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Using a whiteboard to improve your English

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… Surround yourself with English!  How about on the walls of your home!?!

White board for English

Invest in a small whiteboard (or a big one!) and use it everyday to write down new vocabulary words to improve your English.  Everyone has a different style of learning and remembering new words, so do what is right for you.  Here are some suggestions:

  • The definition
    • If you are at a high enough level, write the definition in English.
    • If you still need the help, use your native language– but try to use that the least amount possible.
  • Sentences using the new words
    • Anyone can memorize a word, but to actually be able to use it correctly is another story.
    • Look it up and take note of the sentence structure used in example sentence and BAM! you get a grammar lesson as well.
  • Common phrases or idioms that involve the word
    • You want to speak as natural as possible, so do a bit of research and see how the word is used in “real-life”.
  • Pictures
    • Have fun and draw something to help you remember the word.
  • Questions you think of and want to ask your teacher later on

This method is a great way to bring that passive vocabulary to active.  The small amount of time you spend writing the word and the sentences… that alone is going to help you to remember it, not to mention all of the times you will see it in the day.  Subscribe to a word of the day service and constantly be on the lookout for words to add to your board.  (click below)

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/

Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

 

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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.

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SEE! WATCH! LOOK!

Watch

With the verb watch, we are much more active. Watch is like look, but requires more effort from us. We watch things that are going to move, or change in some way. And we watch the movements and changes.

  • The police decided to watch the suspected murderer rather than arrest him immediately. They hoped he would lead them to the body.
  • I like watching motor racing on TV.
  • If you watch that egg for long enough you’ll see it hatch.

See

We use see to mean simply that an image comes into our eyes. It may not be deliberate. As soon as we open our eyes, we see things.

  • I can see a cloud in the sky.
  • I suddenly saw a bird fly in front of me.
  • Didn’t you see Ram? He was waving at you.

Look (at)

When we look, we try to see. We make a special effort. We concentrate our eyes on something.

  • Look! It’s snowing!
  • Look at this photo! Isn’t it beautiful?
  • I’m looking but I don’t see it.

QUIZ!!!

All of this lovely material is courtesy of English Club

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Common Marriage Phrases

Marriage.  A timeless conversation topic.  People talk about it before it happens, when it is happening and after it happens.

In the English language we commonly use the word GET before the word married.

The moment you say ‘I do’ (or actually sign the document) that is the moment you get married.

Phrases speaking about it happening in the FUTURE

Some little girls dream of getting married.

I want to get married on the beach.

I never want to get married.

I’m getting married!

We will get married next year.

Phrases speaking about it happening in the PAST

We got married in May.

They got married in Mexico.

He never got married.

marriage vocabulary

The actual marriage ceremony is the wedding (celebration) 

The marriage ceremony will be at a church.

The wedding will be in New York.

The marriage ceremony was lovely.

Kim’s wedding was the best I have ever been to.

Once you get married (sign the document) you are married

I am married.

James is married.

They are not married.

And FINALLY the word MARRIAGE (which is a noun)

I have a great marriage.

Their marriage was bad.

When friends get together, they often talk about their marriages.

 Try it out!  Write a sentence about marriage in the comments below and I will correct it.

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Google Phrasebook

Google announced their ‘Phrasebook’ in 2013 > Official Release Statement 

I was very excited by this because I am not only a language teacher, but also a language learner.  I am at a very beginner level, slowly and steadily learning Greek.  Taking my own advice that I give to my students, “you must have English in your life everyday if you want to improve…”  I’ve decided to start a journal writing very simple phrases in Greek.  Using my active vocabulary, each day I’ll write a few things down.

I wanted to check a few words using Google Translate (I know, I know, it’s not always correct, but for simple basic words, usually it is ok- and I am at that simple basic level!) and I remembered about phrasebook.  Happy times!  It is so simple to use and I think VERY useful for helping language learners review vocabulary.

