Doing English all year round

During summer and winter vacation, students will want to continue studying English. While STUDYING is important and necessary, it can be boring. Instead I recommend students spend their time simply DOING English. By that, I mean use and learn English as you entertain and express yourself.

Here are some fun, simple, and inexpensive ways to keep your skills sharp and even improve them.

1. Read aloud

Choose a book that is also available in Korean. Read the Korean first then the English, maybe one paragraph at a time depending on your comprehension level.

I’ve enjoyed reading The Chronicles of Narnia (나니아 연대기), Harry Potter, and Sherlock Holmes. English and Korean versions are easy to find.

The Chronicles of Narnia in English and Korean
The Chronicles of Narnia in English and Korean

If you want to save money, consider getting a book from the 영한대역문고 series by YBM Sisa. These books are a great way to become familiar with some English classics at a great price (4,000 won per book!). English is on one side, Korean on the other.

Agatha Christie's Short Stories from YBM Si-sa's 영한대역문고
Agatha Christie’s Short Stories from YBM Si-sa’s 영한대역문고
English on one side, Korean on the other
English on one side, Korean on the other

Don’t worry about understanding every word. Just keep practicing and you’ll get it. You’ll also be practicing the skills necessary to be a good presenter.

Check your progress by recording yourself with your phone! All you need is thirty seconds to a minute to find things you can improve.

Check your progress by recording yourself on your smartphone.
Check your progress by recording yourself on your smartphone.

2. Listen

Instead of listening to audio files that come with your textbook, how about listening to what other English speakers are listening to? Here are some suggestions:

Audiobooks — These are read by actors and can really make a book come alive. I recommend reading the book as you listen. CDs can be purchased at bookstores, though they are quite expensive. I have some CDs, which students may borrow.

Podcasts — These are free and can easily be downloaded to your smartphone.

  • Android — Stitcher is a popular app you can use to download podcasts.
  • iOS — Podcasts already comes with your iPhone.

Some podcasts I enjoy:

  • The Today Show — a popular morning news show in the US. You can find the video version through Podcasts or through your PC.
  • Global News (BBC World Service) — updated twice a day!
  • This American Life — a popular public radio program providing interesting stories
  • Serial — I have not heard this yet, but this true murder-mystery story has been the most popular podcast for weeks.
  • StarTalk — hosted by astrophysicist (천체 물리학자) Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is like a rockstar in the science world
  • WTF with Marc Maron — an interview-based program with one of America’s most respected comedians. There is a lot of bad language (so maybe a teacher shouldn’t recommend this), but Maron is such a brilliant conversationalist, I have to include it.

3. Keep a diary or blog

Write about your day in a journal. This activity is not just for kids. When you’re in your thirties or forties, you’ll be very happy (though probably a little embarrassed) to read about yourself during your college days.

If paper is too old-fashioned for you, start a blog. You can do this on platforms like WordPress (this website is WordPress blog) or Blogger. And, of course, there’s Naver. It’s simple; it’s free; you can pictures and videos with your text. If you’re shy, you don’t have to use your real name!

How about Twitter? Again, you don’t have to use your real name. Just share your thoughts throughout the day and post pictures with explanations about them. You can also follow other people and reply to their Tweets. It’s a great way to interact with people around the world.

Share your thoughts and interests on Twitter!
Share your thoughts and interests on Twitter!

Don’t know what to write about? Use your journal/blog to write summaries or reviews of what you read or listen to.

4. Talk with others

Of course, there is no substitute for personal interaction with others. And you don’t have to speak with only native speakers. Get together with friends and agree to speak English, perhaps during lunch.

Okay, that should be enough to keep anyone busy. If you have other tips to share with your friends, feel free to reply below. Enjoy your break and see you on campus in March!

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