Blog Archives

WRITING COMPETITION (1B1+ & 1B2)

IN CASE THIS MIGHT BE OF YOUR INTEREST

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“CUE PROMPTER” A TOOL TO REHEARSE YOUR SPEECHES (1B2)

WOULD YOU LIKE TO FEEL LIKE A FAMOUS TV STAR?

This little tool is a cueprompter. My students need to give a speech  and I find this little tool can help them a lot monitor the time it takes them to give their speech as it has adjustable speed features.
How to use it
♥Copy/paste the text into the prompter text window
♥You can set screen size, font size and colour
♥Start the prompter and adjust the speed
♥ Use the Space Bar to stop/start the cueprompter

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IT´S AS IF YOU WERE WORKING ON TV AS A NEWSREADER!! BUT REMEMBER THAT THIS IS JUST FOR REHEARSING AT HOME: YOU CAN´T USE IT DURING YOUR ORAL PRESENTATION IN CLASS.

THIS POST IS FROM CRISTINA CABAL´S BLOG. THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR GREAT IDEAS!!

TUTORIAL

READING ALOUD IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE (1B2)

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF READING ALOUD IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE? IS IT A WASTE OF TIME?

Among many other benefits “reading aloud can help your pronunciation. Even if you already know how to pronounce the language pretty well, it is hard to fit your mouth and tongue around the foreign sounds. Reading aloud gives your vocal organs the exercise they need to speak without getting tired or stumbling. If you are still fuzzy on pronunciation, use texts with recordings on CD or MP3 files, and repeat after the native speakers. But following along in the book will give you added input over simply listening and repeating. Try to copy the intonation and rhythm as well. You will be using eyes, ears, vocal apparatus, and of course, brain — all at once!”

http://www.ehow.com/how_5528527_use-aloud-learn-foreign-language.html

SOME APPS CAN HELP YOU DO THIS WORK WHENEVER YOU DON´T HAVE THE RECORDING: READINGS ON YOUR TEXTBOOKS, GETTING READY FOR ORAL PRESENTATIONS, ETC….

  • DO YOU KNOW ANY OF THESE WEBSITES OR APPS ?
  • WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?
  • CAN YOU RECOMMEND ANY SIMILAR APPS?

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http://www.acapela-group.com

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You can paste the text.(SUITABLE FOR IOS &ANDROID)

http://www.naturalreaders.com

TIPS TO IMPROVE PRONUNCIATION WHEN YOU´RE READING ALOUD

(BY my colleague JAVIER SANTOS ASENSI)

Step 1:  Find CONTENT WORDS in the fragment you have chosen and make sure you know how to pronounce them.

  • Even if meaning is different for different speakers, there are certain word categories that are usually more meaningful and therefore commonly stressed. They are often called content words: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, negative words, pronouns (demonstrative, possessive –mine, yours…, reflexive –myself, yourself…,  reciprocal –each other, one another , interrogative –who, what…), question words (where, how often, etc), intensifiers (too, much, quite, etc.) and modifiers ( numerals, cardinals, etc.)
  • Pay special attention to those words you are very familiar with. Are you positive you have not made a habit of mispronouncing them?  Check their pronunciation in your print or online dictionary or CD Rom
    • First locate the stressed syllable (long words usually have a secondary stress as well)
    • Then make sure you use weak vowels / Ə / and / I / in unstressed syllables
    • Is there any consonant or vowel sound that you have problems pronouncing?

Step 2: Check the pronunciation of GRAMMAR WORDS (also called function words)

  • Most times grammar words are not stressed. These include articles, determiners (the, some, each), auxiliary and modal verbs (do, have, be, may, will, etc.), one-syllable prepositions and conjunctions (to, from, of, and, but, etc.)   If they have a weak pronunciation form, use it instead of the strong form you might be familiar with (check the pronunciation of these words in your reference chart)

Step 3:  Are there any words you can contract?

  • Remember that contraction is a feature of spoken language. You do not usually contract words in more formal written texts.  If you are reading aloud you should try to contract whenever possible even if you do not see the contraction
  • Revise the most common contractions: in the reference chart your teacher will provide you with.

