The best ways to practise English and meet new friends!
Time to put your school lessons to use and start using real English with real locals! With these 5 ways to practise English with local people, you’re sure to be a hit in your adoptive community.
1. Ask Locals Questions
If it’s to order a coffee at your nearest Starbucks or simply to ask the pharmacist for painkillers, make sure you try your hardest to form full sentences. Ask the person behind the counter how to say and pronounce things if you’re not sure how to say it. Trial and error is a sure way to strengthen your English speaking skills and hear correct local pronunciation.
Tip: If you are in Scotland and you’re not sure if an expression you heard is ‘slang’ or standard English, just ask a local! It’s important to know the local expressions, but there might be a time you want to move to a different country or different part of the UK and things will be easier if you know standard English as well.
2. Do a language exchange
An interesting way to practise your English with locals is to meet someone who wants to learn YOUR native language as well. A win-win situation for both parties who want to practise a foreign language. To find people interested in this sort of exchange, Gumtree and some Facebook groups might be a good way to go.
Tip: Switching languages every 30 seconds is hard for your brain to process, so we suggest you set a time limit for each language and only speak that language during that time – for example, 45 minutes in your language, 45 minutes in English.
3. Join an Activity Group
Once again, Meetup and Facebook are good resources when looking for an activity where you can tag along, but we suggest you also have a look at Eventbrite. Various activities and groups can be found for every hobby and interest. There’s everything from philosophy to surfing! Try and find an activity that encourages you to talk to people…especially locals and native English speakers. Introvert or not, get out there and meet new people! Being abroad is always much nicer when you have a friends network.
4. Do some volunteering
Now that’s some advice you should follow through on. If you’re not comfortable yet to take on a job in English, volunteering is the perfect opportunity for you. Give Volunteer Edinburgh a ring or pop in and they will help you find the perfect voluntary role for you. Make sure you mention to them that you want to be able to talk to people.
What’s the difference between taking on a job or a volunteer position apart from the salary? Volunteering allows you to practise without feeling guilty if you’re language is not up to an employer’s standards. Also, while volunteering, the work and the hours are less demanding than a full-time position, allowing you to learn at a comfortable pace.
5. Date locals
Dating locals can be a great way to improve your language skills! Apps like Tinder are commonly used in the UK and have a full cross-section of the population using them (i.e. lovely, sincere people…as well as ‘fun-only’ seekers and some questionable characters you probably want to avoid…).
Tip: People are too polite and won’t often correct you when you make a mistake. Tell people you want them to correct you! And use the opportunities to check you’re using the right vocab, grammar and pronunciation;)
Written by Judith Bellemare, Venture English