London offers fantastic opportunities to enhance your reading, speaking, and listening skills. Here are ten great ways to practise your skills – not only will you be able to improve, but you’ll also meet new people and get to know this fantastic city better!
1. Talk to Londoners
Londoners are lovely people, even though they may seem busy rushing around the tube and busy streets. There’s a great group called ‘Talking to Strangers’, which organises events across London where people get to meet and talk. Join in and use the language skills you’ve learned! Here is the link to the group website – www.meetup.com/talkingtostrangers.
2. Take Part in a Language Exchange
A language exchange is another effective way to boost your English skills while teaching someone else about your native language and meeting new friends. Websites like Gumtree.com and MeetUp.com have plenty of London-specific events where you can meet people who want to learn new languages and teach you English at the same time.
BEGINNER LEVEL TIP: getting a language buddy is one of the most fun ways to practise your English. This is a good opportunity to work on your pronunciation one-to-one. Ask your native speaker friend to give you tips and feedback (and do the same for them in your language).
3. Visit the British Library
Reading is one of the best methods to develop your knowledge of the English language, and if you are not yet ready to read a novel, newspapers and magazines offer a variety short and interesting articles. Why not join a library? The British Library is one of the most famous in London and is located close to St Pancras Station, but you can also find many other public libraries around the city. Your local council’s website should have information on how to join the local library, but generally all you have to do is show up with your passport and proof of address.
ADVANCED LEVEL TIP: if you’re feeling confident, join a book club! This will give you a fantastic opportunity to read books on a weekly basis and practise by discussing the stories with other people in English.
4. Go on Walking Tours
Tours are an interesting way to immerse yourself in the English language while learning a few things about the city’s rich and extensive history. London Walks offers weekly walking tours of its most well-known locations; these walks are an exciting way to learn more about London and practise listening and speaking skills.
5. Browse London’s Markets
An easy way to boost your vocabulary is by surrounding yourself with new sensations and experiences. London’s celebrated markets are great for developing your skillset in specific areas such as food (Borough Market), flowers (Columbia Road Market), antiques (Portobello Road Market), and fashion (Old Spitalfields Market).
BEGINNER LEVEL TIP: go around the market and try to remember what the English words for the items are. Don’t be shy! Ask the stall owners if you don’t know the word.
6. Study and Eat At Foxcroft & Ginger
Foxcroft & Ginger, located in Soho and Whitechapel, is a lovely laidback café and restaurant offering loads of comfortable sofas where you can sit down to work. You get to enjoy hearty meals or a cup of tea while studying. Why is it such a good study spot? Well, customers have the advantage of using their free Wi-Fi! For other free Wi-Fi spots, you can count on pretty much every café in London, from Costa to Starbucks and even McDonalds.
BEGINNER LEVEL TIP: ask a member of staff if they offer free Wi-Fi and if they have a password, ask them to spell it for you.
7. Get Involved At the Southbank Centre
The Southbank Centre on the bank of the River Thames offers an abundance of exciting opportunities to improve your language skills. The Southbank Centre focuses on cultural events from music to spoken word. You can also enjoy a number of cafés, shops and restaurants there. Pop in with your study books, engage in conversations with other visitors and take advantage of the free internet access across the building.
8. Experience London’s Museums
London is home to some of the best and quirkiest museums, and visiting them can be a great way to exercise your language skills and indulge your curiosity. Many of the biggest museums offer guided tours as well as audio tours, which are perfect for targeting your listening skills. You’ll also get to practise your reading skills with the information packages.
So, whether you are looking for something traditional like the British Museum or something out of the ordinary like Museum for Brands, Packaging and Advertising, you are sure to find your favourite in London. What is even better is the fact that most museums are free to explore!
9. Visit UK’s Oldest Bookshop
As well as libraries, several large bookshops scattered around London offer sofas for you to sit in and countless great English books to read. Hatchards, which is UK’s oldest bookshop, was established in 1797 and is one of the best bookshops in the city. The original bookshop can be found in Piccadilly, but another shop has recently opened at St Pancras International. On top of being home to fantastic books, the shop organises regular events that are ideal for meeting people and enhancing your listening and speaking skills.
10. Test Your Talent at Speaker’s Corner
If you want to put your newly acquired speaking skills to the test, then head down to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. This spot is open to anyone who would like to talk about matters that are close to their heart. If you aren’t ready for the spotlight yourself, it can still be an excellent opportunity for practising your listening skills and getting used to some different English accents and idioms.
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