Monthly Archives: July 2011

How To Improve Spoken English, Part 3- Get Your Grammar Going!

how to speak English fluently 3

Hey guys!

So we are up to part 3 of “How To Improve Spoken English”. Today I’m going to tell you how important it is to work hard on your grammar, even if you don’t think it’s easy. If you think of a language as a house, the bricks are your vocabulary. You have to have the bricks, so learning vocabulary is important. But so many students make the mistake of only focusing on vocabulary. Learning vocabulary is pretty simple, after all. You just have to look at a list of words and get them into your brain. You don’t have to do much actual thinking or understanding. But the trouble is, if you just focus on vocab, you are building a house with no mortar. How can the bricks stick together? You have to learn grammar, as well.

But I hate grammar! How can I improve my English without having to learn grammar? The thing is, grammar doesn’t need to be hard. The mistake people make is trying to learn grammar rules. You know what? When I was at school in England, we never studied grammar. I was never ever taught English grammar. Really. So how come I can speak English? Because I was able to hear English grammar in use, and then rebuild sentences to my liking.

How to Improve Spoken English Without Studying Grammar

Let me give you an example. When I was a child, I heard this sentence: “You can eat your lunch in the classroom.” Now, I heard this sentence lots of times, so I knew this was correct English. But what I also had was a blueprint, a plan, for a great English sentence. I could take the different bits of this sentence and change them, so long as I kept the same framework. Look again at the sentence: “You can eat your lunch in the classroom.” What you have there is perfect English. Don’t worry about which part is a verb, or what type of verb it is, or what each part of the sentence is called. Who cares? When I talk to my friends, do we discuss which type of verb we are using? No, of course not. You don’t need to know. All you need to know is a framework for a sentence. Because I know it’s a perfect English sentence, I can change bits but still be speaking perfect English.

Let’s change it little by little:
“You can eat your lunch in the classroom.”
“You cannot eat your lunch in the classroom.”
“You cannot eat my lunch in the classroom.”
“You cannot use my iPod in the classroom.”
“You cannot use my iPod in the bathroom.”
She cannot use my iPod in the bathroom.”
“She cannot use my iPod outside the bathroom.”
“She cannot use my iPod outside this bathroom.”

Ok, so the sentences are kind of funny. But they are all perfect spoken English sentences. Just by having one sentence as a framework for a proper sentence, I can make thousands of sentences. When I taught in Korea, my students would say things like, “Teacher, book, house.” What they were trying to tell me was of course, “Teacher, I left my book at home.” But because of the way they had been taught English, that is, learning vocabulary without ever using it in sentences, they were unable to construct even the simplest of English sentences. Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t be afraid of grammar, it is actually easier than you think, and can in fact be a lot of fun. Just get the framework you need by memorising some perfect sentences, and then change the different bits of the sentence to fit your needs.

If you found these tips useful, please share on Facebook or Twitter. And please leave a comment below!

How To Improve Spoken English, Part 2- Say What You’re Thinking

how to speak English fluently 2

Hey guys!

In the last post we looked at how to improve spoken English by watching TV and movies. Now let’s look at a totally different idea.

How To Improve Spoken English, Part 2- Say What You’re Thinking

How can I improve my English? One of the biggest problems with language learning is that students tend to try and learn a word/expression/grammar point etc. just once, and then they expect it to be there for them whenever they need to remember it. As we know from watching children, words and phrases only become natural and easy when we use them all the time. So we need to approach English the same way as we did our first language.

How to speak in English every day: It is difficult to get English practice if you are not surrounded by English speakers. Well, I have a great tip for you. Start thinking about what you are doing, but do it in English. So, when you wake up in the morning, think to yourself in English:

“I need to get out of bed.”
“I need to brush my teeth.”
“I am going to eat cereal for breakfast.”
“I have to go to work.”
“I will take the subway to my office.”

Do this throughout your day. Keep thinking in English. And say it out loud! Don’t worry about people thinking you are crazy. Just keep talking in English. The more you say, the more you practise, and the easier it will be.

