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What are the Differences: Speaking with a Professional Teacher on Skype, Language Exchange and Language Partners

Active Practice.  I am always talking about active practice and actively speaking and using English.  How can you do this online?

To actively practice you have to produce the language- mainly speaking in this case (writing is also great too!)  I’m an online English teacher, so speaking with me (or any other teacher) is an excellent way to get practice, but there are other options out there that you can do it for free.  Let’s have a look and compare the pros and cons of speaking with a professional teacher, doing language exchange and having language partners.

Sessions with a Professional Teacher

Pros

  • Native Speaker- Unless you are a beginner and need someone who can speak your language to explain things to you, you should be doing English sessions on Skype with an English native speaker so that you can hear their pronunciation and try to speak like that yourself.
  • Corrections- Professional teachers will identify your mistakes and correct you.
  • Pronunciation- Besides you hearing their pronunciation, they will listen to yours and make suggestions on how to improve it.
  • Knowledge- Professional teachers have certifications to teach English as a foreign language as well as knowledge gained through working with other students.  They know what works and what doesn’t based on previous experiences.  They can work with students of all levels.
  • Consistency– Speaking with the same teacher will help you to feel comfortable while speaking English and this leads to improvement and confidence.
  • Organization- There is a topic planned before each session and the teacher is there to make sure that you are getting the best experience possible during your time together.

Cons

  • Cost- Depending on where you live in the world, the price of native English speaking teachers may be out of your price range.

Language Exchange

Language exchange is when you find someone who wants to learn your language and you want to learn theirs.   Usually you split the time in half – half your language / half their language.

Pros

  • Cost- Language exchange is free!  You give some of your time to help someone and they do the same for you.
  • Flexible- There are web-sites that connect people who want to speak English at any time of day- like http://www.speaking24.com/
  • Camaraderie– You feel as an equal with your language exchange partner because you are both learners.
  • Pronunciation- If both people are native speakers, it is a great opportunity to pay attention to pronunciation and natural speech patterns.

Cons

  • No organization- a common complaint I have heard from students is that they don’t know what to talk about when they meet for language exchange.  Who is in charge of the conversation?
  • Lack of consistency- People come and go.  You may have a chat with someone one time and then they disappear, so then you have to search to find someone new and you repeat the same “where are you from” “what do you do?” basic conversation.
  • Lack of knowledge- Unless you get lucky and your language exchange friend is a teacher, you will most likely not be getting the type of corrections that you would from a professional teacher.  Even though they are a native speaker, they won’t have the experience in explaining grammatical structures and why you use a certain word in a certain situation.

Language Partners

Language partners are very similar to language exchange, but you are both learning the same language so you use your time together to speak in a common language.   It has some of the same pros and cons as language exchange, but the main difference is that usually neither of the partners is a native speaker of the language being used.

Pros

  • Cost- It’s free!  Just sign up for a site like https://www.interpals.net/ and start your partner search.
  • Friendship- You may meet someone who you get along with really well and share common interests with and a friendship can be formed from across the globe.
  • Practice- You get to speak.  Sometimes people just need to open their mouth and start speaking.

Cons

  • Non-native speakers- You may get lucky and find a native speaker who will just chat with you in their native language (without practicing yours), but generally people are looking to practice their spoken English, so the emphasis is on speaking and finding someone who will listen- no matter who they are.
  • Difference of level- Finding someone at your level may be difficult, especially the for intermediate and advanced speakers.  Often the partner sites are full of beginners and lower level students.
  • Lack of correction- If both people are learning, they may not have the knowledge of the language to identify each other’s mistakes and make corrections.
  • Lack of knowledge- Language partners are just normal everyday people, so they don’t have experience leading a class nor with explaining things.

 

Pros and Cons (plural noun) the favorable and the unfavorable factors or reasons; advantages and disadvantages 
consistency (noun) the ability to remain the same in behavior, attitudes, or qualities
camaraderie (noun) mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*

 

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Learning English Online as a Beginner

English speaking sessions on Skype are an excellent way for people to practice their spoken English while improving their fluency, learning new vocabulary and fixing any grammar issues.  Sessions on Skype reinforce what you have already learned and give you active practice actually using the language.   But what if you don’t have any previous experience with English?  Can you learn English online as a beginner?

