Many people decide to come to the UK to improve their English. Here are some ideas as to how you can safely maximise opportunities for speaking.
Short holidays – up to 4 weeks
Get ideas from the local tourist information office
Here, you can ask about local tourist attractions and places to visit, as well as any events that are going to take place during your stay. If you are given information in your first language, ask for a copy in English, so that you can use them as resources for studying.
To find them, just Google “tourist information” and the place you are interested in:
Advantages – the staff are used to speaking to people from all over the world, and a lot of the resources are free. A great place to find ideas for things to do during your stay.
Disadvantages – these places may be very busy.
Visit a National Trust stately home and gardens
If you are interested in the UK’s history and culture, and like looking around some beautiful houses and gardens, then a visit to a National Trust property could be for you! The National Trust is a charity that was created in 1895 to protect and take care of buildings and open spaces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These photos were all taken at National Trust properties…
Advantages – Many of the people are volunteers and are there to chat to you and give you information about the place. And, at most sites, there are lovely cafes, restaurants and gift shops, giving you more opportunities to practice your English! National Trust places are also family-friendly.
Disadvantages – Ticket prices can be expensive. If you are here for a long stay, it might be worthwhile to buy a year’s membership.
Shop in some little shops, and don’t forget markets and fairs!
Nowadays, it is easy to go shopping without speaking to anybody! Our supermarkets are becoming more and more digital, and when you do arrive at the checkout, the only questions that you will definitely get asked are “Do you need help with your packing?” or “Do you have a loyalty card?”
However, there are still lots of lovely little shops run by people who know a lot about the things that they are selling, and who will be happy to chat to you.
There are also markets and fairs that take place throughout the year. For example, here in Loughborough, we have a ceramics fair in May and a classic cars event in June. Again, you can use the Internet to find shops and fairs that specialise in things that might be of interest to you.
Advantages – You can chat about your favourite things with experts.
Disadvantages – If you choose to buy something, prices might be a little expensive compared to larger shops or the Internet.
Book a short break to take part in a specific activity
You could spend a few days learning more about an activity, for example painting, bread making, ceramics, or making clothes – whatever makes you happy! You can practice your speaking and learn a new skill!
To find out about these holidays, just Google “uk short break” and the activity you are interested in, for example “uk short break painting.”
Advantages – You can learn specific vocabulary about a subject that interests you.
Disadvantages – You may be spending lots of your time with a small group of people.
Longer stays – 1-6 months or longer
You can find conversation clubs at many libraries in the UK. They usually take place one or two days a week, and last for a couple of hours. They offer an informal opportunity to practice your speaking.
To find them, just search online for “English conversation club” and the location – for example: “English conversation club Nottingham” or “English conversation club London”.
Advantages – They are usually free.
Disadvantages – Sometimes conversation clubs at libraries are not available in the summer, so you need to check.
Volunteer at a charity shop or café
Some charity shops or cafés are happy to have people volunteering to practice their English. You can work in the shop, for example on the till or arranging the displays, or in the stock room or kitchen.
Advantages – You can support and give your time to a good cause. Most of the people there are volunteers, and are friendly and helpful.
Disadvantages – You need to be able to volunteer for at least one morning or afternoon a week, and the work is not paid.
Short and long stays
Book some English classes with a tutor
Whether you are here for just a week or more than six months, you could book some English lessons with a tutor. Here at MB English Plus in Loughborough, we can design a short course which focuses on speaking, just for you. We can assess your level of English and discuss the topics that you want to cover in conversation classes.
Advantages – You can choose the conversation topics and the number of hours that you wish to study. And, it is a quick way to improve your speaking skills!
Disadvantages – There is a cost. However, at MB English Plus, the first lesson is free.
If you have any other ideas for speaking opportunities, please let us know in the comments.