6 ways to improve your English before studying abroad

An international student on campus at Lancaster University

Lancaster University International Study Centre offers English language classes to its students, but if you’re looking to start preparing before you arrive – or just want to sound more like a Lancaster local – there are plenty of things you can do to help prepare.

1. Read your favourite book

To start with, if you’re nervous about the long-form texts you’ll be reading in English at university, you can always try reading your favourite novel in English. By reading something you know and love, you can concentrate on the language used rather than the actual plot.

2. Watch with subtitles

If you prefer to watch television or movies to reading novels, you can still learn English whilst watching your favourites. Choose a show in your own language and add English subtitles. This way, you can read along with what’s happening on the screen – translating the words in your head. It’s also a great way to get used to the way native speakers pronounce their words.

3. Practise with friends

If you learnt English at school, you can speak to your schoolfriends in English. Meet up for lunch or coffee and agree to talk only in English. As well as getting spoken practice in, you can also use this time as a way to correct each other’s English in a friendly and respectful way. If you’re really dedicated, you can even combine tips and start an English-speaking book club with your friends by recommending each other books to read and discuss!

4. Go online

If you don’t have anyone close by to practise English with, a great option is to go online. The internet is a good place to find likeminded people to practice your English with. Pick a topic you’re passionate about, whether it is a hobby or the subject you plan to study, and search for it online. To develop your reading skills, you can read blogs on the subject. For improving your writing and communication skills, you can post on forums, or even try writing your own blog about the things you love.

5. Learn a word a day

One of the oldest ways to learn a new language is still one of the most effective. Find a new word every day and set yourself a goal to use it in conversation. There are plenty of ways to do this – you can pick words you’ve come across in reading or watching television and movies, or you can download specific apps which suggest words for you to use. A fun twist on this technique is to choose colloquial and slang words that you may hear from other students at university.

6. Listen to the local accent

If you really want to be prepared for life in Lancaster before you arrive, a great way to practice is to get to know the local accent. Visit YouTube and listen to local news clips from the area. Although you won’t need to speak in a Lancashire accent yourself, understanding the distinct vowel sounds of the northern dialect will help you feel more comfortable when speaking with locals in the city centre.

To continue preparing for your arrival to Lancaster University International Study Centre, read more of our helpful tips about dealing with homesickness.