When people ask me how they can improve their English, especially their listening, I am surprised by the question. Twenty years ago you would have to buy the listening material, on CD or cassette, but a lot has changed since then.
Firstly most TV’s now have a dual option, this means you can see a film or a series in the original language.
In addition you (obviously!) have the Internet. The obvious place to start is Youtube. Here you can find videos on almost any subject and with subtitles. But with a bit of searching other channels can be found that can be just as useful, for instance TED. Here you will find videos on every type of academic topic given by people at the forefront of their field.
Here is an example of one on creativity, which everyone should watch, regardless of their language. There are subtitle for lower levels.
To improve your readings there is even more material online. Newspapers and articles on everything imaginable.
- Short and Continuous
It is not recommendable to try and watch films or long programmes if you have a low level. If you try to watch Lord Of The Rings you will probably get very frustrated and demotivated. It’s too long for lower levels. So try to watch shorter programmes. A series like the very popular The Big Bang Theory lasts about twenty minutes, this is far more digestible. If it is a reading you want, choose a short article. You tube videos can be five minutes, very manageable.
However try to make your use of these things continuous, for example twenty minutes every day is better than three hours on Saturday morning.
Whatever you read or watch, try to choose something you have an interest in or enjoy. You are far more likely to keep on watching or reading.
- Work It
As you are watching or reading note down vocab or structures that you did not know or find interesting and then study it. This means you will take advantage of your time and get clear and defined benefits. Try using Spanish subtitles if you have a low level. Then as you get better switch to English subtitles.
In conclusion use the English that surrounds you all the time to your benefit.