While the holidays feel like they stretch off into the distance, once you finish your classes you might be at a loss as to how you’re going to improve your English. After all, you’ve spent the semester surround by people all speaking the language—what do you do when it’s just you?
Never fear! With a little help from the internet, and the friendliness of the Australian people, below are some suggestions for improving your English over the holidays, and ways to have fun while doing so.
Watch movies with the subtitles on
Is there any topic you’re particularly interested in, outside of your degree? Is there any film genre that really takes your interest? If so, then you’ve got a great way to immerse yourself in the English language, and practice and have fun, at the same time.
It’s easy: simply pick one of your favourite films, and turn on the subtitles. Whether it’s an English film with subtitles in your language, or a film in your language that you watch with English subtitles, for those 90 minutes you’ll be listening or watching the language, with the ability to pause or make notes whenever you want. So if you pick up on a phrase you’re interested in, or hear a sentence that you want to learn, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the language while away from campus.
If you’re stuck, there’s a number of free film subtitle databases online, where you can search and download the subtitles for your favourite movies.
Free online English study resources
With more time on your hands, you’ll have more time to study your language, and these days you’ve got all the resources you need online.
If you want a great resource that’s sure to get you sounding polished, have a look at the BBC’s English Learning web portal. It offers all levels of English teaching, including grammar, and a free resource library.
The online web tool, Easy World of English, offers a user-friendly range of word tools, including useful readings, pronunciation guides, and a picture library.
As well as established language courses, you can find blogs outlining a more relaxed approach to the language, that may even teach you a few more creative uses of English.
Another sure bet is having a quick look through your university’s online resources. A lot of the bigger universities these days offer a wide range of free English language resources, and as it’s coming from your university, you know it’s quality stuff.
Volunteer or work part-time
The easiest way to get more familiar with a language is to get out there and immerse yourself in it, and a great way to get yourself out into the community and interacting with people is by volunteering, or picking up a part-time job.
There’s a number of options open to you for volunteering, and you can find work ranging from working at a music festival, to helping at a community centre, to planting trees for an environmental organisation.
No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to be surrounded by people who want to talk with you and help you, and who knows—you might even make some friends along the way.
GoVolunteer is a great resource with hundreds of volunteer opportunities on offer.
Volunteering Australia can help you connect with other volunteering organisations in your State.
Seek Volunteer is a job search website for volunteers, where you can search by categories.
Check out our article on volunteering for more ideas.
Join a sports team, community group, or English club
Much like volunteering, joining a sports team or becoming part of a community group or club will surround you with like-minded people, but in a fun and welcoming environment.
A quick internet search will give you lots of options for local community theatre groups, cooking classes, or book clubs. Whatever your interest, there’s sure to be something you can find, who are always keen to welcome new members.
Have a look at what your university has to offer, and you might find a community club or group that takes your fancy, where you can have fun and improve your English at the same time.
Sport is one of the cornerstones of Aussie culture. Join your university’s cricket or rugby team, find your local Australian Rules team, join a football club, or search out the nearest indoor volleyball centre—your local sports teams will be crying out for people to sign up and have fun.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out the website meetup.com. While it may sound like a dating website, it’s not—Meetup is a free website that brings people together to do more of what they enjoy doing. There’s plenty of English as a Second Language groups available in Australia, and through meetup.com you can join the group, find their meeting schedule, and meet people when it suits you.
You might even pick up a bit of useful slang along the way, but a word of warning: some of this you might not want to repeat in front of your mother.
So set some time aside to volunteer, join a community group or sports team, get online or get out there, and have fun and improve your English along the way. You’ve only got a few short months of holidays—make them count.