Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Want to Improve Your Reading? (Guest Post by Stephanie Furness-Barr)

This post is from a good friend and colleague of mine, Steph.  Steph is a fantastic teacher who works with me in Portsmouth, England (follow the link to see our school).  She is interested in getting her students to read as much as possible in English so here are a few pieces of advice and links from her.

One idea for improving your English (and your reading confidence) is to read English language newspapers / news websites for your country.
  1. Choose an article you’re interested in. Read it a few times without a dictionary. Note words that help you understand the text better (not ALL words). Notice any grammar that is new or interesting to you.
  2. Look up the same news item in your first language to check your understanding of the main points of the article. 
** Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything. Start with the question “What can I understand?” This positive thinking makes reading more rewarding. **

Here are some examples of English Language newspapers in different regions. (These links are for the nationalities we have at our school at the moment - this is not a complete list of all English language newspapers or websites)


 Mali - Reuters Mali

Somalia - Somaliland Sun


Kazakhstan - Tengri News

Taiwan - Taipei Times


 The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) - The Baltic Times

Czech Republic - The Prague Post

France - The Connexion

Germany - The Local, Spiegel

Poland - The News

Spain - Costa News

Switzerland - The Local

The Middle East

Iraq -  Iraqi News

Kurdistan -  Kurdistan World
Lebanon - The Daily Star

 Oman - Oman Observer

Qatar - Gulf Times 

Saudi Arabia - Saudi Gazette 

United Arab Emirates - Khaleej Times, Al Arabiya News

Yemen - Yemen Times

South America

Colombia -  Colombia Reports

Venezuela - El Universal

Monday, October 29, 2012

Phonetic Film Quiz #7

Here is a special quiz.  These are the names of a series/group of films.  I know that film titles are often changed when they are translated into other languages.  So here is a little clue about which movies these are.

Good luck! ;-)

/ˈdɒktə nəʊ/

/frɒm ˈrʌʃə wɪð lʌv/



/jʊ ˈəʊnlɪ lɪv twaɪs/

/ˈdaɪəməndz ə fəˈrevə/

/ɒn hɜː ˈmæʤɪstɪz ˈsiːkrɪt ˈsɜːvɪs/

/lɪv ənd let daɪ/

/ðə mæn wɪð ðə ˈgəʊldən gʌn/

/ðə spaɪ huː lʌvd miː/


/fə jɔː ˈaɪz ˈəʊnlɪ/


/ə vjuː tʊ ə kɪl/

/ðə ˈlɪvɪŋ ˈdeɪlaɪts/

/ˈlaɪsəns tə kɪl/


/təˈmɒrəʊ ˈnevə ˈdaɪz/

/ðə wɜːld ɪz nɒt ɪˈnʌf/

/daɪ əˈnʌðə deɪ/

/kəˈsiːnəʊ rɔɪˈæl/

/ˈkwɒntəm ɒv ˈsɒləs/


Here are the answers.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

100 Fans on Facebook! Thank you!

Yesterday the blog got its 100th 'Like' on Facebook!  Many thanks for all the support from everyone.  As you can see I'm making a few changes on the site and starting (again) to post more information more regularly.

Tell your friends and thanks for reading!

An Idea for Music in Your Learning

Fountain Pen
(Picture from Kartikay Sahay on Flickr)
My favourite pen is a fountain pen.  I love writing with a fountain pen.  I can’t really explain why I feel like this but that’s not important.  What’s important is that I love writing with this pen and when I pick it up, I immediately want to start writing.

If you feel like this or if you just like writing, then I have an idea about something you can start writing about.

Making Your Own Gapfill from Music

More than a decade (10 years) ago, I was introduced to a music group called Mana by a friend at university.  The first song I heard was En El Muelle De San Blas.  I loved it and still do.

What I decided to do to help my listening skills and my vocabulary was to do a gapfill.  I’m sure you know what a gapfill is:
We are _____ __ listen to a song now. (Fill in the gap)

We are going to listen to a song now.

I decided to listen to the song, one verse (part) at a time and listen again and again.  Each time I tried to write down as much of the song as I could hear.  Here are the results:

As you can see, it was not perfect but I did listen to more and more and I know my listening skills improved. I continued and did another verse and you can see the results of that too.

My feeling is that doing this definitely improves your listening skills and it is a fun way to do it because you can listen again and again to music you like.  The important thing is to actively write down what you are hearing.  This is difference between listening and hearing.

However, it is important to practise and do this regularly.  I didn’t practise for months and I tried to do this activity again.  Here are the results:

As you can see, I have not improved.  Why?  ...because I hadn’t practised.

So, try it with a song you like in the language you are learning and let me know how you do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Phonetic Film Quizzes

Picture from Mike Licht on Flickr

I few of you have been looking at my Phonetic Film Quizzes.  I have now put links to all of them in a tab near the top of the page.  Here is the link.  I’m going to start adding more of these little quizzes to the blog but here is a list of them if you are new to them.

Phonetic Film Quiz #2 (the answers to Quiz #1 are here)

Phonetic Film Quiz #3 (the answers to Quiz #2 are here)

Phonetic Film Quiz #4 (the answers to Quiz #3 are here)

Phonetic Film Quiz #5 (the answers to Quiz #4 are here)

Phonetic Film Quiz #6 (the answers to Quiz #5 are here)

Keep watching for more!
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