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Learning by Doing

There are many ways to learn a language.

You can read – a grammar book, a book for fun, a blog, or beautiful phrases.

You can listen – to audiobooks, tv series, podcasts, or music

You can watch and see – a whiteboard in a classroom, a picture dictionary, a movie

You can speak – in a classroom, in a hangouts chat group or on the bus to a new friend

Usually when people start to learn English they will learn with grammar books, classroom whiteboards, movies, music and classroom speaking practice. All of these methods have value and will help you in your goal of improving your language abilities, but I have found that often the most valuable learning comes in the moments in when you are LEARNING THE LANGUAGE IN A NATURAL CONTEXT.

For example, if you are learning the language to use in a restaurant, you can read about it in an English textbook, you can watch a restaurant scene in a movie, or you can read the words a teacher writes on a whiteboard. These are all helpful. Sometimes it feels less stressful to begin to learn the language OUTSIDE of the natural context (in a classroom or in a book) but the moment that you actually connect with the language and REALLY UNDERSTAND how to use it is when you are actually IN the restaurant. When it is REAL English.

This learning that is done in the moment is called experiential learning, or LEARNING BY DOING. This is why full immersion is such an effective way to learn a language. When you put yourself in a situation where you must use the language in all the every day moments of life, you learn language in the most effective way.

 

There is a saying from Confucius.  “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” 

 

I have created a unique English learning program to give people the opportunity to learn by doing and to learn in an environment that is beautiful, fun and relaxing. It is not in a school. It is not in a classroom. It is outdoors, in nature. It is a small group of new friends. It is many moments of every day learning opportunities. There will also be specific English skills, and reading, and grammar and whatever is necessary to help the learning process. There will be the best of learning before you.

This and more helpful articles can be found here > http://englishretreats.ca/learning-by-doing/

Andrea’s Profile

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500 Most Common English Words

This list of 500 common words in English is a good place for beginners to start learning the foundation of the language or for advanced students to really test themselves.

Vocabulary is the foundation of language.  Without the words, you can’t make the sentences.  Many students get overwhelmed at the thought of learning ‘all of those words’.  Everybody learns differently, so you need to figure out what is best for you!  If you are an organized, laid-out-plan type of person, this list of the 500 most common words in English is a good place for you to start.  Do you prefer more of a random style of learning?  This list will be great for you as well.

  • Come up with a plan of attack: I’ve grouped the words into clumps so that it is easier to identify small groups of 10 words instead of looking at a list of 500 words.  Decide on a number that you want to focus on per day/per week.  3 a day seems to be a popular number with students or 15 a week if you have less time to spend on it.  You decide what works for you best.  If you miss a day it is not the end of the world, pick up where you left off.
    • Make paper note cards
    • Make electronic flash cards (Quizlet & Anki are both popular)
    • Use a whiteboard 
    • Have a notebook with the words ANDthe words used in sentences
  • Random sampling: Save this list and each day just point to a word and use it in a sentence.  Do not just say it in your mind and tell yourself, ‘Cool, I know this word’.  WRITE IT DOWN or record yourself saying it.

500-most-common-english-words.pdf

Pronunciation

Now that you KNOW the words, it time to pronounce them correctly!  Have a look at this link here > Pronunciation in English: 500 Common Words

As you look at the words, click on VIDEO in each column to watch video lessons on the sounds and word lists.  Soon you will be pronouncing 500 common words according to American English pronunciation. Plus, you will feel confident about American English sounds.

Practice

Practice makes perfect!  You have to use the words in order to really KNOW them.  Practice speaking with a native speaker and in no time, you will feel comfortable and confident with your English speaking>>  SkypEnglish4U Online Sessions

Plan of attack (noun) ideas or actions intended to deal with a problem or situation

 

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5 tools to help build your Daily English Routine

5 Tools to help Build your Daily English Routine

Many students ask for a Daily English Routine to help them to improve their English skills

Every student is different.  Learning a language is different for each one of us and your daily English routine should be suited to meet your individual needs.

Are you ready to create your own daily English routine?   Spend some time surfing the internet to find the sites that you like.  If you are really going to follow this routine, you need to like what you are looking at and doing.  Here are some sites that are interactive and encourage active learning (reading and listening alone is not going to help move forward at a fast pace).

