones, in a language you’re not yet comfortable in is a scary prospect for you, turn to your canine and feline friends for some furry English language practice and priceless bonding time.