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Posts Tagged ‘learning English’

Your Biggest English Fear

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Learning is not only hard, it can be scary at times. A classroom full of other people can be intimidating, but once you start to take your language skills out in the real world, you run the risk of not saying the right thing and getting embarrassed in public.

There are other things that can go wrong too. This radio show starts with a story about a girl who is new to the US and is learning English. Her biggest fear is someone simply not understanding what she said and asking her to repeat herself. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s terrifying to her. See what happens when she confronts her fear.

What’s your biggest English fear?

Mad About English Student Archetypes

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

If you spend some time on English, baby! you start to notice some recurring types of characters among the users. We keep some of these archetypes in mind when we plan changes to the site and write lessons and we meet them in person when we travel. I just discovered a new documentary called Mad About English that does a wonderful job of capturing some different types of English students.

The film focuses on six Chinese people of different ages and occupations who are learning English. You can see them all in the preview and read a little bit about them on the film’s website.

What makes these people such good choices for subjects is that they are both archetypal and very unique. I bet almost every American who has traveled abroad has encountered someone who is very overeager to practice English, so the example of the older man who just randomly starts talking to strangers is familiar, but a particularly outrageous case. Same goes for the police officer with a New York accent. I can identify–I learned Spanish in the south of Spain, which would be kind of like coming to Texas to learn English.

Anyway, Mad About English seems to be gaining some momentum. According this article, it was the number one documentary in Singapore for 6 weeks and it just had its debut on the Discovery Channel.  It reminds me a lot of the videos we made in China in terms of content, but the look is very cinematic (as opposed to our more television-type style) and some of the shots are downright beautiful.

Happy Halloween Lessons!

Friday, October 31st, 2008

danny_grangers_batcaveThrow away whatever you have planned for today! Unless you have something Halloween-themed planned. You MUST take advantage of the holiday today and use it to introduce your students to a little bit of culture and fun!

Since it is such short notice, I am going to give you three good links to websites where you can download Halloween-themed worksheets and activities for free.

The first link is to ESL-Kids. You might not teach kids, but this website lets you create a worksheet, flashcards with pictures, word finds, bingo, board games and more. Just pick the Halloween vocabulary theme and select the exact words you want to use and print it out. Awesome!

The second handy Halloween resource is from English Raven. There you can find cards to play fun Halloween role-play activities and more word finds and flashcards.

The third website has reading activities that students can do online, but you could also modify and print them. In fact, the page has a lot of Halloween resources. Maybe because it is titled ESL and Halloween.

If you don’t have time to print out any of these handouts or games, consider handing out candy (a Halloween tradition) or doing something with scary stories. You could make one up as a class. You could read a scary story as a listening activity or students could write their own. No matter what you do today, don’t forget that it is a holiday…so have fun!

Best Comments: New Metaphors and Expressions

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Our members are so smart. OK, they’re not smart all the time, like when we added the “report member” button to weed out spammers and everyone pressed it like crazy for no reason, but a lot of the forum posts are really intelligent.

Learning a language forces you to be creative. I remember when I got good enough at Spanish to speak fluidly but I didn’t have the vocab to be very straight forward. So I’d come up with interesting ways to get across what I was trying to say. I think that’s what’s going on in this comment on another soap opera episode about online dating in which Marni discovers her new boyfriend may not be as great as she thought.

Unless taxi-as-relationship is a common cliche in Viet Nam, that’s pretty original. Another member may have coined a clever phrase this week on our lesson about the phrase “ugly duckling”.

I can’t find that expression anywhere with Google and, although it may be an unintentional misspelling, I like “notty” for the double meaning of “not” and “naughty”.

For another member, “ugly duckling” is about more than looks.

Maybe she can meet up with this dejected countryman of hers, who doesn’t include a photo clear enough to determine if his sulking is justified.

As interesting as all that is, we’ll wrap things up with another common mistake on the site. A lot of times people mistake one of the English lessons for a member profile and comment on it like this:

So that wouldn’t be so strange…if it weren’t on our lesson about Alvin and the Chipmunks!

Until next time, stay beautiful like an animated rodent.