1) Memrise 

http://www.memrise.com/home/

Memrise is an online learning tool with courses created by its community. Its courses are mainly used to teach languages, but are also used for other academic and nonacademic subjects.

*Memrise or another flashcard program should definitely be part of your  daily English routine.

2) Listen and Write – Language Dictation

http://www.listen-and-write.com/

Improve your listening skills and hear about the news as part of your daily English routine.

3) Using English Grammar Quizzes

http://www.usingenglish.com/quizzes/

Test yourself with 516 free English language quizzes covering grammar, usage and vocabulary for beginner, intermediate and advanced level English students. Simply answer all of the questions in the quiz and press submit to see your score and other statistics.

4) ESL Video Quizzes for Students

http://www.eslvideo.com/

Educational resources for English as a Second Language Students to improve their listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary skills.

 5) English Central 

https://www.englishcentral.com/videos

The EnglishCentral platform combines the web’s best English videos,  IntelliSpeech℠ assessment technology, an adaptive vocabulary learning system and live tutors, delivered seamlessly over web and mobile.

NOW that you have looked at all of these, decide on a plan.  Do you have 30 minutes a day?  Spend 10 minutes each on 3 of these sites.  Mix it up, make a Daily English Routine Schedule that works for you….

Daily English Routine Schedule

suited (adj) right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*
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THEN or THAN?

Many people confuse the words then and than. They’re separated by just one little letter, and lots of people even pronounce them nearly the same way.  Then or Than!?!?!

Then (rhymes with Jen) is a word that’s used to mark time, or show a sequence of events. For example:

First, preheat the oven to 325. Then, grease a baking sheet.

Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing.

If you want to go to the ball,” Cinderella’s stepmother sneered, “then you’ll need to find something suitable to wear.”

Than (rhymes with Jan) is used to make comparisons and only to make comparisons. Anytime you use than, you should be able to substitute the words “compared with” or “in comparison to.” If it doesn’t work, you probably meant to say “then.”

I’m shorter than everyone in my family.

Organic produce is more expensive than regular produce.

Cinderella wanted to go to the ball more than anything!

It is much more common to substitute then for than than vice versa. Be sure to check yourself carefully!

http://www.dailywritingtips.com

QUIZ TIME!

Choose whether then or than is correct > http://esl.about.com/library/quiz/bl_than.htm

Then or Than? > http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar_quiz/than_vs_then_1.asp

LINDA’S PROFILE

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Laughing and Learning : An intro to Puns

Should I write to, two, or too? Well, that depends on whether the word you want is a preposition, a number, or a synonym of also.

How do I pronounce the word tear? It rhymes with ear if you are talking about crying and air if you are talking about ripping.

What did he mean when he said fine? Depending on the context, he could mean that everything is good or that someone had to pay some money.

Did someone just say tense or tents? It’s tense if they want to say they aren’t relaxed and tents if they just got back from a camping trip.

As you can see, English isn’t always easy to learn. It contains many homophones (words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently and have different meanings), homographs (words that are spelled the same but have a different pronunciation and meaning), and homonyms (words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings). While this makes learning more difficult, it also gives us the opportunity to have some fun with the language.

How does it do that? With puns! Put simply, a pun is a joke that plays with words and their meanings to be funny. And English is full of them. There are other types of puns, but the simplest ones involve homophones, homographs, and homonyms. So let’s focus on these first.

Here’s a quick example:
Why did the spider go to the computer?
To check his website.

Since you are reading this online, I think you know what a website is. However, web and site have their own definitions. A web is something that a spider makes to catch insects. And site is another word for location. So is the spider checking his homepage or the location of his web? The double meaning and confusion is what makes it funny.

HOMONYM PUNS

Let’s take a closer look at some homonyms and then go over some puns that use them. These words have the same spelling and pronunciation, but multiple meanings:

saw – the past tense of see
saw – a tool used for cutting
The blind man picked up a hammer and saw.
Did he begin to see after picking up the magical hammer? Or did he pick up two tools?

sentence – in grammar, a set of words that express a complete idea
sentence – the punishment given to a criminal for breaking the law
A prisoner’s favorite punctuation mark is the period. It marks the end of his sentence.
Does the period mean that he will be released from prison, or does he just like periods in grammar?

interest – caring about something
interest – the extra money you have to pay back when you borrow money
I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
Was he a bad banker and lost money for the bank? Or does he just not find the job interesting anymore?

