7 tips to brush up your English for an amazing journey abroad!

Greetings, English learners and adventurers!

Are you excitedly marking off the days on your calendar, eagerly waiting for your journey abroad?

Whether you’re going to modern yet culturally rich Singapore, the bustling streets of New York, the scenic beauty of Sydney, the rich historical landscape of London, or anywhere else in the world, there’s one thing that’s just as important and necessary as your passport: your English skills!

But let’s face it: even the most thrilling journey can be daunting if language barriers loom on the horizon…

But fear not!

In this blog post, we will share 7 tried and tested tips to brush up your English skills before you embark on your overseas adventure. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about heavy textbooks or tiresome drills. Instead, we’ll explore practical, engaging, and effective ways to polish your English skills!

So, let’s start with the first tip, shall we?

1. Brush up on basic vocabulary and phrases

Brushing up on basic vocabulary and commonly used phrases is an excellent first step towards language readiness for your journey!

Start by identifying the scenarios you are likely to encounter during your trip. These could include dining out, asking for directions, shopping, or even making small talk with friendly locals.

Once you have a list of situations, begin compiling words and phrases that are commonly used in these contexts. For instance, if you’re visiting a restaurant, phrases like “I would like to order…” or “Could you recommend a dish?” will be handy.

There are plenty of resources available to help you with this. Language learning apps, for instance, often have dedicated sections for travel-related vocabulary. You can also find numerous online lists or flashcards tailored to different travel experiences.

The goal is not to memorize an exhaustive dictionary but to familiarize yourself with essential and commonly used words and phrases. As you build this foundation, you’ll find it easier to understand and participate in conversations during your trip, thereby enhancing your overall travel experience.

2. Practice speaking out loud

This is an absolute must! You might feel a little silly at first, but trust me, this is a surefire way to bring your English skills to life and make your travel experience more vibrant and interactive!

When we’re learning a new language, it’s tempting to keep it all in our heads, but there’s something truly magical that happens when we start vocalizing the words and phrases. It’s as if the language starts to take shape, becoming a part of our world, not just something we’re learning from a book or an app.

We understand that it might be tricky to practice speaking out loud. But don’t worry, you don’t need another person to practice this (though we strongly encourage it!) but don’t worry! There are still other ways to practice speaking out loud.

One of my favorite ways is to have conversations with myself. It might sound odd, but it’s incredibly helpful. You can chat about your day, describe what you see around you, or debate both sides of an issue. You can even pretend you’re ordering food at a restaurant or asking for directions.

Also, don’t be shy about recording yourself. Listening to your own voice speaking English can help you identify areas for improvement, and it can also be a great confidence booster to hear your progress over time!

3. Immerse yourself in English

Immersion is all about incorporating English into your daily life. It’s not just about studying English, it’s about living it!

Imagine waking up in the morning, and the first thing you do is listen to an English podcast or news broadcast while preparing your breakfast. The words fill your kitchen, introducing new vocabulary, providing context, and helping you tune in to the natural rhythm and flow of spoken English.

Next, you might read an English newspaper or novel during your commute, or perhaps scroll through English articles or social media posts on your phone. Not only does this expose you to a range of English writing styles, but it also reinforces grammar structures and expands your vocabulary in a more engaging way than traditional study methods.

Throughout the day, consider incorporating English into your routine activities. For instance, you could write your shopping list or to-do list in English, label items around your house in English, or even speak to your pet in English. Each interaction, no matter how small, helps to strengthen your command of the language.

In the evening, unwind with an English movie or TV show. Try to understand the plot and the characters’ emotions through their dialogues. Don’t worry if you can’t understand every single word – the aim here is to get comfortable with the language! Bottomline is, make English an integral part of your day! The more you interact with English in different contexts, the more familiar it will become. And before you know it, you’ll be navigating your upcoming journey with confidence!

4. Learn country-specific vocabulary

In essence, while English is a shared language across many countries, regional variations can differ significantly.

