Aiton English

Learning Languages for Life

You and Jeff

“amazon wikipedia”的图片搜索结果

Before reading

The following are tips that Bezos gives  in a Forbes.com article. Before reading, finish the tips yourself then read and compare your ideas with Jeff’s

  • “Base your strategy on things that won’t _________ . “
  • ” (verb) +  (preposition)  + customers”
  • “Our culture is __________ and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.”
  • “If you want to be __________, you have to be willing to fail.”
  • “Everyone has to be able to work in a ______  _____________ . “

 

Click here and read

 

Post – reading

Which three of the tips are the best?

Which are  not so useful?

 

Before watching

You are going to watch a video in which Besos gives 10 pieces of advice about starting / running a business. Before watching, look at Amzaon’s top 10 core values and answer the question

“Which one (and only one) of these Amazon core values will be mentioned directly in the top 10 tips video?

  • Customer Obsession
  • Ownership
  • Invent and Simplify
  • Are Right, A Lot
  • Hire and Develop the Best
  • Insist on the Highest Standards
  • Think Big
  • Bias for Action
  • Frugality
  • Vocally Self Critical
  • Earn Trust of Others
  • Dive Deep
  • Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit
  • Deliver Results

 

Now watch and see

Affer watching

Which of the core values could be in some way at least connected with the tips?

Which pieces of advice are the best in your opinion?

 

 

Extra – activity

Make a list of core values for your company.

 

Save

C2 reading: Terrorism, fridges and 3rd conditional

Your ideas before reading

The newspaper article (from the Sydney Morning Herald – SMH) for you to read below is about a conservative journal editor and his criticism of the ABC (ABC = Australian Brooadcasting Corporation = the Australian Version of the BBC, in Canada it is CBC). Activate your ideas before reading by answering these questions:

  • Why do you think the editor of Quadrant, the conservative Australian journal, is crtical of the ABC?
  • Why might he be critical of the ABC in relation to a terrorist attack in Britain?

Read the ideas in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) article heading and the beginning of the text

“Quadrant online editor Roger Franklin laments that Manchester blast was not against ABC”

“the online editor of  the Australian conservative journal Quadrant wrote an opinion piece saying that, “had there been a shred of justice”, the Manchester blast would have “detonated in an Ultimo TV studio (=ABC headquarters).” He added that, if such an attack took place, “none of the (ABC) panel’s likely casualties would have represented the slightest reduction in humanity’s intelligence, decency, empathy or honesty”

 

Pause and react to the ideas and linguistic choice (LC)  in the first part of the SMH article

  1. Would you say that Roger Franklin is critical, highly critical, or incredibly critical of the ABC?
  2. How does his linguistic choice of actions, actor/actees and describors  show this?
  3. Do you agree with the SMH newspaper author’s choice that Franklin is “lamenting”?
  4. Why does Franklin need to use 3rd conditional to convey his idea?
  5. What is the difference in LC between “had there been a shred of justice” and “if there had been a shred in justice”?
  6. How do you feel about Roger Franklin’s choice of language to convey his ideas?

 

Predict ideas before reading more

  • What will be  the reaction of the ABC?
  • Apart from ABC / Quadrant representatives, who else might be quoted in this article?
  • Will Franklin, the editor of the conservative journal, try and justify his LC?
  • Will the SMH newspaper article be critical of Rogers or supportive of him?

 

Read and react to the ideas in the rest of the SMH article by clicking here

 

 

Further ideas to read and react to

Below is the original article by Franklin. Follow the active reading steps of

  • reading the heading and introduction to understand the topic of the article
  • thinking about the aim of the author and how his / her LC shows this
  • reacting to the author’s ideas with your own
  • predicting what ideas / LC will the further in the text (by formulating questions you think may be answered)

Clck here to start

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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British Elections: Brexit – healthcare – immigration – tax – education

Reading

Your ideas before reading

  • With Brexit, to what extent should Britian try remain in Eu trade, immigration and governing programs?
  • In your country, would it be a good idea to increase VAT or income tax?
  • Should your  government try to increase net migration, or should they bear down on migration? Does it matter if it is low or high skilled?
  • Should your government increase spending in your nation healthcare system? (in Britain = NHS – National Health Service)
  • Should your government make adjustments to your education system?

