Are you starting your New Zealand adventure soon but you are worried about your English skills? It’s just so hard to practice at home because speaking in English with your parents or friends just feels silly right?
I know exactly how you feel and want to help you prepare for your departure! Being from Germany I also had to learn English as my second language. To be honest, I wasn’t very good in English at all and almost failed a year in high school! Like many of you, I wanted to go overseas to improve my English. Now I am fluent and hopefully my tips for studying English will help you prepare for your time in NZ J
- Watch movies in English
Seriously, this is just the easiest way of learning a language. It doesn’t even feel like learning! Choose your favorite movie or just one you have seen before and put on the subtitles that way you won’t get frustrated!
- Read books in English
Start with an easy one like a novel that will not use words that are too complicated. Start off with one that isn’t too thick because you will probably take longer to read in English and get frustrated if it takes you ages to read one book. Also, don’t worry about not understanding every word! Just skip a word or even sentence you don’t understand you will probably figure out what it could be later on.
- Read/watch NZ news
If a whole book is a bit too daunting, maybe spend a little bit of time watching or reading our New Zealand news pages. This is a great way to find out what’s going on in NZ at the moment that way you also have some conversation starters with your family! Here are some news pages: http://www.newshub.co.nz/ and http://www.stuff.co.nz/
- Check out the lyrics when you listen to English music!
I bet there are plenty of English songs you sing along like “ghbiblfkngbdijbg” guessing the lyrics! I do that too, even native speakers sing along without knowing what the song is actually about! Take your favorite song and google the lyrics. You will not only find yourself getting much better at karaoke but most importantly you will learn new words. For example, I learned the word “tongue” from Jason Mraz’s “I’m yours” and every time someone says tongue I’m thinking of this song!
- Use post-its
After many years of studying English in school you might have forgotten the basics by the time you graduate. In my last year in school we read Shakespeare but I didn’t even know words like knife and fork anymore. Crazy right? Leave Shakespeare at home, what you need in NZ is good foundations. Use post-its with English words and put them in the corresponding places in your house: for example, the words “sink” or “tub”. Question yourself: do I know what this is in English? If not, it gets a post-it! This way you will simply learn words throughout your day by doing nothing but looking at them again and again!
I know speaking with your parents or friends in English is silly. Instead try and find someone who can actually not speak your language so you don’t have another other option! Try the internet to find a language partner or put up a note at the local university. There will always be some overseas students who would love to meet locals!
Just try to get exposed to as much English as possible in your daily life! Become really confident in speaking and listening/understanding because that is what will help you the most in New Zealand!
Most of all: be confident about your English! Don’t be shy! You know so much more and speak so much better than you think! Your host will appreciate how well you can speak a foreign language and you should be proud of yourself! With a bit of preparation, you will have an easy start here in NZ and once you are here you English will improve so much more just by talking it every day!