Tired of STUDYING English? I don’t blame you. Some people think that to perform well on a proficiency test like IELTS they need only read textbooks and complete practice tests. That’s wrong.
Do you really think those who score 7 and above become fluent using books alone? Of course not! So what’s the secret to their success?
Mostly, they have become fluent because they have been IMMERSED IN LANGUAGE EXPERIENCES. Even if you are currently working or studying in English, and especially if you are not, you can create some fun and useful immersion experiences to increase your fluency and enhance other areas of your life as well.
Here are 5 suggestions:
1. LEARN WHILE DOING SOMETHING YOU LOVE
Are you a gardener, a dancer, an amateur astronomer? If you don’t have a hobby or special talent, then pick one up.
My niece recently travelled to Belgium to learn French but enrolled in a cooking class instead of a language program. She loved learning about the culture and language while enjoying delicious French food and wine. Her French and culinary skills both improved.
Contact your local community center or check your library’s notice board for classes you can look forward.
2. GET INVOLVED AND HELP OTHERS
Volunteering connects you to new friends and your community. You gain social skills in addition to English as you immerse yourself in Canadian culture and meet people in your neighbourhood.
Besides these benefits, English becomes necessary for communicating with those around you so you’ll be naturally motivated to learn. Moreover, you’ll be making a difference in other’s lives, and that feels good.
The YMCA has a volunteerism program which would be a good place to start.
3. SPEAK UP EVERYDAY
For a start, give yourself little tasks when out shopping, riding the bus, or in any situation where it would be appropriate to ask for information.
The possibilities for mini conversations are endless but I suggest you start with asking questions you already know the answers to. Why? Often it’s easy to ask but processing the answer to a question can be daunting. If you already know the answer, you alleviate stress and feel more at ease to engage.
So, perhaps you know where the bank is in the mall but ask at the information desk anyway and use the exchange as a learning experience. You will gain confidence and prepare yourself for speaking and listening exams at the same time.
4. JOIN A CLUB
Book clubs are common in Canada. Each month, a few friends choose a book to read and then meet to discuss. You could join a club or make your own.
How about an IELTS club? Meet people with common interests, choose an interesting series of podcasts or readings on a topic you all enjoy– then get together with your group weekly to summarize and exchange ideas about what you learned. Advertise the club and meet at your local library.
5. SING ALONG
Go to your local Karaoke club or get involved with a choir (most churches have one). Play games like Guitar Hero that bring people together to sing popular songs or have a sing-along party.
Overcoming deeply ingrained speaking patterns of your mother tongue can be challenging. Singing in English helps you exercise your ear and mouth so you speak more clearly.
One woman I know bought all the Walt Disney Sing Along CDs and had fun with her children learning the songs. While she was playing and creating great memories with her little ones, she absorbed the language and became more fluent.
Creating more rewarding language experiences for yourself will help you become more comfortable with the language and life in Canada. English will no longer be a boring subject to study, it will be an integral part of your everyday life and THAT’s the secret to IELTS success.