How to Study English During Lockdown


Most of the world, including the United States, has been under lockdown for several months. Some lockdowns are more strict than others, depending on the location and the kind of work that still needs to be done.

Have you been on lockdown? For how long?

Many people are starting to go back to school and back to work this autumn. However, I think we are heading toward a much greater online learning and remote work situation. Many college students in the US are studying online this fall, and many of my friends and colleagues who used to work in offices are now working remotely from home.

Even when this illness goes away (hopefully!), things will not be the same. We are now studying, working, and living most of our lives at home. Nobody knows if this will be our situation for many months or even years to come, as we continue to work and learn from home so we can stay safe and healthy.

Staying home can also be more convenient. We are heading toward a kind of one world online economy, where some of the best jobs are working remotely for international companies.

You will need to speak English for this! Now, more than ever, it is important to improve your English – get on this now! No excuses! Now is the time to secure your future!

But how do you improve your English if you have to stay home? What are the best and fastest ways to learn during lockdown?

Today we’re going to talk about ways to improve your English while you are at home. Learning doesn’t have to stop! In fact, it’s even more important to focus on learning while we can!

At the end of this lesson, I’m going to share a favorite language-learning app of mine that I think can help you a lot with English in a fun way. It’s called Duolingo. Have you heard of it? I use it to practice my Japanese and other languages, too!

How We Used to Learn Languages

Traditionally, people have learned English in several ways:

  • By going to a classroom
  • By using a textbook and listening to a teacher (in the classroom)
  • If you have the time and money, you study abroad

Right now, it’s very difficult to learn like this. The good news is that it’s not necessary to do these things to learn English! Language learning is a skill that benefits from being around other people, but there are lots of ways you can learn that don’t involve a classroom, study abroad travel, or even speaking in person, face-to-face. Don’t let your current situation take away your dreams of fluency! You can do this – no excuses! Let’s talk about how.

Focus on One Thing at a Time

If you try to learn everything all at once, it will be overwhelming. Try focusing on one skill or topic at a time. For example, work on improving your vocabulary for one week, then change and work on something else. While you focus on growing your vocabulary, you’ll naturally improve your pronunciation.

First, You Need Input

Find English material to read or listen to from your favorite source. You can check out this post about how to use Netflix to find good sources of English material! Also try movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts.

Duolingo has a new English podcast, so check it out!

Just Speak

Talk to yourself, your plants, and your pet! Depending on your level, this can be just a few easy words like “Hello! How are you?” Or, you could try something more difficult, like telling your cat your thoughts on interdimensional travel, for example!

Sing Along With a Favorite Song in English

I improved my Spanish A LOT this way. I struggled with the subjunctive tense until I found some songs that use it a lot.

Shadow Recordings of English Speakers

Shadowing is speaking at the same time as a recorded voice. It’s not easy, but it is a fantastic way to learn. I recommend finding someone who speaks clearly; for example, from a speech. You could also listen to a news broadcaster like Barbara Walters.

Barbara Walters has a great short sentence that includes several difficult sounds – “th,” “er,” and “I.” “I’m Barbara Walters, and this is 2020.”

Record Yourself Speaking

Record yourself speaking, then listen to see if you notice ways you can improve.

Make up a song in English

Have fun with this! Make it up, and sing it. It might help to use a tune from a song you know.

Try Online Lessons

I’ve talked about this in previous lessons. Here’s a link to one of these posts.

Set Your Mobile Devices and Computers to Speak English

Expose yourself to as much English as you can!

Social Media

When you use social media, try using it in English

Use the Duolingo App!

Duolingo uses the spaced repetition system of language learning, which is the best and fastest way to learn! Duolingo says that its learners perform as well on reading and listening tests as students who took four semesters of university classes, and in half the time.

Try More Than One Technique

It’s important to use more than just one of these ideas! For example, it’s not enough to just sing songs, but as one of many activities you do, it can really help. I recommend you choose several of these suggestions, the ones you prefer, but remember to try more than one.

I like to integrate language learning into my everyday life. Even though I’m staying at home, I don’t have a lot of free time. I am still busy doing the same amount–or more–of work!

Let Duolingo Help You Learn

How about you? Do you feel just as busy as you were before the lockdowns? I like Duolingo because it’s easy to use when I only have a little bit of time. I’ll use it while I’m waiting for other things (like cooking my dinner), or while I’m just relaxing for a few minutes. It’s like fun, and not like boring study time. I recommend Duolingo for building all of your fluency skills, especially vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and reading!

Here at Go Natural English, we’ve partnered with Duolingo. We want to help 10,000 people improve their English with this app. You can choose a different language, too – you don’t have to choose English. If we reach this goal, we will have a live party and talk about language learning tips!

It’s free! Duolingo is completely free – every course, every lesson! Duolingo wants to make education free and accessible to everyone.

It’s fun! – Duolingo is built to feel like a game. We think learning can be fun, and in fact, it works better when it is! Staying motivated is one of the biggest challenges in learning a new language. That’s why we focus a lot of attention on making sure our learners want to keep coming back.

It’s Effective! – Duolingo works! Their experts analyze data from millions of learners to constantly improve how they teach.

Remember, you can use Duolingo to learn 38 different languages right now, not just English! If you have some extra time during this lockdown, why not try a new language?

Use this link to get the premium version of Duolingo free for a week! With Duolingo Plus, you get offline access, unlimited mistakes, and you can track your progress! Duolingo Plus is normally $6.99 USD each month.

And don’t forget – you can do this! I’d love to hear what you’re doing at home to learn English, so leave a note in the comments below! Also, click here to watch a video about how to learn English with your phone. See you in the next lesson!

You can join thousands of other English learners on our email newsletter list and receive free English tips each week. Click here to join our email group.

Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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