Welcome to the first episode of Tom’s Top 10 – a series of handy little guides to make the world a better place. (One ten-point list at a time.)
If you’re learning English in the UK, there are plenty of places to test your skills with the locals: From bowling alleys to bars, don’t be scared to get out and perfect your British accent – we won’t bite! (And if we do, at least you can use your English to call for help. I’m kidding, we usually don’t bite.)
10. At the shops
The local store, or shop as we call it in the U.K., is usually run by a friendly person who’ll greet you when you enter and likes to chat while you buy something. Shops are the perfect place to make friends (and buy chocolate, obviously).
9. At a fancy restaurant
Why? Because who doesn’t love an excuse for having an expensive meal where you have to dress up nicely? Plus, you’ll need to use your most precise English to place an order, as well as confront some of the more sophisticated English words to do with cuisine.
8. In the cinema
OK, fine, perhaps not in the cinema (people will definitely not appreciate you talking through the film) but afterwards, when people are discussing the movie with each other. Ask the person in front of you whether they enjoyed it, and you could end up binge-watching movies together until the cows come home.
7. At a social club
If you’re a sociable person, you could join a club to make new friends and practice your English. Clubs can cover anything from sewing to art and sports, so if you’re a keen football player from South America, join a local club. Who knows, you might even get signed by a Premier League team. (We promise nothing.)
6. In the classroom
You might be living in the U.K. to learn English at a language school, in which case you should be speaking English all the time. Embrace it! Make friends who don’t speak your native language, and you’ll be laughing all the way to graduation (with a British accent, too).
5. In a nightclub
Everyone’s more sociable when they’re having fun, and there’s nothing more fun than dancing with your friends to endless house music songs that kind of all sound the same. Even better, the fact that you’ll have to shout over loud music will do wonders for your pronunciation.
4. At a bar
A bar is far less crowded than a nightclub, and there’s usually not as much noise. Waltz up to the bar, order a beverage, and start a conversation with the man/woman next to you. They’ll usually be really glad to have made a new friend – although, perhaps avoid people who are on a date. Things will just get really awkward.
3. When you’re watching TV
Put on some subtitles and British television becomes much easier to understand. (And by subtitles I mean English subtitles – putting them in your native language is basically cheating.)
2. With your flatmates
The people you live with can become your best friends, so it makes sense to learn a language with them, too. Try living with people who don’t speak your native tongue, so you’re forced to communicate in the language you’re learning. Plus, no arguments over whether to watch a Latin telenovela or a football match in German – just watch the news in English instead!
1. With your friends
I mean, this one is a no-brainer: Why make friends with people who speak your native language? You’re here to learn English! The best part is: You’ll pick up all the native slang that makes your linguistic skills sound totally authentic or whatever. (See what I did there?)