What is the difference between Learn and Practice?  

Learn {verb} : gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.

Practice {verb} : perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to acquire, improve or maintain proficiency in it.

First you must learn something and then you practice it to make it better.

Think of a young child learning their native language.  They are gaining all of that vocabulary from their parents, songs, stories… basically everything around them.  If you are a beginner, you are in the same situation.  Before you can speak, you have to learn the vocabulary and have it stored in your brain, ready to use.

Beginner English Sessions on Skype

The great thing about SkypEnglish4U sessions is that we totally focus on speaking and listening, no workbooks or exercises are done during our time together.   This can be a problem if your English level is not enough to carry on a simple conversation for at least 30 minutes.  I have worked with many ‘basic users’ in the past (see chart below), constructing sentences properly and speaking using basic structures.  Basic users can gain from speaking practice and advance on to the next level.  However, absolute beginners will not benefit from sessions on Skype because they do not have the foundation of English to construct sentences.

Beginner English

Suggestions for Beginner Students

Once you feel comfortable (even just a little) with speaking English, contact me for a 30 minute session.   As I mentioned, I have experience with ‘basic users’ so it will not be overwhelming or too much for you.  We will take it nice and slow.

Learning a language is not an easy task, but keep at it and you will feel great about your accomplishment!English for Beginners

 

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italki Instant Tutoring

Do you want to practice your English (or any other language) NOW?

Click here > Sign up to italki and once you are all logged in, you can find native speakers who are available to speak with you immediately, no scheduling in advance necessary.

You’ll see FIND A TEACHER on your top menu of your homepage.

italki instant tutor
There are different filters for you to select when searching for the right teacher.  The language you would like to practice is the first on you need to select and then there are some other optional filters such as where the teacher is originally from, what other languages the teacher speaks, price and tags (such as IELTS, TOEFL or business).

Another filter is Availability.  If you want to speak with someone NOW, click on Availability and select ‘Instant Tutoring Available Now’.

italki instant tutoring

You’ll see all of the teachers available at that time listed.  You can adjust the filters according to what you are looking for and then select the teacher for instant tutoring.  Perhaps you prefer to speak with someone from the UK who also speaks Spanish, you can enter that into the filter, but that particular combination may not be available at that exact time.  The instant tutor feature is something that teachers can turn on and off based on their schedule.

instant tutor

The request will be sent to the teacher and they have 10 minutes to accept it.

This feature is GREAT because it allows you to speak to a native speaker at your convenience.  So many of us have busy lives and scheduling in advance can be difficult.  Instant tutoring gives you the freedom to practice your speaking when YOU have time.

I’ve helped people prepare for job interviews, IELTS, TOEFL and even done some proof reading/editing while on ‘Instant Tutoring’.

Remember, the only way to improve your English is to use it, so go ahead, try it out!

 

 

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3 Effective Ways to Help Your Kids Learn English

Are your children learning English?  If so, that is great!  Kids can learn a language so much easier than adults.  As with any learner, the more they are exposed to English, the better. This post will go over 3 simple, yet effective ways, that you can help your child learn English.

3 Effective Methods for Kids to Learn English

1. Introduce English cartoons and videos into your kid’s routines

What is your child’s favorite cartoon?  Have you looked for it in English on YouTube?  I bet you will find it!  Kids get really excited when they see their favorite cartoon character speaking English.  They will think, “Wait!  Peppa Pig is Chinese like me… how can she speak English too!?”  You can play into this as much as you like.  Tell your child that Peppa learned English because all of the cool pigs are doing it!

On YouTube you can find full episodes as well as just short clips.  Start small.  If your child is a beginner, ease them into it with very simple clips designed for young children.   Put it on in the background, just so that they can hear the language around them.

YouTube can also be used to introduce grammar and vocabulary to your children.  I searched ‘Kids English Simple Past’ and it came up with 78,300 results!

