Want English skills that don’t need an internet connection?
Want to talk clearly and understand English speakers IRL (in real life)?
If you’re hitting that moment in your online English studies when your eyes begin to glaze over, and you realize you’ve been reading the same sentence over and over again, it’s time to turn off your Wi-Fi connection.
Although there are countless web-based English resources that provide many benefits to language students, online learning isn’t the only way to get fluent.
There’s a wide selection of creative English learning offline activities you can do that are also convenient, inexpensive and relevant.
Some of them still even involve your favorite language apps!
Let’s take a look at why offline learning can be valuable for English learners, plus seven creative ways you can incorporate it into your life.
Why Make the Effort to Learn Offline?
With online resources constantly available at your fingertips, why make the effort to learn English offline?
For one thing, while online learning can be incredibly helpful for language learners all over the world, it’s won’t necessarily make you fluent on its own.
Educators, researchers and learners are all researching whether it’s possible to successfully learn a language just online—the answer is still uncertain. Some view the lack of real-world, human interaction in online learning as a barrier to fluency.
That’s why it’s important to diversify your learning tools and make sure you’re getting some offline time along with those language learning apps and websites.
What Are the Benefits of Offline Learning?
- Offline interactions can provide a sense of connection with other people who speak your target language. Real-world conversations can also provide exposure to important body language and nonverbal cues that accompany language.
- Physical learning experiences reinforce your memory by linking new phrases with experiences and relevant context.
- Freedom from the internet eliminates problems with connectivity and other technical difficulties.
7 Creative Ways to Learn English Offline
Experiment with these activities. Your learning success also depends on how well you match your offline learning activities to your individual learning style. Not sure what your learning style is? This article identifies 13 different learning styles and the activities that work best for each one.
1. Start a Vocabulary Log
This is a great offline learning technique for people who are visiting or studying in an English-speaking country. With a vocabulary log, you can turn everyday experiences into language learning opportunities.
Every day, you’ll encounter unfamiliar vocabulary. Make it a practice to quickly write the word or phrase in a small journal or notebook. Then, every evening, spend some time looking up the definitions of the words and phrases. Record those definitions in your journal.
There’s strong evidence that the act of physically writing something helps us to remember it, so your vocabulary log should help you quickly memorize these new words. The best part of this method is that you’ll end up with a personalized dictionary with vocabulary that’s relevant to your experiences.
Take this one step further and create flashcards for additional practice (here are some free flashcard templates that you can print out).
2. Take Advantage of the “Offline Learning” Mode on Your Apps
If you like using online English learning apps, you can get some “off screen” time by taking advantage of the “offline” mode. For apps where this mode is available, it’ll allow you to listen to audio lessons, stories or dialogues even if you aren’t connected to the internet. You can use this when you’re out for a walk or commuting to work. For example:
- Duolingo made an offline learning mode available in 2013, offering most of the app’s functionality without an internet connection.
- The learning website and app 50Languages also offers MP3 audio files that can be downloaded and shared on any device.
- FluentU offers awesome, authentic English audio dialogues for offline listening.
You’ll get to hear how English is used by native speakers, along with dedicated lessons on English vocabulary and grammar. Just download and listen while you’re driving, doing chores or hanging around the house! You can also download PDF transcripts of FluentU’s videos and audios for further offline learning.
When you’re back on Wi-Fi, you’ll have access to FluentU’s library of native English videos.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU 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'll 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 is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
3. Join a Meetup or Conversation Group
Take a courageous leap toward language immersion! Too often, fear of embarrassment holds us back from using a new language in real-life scenarios.
At the same time, real-life scenarios often provide the most effective and meaningful places to learn, as any new phrases that you learn are connected to a situation or context that is relevant to your life.
The only way to get over the fear of embarrassment is to practice. If you join a conversation group, you’ll be able to interact with others who are also making mistakes and learning from them.
How do you find English conversation groups? Here are a few tips:
- Public libraries often organize language exchange groups.
- Look for groups on Meetup or on social media (local Facebook events are often a good place to start) by searching for an English conversation group. Use search terms like “Adult English Conversation Group,” “ESL Meetup” or “Language Exchange.”
- Of course, you can always start your own! Recruit members for your conversation group by advertising at local coffee shops, bookstores and language schools. If you’re not sure what to talk about, start with a few simple small talk conversation topics.
- You can also hire a local tutor or teacher to meet up with you. If you live in the United States, Wyzant is an excellent option for finding a local tutor or teacher online—then arranging a time and place to meet up in person. Since they’re professionals, they can teach you full English lessons. But they can also spend time with you having casual English conversations.
4. Start Reading English Books Regularly
Dedicate time to reading a real book—not just social media posts and quick online news articles. Reading an entire English book will increase your stamina—in other words, you won’t get overwhelmed or tired so easily the next time you try reading in English. This is especially important if you plan to study English in an academic setting.
You can increase your motivation with fun, exciting materials to read.
Reinforce your learning by marking unknown words and making your own vocabulary list as you go. You can take this activity to the next level by starting an English book club (either online or in-person) with other English learners to help you stay motivated.
5. Visit a Museum
Wherever you are, museums generally have information provided in English. Challenge yourself to read the English descriptions. They’re often written in an accessible, straightforward way, so they’re a good resource for learners. Plus, with pictures and physical examples to guide your understanding, you’ll be surprised to see how much you can understand!
You can always compare with the museum descriptions written in your own language if you need some help.
6. Download English Music for Offline Listening
That’s right! There are plenty of popular English songs that are great for learning the English language. Using music is a powerful way to learn English, because matching the vocabulary with a familiar tune can help you memorize it more easily. The repetition in music makes its a good resource for practicing specific vocabulary or particular grammar structures.
Have a look at a few popular English songs that are excellent choices for learning English vocabulary and grammar. To download for offline listening, here are some options:
- Spotify Premium lets you download thousands of songs on up to three devices.
- YouTube Red also lets you easily download songs if you’re a member.
- Of course, you can always go the old-fashioned route and get CDs or records!
7. Play a Board Game
Board games create an environment where you can focus on specific vocabulary and grammar structures. There are usually key phrases that need to be repeated throughout the game, which can teach you important English words and phrases (for example, “go fish” in the game Go Fish! or “do not pass Go, do not collect $200” in Monopoly).
If you already have a favorite game, challenge yourself (and a few friends) to play it in English. Here’s a list of fun board games that work well for reinforcing your English practice.
Whatever you do, it’s never too early (or late!) to start the habit of learning offline.
Offline learning isn’t always easy, but it’s a surefire way to improve your language skills—and you’re likely to improve your social life as well!
With these offline learning ideas, you’re ready to create your own personal curriculum to keep learning English unplugged and off the grid!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.