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.

What’s Your Learning Style?

Knowing your learning style will help you identify effective study methodsConsider the following learning situations, and decide which one YOU would prefer:

  • You record a university professor giving a lecture. Later, you listen to the lecture again at home.
  • Your teacher draws a lot of words and diagrams on the white board. You copy those words and diagrams in your notebook.
  • Your teacher asks you to work on the computer. He doesn’t give you a lot of explanation; he lets you figure things out on your own, but is willing to answer questions.

All three examples represent good teaching and studying techniques, but if you prefer one situation over the others, it may tell you something about your learning style.

What is a learning style? Your learning style is how you, personally, like to learn. By understanding your learning style, you can find study strategies that will help you learn best.

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Tips For Success In Foreign Universities

Language Link Vietnam prepares you for university success
During my first year at university in the United States, I had to:

  • Read about 1,000 pages per week
  • Participate in class seminars (discussions) nearly every day
  • Write one 3-5 page paper every two weeks
  • Write a 15-20 page independent research paper twice per semester
  • Give a large, public presentation with a group of students

I did not take a single test my entire first year. I was judged entirely on my written and spoken work. My question for students who are planning to study abroad:

Are you ready for this?

The fact is, many Vietnamese students struggle during their first year in foreign universities. Why? Because even though they scored 7.0 or above on the IELTS, they have not prepared themselves with the foundation they need to succeed in a foreign academic environment.

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Thesaurus: The Best Tool for Building Your Vocabulary

Use a thesaurus to improve your speaking and writing skills at Language Link VietnamWhat if I told you there’s a tool that can expand your English vocabulary and improve your writing – and it’s 100% FREE? Would you be interested?

Well, there is such a tool, and it’s called a thesaurus. Learning to use a thesaurus is one of the best things you can do to develop your vocabulary and writing skills.

What A Thesaurus Can Do For You
A thesaurus can add style to your writing and make it more interesting to read. Consider this sentence:

I had a great vacation and did a lot of interesting things.

Is that an interesting sentence? No, not at all. But let’s put a few of these words into the thesaurus and see what comes up:

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Study Tips from Language Link’s Board of Managers

Language Link Vietnam's Board of ManagersLanguage Link Vietnam’s Board of Managers (BOM) creates the school’s executive strategy and is responsible for heading all major departments. The BOM has two foreign and two Vietnamese members.

It may be interesting for you to know that all four BOM members have a background in language education, both as teachers and as learners. Watch these short videos to:

  • Practice listening to authentic English
  • Test your understanding
  • Get free, practical study tips from the people who run the school
To get the most from these videos, first listen and try to answer the questions below, before you look at the answers!

Watch the videos! →

Best Websites For Learning English: BBC Learning English

BBC Learning English Website has a wealth of resources for English language learners

I’m certain you’ve heard of the BBC: the British Broadcasting Corporation. It’s the largest broadcaster in the world, providing TV, radio, and online services to thousands of households in the UK and beyond. But did you know that the BBC has been helping people learn English since 1943?

The BBC launched its Learning English website in 1996, and it currently has 1.5 million registered users. The site features print, audio, and video materials, along with downloadable lessons and worksheets. Content is based on real news events and stories, and updated daily by English experts in the UK. Some material is designed for teachers, but most is designed for students. And it’s all free!

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Note-Taking Tips for IELTS and Academic Success

Learn to take effective notes at Language Link VietnamSometimes, my students make me laugh.

Not long ago, I was teaching a TOEFL preparation class, and I asked my students to listen to a lecture and take notes.

I pressed PLAY on the CD player…and immediately they all began writing so quickly, I couldn’t see their hands! Their pens moved so fast, they began fanning the room!

I stopped the activity. “No! No! No!” I cried. “Don’t try to write down EVERY word!” They all looked up, confused.

Then I told them what I am going to tell you now:

The key to good note-taking isn’t writing MORE notes, it’s writing more EFFECTIVE notes.

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Ten Tips for Becoming a More Confident English Speaker

Develop speaking confidence at Language Link VietnamLearning a new language can be an emotional experience. I know, because I have been learning Vietnamese for three years, and I still get frustrated when I have problems. I think:

Why can’t I say this better? Why do I make so many mistakes?

When I have problems communicating, I sometimes feel like I’m stupid. Do you ever feel this way too?

It’s easy to get excited when you start learning a new language. Everything is new! You’re constantly learning new words and expressions, and when you say a simple sentence, it makes you so happy!

But after awhile, this begins to change. You think: In my language, I’m so smart! Why don’t I sound like this in English? You’re no longer happy saying simple things. You want to express your personality – and you get frustrated that you’re unable to do it.

Here’s the thing to remember: these feelings are normal. Everybody feels this way sometimes – but you don’t need to feel that way all the time! Here are some things you can do to build your confidence while you continue learning English.

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Two English Pronunciation Problems for Vietnamese Speakers

Improve English pronunciation at Language Link VietnamWhen we talk, we want people to understand what we are saying. So pronunciation is VERY important.

Listen to this conversation between a Vietnamese person and an American:

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What happened? The American could not understand the Vietnamese speaker because her pronunciation was unclear.

In my experience, both as a language learner and a language teacher, there are a LOT of pronunciation differences between English and Vietnamese. But some problems are more serious than others. A pronunciation problem becomes serious when it interferes with communication.

There are TWO common problems Vietnamese speakers have that I believe are very serious. If you consistently make these errors, people will not understand you.

  • Final consonants
  • Word stress

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