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Using Pinterest to improve your English

I have been ‘pinning’ for a few years now and thought it was really a great way to waste time…  until now.  Thanks to ESL Hip Hop, I have now found an actual use for Pinterest.

Most people use Pinterest to ‘pin’ (share) recipes, pictures of their dream house, internet memes, and basically anything you can think of.  It is a virtual pin-board for you to organize into categories as you wish.  pinboardI am a victim of the food boards, the vacation dream spot boards and drifting off into the land of make-believe  as I pin away.  The other day something on twitter caught my eye.  ESL Hip Hop posted about a Pinterest picture dictionary.  EUREKA!  What a great idea!   He has a ‘board’ dedicated to vocabulary from a particular song.Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 11.16.53 PM

I am a very visual person, so seeing the picture in real life context really hits home with me. Let’s face it, we’ve all had enough of the lame illustrated furniture vocabulary in books written in 1972.

hit home – refer to or be relevant or familiar to; “I hope this message hits home!”

What should you do about this?  Sign up to Pinterest and follow my boards and ‘pin’ words that you do not know to your own boards and study them daily.  Once you feel that you know a word, you can move it to a different board.  You can name it ‘Words I Know’ and only glance at that one once in awhile.  As I mentioned earlier, it is a great way to waste time– BUT, if you are browsing around and reading the captions in English, you are learning at the same time!

[googlefont font=”Chewy” size=”50px” margin=”10px 0 20px 0″]http://pinterest.com/skypenglish4u[/googlefont]

I would love to hear what you think about this method of learning vocabulary.  Leave me a comment below!

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Common Phrases

Student: I realize I should learn by heart a set of template common phrases for everyday situations. So I can build my arguments or story around them, use them. Maybe that way to speed my speech flow.

Teacher: It is a good idea to be comfortable using common phrases.  I would not recommend just memorizing them.   You need to be able to use them on the spot, in any random conversation.      Play around with these useful expressions

I believe that learning phrases is more effective than just single vocabulary words.  So many words can be used differently – especially when dealing with prepositions and everyone’s favorite, phrasal verbs!    Just going over that list (or any other list of common phrases) will make you aware of them and you will notice them when you are watching TV shows or reading articles (everyday!)

on the spot:  immediately

 

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One Direction

Pronunciation

British: One Dye-rection

American: One Der-ection

Australian: One Da-rection

Chinese: Wan Da-re-shun

Irish: Wonder-Action

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I don’t know where to start for a job interview

Student: I don’t know where to start for a job interview in America because the system I use is only Russian.

Teacher:  Get comfortable with the terms in English so you can easily explain what you do in English.  This is going to require a lot of reading, both about the system itself  (in this case: 1C: Enterprise 8 )  and then general IT interview questions.

Interviews require a lot of research.   You need to know exactly what they are looking for and explain how you fit their needs.  You also need to know about the company and their practices.  In the IT industry the required skill set may be the same, but how the companies operate vary from one to the next.   You need to find out how they operate and make sure that your answers fit with how they do things.

 

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http://voxy.com/proven-approach/

It takes a long time to learn a language if you only study once a week. With regular practice, even in small amounts, your skills will remain sharp and you will h ave frequent opportunities to improve.

I’ve been saying that for years! … just in different words 😉 I found this quote when I was reading about Voxy (http://voxy.com/proven-approach/)

People often ask me, “How long will it take to improve my English?” I respond with the same answer every time, “That depends on YOU and how much time you are willing to put into it.” I have spent thousands of hours speaking with people on Skype and I have worked with all levels of learners. I have had students who use websites for grammar, listen to podcasts, watch youtube, and even practice with facebook and twitter. And others who think that speaking to a native speaker once a week is going to be the key to their English success, but don’t have time for those other things. Who do you think excels faster?

excel: Be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject

YOU NEED TO PRACTICE EVERYDAY -even just a little tiny bit! Get your brain thinking in English at least once a day.

  • read the English version of your local news
  • make your homepage a site that you like to use to practice your English, so everyday it is IN YOUR FACE
  • need to know something? Google it in English
  • follow blogs (in English) that interest you
  • facebooktwitterpinterestreddit
  • find a site that you like that has daily grammar activities and exercises… give your brain a work-out (just reading isn’t enough)
  • find a radio station (in an English speaking country) you like and stream it online
  • watch TV series and movies
  • write a ‘phrase a day’ on a post-it and stick it where you will see it

HELP ME ADD TO THIS LIST! What do you do to improve your English everyday?

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Gustavo – Brazil

 

Gustavo, from Brazil, found me on twitter and signed up for lessons to improve his English so that he could get a job in the USA. He is a software developer and is an Android aficionado. We worked together on his CV and interviewing skills and it must have paid off because now he is living in New York City!

aficionado: A person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a particular interest or activity

 

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Other ways to say ‘SAID’

“He doesn’t see us hiding here”, whispered Jose.

