Nine ways you can improve English skills online
Speaking fluent English is a dream for many. However, many are not able to do it despite ample availability of free resources online. In this post, we will explain how you can improve your English speaking and other skills online using free resources and online English learning courses.
Learning any language has four aspects; Listening, Reading as “inputs”, and Speaking, Writing as “outputs”. Striking a balance between input and output is the key to success in mastering a language. In this context, the input is learning new words, phrases and parts of speech, and the output will be the practical application of those inputs in writing or speaking. In other words, to master speaking and writing skills in English, we need to focus on both input and output.
The internet is probably the best place to work on the “inputs” and “outputs” in tandem! It provides the possibility to learn anything, at any time and from anywhere. Here are some pointers on how you can make your English learning effective with the aid of internet:
1. Read in English Online
The Internet is the best place to read content of your choice. Try newspapers, science journals, entertainment blogs, sports review - whatever suits you. Try to ensure that you are reading from a source with quality English content. Download free ebook apps like Aldiko, Kindle, Google Play Book and start reading novels and books on various topics. Reading helps you to improve your speaking skills because it familiarises you with the language. You may even try services like Speeder to practice speed reading to enhance your skills.
2. Listen to audio in English
In case reading is not really your cup of tea, try out other digital contents like audiobooks and podcasts. Try out services like audible, audiobooks.com which have excellent online and offline audio content. You may even try subscribing to podcast services from various news media and listen to online radio from BBC World service. Listening to good content will not only help you with pronunciation but will also help you understand how to use specific words. Try to listen and repeat. Focus on the phrases, not the words and try to understand how different phrases are being used in various contexts.
3. Watch English media content
This is a fun way of learning! Watch English media content including movies and TV series. Platforms like Youtube, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, TED Talks provide a variety of English media content. You may also try live news from BBC World service. Try to select contents with closed captions on. To begin with, read along the subtitles while you watch the content. Pay attention to the words and phrases and the context in which they are used. Pay attention to how certain phrases in a sentence depending on context are emphasized.
4. Sing along songs in English
If reading or watching movies does not interest you, you may want to try this option. This has been proven effective for some people. Take your favorite songs, download the lyrics from Google and sing along while you play the song. You may also use any streaming site like Youtube and Smule. Learning English songs is great to learn new words and expressions!
5. Interact with other English speakers
While we have focused so far on the inputs it is equally important to test out the knowledge you have mastered. Subscribe to various forums like ESL/EFL forums and groups on social media platforms and blog sites. Be an active participant in conversation and start interacting with other English speakers. You may opt for other instant messaging platforms as well. Try out new words and phrases that you may have learnt. Try to take feedback if possible. Getting feedback will help you to correct mistakes
6. Online fun learning
There are various websites/ apps, like FluentU, DuoLingo, which provide new ways to learn English. Subscribe to such platforms and become an active user. These websites help you in learning English in a structured way. These are great for improving your English writing, reading and listening skills. These platforms typically provide fun online activities like quizzes and worksheets. Try solving those at least one a day and test your knowledge.
7. Use of other digital platforms
Try effectively using simple mobile apps like voice recorder to record your own voice and play it back to check your progress. Listening to your own articulation and how you are delivering the phrases is a great way to identify mistakes and take necessary corrective actions. Also there are mobile apps like ELSA Speak, that use voice-recognition and tell you if you’re pronouncing the right way or not. Try using those!
8. Practice, Practice and Practice
Effective communication and command over the language is not just about saying the right words. It’s also about body language, tone and confidence. So practice speaking in front of a mirror, paying close attention to your gestures, expressions or posture. Take help of the tools and apps mentioned in the earlier sections to identify your mistakes and take corrective action.
9. Online English speaking courses
There are various online spoken English courses like Speechify, that are available over the internet that offer you a chance to learn at a self-regulated pace. Some of these courses come with virtual classrooms and are live instructor-led. The Courses will also help to cover almost all the above aspects with guided learning and real time mentoring and feedback. If you can afford these, practicing English conversations with online English tutors is the best way to improve English fluency.
“Rome wasn't built in a day" and the same applies in gaining command over any foreign language - including English. It takes time, perseverance, and a lot of practice to master the skills. The effective acquisition of English lies predominantly in the repetition and practicing what has been learnt, rather than searching for and looking for new tricks/ tips. The tools and platforms are available for everyone. It is your responsibility to use those effectively and improve your English skills. Try it out.