Posts

Rules for Natural English Speaking

While speaking English may seem easy from afar, it is will be important for you to incorporate a strong set of rules in order to be a successful and natural sounding English speaker.

Whether you are traveling to Britain, America, or any other English speaking country, you will want to prepare yourself to mesh with citizens of that nation. Pay close attention to the following set of rules in order to help yourself gain comfort and speak the best English you can!

  1. Don’t focus on grammar! —We know—grammar is important! Your teachers and tutors have likely been beating this into your head for years. While learning grammar is key when you want to pass tests, this isn’t usually the case in normal conversation. Truth be told, more foreign English speaker are aware of English grammar principles than native speakers! So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Worry more about what you’ll say to make new friends, get around town, and communicate with people around you.
  1. Educate yourself on key phrases. —As previously mentioned, you’ll have basic needs that will have to be met whenever you arrive in an English speaking country. You’ll need to have food and shelter. If you don’t know how to say anything else, you must be able to communicate well enough to meet those needs. As you go on through your studies, seek to memorize key phrases like “I would like to order a hamburger” or “I will be staying in the hotel for two nights.” Memorizing phrases like these will help you to be more confident in your ability to fend for yourself and make your transition to English speaking stress free.
  1. Use appropriate tools. —In the age of the internet, there is so much information available at the click of a button. Unfortunately, not all of this information will be helpful to you. As you choose the appropriate online course that will prepare you for your latest ventures, keep this in mind. Seek to learn from people who are native English speakers and can give you supplemental material that will beneficial for you.

Sounding and feeling like a native English speaker is no easy feat. It takes time, patience, and tons of practice. But, when you get the hang of it, you will surprise yourself, your closest friends and family, and even native English speakers you come into contact with.

Whatever your reasons for joining an English speaking environment, adhering to these three rules will help you to speak English naturally and fluently. With sessions with SkypEnglish4U, we will capitalize on these steps and include them in your everyday lesson plans. Each student is different and has different reasons for learning English.  We will work together to make sure those goals are being achieved with your practice on Skype.

Joining an online ESL course will get you on the fast track to being comfortable with your English skills. Join today and take advantage of this affordable experience!

TOEFL Practice Sessions On Skype

The TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a very popular English proficiency exam taken by people from around the world.

Most of the TOEFL students I have worked with have needed the test for their university application.  Others have had to show a potential employer an official test score to prove what their English level is. The TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test) is done fully on a computer and measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. If you are planning to study abroad, it is important to check with the school and find out which exam you need because different programs have different requirements. The TOEFL exam has 4 parts – listening, reading, speaking, and writing.

SkypEnglish4U TOEFL sessions

There are endless resources online for TOEFL, books, pdfs and all sorts of things that you can pay for to help you prepare for this exam. Every student learns differently, some are more book oriented, while others need a more hands on approach. Regardless of which type you are, you need to practice what you will do during the actual exam. No E-Book can correct your essay or give you feedback on your speaking. Some students only prepare for the exam and don’t focus on improving their general English. If you are taking the exam to get into a University in the USA, you are going to need English once you get there, so if you just focus on TOEFL practice questions, that isn’t really going to help you in the long run.

During my sessions with TOEFL students, we focus on the speaking part of the exam and some people also want to work on their writing skills. Any and all speaking that you do before the exam will help you, so general conversation and small talk are also part of preparing for the big day.

TOEFL Speaking

There are 6 different parts to the TOEFL speaking exam, some of which integrate reading and listening as well. I focus on the first 2 sections and will go through actual exam questions with students while using the time regulations from the exam – 15 seconds to prepare, 45 seconds to answer. It is not a lot of time and many students find it difficult to answer in such a short time. The more you do it, the easier it gets. We will go over many different possible exam questions and make sure that you are comfortable with the question format and the time limits.