 

Read and react

Click on the link below to compare your ideas with the condervative party of Great Britian and the United Kingdom

Tory general election manifesto: key points and analysis

 

Video

Your ideas before watching

  • Is your social care system complex or straightforward?
  • Does your government provide free winter fuel for everyone (to keep houses / flats warm in a cold winter)? How expensive is this? If you’re in a hot country, what about cooling?
  • When elderly people need social care, be it in a nursing home or if a social care worker comes to their house, does the family or government pay for this? E.g. if someone has dementia but the children are busy working, who pays for the social care that is given to the person with dementia?
  • Do your politicians meet their pledges?

 

Watch and react

Hunt’s Linguistic Choice

Read the questions and answer from memory, then watch and fill in the remaining answers. After you’ve finished, scroll down to check the answers below

  1. What describors Did Hunt use to describe the socal care system at the moment?
  2. When talking about the opposition leaders tax plan, what action does Hunt use: “that would ____ jobs for _______ , _______ families”
  3. When talking about the trade-off, why does Hunt keep saying “we’re being very open”?
  4. What expression does Hunt use to emphasize that there is no easy solution “there are no ____   ______”
  5. Hunt refers to “poor / the poorest pensiones”, what is his LC for “rich pensioners?”
  6. When talking about people losing money due to the need to pay for social care down to the last 27,000 pounds, Hunt says “the famileis will be ____ out”
  7. After talking about a negative, Hunt says “at the same time” and then lists positives. What describors does he use when listing the positives

___ cancer survival rates      /     the ____  expansion in mental health in Europe        / t       he ________ improvement in stroke and heart atack survival rate of any OECD         /  you’re seeing NHS staff working ___________ well            /           outcomes are ____________better than five years ago

 

For a food and diet video + activities click here

 

 

 

Answers

  1. Baffling and bewildering
  2. that would destroy jobs for ordinary, working families
  3. to balance the fact that he doesn’t give any specific figures, and also win votes from ordinay, working families
  4. there are no silver bullets
  5. better-off pensioners
  6. they will be cleaned out
  7. record cancer survival rates / the biggest expansion in mental health in Europe / the biggest improvement in stroke and heart atack survival rate of any OECD country . you’re seeing NHS staff working brilliantly well / outcomes are dramatically better than five years ago

Food and Diet – British Politics

Current Situation:

THe UK is currently in the middle of an election campaign. The Prime Minister, Theresa May  of the Tory / Conservative party, in her election manifesto pledged she would abolish free lunches in schools, with the exception of those for children from poorer backgrounds. They would continue to receive the free lunch.

Background information:
  • Over the last several years the chilldren have been provided a free school lunch.
  • This free school lunch is for the first three years of schooling.
  • After the first three years they have to pay for the lunch.
Your ideas before watching:

Below is a video with chef Jamie Oliver,  whosays he is apolitical,  criticizing May’s plan. Before you watch…

  1. What are the benefits of providing free school lunches for everyone?
  2. Why is it only for the first three years?
  3. What are the arguments against it?
  4. Do you think it should be cut?

watch the video and make a note of reasons why Oliver is against the cut.

 

 

Linguistic choice questions:

Read the questions, answer from memory, then watch again:

  1. What does Jamie say to show is he apolitcal?
  2. When talking about how the NHS has to pay for diseases, why  does Jamie use and stress “the NHS is overtly paying”
  3. Why did Jamie choose to say “the school is the frontline in the battle against diet related disease?”
  4. How strongly does he stress “completely” in “it’s (the plan is)  completely short-sighted”?
  5. When talking about how kids with a proper diet do better in the school leaving exam (SAT), what expression does Jamie use “kids that are fed right are 5% …… in their SATs”
  6. Does Jamie use his linguistic choice when talking about the opposition leader’s (Jeremy Corbyn) proposal or the interviewer’s choice?

Scroll down for the answers before doing the discussion questions

 

Discussion questions:
  1. Do you believe the research findings quoted by Oliver that well-nourished children are 5% better off in their exam results?
  2. Do you believe that, by and large, British children are the unhealthiest in Europe?
  3. How important is the role that schools play in kids’ nutrition compared to the one that parents play?
  4. Does Jamie come across as being apolitical or do you think he is biased against the conservative party?
  5. The three positions are
  • (May: PM / conservative party): Free lunches only for the poor children
  • (Oliver): free lunches for all in the first three years only
  • (Corbyn: Opposition party / Labor): free lunches for all throughout schooling

Where do you stand on this issue?

