While Australia is a multicultural nation comprising of over 200 languages being spoken nation-wide, English remains the official language of Australia and is arguably the one that would benefit visitors to Australia the most to learn. Furthermore, the increasingly globalised world that we live in now would also encourage bilingualism or even multilingualism – the more languages you know, the more connected and worldly you are, the more skilled at communication, the greater the career prospects you may receive. However, learning English is undeniably a difficult and lengthy task.
The Spiible staff were very fortunate and were blessed with opportunities to learn language other than their mother tongue and hope to use this to help others learn about living and studying in Australia in their own languages that they are comfortable with.
Below outlines six ways to improve your English that may benefit you in your quest to improve your English and may ultimately make your stay in Australia more enjoyable. While we do specify English, please note that these tips do generalise to learning any other language too!
1. International forums and chatrooms
Forums and chatrooms may contain abundance of very helpful information if used carefully and if the information is taken with caution. As it is open to the public and occurs online, there may be some flaws in the advice that they give so be sure to double check the advice or assistance given by consulting a teacher or a friend if unsure. However, they are a great help for practising a language anonymously with others. Some people may find talking to a computer more comfortable than talking to be people in real life, and this is a great method for them to practise their English comfortably. As it occurs through written text, it is also a great method to practise your writing and reading skills without it feeling like a chore!
While Spiible has no partnership or affiliation with Interpals, it has been a tested method by a member of staff who recommends it to those trying to learn English. If you choose ‘English’ under the ‘Language Exchange’ tab on the home page, the website will compile a list of penpals registered with a sufficient level of proficiency in English that you can converse with and thus practise your English. The same goes for you too – if you register the languages you are proficient in into the system, you can teach others too!
2. Videos, television shows and movies with subtitles!
Videos provide an entertaining and engaging alternative to traditional ways of learning languages, such as reading and speaking. Plots have a tendency to take people always from real life and into the storyline. This is amazing for us because we may actually forget that they we are actually trying to study. Videos also help a lot with establishing context for learned vocabulary. We may have learned the new vocabulary but we may not necessarily know when to use it but videos can help! Once we hear someone say a word of a phrase, we may think “Oh, that’s how we use it!”
Hire an online tutor, register for an online course, or enrol in face-to-face classes. These offer structured programs that ensure you have learned the language holistically and accurately, and usually comes with assessments that tests your progress. This way, you know for sure that you are learning. Furthermore, you can ask questions whenever they arise which is another huge plus. Alternatively, you can test our own progress without a tutor by taking free IELTS practise tests that are available online: IELT Essentials and IELT Exam. PTE has also included free materials for the PTE Academic test which can help test your English skills in reading, writing, listening and more.
4. Remember to practise speaking English!
Speaking to a native speaker of a language you are learning may be embarrassing, uncomfortable or even nerve-wracking for some. Students studying abroad may even choose to hang out with people who speak their native language because they find it more comfortable for them. But there are so many benefits of getting out of your comfort zone and speaking to people who don’t speak your native language. Not only can you form incredible friendships with them by sharing information about your own cultures and languages, you are more likely to feel confident in your English when you realise that you can understand and communicate with someone in it. For those learning English from home, the same idea applies to you too! Be an opportunist and speak in English whenever you can and you may see that you become confident and improve much faster than you would ever believe. Those who have learned another language can tell you that the ability to speak a language well does not mean you can read or write well and vice versa. So even if you excel in reading and writing, you must still work on your speaking! Practise makes perfect and practising to speak improves your ability to speak.
5. Language textbooks
Textbooks are not only for students in classrooms even though they are traditionally only seen there. Language textbooks are a great way to learn languages independently at your own desired pace from the comfort of your own home, in a library or even a coffee shop! If you are unsure about which textbook to get, look for the best textbook for you online, or simply look at the booklist of a local high school that offers English classes. High school textbooks are likely to be quality assured by your government’s education system so if your government thinks it’s good enough to be taught in classrooms, it’s good enough for self-study!
6. Having fun is most important
The best advice that we can provide you is to have fun with it. Learning another language may seem daunting or boring for some but it opens your world up to different cultures, perspectives and may change your life altogether. Learning languages can become very fun if you test out a few method and choose to proceed in the method which is the most enjoyable for you. There’s no set way to learn a language – everyone’s brains function differently. Some people prefer visual learning and others prefer written, some people prefer immersing themselves into the culture and learning it practically, some people like learning it from afar theoretically.
Another method that was loved by the staff but was excluded from this article was smartphone apps. This occurred not because they were less helpful than the rest but because we loved them so much that we believe that they deserve their own article! Keep an eye out for a separate article that will include a list of our favourite apps for English learners!
An alternate method of learning English which is tried and true and with almost 100% effectiveness is to immerse yourself in the culture by going to an English-speaking country (but this means we have to leave the house), such as… Australia! There are many reasons as to why Australia is a good study destination or travel destination for less commited English learners. Australian cities offer different experiences that cater for every type of traveller: Perth, Hobart, Brisbane, and Melbourne. It's definitely worth leaving home!
For any questions or advice about learning English or studying or living in Australia, feel free to contact Spiible at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!