How to speak English fluently

Of course, there might be a problem. What if you don’t know the right expression? What if you don’t know how to describe what you are doing in English? Well, find out the right way! There are so many English resources on the web which can put you in touch with native English speakers. In fact, feel free to send me an email if you want me to correct or check an expression for you. And once you know the right expression, start saying it again and again and again, every day. Pretty soon it will become so eay to use that expression that you won’t even need to think about it.

I know this technique works as I used it when I was learning Korean. Everywhere I went, I said to myself what I was doing, and this made the words so well memorised. You can do it too.

How to improve English speaking without really trying: Read car license plates and say them out loud, in English. This is a great way to practice saying numbers, hundreds of times every day. This made me so comfortable with saying Korean numbers, and can give you a lot of confidence with English numbers.

It doesn’t matter if you have noone to speak English with. Just get your brain working and your mouth moving, and practise your English. You will be amazed at how quickly you can make progress with this technique.

Grammar in English is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for students. So check out our next lesson: How To Improve Spoken English, Part 3- Get Your Grammar Going!

How To Improve Spoken English, Part 1- TV and Movies

how to speak English fluently

Hey everyone!

Today I’d like to talk to you about a big question everyone wants an answer to. How can I improve my spoken English? So many students ask me about how to speak English more fluently. But there isn’t really one right answer. There are so many things you can do to improve your English speaking ability.

I will explore three great ways to get better at English speaking whilst also enjoying yourself. The first one is through TV and movies.

How To Improve Spoken English, Part 1- TV and Movies

“How can I speak English like a native speaker?” If you want to know how to improve spoken English naturally and effectively, think about what fun activities you can do. One of the best is to find English language TV programs and movies that you like. There is an entire world of English TV and movies out there, and whatever you like you will find things you enjoy watching. I love watching comedies, so when I was studying Korean I tried to watch a lot of Korean comedy movies and TV shows. Even though I didn’t understand half of what was being said, just listening to the conversations and the natural expressions at their natural speed helped train my ear for recognising certain words and phrases. It is the same for you studying English. Find a good TV show or a popular movie, and watch it. But watch it a few times, gradually getting more and more used to the voices and accents. The more you watch, the more comfortable you will get at listening and understanding.

How to improve English pronunciation- Watching TV and movies is excellent for giving you natural pronunciation and learning how to emphasise words naturally. There is nothing worse than being a robotic English speaker. If you can learn the right ways to emphasise words in certain situations, you will be able to improve your speaking quickly. TV and movies are a great place to get exposed to the way people really talk.

If you really want to know how to improve spoken English without too much work, consider the following. When you watch movies or TV shows, you hear how English is really spoken in everyday life. It’s good to learn from textbooks, but English grammar in use is actually pretty tricky to figure out and you will find it easier to make sentences quickly if you train your brain by listening to other people talking.

I would highly recommend that you try to watch a diverse selection of shows and movies, from a few different countries. At the very least, try not to just watch things from the United States. The reason for this isn’t just that I am a proud Englishman, it is actually because many students only learn one English accent and then struggle when they hear another. The other day a student wrote to me and let me know that she struggled to understand my accent on this site. If you can only understand an American accent, you will have difficulty when you speak to people from many English-speaking countries like Australia, South Africa or the U.K. For your own good, please become familiar with lots of different English accents. There are so many!

The most important thing is to enjoy the movies or shows you are watching. That way, you will come back for more and keep improving your spoken English.

Coming next: How To Improve Spoken English, Part 2- Say What You’re Thinking

Intermediate Season 1, Lesson 3: Mind Maps!

learn English speaking mind maps

Hey guys!

Today we will learn how to mind map. Mind maps are a great way to learn a language. And they are so easy and fun to make! Please watch the video below!

Jon


Here is the finished mind map:

How to learn English: Make a mind map!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Send me your mind maps! I will put the best ones on this website. Send them to [email protected]

If you enjoyed this lesson, please share on Twitter or Facebook!

And please comment below! Thanks!

Beginner Season 1, Lesson 3: How’s the Weather?

learn English speaking

Hey guys!

Today we will learn how to describe the weather using simple expressions. Please watch the video, then see below for the expressions.