 

Answers
  1. He uses present perfect to show his life experience of dealing with different prime ministers “I’ve been through four prime ministers” “I’ve worked with 4 prime ministers”
  2. to emphasise that this is not a hidden cost to society, but a clear and identifable one
  3. to create a war metaphor which emphasizes that this point is the most critical
  4. very strongly
  5. are 5% better off in their SATs
  6. no, he repeats “(he’s) gone too far”

 

 

 

You and Steve

Text 1: Video

 

 

Activate your ideas

In his commence speechat a university,  Jobs tells of 3 stories from his life.

  1. If you were to give a speech about 3 moments of significance in your life, which ones would you choose?
  2. Below are the titles of his 3 stories, what do you think he will say about them?
  • “connecting the dots”
  • “love and loss”
  • “death”

Watch and listen to his ideas …

Learn language from the ideas

 Phrasal verbs and grammar

Fill in the gaps!

  1. I dropped __ __ Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed _____ as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit.
  2. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it __.
  3. I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work __OK.
  4. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking ____it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
  5. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me ____.
  6. For the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling ___.
  7. When we did, our Board of Directors sided ____him.
  8. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing ___so badly.
  9. But something slowly began to dawn ___me — I still loved what I did.
  10. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start ___.
  11. I didn’t see it then, but it turned ____that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have _____happened to me.
  12. Death clears out the old to make way ___the new.
  13. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown ___your own inner voice.

Check the answers in the text here,

Organize your expressions in your mind / memory

  1. Which of the phrasal verbs above are connected with the idea of:  education / problems or issues / realization and reflection / relationships
  2. Can you think of any other categories?
  3. Do any of the phrasal verbs have the same preposition?
  4. What other phrasal verbs do you know with the same verb?
  5. What about the same preposition?
  6. Which of the phrasal verbs are logical, and which are idiomatic?
  7. Which two do you like the most?
  8. Which two do you feel are the least useful or interesting ?

 

Your turn to find ideas and language to activate

Go through the text here again and

  • highlight 3-5 statements, or opinions, or pieces of advice, or reflections that you think are interesting, or boring, or strange,  or new, or stupid
  • find 3-5 expressions you like and want to activate and highlight them

Note, the expressions can be from the ideas or separate from them.

 

Discuss, react to and extend the ideas

  • Discuss the 3-5 statements, or opinions, or pieces of advice, or reflections that you highlighted
  • Discuss to what extent you agree with the following advice / opinions:
  1. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
  2. the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
  3. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.

 

Idea development and language check: 

Did you do the following when discussing?

  • extend your ideas with reasons and examples?
  • connect your ideas to that of the speaker / writer?
  • compare your linguistic choice to their linguistic choice at all?
  • activate expressions from the phrasal verbs exercise?
  • activate the 3-5 expressions you highlighted?
  • activate expressions from the ideas you highlighted?
  • use any of these activated expressions to talk about your own life / opinion / advice, or only when re-telling?

 

 

Text 2: Writing

Activate your ideas

Below is a text, apparantly the last one Jobs wrote before he died. Before reading

  1. What do you think he will say about the pursuit of wealth?
  2. He gives some examples of matters apart from wealth which we should pursue. What examples do you think he gave?
  3. He says we should cherish certain things, what do you think they are?

 

Read and find out about his ideas ..

In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to. At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…
Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth… Should be something that is more important:Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days … Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.
The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me.What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on. Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands. What is the most expensive bed in the world? – “Sick bed” …
You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”.
When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – “Book of Healthy Life”. Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends…Treat yourself well.
Cherish others. – Steve Jobs

Find ideas and language to activate

Go through the text again and

  • highlight 3-5 statements, or opinions, or pieces of advice, or reflections that you think are interesting, or boring, or strange,  or new, or stupid
  • find 3-5 expressions you like and want to activate and highlight them

Note, the expressions can be from the ideas or separate from them.

Discuss, react to and extend the ideas

  • Discuss the 3-5 statements, or opinions, or pieces of advice, or reflections that you highlighted

Idea development and language check: 

Did you do the following when discussing?

  • extend your ideas with reasons and examples?
  • connect your ideas to that of the speaker / writer?
  • compare your linguistic choice to their linguistic choice at all?
  • activate the 3-5 expressions you highlighted?
  • activate expressions from the ideas you highlighted?
  • use any of these activated expressions to talk about your own life / opinion / advice, or only when re-telling?

