Picking up a book, writing a pen-friend or doing a language exchange in English are all tried and tested ways to keep improving and practicing your English over the summer months. In fact I would suggest them all to my students and many of the activities below are based on them in one way or another. But with the devices and tech tools available to our learners I thought I would put a bit of a spin on the typical summer learning ideas.
Most students nowadays are never very far away from their computer or mobile device, even when they’re traveling on vacation. And chances are a lot of them will have a subscription to watch their favorite films and videos online. So don’t forget to remind them to give their favorite English-language movies a go in the original version. Obviously this can be demanding and is not necessarily something you would suggest for lower level students, but there are many ways they can get support by choosing the films carefully, effectively using tools like the subtitles or breaking up their viewing into shorter chunks. For more ideas check out this previous post.
Change the language settings on your phone or social media to English
Ok, it sounds pretty minor, and it won’t mean that the content of the messages and posts you receive will necessarily be in English, but the useful language for navigating your device and social media will be in the target language and this is something that even lower levels can handle pretty well (and if not they can always switch it back). An added bonus would be using your voice assistant which will now be in English too. A great way to practice your pronunciation. Does Siri (or Google assistant) understand what you’re saying?
Start communicating on social media in English
Don’t have time for a pen pal or language exchange? In today’s ever more connected world there’s a good bet that many of your students have English-speaking Facebook friends or other social media connections who post in English. If they’re not already doing so (and they probably are) encourage them to use these channels to communicate in English as often as possible. Or why not get them to set up a Whatsapp group for the summer to share their holiday experiences (along with their pics!) in the language they are learning?
Of course this is another option you have with many messaging services like Whatsapp, but you could also have students try something like Vocaroo. Just record their voice online and get a link to share in seconds. But what should they be recording? Well why not give a twist to that summer reading idea and get them to create their own audio books? A novel might be a bit much to tackle of course, but a short story, a chapter, a poem or even a favorite paragraph are often enough. Or turn it into a short audio review of something they have read. It could be a book or graded reader of course, but it’s equally valid for them to do this with an article they enjoyed reading. They’ll be practicing their pronunciation and creating listening activities for other students all at the same time.
Share it all!
Sharing those recordings, or anything new they’ve learned in English for that matter (grammar, vocab, expressions) is the key to keeping them engaged over the summer months. Gone are the days when holidays meant you were isolated as a learner. Using a shared space like a Padlet is a surefire way to make sure whatever your students are doing over the holidays they stay connected – and as a result motivated – in the bargain. You just need to create an account to be able to create your Padlet: a shared space where they can post links, text, audio and video and comment on each other’s contributions. Call it “Our summer break”, “Our summer reading”, “Things we’re learning this summer” or whatever you want. With it your students will be just one click away from staying in touch with each other and English!