Saturday, February 26, 2011

Favourite Websites for English Practice, pt 1 (Listening)

So this week, I think we should start sharing more.  Sharing is good!  I have started with ‘listening’ because it is probably the easiest to give examples for – there are LOTS of podcasts and youtube videos to listen to and watch.

Nowadays there is almost TOO much and it is difficult to know where to go for GOOD listening material.  Of course, what is good depends on you, the learner.  What are your favourite subjects?  This is important because if you are interested in what you are listening to, then you will be more engaged and less bored.

I didn't have so much energy at the end!
One site which I know some of you use is BBC Learning – 6 Minute English.  I like this because it is short (only six minutes, obviously) and the topics change every week.  A friend sent me the link for one about marathon running last April just before I did the Brighton Marathon.  Then two weeks later the topic was punk music.  You see, there is a lot of variety.  There are also a lot of supporting activities if you have more time.

In general, I think that the BBC has a lot of really good material to improve you English with their Learning English site.  Some of it is more useful that other parts.  Explore it, see what you find and don’t forget to tell us on the blog what you find. J

Another BBC website which is very useful (especially if you are living/staying in Britain) is “RAW – Skills for Everyday Life”.  These are videos which clearly show and explain normal, common things like credit cards or shopping online.  You can watch them with or without subtitles and they explain things basically.  The good thing about this is that the language is authentic and it the topics are useful.
UPDATE (25/06/11):  Unfortunately it looks like this website has been terminated by the BBC.  What a pity!

For something a bit different and useful for ‘instruction English’ you might want to look at  This has everything and it is growing!  EVERYBODY should be on this site!  (I hope that with this site, I might actually learn how to cook!)  Some of these videos are serious and some of them are funny but they are all about 4 minutes long.  Be careful, a few of these videos are NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) which means that they have some ‘adult’ content that children shouldn’t see and some adults might find offensive.)  But, you can also learn magic tricks while improving your English!

I have a few more suggestions but I want to know what websites you use to improve your listening.  Just listening at the moment (remember, this is only part 1). ;-)

Thanks for all of your support.  Let’s keep this going and growing.  As always, I look forward to your opinions. J


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Signing In

Hello all,

I understand that a few of you might have some problems commenting.  You do need to sign in to do this but you can do this with any of the following accounts:

Open ID
(unfortunately, not Facebook or Hotmail)

I know that I can set the blog to accept comments from anyone... but I want this to feel more like a community.  I thought that lots of comments from "anonymous" would not be particularly fun.  Remember, we are here to share ideas so don't be shy. :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Or is it?

Okay, so let's start with one of the oldest topics about language learning - grammar!

I have been following a few ELT (English Language Teaching) blogs recently. I have to admit it, I'm quite a geek - I love it!

Anyway, on one of the blogs, a very experienced teacher was talking about grammar, grammar rules and if they are necessary or not. (Click here to see his post.)

Now recently I have been thinking about how grammar is taught and if my students really benefited from "learning grammar".

Now for some people, they like to have the rules because they feel more comfortable and it gives them something to study and memorize. But for other people, learning the rules about the use of the present perfect (how many different uses are there - about a million, no?) doesn't help them to actually USE the present perfect in their English conversations.

I would suggest this -

Learning English Grammar is like learning how to use a keyboard. If you learn how a keyboard works, do you know how to use the computer and its operating system?

I'm don't think I completely agree with this idea. But I want to generate some discussion so I'm going to give an opinion for you to agree or disagree with. AND, my opinions aren't important here - yours are!



P.S. The link that I've added about the rules of present perfect are NOT complete and, as with all things in English, there are exceptions to these rules. I added it to show a 'perfect' example (hehehe, English teacher humour) of lots of different rules.


Welcome to this blog. It's not my first, but hopefully it was continue for longer than my Spanish diary (which lasted for about 4 posts over 1 month).

Let me explain what I want to do here. I've invited you to this blog because you are all learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL students). Some of you are intermediate, some of you are advanced (and some of you are perhaps even more advanced than I am!). But you all have a similar experience - you made a decision to learn English, which for you is a non-native language.

I am going down to Argentina next month to work with a school where I will be the only native-English speaker (all the other teachers are Argentinian). I am very excited by this opportunity because I expect I will learn about English language teaching from a completely different perspective.

But why should I learn about this by myself? AND, why should I wait until I get to Argentina? With your help, I can start now. And I think you will benefit from this as well.

So, what will I, Gordon, do in this blog?

I am going to ask you about your experiences and your opinions about various aspects of learning English.

What will I get?
  • More understanding of my students (both old and new) and what they thought and think about their English learning.
  • Some ideas about effective ways to teach specific parts of English
  • More contact with all of you - friends I have made around the world.
What will you get?
  • An opportunity to practise your English by writing replies and reading other people's replies.
  • Perhaps a cultural education - I hope that friends and students from Mexico, France, German, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Oman, Korea and Thailand will all be able to join in. That's lots of different cultures and traditions. Lots of different attitudes about learning and education.
  • A better understanding of how you, personally, learn a language. If you can understand your own learning style and preferences, then you can learn more and faster.
  • Some funny stories from me (I hope) and from other people who contribute (more likely).
  • Perhaps some new friends.
  • Another way to procrastinate and avoid work. :-D
So, hopefully, this will continue for a while and maybe, MAYBE will become part of your daily (or at least weekly) routine.

I am VERY interested to hear about your opinions and experiences so please, don't be shy. The only rule that I will put here is that people must be nice to each other (except me, you can be horrible to me if you really want). ;-)
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