3 Ways to Beat Exam* Anxiety

*Also applicable to other high anxiety situations: marathon, job interview, first date etc. It’s prime exam season, and the mind must be in tune with the brain for results to reflect knowledge. But psychology is not yet mainstream in teaching and teacher training. We teachers are big on the ‘what’ (i.e. knowledge), and at best skim over the ‘how’. This should change on a global scale, but I’ll … Continue reading 3 Ways to Beat Exam* Anxiety

Mouth Gym Part 2: How to train

Having selected common problematic sounds in English, the most important thing is what we can do to improve these things. The foundations of this whole exercise should adhere to principles of Dweck’s Mindset theory: focused practice, belief in the possibility to improve, re-labelling “failure” as a stepping stone to success. Once we move the tongue and lips correctly, the sounds will be produced. We can … Continue reading Mouth Gym Part 2: How to train

Mouth Gym Part 1: What to train

“I can’t make that sound”. Millions of language learners all over the world would have said or thought this at least once. I know many of my students have. Several have asked me what they can do to improve, so the next two posts will give some advice. Pronunciation is hard in any foreign language, as there are usually new sounds (phonemes) to practise and … Continue reading Mouth Gym Part 1: What to train

12 things learning Russian has taught me about learning English

“You must get bored! What do you think about when you’re swimming lengths?” people sometimes ask. Well no I don’t get bored, and this post is an example, as it’s the fruit of musings during this morning’s swim. Obviously, you don’t have to be a language learner to be a good English teacher. Although I studied French and Spanish at university myself, English teachers might … Continue reading 12 things learning Russian has taught me about learning English

Wot iz “articulate”?

The Queen is articulate when mingling at a garden party at Buckingham Palace, but probably wouldn’t be if chatting at a barber shop in Brooklyn. But isn’t she articulate anywhere? The Queen’s English has that name for a reason, right? Wrong. articulate adjective ɑːˈtɪkjʊlət/ having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently. e.g. “she was very articulate” synonyms: eloquent, fluent, communicative, effective, persuasive, lucid, vivid, expressive. Being articulate is … Continue reading Wot iz “articulate”?

New Year’s resolution? Don’t waste your time.

It´s that time of year to decide on ´New Year´s resolutions´, to ‘resolve’ something which we think isn´t up to scratch at the moment. In many cases, failing to achieve them is blamed on a lack of time, but I believe that time can almost always be found, and what is lacking is motivation. For me, motivation is the key ingredient in any success, because the … Continue reading New Year’s resolution? Don’t waste your time.

5 TV programmes to help you learn English

“Which TV programmes could I watch to practise listening?” I´m often asked this question, and this post aims to make some useful suggestions. “Why is watching a TV programme in English useful, rather than, say, listening to the radio or doing traditional multiple-choice exercises online?” First and foremost, we should enjoy the TV programme we´re watching, as here we can kill two (or more) bird … Continue reading 5 TV programmes to help you learn English

Native English speaker = better teacher?

“I want my English teacher to be a native speaker” is a common attitude when people are looking for an English class. But is a native speaker a better English teacher only because they were born in a certain place? An estimated 80% of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers worldwide do not have English as their first language; are all their students … Continue reading Native English speaker = better teacher?