HOMOPHONE PUNS

And here are a few homophones. The two words are pronounced the same and can be used in the following puns:

profit – the money that a person or company earns
prophet – a person who delivers messages from God
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
Atheists don’t believe in God, so they also don’t believe in prophets. But atheism also doesn’t earn any money, so there aren’t any profits.

whine – to cry
wine – an alcoholic beverage made from grapes
What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing, but it let out a little whine.
Was the grape crying? Or did crushing it produce a delicious beverage for us to enjoy?

steak – a piece of meat
stake – a wooden post with a point on one end
You kill vegetarian vampires with a steak to the heart.
Vegetarians don’t like to eat meat, and one way to kill a vampire is to nail a wooden stake into his heart.

ADDITIONAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

So now that you know a little bit about puns, how can you use them to improve your English? Here are a few ways:

Read some more puns (along with explanations) here:
http://www.englishwithnick.de/en/humor/basic-puns-with-explanations/

Or, you can increase your vocabulary by reading through these lists of homophones and homographs. To test your new knowledge, write a single sentence that includes both meanings of the. For example:
Fall (to drop to the ground) / Fall (Autumn) – The leaves will fall off the trees in the fall.
Homophone List – https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/homophones-list.htm
Homograph List –
http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-homographs.html

Once you’ve got a bit more experience reading and understanding puns, try to write your own! Take a word with multiple meanings and see if you can construct a situation where both meanings make sense. Normally we try to make our sentences as clear as possible, but when writing jokes, the humor comes from the ambiguity.

NICK’S PROFILE

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English on Twitter

Using English on Twitter is a great way to get daily practice and keep your English skills sharp.

Do you use Twitter?  If you do, you are one of 236 million monthly active users!  If you don’t, you should (go sign up and come back and continue reading).

How do you use Twitter?

Many people use twitter to share information.  Whether it is sharing personal things for friends to see or other information that you want the whole word to see, Twitter gives you that platform.  Some people just use twitter to communicate directly with other users and direct their tweets to them using their @username.

Practice your English on Twitter by reading English articles shared by people or watching videos about topics that interest you.  Communicate with people!  If you see a funny picture that someone shared, tweet back to them and tell them what you think.

Do you use #hashtags?

Twitter started the hashtag craze that we now see all over every type of social media.  This is where you really get the good stuff.  Do you like pizza?  Enter #pizza into the search box and every person that has ever used the hashtag #pizza is going to come up in the results.

Practice your English on Twitter by using hashtags that will bring you to an endless supply of helpful links.  Here are some of the ones I use (and they all link directly to the results on Twitter so give them a click, you’re welcome)

#English #LearnEnglish #ESL

#BusinessEnglish: Anything related to Business English / English used at work

#EngDaily: English should be practiced on a daily basis, so this # is for when you have a little bit of free time and want to get your brain going in English.

#EngGrammar: Any link related to Grammar

#EngVocab: Any link related to Vocabulary

#EngQuiz: Any active learning exercise/Quiz

#EngNow: Involves you NOW!  Practice opportunities, active learning exercises or videos

#EngPls: ‘English Please’ Anything in English.  A common # for learners who want to communicate in English.

Exam prep? #IELTS #TOEFL #TOIEC 

Do you have twitter friends?

As I mentioned above, some people use twitter to chat with their friends and other users.  Some people find it easier to express their feelings when they are using a ‘user name’ and people may have no idea who they really are.  Things can get messy, I suggest keeping it clean and not getting involved in any cyberbullying.  Use the anonymity to your advantage and get practicing, no need to be shy if nobody knows who you are!

Practice your English on Twitter by making friends with others who are learning English.  Get involved in discussions and answer questions from English teachers.  Use #EngPls and #Twinglish to find other learners just like you and get chatting.

Do you follow me?

