Maintaining English in a non-English speaking environment

If you live in England, everyone speaks English and you are immersed into this language. If you live in Vietnam, for instance, you’re not immersed. How can you keep your English at a good level when everyone around you speaks Vietnamese? How can you take care of your English? And you do want to take care of it, don’t you?

You see, English is like any skill, playing football or driving, it needs to be trained and improved if you want to stay on top of your game ;)

There are various ways of how you can maintain your English. We’ll break them down into 4 skills: Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening. Plus Vocabulary and general lifehacks.


Find a speaking partner

Join our Telegram Channel to find a speaking partner OR partners. You can practice your speaking through talking to people. 

Language Exchange

This is a great way of practicing a language. You teach them and they teach you. For example, an English speaker who is learning French will do a language exchange with a French speaker who is learning English. You can do it online or face-to-face. Google language exchange to find partners.

My Country Talks

They set up one-on-one discussions between people with completely different views and establish a new form of political debate. There are different people from all over the globe chatting to each other about all sorts of topics.

Speak English to yourself

Yes, speaking to yourself out loud in English does help your speaking! You can look at yourself in the mirror while doing so, OR just talk to yourself in English when you feel like it. You may say separate phrases or make sentences with the words you want to remember.

Start thinking in English

Have an inner chat with yourself in English. When you start thinking about something, switch off your mother tongue and have English instead. Think about the conversations you had in your native language. Can you do it in English?

Shower Conversation

It means having a self-talk while having a shower (or a bath). You can speak for both people: one asks a question and another responds. Well…this idea might sound crazy, but if you don’t have English speakers around you, you can be your own conversation partner! You don’t depend on anyone))


Pen Pals

You can find a person who you’ll be writing to. Send them emails, texts or WhatsApp messages.

Writing Comments on Social Media

You may find it useful to read and write comments on various social media. You can do some research on the language you should use to write the comment you want to post. Be careful though as some people might be rude in the online world.

Future Me

You can write to yourself in the future. It could be the next day or next year. Check out how it works here:

Writing a diary/journal

Write about your day or week. Take notes on your phone how you felt in a particular situations or write about your achievements.

Take notes and write shopping lists in English

Write your to-do lists or any notes you take during the day in English. This could encourage you to check up some words you don’t know. Writing shopping lists in English will help you remember the words.

Write and Improve Free Service

You do need someone to check you writing, right? This is a free tool for you that marks your writing. Created by Cambridge it’s really practical and easy to use. You receive automatic feedback on your writing:


Reading Books

Improve your reading through reading) Choose a book you enjoy which is easy for you to read. If it’s hard for you to read an authentic book (NOT graded/ unabridged), you can take a graded book/graded reader – a book for a specific level e.g., Intermediate, Pre-Intermediate.  Choose the level which is lower your current level and it’ll be easy for you to read and enjoy it!

Do some active reading - underline the words or phrases you want to remember.

Read Blogs/Articles/Instagram Posts – short texts

We learn from real life situations, don’t we? If you don’t have these real life situations in English around you, you can surround yourself with English news, English blogs, Instagram accounts, songs and lyrics …


Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are one of the best carriers of Natural English, so by listening to podcasts you listen to examples of real English! This would help you understand people in real life.

You can choose a learning English podcast or a podcast about psychology/cooking/films. Pick what you really enjoy. Some podcasts have videos. Most podcasts have transcripts which can help you to understand. Here is a useful article with tips on how to listen to podcasts:

Listen to Audio Books

A free resource with audio books read by volunteers:


  • Do you want to know what you can call this or that in English? Check out Amazon or IKEA websites/apps to learn what you call different objects in English. You’ll see all sorts of things there with precise names. You can check out other shops/apps for buying things.
  • Write to Rory and he’ll send you some free resources on how to improve your lexis.


Turn your phone and computer into English

Change your social media into English and your taxi app too. This will expose you to English vocabulary and will encourage you into thinking in English. Soon you’ll fall out of the habit of reading in your native language, and thinking in English will become part of your day-to-day routine.

Give your English from 5 to 15 minutes every day

Do give your English some time every day. He (your English) needs it. He needs your attention and time like a needy person. If you don’t review your vocabulary, it will disappear. If you don’t see English around you, you’re likely to forget things you once learnt. To move English into your long-term memory it should be with you on a daily basis.