First you just type in the word or phrase in your language using Google Translate

google phrasebook

 

Here I actually searched for the phrase first in English-> Greek and then switched it because I want my phrasebook to have the Greek words first, but either way works.

Next you just click on the little star below the phrase or word and you will see a little notification pop up in the upper left-hand corner showing that a word has been added.  That is your phrasebook icon!

google phrasebook

Click on that little star-book icon and you will see all of the words/phrases that you have previously saved.

google phrasebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, I have mine with the Greek phrase first, but you can sort by language and by the date you added it.

You can even export it to a spreadsheet by clicking on that icon under the search tool.

google phrasebook

 

 

 

 

 

google phrasebook

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many great tools out there to help us with language learning.  I hope that you will try it out and let me know how it works!

Please share some of the tools you use to improve your vocabulary in the comments section below and perhaps be featured in a future blog….

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Active Vocabulary vs Passive Vocabulary

 

active vocabulary

VS.

passive vocabulary

 

The questions is…. How do YOU change Passive Vocab to Active Vocab?  Comment below and possibly be featured in a future post!

 

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Memory Retention | Remembering Vocabulary Words

Do you have a good memory?  Do you have issues with remembering vocabulary words?

 memory ˈmɛm(ə)ri/  noun

1) the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information  “I have a great memory for faces”  2) something remembered from the past “My favorite childhood memory is visiting my Grandmother”

Memory plays a HUGE role in language learning.  It is all about remembering vocabulary, grammar rules, idioms, phrasal verbs, the list goes on and on…

In this info graphic from Online Colleges  we can see  Hermann Ebbinghaus’ ‘forgetting curve’

Memory Retention | Remembering Vocabulary Words

As you can see, REVIEWING information is very important for retaining the things that you learn.  If you do not review, you will quickly forget the things you have just learned.

Reviewing and using the language are a very important part of the learning process.  Some people focus on learning new words everyday, but never actually practice using them in a real-life setting.  When you actively use a word (with speaking or writing), you are reviewing it.  Listening and reading also are forms of reviewing as they are reinforcing the words in your memory, but they are a passive form of review.

Anyone can read a page in the dictionary, but to truly ‘know’ the words, you have to be able to use them.

Get involved!  Make it fun!  Sign up for speaking sessions, practice daily by commenting on twitter and facebook  posts.  I’m always happy to respond.  Learning new words is very important, but remembering them is even more important.

Stick with your English Language goals

Constant dripping hollows out a stone. LUCRETIUS

Constant dripping hollows out a stone.
LUCRETIUS

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Surround Yourself with English

I have been teaching online since 2010 and I have probably said ‘surround yourself with English’ over 1,000 times!  I guess it is my catchphrase

You MUST surround yourself with everyday English as much as possible.  The first time that you hear or read a word/idiom/phrase that you don’t know, write it down and look it up or better yet, ask someone (sometimes the dictionary can confuse you with idioms or phrasal verbs).  When you take the time to do a little research, the word/idiom/phrase is more likely to stick in your mind.  Then the next time you come across it, it will become reinforced and more of a part of your active vocabulary.   The more you hear or see something the more likely you are to remember it, right?  And that, my friends,  is why you need to listen and read English whenever you can!

The next step is to be able to actively use the word/idiom/phrase in your daily interactions.  This is where difficulties can arise.  Anyone can LEARN a word/idiom/phrase by using a book or the internet, but it is much more difficult to get that word/idiom/phrase into your active vocabulary and be able to easily use it yourself.  This is where PRACTICE comes in.  PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! (another catchphrase of mine).  Once you learn the word, you need to use it!

Speaking with a native speaker is an excellent way to practice, but that may not be possible for everyone.  I am always posting on facebook, twitter, pinterest and tumblr to help students surround themselves with English as much as possible.  I hope that you will take advantage of it and spend a little time everyday to improve your English.

#EngVocab

catchphrase (noun) a word or expression that is used repeatedly and conveniently to represent or characterize a person, group, idea, or point of view

come across (phrasal verb) to find or encounter, especially by chance