The best place to learn English is in an English-speaking country because you are exposed to English a lot and have the chance to use it. You get practice listening in the classroom, and extra practice outside the classroom. In the 21st century you can expose yourself to lots of English in your own country. Everybody knows about it, but not many actually do it. Below are 5 steps to help you “achieve” this.
1 –get hold of a variety of things to listen to in English. This way you can listen to what you feel like listening to at a particular moment. We spend hours of time “making” ourselves do things when working or studying at university / school . So listening to English should be a pleasure, and not I DON’T WANT TO LISTEN TO THIS NOW BUT I MUST DO IT TO LEARN ENGLISH painmentality. You’re not lazy, you just don’t want more pain than you already have. When choosing think about these guidelines:
a – the more interesting the better: If you like it you will do it. “English for pleasure not pain”
b – the more relevant to your needs the better: If you feel it is useful you will do it. E.g. if you want to improve your speaking with other people, listening to people speaking to other people is more relevant than listening to the news. If you want learn about motivation, then you need lots of motivation speeches.
c – the shorter the better: If the listening is 1-2 minutes, you can listen more times in 5 minutes = easier. If it is only 5 minutes of listening it is also easier to “find time”. People often complain “I don’t have enough time.” This is true if we need to find 60 minutes of complete focus on nothing but English, but we can all find 5 minutes somewhere in the day! If we find 5 minutes 3 times a day, that’s an extra15 minutes per day, an extra 30 hours per year.
d – the easier the better: If it is easy, it does not take as much energy = you will want to do it more. Of course, if it is “too easy” / “this is so easy it is wasting my time”, then it is not interesting. So “Easy” but you still feel positive about it. * Easy can be because it is slower, or does not have a lot of new words, or, for example, a movie with subtitles in your language. One example of “Easy” is a movie with subtitles in your language.
these are guidelines to think about. They are not 100% rules that ALL have to be followed with EVERYTHING. Something may be long and difficult, but it is really interesting and relevant, so that’s fine. Use common sense and how you feel. And remember, the types of things you feel like listening to can change with time or mood!
Examples of a variety of things are: podcasts with short dialogues, songs, TV series, movies, songs, news apps, English learning podcasts, audiobooks, audio fairytales, different youtube channels…
2 –Create “Easy – start” conditions: At the university where I teach, there are lots of machines selling Coca-Cola. If I want a Coke, it’s only a few minutes’ walk away wherever I am in the university. It’s easy to get a coke. Do the same with your listening. Make it easy to start. Put this “variety of listenings” on all your devices (phones, tablets, computers). Buy two / three earphones for listening. If you want, buy an mp3 player and put it with earphones in the pocket of a jacket you often wear. When I was doing this in Chinese, I had 3 mp3 players with their own ear-phones in three different jackets.
3 – Plan your “places of practice” : Below is a table with my “plan” for the next month of “where” I will listen to Chinese / Arabic. Under the table are some more examples of situations:
Place / action
Listening type *
At the computer typing low-focus e-mails / blog entries
5 – 120 minutes
Low-focus only *
When I feel like it
Doing the dishes
15 minutes morning / evening
Both low-focus and high-focus*
Walking to the station
When I feel like it
Walking from the station to university
Washing the floors
When I feel like it
Skiing / running
When I feel like it
When I feel like it
Listening type *
This is really important to think about.
* High-focus listening = you feel the need to focus all your attention on the listening. Often this can be a movie you haven’t seen, or a podcast that you will only listen to once. If you are doing some mental work or may be distracted by other people, then you can’t do high-focus listening.
* Low-focus listening = you can listen for a bit, then stop listening while looking at something else, then come back to listening. For example, as I type this I am listening to a Chinese TV series that I have already watched. If I focus more on my work, I stop listening, but when I focus less on my work, I hear more “bits” of the film. Because I have already watched the TV series, it doesn’t matter that I missed bits of it.
Other “Places of practice”
working out at the gym / sitting in the train / bus on the way to work / walking my dog /putting on make-up / waiting in a queue in a shop, cafe, post office / ironing the clothes etc
4 – each day keep a record of the approximate amount of time you spent listening when doing something. At the end of the week look at
how many minutes you did
where you did the listening
why you didn’t do it where you thought you would
then re-write your table.
After a few weeks you will be listening a lot more.
6 – copy into one document the more “interesting points” on positives and negatives.
7 – highlight collocations / phrases that you would like to activate (either in this essay or another)
8 – Plan your essay:
Read the statement / questions again
Some people say that children’s use of social networks, due to the negative effects, should be restricted at home and banned at school.
To what extent do you agree?
Do you need to discuss both sides?
Do you need to talk about both advantages and disadvantages?