Doing the speaking practice out loud is a very important part of preparing for the exam. On the test day, you will be sitting in front of a computer and when it tells you to start, you have to start. Some students find speaking to a computer more difficult than speaking with a person and others have the opposite opinion. Regardless of your stance on this, you are going to have to speak- so it is a good idea to practice it with someone who can give you feedback.

TOEFL Writing

If TOEFL writing is something that you are interested in practicing, I will send you the topic before our session and you write the essay on your own time and then we review it together using Google Documents (if you can not access this in your country, there are other ways to do it).

Using this ‘reviewing/editing together’ process, you will really see quick results. Doing it this way is an active learning process as opposed to if you just send your document to someone and they correct it. Then YOU are not a part of the reviewing process. It is much better to be actively involved and be able to ask questions and discuss the changes we are making.

Writing is an active process. You are using your knowledge to create something. Many students don’t practice writing essays enough because they think since they can read well and understand most things, that then they can write a proper essay. Another common mistake that students make is to not practice writing with the time you are allowed during the test. I suggest that students start to practice writing with no time limit and once they start to feel comfortable with the essay format, start to keep track of the time.

Be Prepared

The TOEFL Ibt is the lovely product of technology, so there is no way to know what type of questions you are going to be asked. You can thank the programmers behind the scene for the algorithm they have developed. You need to be ready to speak about anything and everything (not just the practice questions from a TOEFL prep book).

Taking a test is stressful all on it’s own. Taking a test in a foreign language takes it to a whole other level. Put your mind at ease and invest some time in practicing for the exam with me online and feel more comfortable with your level when you walk into the exam.

Are you moving to an English speaking country? Here are 4 benefits of Online English Courses

Different people want to learn to speak English for different reasons.

Let’s face it: English is the most popular language in the world and a lot of doors have been open for people who have taken the time to thoroughly master this language.

If you’re planning to move abroad to a country where English is the official language, it is imperative to be able to know the language in order to survive. Studying English can be beneficial for both the young and old, and will certainly help you to gain success in a world that may seem totally different to you. Luckily for you, online English courses make it possible for you to study for this influential change in your life without even having to even leave your home. Keep scrolling to learn the four best reason to advance your English skills in an online environment.

  1. Online ESL Courses will help you to gain employment. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to go to an English speaking country like Britain or the United States without at least a conversational knowledge of English. Taking English sessions online will help you to obtain the career of your dreams easily.
  1. Learning ESL online will help you to get along with natural English speakers. You will find that, as in any country, people will expect you to adapt to their native tongue. Failure to do so could lead to frustrating misunderstandings and possible annoyance from English speakers. Being able to speak to citizens of a country will help you to get into their good graces and allow you to network peacefully.
  1. You will gain a better understanding of the rules and regulations in another country. Every country operates in a different way. No two governments and laws are exactly alike. Therefore, it is imperative to be able to read and comprehend important documents pertaining to a different nation’s system of rules. Unfortunately, in today’s world, it is easy enough to get into trouble. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, so the sooner you get to this part, the better!
  1. You will easily blend in with your new community. Learning English will help you to make new friends and have beautiful social experiences. You will soon be making memories that you won’t soon forget. With your new English skills, you will be able to share pieces of your culture with others and simultaneously receive such information from them. Soon enough, people will be appreciating you for your vast experiences and inviting you to community and social gatherings all the time.

Taking SkypEnglish4U sessions online will give you the time and space to prepare yourself for the next big journey in your life. At your own leisure, you will be able to put in the necessary practice to improve your language skills. Though learning a new language certainly isn’t easy, you will have all of the necessary resources to succeed at your fingertips.

, ,

IELTS Practice Sessions on Skype

I have helped many students successfully achieve the score they needed on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam.  

Students take the exam for different reasons.  Many of the students I have worked with needed it as part of their visa application process because they wanted to relocate to Canada or Australia.  The other large percentage of students were taking it as part of the entrance requirement for a university program which would be taught in English.  Some students were asked by international companies to take the exam so the company could see exactly what level of English they had.  Lastly, some students just take it for themselves.  They want a goal to work towards and decide to take an exam to push themselves and for some, force themselves to study because they know that exam is coming up.  

