Realistic practice scenarios to boost your English skills

Pearson Languages
friends chatting around a laptop

It's essential to engage in real-life conversations to truly become proficient in a language. By immersing yourself in realistic situations, you can really boost your English skills. Of course, it can be difficult to find people to speak to if you aren’t in an area with many English speakers. By practicing different possible scenarios, when the time or situation arises, you know you’ll be ready to take on the challenge.

You might be preparing to work or study abroad, trying to connect with a new friend or improving your workplace communication. Let’s explore some realistic practice scenarios that can help you feel more confident and fluent when speaking English in your everyday life.

Realistic practice scenarios to boost your English skills
Privacy and cookies

By watching, you agree Pearson can share your viewership data for marketing and analytics for one year, revocable by deleting your cookies.

1. Everyday conversations

Engaging in day-to-day dialogues is an effective way to acquire colloquial language, idiomatic expressions, and authentic English. For individuals who are keen on advancing their language proficiency, BBC Learning English provides a valuable resource that offers concise audio conversations with corresponding transcripts, tailored for various real-life scenarios.

Practice with scenarios like these to become familiar with what vocabulary you might encounter, everyday conversations are usually light-hearted and uncomplicated so there's little pressure if you make a mistake in a real-life chat. 

2. Job interviews

If you're looking to improve your performance in job interviews or looking for a job within an English company, it can be incredibly helpful to practice various possible scenarios beforehand, giving you time to practice your language skills. This way, you'll be better equipped to communicate your experiences, skills, and future aspirations in a clear and concise manner.

The Muse has compiled a list of commonly asked interview questions, each one accompanied by sample answers that can assist you in your preparation process. There are lots of resources with prep questions available online. Whether you're a seasoned job hunter or just starting out, taking the time to review these questions and answers can go a long way in boosting your language confidence and success during your next real-life interview. 

3. Role-playing debates

Enhance your ability to use persuasive language and sharpen your critical thinking skills by engaging in debates on topics that challenge your thoughts and beliefs. With ESL Debates, you have access to a diverse selection of debate topics and resources that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of ESL learners. Take advantage of debate opportunities to broaden your perspective and develop valuable communication skills.

You could have debates with friends, family or online. If you don't feel confident enough to debate with others, you can also look at existing debates online and on TV and construct a theoretical argument in English to go against or support their points.

4. Travel simulations

Practicing travel scenarios can assist you in improving your ability to ask for directions, book accommodation, and communicate with locals. You might intend on working abroad in an English-speaking country and need to travel a lot. If you are looking to improve your airport-related vocabulary and phrases, you can find videos of various travel scenarios like this one that can be good to familiarize yourself with.

By practicing such scenarios, you can boost your confidence and make your travel experience smoother and more enjoyable – potentially removing any stress or confusion that can come with travel.

5. Storytelling practice

Engaging in the practice of storytelling, be it in the form of personal stories or fictional tales, can greatly enhance one's linguistic skills and aptitude for storytelling. StoryCorps, an organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the authentic narratives of everyday people, provides an exceptional opportunity for individuals to learn and grow from the raw and unfiltered experiences of others.

By immersing yourself in genuine stories, you can gain invaluable insights into people’s use of the English language and the nuances of effective storytelling. Being a good storyteller can also help you with other essential skills, like pitching and selling ideas.

6. Conflict resolution

Enhancing your language skills in negotiation, empathy, and communication can be attained through the consistent practice of conflict resolution scenarios. If you are looking to acquire a comprehensive understanding of conflict resolution methods and techniques, then the "Skills You Need: Conflict Resolution" guide is an excellent resource to consult. This guide offers a detailed and thorough overview of various conflict resolution techniques that can be employed in a variety of settings, helping you to also practice your English.

Having strong conflict resolution skills in English can help you in many scenarios, from workplace conflict to a disagreement between friends or strangers. You can try looking at common conflicts you see on the tv/film/internet or come across in real life and practice how you would personally approach it and what kinds of things you would say. 

7. Academic presentations

To enhance your ability to communicate in English effectively and coherently in public, consider taking part in academic-style presentations. TED-Ed, a platform that offers a diverse range of educational videos covering various topics, can serve as an excellent resource for honing your presentation skills. By utilizing TED-Ed's resources, you can gain valuable experience and confidence in delivering presentations with clarity and precision.

