So we are in the peak holiday period and whether you are off traveling, or have decided to stay more local this year, I hope you have a great time!
You might think this is the perfect time to take a break from not only work, but also from the development of your English skills.
Well, switching off from work is a good idea to relax and spending time with friends and family is clearly valuable.
However, completely switching off from your English development is not necessarily a great idea.
In fact, particularly if you live in or travel to a country where you are not speaking much English daily, then you might find not only does your hard-won progress stop, but depending on the length of the break, you might even start to lose your level!
So, what should you do?
Well, I have developed some quick, easy and engaging ways to maintain your English communication progress in short exercises, even when you are traveling and away.
As a bonus, the change of routine and habits can even help you learn more effectively!
Make reading in English work for you
Many people like to read a good book on holiday, but I know the idea of reading for pleasure in English for some people can be challenging, feel like hard work and be slow going. So keep it simple and read only what you love, whether that is celebrity or fashion magazines, or just a cheap novel. Here are some ways to make it easier:
- Read in 10-minute bursts: make progress without feeling like you have to read for hours.
- Read a book you know already: maybe you have read it in your own language, or seen the film, so you are familiar with the story. This way you can focus on your English, rather than trying to work out what is going on.
- Read the book and listen to the audio: whether at the same time to aid comprehension, or mix it up to, depending on where you are and what you are doing, e.g. listen while relaxing by the pool or exercising, and then continue the story by reading at home in the evening.
- Find dual language books: these are parallel texts with English and your own native language, side by side on opposite pages, so you can check any challenging words quickly.
- Take a break from the news: I love following ‘Positive News’ because they share what good is happening around the world at the moment, a nice antidote to the usual doom and gloom of the media.
Effectively memorise new English words
Who wants to spend their holidays writing down lists of new words? No? Luckily there are lots of quick and easy ways to boost your vocabulary learning from apps to voice recording new words you find.
Whatever way you choose to record your vocabulary, to help you memorise I suggest you capture the word/ expression, its definition in English, as well as your own example sentence with the word.
Chill out, watch & boost your English
We all love to relax by watching a film or the latest TV series, but do you find it hard sometimes to follow what is going on in English? Follow my top tips here:
- Watch with English subtitles on so you can follow more easily if there are any challenging accents or background noise, plus you are actively connecting English spelling and pronunciation.
- Make a quick note afterwards: approximately what percentage did you understand? What were you pleased about understanding? What was still tricky for you? Then you can watch out for this next time.
- Want to improve your comprehension of different British and American accents? Here is a list of films and TV series to help you:
- James Bond
- The Lord of the Rings
- Game of Thrones
- Killing Eve
- The Office – UK version & US version
- The Crown
- Downtown Abbey
Podcast heaven for upgrading your English
Listening to podcasts is a great way to progress your English, even when doing other activities, for example on a journey, on the beach or walking.
Clearly it helps to choose a topic you are interested in and there are also a few particular recommendations for boosting your English:
- The English We Speak: a BBC 3-minute podcast sharing each week a new contemporary phrase, idiom or expression, and how to use it.
- TED talks: short, bite-size talks, on virtually any topic, with the added benefit of being usually highly inspirational and educational. As well as individual talks, they curate playlists such as ‘Interview with a business mogul’ and ‘Work smarter’.
The speaking challenge
I appreciate it might not be easy where you are, especially if you are back in your native country, seeing a lot of friends and family, but see if you can search out the opportunities to speak some English. Or set yourself a mini challenge to speak on a topic from the news for 1 minute and voice record your opinion on it. Then listen back and note: what are you pleased with, what could you improve and do differently next time.
Your reason why
Finally, even though you on holiday, do not lose sight of why you are committed to progressing your English. Connect back to how improving your English communication boosts your performance and career goals. Find ways to build in just 10 minutes of practise per day and consider when will it work for you: first thing before the day’s plans, while you are relaxing by the pool or on the beach, or even over a drink before dinner?
And finally, celebrate and reward yourself for keeping going! Motivate yourself with the promise of a treat if you keep going through the holiday period and make sure you do give yourself the reward at the end. The only question is what will the reward be?