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Question of the Month: April

question for April
Each month EnglishClub.com receives many questions from English learners and teachers. Some questions come in our forums or Facebook discussions. Other questions arrive via email, MyEC wall posts, or even Twitter. This one came from a new member on MyEC. Please help us answer it by leaving your own ideas in the comments.

Question: I feel bored when I’m learning English. What can I do to make learning English more fun?

Answer: Ten years ago I might have agreed that learning a language could be boring. Many learners did not (and still don’t) have access to the classroom. Those who studied at home often used outdated textbooks. Around the world, learners were sitting at home alone with their noses in grammar based books. Boring! Today, there is no excuse for boredom if you have access to the Internet. There is also no excuse for learning alone.

5 Ways to Have Fun while Learning English

1. Combine English with your Passions
Ask yourself this question: What do I love to do in my own language? If you love to write poetry, practise writing poetry in English. If you love to read fantasy, read this genre in English. If you love to play golf, learn about golf in English. If you like current events, follow the news in English. Maybe you like to cook! Why not translate your favourite recipes and share them with English friends? Learn some new dishes (in English) while you’re at it! If you love to paint, speak English while you paint. Learn all of the colours in English. Learn the names of paintbrushes and tools. Make friends with artists. Read about famous painters. Do you get the picture?

2. Build a PLN
PLN is a buzzword that teachers use often. It means personal learning network. Many teachers go online to network and become better teachers. They discuss teaching tools and techniques on Twitter and on each other’s blogs. Learners should do the same. You can build a PLN full of EnglishClub members. Use MyEC, EC Forums, Chat rooms, Facebook or Twitter to find English friends. Try to have at least 10 good English friends that you can count on to support your learning. Tell your closest friends they are part of your PLN and interact with these people often. The purpose of learning English is to communicate with more people! Don’t even try to do it alone.

fun3. Challenge Yourself
We all like a challenge, don’t we? EnglishClub.com challenges learners in various ways. You can take quizzes, writing challenges, and video challenges. You can play English games or try to complete a dictation. This month you can even join a photo contest. The winner gets the coolest English board game. Fun!

4. Minimize Memorizing
Memorizing large lists of words and rules is pretty pointless unless you are studying for tomorrow’s exam. If you don’t need to remember a rule or word beyond test day, go ahead and memorize. Learning must be meaningful in order to stick long term. For example, if you learn a word because you saw it in the title of a photo, you will be more likely to remember it. If you then use that word to write a story or poem about your best friend, you will be even more likely to remember it! Do your best to engage all of your senses while learning English. Each time you catch yourself trying to memorize a rule or word, think about other options for actively learning it. One of the best ways to remember something is to tell or teach a friend. Please make a new English friend today.

5. Learn English through Movies and Music
Many English movies are available with subtitles. With English movies you can pause, rewind, fast forward and learn at your own speed. Watch kids’ TV shows or online videos. When you watch a movie with subtitles you are listening and reading English! Learning English through music works in a similar way. Listen to as much English music as possible. Play English radio while you’re answering email or catching up with friends on Facebook. Watch music videos and follow along with the lyrics. English + Entertainment=Learning that sticks. If you’re not on MyEC, you’re missing out on a lot of fun!

Common Errors
Be careful of the difference between boring and bored:
I am bored.
This is boring.
If you say “I am boring” you mean: “People don’t like being around me. I have nothing interesting to bring to the table. I sit around all day and do nothing.”

Learning something new should never be boring! What fun ideas do you have for learning English?

get the picture: understand
pointless: there is no good reason or use for it
buzzword: a word that is very popular right now
to stick: to last a long time; to stay in your brain
actively: involves using what you learn rather than just learning it
miss out: to not get the enjoyment or experience that others get
bring to the table: share or suggest

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | April 2010
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

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