SkypEnglish4U IELTS Sessions

Many students purchase IELTS books and use the endless resources on the internet to help them prepare for the exam.  That is great, and I definitely recommend reading anything you can about the exam, but that method doesn’t include speaking practice.  You can read all about the speaking section, possible question topics and example answers, but that is all passive learning.  If you really want to be ready for the speaking portion of the exam, you need to actually practice speaking.  Speaking by yourself in the mirror is a great way to get comfortable for the speaking section, but the mirror doesn’t make corrections and give you feedback.  

During my IELTS practice sessions on Skype, speaking and writing are the two parts of the exam that are  most efficiently practiced online.  As with all of my sessions, the student decides our path and  what they want to focus on.  For example, some may only want to focus on IELTS speaking part 2, while others want to focus on improving their writing and then fill the remaining time with speaking practice.  Each student is different, so I make sure that they are getting exactly what they need.

IELTS on Skype

IELTS Speaking 

During the speaking portion of the exam, you will have a one-on-one discussion with a certified examiner. The examiner will follow the test format with the 3 different sections, but will adapt their questions based on your answers to be as close to a real-life situation as a test can get.  This is why reading about possible test questions is not enough.  You really have no idea what they may ask.  

During our sessions together we can simulate an exam using actual IELTS questions used in past exams.  Part 1 starts with the general questions and topics.  For part 2, I will time you and give you suggestions on how to use the time wisely.  Finally, we’ll practice the part 3 follow up/conversational questions.  While we go over the different topics, I will make notes in the Skype chat box with vocabulary and grammar corrections and suggestions for you to see as we are speaking and also to review later on.

The speaking section is usually the part that students get the lowest score on because they don’t have experience with actual speaking.  Speaking out loud in English about anything will help you with this exam.  Opening your mouth is the first step.  I have worked with students who have never spoken English before our first session, but studied every IELTS book out there.  On the exam day, that knowledge that you learned from the book is not going to come out of your mouth all by itself.  You must practice using what you have learned.  

IELTS Writing

Whether you are taking the General IELTS or Academic IELTS, both require two different types of writing activities.  If IELTS writing is something that you are interested in practicing, I will send you the topic before our session and you write it on your own time and then we review it together using Google Documents (if you can not access this in your country, there are other ways to do it).  

Over the years, I have really noticed quick improvement from many students from using this ‘reviewing/editing together’ process.  With Google Documents, we both see the edits and changes, so it is an active learning process.  If you just send someone your document and they correct it on their own, YOU are not a part of the reviewing process.  It is much better to be actively involved and be able to discuss the changes and ask questions.

Writing is an active process.  You are using your knowledge to create something.  Many students don’t practice this section of the exam enough.  They think that because they can read well and understand most things, that then they can write well.  Another common mistake that students make is to not practice writing with the time you are allowed during the test.  I suggest that students start to practice writing with no time limit and once they start to feel comfortable with the essay format, start to keep track of the time.    

IELTS is an exam which was designed to test your level of English.  Everything that you read, speak, write or hear in English is going to help you prepare for the IELTS exam.  

Be Prepared

Because the examiner is a human, there is no knowing what questions they are going to ask.  You need to be ready to speak about anything and everything (not just the practice questions from the IELTS prep books).    

Taking a test is stressful all on it’s own.  Taking a test in a foreign language takes it to a whole other level.  Put your mind at ease and invest some time in practicing for the exam with me online and feel more comfortable with your level when you walk into the exam.

 

, ,

“I Want To Improve My English”

“I want to improve my English” is something I have heard thousands of times since I started teaching online.  My response, “Just do it”.

Learning a new language requires a lot of work and dedication.  It takes willpower to make the choice to spend time on improving the language instead of doing something else (that may be more fun).  Since I am an English teacher, I’m going to focus on that language, but this advice can be applied to learning any language and maybe even other areas of your life that you would like to make a change.

