Even if you love learning English, sometimes we all need a little boost to stay motivated. Sometimes, that motivational boost comes from reading inspiring stories about other successful English learners, or envisioning what you can accomplish when you succeed, or simply chatting with a friend and seeing that you’re not the only one struggling. For me, one of the best ways to stay motivated in my learning journey is to mix things up. Nothing renews my learning motivation like putting down the grammar drills and doing something fun with the language instead. There are a lot of ways you can have fun learning English, but I’ve recently discovered three amazing tools that are entirely new to me! I’m guessing at least some of them might be new to you, too, so I’m here to share! I hope these help you keep up your motivation to learn English by remembering that—in addition to being useful—English is fun!
1. SQUID for English news!
There are so many great apps for practicing languages, and there’s a new app that may become one of your favorites: SQUID.
SQUID is a news aggregator, so it gathers articles from all over the web and puts them in one place for you. But, let me tell you, this is no ordinary news aggregator.
First of all, you can filter for your interests. So, if you’re interested in gaming, food, and design, you’ll see the newest and best articles from around the web related to those topics whenever you open the app. Or maybe you’re interested in parenting and tech. Great! You can filter for those, instead.
So, what makes SQUID so cool for English learners in particular? A couple of things!
a. You can mark up the articles just like you can with a paper copy!
My favorite thing about SQUID is that it allows you to mark up the articles you read, just like you can with a paper copy. You don’t need to take a screenshot then open the screenshot in a photo editor or WhatsApp in order to mark it up. You can highlight, write text, use stickers on the article, and send the marked up version to your friends or share it on social media all from within the app itself!
How cool is that?!
b. There’s a section for you, English learners!
The other thing that makes SQUID a great app for English learners is that it has a section specifically for English learners! Not only can you read news from a variety of topics in English, but you can see some of the best blog posts from English teachers around the web pop up in your feed, too, just as if they were news articles! (Hehe, including posts from Next Step English! Woohoo!)
IMPORTANT: To add posts by English teachers to your feed, you have to select the category EASY NEWS.
Imagine your interests are psychology, travel, and learning English. When you open SQUID, you might see, for example, a headline about nautical idioms or how to pronounce sch- words in English alongside headlines about your other chosen topics. With SQUID, you can make English language posts part of your normal news reading for the day. Awesome!
SQUID is a free app, and if you live in a country where it’s available, I highly recommend that you try it out.
The SQUID app is currently available in Australia, Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and Spain. As the app grows, it will become available in more and more countries. Yay!
If you’re interested, you can download SQUID here. I hope you enjoy it!
2. Word histories on Merriam-Webster!
I’ve just discovered something marvelous about Merriam-Webster! Most dictionaries offer some kind of word origin, but Merriam-Webster takes this to the next level. The word origins they provide read almost like stories. They’re fascinating!
Now, this isn’t the case for every single word. For some words, they will give the standard word origin, just like you’d see in any other dictionary. However, they do this with enough words that it’s well worth searching for a word on Merriam-Webster just to check. In fact, I got addicted to searching for word origins when I first discovered this fun feature the other day. I spent over an hour obsessively typing words into Merriam-Webster’s search bar to see what their origins might be!
If you’re feeling a lack of motivation in your quest to build an amazing English vocabulary, this could be just the thing for you. Looking up these word origins is addictive and fun, and it will encourage you to grow your vocabulary.
To give you an idea, here are five word origins I’ve recently discovered on Merriam-Webster. If you click on the images, you can visit the full entry for each word on Merriam-Webster. (These words are all from former posts I’ve written, so I’ve linked to those posts for you, too, in case you missed them.)
(This is one of the romantic vocabulary words in our 14-day challenge to help you master advanced English love vocabulary. You can read the post here!)
(Click here to read about vocabulary for 5 traditional genres of paintings, and take a practice quiz!)
(Would you like to learn English vocabulary for ten terrifying creatures? Click here!)
(See this word in context in this post where I answer student questions from Twitter!)
And as if these word origins weren’t interesting enough, Merriam-Webster offers another fabulous feature that you won’t find in every online dictionary. For each word, they tell you when the word first appeared in the English language. That’s pretty standard. What’s amazing is that you can then click to see other words that came into English in the same year! Did you know that politics and fiendish came into English in the same year?! (1529, in case you’re curious.)
Cool, right?! I hope you enjoy these features as much as I do! They provide one way you can take a break from your grammar drills but still work on growing your English in a fun, entertaining way.
3. Pinterest for unique English motivation and fun!
I’d heard of Pinterest before. Everyone has heard of Pinterest. But until recently, I didn’t pause to think about how the special format of Pinterest could provide unique and fun ways to boost your progress in English. Well, I’m attempting to make up for lost time.
I’ve just set up a Pinterest page for you, Stepper. While it has some of the normal boards you might expect, like boards for Advanced English Vocabulary and History & Culture for English Learners, I’ve also created some boards to simply help you have fun learning English so you don’t lose your motivation to learn this magnificent language. If you like what I’ve created for you, I hope you’ll give me a follow and tell your friends about my Pinterest page, too! I’m new to Pinterest, so your support would mean the world to me. 😊
You can visit the Next Step English Pinterest page here.
I’ve scoured Pinterest to find photos of funny English errors. If you need a break from your grammar drills and vocabulary lists, choose one or two photos from this board and try to figure out what the error is. Some of them are easy, some of them might be difficult for you, and many of them are funny. Doing this will hone your editing skills, and it’s like a puzzle! Fun, fun, fun!
Sometimes, the best cure for a motivation slump is creativity. (Personally, my favorite way to build my vocabulary in a foreign language is through creative writing!)
This board contains hundreds of pins intended to spark your creativity and help you get out of that English motivation slump. There are writing prompts, writing tips, and a wealth of photos that are intended to surprise you and bring your mind into a creative space. If you just can’t study anymore but want to continue working on your English, choose one of these photos or writing prompts and use it as inspiration for some creative writing in your English journal!
Maybe what you need to motivate yourself in English is something to help you envision what you could do with your English. One of the great benefits of learning English is that it helps you travel without worrying about a communication barrier. (And one of the great benefits of travel is that it helps you practice your English!)
Check out this board to get ideas for English-speaking vacations. Whether you dream of swimming with penguins in South Africa, staying in a castle in Ireland, or taking a road trip across Canada, this board has something for you. And my hope is that it helps you remember that English is fun, not just practical!
Studying doesn’t always come in the form of sitting down with a book. Doing things like watching movies in English will also help you a lot! You’ll train your ear to understand different accents, you’ll pick up new vocabulary and slang, and you’ll learn a lot about culture, too! You’ll have fun learning English if you incorporate movies into your study routine.
If you’re eager to watch movies in English but don’t know where to start, visit this board for some ideas. I’ve only added movies that I have seen and that I liked. I personally recommend every movie on this board.
In total, I’ve created 21 boards for you (so far!). I hope you’ll pop over and check them out!
Thanks so much for visiting this post to learn about fun tools that can help with your learning motivation! If you liked it, please spread the love and share it! And remember: English is fun!