You could try filming yourself giving the presentation, critique areas for improvement, or ask your friends for feedback. If you’re feeling particularly brave, even posting it online for feedback. For extra help with your confidence, there are free online courses to help you with your public speaking.

8. Negotiation

If you're looking to improve your English language skills in a business context, one of the most important aspects to practice is negotiating. Negotiating prices, terms, and agreements effectively can lead to better outcomes for everyone. From negotiating the price of fruit at a market to negotiating your job's salary, negotiation is a huge part of people’s lives and knowing how to confidently negotiate in English is important.

The Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation provides resources, including thorough articles and guides that are designed to help you hone your negotiation skills. By utilizing resources like these, you can gain the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed in any business negotiation. Watch business-related videos and TV shows, watching how they negotiate and what sort of language they use. Take note of commonly asked questions relevant to your situation, so you are prepared for what someone might ask you. 

By placing yourself in realistic practice scenarios, you can transform your language learning experience. Remember, consistent practice and a willingness to step out of your comfort zone are key to becoming a more proficient English speaker. Embrace these opportunities to interact with the language in diverse contexts, situations and watch your language confidence grow.

More blogs from Pearson

  • A teacher with young students sitting at a table looking at flashcards

    Effective classroom management routines for very young learners

    By Jeanne Perrett
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    For very young learners, children aged 3-6, being in a classroom might be a completely new experience. Most of them won’t know any English words at all and might have very little idea of what English is or why they are learning it. Some of them may not yet be completely fluent in their mother tongue. 

    At the beginning of the school year, some of them may find it distressing to be separated from their parents and they also have to learn to get along with their new classmates. 

    If we want to keep them comfortable and safe and provide a friendly and welcoming environment, we need to establish routines. 

    7 ways you can build routines into your classes

    Here are some areas where you can easily incorporate classroom management routines into your English language class.

    1. Think about your target language

    Our target language for each lesson may be one or two short phrases or a few new words. We should always keep the presentation and practice of this simple and clear. 

    However, we can use English for all our greetings, praise, instructions and explanations. After a few days, the children will begin to expect it and they will gradually understand what you are saying. 

    2. Coming into the class

    Take time to greet each child by name when they enter the classroom and encourage them to learn and use each other’s names too. This will change how they perceive themselves and each other and encourage friendly communication. 

    Notice the small things about each child. They might have a new T-shirt on or have done their hair specially. They may not tell you that they have made an effort to look nice for their lesson, but they will be pleased when you notice and will feel encouraged to continue. 

    3. Circle time

    Make circle time the start of every lesson. It gets the children sitting down together and this helps them to get to know each other and feel part of a comfortable group. 

    It’s the time where you present the target language for the day. Use a puppet to help you do this. Make the puppet part of the routine by keeping it in a certain place and bringing it out from there every day. The children can call its name. 

    The puppet can greet the children by name and the children can answer back. First, use picture cards or objects to present the language to the puppet. Then, the puppet can show that it understands or ask for repetition. 

    Let the children call out responses as a group. As they build their confidence in English they will want to speak by themselves. 

    Always accept approximations of words and phrases. Rather than correcting the children, continue to model the words and gradually the students will self-correct. Pass this tip on to parents too. 

    4. Book time

    Give students time to discover pages and images they like in the books they are using. Always leave time to help each child find the correct page and then help them to focus their attention on that page. 

    In Circle time you have introduced the language and presented it with flashcards or objects. In Book time, children can look at these images – the content will be familiar and they will start to feel ownership of what they are learning. 

    5. Songs, games and miming

    Singing, playing games and miming are the main ways in which the students will start to freely use and show they understand the target language. 

    In My Disney Stars and Friends each stage of every game is detailed, along with the language you and the students can use. Students might become so involved in the action of the game that they forget to speak in English! That’s okay – continue using the language and eventually they will start to use it too. 

    When a game or a song involves physical activity, have drinks of water ready and let them rest and relax afterwards. Always have a ‘sitting down’ activity ready for them to move on to so that they do not become overexcited or tired.

    6. Craft and stickers

    For any craft work there are four stages: preparation, production, playing with the completed craft work and tidying up. If you're using My Disney Stars and Friends, there is a special Tidy Up song and all the craft projects are press-outs so there is no need for scissors. 