 

Text 3: Video

Activate your ideas

 

You are about to watch a “Steve Jobs top 10 rules for success”.  Note, the 10 rules are taken from different times of his life.

  • What do you think his top 10 rules are? Try and guess at least 4.

As you watch the video, stop after 5 of the rules, and guess possible remaining ones.

Watch and listen to his ideas …

Fly solo 🙂 No text, no exercises, from the video …

  • Find ideas and language to activate
  • Discuss, react to and extend the ideas
  • Reflect on your  idea development and language use

 

 

HTML Case Study: Adjusting a table / youtube video size

 

a – Familiarize yourself with the IELTS “fluency and coherence” criteria here if you haven’t done so

b – THe table below shows how 9 and 8 are different for the criteria “fluency and coherence”. I have divided the IELTS speaking criteria for “fluency and coherence” into the 4 aspects that the criteria focus on. Look at the table below and familiarize yourself with the differences between 8/9. (you’ll notice that for one of them the criteria do not mention anything for 8, this is IELTS, not me)

 
<table style=”height: 409px;” width=”300″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”4″><colgroup> <col width=”10*” /> <col width=”246*” /> </colgroup>
<tbody>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US” align=”center”><b>  Repetition / Self-correction </b></h3>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>9</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong> Only rare </strong></span>repetition /self-correction</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>8</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>Only </strong></span><b><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>occasi</span></b><strong><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>ona</span><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>l</span> </strong>repetition / self-correction</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”></td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US” align=”center”><b>Pauses / Hesitation</b></h3>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>9</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”>Pauses <b>only</b> to find ideas and <b>not</b> to search for language (words / grammar)</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>8</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”>Pauses are <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>usually </span>for ideas and <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>only rarely t</span>o search for language</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”></td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US” align=”center”><b>Cohesive devices / linking expressions</b></h3>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>9</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>Fully</strong> </span>appropriate cohesive devices</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>8</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”>-</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”></td>
<td width=”96%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US” align=”center”><b>Topic Development</b></h3>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>9</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”>Devlops topics <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>fully</strong> </span>and appropriately</p>
</td>
</tr>
<tr valign=”top”>
<td width=”4%”>
<h3 lang=”en-US”>8</h3>
</td>
<td width=”96%”>
<p lang=”en-US”>Develops topics coherently and appropriately</p>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
&nbsp;

c- Watch the video below from the official IELTS channel and see if you agree that the candidate is an 8 for Fluency and Coherence and not a 9…
<iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/92d5mIK0bPM” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”></iframe>

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

&nbsp;

Get an 8 + in IELTS Speaking: Criteria for Fluency and Coherence

a – Familiarize yourself with the IELTS “fluency and coherence” criteria here if you haven’t done so

 

b – THe table below shows how 9 and 8 are different for the criteria “fluency and coherence”. I have divided the IELTS speaking criteria for “fluency and coherence” into the 4 aspects that the criteria focus on. Look at the table below and familiarize yourself with the differences between 8/9. (you’ll notice that for one of them the criteria do not mention anything for 8, this is IELTS, not me)

 

  Repetition / Self-correction

9

 Only rare repetition /self-correction

8

Only occasional repetition / self-correction

Pauses / Hesitation

9

Pauses only to find ideas and not to search for language (words / grammar)

8

Pauses are usually for ideas and only rarely to search for language

Cohesive devices / linking expressions

9

Fully appropriate cohesive devices

8

Topic Development

9

Devlops topics fully and appropriately

8

Develops topics coherently and appropriately

 

c- Watch the video below from the official IELTS channel and see if you agree that the candidate is an 8 for Fluency and Coherence and not a 9…

 

 

 

 

IELTS speaking and writing advice PPP

From the link below you can download a PPP I made recently at the State University of St Petersburg. It concerns the speaking, writing part 2 and writing part 1 (academic) parts of the exam

IELTS exam advice – Presentation

How can I motivate myself to learn a language?

STOP BEING LAZY!!! DISCIPLINE AND HARD WORK UNTIL YOU DIE.

Only joking. Discipline is good, but it may not be enough for most people. Even if you have discipline (and energy), you probably use a lot of it for work / study. But here are 2 magic words to help you keep learning English………..

develop habits

Trust me. I learnt Chinese this way. No discipline, I didn’t like the language, you could even say I hated it. Did I need Chinese? No, not in any way. I was very busy with my job and wife and kid. But by “developing habits” I learnt it. How can you develop habits? The 3 things below should help you…

 

1 – The magic formula. To develop a habit, you need to keep doing something. This formula will help predict if you will do / keep doing something….

