Learning has always been a complex sociological and psychological concept. There are thousands of theories on how an individual learns and each individual has their own understanding of their particular best practices. A commonly accepted psychological theory is that humans are capable of holding five (plus or minus two) pieces of information in their short term memory. Long term memory is much more expansive but is theoretically accessed through repetition of things that we originally held in short term memory.
Language learning too has been the subject of various psychological and sociological theories. The paramount of which has to be the learning versus acquisition theory. Though there is the reason for both sides of the debate, it would be a fair assumption that today’s youth are much less likely to learn through the old practices of education. Recent studies have suggested that young people are unable to hold attention for much longer than eight minutes, let alone for a full hour.
This means that students may not be able to listen to their teacher prattle on for hours, thoroughly study a grammatical theory, take in various pieces of vocabulary or stare at a blackboard in a vain attempt to retain at least 20% of the information presented to them. For some people, it works, it always has and it always will, but for those susceptible to the ever-changing environment around them, learning has become difficult and somewhat of a chore, meaning learning English may have lost its exciting appeal to some.
So, let’s look at some ways with which we can combat boredom and learn English without studying.
SWITCH YOUR VIDEO GAME LANGUAGE TO ENGLISH
Although it may seem a little obvious, it’s something that people don’t always know about. Most major video games, including many mobile app games, offer the option to switch the audio and written, language to English. If we are being honest, the shock of an interactive game unfolding before your eyes in a foreign language can be kind of difficult to start with, but before you know it, you’ll be repeating lines from your favourite games in your sleep.
We’ve put together a little list of games that should tickle your fancy, organised by genre:
Horror/Survival: The Last of Us – incredibly versatile and playable on various difficulties. It’s a great way to get started learning English. Be warned though, the hardest difficulty is almost impossible!
Sports: FIFA – Could we really pick anything else? The gameplay is simple but addictive, there are various modes which you can enjoy and there are a lot of options to choose English as your language, including commentary which is taken directly from premier league broadcasts.
World-building: Tropico – You play as a dictator who has to rule an island nation during the cold war period. What’s nice about this game is that the written updates are accompanied by audio tracks, so you’ll be able to practice both your reading and listening.
This is just a very short list to give you some ideas of new games that you may not have tried out, but you’re able to switch the language to English in almost any game that you own and you should definitely give it a try
BINGE NETFLIX/AMAZON PRIME
This isn’t a secret. Many people utilise the power of modern media to watch series in their original English language glory. Even schools have started to incorporate this into their lessons, using a streaming service to watch part of an episode or movie and then studying the language that’s been used in that particular scene. This makes classes more interactive and less repetitive. It also gives the learner’s something else to focus on. Having adults discuss the sociological nuances of an animated series in relation to modern life is much more interesting for them than studying grammatical theory repeatedly. It also serves as a tool for replicating English in real life. People often talk about television shows and usually have a lot to say.
Here’s another little list of shows that you can enjoy while learning English. If you’re finding them difficult at first, then have subtitles in your own language, watch once and then repeat with English subtitles.
Comedy: BoJack Horseman (6 Seasons / Netflix) – A well balanced animated comedy about the life of an actor who is struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse after finding fame at a young age and subsequently failing to follow up with any further career ambitions.
Alternative history: The Man in the High Castle (4 Seasons / Amazon Prime) – The story of what would have happened if the Nazi’s had been successful in World War 2. There is a deep seated commentary regarding the current political landscape and an imagined alternate Nazi-controlled world.
This is a very short list for one reason, we want to go into much more detail in a further article.
JOIN A SPORTS TEAM
For some of you, this will be a complete no go, but for the active users amongst you, joining a team, particularly if you’re living in another country can be a huge influence on your English language learning.
It doesn’t really matter what you’re into, there’s probably a team somewhere near you, especially if you’re living in a major city like London, Valencia or Los Angeles.
As a side note, if you are in London and want to get involved in football, but find it difficult to get people together, there is a wonderful website called Footyaddicts, which allows you to pay and play, without the hassle of trying to get 10 people together on a work night.
DO A LANGUAGE EXCHANGE
One of the best things about modern-day life is how connected we are. Sure, there are arguments that such rapid technological progress is making us less connected to the individuals with whom we share close proximity, but there are also arguments on the flip side which show how truly connected we have become to those much further away.
The pen pal system has existed for a very long time, traditionally with letters sent to friends in faraway countries which would arrive months or years later. Eventually, that evolved into the telephone communication industry and now, we are living in the mobile data boom.
Take advantage of this technology and get yourself onto a language exchange. We have one on this very site where you can meet thousands of people from hundreds of different countries. The system is easy, you can talk about anything you want and perhaps you’ll make a friend for life or maybe even more. There are countless stories about people who have found their best friends, business partners or even spouses via language exchange websites.
Out of fear of prattling on too much and boring you (something we specifically promised we wouldn’t do), we should wrap it up here and let you crack on with your language exchange journey.
Written by: Jordan Benyon, Staff Writer