Once we have covered the basic levels of our English language learning (as a non-native language, L2), there’s plenty of material that needs to be incorporated into active speech to avoid the risk of losing it. So we have to come up with tools that can help us use these language resources, i.e. vocabulary, expressions, idioms, collocations, etc.
A positive approach for the learning experience is to engage in activities that can reinforce and instill previous and current class content. When it comes to English immersion, we must partake the use of L1 (native language) with interactions of our L2 (English). Here are some suggestions that work, as they have shown effectiveness with my EFL/ESL students:
1. English instructions. All electronic devices should be set up to display English interfaces: Think about your cell phone, tablet, TV, or DVD players. When menus are accessed in English with large amount of words −technical but nevertheless, of frequent use in our technological era.
Terms like setup, reset, screen, theme, encrypted and many others are essentials of casual conversation for which we really need to understand their associations. There’s no better way for comprehension than needing to recognize meaning by giving its practical usage.
2. Adapting to culture: A wonderful result of studying whichever L2 you decide to is learning new customs, traditions, arts or sports, which can also be challenging. The good news is that our world has come closer than never and there are loads of ways to participate in related activities.
Watching TV shows, movies, internet videos, radio broadcasts or reading magazines and webpages are some. Listening to rock music, pop, rap or any other of your like. Start singing along and master pronunciation, imitating your favorite singer, performer, artist or even television commentator!
3. Leisure Time. Speakers of English as a second or foreign language must actively look for occasions to participate in dialogs or discussions. These opportunities can be found within communities and close circles. One of the most accessible ways to put in practice your speaking abilities is by joining clubs and participating in activities.
There are clubs for movies, literature, arts or even religious events, where you may find groups interested in cultural exchange. For instance, international institutions like Red Cross or YMCA usually offer positions of international nature, where you can mingle with native speakers.
4. Get a mentor: Making new friends has never been easier due to the social media resources available today, and people love to hear about other folks from foreign countries. One thing to do is to browse Facebook pages and start adding English speaking friends to your feed.
But real-world friends are even more beneficial if you approach them in your everyday life, eat together, go to the cinema or simply keep your channels open to chat or have a telephone conversation on a regular basis. English only, of course!
5. Express yourself. I know for a fact that the best way to develop L2 is speaking, just like it naturally happens with L1 when we are babies. But the second best way to master any language is writing. There are more advantages when you write though. Take for instance, the possibility of looking for the best word for your idea, and you have all the time to look it up.
Besides, this will make you discover the right words you’re missing to speak up your mind. You can write in many different ways: with formal structure for a school paper, using colloquial level when you text someone, or enriched prose with colorful idioms and expressions if it’s something more personal. Whatever the means, try to record your lifetime with pen and paper or a qwerty keyboard!
Taking extra time beyond classroom learning is absolutely necessary to guarantee retention. I call it a 50-50 deal where the school provides half of resources and learners must complete their part as well. Start today, right now, for every moment is part of your learning.