If you live in a student residence, it’s highly likely you’ll meet other students who speak the same native language as you. When this happens it can be very tempting to just converse with each other in your native language – after all, it’s quicker and easier to make yourself understood and to get things done that way. However, doing this can mean you fall into the trap of losing out on opportunities to improve your English skills.
If at all possible, it’s a really good idea to use English when communicating with the people you live with. This will help you to consolidate the skills you already have, while also identifying areas where you need to improve.
Here are some ways you can use even the most mundane daily tasks to improve your English skills together:
Cooking a meal
Whether you choose a typical British meal (such as bangers and mash – a dish of grilled sausages and mashed potatoes) or you want to introduce your friends to your favourite dish from your home country, be sure to do it in English. This could begin with writing a shopping list in English for the ingredients you’ll need, then working with a friend to prepare the meal together, communicating with each other only in English. Be sure to only speak English while you’re eating too!
Watching a film or television programme
Why not schedule a time with your flatmates to sit down and watch a film or television programme in English together? Afterwards, you can discuss what you’ve seen and heard, and work out any new expressions or language you’ve come across together. It’s a good idea to make a note of anything none of you understand, so you can ask your tutor about it later. This can be a great way to spend time improving your skills when you don’t have a lot of money to go out.
Doing the chores or laundry
Even if someone helps keep your accommodation clean, it’s likely you’ll need to do some chores and laundry yourself. Even this can be a fantastic way to improve your English skills, particularly if you do it together with the people in your accommodation. For example, you could start by writing a list of any equipment or products you need to go out and buy together, then take it in turns to ask for the things you need in a shop. If you need to use machinery like a washing machine, you could spend time reading the instructions, then try explaining them in your own words to your friends. All this can make even the most boring tasks a fun way to improve your English skills.
Some students like to have an informal ‘book club’. This is where you all read the same English book, then discuss it together (in English, of course!). Doing this can be a really helpful way to expand your knowledge of British literature, and to work out anything you don’t understand together.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. There will be countless other things you can do. Feel free to share your ideas for improving your English conversation together here.