“I LOVE pizza more than anything in the world”, grinned Ray.

Our mother was always scolding us, “Stop teasing your brother!”

“I hate school”, complained the little boy.

“Stop tickling me”, Jennifer laughed.

My father demanded, “Give me those car keys!”

Tony asked, “Why do we have to go home now?”

As I watched the dog chasing his own tail, I thought, “I wonder why he does that?”

“GO TEAM GO”, I yelled from the bleachers.

“Why don’t you give me back my doll”, cried the little girl. “”Because I don’t want to”, replied Henry.

“That dress looks great on you”, I lied.

“Please can we have tacos for dinner”, Allison begged. “Nooo, I hate tacos”, whined her brother.

“I got the highest score”, I bragged. “Good for you!”, exclaimed Kate.

” I hate mornings”, moaned Zack.

“AHH! That is hot!”, shrieked Sarah as she dropped the hot plate.

“I don’t think you should go to that party”, warned Dennis. “Well I want to go and I will go”, argued Fred.

 

 

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Adjectives

St

udent:   I can't understand it. What's the grammar rule ?

Screen shot 2013-04-17 at 12.31.23 PM

Teacher:  You are treating these words as verbs, but they are adjectives in these sentences.  They are describing the feelings of the subject.    A few simple examples:  I am annoyed.  She is excited to go on vacation.  The dog was tired.  Marathons are exhausting.

Think of emoticons (from skype) when you are trying to decide if a word is an adjective…  neutral I am bored.  

Here is a 'text book' explanation from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/adjectives.htm

Adjectives that are really Participles, verb forms with -ing and -ed endings, can be troublesome for some students. It is one thing to be a frightened child; it is an altogether different matter to be a frightening child. Do you want to go up to your professor after class and say that you are confused or that you are confusing? Generally, the -ed ending means that the noun so described (“you”) has apassive relationship with something — something (the subject matter, the presentation) has bewildered you and you are confused. The -ing ending means that the noun described has a more active role — you are not making any sense so you are confusing (to others, including your professor).

The -ed ending modifiers are often accompanied by prepositions (these are not the only choices):

  • We were amazed at all the circus animals.
  • We were amused by the clowns.
  • We were annoyed by the elephants.
  • We were bored by the ringmaster.
  • We were confused by the noise.
  • We were disappointed by the motorcycle daredevils.
  • We were disappointed in their performance.
  • We were embarrassed by my brother.
  • We were exhausted from all the excitement.
  • We were excited by the lion-tamer.
  • We were excited about the high-wire act, too.
  • We were frightened by the lions.
  • We were introduced to the ringmaster.
  • We were interested in the tent.
  • We were irritated by the heat.
  • We were opposed to leaving early.
  • We were satisfied with the circus.
  • We were shocked at the level of noise under the big tent.
  • We were surprised by the fans' response.
  • We were surprised at their indifference.
  • We were tired of all the lights after a while.
  • We were worried about the traffic leaving the parking lot.

Do you have any questions?  Please!  Feel free to contact me with them

 

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Sentence starters, transitional and other useful words

Student: I’ve noticed I use the same speech patterns every lesson. I mean some of sentence structures like “it depends…”, “I think/suppose/guess …”, and etc. Does exist some common speech patterns helping to speak? 

Teacher: The fact that you notice it yourself means that you are conscious of it and going to be looking for other options 😉 Listen to others and how they start their sentences. Sitcoms are a good tool to observe “natural” speech patterns. Podcasts and interviews about topics you are interested in will be helpful as well. For natural speak- stay away from stuffy news programs or topics that don’t interest you.

Here are about 10,000 examples to get you started  >  http://www2.eit.ac.nz/library/ls_guides_sentencestarters.html

Do you have any questions?  Please!  Feel free to contact me with them

 

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Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal Verbs. Yuck. A phrasal verb is a verb plus a preposition or adverb which creates a meaning different from the original verb. Basically, when some words are used together, they form a new “word” (they have a meaning that has NOTHING to do with the two words that are combined).

common phrasal verbs

UsingEnglish has a great way to practice common phrasal verbs>>

The verbs in the list below all have several different phrasal verbs associated with them. The number in brackets represents the number of phrasal verbs available containing that verb. Clicking on a verb will take you to a quiz of between 5 and 10 questions designed to test your understanding of the phrasal verbs in that group. If a group has more than 10 phrasal verbs in it a random selection of questions will be presented for that verb.

http://www.usingenglish.com/reference/phrasal-verbs/quizzes-verbs.html

 

You basically have to treat these as “new” vocabulary. Train your brain to recognize them together and then pull up that meaning. See, right there! Pull up. Do you know the meaning of pull+up? Sadly, some phrasal verbs have more than one meaning 🙁 So context is also very important. If you google it, you will see this:

pull up

Does that exercise (shown in the picture) fit with my sentence? Train your brain to recognize them together and then pull up that meaning.

What do you think?