Have a great day!

Jon :)

Expressions

How’s the weather?
What’s the weather like?
What’s it like outside? 

Listen to

It’s sunny.
It’s a little cloudy.
It’s cloudy.
It’s raining.
It’s snowing.
It’s hailing.
It’s a beautiful day.
It’s hot.
It’s cold.
It’s windy.
It’s stormy.
It’s foggy.
It’s clear. 

Listen to

Please remember to leave a comment! And if you like this lesson, please share on Facebook or Twitter!

Intermediate Season 1, Lesson 2: How Often and How Much Time?

Time For English Speaking Tips!

Hey everyone,

In today’s lesson we will learn two useful expressions- “How Often?” and “How Much Time?”.

After watching the lesson, you can see all the expressions and many more below.

Jon

Part 1

How often do you __________?

go to the bank
go to the dentist
brush your teeth
go to hospital
watch the Olympics
play badminton/tennis/basketball/football
play computer games
talk to your friends
email your friends
eat pizza
go shopping
watch a movie 

Listen to

Answers:

All the time
Every year/month/week/day/hour
Once/twice/three times/four times          a year/month/week/day/hour
Maybe once/twice/three times/four times       a year/month/week/day/hour
About once/twice/three times/four times        a year/month/week/day/hour 

Listen to

Regularly
Often
Sometimes
Hardly ever
Never 

Listen to

As often as I can
Whenever I need to
As rarely as I can 

Listen to

Part 2

How much time do you spend ___________?

watching tv
listening to music?
exercising
studying English
sleeping
playing computer games
eating
at school
with your parents
with your friends
shopping
doing a part-time job
watching movies 

Listen to

Answers:

One hour a day
Two hours a day
One hour a week
Three hours a week
Eight hours a month 

Listen to

Too much!
Lots
Not much
Not enough
Almost none
None 

Listen to

Please remember to leave a comment below, and if you enjoyed this lesson please share it on Twitter or Facebook :)

And why not try some of our other English learning lessons? We have something for everyone!

Bye for now!

Jon

Beginner Season 1, Lesson 2: Colors

How to learn spoken English- learn the colors!

Hey guys!

In today’s beginner English lesson we will learn ten colors.

Enjoy!

 

 

If you like this lesson, please share on Twitter or Facebook. And please leave a comment! Thanks!

See you next time!

Jon

Advanced Season 1, Lesson 1: Transformers, Dark of the Moon

Learn English Conversation- Watch Transformers

Hey everyone! Welcome to English advanced lesson 1!

Please watch the video. The transcript for the whole video is below:

“Hey guys! Welcome to the Advanced Season 1 Lesson 1. This will be a kind of audio video blog. So you can just listen to what I talk about and see how much you can understand. Even if the subject’s boring, maybe you can practise your English listening skills. So, today I’ll talk about two things. The first thing I’ll talk about is the new Transformers movie which I went to see last week or this week, and the other thing I’ll talk about is the Wimbledon tennis which of course finished very recently.

So first, let’s take a look at the new Transformers movie. Now the storyline is basically following on from the other two Transformers movies. If you enjoyed those movies, for sure you’ll enjoy this one. I won’t spoil it too much. Also I can’t remember half of what happened, which doesn’t help! The special effects of the movie were really really good, yeah, the computer generated stuff is really fantastic, as usual, I really enjoyed that. If you’re a fan of the old Transformers cartoon, which used to be a children’s show, then for sure you’ll enjoy these movies. I really used to enjoy the cartoon so I like the movies and the computer generated CGI stuff. The movie’s available in 3D, if you want to watch it in 3D, so if you wanna wear the sort of err plastic, plastic glasses, you can do that!

What did I like about it? I liked the story line, I thought it was quite cool, it was to do with them having to go to the moon to get something, because something was left on the moon, and, that was pretty interesting, pretty good ideas.
Is it worth going to see this movie? Yeah, for sure. I think it’s worth going to see. I think that it’s erm, probably one of the better movies that I’ve seen this year. I really did think it was worth, worth watching. So my rating for this movie, for Transformers 3, Dark of the Moon, is going to be 4 stars, out of 5, so, go and see it!