YOU BETTER!  @SkypEnglish4U  Tweet to me with any questions you have and I will do my best to get back to you ASAP.

 

#EngVocab
platform(noun)  A place, means, or opportunity for public expression of opinion
Cyberbullying (noun) The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature
anonymity (noun) the condition of being anonymous.

*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*

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Daily Grammar

Like fruits and vegetables, grammar is part of a healthy balanced life.  Well, maybe not for everyone, but if you are learning a language, daily grammar activities should be part of your routine.

Many people don’t have time to eat the proper nutrients during the day, so they take vitamins and get their daily dose of  whatever they are missing.  (ex- I take a vitamin every morning to make sure I get my daily dose of Vitamin C.)  “I don’t have time for that”, a commonly heard excuse for not doing something.  Exercise, cooking properly, improving a skill such as a language…  I’d say we are all guilty of  procrastination at some point or another.

I tell my students that they need to exercise their brain daily and fit some English language activity in everyday.  Activity being the key word there.  Listening and reading are great, but those fall into the category of passive learning.  This is easier because you do not have ‘to act’.  Active learning is when you have to produce something, like an answer in a quiz or a spoken response to someone else.

Fitting grammar in every day does not mean that boring heavy text-books have to be a part of your daily life.  It can be a simple little quiz (Active learning FTW!) or a quick review of something you think you know pretty well already.  The key is to make it part of your routine.  Perhaps everyday while you are eating breakfast with your lap-top open (you know you do this!) you can open up a grammar quiz page and do one.

I’m going to start using #EngGrammar on twitter to tag grammar activities.  So make some time and get your daily dose of grammar! 

dose (noun) a quantity of a medicine or drug taken or recommended to be taken at a particular time
procrastination (noun) the action of delaying or postponing something
fit (something) in (phrasal verb) to give a place or time to
FTW (slang) “For The Win” An enthusiastic emphasis to the end of a comment, message or post
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*
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Articles

Everything you need to know about ARTICLES —>

  • There are only three articles: the, a and an. They are very small words which cause very large problems if used incorrectly. If, for example, you wanted someone to hand you the book, but you accidentally said a book, the other person might take some time to go shopping for a book they thought you’d like. While one can never have too many books, work doesn’t get done if we go book shopping every time we need to look up a word in the dictionary. Use of an article can also change the meaning of the noun:

dinner = the evening meal
a dinner = an evening meal held for some kind of event
the dinner = a specific evening meal which was held for some kind of event

Read more from Grammarly > http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/grammar/articles/

  • The 3 articles in English are a, an and the. The learner has to decide noun-by-noun which one of the articles to use*. In fact, there are 4 choices to make, because sometimes no article is necessary. Native-speakers, of course, use the articles correctly without thinking in everyday spoken langauge. English learners, on the other hand, need to have some guidelines for making the right choice – particularly those learners whose own language does not have articles, such as Japanese or Korean. The guidelines that follow here should help ESL students to a basic understanding of English article use.

The most important first step in choosing the correct article is to categorize the noun as count or uncount in its context**

Read more from teh Frankfurt International School > http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/rules/article.htm

 

 

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Pretty Amazing Prepositions of Place: In, On, At, and More!

The cat is in the tree.

Do you have problems working out your in from your on; your at from your from; or your up from your down? If so, this fun exercise can help you to figure out which is the correct preposition to use and how to remember them.

First things first: what exactly is a preposition of place? Simply put, a preposition of place is a preposition which tells us where something or someone is located. There are actually only three prepositions of place — at, on and in — but they can be used to describe almost any number of places. These are:

  • At –is used to describe a certain point or place
  • In–helps us to describe an enclosed space
  • On–means we are talking about a surface

Let’s look at a few examples of how we use prepositions of place.

  • Janice is waiting for you at the bus stop.
  • The no-smoking sign is on the wall.
  • I live in New York City.

However, in conjunction with these three prepositions, we can also use prepositions of direction which help clarify exactly where something is located. There are many more of these which are used to confirm when, where and under what conditions something is located. For example, let’s take a further look at our first preposition of place: at.

Janice is waiting for you at the bus stop, by the library.