As always, you just need to answer the question. In this case it is “To what extent do you agree?” So you just need to say…
fully agree / mostly agree/ generally agree / partially agreee/ fully disagree / disagree with some exceptions etc…
Naturally in your essay you will have to talk about the negatives. If you completely agree, then you won’t need to talk about positives very much, if you fully disagree, then you will need to show why common negatives are wrong, while also showing the positive sides to a greater extent.
Before reading the following article from CBCnews guess your answer to the question below, then read to see if you were right:
What are the reasons for the jump in the amount of homeless people in Vancouver?
What does the local government plan to do?
Homeless count finds housing affordability crisis driving numbers up
Half of people surveyed said lack of income and lack of affordable housing main reason for plight
Housing costs and a lack of income are driving up the numbers of Lower Mainland homeless, 22 per cent of whom were employed full or part-time, according to the latest count conducted by Metro Vancouver.
The report issued Tuesday said the takeaway from this year’s homeless count is the need for more affordable housing.
“In order to stem growing homelessness, it is clear we need more affordable housing options,” Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay, the chair of the region’s housing committee, said in a statement.
More seniors, fewer youths
About half the people surveyed had lived in the region 10 years or more before becoming homeless.
Vancouver, Surrey and Langley were the three cities with the most homeless people.
The report found 82 per cent of those surveyed had at least one health condition.
Aboriginal homelessness ‘troubling’
A finding 34 per cent of the homeless people surveyed were Aboriginal, an increase of 28 per cent from 2014, was called “troubling” by the authors of a separate report released Monday.
Aboriginal people only account for 2.5 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s total population.
“The enduring effects of colonization, the legacy of the residential school system and the impact of child welfare and the foster care system continue to impact the daily experience of many Aboriginal Peoples and families and directly contribute to the high incidence of Aboriginal homelessness,” the report read.
“The bottom line shows that Aboriginal peoples are 18 times more likely to be homeless in Metro Vancouver than the mainstream population.”
Read through the article again
highlight 4-6 points of interest. In those points, underline some key collocations.
re-tell in class the key points of interest for discussion
Read through the next article, from the Dail Telegraph (Australia), guess as many options as you can for the missing words
Homelessness is an increasingly 1)________problem in Sydney, especially in the inner city where it’s hard to miss the growing number of beggars, rough sleepers and people doing it tough on the streets. It’s a confronting, distressing sight.
Most of us are guilty at some stage of turning a blind eye to this suffering, writing it 2)______as a hopeless affair that can’t be solved. But that is simply not true. Sure, there is no magic 3)_______to solve homelessness, it’s a complex issue with complex causes, but there is one fundamental issue helping to perpetuate the cycle: a lack of affordable housing.
For decades, Australia has failed to meet the housing needs of our lowest income residents and nowhere is that more obvious than in Sydney. Housing affordability is at an all-time low and rents are skyrocketing, 4)_________more low and middle income earners at risk of homelessness than ever before. A single person on minimum wage can now pay up to 68 per cent of their income to rent a one-bedroom flat. Low income households earning $500 a week can pay up to 85 per cent of their income on rent. Many households are 5)___________just one unexpected expense away from disaster.
“In order to 6)___________homelessness we really need to have some affordable housing,” Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan says. “Crisis services are experiencing 7)__________demand but there’s simply nowhere to refer people into long-term accommodation.
“So there’s blockages occurring, which is why there’s an increase in rough sleeping because people simply aren’t able to access services.”
There’s nothing humane about sleeping on the street, it is never, ever a choice. Community attitudes, however, tend to 8)________some blame on the person experiencing it. A public perception survey by Homelessness Australia in 2014 found most people believed bad decision making, mental illness and substance abuse were the major causes of homelessness. The reality was that housing affordability, financial difficulties and family violence were much 9)_______drivers.
While the NSW Government has invested $22 million in additional private rental subsidies to provide access to housing for young people, women and children escaping violence, it doesn’t address 10)______________ issues like rental market affordability. It won’t address the 11)___________social housing waiting list nor the current high demand for homelessness services. And ultimately it boosts the coffers of private rental landlords rather than addressing the 11)___________issues contributing 12)_____high rents in Sydney, and the lack of affordable housing in general.
There is 13)__________evidence that a ‘housing first approach’ can reduce the risk and break the cycle of homelessness. That’s because when people have a roof over their heads with adequate support services, they’re more likely to get their life back on track.
“If you provide long-term accommodation with support, people will stay housed, they won’t fall back into homelessness,” McKernan says.
A Sydney housing forum was told last week that another 100,000 affordable homes must be made available in NSW over the next two decades to reduce housing stress and the risk of homelessness. That means 14)__________policies such as inclusionary zoning to ensure a percentage of new developments are affordable housing. That means developing innovative financial models to support more affordable housing.
An increase of supply won’t solve all of Sydney’s housing 15)_______but it will have a significant impact.
All it requires is the political will to create a city where everyone has access to housing, where everyone counts.
Click on the link here to find the answers, I also recommend reading the comments to the side of the article