7 ways to practice English as an ESL student in Canada
So you made it to Canada to study English! Good for you! First step complete. But you might find that you struggle with ways of practicing your newly acquired English skills. It’s can be intimidating making new friends, some times our shyness wins us over. Here are a few suggestion for ESL students who are looking to take their English development outside of the classroom!
- Daily Newspapers!
Most big cities have a free daily newspaper available for pick up at bus stops and subways stations across the city. For example, in Toronto you have a choice of Metro or 24. Both newspapers are easy to understand and display the information in small chunks, made for easy reading. Pick it up on your way to school and read it front to back – even the boring stuff! You’ll be amazed at how quickly your reading and vocabulary will improve if done every day!
- Join in on the campus activities and free clubs!
There’s no better way to practice English than to be in an English Only environment. At SEC, we have a very strict English Only Policy. That means that while you’re having a blast with your classmates during our St. Patrick’s party or any other fun school event, you’re hearing and speaking only English. And don’t forget to sign up for the free ESL clubs every Wednesday at 3pm!
- Make friends from different nationalities!
Canada is a diverse country. We’re lucky to have a great mix of nationalities, races, origins and religions in our country. It makes it even easier to make friends with people of a different nationality than you. If you cannot revert back to your mother tongue, you will be forced to figure out a way to communicate with your new friend. It may not be easy at first, but you will get the hang of it!
- Enjoy Tours and Trips with other students.
At SEC Toronto, we use a great tour provider company called ISX. SEC Vancouver has the pleasure of working with Club ESL. Both companies cater specifically to international students. It’s a great way to meet other students who are in the same situation as you. Don’t feel shy about your developing English skills – the more you use them, the better they will get!
- Listen to Podcasts!
Have you heard about podcasts? A podcast is an online radio show, recorded on a regular schedule. Available for free download from iTunes, podcasts embrace everything people and broadcasters like about radio, without the confines of the FCC (meaning, it’s okay to say any of the seven words George Carlin says you can’t say on TV), time constraints or excessive commercial interruptions. Many celebrities have Podcasts of their own like Kevin Smith, Marc Maron and Dr. Drew. You can find a Podcast on any topic that interests you. I’d like to recommend story telling podcasts like The Moth Podcast or Risk!
- Watch English movies and TV Shows
Watching movies or TV to help find tune your English skills totally works! And here is why:
a. You’ll get to learn real English.
The way actors speak tends to be representative of the modern use of English. It will teach you how native English speakers actually speak. For example, in beginner English classes, you might have learnt how to say “it’s a quarter to seven” or “it’s raining cats and dogs”. While these are correct, we almost never say these in real life. You can really increase your vocabulary through reading – but movies will teach you how to apply the vocabulary to real life.
b. You’ll learn words in context.
Sure, you may not understand every single word that comes out of the actor’s mouth – but putting it all together, in context, you will understand what the actor is trying to communicate. Super useful skills to acquire for living abroad.
c. You will hear how the words are pronounced
Intonation and emotions have a lot to contribute to the meaning of the words said. By watching TV or movies, you’ll see how English speakers communicate with each other.
- Download a free ESL app and USE IT EVERY DAY!
I highly recommend Duolingo. It’s super user friendly, easy to navigate and as long as you put in 20 minutes a day, every day, you will see great results. In each lesson, Duolingo teaches you about seven new words based on a topic. There are exercises you have to do in each lesson. For example, you might have to match new words with a picture, you might have to translate an English phrase back to your native language, and you might have to repeat an English phrase. With just twenty minutes a day, you can easily finish all the lessons in Duolingo in around three months. Much less stressful than having to study a lot every day to learn a foreign language!
Studying English is a lot of fun! If you are looking for ESL classes in Canada, check out our website http://www.sec-canada.com