Textbooks are a great learning resource, but they are not good for learning real English. Books focus on the fundamentals of the English language, such as grammar and vocabulary and seldom cover common, everyday idioms, daily expressions, and slang.
The result is that English learners learn correct English, but have problems understanding authentic English outside of the classroom. Does this story sound like you?
You’re an all star student in English class. Then, when you go out in the real world, you have a hard time understanding native English speakers when they use real life English.
You feel frustrated that you can’t understand English in a simple scenario and you wonder why you can understand classroom English but not authentic English.
So how can you learn real English? Real English involves real people. You need to watch and listen to how people use expressions, such as in TV shows, podcasts, or live conversations.
1. Learn Real English from Television
Television shows and movies provide perfect examples of authentic English conversations. Scripts for TV and movies are written to sound exactly like everyday English. In addition, the actors capture real facial expressions and gestures used while speaking.
To help you learn English, keep a notebook with phrases and expressions that you hear. These might be phrases you don’t understand, phrases you like, or phrases you want to use.
After you finish watching, look the phrases up in the dictionary to understand them better. When you have a chance, try using the new phrases in your English class or with a native speaker.
2. Learn Real English from Podcasts & Videos
Podcasts are pre-recorded audio shows. Similar to TV shows, they have a schedule and usually tell a story or follow a theme. They are a good source of authentic English and can help you improve your listening skills.
There are podcasts about many topics, such as global economy, history, philosophy, fishing, etc. Choose a podcast that you find interesting and take notes while you listen. Write down phrases you hear in your notebook and look them up after you finish listening.
3. Learn Real English from Conversations
The best way to learn authentic English is to interact with native speakers. Speaking English outside of the classroom can be intimidating at first, but it gets easier over time.
If it is difficult to find native English speakers in your area, you may want to hire a tutor online for conversation practice.
To learn authentic English, you need to listen, see, and participate in real conversations. Always write down phrases you don’t understand, look them up, and then try to use them later with native English speakers.
Don’t learn too many phrases at a time. Focus on learning a maximum of three at a time, so you can really learn and remember them.
Don’t feel scared to speak English outside of the classroom. It is the best way to practice all of the English that you’ve learned from your textbooks.