As a teacher I’ve never had to work like this, all online. Growing up I’d always heard about kids that had to study online when they lived far away from towns and cities, but that was never my life. Changing to an all online teaching system has been very interesting. I think that there are many positives such as no commute, but there have also been some negatives such as less time with friends and co-workers. One of the best things about moving to an English-speaking country is that you have to speak English when you buy a coffee or go shopping. So, how can we continue to improve our English skills during lockdown? Whether you are in short term English course like General English or something longer like Academic English, here are some of our teachers’ best tips to studying in lockdown.
1. Dress the part
It is easy when studying from home to stop getting ready in the morning. Since you are not going to school what is the point right? During this transition time we may need to trick our brain into realising that we are actually at school and one of the ways we can do this is by changing our clothes. Try to keep your routine. When you wake up if you usually shower, get dressed and then have breakfast do the same for school at home. You could cheat and wear dressy clothes on top and casual clothes below. I mean you can only see the top half of your clothes anyway. Getting ready in the morning will tell your brain that it is a school day. When you finish your classes change into the clothes you would usually wear at home after school.
2. Time blocking
Usually during our school week, we have a schedule. For me almost every hour of my day from Monday to Friday is filled with something I should be doing. If you are finding it hard to study outside of your class times, make a schedule for yourself. You can use a daily time blocking planner to help create a schedule to follow each day. For example, maybe after each class you block out 40 minutes to study what you were just working on before giving yourself a break.
3. English speaking hours
One question I always ask my students when we are talking about how they can improve their English is “Do you speak English at home?”. Usually students say no, unless they are living with a homestay family. Even then students often go to their rooms after school and video chat with friends back home in their native language. Regardless of whether you are in a University English Pathway programme or even a part-time IELTS preparation course, you will benefit from speaking more English at home. Improving your English will allow you write essays or watch your favourite English movies. Try to schedule English speaking hours at home. If you live with a few flatmates that speak your native language agree to speak English until a certain time, for example we’ll speak English until 8pm, then we can speak whatever language we are most comfortable with. If you live alone book in times each day to chat with friends online in English, maybe you can chat while you cook dinner. If you live in a homestay try to help out with dinner and do some activity after dinner whether you watch TV together or play a game.
4. Set realistic goals
Adjusting to a new way of life is always going to be exciting and difficult. No one is looking for perfection and we must be kind to ourselves and others during this time of change. Because of this it is important to think about what is working and what is not working, then change what you are doing until you find what works best for you. Studying all day long and sitting in front of the computer all day is unrealistic and probably unhealthy. If you feel like you are falling behind or can’t concentrate don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help and let us know if we can help you in any other way. We are all here to help each other, to stay connected and to continue to help you improve your English skills.
5. Have fun
We have a saying in English that ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ this means that we can find good/positive in everything. Here at the ELA we are dedicated to you, your education and your experience, try linking into some of our online activities and challenges that can be found on our Instagram and Facebook pages. Link into our community, we can all help each other to continue to enjoy our studies in our new online environment.