Are you ready for this?

It is very easy for us to say that we want to make a change, but actually doing it is another thing.  People often make statements that they want to do something and at the time they may have full intentions of doing so, but they haven’t really put thought into what the change means for them.

From my experience, the main obstacle for learning English is time.  It takes a lot of time to learn a new language and this is a long-term process, so it needs to be well thought out.  When students and I discuss their history with English, many tell me that they have learned ‘on and off’ for years.  I think people get discouraged along the way because of lack of focus or feelings of being overwhelmed by the time it takes.

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to improve my English?”  Personal motivation is key in a process such as this.  Be honest with yourself about the commitment and if you are really ready to do this.

Make a plan

You have decided to take this journey, so now what?  Set a goal.  Simply “I want to improve my English” is not what I am talking about.  In fact, set a few goals, milestones along the way that you want to reach.  I can help you with these based on your level.

As with diets or fitness equipment- you will see lots of advertisements for QUICK results and gimmicks like “Learn English FAST”.  I believe it is the same process as it is with living a healthy lifestyle, the change will not happen overnight.  There is no magic solution to improve your English fast.

For a beginner, the first goal could be to speak with a native speaker for 5 minutes.  Nothing crazy, just something that is beyond the point you are at now.  Perhaps it could be to send me a voice recording on Snapchat!  These goals need to be well thought out and written down.  Writing things down makes them real!  Get your Daily Routine together and remember to keep it interesting.

You also need to figure out how to hold yourself accountable.  What is going to keep you on track?  What will keep you focused on your goal?  I like the site Coach.Me which allows you to enter your goals and keep track of them.   Hopefully you will soon be able to see your results and that will keep you going!

English goals

Revisit the plan and reassess

After two weeks, take time aside to review your study patterns and English learning behavior.  Was your initial plan too much?  Are you not able to spend the time you thought?  Maybe you can spend more time on English than you originally thought.

Everybody is different.  You need to take your needs and your life into consideration during this process.  Your colleague may have used a program that worked great for him, but for you- it just doesn’t make sense.  That is OK!  It’s a flexible process with many variations.  On my twitter account, I am always sharing new sites and exercises to help people practice.  Find what works for you!

There are endless resources available to you.  Reach out to me, I spend time everyday on social media helping students to practice and answering questions they have.  At the end of the day, you just to JUST DO IT, take the first step and make the serious decision to once and for all, improve your English.

 

willpower (noun) the ability to control your thoughts and actions in order to achieve what you want to do 
milestone (noun) a significant stage or event in the development of something
gimmick (noun) a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade
hold accountable (phrase) to consider someone responsible for something
reassess (verb) to think again about something to decide if you need to change your opinion of it
once and for all (phrase) completely and finally
*practice using these words in the comments section and I will check them and give you feedback*

 

,

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*

 

, ,

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!

 

 

, ,

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*
,

STRESS and EMPHASIS

“I didn’t say we should kill him!”

When you speak English do you ever consider your tone?  To be really good at speaking English you must not only understand the grammar and the vocabulary and perfect how you communicate. You must also understand the conversational tone and tactics that native speakers use. A simple example for you is to consider when your voice rises and falls in a phrase. However in English adding additional STRESS or EMPHASIS can change the significance entirely. Look at these examples, stress the words in bold:

  1. I didn’t say we should kill him.  = Someone else said we should kill him.
  2. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I am denying saying it.
  3. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I implied it / whispered it / wrote it down.
  4. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said someone else should kill him /you should kill him, etc.
  5. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said we shouldn’t kill him / we must kill him, etc.
  6. I didn’t say we should kill him. = I said we should take him to dinner /take care of him / send him on a diving holiday.
  7. I didn’t say we should kill him. = We should kill someone else.

So, be careful when you talk about killing someone!

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