The decision to learn English is one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime. Why? English is recognized as the “most influential language” in the world, as well as the number one most connected language in the world. Therefore, learning to speak English will not only help you connect with others globally, but it will also further your educational and career pursuits.
However, learning English should not be seen as necessary drudgery. Rather, it should be seen as an exciting learning opportunity! Don’t fall into the trap of believing learning a language just consists of memorizing vocabulary words and drilling grammar. How do you make the switch from boring language learning lessons to stimulating language learning? Well, you look for ways to make learning English fun.
Studies have shown that when learning and having fun are combined, students performed better. Judy Willis, MD explains, “Your brain releases extra dopamine when an experience is enjoyable. As positive emotions cause dopamine to travel to more parts of your brain, additional neurons are activated. Thus, a boost in dopamine not only increases your own sense of pleasure, but also increases other neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, that enhance alertness, memory, and executive functions in the prefrontal cortex.” All of which are necessary when mastering a new language.
Now that you understand why you need to learn English and have fun while you are learning it, let’s look at six creative ways to make it happen.
1. Study Abroad in English Speaking Countries
While it is certainly tempting to save money by learning English online, you should not plan to learn English online only. First, it is simply not as much fun as other forms of education. Next, it is not as effective. Instead, you should enroll in a study abroad program in an English-speaking country. Let’s face it – when you are in an English-speaking country, you are going to need (and want) to learn the language quickly to communicate. This is why studying abroad is so effective.
Students who study English in Washington DC, for example, will be fully immersed in the culture of this metropolitan city. Thereby, having English learning opportunities at every corner. The premiere language schools in Washington DC, inlingua, prides itself on being a dedicated language school. In addition to having a proven English program that helps students become fluent in English faster than other programs, they also strive to provide students with a true cultural experience by encouraging tourism, social activities, and relationships.
And, those vocabulary and grammar drills? That is not the focus at this Washington language institute; instead, the emphasis is placed on learning through speaking English. Learning through speaking is much more fun than memorizing information in a textbook. More importantly, learning through speaking is more effective because it gives the student immediate practice and constant error correction.
2. Read and Discuss Books in English
Another fun way to learn English is to read books in English. Don’t let this idea scare you! Start where you are able. For example, there is nothing wrong with beginning with children’s books in English and moving your way up. You have complete freedom in the book genres. For instance, many English language learners like to read graphic novels or comic books because these are both enjoyable and easy to read.
As you advance, you may also enjoy joining an English-speaking book club. Book clubs meet to discuss a book they have read, which will give you practice reading and communicating ideas in English. Plus, book clubs typically feature food and drinks.
3. Play Games in English
There are tons of language learning apps you can download to your mobile devices that are designed to make learning fun. While these do not take the place of an actual English class in DC, they can help you practice English before or after your ESL classes. Plus, there are games that you can play online against friends.
Once you feel comfortable, you should also try playing English board games. Have a game night with your friends and you will learn English while playing and having fun. Game nights take individual game playing and turn it into a fun, social activity. Some great games for English language learners are Scrabble, Scattegories, Apples to Apples, Taboo, and Boggle. In fact, even serious language institutes use games like these in their language classes because they are so effective in language training.
4. Watch Movies and TV in English
Learning English is the perfect time to not feel guilty for watching too much television! Think of it as a learning activity when you watch television and movies in English. If possible, turn on the captions, so you can also see and read the English words on the screen. Television is a great way to learn how words are actually used in conversation and how body language influences meaning. Plus, if you choose to take English courses in Washington DC, you will also have plenty of options for seeing free or cheap movies.
If you enjoy YouTube, follow some of your favorite English speaking YouTube stars. As you watch them regularly in English, you will begin to understand more of what they are saying. The same thing applies to podcasts.
5. Listen to Music in English
Embrace the music! Find singers, bands, and performers who sing in English, and listen to their music regularly. Try to learn the English lyrics and sing along. If you are feeling brave and enjoy the nightlife scene, try your hand at singing karaoke in English. Not only is it fun to learn through music, it is also effective. Musical activities require you to use the same parts of your brain responsible for language.
6. Cook and Eat in English
If you enjoy cooking or baking, try following recipes in English. Use an English cookbook and try to whip up some culinary delights in your own kitchen. Take it step further and prepare a traditional English meal and host a dinner party with your friends. At the dinner party, speak in English. While not everyone likes to cook, everyone likes to eat! When you go out to eat, make a point to try to order your meals in English at restaurants. See? Even a night out with friends can be a fun English language learning opportunity.