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  Weekly Feature (December 7, 2008)


English, English EverywhereEnglish, English Everywhere
Renuka's Weekly Feature


"What can I do to improve my speaking and listening skills in English?" This is a question that I have been asked several times. I usually advise my students to expand their learning of English—to take it beyond the classroom and into their daily lives.

Watching television programs, listening to the radio, or making conversation in English can help you improve your confidence and ability in English conversation. Chatting with others while waiting at a bus stop and making conversation on a Skytrain ride are perfect opportunities to practice these skills. They will probably make the wait a lot more enjoyable too!

Ask your cashier how his day is going. Tell your next door neighbour how beautiful her holiday decorations are. Discuss the weather or your son's baseball game with your co-worker. Dinnertime conversation with the family is another great time to practice your English! Describe your trip to the dentist or the traffic accident you witnessed, or discuss the increasing price of bread (all in English, of course)!

It is not necessary to set aside huge amounts of time from your daily routines to practice English. By including English conversation in your everyday activities, conversing in English will become more enjoyable and less like a homework assignment.

Back in the classroom, one way to ensure increased interaction in English is to sit beside a classmate who does not speak or understand your native language. This encourages you and others to speak and listen in English. Very often I find that before, after (and sometimes even during!) classes, students revert back to speaking their native languages. I remind them that their learning of English should not be limited to just the 2.5 hours lesson. Don't limit your your learning to a few hours per week in the classroom! Make English a part of your daily life!

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