Turning the “dead” period of commuting or long-distance driving into an opportunity to learn English is an innovative way to use the time productively. With some organization, you can transform your car into a virtual classroom and design exercises to help you learn the English language. The car is an ideal space for listening activities, and something you can do while still paying attention to the road.
Download English resources -- stories, radio broadcasts, news reports -- onto CDs to play in your car while you drive. Mark the contents of each CD in large letters so you will be able to identify the different CDs easily when driving. By having a collection of materials, you can pick a CD that suits your mood for the day. Go to the sites in the Resources section, drag the icon to your desktop and burn it to a CD.
Listen to the CDs with the downloaded English stories and songs and try to mimic the native speakers. Repeat the exercise until you get the pronunciation exactly right. If you are having trouble "hearing" the words, pull over in a rest area and listen to it again. Look in the review mirror and pay attention to the way you move your lips.
Talk to yourself in English while driving. Carrying on conversations about what you are doing -- “I have just stopped because the light is red” -- is an effective way to learn English. If you feel self-conscious, wear headsets and other drivers will think you are talking on your cell phone.
Carry English reading materials -- such as a national newspaper or a murder mystery -- with you at all times. When you are waiting to get the oil changed or the tires replaced, pull out an English newspaper and spend the time reading.
Sing English songs. Pick the sort of music you like and burn some songs onto CDs. Turn up the volume a notch and sing along while practicing the language.
Invite an English-speaking friend to come along on your New York to New Orleans -- or New Delhi to Mumbai as the case may be -- drive. Have an “English only” rule in the car if your friend also speaks your native language.
Park your car in the driveway and refer to it as "your English classroom." When you want to escape from noise or people, retreat to your car with an English book. Let people know they are not to disturb you because you are studying English.
CDs require less “work” than an MP3 to find what you are looking for; therefore, it is easier to keep both hands on the wheel.
Hip-hop music with English lyrics is good to listen to because it repeats the same phrases, allowing you more time to practice speaking the same words.
- CDs require less "work" than an MP3 to find what you are looking for; therefore, it is easier to keep both hands on the wheel.
- Hip-hop music with English lyrics is good to listen to because it repeats the same phrases, allowing you more time to practice speaking the same words.
Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.