Want to study English in your pajamas?
Yes, pajamas are super comfortable—but there are plenty of other benefits to studying English at home.
If you study English from home with the right attitude and resources, you’ll be on the path to fluency.
Just check out these great ways to practice!
- 1. Watch TV
- 2. Keep a Diary or Blog in English
- 3. Host a Cultural Event at Home
- 4. Play Video Games in English
- 5. Attend Online English Classes
- 6. Study Grammar and Vocab Online
- 7. Listen to the Radio
- 8. Books
- 9. Talk to Yourself
1. Watch TV
You know all about “The Simpsons” already, right? Who doesn’t?
This long-running animated comedy is famous all over the world, and takes us through the ups and downs of a dysfunctional American family.
Not only is it hilariously funny and culturally important, but it deals with aspects of day-to-day life like school, work and socializing.
It’s also fantastic for slang words and cultural references. The main characters are Homer Simpson, a rather clueless and fun-loving safety inspector in the local nuclear power plant, his wife, Marge, and their three children. There’s also an enormous number of supporting characters!
You’ve probably heard of this massively popular American situation comedy about a group of six friends living in Manhattan.
Since the show went on for many years, it’s exciting to watch their lives and relationships with each other change. The friends themselves are all very different people. Rachel is trendy and fun, Ross is geeky and shy and Phoebe is sweet and slightly crazy!
Their English is very casual and relaxed, so watching this is a must if you want to practice sounding natural. It’s also available with subtitles and in other languages.
Still need inspiration for more video resources? Check out FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It’s a great way to figure out what kinds of English language videos help you learn best. Plus, FluentU provides plenty of tools to actively practice your English vocabulary and grammar, like interactive subtitles, flashcards, vocabulary lists and more.
2. Keep a Diary or Blog in English
Writing can be a very creative and relaxing activity. Keeping a diary or blog in English is the best way to get regular writing practice. As well as sharpening up your grammar skills, writing will also improve your ability to use everyday English.
You could be writing about your disappointing rainy vacation or the exciting baseball game you watched on TV—it’s up to you!
Of course, you can write entries as often as you want. Even writing one entry a week will give you a huge sense of satisfaction. However, try to write more every week. Set goals for yourself so that you need to write more, faster.
If you’re a perfectionist who hates making mistakes, you can show your diary or blog to native speakers and ask them to correct it for you. Don’t worry if you don’t know any native speakers though, lang-8 is a great language exchange website where language learners can help each other with writing. Looking back at your previous writing work and seeing how you’ve improved over time will boost your confidence, too!
3. Host a Cultural Event at Home
It doesn’t have to be a huge party, but hosting a cultural event is a fun way to learn about the culture of English speaking countries.
Christmas, Halloween and Thanksgiving are well-known examples.
For Halloween, many people like to dress up as monsters, ghosts or their favorite movie characters. If you’re hosting your own Halloween party, you can encourage your friends to bring their own ghost stories in English and read them by candlelight to create a spooky atmosphere. Use scary TV shows and films to learn some special Halloween words.
After Halloween, you could host a Thanksgiving feast. Parties for the winter holidays, like Christmas, are popular in December.
A fun spring holiday is Easter. It’s very popular with children, but who says adults can enjoy games and candies too? You can have an Easter egg hunt by hiding chocolate Easter eggs around your home and writing out clues in English!
You aren’t limited to these holidays, either. You can have a historical movie night or cook traditional food from somewhere in the English speaking world. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, as long as you bring people together and enjoy yourselves while practicing English.
4. Play Video Games in English
Most people don’t think of video games when it comes to learning a language. However, RPGs (role-playing games) and MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) are great ways to practice English reading, listening and even speaking.
Did you know that you can make English speaking friends through video games? Keep reading!
RPGs usually (but not always) take place in a fantasy setting and involve using magic, killing monsters and being an awesome hero. Since there’s a lot of dialogue in these games, playing one in English will really boost your vocabulary. You’ll also feel motivated to learn, because reading and listening to the dialogue is the key to understanding the storyline and completing the game.
Don’t worry about the new vocabulary too much—you’ll get used to it very quickly as you play. Some of the most popular RPGs that are great for English learning are “Final Fantasy,” “Legend of Zelda” and “Dragon Quest.”
MMORPGs add even more to your experience by involving a huge community of online players. One of the most famous is “World of Warcraft.” You can simply create a character and complete quests to play the game. The best part is that you can team up and communicate with other players! Conversation is often informal, relaxed and typed into a conversation window on screen. This is a brilliant way to practice thinking quickly in English.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have a headset, you can also try using TeamSpeak. This feature allows you to join conversations so you can chat with friends and meet new people too! Talking to your computer screen might feel weird at first, but it’s a fun way to practice speaking. Be careful though, you may get hooked (addicted)!
5. Attend Online English Classes
Just imagine having all the benefits of conversations and school-style learning without actually having to go to a classroom! Live classes are perhaps the best online English courses for extroverts.
Many online schools offer their own materials and packages and have teachers from all kinds of backgrounds. Often they’re cheaper than conventional English conversation schools, which is a definite plus! Generally, you’ll want to have a good internet connection to join in on such classes.
More often than not, you’ll be provided with some kind of video conferencing software by the school itself.
