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How to improve your English during lockdown

Since the pandemic began in 2020, there has been a big spike in people learning new languages. So if you’re at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, why not take the time to brush up on your skills? Here are 5 ways to improve your English during lockdown—plus study tips and online resources:   

Listen to podcasts 

In recent years, podcasts have grown into a popular language learning tool. And, it’s for good reason. Not only are they a fun and interesting way to improve your listening skills, but they also give you the chance to hear how English speakers converse with each other, helping you to get a better grasp on how English sounds outside of the classroom—even as you study online from home.  

There are lots of podcasts designed for English learners. Many offer transcriptions and vocabulary lists to help you study.  

But, you can also listen to podcasts on just about any topic under the sun. Think current affairs, true crime, arts and culture, business, and more.  

Want some recommendations? Read our blog: 5 podcasts to help you learn English

Study tips 

If the podcast you’re listening to offers a transcript, read along as you listen: 

  • Stop the podcast every 20 seconds or so to repeat after the person speaking.  

  • Take note of how they pronounce words. 

  • Write down new vocabulary in a notebook. 

  • Define your new words at the end of each show.  

Write a journal in English  

Many people began to write journals in the pandemic. We’re living through a historic moment, and the idea is to record their lives and what is happening in the world. If this is something that interests you, why not write a diary in English to recount your experience in lockdown as well? Not only will this help to improve your writing skills, but it can also be a therapeutic outlet to relax and clear your mind when life gets stressful.  

Study tips 

  • Set aside a few minutes everyday to write. What have you done today? Have you watched any good movies lately? What is an interesting fact you learned about recently? 

  • If writing a few paragraphs each day sounds daunting, try a one sentence journal, in which you write one sentence in English each day.  

Explore free courses 

Want to create more structure in your week during lockdown? Try out an English course. There are plenty of courses available online to improve your skills.  

For example, if you’re preparing for PTE Academic, this 6-hour speaking course in partnership with Australia’s Macquarie University is a great one to try. The course lasts three weeks and focuses on pronunciation, fluency and grammar. You’ll also get the opportunity to practice speaking with other learners. 

 See a list of other English language courses developed by universities here

You might be interested in: 5 tools to help you get a great score on PTE Academic  

Study tips 

When studying from home, it’s important to work from a designated space. Whether you’re studying from your desk or a kitchen table, make sure the area around you is clean and distraction free—this will help you to be more productive.  

And while it may be tempting to study from bed, that’s not really the best idea. After all, experts say it can have a negative psychological and physical effect.  

Stream movies and shows 

Not surprisingly, streaming services saw a huge boom when the pandemic hit. During lockdown in the UK, people spent more than an hour each day watching movies or shows - more than double before coronavirus.  

While so much screen time might make you feel guilty, it doesn’t have to be this way. After all, streaming movies and series can be a great way to practice English! 

Watching TV and movies in English can help you improve your listening skills and expose you to different accents. With subtitles on, it also helps you to practice your fast-paced reading skills. With apps like Rave and Teleparty—which let you have a “streaming party” and watch with friends online. There’s even the opportunity to practice your writing and speaking skills as you chat about the movie or show with each other in English. 

Study tips 

If you’re a beginner English learner, start watching with audio in English and subtitles in your own language. As your skills progress, change the subtitles to English so you can listen and read along.  

Just as we recommended with podcasts, write down new vocabulary words in a notebook while you watch. As the weeks progress, you might notice your skills improve and your vocab list gets smaller and smaller each week.  

Join an online book club  

Love reading? Consider joining an online book club in English. There are a range of well-established digital book clubs. However, you can also begin your own with other English-learners. Choose a new book or short story each month and get ready to discuss!   

Study tips 

Try reading out loud to practice your pronunciation and speaking skills in English. At the end of each chapter, also think aloud— say to yourself what you like about the story, or what you think of the characters. This will also give you practice expressing your opinion at your book club meeting.  

At PTE Academic, we have lots of resources to help you improve your English—from scored PTE practice tests, to the PTE Academic Official Practice App.  

Learn more.