Step 4: Connect unstressed words to meaningful stressed ones in a logical way

  • First connect words into phrases (noun or prepositional phrases, etc.) in a logical way to avoid reading word to word and stressing every single word. These connected groups of words are often called thought groups
  • Then try and connect phrases into short sentences
  • Contracted forms as well as Word linking (connecting words ending in a consonant with the next word starting in a vowel or else words ending and beginning with vowels) will help us do it.  In British English final “r” will be pronounced if the following word starts with a vowel (linking “r”).
  • As a result the number of words in spelling and pronunciation will be absolutely different.

Step 5:  Make sure you respect punctuation marks: pauses and intonation

  • Periods (full stops) , commas, colons, semi-colons, parenthesis and the kind are realized as pauses in oral speech. These pauses will allow the listener to follow our utterance and ourselves to breathe.  Moreover, if you run over the sentence limit, your utterance will make no sense at all for listeners, for they mark the end of an idea, a piece of explanation or clarification, an example, etc.
  • Question and exclamation marks are realized as intonation patterns. Avoid flat intonation patterns, otherwise it will be difficult to make out your speech intention

RECORDING YOURSELF WOULD BE THE FINAL STEP AND PLAYBACK…. BUT WE´LL TALK ABOUT THIS IN ANOTHER POST…..

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“THE CROWN”, A BRITISH TV SERIES ON NETFLIX (1B2, B2 C1, C2)

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Netflix‘s ambitious new series The Crown is the most expensive TV series to date, costing the streaming service over $130 million (via Daily Beast). A lavish – and thoroughly British – affair which sees the reunion of the creative team behind 2006’s Oscar-winning biopic The Queen, starring Helen Mirren. Screenwriter Peter Morgan and producer Andy Harries are here joined by Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry.

Taking its basis from Morgan’s 2013 play The Audience, the series is set to trace the reign of Queen Elizabeth II from her early years to the present day, balanced over the course of six seasons of 10 episodes each. The show promises to tell, “the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world – Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street – and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-crown-netflix-most-expensive-show-ever-matt-smith-a7392911.html

AS MANY OF THE TEV SERIES ON NETFLIX ARE AMERICAN, THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD CHANCE TO LISTEN TO BRITISH ENGLISH AND KEEP UP YOUR ENGLISH DURING THE SUMMER. SEASON 1 IS ALSO ON ORORO TV WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

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BREAKING OUT OF THE INTERMEDIATE PLATEAU (1B2)

plateau      READING MY COLLEAGUE CRISTINA CABAL´S LATEST POST MADE ME THINK ABOUT MY OWN STUDENTS.MANY OF MY 1B2 STUDENTS THIS YEAR FEEL AS IF THEY´RE NOT MAKING ENOUGH PROGRESS, HAVING THE IMPRESSION THAT THEIR LANGUAGE LEARNING HAS SLOWED DOWN CONSIDERABLY  OR JUST FEELING THEY ARE STUCK IN THE “INTERMEDIATE PLATEAU”…(SENSACIÓN DE ESTANCAMIENTO),  BUT TO WHAT EXTENT IS THAT REAL?

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“As they move from basic to intermediate to advanced levels in language proficiency, many second-language learners will confirm that language learning does not always follow a smooth progression. There are times when progress seems to be marked and noticeable, as for example with many basic-level language learners. After their first 200 or so hours of instruction, they begin to break through the threshold of learning to become real users of the language, even if at a fairly simple level. Those who have experienced the transition to this level of learning recall the feelings of satisfaction and achievement that came as they found themselves actually capable of real communication in English.

However, once learners have arrived at an intermediate level of language learning, progress does not always appear to be so marked, and making the transition from intermediate to the upper-intermediate/advanced level sometimes proves frustrating. Some may feel they have arrived at a plateau and making further progress seems elusive, despite the amount of time and effort they devote to it.”

Let’s start with why this happens…

There are actually two reasons we might hit a plateau.

