Boost your English during your intensive English program on campus

A journey of a thousand miles goes step by step. Why always walk the same way? Why not change shoes often?

Of course, you’ll want to stick with the tried and true methods of reading, writing, and listening during your intensive English course. But you can also develop extra English knowledge and skill every day with memory tricks, word games, and easy activities.

While far from a comprehensive list of free English tips, here are 5 simple suggestions for making the most of your Intensive English class while amusing yourself and friends.

Tip #1 – Role plays while taking an Intensive English program

Learning English shouldn’t be lonely labor. Since language is about communication, you need to practice speaking English in real world situations, from the supermarket to the workplace. 

Whether or not you’re in an intensive English course on campus at home you can act out scenes from daily life with classmates, friends, or family. Laughter in a group helps you remember. The crazier the better! 

You can act out the situations with or without a plan. For extra focus, add three vocabulary words (like the names of three vegetables, devices, or emotions) or a grammar point (like advice modals should, ought to, had better). Award yourself points for using the focus words.

Here are some example role play scenarios ranging from the serious to the silly:

  • Interview a celebrity. (practice who, what, when, why, where, how questions)
  • Complain about your terrible vacation. (practice negative adjectives)
  • Decide on COVID-19 policy for your dormitory (practice negotiation)
  • Pretend you’re different talking animals in the zoo (practice small talk)
  • Answer a customer service call about a broken device (practice diplomatic language)
  • Interview for a job as Leader of the World (practice telling stories about your successes)Online teacher saying lets do a role play experiment.

Your Intensive English program on campus may incorporate role plays, while your Intensive English classes online may include only a few due to technology limits. However, in your free time outside of class, you and friends can take vocabulary and grammar structures from your intensive English class and use them in imaginary, even crazy situations. Crazy is good.

Tip to Learn English #2 – Mnemonic Devices while taking an Intensive English program

A mnemonic device is a memory trick that helps you remember information.

During your Intensive English program, your teacher may provide mnemonic devices to help you remember English spelling, vocabulary, or grammar rules.  Here are a few of our favorites, useful whether or not you’re in an Intensive English program:

  • Spelling mnemonics: English is one of the hardest languages to spell. Memorable sentences remind you of easily misspelled problems words. 

Which of the English words have you misspelled? Will the spelling mnemonic help you remember?

  • Cemetery: Late at night all the ghosts come and go “eeeeeeeeeee!” (people frequently misspell it as cemetary)
  • Separate: There is a rat in separate (not seperate).
  • Piece: Try a piece of pie (i before e).
  • Principal: Your principal is your pal (the head of the school is your friend; it’s not spelled principle, which means an ideal or belief).
  • Rhythm: What’s rhythm? Rhythm helps your two hips move.
  • Rhymes: Nothing sticks in the memory like a good rhyme. What rhymes with rhyme? Time, crime, dime… Here are some ways rhymes can work as mnemonic devices:
    • Pair words with different spellings that rhyme to help you remember pronunciation:
      • answer/dancer
      • said/head
      • good/would
      • contagious/outrageous
    • Listen to songs that rhyme, paying attention to the sounds at the end of every line. Rap music features complex wordplay and rhyming, while folk, country, and pop like Taylor Swift may be slower and easier to follow. Plus, you can always listen to children’s songs for simple, memorable rhymes.
    • A rhyming poem can help you remember grammar concepts like parts of speech:
      • Nouns name people, places, or things
        Like William on a wall in the wind with two wings.
      • Pronouns in place of a noun sit                                                                                              Like he, she, you, we, they, and it.
  • Acronyms. An acronym is a word where each letter is the beginning of a word. For example, NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration and ASAP stands for As Soon As Possible.

FANBOYS is an acronym that helps you remember the 7 coordinating conjunctions in English: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. See how the first letters spell the word FANBOYS? 

Remembering the acronym helps you remember the 7 conjunctions. Each of these conjunctions can be used to connect together independent clauses. Without getting too deep into the grammar, coordinating conjunctions work like this:

    • Juan joined an Intensive English program on campus, but Juanita decided to join an Intensive English program online. 
    • His travel plans had to be delayed, so Ralph decided to sign up for an online Intensive English program.A ghost scaring three men.

When you take intensive English classes, you can put into practice mnemonic devices that may stick with you the rest of your life. Fifty years from now you may forget your TOEFL test prep exercises but still remember FANBOYS or “Late at night all the ghosts come and go eeeeeeeeeee!”

