I've been thinking of all of you who are discouraged because learning English is harder than you thought it would be. You never seem to be able to write or speak without making mistakes. You rarely, if ever, try to speak English to real English speakers because you are afraid of making mistakes, so of course, you never improve.
- Talk to strangers at bus stops, in elevators, in the cafeteria, in stores, in the doctor or dentist's office, outside of class.
- Talk to people in every line up you find yourself standing in in - at the supermarket, the bank, the post office, or the pharmacy.
- Join a meetup group in your city., or join a conversation club.
- Start attending a church where you can meet English speakers who will be friendly. You don't have to be religious, or join that religion. Small churches are great because they usually have social activities, both after church and at other times. People there are very welcoming to newcomers, and nobody will force religion on you.
- Volunteer. Find your local volunteer centre and find a volunteer position that you are genuinely interested in. There are literally thousands of volunteer jobs just waiting for you. Stay with it. You will speak English, gain skills and make new friends.
- Go to dog parks and make small talk with dog owners. They absolutely love talking about their pets.
- Take a fun class like woodworking, flower arranging, or dance, or get involved in a sport. Most community centres have drop in sports leagues, or even regular leagues. You can also learn a new sport.
- A number of my homestay students from Japan and China have done just that and their English improved beyond their wildest dreams. Kaori, one young woman from Japan took skating lessons. Then she took up "power skating", and finally joined a mixed (men and women's hockey team where she met a ton of English speaking friends. They are still friends today even though she is back in Japan teaching English. Akiyo, another Japanese student enrolled in a scuba diving class where she actually met her Canadian husband. Still another, Junko, enrolled in a sign language course at night school. She also spoke a lot of English and made new friends.
- If you have young children, join a mother and children group ( they're often called mum and tot groups). You'll meet a lot of other young mothers who have a lot in common with you.
- Go to community centres, and playgrounds where you can talk to other mothers.
- If your child is enrolled in a swimming , ballet, gymnastics or any other class , talk to other parents while you are waiting for your children.
- If your child plays hockey, soccer, baseball, volleyball, or any other sport, talk to the other parents who will also be cheering their children on. They WILL talk back.
- If your child is in school, join the parent association. Parents in these associations are only too happy to talk to other interested parents. Believe me, they WILL be much more patient and understanding than you think.
Whatever you do, be willing to feel uncomfortable for a while. You can't take risks and be compltely comfortable at the same time. Learn ing how to do anything involves feeling uncomfortable at first. Remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle. Where you at ease at the beginning? How about when you learned to drive? Were you comfortable? How do you feel now?