Next I’ll talk about the Wimbledon tennis which of course finished on Sunday. I’m a big fan of the Wimbledon tournament. I think it’s a lot of fun to watch especially as it’s in England, it’s in London, so, it’s obviously very famous in my country. And it’s also very famous around the world. I always enjoy watching tennis on TV. I like seeing the other major tournaments, the French Open, the U.S. Open and also the Australian Open.

And I’ve really enjoyed tennis in recent years because we’ve been very lucky to see two of probably the best players who have ever played tennis. And of course these guys are Rafa Nadal from Spain, and of course Roger Federer from Switzerland. Rafa Nadal is maybe about three or four years younger than Roger Federer, so he’s probably going to be around a little bit longer than Federer, but both of them are incredible players and they’ve had an incredible rivalry throughout their careers; which actually mostly Rafa Nadal has had the upper hand. He’s beaten Roger Federer many many times in major tournaments, particularly in the finals of tournaments.

But the most recent Wimbledon tournament was won by Novak Djokovic from Serbia, so, that was really good to see. Another guy winning the tournament, that was good fun for everybody and congratulations to him.

Ok, I hope that you enjoyed this and you weren’t too bored, and err, I’ll see you next time, so, have a great day! Bye.”

Please leave a comment below. And please share this lesson on Facebook and Twitter if you like it!

 

Intermediate Season 1, Lesson 1: What’s new, pussycat? How to Improve Spoken English

How To Improve Spoken English- Talk to Your Cat

Hey guys,
That’s my cat, isn’t she awesome? In this first lesson of the intermediate series, I will give you some great, natural conversational English expressions which can be used instead of the same old “How are you? I’m fine thank you, and you?” that everyone is taught at school. At this stage of your learning you are probably good with your English grammar and know lots of vocab, but you want to know how to improve spoken English and how to sound more natural. Hopefully these expressions will be a great start for you. Enjoy, and remember to comment and share this lesson on Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right!

Question 1:

How are you?
How’s it going?
How are you feeling?
How’re things?
How’s everything? 

Listen to

Answers:

Happy

I’m good/great!
I’m doing well!
Fantastic! 

Listen to

So-so

I’m alright.
I’m OK.
I’m so-so.
Not (too) bad. 

Listen to

Unhappy

Not so good.
I feel a bit under the weather.
I feel terrible.
I feel lousy.
I’m (really) tired.
I’m exhausted.
I’m (really) stressed.
I’m really worried. 

Listen to

Question 2 (why?):

How come?
What’s going on?
What’s been happening?
What’s up?
What’s new? 

Listen to

Answers:

Happy

I had a great night’s sleep.
It’s nearly the weekend!
It’s a beautiful day.
I’ve had a great day/week. 

Listen to

Unhappy

I had a bad night’s sleep.
I didn’t sleep well.
I feel ill/sick/unwell.
It’s Monday morning!
I had an argument/a fight with my Mum/Dad/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend.
I’m so busy right now.
I have exams. 

Listen to

Please comment in the box below, and if you like this lesson please share on Facebook or Twitter!

Beginner Season 1, Lesson 1: Beginning English Discussion

Beginning English Discussion

Hey guys!

Welcome! Please watch the video and then see below for the lesson!


Question 1:

What’s your name? 

Listen to

What are you called? 
Listen to

Answer:

I’m Jon. 

Listen to

My name is Jon. 
Listen to

I’m called Jon
Listen to

Question 2:

Where are you from? 

Listen to

Where do you come from? 
Listen to

Answer:

I’m from England/Spain/Korea/London/Madrid/Tokyo. 

Listen to

I come from France/China/Brazil/New York/Beijing/Bangkok. 
Listen to

Question 3:

What do you do? What do you do
What’s your job? 

Listen to

Answer:

I’m a student/teacher/policeman/nurse/secretary. 

Listen to

I work as a doctor/fire fighter/cleaner/taxi driver. 
Listen to

If you like this lesson, please share on Facebook or Twitter!
And please comment below!
Thanks! :)