Tip to Learn English #3 – Word games while taking an Intensive English program

Word games stimulate the mind and connect words to one another. Plus, a good game can bring people together in social situations. 

The main English benefits of word games include vocabulary review and expansion, not to mention spelling and pronunciation. All in all, games make words “stickier” so that they don’t slip from your mind. Before, during, or after your intensive English program, try playing these three well-known English word games:

  • Taboo: In this party game, you get a card with one guess word and five taboo words. Your job is to get your team to guess the guess word without saying the taboo words. For example, your card might say:
    • lullaby (guess word–your team must guess this word)
      • baby (taboo word–you’re not allowed to say it!)
      • sleep (taboo word–you’re not allowed to say it!)
      • dream (taboo word–you’re not allowed to say it!)
      • cradle (taboo word–you’re not allowed to say it!)
      • sing (taboo word–you’re not allowed to say it!) 

Can you get your team to guess lullaby without saying baby, sleep, dream, cradle, or sing?

  • Apples to Apples: This is a card game that sparks your verbal imagination. The object is to make silly or serious matches between an adjective and your choice of seven nouns. The perfect party game, Apples to Apples, makes one player a judge who decides which of the other players has made the most convincing or creative connection between the two words. 

For example, let’s say you have the following seven nouns: kittens, television, uncle, alien, pants, cabbage, dictionary. Which of the seven nouns can you have the most fun matching to the adjective scary?

  • Scrabble. With this classic word game, you get 7 letters, each worth a different number ofA scrabble game board with Be Yourself spelled out. points. Your job is to put letters together on the scrabble board to build words, add up points, and win by getting the most points. A winning skill is to make words with high-value letters like z or combinations like qu. It’s also helpful to know short specialty words. There’s even a special Scrabble Dictionary for the serious competitor.

Tip to Learn English #4 – Synonyms and Antonyms while taking an Intensive English program

A neat way to expand your vocabulary is to build on the words you already know.

Try connecting a familiar word to three new words with related meanings. A thesaurus can be your guide (while you avoid a translator.)

In your notebook you can write words with similar or opposite meanings:

  • walk = step, stride, stroll
  • happy = delighted, cheerful, upbeat
  • happy ≠ unhappy, sad, downbeat

Better yet, note differences in intensity by writing down extreme adjectives:

  • extremely sad = miserable
  • extremely happy = ecstatic
  • extremely surprised = stunned

Instead of your notebook, you can write on sticky notes to attach to your refrigerator, mirror, or wall. And instead of writing, draw clusters or mind maps. Just don’t overload with too many words; groups of three are manageable and satisfying

Another approach is to organize vocabulary into categories or “families” — and then create an acronym as a mnemonic device.

  • student < scholar, tuition, undergraduate, dean, evaluation, network, tutor.
  • store < spaghetti, tomatoes, olives, rice, and eggs.
  • cleans <  cloth, linen, elegant, ammonia, neaten, squeegee.

Creating your own acronym or mnemonic device may not be easy, but if you succeed, you’ll never forget it!

Moira, from TV show Schitt's Creek, saying Be careful, though–you may need to read or hear a word used in context before you speak and write it appropriately. That’s why it’s important to read English web sites, articles, and books every day in order to expose yourself to vocabulary. Only by seeing vocabulary in context can you understand the subtleties of connotation and usage in the real world. The best intensive English courses provide plenty of materials and guidance to get you reading English at your level in class and at home.

Tip to Learn English #5  Tutor while taking an Intensive English program

While taking Intensive English courses, it makes sense to have a tutor for extra support.

For one thing, a tutor can explain weird grammar, give feedback on essays, and correct pronunciation. The best intensive English programs offer free or affordable private tutors. 

Better yet, a tutor can provide something that you can get only when studying in an English-speaking country: cultural exchange. You and your tutor can have friendly conversations about the local community, food, holidays, music, movies, sports, slang, or whatever else sparks your interest. 

Don’t forget that talking with a tutor also exposes you to the pronunciation and intonation of a native speaker in a one-on-one setting. In contrast to the more structured, group-oriented content of your intensive English classes, you can use your tutor to hear fast, natural spoken English.Another option is to find a tutor for a free language exchange. It’s a win-win situation. You can teach them your native language for an hour on Monday and then on Friday they can teach you English. The best intensive English courses offer language exchange opportunities.

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While you book your Intensive English course improve your language skills by reading our free English articles or watching our free English lesson videos.  

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