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Text and Message Like a Native

POSTED ON August 6th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

These days, most communication comes via technology and social media. This means a lot of texting and messaging!

Just like what probably happens in your own language, when sending messages in English, there are lots of slang and shortened ways of saying what you mean. Here you will learn the most common of these. That way, you can recognize them when they are written to you, and you can use them yourself.

Shortened Words

Why waste time typing things all the way out when you can do “short-hand”? Here are the most common:

You = u Ex. Do u want to go to the movies with me?

Are = r Ex. What r u up to?

Later = l8r Ex. See you l8r!

Words that end in ing, drop the g – doin, goin, thinkin, etc. Ex. What r u doin?

Spoken Transfers

 When we send informal messages, we often write how we would speak. This applies to things like “wanna” and “gonna”. Ex. What do u wanna do l8r?

Acronyms

Acronyms are by far the largest category when it comes to texting like a native speaker. There are a ton, but knowing a handful most commonly used ones will be just fine.

ILY – I love you

IDK – I don’t know

ASAP – As soon as possible

IDC – I don’t care

LOL – Laugh out loud

JK – Just kidding

RN – Right now

NVM – Never mind

Grammar Rules Need Not Apply

In messages, you’ll see no apostrophes, no periods, no capitals, and many more things that you have learned you “always” need when communicating through writing. Messaging is completely different! Of course, you are welcome to write correctly, but don’t expect others too! You’ll get the hang of it but just observing and reading texts from your English speaking friends online.

About the Author

Yvette Smith has been an educator for the past six years. Her speciality is ESL and has taught students of all ages in China, Mexico, and Vietnam.

 

5 Apps That Will Improve Your English

POSTED ON July 23rd  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Apps are one of the best ways to help you on your journey of learning English. They are convenient because you can use them on your cell phone, which is something that you always carry with you. Apps are also a lot of fun as many of them are designed like games. Check out these 5 that come highly recommended:

Duolingo

Duolingo has always been a favourite. It’s simple to use and keeps you motivated to learn by being fun and actively tracking your progress. It works on all four skills in a way that makes you feel like you are playing a game. This app is for beginners and intermediate level learners.

British Council- Learning English

British Council has a quite a few different learning apps, so have a look to see which one is best for you. These range from apps with videos about England’s culture to learning US grammar.

Quizlet

Quizlet is a popular website that is also an app. You can use flashcards that have already been made by someone else to practice your English skills. There are different flashcard games you can play. If you upgrade, you can have access offline.

Memrise

Like Quizlet, Memrise also uses flashcards, but they make it more fun. Memrise helps you to actively and easily remember new words and phrases. It features videos with native speakers so you can also see language in action.

TED

TED isn’t made for English language learners, but if your English level is upper intermediate to advanced, TED is for you. You may already be familiar with TED talks, which are short presentations on any topic, in your own language. Why not listen in English? You’ll probably learn something new and improve your listening skills. TED also had TED-Ed, where the videos are set up as comprehension lessons, which is also a

About the Author

Yvette Smith has been an educator for the past six years. Her speciality is ESL and has taught students of all ages in China, Mexico, and Vietnam.

 

The Best Way to Learn is to Teach

POSTED ON July 9th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

There is a quote that says, “If you want to master something, teach it.” Learning is great. By now you know a lot about how to learn and different ways and things you can do to help you remember English. Here’s one more: teach it.

Don’t for a second think you aren’t good enough. Here are some ways you can teach what you know in order to truly master it:

  • If you understand something, actively help your classmates in class.
  • Find someone younger than you/at a lower level than you and teach them something they don’t know or correct them.
  • Join a speaking club and give suggestions to your speaking partners.
  • Join an online learning English page or group and share your knowledge by commenting frequently.
  • Tell a friend who is also learning English about a new phrase you learned and how to use it.

It only makes sense that you will work harder to understand and be more aware of the material you are teaching, whether you know it or not. You will be forced to really dig into the “why” behind whatever you are teaching and use it yourself until it becomes completely natural.

