I spend most of my work days helping students try to get abroad to university though the International Foundation Year (IFY) Programme at Language Link. Something I’ve noticed from the students I encounter is their lack of awareness of world news.
To help them with this, I implemented a current events summary assignment. Each week students have to do the following:
Find an article that interests them (politics, sports, fashion)
Condense (summarise) the article into 150-200 words
Submit it to me for lexical and grammatical feedback
The real purpose of the assignment was to create general awareness in this ever-expanding global world. If you’re going to study abroad, you need to understand the world you live in.
Do Babies Study Grammar? Think of how a baby learns to speak. Babies don’t study. But over time, they learn to speak quite well. How do they do this? They are surrounded by people who speak their language. They listen, and after some time, they begin to speak. It happens naturally.
Natural Method Most students I know work very hard. They study grammar, write vocabulary lists, and take tests. Some people I know have been taking classes for years – but they still have trouble speaking English!
Listening is supposed to be easy, isn’t it? Actually, it’s not. Hearing’s easy; listening is waaaayyyyy more difficult.
First off, it’s exhausting! Until you are an advanced student – and sometimes not even then – the effort to listen can be very tiring. You have to concentrate very hard. After awhile, it becomes easy to shut off your mind. And this is not useful…or polite to the person who’s talking.
Fear not! You can train yourself to listen more productively. You can learn to focus.
Many students believe that studying grammar is the best way to learn English. I disagree! Grammar helps you pass tests, and at some level it may help you understand the language. But if you want to learn English, studying grammar is not the best way.
Why is this? Language is for communication. It is not a collection of rules. When you study grammar, you avoid communicating with another person, and this is why some people may know all the rules of a language…but still cannot speak it.
Bad Reasons for Studying Grammar I believe the main reasons people study grammar have nothing to do with learning:
The IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet. Watch this video to learn about phonemes, and how the IPA can help you improve your English pronunciation. Make sure you have your speakers turned on so you can hear the audio!
When it comes to learning a new language, vocabulary is key. But how, exactly, do you learn new words? This article provides some methods you can use.
Reading Is Best
After years of studying how people learn languages, experts have discovered one thing:
The best way to learn vocabulary is by reading!
Think of how you learned new words while you were growing up. You discovered many of them while reading. This is the best way to learn new words when you’re studying a new language. The more you read, the more words you will discover. Not only that, if you read often, you will begin to see the same words again and again, and this will help them become a natural part of your vocabulary.
Think of how you learned your native language. You listened for a long time before you ever began to speak. Reading and writing came much later.
Of all the skills, listening is the skill that helps you develop fluency: the ability to speak naturally. But just as you learned your native language, you need to listen a lot more than you speak. The sooner you get into the habit of listening to English, the faster you will develop your skills.
There are thousands of websites that will help you build your English listening skills. But how do you know which sites are good? And do you know how to use them?
The websites below are all excellent quality and will help you improve. We’ve included some notes to help you use these sites effectively. Happy listening!