Survival Kit for English Learners PART #2

This is the 2nd part of theSurvival Kitfor English Language Learners. Many students want to practice English, but it’s difficult for them to find someone willing to talk with them in English. There are several websites online where you can look for English speakers willing to talk with you and learn your language while helping you improving your English skills. Furthermore, there are WhatsApp groups. I will try to narrow them down to 5.

1. PALTALK

paltalk language exchange online speak English

You have to download it, but you don’t have to pay anything.

Once opened, it looks like this:

23-06-2016-11-08-37

As you can see, you can either create a new room or join one. For instance, by clicking “What’s hot” I’ve found a chat room called “English practice room for people around the world”, probably a useful one ;-). Paltalk is very easy to use.

What else … It’s possible to video chat, but it’s not mandatory. If you’re shy or you’re not up to a video chat, just turn off the webcam.

Link: http://www.paltalk.com/

2. ITALKI: Learn a Language Online

Italki Learn a Language Online.png

 Watch this video and see how it works:

On Italki you can find Native English Speakers willing to learn your language (the Language Exchange feature is free).

Language Exchange free Italki.png

On Italki, you can also read interesting articles, discuss with other people interesting topics, and with Notebook you can improve your writing skills:

23-06-2016-11-33-01

Link: https://www.italki.com/

3. MY LANGUAGE EXCHANGE

My Language Exchange.png

For example, I’ve looked for native English speakers who want to learn Italian. As you can see, there are more than 60000 people willing to speak English with me while learning Italian:

23-06-2016-11-51-02

Link: https://www.mylanguageexchange.com/

4. MY ENGLISH TEACHER

On this website, you can find people to practice English with (on Skype or on WhatsApp), useful tips and resources.

My English Teacher WhatsApp group and Skype

23-06-2016-12-03-51.png

Link for WhatsApp: http://www.myenglishteacher.eu/question/does-anybody-want-to-practice-english-on-whatsapp/

Link for Skype: http://www.myenglishteacher.eu/question/practice-english-on-skype-for-free/

5. BUSUU

This is probably one of the most famous Language Exchange Websites, not all the features are for free, but you can get corrections from native speakers, writing exercises, and flashcards for free.

Busuu.png

Link: https://www.busuu.com/

 

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Survival Kit for English Learners PART #1 Videos

Many students have recently asked me how to improve their English. That’s why I decided to create this “Survival kit”. 

In order to improve your listening skills, you should watch English movies and TV series. Unfortunately, for students that is often just frustrating (it causes feelings of anger and annoyance). For this reason, I suggest them to watch videos on VOA because they are made for English learners, so they are shorter and with subtitles.

For instance, this is one of VOA’s videos:


On YouTube, VOA features several playlists:

EIM: English in a Minute

Let’s Learn English

Everyday Grammar TV

News Words

American Stories

Health Report

Economics Report

Agriculture Report

I follow on Facebook and on YouTube AJ+. This is a global news community for the connected generation. They upload videos on different topics, some are very short but probably a bit more difficult to understand than VOA’s videos for learners because there aren’t subtitles on all of them. On Free English Materials For You, I shared some of AJ+ videos with vocabulary lists to make it possible for learners to understand them.

This is one of AJ+ videos:

Sometimes AJ+ collaborates with TED . The great thing about TED Talks is that often you can add subtitles in your native language. Then, it is often possible to download the transcripts.

This is one of TED Talks videos:
https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/lang/en/lisa_kristine_glimpses_of_modern_day_slavery.html

On TEDEd you can watch some short animated video with subtitles. You can then test your listening comprehension answering to some questions.

For example: 

If you want to learn grammar through videos, British Council‘s (Learn English Teens) website is one of the best.
They have a Grammar Videos section with downloadable transcripts and exercises:

British Council Grammar Teens.png

If you want to learn English grammar, idioms, vocabulary, slang expressions, etc. on YouTube from experienced native-speaker teachers, check EngVid . This is one of their videos:

New project: English for gamers

Hi guys! I have a new project and I hope you will like it. A few months ago I started working with Richard. He is a gamer and he already has a youtube channel (Richard Retro). Until now he has been “posting in Italian”, but he wants to “grow”. I don’t have a youtube channel yet, so I decided to collaborate with him. We both believe in learning by having fun and we do get along well. At the beginning, it was a bit weird for me since it was the first time. We haven’t posted anything yet, we will probably publish the intro on Monday.

From the show’s name (English for Gamers), you can understand a bit what we will be doing and talking about ;-). Richard will teach me how to play retro games (like Super Mario Bros, Street Fighters, etc.) and I will try to help him improving his English. I must tell you that he’s not so bad at speaking English (which is not so common for Italian people), but I didn’t know it before starting to film the episodes ahahhah. Speaking about me … I must recognise that I am really bad at playing these games. When I was a kid I was always playing with my brother and I was good at it, but I forgot everything :-(. Because of it, I think the show will be fun to watch :-). We will probably be posting the videos on Tuesday, then I will create some fill in the gaps exercises and vocabulary lists based on each episode.