What’s more, you will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you see your “students” succeed, even if it is something as simple as using a new word you showed them. Become a teacher in your own way and don’t be afraid to do it. It only brings benefit to both you and the person you are helping.

Are you looking for more learning tips? Make sure to visit our Language Learning Tips blog. Or are you a teacher? Check out our teaching tips here.

About the Author

Yvette Smith has been an educator for the past six years. Her speciality is ESL and has taught students of all ages in China, Mexico, and Vietnam.

 

Language Ego: What It Is And What To Do With It

POSTED ON June 25th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

“Language Ego is the identity a person develops in reference to the language he or she speaks.” – Alexander Guiora

For students who learn English as a second language, learning how to communicate is essential. However, that is not an easy task for everyone. Many students do not have the confidence to use the language orally and feel stressed whenever they need to produce it.

In the scientific and professional literature on the acquisition of foreign languages, the term ego can be found. When we learn a foreign language and when we use it in oral or written form, we are in some way transformed into another person. Why? Well, because our knowledge of a foreign language limits us, and in communication, we can not express ourselves with the same ease as we would if we were speaking in our mother tongue. Consequently, we cannot be equally witty, ironic or eloquent, so we often feel bad. That is not us in our full glory. Therefore, you should invent a new self!

When I meet my students for the first time and when we introduce ourselves, I suggest my pupils make up a new name for themselves. It can simply be an English variant of their name – for example, my name is Milica so the closest possible variant, and the one that would be the most similar in terms of pronunciation, is Melissa. However, I could also be Miley or Mila, even Miranda. And that’s the point – to take and embrace the name you like. Maybe it sounds funny or exaggerated but try it. If you cannot come up with a name for yourself, ask your teacher for help. Believe me, when you say this name several times, you will feel closer to that language and culture, which can be very motivating.

Want to get more useful learning tips? Visit our Language Learning Tips blog. And if you’re an educator, we have some great teaching resources here.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

 

How to Learn Useful Phrases

POSTED ON June 4th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

In English, there is a large number of fixed phrases and expressions that are sometimes not easy to understand, but they are very useful, even necessary. These phrases are a part of the cultural heritage of a nation, present in the speech of most people in one region and they are often not a part of the lexical fund of a language.

Applicable phrases are those expressions or whole sentences that sound natural, and you can use them in a variety of situations. I will give one example – the phrase “That sounds good.” We can use this sentence when we decide to which café we want to go, which movie to watch, when a friend tells us about a new job,  or someone invites us to dinner and says what they will prepare for us.

Often overlooked is the fact that a rich vocabulary consists of using individual words and full phrases. These phrases are especially important to English learners who start later in life. Older students devotedly practice grammar and try to remember independent, singled out words, but in communication, they constantly get shut down because they lack natural expressions. In contrast, those who have learned English through cartoons, computer games, movies and music, know and use these phrases, which makes others feel like the speaker is advanced when, in fact, students who learn like this often struggle with grammar. By saying this, I am not trying to say one method is better than the other. Moreover, both types of students have their advantages and disadvantages. Successful learning is when you take those advantage of and minimize the imperfections.

Now, instead of trying to translate this expression in your head and lose valuable time trying to decipher each of its parts, focus on the sentence in its entirety – say it out loud as a whole a couple of times and I guarantee it will be easier for you to remember it this way.

There is a lot of these phrases and they are all around you – in the texts you read in a textbook, even in language exercises for grammar and vocabulary, and, of course, when talking to those who know more than you. It does not only have to be a teacher, but also some of the students from your class. You just need to be open to the idea that the language is all around you and it is waiting for you to casually pick up useful little things one at a time. And of course, you cannot immediately learn them all – one to two phrases a week, or even a month, is quite enough.