The first is that the better you get at a language the harder it is to continue improving. Take this statistic for example:

Just 3,000 English words are needed to understand 95% of everyday texts. Whereas the average native speaker has the ability to use up to 20,000 words.

That’s a pretty big disparity. What this means is that knowing 3,000 words will put you in the intermediate range of language learning, but it takes a lot more effort and a lot more words to become an advanced speaker.

The second reason is that whether you’re learning a new language, practicing a sport, or learning how to type on a keyboard—it’s not only the amount of practice that you’re putting in, but the type of practice.

When we first start to learn a language we progress very quickly, from barely knowing how to introduce ourselves to making complicated sentences in the past and future tenses. We reach an autonomous stage.

The autonomous stage occurs when we no longer have to consciously think about what we’re doing. In language learning, this might be the stage when you can have a conversation without pausing to find the right word or the proper grammatical structure.

Reaching the autonomous stage, however, does not mean that you’re now an expert. In fact, this is the stage where it’s easy to see your language learning falter, because you’re no longer being challenged to learn more.

So what can we do…

Now that we know why we run into these plateaus, let’s look at some ways we can move past them.

The first way is to simply change the way you think about learning a language. It’s important to understand that improving as a new learner is very different from improving as an intermediate learner. There are always going to be diminishing returns as you get better at a language. This doesn’t mean you’re not progressing.

It’s easy to feel like you’re making progress when you master all the tenses of “to be,” but it’s important to keep in mind that learning less common vocabulary and more complex grammar is just as important to becoming fluent.

Best of all, once you have an intermediate or upper-intermediate language level, learning becomes a lot more fun. You can have real world conversations, watch movies and enjoy more engaging books.

The second way to improve is to focus on how you practice. Since it’s easy to become a passive learner at this stage, you have to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Try talking about topics you’re not 100% comfortable with, read texts that challenge you, look up words you don’t know even if they’re obscure, and talk to native speakers at a natural pace.

Just like when you were a beginner: Keep studying, keep pushing yourself, and if you haven’t already, find a teacher who can keep you accountable to your language learning goals!

How can I climb higher?

Here are my top tips for escaping from the intermediate plateau.  They’re not rocket science, just basic advice gleaned from my teaching experience.

1)  Don’t give up!

2)  Keep expanding your vocabulary.

This means reading a lot and learning how words collocate (go together in semi-fixed expressions).  Doing this also helps with your grammar.

3) Excavate your ‘fossilised errors’!

You know those little mistakes that you make over and over again?  You probably have a collection of ‘You said… You should have said…’ error correction slips.  Make sure you understand why your errors are wrong and make a concerted effort to change!

4)  Immerse yourself in the language.  Do something in English every day.

5)  Pursue your interests in English!  If you’re into philosophy read philosophical works in English.  This will keep you motivated.

That’s all for now, I’d love to hear your tales of clambering off the intermediate plateau.

https://es.verbling.com/articles/Jon/the-intermediate-plateau-and-how-to-get-over-it-552ee4b35afee0982a1a82ff

IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO READ CRISTINA´S POST…BY CLICKING ON HER PICTUREplateau

“THE STITCHER LIST”: PODCASTS ON THE GO TO IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS (1B2)

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Stitcher is a smartphone app that lets you aggregate radio shows and podcasts, stored on your phone for on demand listening or streaming from the web.

Listen to over 65,000+ radio shows and podcasts on your iPhone, iPad, Android or PC -anytime, anywhere

Get the freshest episodes of your favorite podcasts and radio shows streamed directly to your smartphone or iPad – no downloading or syncing. From NPR’s Fresh Air to Adam Carolla, WNYC’s Radiolab to the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow and more, Stitcher organizes and delivers the world of talk radio fresh daily. Listen whenever and wherever you want.

Create Your Own Radio and Podcast Playlists

“Stitch” together your favorite shows into customized station playlists and save them for easy access. Create a news playlist for your morning commute, and a comedy playlist for the weekends. Browse or search through over 65,000+ different shows, or select a pre-set station from Stitcher’s editors like Top 20 Comedy shows, Top 20 News & Politics shows and much more.

