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How to Improve Your English While Commuting to Work


It’s a busy carriage with no empty chair for you to sit back, look through the window and ponder about the coming weekend… Commuting to work (and back) could be mundane, but it does not have to be!

You can always take your headphones out and start practicing your English skills. If you have the luxury of a free seat on the bus or, better still, your car, you can do even more to improve your English on a long commute.

Below you will find five ways to boost your English skills on the road.

Listen to Language Learning Podcasts

Many educators dedicate their time to teach you English via free podcasts. With a device like a smartphone or an iPod, you can sync lessons, which are everything from English Pronunciation with an American accent to British phrases and slangs in BBC’s The English We Speak. Both are perfect for a daily 30-minute train journey.

An extra exercise: Read lesson notes, often available on the website of a podcast, to consolidate what you learn or to clarify what you might have missed.

Here are some more language learning podcasts for you:

Tune into News Stations

Breaking news is a good way to learn English as it is often succinct and engaging. News presenters speak fast, which challenges and enhances your listening and comprehension skills. If you are not quite there yet, some websites offer news in slow and plain English for learners of all levels. Check here (for listening and reading) and here (for reading).

An extra exercise: Pick a piece of news you’ve heard and found interesting, then search for an article that writes about the topic more extensively for a reading practice. Pairing listening and reading is a good way to remember words longer and to recognize the difference between spoken and written language.

News channels you can subscribe to:

Read an English Book or Listen to an Audible One

Reading is probably the most common way to pass the time on the train. Like a well-written book: it is not only engaging but also educational. Take a step further and choose an English book for your next travel!

Pro-tip: Use online reviews, like those on Goodreads, to find suitable materials. There might be some spoilers here and there, but you want to make sure that you would like the book and that it is at your language level before embarking upon the challenging journey of reading in a second language.

Amazon now offers audible books to pair with the Kindle versions they sell, which means you have more options for practicing. I always find it easier to read (than to listen) when I am tired after a long day at work, but others might consider the opposite is true.

Speaking Practice or Lessons While Driving a Car or Riding a Bike

Recording yourself is a great way to practice speaking, either for getting your thoughts out in English quickly or for perfecting your pronunciation. Speakers of all languages have blind spots that are impossible for them to recognize while they speak, but those mistakes become more apparent when they listen to their voice on the recordings.

Just try it out, and you will probably hear some mispronunciations. You can also share the recordings with your mYngle private tutor for feedback!

Carry a Notebook and a Pen

Jot down your thoughts anywhere you go. It could be about anything from a to-do list to grocery items. Write about whichever comes up in your mind or just describe the weather. You can use a sticky note app on your phone too, of course.

Practice makes perfect so use these tips and the commuting time wisely to improve your English!

About the author:

quynh-150x150Quynh Nguyen writes about productivity for individuals and teams while travelling the world. She loves learning languages, riding a bike and having many nice cups of tea. Connect with her @QuynhThuNguyen or visit her at www.quynh.nl

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