 

the chances you will do / keep doing  something =  

motivating / +              (enjoyment  / interest)  X  (reward/relevance)

                             demotivating / –          (difficulty) X (time)

 

so, more enjoyment + more reward / less difficulty and less time = you’re likely to do it / keep doing it

Here’s an example (true for me) with coffee and tea, am I more likely to drink coffee or tea?…..

                          

coffee=  

  +        (I like the taste) X (it wakes me up)    

                                       –           (it’s easy to make and drink) X (it takes 7 minutes)

tea= 

+        (I like the taste) X (nothing)   

                                     –           (it’s easy to make and drink) X (it takes 7 minutes)

So I’m personally more likely to have a coffee than a tea. But if somebody feels that coffee is bad for them (=bad reward), then they are less likley to drink coffee. If somebody needs to walk 40 minutes to get a coffee and not 10 seconds to the kitchen, they are less likely to have a coffee.

For any language activity, you can ask yourself 4 questions to find out if you’ll keep doing it

  1. Do I like  it? / Is it interesting?
  2. Is it useful for my needs?
  3. Is it easy?
  4. Does it take not much time?

My Chinese example: flashcards. I loved flashcards, they were on my phone, I did them 5 minutes or 120 minutes a day (way more often 5 mins :)) , whatever I felt like. Somebody else had made them. If they were difficult I deleted them.

So I started with developing the habit of flashcards, this helped me get to know and like the Chinese characters (pictures), which then made it easier / more enjoyable to read adapted books, after I built up knowledge from adapted books it made it more enjoyable to listen to songs, then the same for podcasts, movies / television series, writing, and lastly speaking.

Some points…

  • If your answer is “yes” to all 4 questions in the formula, great news, 3 is ok, 2, maybe not so good, 1 not a good idea, 0, oops
  • “Do I like it?” is the most important for longer periods.
  • “Do I need it?” is good for shorter periods
  • If you can “fool” yourself into liking or needing more, please do so
  • “Is it easy” = no……. don’t worry, ask yourself “Can I make it easier?”  (you may need to change your mentality 🙁 )

Example 1: watch a movie with subtitles in your language  or English

Example 2: focus on the words you know, not ones you don’t

Example3: when speaking, you can make it easier by worrying less about mistakes

Example 4: read adapted books

  • “Will it take not much time?” = no, then ask yourself “Can I make it shorter?”

Example 1:  instead of watching a movie, watch a TV Series episode

Example 2: limit youtube video searches about topics to 4 minutes

Example 3: read only the first and last third of a long business article

Example 4: read short stories, not long novels

 

2 – Create the conditions: lots of things in English, all “close” to you

Sometimes you feel like listening to a podcast. If it is on your phone, and computer, and tablet, you will find it quickly = less time = more likely to do it.

But what if you can’t find the podcasts. Or if suddenly you feel like reading a short story and not a podcast? Or watching a film, or listening to a song, or … . Unfortunately, even if we like something, we do not always feel like doing it. But if you have lots of different things near you, then you can usually find something you feel like doing, and if it’s “near” you, you’ll actually start doing it. For example, on my phone I have Chinese songs, flashcards, podcasts, movies, TV series, books, poetry, cartoons. I can always find something I want to do.

Don’t forget to have earphones near your phone / tablet, so you can listen whenever, wherever you want

Also, is your phone, computer, e-mail, facebook etc all in English? Are all the books around you in English. Are you “making” people around you speak English? This last one is tricky, but by way of example, I’m teaching my daughter Chinese to give myself practice and get someone (in the future) who I can talk with in Chinese.

 

3 – Always ask yourself, how can I use English, how can I develop this use?

