What Lockdown or Quarantine does to your English:
Help? Yes, but only if you do the right thing!
For people who use English as a second language, the lockdown period can badly affect your English proficiency if you don’t take steps to maintain it.
Regression: The effect can be just as bad as happens to international students who struggle to develop their proficiency, get what they need and then return home for the summer holidays and don’t speak, hear, read or write English for several weeks. Invariably, when they return to Australia, they find their English has regressed and they have lost a lot of proficiency.
Develop your English while in Lockdown
What to do: Here is some advice on what you can do to maintain your proficiency and go on developing it. We have broken this down into four separate blogs. Today's blog post is on developing your speaking skills.
- Use English as much as possible. The most basic principle in language learning is that language is learned through use. The more you use it, the more it will develop. You must use it, speak it, listen to English speakers, read, and write every day.
Speak as much as possible:
- Speak with any native or other fluent English speakers. You must observe social distancing but you can contact them by telephone or, even better, by Skype or Zoom.
- Speak with anyone at all but insist on speaking English. Talk about anything at all, your teaching experience, where you came from, what you are doing every day, your children and so on.
- Set up an online chat group of friends, relatives, anyone who is willing to meet for a short time every day or 2 or 3 times a week just to chat.
- Maybe your chat group could decide on a DVD to watch or a daily newspaper to read and then talk about it at your group’s next online chat.
- If you are married or have children, insist on talking to your family in English either all the time, over a meal or between certain hours or on certain days in the week.
- If a family member or a friend has little or only some English, teach them English: as all teachers know, if you teach something you also learn it.
- If there is no one else, speak to yourself.
Some other tips:
- Don’t whisper – when you whisper or talk quietly, you start to lose confidence and your speaking falls away. Look up and look at the person you are speaking to.
- Be careful with pronunciation: speak precisely, open your mouth when you speak, don’t try to speak too quickly and don’t let your speech become careless or slurred.
- Remember that English is a stressed language with syllable stress in words and word stress in sentences. Stress is very important because it can change meaning, native speakers tend to focus on the stressed words in utterances, and the stress patterns changes the pronunciation of the vowels in syllables and words.
- A good way to teach yourself good English pronunciation is to listen to a well-educated native speaker and copy the way that person speaks. For this, make use of ABC radio, especially the podcasts and other files on the ABC webpage (abc.net.au) and the ABC Listen app.
Are you interested in more personalised help with your speaking? Now is the perfect time to try out an ISLPR English tutorial! We've discounted our tutorial prices for the next few months.
In the next couple of weeks we're launching an online English course! This will be a 12 week course that aims to develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Subscribe to our blog to be kept up to date.