What do water parks, parties and studying English have in common?
They’re all fun!
Don’t believe me?
Then maybe you need to change up your study routine.
Really, it’s crazy how many entertaining ways there are to learn!
The most important thing to remember when it comes to learning a new language is that you have to immerse yourself.
What does that mean?
If you take a sponge (for cleaning) and immerse it in water, that means you’ve dropped the sponge into water and the sponge is completely surrounded by water. So immersion is when you’re fully surrounded by whatever you’re learning.
To help you learn English through immersion while having a good time, here are five new study methods to try out.
How to Study English with 5 Mind-blowing Techniques
1. Do ESL Song Quizzes and Games
Do you just love music? Well, you’re in luck because listening to English music can help you study the language.
ESOL Courses’ Song Quizzes
Instead of just listening to music or translating lyrics, try a song quiz from ESOL Courses.
On this amazing website, they have provided songs attached with quizzes to help you learn English. After picking a song, click on the video and try your best to fill in the word blanks.
You can play the video as many times as you need. Check and make sure you have the right answers, and then pick a new song and do it all again! This activity is great for learning new vocabulary, practicing words that you already know and enhancing your comprehension skills.
Another super fun way to learn English from music is with the addicting online game LyricsTraining. First, select “English” at the top as your language. Then, you can search for a particular song or artist, or browse by genre (pop, rock, dance, blues, etc.).
Once you’ve selected a song, choose your level of difficulty: beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert. Then you have the option of changing the game mode before starting the game. There are two modes of play: write mode and choice mode. In write mode, you type in the missing words. In choice mode, you select the missing word from multiple choice answers.
I recommend playing on choice mode if it’s your first time, and later playing on write mode as a challenge or to work on your spelling. You can create a free account to keep track of your scores for each game you play. Get your friends to play too, and see who can get the highest score!
2. Make Mind Maps for English Videos
You might already be watching English videos on YouTube or elsewhere on the web, and that’s fantastic. A simple way to gain even more from English videos is by making a mind map after you’ve watched it.
What’s a mind map? A mind map can be a way to summarize information and take notes. You start by writing the main idea in the center of the page, and then draw branches out from the center. On these branches, you’ll write the main subheadings or categories related to the main idea.
From each of those subheadings, you can draw more branches to add details. Here are directions with pictures that show how to draw a basic mind map. They can be simple, like the examples in this article, or you can get creative and draw a lot, like in this neat mind map about Leonardo Da Vinci.
Organizing the information into a mind map and writing it down will really help you remember what you’ve learned. Plus, then you have a great resource when it’s time to review. Keep in mind that you can use mind maps to summarize information from any content, like news articles, short stories, podcasts, etc.—not just videos.
But to get started with some English video lessons, here are three places you can go:
- 123dialogues.com — This website has over 100 conversational lessons ranging in topics from “Introductions” to “Finding a Boyfriend. These videos are a great way to improve your conversational skills and add to your vocabulary. They work well for any skill level since you can choose the topic to watch.
- FluentU English — FluentU has the most amazing content and tools to easily learn the language from each video.
The site is perfect for all levels, since clips are neatly organized by level—from newbie (complete beginner) to native.
- EnglishClass101 — You can create an account on this site to get access to over 1400 English audio and video lessons. The videos give you access to professional teachers, and they cover everything from grammar and vocabulary to culture.
- James ESL English Lessons — From English spelling rules to idioms, James covers it all. James is a YouTube English teacher who knows what English learners need. This is a great channel for advanced English speakers because it deals with a wide range of topics that you may have never seen before.
3. Use a Whiteboard
You could spend a lot of money on English courses and learning materials if you want to. But one inexpensive tool that can really improve your studying is a mini-whiteboard. You can get a double-sided dry erase lapboard from Amazon that has writing lines on one side.
What’s so special about a whiteboard? Honestly, they’re fun to write on! There’s just something about how the colorful dry-erase markers easily slide on the board. And if you make a mistake, just wipe the eraser and you have a clean board to begin again.
I’ve had a personal whiteboard for years and years, which I use for foreign language study, so I love this method. The body remembers words better when you write them out by hand (rather than typing), and whiteboards give you that needed writing practice—in a fun way.
So, how can you use a whiteboard to study English? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Conjugating verbs — Take a list of verbs and choose a tense, then conjugate them one at a time on your whiteboard. This is what I use my whiteboard for the most, actually!
- Spelling test — Have your language exchange partner or a study buddy read you some words to spell on your whiteboard.
- Dictation — Listen to a very short clip from a podcast, video or radio show and try to write down exactly what you hear. If the audio comes with a transcript, you can then check your writing afterwards.
- Flashcards — When quizzing yourself with flashcards, write the answer on your whiteboard and say the word aloud before flipping over your flashcard to check.
- Online games — When taking a quiz in FluentU’s Learn Mode, you can write your answers on the whiteboard and select them on the screen. Similarly, while playing LyricsTraining, you can also write you answers on the whiteboard before you select it on the screen.
4. Watch TV Shows
Everyone loves to watch television. This is great news, because watching English TV shows is part of the immersive process that helps to improve your English speaking and comprehension. Here are three ways to get started studying English with TV:
Pick an English show to watch often
There are so many great shows to pick from, so choose something that’s interesting to you. It helps to watch different episodes of the same TV show, because you’ll get used to the characters’ voices and personalities.
When you first start watching, don’t worry about whether you understand all of the words. Just try to follow the main ideas. If it’s hard at first, that means you have room to grow and learn. Watch an episode from your TV show twice a week, and in time you’ll notice that it gets easier to understand.
Write your own scene
Once you start to know the show and the characters, challenge yourself by trying to write your own scene. Think about what the characters would say and what they would do.
You could create an entirely new scene, or write a new ending to one of your favorite episodes. If there are any phrases that a certain character uses often, be sure to use that phrase in your scene.
Be a kid again
Another great way for beginners to learn English is to watch kids’ programming like “Sesame Street.” These shows are aimed towards a young audience who is also learning English for the first time, so they can help you learn too.
Even though they’re meant for kids, they’re pretty fun to watch—especially when you feel proud for understanding what’s going on!
5. Add a Twist to Traditional Flashcards
Flashcards are a great way to test yourself at the end of an immersive week filled with English music, television and video lessons. Before you say they’re boring, here are some new and fun ways to use flashcards when studying English.
Colors and pictures
Studies show that the brain likes colors and images and learns better when looking at them. When making your flashcards, use different colors and pictures to help you remember what you’re trying to learn. Using images instead of translations in your native language will also keep you immersed in English.
If you find yourself stuck on one flashcard, don’t give up just yet! Before looking at the answer on the other side, cover it with another flashcard or your hand. Slowly reveal (uncover) the answer letter by letter to see if the first few letters or words will help you remember the rest of the answer.
Instead of flashcards that stay in a pile on your desk, tape them all around your house! Once a week, choose a section of your house, like your bedroom or your kitchen, and use Post-it notes (or flashcards and tape) to label each part of your house.
If you need help getting started, or if you feel like you still need to learn or review more basic English vocabulary, you can always try Vocabulary Stickers. These are labels that have already been made for the most common items around your home and office.
If you’re more advanced, get away from nouns and try to use other parts of speech. For example, you might put the adjective “fuzzy” on a stuffed animal, or the adverb “quickly” near a clock.
With all of these fun ways to study English, you’ll be talking like a native in no time. Remember to fully immerse yourself in the English language for the best results!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.