Too often people do develop good passive habits, like listening and reading, but not active ones (speaking and writing). Here are some active habits you can develop. Remember, don’t “push” yourself too much, instead, follow the points I made above. Start with something that you like more (even if not much), and find easy / won’ take too much time / is connected with your “needs”

  • send messages (sms, video or facebook etc) in English (choose a friend that wants to / doesn’t mind = more interesting)
  • talk with a friend / colleague / partner in English (start with “short” time periods at a time that you both feel like – e.g. for ten minutes at lunch)
  • make some videos (start a youtube channel, send your teacher skype videos)
  • start a blog / vlog in English (again, start with shorter posts / videos)
  • sign up at www.italki.com and write some posts
  • sign up at www.couchsurfing.org and meet tourists in your city
  • repeat phrases as you watch movies / listen to podcasts
  • sing along to songs
  • take notes in English
  • translate in your mind what other people say (again, do this for short periods when it is convenient)
  • talk to yourself / the walls in English
  • teach someone English
  • join a conversation club
  • read out loud

 

If you don’t like something, don’t feel like doing something, or don’t need something, always come back later and try again.

 

For further reading I recommend a site by a guy called “Katsumoto”, who learnt Japanese in 18 months. His site is here for more reading. Might be difficult though, as it is for native speakers.

Can reading books in English help improve my English?

“I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on the other.” – MacBeth(Act I, Scene VII).

Reading books in English will……

  1.  improve your ability to read in English
  2.  help you learn / remember words that you see in the books

BUT…..

if you read Shakespeare, like the line from MacBeth above, it is  probably going to be hard, have strange words, and will be language you won’t use for speaking……… so it’s not that useful for English, unless your priority / short-term goal is to read Shakespeare:)  If your priority is not just to improve reading of Shakespeare, but improve reading and even speaking, keep the following in mind

  • listening will help more with speaking than reading books

Children learn to speak without reading, because speaking is using combinations of sounds. If you listen you hear these combinations, it is easier for your brain to re-use them for speaking. If you’re not watching TV series, online videos or movies in English, think about developing this habit before developing the habit of reading books.

  • books about your “profession” are better for speaking about your profession

If you work and need to improve English for your work, then you need specific business English. Books that aren’t about your area will not have this specific English. So if your FIRST goal is to improve your specific business English, read books connected with this FIRST. When you’re happy with that, start with “general” books.

  • choose a book that is interesting

It can be a book for children, a detective, a silly book, a strange book, a normal book. Japanese manga even!!! It is important for you to find it interesting. The more interesting it is, the more often you read, and the more deeply things go into your mind.

  • develop a habit of reading for pleasure / enjoyment

One type of reading is “intensive”. This is when you want to understand all the details, so you need to know almost all the words. This is ok for short texts like articles, but not possible when you start reading books. With books, develop the habit of “reading quickly for the general idea” (extensive reading). I know it may be difficult at first, but the advice below should help……..

  • you can miss parts!

You do not need to understand every word! Be happy at first with the general idea. If you look up all the words you do not know, it will become annoying and you will stop. So try not to use a dictionary. If you do not understand a word, guess from the context. If you do not understand a sentence, keep reading the next one. If you do not understand a paragraph, keep reading the next one. Even a page, miss a page if you want!

If you go through 20 pages in 60 minutes, you will “see” a lot more English than if you go through 2 pages in 60 minuntes, even if you miss 20%-50%. Looking up words takes a lot of time!! !  If you see a word three times and are really interested, then use a dictionary. If you want to stop reading the book after 20 pages, stop. Choose another one that is easier / more interesting.  You can come back to the first book later.

The more you read in this way, the better you get at reading, the more vocabulary you see, the more vocabulary you learn, and, in the end….you will miss less and less

  • it can be difficult at first, keep it easy

If it’s difficult, it’s bad. Because you are less likely to do it. Even if you have motivation now, you’ll lose it. So, if you want difficult, read a short article in magazines or newspapers with a specific topic. But with books, the following are easier and therefore generally better

– shorter books(or with short chapters)

–  easier language (start with adapted books if you need to)

–  familiar stories (if you have an idea of what the book is about, if you’ve read it in your language, if you’ve seen a movie, or if you’ve read about “the first half of the book” on wikipedia, it will make it easier for you. If you haven’t, then think about reading a summary of the book on wikipedia [but not all] or watching a bit of the movie)

– more dialogue, less descriptions (dialogue is easier to follow)

– author with an easier style

– more modern authors (I recently looked at Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”. It had a lot of words I had never seen before, they were specific to that time, and place, not useful for now.)

– mini-dictionary at the back / at the bottom of the page can help, so can translation into your language on every second page. This is ok at first, but it does stop you increasing your ability to read quickly for the general idea.

 

Remember, focus on developing the habit by minimizing negatives (time, difficulty) and maximizing positives (interest, relevance)

 

 

 

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