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7 Ways to Practice English That Don’t Feel Like Studying

Are you tired of studying English?

You’re not alone! It’s normal to lose motivation or burn out as you try to reach your English goals. 

The good news is that studying doesn’t have to feel like studying. There are several things you can do to improve your English that don’t involve a book or flashcards. 

Here are seven low-effort ways to practice English that won’t make you feel like you’re studying at all!

1. Listen to music

Chances are you like music—at least some music. Try to find an English-langugage singer or band that you like (if you hate their sound, this will end up feeling like work). Then, just sit back, relax, and listen! The more you hear a song, the more you’ll be able to identify the words they’re singing.  

If you’d like a little bit more structure, try LyricsTraining. Available on desktop or mobile, this app turns listening to music into a game as you listen to popular songs and type the word(s) that you hear. 

2. Use Netflix in English 

Use English settings on your Netflix account (or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or Crave . . . you get the point). Doing this means that your menu options will change, so every time you search for a movie or TV show, you’ll have to think in English. You can also turn on English subtitles to help you pick up useful vocabulary. 

3. Follow influencers and bloggers

Do you use social media to improve your English? If not, you should! An easy way to start is to follow English-speaking influencers and bloggers on your favourite platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.). If you’re not sure who to follow, a quick Google search can help: Try search terms like “British beauty YouTubers” or “Canadian food bloggers,” for example.

4. Learn a skill on YouTube

Another fantastic way to sneak a little extra English into your day is to watch YouTube videos that teach you how to do something—cook a dish, paint a picture, do a dance move, etc. These videos are great because they tend to be pretty short and you can use subtitles. YouTube also lets you change the speed of the video you’re watching (under “Settings”), so you can slow it down if you need a little extra help understanding what they’re saying.

5. Change the language on your phone

If you really want to force yourself to think in English, change the language settings on your smartphone. When you set the language as English, you’ll be changing things like app names and notifications, your settings menu, email inbox, and the date. If you’re feeling brave, try changing the language on Google Maps, too. You’ll learn to understand English directions pretty quickly if you don’t want to get lost!

6. Play games

There’s no better way to make learning fun than by playing a game. Whether you choose a free game like charades or 20 questions, an app like Words with Friends, or a classic game such as Balderdash, you’re sure to have a good time. You don’t even have to stick with a word game. Anything that gets you to use your English will work!

7. Get a penpal

Writing to someone about your life and reading about theirs is not only interesting, but educational as well. Exchanging emails or even instant messages with someone from a different country lets you practice your reading and writing skills while making a new friend! You don’t have to find someone from an English-speaking country for this; all you need is someone who can communicate in English. Not sure where to find a penpal? There are lots of sites like this one

Start enjoying English again

These are just a few of our favourite low-effort practice tips. What would you add to the list?

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.