They will also help you to learn to translate less frequently and they will also strengthen your language ego – you will feel better and more successful in communication.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

 

Mental Translation And Why You Shouldn’t Do It

POSTED ON May 21st  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Mental Translation is reprocessing words, phrases or sentences from the language you are trying to acquire into your native language.

When learning a foreign language such as English, students tend to get into their own heads too much and try and translate every sentence, usually word for word.

Do not translate! If you want to do one good thing for yourself as a language learner, then try your best not to translate sentences from your mother tongue to English in your head while talking to someone. Why? There are many reasons.

Firstly, you are constantly encountering barriers and thinking to yourself how much “you do not know”. You make pauses every now and then to look up a word, ask your teacher for help or check the dictionary for that one expression that you will use once, and almost certainly forget later. Secondly, translation is a skill that you probably haven’t quite mastered. Chances are high that your mother tongue and English are not mirror languages, so one word or phrase in your native language will not have a direct and absolute pair in English.

The best thing you can do, when you are in class or in a situation that requires communication, is to try and use the things you have learned and that you know as correctly and as accurately as possible. Look at it this way – learning a language is like building a house in the old times. You have to do everything yourself, from floor to ceiling, from door to bed, which requires effort and time.

Mental translation is like constantly attempting to do work from your home despite the fact you do not have the right conditions, and when you are looking for help for that translation all of the time, it is like you are persistently borrowing things from your neighbour. You borrow a tool to do some repairs, then bring it back and then borrow it again in five minutes, and this can go on indefinitely. In time, you will have everything you need in the house, but by then it’s far more desirable to use what you already have and to work even harder on making a new one. This is not an easy road, but in the end, you will are left with a fully-functional house.

Click here for more language learning tips. Are you a teacher? Then check out our Teaching Tips.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

 

 

4 Things to Remember When Writing an Email

POSTED ON May 14th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Writing emails is one of the biggest parts of communication in the business world. They are the easiest way to send updates, keep in contact, and have a record of what has happened. If writing emails is a frequent occurrence for you, then keep checking these four things before pressing send!

1. Clear, short, and straightforward subject line.

Good examples: Summary of Meeting with XYZ Suppliers

                            Dress Code Memo

                            Quarter 1 Results

                            Quick Question…

Bad examples: Hello!

                          Meeting

                          There was a drop in sales this quarter

                          Holiday Dates Have Been Updated To New Ones

2. Who is your reader?

Who your reader is or who your readers are is very important to consider. Do you make the language in the email formal or informal, direct or indirect? Can the email be brief or should it be more detailed? Are they employees or colleagues? If you have had a long working relationship with the recipient, you can do a combination of both tones.

3. Check your spelling and grammar carefully.

Don’t just write, scan over, and press send. Take the time to really look at your email and catch small mistakes such as punctuation and incorrect conjugations. Depending on who your reader is, some minor errors may be okay, but sometimes it may appear unprofessional.

Bonus tip: After you send

4. Get feedback.

Depending on your workplace environment, it might not be the best place to get feedback on the English part of your email. If you do have someone you can talk to at work about it, then great! Otherwise, show your emails to a teacher or someone with a good level of English so you can note where you could have improved and do even better next time!

About the Author

Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.

Self-Study from Textbooks

POSTED ON April 30th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Most people think textbooks are boring. They can be. Generally, textbooks are only used in classrooms but why not use them for self-study?

The best way to use textbooks on your own:

  • For new vocabulary

Make a note of new vocabulary words and do the exercises for them. Try to use one or two of the words in your next conversation or email.

  • For reading

Textbooks provide great reading samples that incorporate the vocabulary and give you practice reading in English that is geared for both business and your level.

  • For writing

Do the writing exercises. It’s okay that you don’t have anyone there to correct it. You know the saying: practice makes perfect.

  • For listening

Your textbook should have the audio script in the back of the book for you to follow along and check your answers. Try listening once with no script, again with the script, and again without to get the most benefit from each track.

  • For speaking

Speaking is the hardest to self-study from a textbook because you often need a partner. One alternative is to record your part into your phone and play it back to yourself.

