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Original ideas for improving your English!

10 less conventional ways to improve your English skills for the IELTS test!

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1. Read to be a better writer - Yes, you read that right. Read to be a better writer. When you read with the intention to become a better writer, you not only start seeing each sentence in its entirety but also start analysing the construction of it. You will realise that the writing style of each writer is very different. The flow, the words used, the idea behind every sentence starts becoming evident which in turn helps you identify the building blocks of the language.

2. Ditch the papers, tune in to the radio or listen to podcasts– Radio is a very good practice for the listening section of IELTS. It will not only help you familiarise yourself with the accent but also expand your dictionary. Podcasts are digital audio files that you can listen to on a topic of your choice. Stick to technology and academic podcasts to stay within the realm of IELTS topics.

3. Change your inner voice to English – We all have a language that we use to talk to ourselves in idle or contemplative moments. Change that to English. And not just that, change the language on your phone, your SMS or WhatsApp texts, the TV shows that you watch. Basically everything.

4. Play, have fun! – Make a game out of spotting your mistakes, make a game out of spotting others mistakes. Find a buddy to play with. There are apps like wordplay or scrabble that you can download to have fun with the language.

5. Teach English – Sounds daunting and impossible right? You don’t have to be a master to teach someone what you just learnt. Grab a partner or sibling and start teaching each other with the intention of understanding the core idea behind a lesson. This is not only a great way to explore a topic but also to superimpose information onto your memory.

6. Rehash and translate - Pick up books written in English and see how you would have written the same idea using the words you know. Take your favourite native language book and translate that into English. Check with a mentor to see if you’re on the right path.

7. Mnemonics and idioms can save you – Mnemonics like ‘i before e except after c or when sounded as “a”, as in ‘neighbour’ and ‘weigh’ can serve as your guiding light as you struggle to spell. Idioms like ‘Actions speak louder than words’ can help you express an emotion or situation better. Look for these online. Also look out for exceptions to the rule, there are always some.

8. Use music – Whether you are in the shower or on a bus to work, listening to English classics can be a fun way to practice pronunciation. Do look out for frequently used slangs or informal language, you don’t want them to become a part of your vocabulary.

9. Make a mixtape: This basically means that you record yourself and listen in order to be a better speaker. You not only record sentences but also words you struggle to pronounce, words that you have just learnt and how to use them. Its like building an archive of your progress. Revisit them frequently to check your progress.

10. Check your body language – When you are nervous your body has multiple reactions - sweaty palms, stuttering, a stoop in your posture and many such things. These are all signs of you being a new English speaker. If you want to appear confident begin with your body.

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