“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
President Trump’s speech to mark Black History Month on 1 February was, as with most things he does, quite a spectacle. Historical, institutional, racial…but let’s focus on the linguistic show on offer. Learners of English are taught to focus their arguments to the task and master coherence and cohesion, and these two criteria feature in marking criteria for most reputable exam bodies, like IELTS, Trinity … Continue reading Would President Trump meet the English language requirements of an international student?
“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
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”?
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.
The following is a collaborative effort from my C2 teenagers (17-18 years old), as a final project to crown our study of culture over the last few weeks. Each student contributed a section about an aspect of Latvian culture, although we agreed to keep the authors anonymous to prevent comparisons. Language Despite the fact that the only official language in Latvia is Latvian, in the east of … Continue reading A Beginner’s Guide to Latvian Culture
“I want to improve my teaching practices”. Most teachers will say this, or why do we bother doing this job? To quote Jay-Z, ´loiterers should be arrested´. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Stagnation is a slow death. However, as with anything, there´s a wide schism between words/intentions and making them reality. Observations are commonly used to bridge this gap and help teachers … Continue reading Mindset: Making the Most of Observations
“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
Some of my C2 teengaers gave their opinions on the new President of the USA by creating acrostics – poems with each line starting with the letter of a word. In this case, T R U M P. Terrible for some, Realist for one. Ugly, cuz he ain’t about that ‘unreal’ tan. Made in the asylum, for real! Pornography is his key to feel. – Margo Truly … Continue reading Trump Acrostics
Post-Brexit and Trump, maybe asking large groups of people for their opinion doesn’t seem like such a good idea. But undeterred, this is how I’ve started using Edurio, a free web app for teachers to analyse learner feedback, to try to improve my classes. So many teachers agree with the concept of a learner-centred classroom, but not as many take any practical steps to bridge the … Continue reading Learner Feedback → Learner Progress with Edurio