Real Language Learning Advice, from Real Learners
To show my love today, I wanted to share some extra special resources that will help you take your English skills to the next level! Sharing is caring after all, so this post is dedicated to all of you. I’ve reached out to some learners and asked them to share their favorite resources for studying, practicing English, and reviewing skills. I got some great feedback, and even learned about some new apps and sites! YES!
The first part of this post features an exclusive interview with a learner that has really utilized his hard work to take him quite far in life (many different countries far). He has shared some useful tips and advice that I hope come in handy for you. Following the interview are lists of apps, websites, and tips from learners I’ve connected with via social media. Not connected with me via social media, yet? Well…what are you waiting for?! Find me: JenESL760.
Now, let’s get on with it….
Meet: JooSung Park. I had the pleasure of teaching him in 2013 (too long ago, if you ask me!) but we have stayed in touch and now he is studying in Vancouver, Canada. Apart from using his English for travel and business trips, Canada is now the second English speaking country he has lived in, currently studying at a university level, so he must be doing something right with his studying! As his [past] teacher, I can proudly say he has always been dedicated to the language, and worked hard to improve, which is why I wanted to include his learning expertise for you. Below are the questions and answers from Park:
1. Why have you been learning English?
I am interested in learning languages and a main reason why I have been learning English is for diverse experiences abroad and to get a job with English.
2. What resources do you often use to improve/practice:
-reading skills: Read books (currently reading an autobiography by Hilary Clinton) and articles on web sites (CNN & New York Times).
-listening skills: Try to watch videos on Youtube (DNews, Ted, Big Think) or shows (Family Guy, Modern Family) without subtitles.
-writing skills: Copy articles or sentences and write by myself to get it checked from native speakers.
-grammar skills: Study with grammar books, I mean the books for only grammar.
-vocabulary skills: The same way with reading. While reading a book or article, I look up words I do not know.
-speaking & conversation skills: I try to make opportunities to speak English as much as I can and I repeat and copy what I heard from TV shows or videos. Do not afraid when you try to make conversation with others, even native speakers, and do not be shy.
3. What is the best piece of advice I could give someone just starting to learn English
My advice is to make [do] something you can have interests, such as TV shows or books. And just visit countries where they speak English as a mother tongue. It could be a motivation for you to decide to learn English harder than before.
Recap: read some news articles, or an interesting book, check out DNews, Ted, Big Think on Youtube, grab a grammar book, copy articles and connect with some English learners and share your writing & practice conversational skills.
In addition to Park’s recommendations, some other learners have suggested these:
Anna from Russia
– DuoLingo and LinguaLeo (which has 5 stars! Although not yet available in all languages).
-Quotes (especially smart & motivational ones), and entertaining videos to help auditory learners, and finally Word of the Days! I recommend my Words of the Weekend, or English Learner’s Dictionary Word of the Day.
Native English speaker Ryan Jarvis suggests to look at CliffsNotes if you need some help with books while studying.
Arwa from Saudi Arabia
-using yellow PostIt notes to write down new vocabulary and stick them around the house. I think this is GREAT, because you’ll consistently see the words, think about them, use them, and will lead to better memorization!
Luiz and Ingrid from Brazil love music!
-you can learn how to sing(speak) by reading the lyrics
-you can also practice writing & listening, by writing down what you hear. Double check your accuracy by reading the lyrics, and take the opportunity to improve your vocabulary too! Want to practice pronunciation, then sing along. And don’t forget to “shake your booty” to make it that much more fun!
Jian Sun from China introduced me to Umano
-Practice listening, pronunciation, and learn new vocabulary while hearing some content that is interesting to you! You can also find the original source to practice reading!
*UPDATE: Umano is no longer available. An updated recommendation is: StoryCorps
Mayra from Brazil, also an English Teacher and translator
-conversations and reading! She likes speaking to people who can talk in English, and reading everything written in the language, e.g. books, magazines, articles, and even silly stuff as celebrity news. And I do it not only to learn, but also to practice the language.
Majed from Saudi Arabia
-Another recommendation to talk with English speakers! Next step for him, listening to the radio daily, talking on the phone (ordering pizza 🙂 ), and using movies! Use movies for reading/writing by using the subtitles, acting like the people so you can get the feeling and perfect speech to get the right ways for pronunciation.
Yupa‘s favorite site is: http://www.manythings.org/elllo/
She can practice and improve her English, by listening and reading at the same time!
Fellow English Teachers, Really Learn English recommend their site for learning: http://www.really-learn-english.com/ There are so many fabulous ways to learn there!
Additionally, Really Learn English and I both recommend Grammarly:
If you haven’t seen/heard of this app before, get to the site now. It is “a proofreading web application that finds and explains in-depth grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.” Simply put, it’s a grammar checker.
Yes, that’s right…an app/teacher in one! Check out their site, the app, and this informative infographic highlighting some research they did on what impact writing skills have on career opportunities.
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