Improving your grasp of English after studying hard is a great achievement – and one that definitely deserves a reward. But why not choose something that brings you even closer to your ultimate goal – a fluent grasp of English?
Whether you’ve finally memorised some complex vocabulary, just passed a test or moved up to the next learning stage, there are lots of ways you can reward yourself for your progress and continue to improve your language skills at the same time. We’ve put together a list of our favourites.
Subscribe to a magazine
Starting a magazine subscription is a great way to give yourself a treat and get into the habit of reading in English on a regular basis. Magazines like National Geographic, Time or The Economist are good if you like news and thought-provoking articles. They offer high-quality writing using language that’s easy to read whatever you level of English. If you’re slightly more advanced and are interested in Literature and the Arts, you could try The New Yorker or Vanity Fair – or try subscribing to a specialist magazine relating to one of your hobbies such as photography, video gaming or film. It’s a useful way of learning vocabulary that will be useful later on. If you have an eye for fashion, you could try titles like Interview or the US or UK editions of Vogue. If it’s humour you’re after, you could try Private Eye for a dose of peculiarly British humour.
Indulge your passion for music
Whether you’re already a fan of English-speaking artists and bands or would like to become more familiar with English-language music, concerts are a great way of absorbing the language. The lyrics and ad libs between songs will help improve your listening skills – and you may well get a chance to chat with some English-speaking fans while you’re there. If there aren’t any English-speaking artists due in your area any time soon, why not take the opportunity download new music or to buy some new CDs.
Refresh your wardrobe
Another useful skill you can learn while rewarding yourself is how to use English-language websites and e-commerce sites. Ordering yourself some new clothes from an English language site is a helpful way to learn vocabulary on the topics of clothing, shopping and banking, as well as a great opportunity to try some new fashions. Make sure you pay attention to the descriptions as well as the pictures when browsing, so you can learn useful descriptive terms.
Exploring audio books
Listening to English being spoken is one of the best ways to improve your understanding and pronunciation of the language. Next time you’re thinking of treating yourself, why not download an audio book to listen to while driving or relaxing. Try out a range of different styles and genres – alternating classics by authors like Charles Dickens with more modern novels, autobiographies or books on historical or scientific fact will help you sharpen your understanding of English and widen your vocabulary considerably. Audio books can also be a great way to familiarise yourself with idioms and expressions and learn their context.
A trip to the cinema
Watching an English-language film is another beneficial way to expand your English skills. As well as enjoying the plot, you’ll be able to familiarise yourself with English-speaking accents from different parts of the world. If the film has subtitles, you can match idioms and expressions to their equivalents in your own language – and you might even be able to identify moments where the translators have got it wrong. If there aren’t any films that interest you showing at your local cinema, you could buy some DVDs or subscribe to an English-language television channel – TV programmes are a particularly good if you want to listen to regional accents.
A special meal
Another way to reward yourself for improving your English skills is to cook yourself a meal – using an English-language recipe. Websites such as BBC Good Food, Allrecipes.com and Food Network feature thousands of recipes from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to try some tasty dishes, build up your cooking vocabulary and identify the differences between recipes from different English-speaking countries. You could try British bubble and squeak, Australian lamingtons or American pulled pork. Or why not challenge yourself to cook your favourite dish using a recipe written in English?
A special notebook
Keeping up with all the skills involved in learning a new language – reading, writing, listening, speaking – is hard work, and it’s easy to let at least one of them slip. Next time you feel you deserve a small reward for your hard work, pick out a good-quality notebook and start keeping a journal in English. Whether you use it to record and practise new phrases you’ve learned or to keep a diary of what you’ve been getting up to, making a habit of writing in English will have a marked positive effect on your language skills.