Summer is the best time for improving your English. The sun is shining, people are smiling more, everything seems lighter and easier. Life is good. You take a lot of time off compared to the rest of the year, you travel, you are rested and more energized. When we are relaxed and enjoying ourselves, we learn better. So why not do the following in order to maximize your progress and surround yourself with natural English? Here are my 10 tips.
You know you love browsing those airport shops. How about instead of using your spare cash on duty free perfumes or chocolates, you grab a magazine in English? It can be Elle, National Geographic or Time – depends on your taste/interests. I always like to look for Rolling Stone, Psychology and New Philosopher. And you?
Listen to your favourite music genres, summer is the best time for that! If you haven’t tried Spotify yet, go for it, it’s one of the best inventions since smart phones. You can download your favourite music when on a wifi and then listen with your earphones on the go. And if you want to take it to the next level, play with lyrics of songs over at Lyricstraining (also a mobile app). In the summer I especially enjoy reggae, the 70s, swing and latin music. And what are your favourite genres?
Summer is the best time to watch some classics in the original and the open-air cinemas often have them on display. For example, in my hometown of Brno we have many open-air cinemas. The movies are always subtitled so it’s nice to hear the sound of English in the open air! Are you planning to go?
Summer is perfect for reading – in your garden, on the beach, while travelling. Read something easy and fun. How about picking a love or crime story? Why not Eat Pray Love or one of Agatha Christie’s books? I am planning to read one of the Scandinavian crime bestsellers. And you?
Attend at least one big music festival with international artists. There will be an international audience so once again, a chance to meet new people from other countries. And I guarantee you that live music in English will be one of the best experiences this summer. Last year I picked Colours of Ostrava and Robbie Williams in Prague and I had an absolute blast. At Colours of Ostrava many artists give interviews before their concerts so you get a chance to be very close to the music stars!
As Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” Best way to practise English. Period. If you need ideas, here is a great travel channel on Youtube.
Whether you travel on a bus, train or airplane why not chat to people while waiting by the gate or having lunch in the dining section of a train? You can ask the person about their travels and you never know – you can become friends for life! Do you know this scene from Before Sunrise?
It’s so much easier to make new friends in the summer. If you get a chance, go deeper and make a new friend or two and then keep in touch with them after the summer. At a festival, on a plane, in the hotel, on the beach, in a restaurant, at a campsite,…. People are out more and longer and everyone’s more relaxed. Just stop worrying about your mistakes for one night, with a nice glass of wine in your hand. Magic will happen, I promise!
If you only want to try short conversations, practise small talk. It is one of the most problematic parts of our communication. Why? Because it’s bloody hard to keep light, carefree conversation going. So practise – with tourists visiting your town, with the waiter in your hotel, with travellers and locals on your holiday abroad. If you are not travelling this summer, you can download the Hello Talk app to your phone and make friends online.
Couchsurfing has been a hit for several decades now. It’s a different way to travel. You stay in people’s homes for free and you get to experience the local culture. There is no way you wouldn’t use English when Couchsurfing. If you’ve never heard of Couchsurfing, watch this video to understand this phenomenon better. And then register, set up a profile and off you go!