Kids Learn English

2. Have your kids use English websites for games and interactive activities

Whether we like it or not, kids these days are all about the tablets, phones and computers.  Why not introduce some fun interactive English sites into the mix?

British Council has great sites for ESL (English as a second language) learners dedicated to kids and teens.

Learn English Kids – British Council 

Learn English Teens – British Council 

I also recommend sites that native English speaking kids use as well.

PBS Kids for younger learners

ISpy – Scholastic

The STACKS – Scholastic  for more advanced kids who are reading

I can not stress the importance of INTERACTIVE learning enough.  It is great for a kid to listen to videos in English, but playing educational games and doing interactive quizzes is the best thing for them.  When the kids are actually USING the language and producing it, that is when they are progressing.

3. Lead by Example

Show your kids that YOU enjoy using English.  I’ve done many sessions with kids of various ages over the years and the parent’s interaction and positive attitude towards English really shows in the child’s progress. Kids may not understand WHY they have to learn another language.

They view it as just another course in school, or even worse– a course they have to do AFTER school!  Make it fun for them and show them that you think it is fun as well.  Sing songs, play games, talk in funny voices… whatever!

Often when I am doing sessions with adults who have children, a child will wander into the room and is very curious about who the person on the screen is that is ‘talking funny’ to mommy or daddy.  It’s great to include them in the sessions, have them say hello or whatever they can, just to get the experience.

It’s all about the experiences they have with English at an early age that will shape their future ‘Learning English’ path. Make it positive, fun, and the results will astound you.

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Practice English on Snapchat

Practice English on Snapchat by chatting back and forth with me in English

Take advantage of social media and get free practice using English on Snapchat.  I will be posting daily ‘stories’ and sharing things from my life and English vocabulary.

  • Don’t know what Snapchat is?  Have a look here at this tutorial >> Snapchat 101

This is a great way for people to get practice USING English.  Over the years, I have learned that most of the students that I talk to have a great passive vocabulary, but are just missing the opportunity to speak and use that English they have stored in their mind.  From an early stage in language development, you can read and understand things, but producing language, especially in the spoken form, is more difficult and requires practice.

Enough of the boring stuff, onto the fun!  How can YOU use English on Snapchat?

First of all, follow me : SkypEnglish4U

English on Snapchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find your friends from contacts or by searching and you can also ‘friend’ many celebrities.  You and your friends can ‘snap’ back and forth as a normal messenger system, except that the messages disappear after a short time.

I will post ‘stories’ with different things and while you are watching them, you can swipe up and respond to me directly.  I encourage you to send me a snap, better yet a video snap so that you can practice speaking.  You can send me a question, respond to my ‘story’ or just tell me about something, ANYTHING really.  Get involved and active with your English.  I look forward to hearing from you!

tutorial (noun) a book, computer program, etc., that teaches someone how to do something by explaining each stage of a process
take advantage (idiom) to make use of something well; to make use of an opportunity
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*
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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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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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Do Does Did

Complete the following sentences using the correct form of do.

Hints

Use does when the subject is a singular noun or a third person singular pronoun (e.g. he, she, it).

Use do when the subject is a plural noun or a plural pronoun. (e.g. they, we). The first person singular pronoun I also takes do.

Use did in the past tense. It is easy to decide whether a sentence is in the past tense. You just need to look for past time adverbs. For example, if you find words/phrases like yesterday or last year, it is safe to assume that the given sentence is in the past tense.

Read more at http://www.englishpractice.com/quiz/grammar-exercise-8/#PsyhIs1EA69d57jf.99

 

Keep going!  Do Does Did! Practice makes perfect, so here are some more!

http://www.englishexercises.org/makeagame/viewgame.asp?id=5523

http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/en/exercises/tenses/do3.htm 

http://www.tolearnenglish.com/exercises/exercise-english-2/exercise-english-49467.php

http://a4esl.org/q/h/lb/dodoesdid.html

Need more help?  Here is a very detailed explanation of ‘Do – Does – Did – Done’ from Woodward English
http://www.grammar.cl/english/do-does-did-done.htm

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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