For information and updates relating to COVID-19 and UBC’s response, visit covid19.ubc.ca.

3 Resources to Help You Practice Your English

Post by Nelly & Katrina, UBC Vantage Orientation Assistants

Are you feeling nervous about school in September or soaking up all the holiday fun before school? Either way, this is one of the most exciting times in your academic career; you are transitioning into life as a university student and you are getting closer to adulthood. Having fun during your break is important, but don’t forget that coming to a full English speaking university is a big step! Being a part of the UBC Vantage One Program comes with a set of expectations, so we don’t want you feeling rusty with your language skills. We have compiled a list of some language practicing tools to keep your brain working and to get you ready for all the wonderful conversations you will have with your peers and professors here at UBC.

1. Duolingo

It’s probably the most popular language learning website and app in the world! Duolingo tracks your progress, allows you to test out levels, and will remind you to continue practicing every day! The lessons allow you to hear the spoken language and challenge you to write translations to and from the target language. You can download the app and have it on your smartphone so you can practice English while on the go. You can pre-download a couple of levels beforehand and then it can also be available online. Duolingo also offers other languages like Spanish, German, Italian, etc.

2. Busuu 

This is a rapidly growing language learning app that offers both a premium and free account. There is also an offline mode available for when you are without internet, which is pretty handy! Beginner classes will have flashcards for learning new words and phrases, but advanced lessons involve writing and answering questions that will be reviewed by native speakers on the site- which is the coolest part! Users of Busuu range from language learners to native speakers who are in it to tutor and help correct paragraphs. We think it’s a good choice if you want a more interactive learning experience!

3. Tandem

If you prefer chatting with a person and really practice those conversational skills, Tandem might be a great option for you! You can sign up, create a profile, and sort your preferences for language and topic you would like to chat about. Basically you can talk about anything from pizzas to Game of Thrones in any language, we will of course recommend English. You can find conversations from all ranges and in turn, can also offer to be a tandem tutor if you have a language to offer. There are options for chat and calls, and Tandem is a safe chat space since they are human-moderated. Simple networking is what this app thrives in.

Besides the three above, many other types of language support are offered online. However, no matter which app you choose, the key to enhancing English skills is to keep on practicing. Making this practice a part of your daily life can strongly benefit your English skills. Even if it’s just watching an episode of The Flash or reading a few books, as long as you are trying, you are improving - good luck!