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5 Fun Ways to Improve Your English After the Exams!

The Final Year Exams are over at last. Congratulations on getting through them! You can finally relax, take a breather, and recharge for your next academic year. While you’re at it, this is the best time to improve your English. Here are some fun-filled ideas to get you started over your holidays!

1. Watching new movies and reading new books

What better way to relieve exam stress than indulging in pop culture by watching movies or picking up a fresh new read? Watching English movies and reading widely are excellent ways to boost your English proficiency, as it helps you strengthen your listening skills and learn new vocabulary. Especially given that travelling is prohibited during this Covid-19 period, you can instead live the experiences of movie or novel characters vicariously through watching films or reading.

Got a Netflix account? We recommend The Theory of Everything, The Social Network, and Enola Holmes. These films have clear, easy-to-follow dialogues and have highly engaging plots as well. Don’t forget to turn on English subtitles while you watch so that you can follow the movies better!

If you prefer reading, feel free to explore the NLB Overdrive with e-copies of books available for borrowing, either online, or on the Overdrive application.

Otherwise, you can visit your nearest Kinokuniya bookstore or purchase good old physical books online. Some book recommendations for improving your English include the Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy by Kevin Kwan, Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe, or mystery novels written by Agatha Christie.

  • NLB Overdrive: https://nlb.overdrive.com/ (requires an NLB account)
  • Overdrive mobile and desktop app: https://www.overdrive.com/apps/overdrive/ (requires an NLB account)

2. Listening to audio podcasts

Tuning in to audio podcasts not only improves your listening skills, but also exposes you to new subject areas which would not usually be taught in school. Anyone with a free Spotify account can listen to the wide range of podcasts covering a variety of interesting topics.

For example, The Science Focus Podcast would appeal to the science enthusiasts among us, while Crime Junkie is a thrilling series covering some of the most famous crimes that have occurred all over the world. There is even a Michelle Obama Podcast, in which the former First Lady of the USA herself discusses important social issues such as managing family relationships and her insights on the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition to audio material, TED.com has an impressive depository of highly interesting and insightful talks by many professionals on a vast range of subjects, such as psychology, education, business, and the environment. Such content could well be useful in your next argumentative or expository essay!

  • The Science Focus Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/6ZEqk3r5BoD8nNDiWto6sI
  • Crime Junkie: https://open.spotify.com/show/3DgfoleqaW61T2amZQKINx
  • The Michelle Obama Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/71mvGXupfKcmO6jlmOJQTP
  • TED: www.ted.com

3. Playing with game-based learning apps

Learn while you play games! Does it sound too good to be true? Well, sometimes good things do happen if you’re believe it. Since the pandemic has seen the shutting down of schools all around the world, educators have had to turn to online games, in order to make distance learning more fun and engaging. However, these tools can be used at your own time too. For example, Knoword is a fun and intuitive online game which tests students’ knowledge of different subjects, including English, using “word packs” and mini-tests.

Merriam Webster also has a Word Games and Quizzes page dedicated to a range of interesting quizzes about homophones, anagrams and more. These are great ways of learning more about the English language, and you can even challenge your friends for some friendly competition over the holidays.

  • Knoword: https://playknoword.com (Click “Play” on the top right corner)
  • Merriam Webster: https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-games </p >

4. Writing your own fan-fiction

Are you a die-hard fan of your favourite Korean drama, Japanese animation, or English TV series? Well, the story does not need to end if you are adventurous in trying your hand at writing your own version of your favourite television programme.  You can use the original characters in the series for your inspiration, and explore your own storyline wherever your imagination takes you.

To start, you can research the characters and think of an exciting plot, which could be a spinoff from the original series. Try shorter pieces of writing of about 300-400 words to begin with before moving on to longer pieces of writing if that suits your appetite. Writing can be done on paper, or on your computer. If you do not have a TV series in mind, you can consider renowned programmes such as Harry Potter, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, or Stranger Things.

5. Designing your own word poster

To collate the new words which you have learnt over your break, you can fill a large piece of paper (A3 or A2 sized) with these words and their respective meanings. First, allow your creative juices to flow by decorating or designing the sheet of paper with watercolour paint, brush markers, or anything that suits your fancy! You can then start by writing or doodling the words, or even printing them out in fanciful fonts and pasting them onto the paper afterwards.

Here is an example of what you should include for each word: 

Cambridge Dictionary, MacMillan Dictionary, and Vocabulary.com are reliable sources from which you can check the meaning of your words before adding them to your poster. It is important to choose the definition which you best understand, rather than picking the first meaning that you come across online.

Finally, do review your poster daily so that you can properly understand and remember the vocabulary you have amassed. Pinterest is a good platform for some graphic ideas which you can use as inspiration to design your poster. Simply key in “doodle notes” into the Pinterest search engine and explore various ways to jazz up your work of art!

Sounds exciting? Well, it doesn’t take much to start on these fun projects which will help to boost your learning of English, even when you’re not in a classroom setting. We hope you have fun exploring these activities!

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