I ask you guys to tell us what you think about the show (pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee) and if you have any suggestions for what game to play, share them with us. In this way, we will be able to improve. It’s something new for us, so you will see that we are a bit nervous in the intro and in the first episode (we kind of didn’t know each other before starting filming), I move a lot! ahhahaha By the way, the second one is better ;-). We are both from Italy but we come from different cities. Of course, you will hear our accents. Since we are playing games, we can’t cut the videos, so when we make mistakes there’s no way to hide them (lol). I am a teacher, that’s why this is particularly bad for me ahhahaha. You know … We film everything, then he does the editing part, after that I have to create something out of it to help people improving their English. And imagine … of course, while doing that I will realize that I pronounced something in a strange way or I made a strange facial expression. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen for sure grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. What can I say … Forgive me for my mistakes … I promise I will point them out ;-). I can tell you that I am sure you’ll laugh a lot, at least, it won’t be boring.

You can follow both of us on Instagram:
richard_retro
free_english_mfy

I must thank Sara (Richard’s girlfriend) for helping us with the project :-). She’s the one taking photos and filming everything, she’s amazing.

I’ll keep you updated 😉

Have a nice weekend!

Anna

 

 

iSLCollective

iSLCollective (Internet Second Language Collective) is a website where you can find useful resources. You must register in order to download the handouts, but it’s for free. For example, this is a poster on daily activities:

My day

Image source

This one is on action verbs:

action verbs

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This one is on Indirect/Reported Speech:

Reported speech1

Reported Speech 2

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On this website, you can also find this kind of printable handouts:

Worksheet on Past Simple vs Continuous Correct answers worksheet past simple vs continuous

Image source

As you can see, there are grammar rules for a quick review, then exercises with answer keys.

Elanguest YouTube Channel

Elanguest has a fantastic YouTube channel where you can find a variety of videos with subtitles.

For instance, this is a video on English vocabulary (topic: hotel). It is perfect for those who are willing to review their vocabulary before going on holidays abroad. In this video, you can read, see, and hear all the most common words related to this topic:

Another video that could come in handy is on shopping vocabulary:

Elanguest’s videos are not only related to English vocabulary. For example, this one is on Active and Passive forms and their uses in English (Grammar):

The topic of the following video is Present simple/continuous:

Learn English Through Stories

I found this channel on YouTube which I think could be extremely useful for beginners and intermediate students.
Besides, you have subtitles on each video which is great ;-).

This is a Level 1 video on London:

 

This is the channel’s link: Stories To Learn English

This is Beauty and the Beast (Level 1):

For more advanced English students, this is a Level 6 video. Pride and Prejudice:

Boost your vocabulary with translation in context

Some advice for you, before talking about translation in context and online corpus.
1. If you are learning English and you want to boost your vocabulary, I suggest that you write down every day all the new words you’ve learned. By doing so, it will be easier for you to quickly review all of them. If you don’t want to write them down, just use an online tool like Memrise (with this “tool” you can make quizzes with the words/sentences/expressions you want to learn) or Anki (if you want to make flashcards).
2. You should review every evening/morning all the words you’ve learned that day or the previous one. Then, on the weekend, you should review what you’ve learned during the week, and so on.

In my opinion, if you write only a list of terms, it won’t be possible for you to memorize them. You need to learn that term through context, with an example sentence. It’s way easier to remember a word meaning through context than by itself. Context is at the foundation of vocabulary acquisition.
Online there is a variety of free tools which you can use (ex. ReversoLinguee, or Glosbe). Remember that words rarely have just one meaning, so it will be frustrating for you to learn words from a list if you don’t write an example sentence for each one of them. What you need to do, if you haven’t done it yet, is to use words you want to learn in context. You need to write down the term and an example sentence.
It’s not just about remembering a word. You must be sure when you use a word that you are doing it right. Maybe you learned a word out of context and you are not sure about how and when to use it. In this case, translation in context would really help you. What you need to learn is how native people use the language; how they use the word you want to learn. It’s not just about grammar. You can say something that is grammatically correct, but are you sure that a native speaker would use the same term? Check it up! You need to learn which option is more common in speaking and which one is more common in writing. 

Practical examples:

REVERSO
Reverso_home_page
If you search “trunk” (English-Italian), this appears on your screen:

Trunk_-_Reverso_-_Eng-ItaLINGUEE (“trunk” English-French)
trunk_-_french_-_linguee

GLOSBE

Glosbe_homepageThis time, I chose the English-Spanish dictionary, and I looked for the term “home”:
home_-_spanish_-_glosbeGlosbe has also a picture dictionary:
glosbe_-_home
Scrolling down a little bit, you can find this:
Example_sentences_with_home_glosbe

For Intermediate students, another way to learn English terms is by using the online corpus.
BRITISH NATIONAL CORPUS
Home_page_British_National_Corpus
As you can see, I looked up the word “trunk” (once again 😉 ). This is what I found out about it with this tool:

Trunk_-_bnc.bl.ukAs you can see, I found a lot of example sentences. By clicking on the words written in blue, you can find out where the sentence is from.
bncI found out about British National Corpus here: CORPORA4LEARNING

www.corpora4learning.net

Selecting “British English”:

Brithish_English_-_corpora4learning.netOf course, in the same website you can choose another corpus, like the Corpus of Contemporary American English.
You are allowed to select a filter (ex. spoken/fiction/newspaper/academic) which is amazing if you need to know if a word is used in a particular context. If you search “home”:
Corpus_of_contemporary_AEWikipedia has an online corpus too: http://corpus.byu.edu/wiki/.

The_wikipedia_corpus_-_trunktrunk_-_2_-_tha_wikipedia_corpus