In this example, we already knew that Janice was waiting for us at the bus stop. But, by using the preposition of direction by, it tells us exactly which bus stop Janice is waiting at. So, by using the two prepositions (place and direction) we are given clearer instructions and information. Let’s move on to our next example.

The no-smoking sign is on the wall between the entrance and the foyer.

Here we are told exactly where the no-smoking sign is located, so we can expect to see it as we walk into the building.

I live in New York City, close to Times Square.

New York is a large city, but the additional information gives us a more precise location. Before we get to the fun exercise, here is a list of just some of the prepositions of direction which we can use in conjunction with prepositions of place:

  •  Above — The picture hangs above the fireplace.
  • Against — The fly flew against the window.
  • Among — I sat among a group of people.
  • Behind — The ball is behind the garage.
  • Between — The playing field is between the two buildings.
  • By — I stopped by the light house.
  • Close to — I wanted a table that was close to the window.
  • In front of — There was a man in front of me in the queue.
  • Inside — Let’s get inside before it starts to rain again.
  • Near — I live near the tube station.
  • Next to — The pharmacy is next to the doctors office.
  • Onto — The pigeon flew onto the roof of my car.
  • Opposite — The restaurant is opposite the car park.
  • Towards — The crowd is heading towards the concert stage.
  • Under — The bag is under the table.

Now, let’s get physical!

To help my students learn and remember these prepositions, I actually ask them to physically place objects in the places which use the prepositions they are trying to remember. So, get yourself something memorable that you can place somewhere in your house or garden:

  • Put a teddy bear on your bed.
  • Plant a pumpkin in your garden by the wall.
  • Put your mobile phone in your purse near the door.
  • Move your neighbour’s pet tortoise into your bathtub.

This physical representation will be much more memorable than any flashcard or list of words. It will stay clearly in your mind when you put your Grandmother’s teapot among the flowers in the garden, or put the cat under the piano stool next to the bookshelf, or even when the pink cushion lands behind the dog on the sofa.

So, practice, choose your object, choose your preposition of place, make it funny if possible, and then you’ll remember it.

Participation and creativity is the key, even if you use really ridiculous places such as in my earor on my head and so on. You could even do this with a friend. Take some silly photos and post them on Facebook! Why not?

I can guarantee you won’t forget your prepositions of place after that! For more information on prepositions, visit me on Facebook where you will find daily bites of fun English. You can also find me on italki most days either teaching or gladly helping out with any English language queries you may have.

Contact Rachel today!  http://www.italki.com/teacher/1394345 

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Around the World ‘Round Table’ Discussion

Round Table : a number of people gathered together for conference, discussion of some subject, etc., and often seated at a round table.

Round Table discussions are an excellent way for you to get a chance to practice speaking English with someone from another country and at the same time, learn a bit about their culture and everyday life!  You will be exposed to other accents and participate in a ‘real-life’ conversation with someone you have never met before in a comfortable, friendly environment.  The general topics are endless and if possible, we can even arrange for you to speak with someone who also works in your industry.

Sessions

I will serve as the ‘host’ making sure that the conversation keeps flowing and that everyone gets a chance to speak.

Generally we will speak in an order assigned at the beginning of the session. Person 1 gives their answer, 2, then 3 and then it is open for discussion as I see fit.  I will help keep the order by speaking directly to the student when they are to answer.  During the open discussion, participants must be courteous and not interrupt or speak over other people.  At any time, I reserve the right to remove someone from the call.

I will keep running notes of vocabulary, grammar issues and sentence structure in the Skype chat.

Scheduling

This options is only available to SkypEnglish4U clients (join today!) that are ‘pre-approved’ and have the appropriate level of English required to partake in one of these group exercises.

Each SE4U student will get one free 30min AWRT credit and will schedule it with me.  If a student wants to participate in more, they will pay a % out of their existing sessions based on the people participating in the call– If there are 2 students, for 30min, they each will spend 15min of their existing packages.  The maximum amount of students per call is 3.

You will see specific times labeled as ‘Round Table’ on my google calendar and you can select them just as you regularly schedule.  I will be very flexible with these sessions… if you want to do one at a certain time, please let me know and I will try to find another student.