About Hal

My full name is Hal Medrano. I am originally from New York City. I have been teaching English since 1991 and working with educational technology since 1996. I am the Blended Learning Program Manager at Language Link Vietnam and the Webmaster for this blog.

Build Your Vocabulary with Prefixes and Suffixes

What do the words repeat, restart, review, and remember all have in common?

They all ask you to do something again.

  • Repeat = say something again
  • Restart = begin something again
  • Review = look at something again
  • Remember = think of something again

With all four words, the prefix re- is key. Once you know how to use this prefix, you can use it to make other words that mean, “to do something again,” for example, repaint, reorder, and replace.

Learning to recognize common prefixes and suffixes is one of the best things you can do to build your vocabulary. It will help you guess the meaning of new words while reading, help you use dictionaries better, and help you when you take tests, such as IELTS and TOEFL.

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Best Websites for Learning English: English Central

Language Link Vietnam teaches you to study English effectively, on your own

There are many websites where you can practice your listening skills. How many websites do you know that allow you to practice your speaking skills online?

With English Central, you can use to do both these things at once. On English Central, you:

  • Watch a video – usually from a news or documentary program
  • Read as you listen, and build your vocabulary as you watch
  • Repeat the video you heard, record your voice, and get instant feedback on how you sound

To me, this is the part that makes English Central interesting. The site uses cutting edge computer technology to evaluate the accuracy of your pronunciation. It tells you how clearly you’re speaking, and if your pronunciation is not clear, the site lets you record yourself again, until you get it right.

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Take the Phonetic Challenge!

In an earlier post, we told you about the International Phonetic Alphabet, also known as the IPA.

The IPA is useful for language learners because it tells you exactly how a word ought to be pronounced. For example, when you look up the word “foreign” in the dictionary, the phonetic spelling will appear to you like this:

/ˈfɔrɪn/

The phonetic spelling tells you exactly which vowel to use (/ɔ/) and it tells you where the stress should be (/ˈfɔr…). In other words, it tells you exactly how to pronounce the word.

So how good is your phonetic spelling? Do you think you’re pretty good? Why don’t you take the Phonetic Challenge and find out?

The Phonetic Challenge is one of the exercises on the Language Link Online web site, available to all Language Link Vietnam students. For those of you who are not students, we’ve presented it below.

Please note: you need a browser with Adobe Flash software to play this game. If you are using an iPad or a computer with no Flash, we’re sorry.

Five Ways to Use Facebook to Learn English

Use Facebook to Learn English!

With more than 800 million users, Facebook is the world’s most popular social networking site. Most people use Facebook to connect with friends, play games, and post photos, news about what they are doing, or interesting things they find on the Web.

All these things are good, but have you ever thought of Facebook as an educational tool? Can you use Facebook to learn English? Well, why not?

Here are five ways you can use Facebook to improve your English.

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LLV’s International Foundation Year Programme

In our earlier post, Tips for Success in Foreign Universities, we talked about how important it is for students to develop skills that will help them succeed when they study abroad. This is what Language Link Vietnam’s International Foundation Year (IFY) Programme is designed to do!

In this video, Todd Lando, LLV’s IFY Programme Manager, tells students how they can enter the program and develop the academic skills they need to study abroad.

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Ten Tips to Help You Speak English Like a Native

Improve your English pronunciation at Language Link VietnamStudents often ask me how they can lose their accent when speaking English. I have two things to say on the topic.

My first point is that you don’t want to entirely lose your accent. Accents protect you. When you’re in an English-speaking environment, an accent helps people know that you are not a native of their culture. If you make any mistakes, people are more likely to forgive you.

The second point is, of course, if your accent keeps people from understanding you, then you must try and reduce it as much as possible. Keeping in mind my first point – an accent is not always a bad thing – here are TEN TIPS that will help your pronunciation improve so that your accent does not interfere with understanding.
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Are You An Effective Language Learner?

Study English effectively at Language Link VietnamI want to ask you four questions that will help you think about whether you are a good language learner. Answer these questions honestly:

  1. Are you aware of your own learning style, and do you try to learn in ways that suit you?
  2. Do you do things outside of class that give you the chance to learn and use English?
  3. Are you curious about English? Do you try to understand how the language works?
  4. Do you have a realistic sense of how long you’re willing to learn English, and try to overcome your feelings of frustration?

For years, researchers have known that some people are better at learning languages than others. The question is why.

While it is true that people have different learning styles – and some methods may not be appropriate for all learners – it is also true that there are some qualities that all effective language learners share.

Here are four qualities shared by all good language learners.

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Best Websites For Learning English: Australia Network

Australia Network Learning English - brought to you by Language Link Vietnam
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an entire television station producing high-quality video programs designed to help you learn English? Well, I have news for you: there is! It’s the Australia Network, and whatever your English level, you can find professionally produced and entertaining programs to help you build your skills.

The Australia Network is Australia’s international television service. It streams Australian programs all over the world, via television and the Internet. Along with news, sports, and entertainment, the Australia Network also produces a number of video programs designed for English language learners. You can find all these videos online at http://australianetwork.com/learningenglish/. And best of all: they’re free!

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