For instance, if you’re going to the United States, it’s beneficial to know that ‘chips’ refers to what many other countries call ‘crisps,’ while ‘fries’ are what you might know as ‘chips.’ If you ask for chips in the U.S., expecting a fried potato side dish, you might be surprised when you’re handed a bag of crunchy snacks instead.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling to the United Kingdom, you might want to familiarize yourself with words such as ‘boot’ for the trunk of a car, ‘biscuit’ for what Americans would call a ‘cookie,’ or ‘lift’ for an elevator.

In Australia, you might hear ‘arvo’ for afternoon, ‘brekkie’ for breakfast, or people calling McDonalds (yes, the fast food joint) as ‘Maccas!’!

Each of these country-specific words and phrases may seem small in isolation, but when they come together in conversation, they can significantly impact your understanding and ease of communication.

So how do you learn these words and phrases? A great place to start is travel guides, which often include a section on local lingo. You can also watch movies or listen to music from that country, follow their local news, or use language learning apps that offer country-specific English courses.

5. Get familiar with the accent

The English language, as spoken across the world, is incredibly diverse. An accent from the Southern United States will sound very different from one in Scotland or Australia. For someone who learned English as a second language, these variations can initially be challenging to understand.

So, take some time to attune your ears to the specific sounds, rhythm, and intonation of the accent from the region you’re visiting!

A fantastic way to do this is by diving into local media. Cozy up with a movie or a TV show from the country you’re heading to. Let the sounds wash over you, notice how the actors form their words, the unique way they pronounce vowels and consonants. Not only will this make you familiar with the accent, but it can also give you a cultural insight!

You can also look for resources online specifically tailored to help you navigate through the ocean of English accents. These can give you a more focused practice. Even better, find a language exchange partner who’s a native speaker of your destination country. It’s a win-win situation; you learn to understand their accent while they learn from you!

The goal is not for you to imitate them – the goal is for you to understand them! Remember, our accent is our heritage. Just as you appreciate their accent, appreciate yours too!

6. Learn about local customs and etiquette

Just as languages have dialects and accents, cultures have their own unique flavors of etiquette, habits, and practices. Understanding these can significantly enhance your interaction with locals, making your stay more enjoyable and rewarding.

Imagine you’re visiting England. You might want to learn about their tea culture, their subtle art of queuing, or the polite way to address someone in a formal setting. Or if you’re traveling to the United States, understanding tipping etiquette in restaurants or the importance of personal space in public areas can be useful.

How about Australia? You might be interested to learn about their barbeque traditions, their love for sports, or their casual and friendly way of greeting each other. Each of these unique customs and etiquette rules can significantly enhance your communication and social experiences.

So, how do you learn about these customs? A great starting point is travel guides,. they often offer a wealth of information about a country’s do’s and don’ts. You can also watch documentaries, read books, or join online forums where you can connect with people from the country you plan to visit!

7. Have fun!

Amidst all the preparation and planning, one thing that should always be on your to-do list is to simply have fun!

Remember, learning English for your trip abroad isn’t just about acquiring a new skill or adding another tool to your toolbox. It’s also about embracing a new adventure, broadening your horizons, and creating memories that will last a lifetime!

When learning becomes fun, it doesn’t feel like work anymore. It becomes a hobby, a passion, a new-found love. It becomes an exciting journey, one that you look forward to each day. This joy fuels your motivation, and before you know it, you’re not just learning the language, you’re living it!

And when you finally set foot in your destination country, every moment becomes an opportunity to use your English, to explore, to connect, and to celebrate the fruits of your labor!


There you have it!

With your English brushed up and these practical tips in your pocket, you’re all set to embark on a remarkable journey abroad. Remember, while language learning takes time and patience, the joy of being able to connect, interact, and explore a whole new world in English is definitely worth every bit of effort!

We wish you the best of luck for your upcoming journey! Have fun and cheers to the great memories you’re about to create! :)

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IELC Academic Director