At the moment everyone around the world has to practice social distancing. Many countries are under governmental lockdown or are restricted to minimum contact with the outside world. So most of you are at home (or when still travelling in a hotel, backpackers or host family) where you are safe but also where you have a lot of time to come up with things to keep you busy. Why not use the time to improve different skills?

I have thought of activities for you and created a list of my 10 tips to keep you busy during social distancing. The great thing is, all 10 things on that list also help you improve your English and other skills, mostly in a fun and subtle way. So you kill 2 birds with 1 stone 🙂

1. Home workouts to keep you fit

The best way to start the day is with a work out. This way you wake up properly and get the body going. Especially for people like us in South Africa, where you are currently not allowed to go for a run or leave the house for any type of exercise, the home gym is the only option.  If you do not know any exercises, that is not a problem. There are a lot of videos and exercises of personal trainers and fitness gurus out there that can get you to the fitness level you want.

Here are 3 different options I suggest:

  1. Download the Nike training app from your app/play store and enjoy the vast choice of exercises from easy to hard. You can choose your workout type (Endurance, mobility, strength, yoga), your muscle group, the equipment and much much more.

improve your fitness level with a friend

2. Train with Joe Wicks aka The body coach from the UK via his youtube videos.
He also does yummy and easy health recipes which you can check out on Instagram or his website and cook at home. Some of the workout might also be fun for children.

improve your fintess with Joe Wick's workouts

3. For all the ladies, follow the super fit Valentina on Instagram and sweat with her to some amazing workouts. Just don’t get jealous at some of the breathtaking locations she is working out.

All of these workouts are very easy to do in your living or bedroom and need very little to no equipment. And of course, you can learn some new vocabulary at the same time. Improve your fitness and your English skills at the same time.

Just a FYI, in France a man has run a marathon (42km) on his little balcony during self-isolation. So nothing is impossible!

2. Quiz away

After working your body you should work your mind. A great way to do that is with learning games and quizzes that keep your mind engaged. Here are my three tips on where to do this best 🙂

With Quizlet, a web-based or phone study app you can learn languages, science, math, and other topics through different learning tools like games, flashcards. Our teachers love to use it during class and you can even play against your classmates.

Another fun app is QuizUp. There you can participate in quizzes about general knowledge, brands, football teams, the tv show friends and much more. You get paired with a component from somewhere around the world to play a quiz topic of your choice.

One more quiz page I can recommend is Sporcle. These quizzes are timed and you can choose from many different topics again e.g Name all African countries on a map in 10 min. or Name all James Bond films in chronological order.

3. Start a virtual book club

A girl lying on bed with many books reading

Life is often too busy to have enough peaceful time to read lots of books. Use the time of social distancing and read more. What is even more fun is if you start a virtual book club with your friends and classmates. Of course, I suggest to pick only English books so you keep learning English 😉 Your teacher can also help you recommend books which might suit your level. Afterward you can discuss these books together, talk about the vocabulary you have learned or ask any questions you may have.

Both Kindle and Apple books have thousands of books to choose from but there are many other companies offering e-books.

4. Not necessarily a book worm?

If reading books from cover to cover is not really your cup of tea, my tip is using an app called Blinkist. With this app you have no excuse not to read books as they summarise books for you in short little texts so you get the most important points of it. On the free version, they offer you one specific book a day e.g. a book about Jay-Z’s life or “Unlocking creativity”. With the paid version you have a huge variety. At the moment due to the circumstances, they have opened up the whole library for free.

You can also listen to the audiobook. This makes a great reading exercise! Listen to the audiobook first, make notes and see what you understood and then you can read the text.

This brings me to my second suggestion: audiobooks in general which help you improve and learn English. Spotify, for example, has a great library of audiobooks for you.

A book with the word AUDIO carved in it, improve your listening skills

5. Learn English through lyrics

Whilst I am on the topic of Spotify, you can also use music as a great tool to learn English. You often progress much faster if you combine learning English with a hobby/ interest of yours. So why not use songs of your favourite band and your passion for music to improve your English skills in a playful way? Many of our teachers at Ih Cape Town also use lyrics training in their lesson planning. Different accents, slangs, and pronunciation are just some benefits. Youtube can be very helpful as they often show the lyrics to the songs as well. Otherwise, you can always find the song texts online.

6. Learn how to cook national dishes from your classmates’ country

The great thing about learning a new language abroad is that you meet people from around the world, people you would most likely not meet normally. You learn so much more than just the new language, you learn from each other about cultures, traditions and also about cuisines. So whilst you are at home, keeping your social distance from your newly made friends, you can still learn with and from them. Exchange traditional recipes from your country or local region with your class mates and have a little cooking competition. Sure, there can’t be any real judges (other than your flatmates or family members you live with) but I guarantee you, you’ll have fun and learn something new, beside the fact that you also have to eat at some point 😉

improve your cooking skills using different recipes

7. Check out these “How to…” videos

I believe you have a skill you were never good at but always wished you could improve. NOW is the time to put your efforts in and improve all the skills that you never managed to master. The website Howcast can help and teach you nearly any skill under the planet. And again by watching these videos you practice your English language skills. This can be as silly as “How to dance like Rihanna”,  as artistic as “How to draw fashion sketches”  or as useful (for your partner) as “How to give a head & neck massage”.

If you have a special skill already, you could make your own “how to…” videos and upload them on social media. We are also happy to share it.

8. Make a bucket list for after the social distancing

The good thing is you won’t be in self-isolation forever. J Soon, you are able to be social again and travel the world. So use this time now to make a bucket list of things to do and places to see, anything which you have been dreaming of but have not managed to do so far. This can be as little as Visit the new, hip sushi restaurant in town or as big as  Take an English course in Cape Town.

What countries have you never been to but always wanted to see? Are there any musicals or concerts you want to see? This is your own bucket list, so put your personal dreams and wishes down there.

9. Learn through films

I am not even sure if I need to put that on a “10 things to do” list because I know you all do it anyway… watch films and series. However, do all of you (non-native English speakers) watch your favourite series in English? I bet not. Watching in English, especially things you already know is so beneficial. It is such a fun way to improve your language skills, you barely notice that you learn something. Another really good tip is to have English subtitles, this way you read and listen to English at the same time. I probably don’t need to tell you but Netflix and Prime video have superb selections of films and series. Please, don’t only take this tip from our list 😉

10. Are you looking for real interactions and learning English properly?

Then our newly designed online lessons with our highly qualified and trained teachers can help you out! Sign up for some private lessons which help you tackle the areas you need to work on, focus on your interests and support you in the way which is best for you.

Learning English online is a great interactive way that works well around your daily schedule and can be done from the comfort of your home. We are using the app Zoom which is great for online lessons. A virtual whiteboard and lots of other tools help the teacher to create a fun and informative lesson.

If you want more information about our online English lessons, please contact us.

Teacher sitting at laptop with view over the ocean
Screenshot of an online class on zoom, improve English with friends

It is very important to keep a routine and some sort of normality in your life during the time of self-isolation. So try and build some of these activities into your daily routine. This time of social distancing is perfect to improve any kind of skill, may it be your English, cooking, fitness, drawing or your general knowledge. Use this time wisely and don’t just sleep until it’s over. Make the most of it!
These are my tips and if you have any questions or more tips for us, then please let us know.

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