It is very difficult to achieve a good level of English or any other language without direct face to face contact with a native. You may enroll in an academy, have private lessons, learn it at Secondary School or simply just travel abroad.
Another option is an exchange, two people or mixed groups of native speakers of two different languages spend half the time speaking in one language and half the time in the other language. All adopt two roles, one as a teacher and one as a student.
Why is it a good idea?
- You can learn the language of everyday life in a relaxed atmosphere. I mean, the informal expressions (I gotta leave now; Hi guys, what’s up?), idioms (I can’t make up my mind, someone has to help me; I’m glad the cat didn’t get your tongue), and slang (Who blew off? Oh, you cheeky monkey!) that native speakers use all the time.
- You can get to know people, and it offers the possibility of making new friends – who knows if a romance will spark from these acquaintances?
- The limit is always your time, not your money.
- There are several options: face to face conversation; correspondence, a pen-pal is a person that you send and receive letters from and come to know by friendly correspondence; and chat with Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
Be aware that some websites are NOT free:
- italki.com helps you “find an on-line teacher for personal language lessons.”
- MyLanguageExchange.com, a Language Exchange Online Community. It boasts “over 1 million members from over 133 countries, practising 115 languages!”
- ConversationExchange.com is a website where you can have face to face conversation, correspondence, and text and voice chat.
- Polyglot Club is the place to find friends to exchange languages. It is 100% free.
- Penpal World is a web where you can meet over 1,500,000 pen pals from every country on the planet.
- Interpals is about finding friends, learning languages, and discovering the world.
Set your operating system and applications to English. If you use Windows, you are running out of luck because Windows only comes with one language by default and you can’t change it.
However, if you use GNU/Linux, you can change the language of both the operating system, and all the applications at will. For instance, in Ubuntu, you can change it from: System Settings > Language Support > Languages.
There are also many applications on the market that let you choose the language during the installation process. Some good examples are web browsers such as, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Chrome.
Mozilla Firefox allows you to install many add-ons that are very useful for learning English. Once you have launched Mozilla Firefox, select Tools, and then, Add-ons.
Visit the Add-ons website for Firefox. As you can see in the Language Support category, you have access to translators, dictionaries, Text to Voice, etc.
You can also install more Search Engines to make your life easier: Manage Search Engines > Get more or Manage search engines. Good examples are: The Free Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Google Translator for Firefox, Quick Translator, Ask.com, Bing, and Goofram Search.
Try as much as possible not to translate your thoughts and sentences into English, but to think in English.
Avoid using online translators, such as Google Translator
Take advantage of monolingual dictionaries like:
Go to Google and click on Search settings, Languages and select English as your language of choice in “Which language should Google products use?” and “Currently showing search results in: English.”
Make sure you also save the settings by clicking the blue SAVE button below the page!
En esta página encontrarás multitud de recursos que te ayudarán a mejorar tu listening en inglés: vídeos, televisión, web, etc.
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.Nelson Mandela.
Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can; there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.Sarah Caldwell.
Variety is the spice of life.Anonymous.
One of the basic strategies to significantly increase your language skills is to listen as much as possible.
What can you hear? In principle, as the old saying goes, Variety is the spice of life. It is all about listening to various sources, about many subjects, natives of different nationalities, accents, etc.
The web sites you might want to visit are: -free of charge, of course- 🙂
- ESLVideo.com is an impressive collection of videos organized by level: Beginner, Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, and Upper Intermediate. It includes quizzes to assess comprehension.
- Elllo has an incredibly large number of videos, games, and printable PDF worksheets, as well as, downloadable MP3 audio files.
- YouTube is another outstanding resource. It is packed with free videos about anything and everything you could possibly want to know. In particular, there are many ESL courses, such as, JenniferESL, The Daily English Show, Learn English with Mister Duncan, BBC Learning English, amongst others.
- Other websites for watching videos are: Open Culture, one of the best free cultural & educational media on the web; CNN Student News, which is designed for use in middle and high school classrooms; Ted, Ideas worth spreading, packed with many inspiring videos to watch; OVGuide, Your On-line Video Guide, etc.
- Television. Many consider television to be bad for us. It encourages consumerism, presents a distorted image of what is really going on in the world, is linked to depression, social anxiety, attention problems, obesity, sleeping problems, antisocial and criminal behaviour in adolescents, etc. However, watching English television programmes is very helpful to improve your listening skills and pronunciation. How can you find these English television programmes?
- On-line: Comedy Central Official Site offers many full episodes (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, etc.) and funny video clips; MixMedia Now is a collection of the most popular online TV streams (News, Entertainment, Sports, etc.); WWitv is a great resource to find live online TV channels broadcasting on the Internet.
- Satellite: Astra 19.2°E, Eutelsat Hot Bird 13ºE, etc. For further information visit European Satellite Zapping & Directory
- That’s English is a free Spanish TV series for learning English.
- Applications: Miro is a popular free open-source music and video player, and Internet TV application; SopCast is the software of choice for many people looking to watch free on-line television; Veoh allows you to watch videos on-line or download Veoh Web Player, which is a web video downloader and player. Winamp is a customizable multimedia player that enables you to play music and watch videos.