    Children of 3 or 4 years old will need to learn how to unpeel and then re-stick a sticker. Allow time for this and encourage them to learn from each other once some of them have mastered this fine motor skill. 

    7. Leaving the class

    Time your lessons so that the students don’t have to leave in a rush. It takes them a while to collect up their things and find their bags and coats. 

    If you want the parents to know something, make sure that the children know where they have put the note. One notebook for such messages is a simple way of doing this, and you can tell parents to check it after every lesson. 

    Just as you greeted each child by name when they came in, say goodbye to them individually as they leave. 

    Incorporating effective classroom management routines makes young learners feel more comfortable as they know what to expect from their language classes. Familiarity is welcome for children, so exploit these times for more language learning opportunities. 

    Find more ideas on effective classroom management routines in Jeanne Perrett’s webinar, where she focuses on practical ideas and teaching tips for how we can organise and manage a class of young learners.

  • A woman stood in a square, holding a map looking around

    Essential English phrases to blend in like a local on your holiday

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Summer has arrived and you might be gearing up for a holiday soon. Knowing some of the local language is always helpful, but to genuinely speak like a native English speaker, you must grasp and use common phrases and idioms that locals employ in daily conversations. Native English speakers have a natural command of these phrases, whereas non-fluent speakers often need to study and practice them to achieve fluency.

    In this blog post, we’ll delve into essential English phrases that will help you sound more like a local and less like a tourist.

  • A business woman sat at a table in a office writing notes

    Hard skills vs. soft skills: The impact of language learning

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    Hard skills and soft skills play a crucial role in defining career success and progression. The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that hard skills are teachable, technical, measurable abilities specific to particular jobs, while soft skills are more interpersonal, universal and related to personality traits. While hard skills refer to the technical knowledge and specific abilities required to perform a job, soft skills are more intangible. They encompass the interpersonal attributes and personality traits that enable individuals to communicate effectively, work collaboratively and adapt to changes in the workplace environment.

    In this blog post, we will explore how learning a new language can significantly enhance both hard and soft skills, making you a more versatile and effective professional in today’s multifaceted work environment.

    Understanding the balance of hard and soft skills

    Hard skills might get your foot in the door, showcasing your qualifications for a position. Developing hard skills to stand out from other job seekers is crucial; take advantage of classes, webinars and workshops offered by your current employer to develop hard skills and learn new technical skills. Examples include proficiency in a particular software, certification in a specific field, or mastery of a technical domain. However, it’s the soft skills, such as effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking and emotional intelligence, that propel you through the door and into the realms of career advancement. Recent research underscores the growing importance of English proficiency as a pivotal element in this dynamic, equally vital for enhancing both sets of skills.

    What are examples of soft skills?

    Soft skills encompass a wide range of attributes that can significantly impact workplace efficiency and harmony. Examples of essential soft skills include:

    Communication: The ability to convey information clearly and effectively is paramount. This includes both verbal and written communication, as well as active listening skills.

    Teamwork: Collaborating well with others, often with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, to achieve common goals.

    Problem-solving: The capability to analyze situations, identify problems and devise effective solutions.

    Adaptability: The readiness to adjust to new conditions, workflows, or technologies, demonstrating flexibility in the face of change.

    Critical thinking: The process of objectively analyzing information to make informed decisions.

    Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage and utilize one's emotions constructively while also recognizing and influencing the emotions of others.

    What are examples of hard skills?

    Hard skills are quantifiable, teachable abilities specific to a job or industry. These skills are typically acquired through formal education, training programs and practical experience. Some examples of essential hard skills include:

    Computer programming: Proficiency in coding and programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, or HTML/CSS is crucial for software development and web design roles.

    Data analysis: The ability to interpret complex data sets using tools like Excel, SQL, or R, providing valuable insights and informing decision-making processes.

    Graphic design: Mastery of design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, enabling the creation of visual content for various media.

    Foreign language proficiency: Fluency in a second language can be an asset in international business, for example, in translation services or customer support roles.

    Project management: Knowledge of project management methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum) and tools (e.g., Microsoft Project, Jira) to plan, execute and oversee projects effectively.

    Technical writing: The skill of crafting clear, precise documentation and instructional materials, essential in industries such as engineering, IT and pharmaceuticals.