Textbooks are full of material and make for an excellent learning tool and resource. Consider investing in the purchase. There are many different books, but some good ones are Market Leader and InCompany. Order a level lower than what you are because they are so content dense. For example, if you consider yourself to be advanced, order the upper intermediate. All in all, there’s no reason why textbooks only can be used with a teacher!

Looking for more learning tips? Visit our Language Learning Tips blog. Or for something different, check out Shane English School on YouTube.

About the Author

Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.

How To Increase Confidence When Presenting

POSTED ON April 16th  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Giving an oral report or a presentation can be stressful. It’s even more stressful when you need to give it in a language that you aren’t 100% comfortable with. Here are some tips to help you with your formal business English and your confidence when speaking in front of an audience.

Know and practice the transition words you will use.

Transition words and phrases will make you talk smooth and structured. In turn, you feel more comfortable. You can always use one of them at any time if you become unfocused or lose your train of thought. They will help steer you in the right direction again.

  • Here are some good ones:
  • Consequently, …
  • As you can see, …
  • Because of this, …
  • Therefore, …
  • I’d like to move on to …
  • Let’s now discuss …
  • It’s also important to note …
  • To recap, …
  • Additionally, …
  • So …
  • Another key point/idea is …

There are many more of these, but just choose a few to practice so you can use them to make your presentation more professional and increase your overall confidence.

Have a clear and obvious ending statement.

This one is simple. The best way to feel you have given a solid presentation is to end well. Think of and memorize the last two or three sentences of your speech. This way, at the end you won’t leave with an awkward, ‘That’s all.’ Have the last thing you say be a clear closure so that your audience isn’t unsure if you are done.

Keep an index card for notes.

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t have an index card or paper in your hand as you speak. Do not be embarrassed about it if no one else is doing it or has done it. It will provide support and make your talk better. Make some simple notes to remind you what you want to say. Just remember not to read and make eye contact! The point of this is for support only.

Know that it won’t be perfect.

Even native speakers of English have a hard time with speaking in front of other people. It is challenging. If you go in knowing that it won’t be perfect, then it should help you to relax. Just try your best (by practising beforehand!) and once it is over, it’s over. Move on and know you’ll do even better next time!

About the Author

Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.

Top Tips for Studying English When You’re Tired

POSTED ON April 2nd  - POSTED IN Language Learning Tips

Perhaps you’ve got a full-time job and study English as a hobby, or you’re a student with a million-and-one things to do and don’t know when you’re going to fit in your study time. If you’re struggling to find the energy to keep up your English studies, read our top tips.

1. Take Care of Yourself First

Before English needs, check your human needs. Are you thirsty? Hungry? Do you need a shower? Take a few minutes to refresh yourself in these basic ways and you’ll be sure to have more energy when it comes to studying.

2. Set the Right Goals

Set yourself small goals. If you know you need to do 30 minutes of study but the goal seems impossible, set the timer for just 10 minutes. After that, do another ten. And another. Breaking up your study into more manageable chunks will make it easier to finish.

3. Location, Location, Location

Find a good place to study. If you’ve got laundry all over your bed and dishes piling up on the table, it won’t make for a good environment for studying. A clear working space is crucial for effective working space. Go sit in a cafe or public library, or ask a tidy friend if you can use their study for a while.

4. Every Little Bit Counts

If you literally don’t have the time to open your hefty textbook, don’t give up on English altogether just because you’re too busy this week. Switch some of your daily tasks to include a bit of language practice. Write your weekly shopping list in English instead of your native tongue. Listen to English songs or audiobooks as you walk to work. If you’re reading a recipe, translate it into English in your head as you go. There are countless opportunities to practice English if you think creatively.

About the Author

Celia Jenkins is a TEFL teacher and freelance writer living in the UK. She spent five years teaching English in China and Japan and now teaches Skype lessons to students around the world. She writes pedagogical articles, travel guides, and stories for children.