Use your phone obsession to improve your English
I was lying in bed last night, about to go to sleep when a mixture of panic and dread fell over me. That haunting question that I ask myself at least 30 times a day crept into my mind. “Where’s my phone?….. should I get up and see if I left it on the couch….. I don’t feel like getting up….I’ll be so sad if I wake up without it.” It’s embarrassing to even admit that those thoughts were going through my mind. Good news though, my phone was on the other pillow, so I didn’t have to go hunting for it half asleep throughout the house.
It made me think about last week’s speaking club topic, which involved how much time people waste on social media. I’m actually a non-offender in that area. I spend almost zero minutes on social media. However, as last night showed, I’m attached to my phone. Social media or no social media it’s still my security blanket. It’s probably yours too.
If you’re going to spend so much time on your phone let’s turn it into an English learning machine? Here are some suggestions of how to do this.
Use it to talk to people
No excuses for not talking to people. There are lots of apps out there that allow you to talk to a native speaker. There are a few free ones, but use paid apps. You’ll get better qualified people to talk to and better conversations. Plus you can talk to the same people over and over again, which will allow you to get past the boring small talk stage. I could give you a list of apps, but just search on your phone (you know you will anyway).
Use it to check the news in English
Pick a news website…. any one or a few different ones, it doesn’t matter. The next time you compulsively pick up your phone, take a look at the news and pick an article to read. Why? Because if you want to become an advanced speaker (and you all do) you’ll need to be able to talk about different complex topics. A good way to get that ball rolling is to read about complex issues. Plus you’ll get to check out how native speakers phrase serious subjects. You’ll probably learn some new vocabulary words. Also, you’ll be caught up on the news. Bonus.
Listen to a podcast
Listen to something you’re interested in. Please don’t just listen to a “learn English” podcast. Pick something you like. You’ll find it more interesting. You’ll also learn words and phrases that you can use while talking about this topic in English.
Whether it’s a news article or podcast, don’t just blindly listen. Think about what was said. Ask yourself questions about it. Can you give a summary of what you heard or read? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Name some good points made by the author. Tell someone about it (in English). Listening to or reading something and then talking about it will greatly improve your skills.
If you’re bored waiting for something, or bored and you’re supposed to be doing something else, pull out the “ notes” app on your phone and write something. Write about what you did that day, or how your weekend was. Most people struggle with past tense, this is a good way to practice. You don’t need to write about something interesting. You’re not going to show it to anyone. Don’t forget to read over what you write and check it for mistakes. Then read it out loud, if you can. Anytime you can read out loud, do it. It’ll help your speaking skills.
Don’t pretend social media is an English class
There’s just one thing I’m going to encourage you not to do. I know I can’t keep you off social media, but it is not the way to learn English. There are so many abbreviations and more slang than any self respecting person would use IRL (joke). Plus people just say things on social media that they’d never say in a real conversation. And social media is basically written in broken English. Unless your goal is to learn how to make grammar mistakes and use incomplete sentences, view social media as fun, not class.
Ok, so there you go. Get on your phone and learn some English.