Have you found yourself in this situation? You are studying or just finished an extensive English course but it’s been a while since you used the language outside the classroom. You feel the need to practice more; maybe you’re losing fluency or forgetting the vocabulary. A great challenge for students of English who live in a non-English speaking country is to keep their language active, to keep practicing and improving as time goes on.
Although you can’t reproduce the conditions of an English-speaking country, you have some great options that will allow you to use your language on a daily basis so you don’t lose the level. These options have to do with the things and devices you use, the information and content you read, see, or hear, and with the way you interact with people.
Is your phone set in English? How about your Instagram or Facebook accounts? Set all your devices and web services in English. Your phone language, no matter if it’s a smartphone or a feature phone, can be set in English. On most smartphones, this will also change the language of the apps you have installed. Your media player, laptop (depending on the operating system), tablet and many other devices can be set to have their whole interface in English. On your social network accounts, go to the settings menu and do the corresponding adjustments too.
Are you reading Game of Thrones in your native language? Are you watching the dubbed versions of your favorite series and movies? Today it’s very easy to get rid of the dubbed versions of TV shows and films by just modifying the settings on your TV or decoder. You can have the original audio in English and even closed caption English. Using both audio and closed caption at the same time will help you a lot in case you miss some words or ideas. Another good idea is to start watching your online videos: tutorials, documentaries, news reports, comedy shows, etc, in English only. You will find amazing new content and creators, as well as learn many new things while practicing the language.
Need to google something? Use English, use it as your language for researching and learning all the stuff about your hobbies or school.
Would you like to try talking to a robot? Use a chatbot. Chatbots are artificial intelligence with which we can simulate a written conversation with a human and they have become very popular in the business and online entertainment areas. Beware, though, many chatbots are programmed to learn from the people they interact with, and this means they can also learn some mistakes, bad expressions, and terrible attitudes. A nice chatbot option is Mitsuku.com
What about talking to people? You can join a local language exchange community. Many libraries and universities have these, not to mention other sites like cafés or clubs. These communities are usually free to access. Do a quick online search, ask your friends, or visit your nearest library for more information.
In case you can’t join a local language exchange community, there are plenty of them online, both free and paid. These online communities give you the chance to communicate with native speakers in ways like chat, voice call, messaging and even physical letters. You can see these communities in action at sites like My Language Exchange, Speaky, and WeSpeke. Most of these websites encourage users not to exchange private data such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses since this could represent a security issue for you. The recommendation is that you interact with other people there as much as you like, but keep this interaction on the site.
What other strategies do you use for constantly practicing English in a non-English speaking environment? Also, what online language exchange communities could recommend and why? Share your answers in the comment section below.