Primarily for Japanese-speaking students, this award-winning and popular school offers a variety of different daily classes including group, one-on-one and pair classes. It also provides level checks, instructor feedback and a virtual room where students can practice conversation outside class time with teachers and other students. For Japanese English learners, there are also bilingual instructors available.
One of the best known online schools, Englishtown offers one-on-one and group classes daily and has won numerous awards. You can also take a level quiz to find out what kind of classes would be most suitable for you. As with most other online schools, there’s an exam preparation package. It has been praised for the variety of learning tools it offers, including pronunciation practice and fun quizzes.
English Study Online
ESO is known for having good overall teaching quality and also offers different types of classes. These include one-on-one, business and exam preparation classes. It also provides homework so that you can learn even between lessons.
6. Study Grammar and Vocab Online
If you feel the need to brush up on the basics, there are plenty of helpful websites out there. Unlike textbooks, many of them are free!
English at Home
This site contains some excellent advice for beginners and is organized into sections on speaking, vocabulary and grammar. The speaking section is surprisingly useful as it tells you how to use phrases and idioms in conversation. There are also simple multiple choice exercises and puzzles to help you practice grammar, reading comprehension and vocabulary. Many of the articles are written with a sense of humor too!
Free English Study
Love or hate the vivid (very bright and colorful) color scheme, this site is a great resource. It has a huge section on grammar and is packed with conversational phrases. Another perk is that it’s conveniently organized into levels, so you can easily find what you’re looking for. There are also plenty of links to other useful sites.
British Council: Learn English
Appealing (pleasing) to children and adults alike, this is one of the best sites out there for free English study. The video clips are engaging and packed with useful slang words, and all video content comes with transcripts in case you miss anything. The games and jokes sections will also tickle your funny bone and are perfect for English beginners. It’s also a very useful site if you’re studying for your IELTS exam, since it has a variety of mock (practice) test papers to choose from.
7. Listen to the Radio
Since radio and TV programs are available online, you can sharpen your English listening skills anywhere! Whether you’re washing up or sitting on a packed train you can still immerse yourself in English.
BBC Radio 4
Treat your ears to a wide variety of programs including “The Archers,” a radio soap opera about the lives of people who live in the British countryside. Soap operas are programs about normal daily life, so they’re a great way to pick up natural English and perfect for advanced learners. Another popular program is “Desert Island Discs,” where famous or important people choose music, a book and an item which they’d take with them to a deserted island. This is a good way to listen to the rhythm and intonation of English conversation.
NHK World Radio
This is brilliant for people who live in or are interested in Japan. It features programs about Japanese music, culture and food. The presenters are from different countries so it’s a fantastic way to listen to different accents.
Reading isn’t just for improving your comprehension, it can also be a part of your private relaxation time! You can double your fun by reading about topics that appeal to you, especially your hobbies and interests. There are so many books available that you’re bound to find one that you’re passionate about.
If you’re a fan of nonfiction, you might want to read a biography of a famous person, like a movie star or your favorite sports personality. One popular example is the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, which contains advanced vocabulary and humorous quotes from Jobs himself. The writing is engaging and gets straight to the point, and it’s an excellent way to learn business terms.
The “Harry Potter” Series by J.K. Rowling
This is an ideal series for ESL learners, since all seven books in the series have movie adaptations and have also been translated into other languages. Harry Potter books are aimed at children and young adults, and the books get progressively longer and more complicated as the series goes on. So, the first book is more of a simple children’s book, and the seventh book is more of an intense young adult novel.
The series follows the adventures of young wizard Harry Potter who is lucky enough to be chosen to go to Hogwarts, a school for witches and wizards. The books contain a great combination of modern day slang and also terms relating to mythology which will make for interesting reading. You can also find a lot of great synonyms for words which will build your vocabulary.
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell
This is a very well known book which can be read in two ways!
On one level, it’s a story about farm animals who overthrow their human masters and take over the Manor Farm. If you read it another way, it refers to the Russian Revolution, with the animals representing important political figures and groups of people. The main antagonist (bad guy) is a pig called Napoleon, who is an allegory of Joseph Stalin.
The writing style is simple and easy to follow. It’s very exciting and hard to put down! It’s an essential read if you’re interested in politics or history. The language level is perfect for learners and can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
The perfect book for chocolate lovers and those with a sweet tooth! Like Harry Potter, it has also been translated into multiple languages. You might have seen the most recent movie starring Johnny Depp.
It’s about a young boy called Charlie Bucket who lives with his parents and grandparents in poverty. After he wins a tour of Wonka’s world-renowned chocolate factory, his life changes dramatically. As well as using simple language and explanations of what’s happening, it also uses some fantastic descriptive language.
9. Talk to Yourself
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re crazy!
Part of learning a language is becoming more familiar with it and building up your confidence.
If you need to practice before a big event, like a parents’ evening at school or a business presentation, practice always helps. You can rehearse the conversation in your head or front of a mirror. But if you’re feeling brave, why not record yourself? Making a short video of your conversation or presentation on your smartphone or computer is a great way to see how you really sound when speaking English. You can compare your pronunciation to that of native speakers on TV shows.
So, there you have it—some great ways to study English in the comfort of your own home. Curl up with a cup of tea and have a wonderful time learning!