I woke up on a Sunday morning in September to pouring rain, the sky’s way of telling me that taking advantage of the final few weeks of nice weather this year simply wasn’t going to happen today. But just because the weather outside looks frightful doesn’t mean the day needs to be a complete waste!
And today’s blog post deals with exactly that: making the most of a day even when the weather’s telling you otherwise, because we all know that in Milan you can’t afford to lose a single day of productivity. We’ve compiled a list of five rainy day activities that you can do to improve your English without even stepping foot outside.
1. Words with Friends
Words with friends is an app that is more or less a Scrabble knockoff. The only difference is that it has become a worldwide social phenomenon where people from all over the world, and therefore in a wide variety of languages, are battling it out on their smartphones to spell the biggest and rarest words out there.
Take a look for yourself at just how many different language options are available (you can even test out your British vs. American English!):
Aside from being able to test your ability to make words from a set of seven letters, there are also a few more interesting features to Words with Friends.
After every word is played, the app offers a dictionary feature (you can find it at the bar on the top of your screen), allowing you to improve your vocabulary one play at a time.
Just try not to get too competitive, that’s not what Sundays are for!
Breaking News English is a news source that is aimed specifically at English-language learners. It is modified in its language use compared to actual news (which can at times be quite daunting), while also offering additional activities related to the article itself.
The exercises can be useful when studying both by yourself or in groups, as they spark interesting conversation and word association. Here’s an example of both types of exercises:
Additionally, it is offered in a variety of levels for all types of English learners, from beginner A2 all the way to advanced C1 speakers. Stay in touch with the outside world, even if it’s too rainy to leave the house!
3. Watching Sky TV in English (with subtitles)
Is it truly a rainy day if the TV isn’t on? It might not be the most educational activity out there, but there’s still a way to salvage some vocabulary. Watch one of your favorite shows in English and switch the subtitles on, get a notepad and paper, and start studying!
Speaking from experience, most of Sky’s programs are either English or American, with the usual Italian dubbing. Fortunately for us Americans who miss our national programming, we can simply switch to the original language whenever we want to feel at home. It’s just as simply to add subtitles, which are a necessity if you want to fully understand what is said and, of course, write it down for future studies. Combined with the pause, rewind, and fast forward feature, you can comfortably stop or repeat any part of the show if you didn’t catch something or want to hear it again, making for a wonderful language experience.
If the idea of watching real, live English scares you silly, then you better be prepared! Do a little research and read up on the plot before the episode or movie starts so that you have a clear idea of what is going on before it happens. If you’re really up to the challenge, research it in English so that you’ll already have all the vocabulary in front of you as the show progresses.
4. Analyzing song lyrics
Go ahead and check your favorite playlist on your phone or computer for a second. If you find that at least half of your songs are in English, this is the activity for you.
It’s about as straight forward as possible, and all you need at your disposal is the internet. Listen to a song, bring up the lyrics, find some new words and try to understand what the song means.
If you’re like me and listening to Spotify is just as much a part of your life as taking a daily shower, then you can even find song lyrics on the Spotify program on your computer.
Take it a step further on http://songmeanings.com, where there are some intricate discussions on the very meaning of song lyrics in the comment sections.
5. Make a recipe!
Last but not least is an activity for the more ambitious of rainy day English studiers: making a classic English or American recipe by following a video in English. All Recipes https://www.youtube.com/user/allrecipes offers great YouTube videos for various meals that are both easy to make and, more importantly, easy to follow and understand.
You can’t control the weather, but you can certainly make the best of it. Never let your English miss a beat, rain or shine!