Discover New Radio Shows & Podcasts

Let Stitcher give you personalized recommendations based on your listening preferences. Enjoy This American Life? Stitcher lets you see what other listeners of This American Life also like to listen to – you’ll have new favorites in no time. Let Stitcher help you discover

THE PAST PERFECT (1B2)

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OSCARS 2017 (ALL LEVELS)

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The 89th annual Academy Awards is around the corner, taking place next Sunday, 26th February at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Los Angeles….

 

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“Every year there’s that one movie that wins all the acclaim, all the awards, all the notices, and seems to suck the air out of the room for everyone else. This year, La La Land is that movie, pulling off a clean sweep of top honors at the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, and the BAFTAs. Next stop: the Oscars, where it’s nominated for a record 14 nominations (tying the record set by All About Eve and Titanic) and is the odds-on favorite for Best Picture, among a whole host of other awards. If and when it wins, it will be the culmination of one big fat La La Land lovefest.

The Damien Chazelle–directed, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone–starring homage to classic Hollywood movie-musicals has been hailed as returning the bygone genre to its golden-era glory—“at a time when musicals seldom grace the big screen, La La Land is practically a miracle,” one review gushed—and enchanting audiences in that pure, old-fashioned kinda way. “During one musical number, when fireworks start going off in the sky,” swooned the Miami Herald, “you can feel them going off in your head, too.”

But does the movie really deserve all of this hype?”

http://www.vogue.com/article/la-la-land-oscars-hype-emma-stone-ryan-gosling

  • SHOULD “LA, LA, LAND” WIN THE BEST PICTURE OSCAR AWARD?
  • DOES THE MOVIE REALLY DESERVE ALL OF THIS HYPE?

HAVE YOUR SAY

HOW EFFECTIVE IS “LANG8” FOR WRITING TASKS? (1B2)

IN A PREVIOUS POST IN NOVEMBER I TOLD YOU ABOUT “LANG8”, A LEARNING PLATFORM WHERE NATIVE SPÈAKERS CORRECT WHAT YOU WRITE. DO YOU REMEMBER?

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bigupdateanimJUAN, one of your 1B2 classmates,  TRIED IT AND WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT HIS EXPERIENCE WITH THIS TOOL:

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“In my opinion it´s a very interesting and effective tool, considering that when you upload a text people don´t delay in making comments.
However, there are some risks as always on the internet, as the information you get may be right or not depending on the person who has corrected you.
It’s fine in order to have an extra revision, but I’d rather be corrected by someone I trust.
Despite this, It´s worth a try.
I also wanted to warn you that it is addictive! Once you start helping to correct texts in Spanish, written by Japanese, English or German people, you can´t stop!”

I HOPE YOUR WORDS ENCOURAGE SOME OF YOUR CLASSMATES TO TRY IT! THANKS FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION!!!

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SOME OF YOUR CLASSMATES LAST YEAR TRIED IT AND I´VE CHOSEN ONE EXAMPLE OF THE ASSIGNED INFORMAL EMAIL: THE STUDENT´S FIRST DRAFT (IN BLUE) AND THE SAME EMAIL CORRECTED (IN BLACK).

I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT THE CORRECTED VERSION IS NOT 100% PERFECT BUT, ANYWAY….. I´D LIKE YOU TO COMPARE BOTH VERSIONS AND ASSESS THE RESULT. HOW EFFECTIVE AND USEFUL DO YOU THINK IT COULD BE FOR YOU IN THE FUTURE?

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IF YOU REALLY WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING SKILLS IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA TO GIVE IT A TRY.

GOOGLE DOCS: A GREAT TOOL FOR REAL TIME COLLABORATION (1B2)

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WE´RE GOING TO WORK ON COLLABORATIVE WRITING THESE DAYS. A GREAT TOOL FOR YOU COULD BE GOOGLE docs. TO SHARE DOCUMENTS AND FILES. HAVE A LOOK AT THIS VIDEO

The main things students will get from this video are :

  • How to create a Google doc and share it with their peers.
  • How to give editing access to collaborators
  • How to identify what other collaborators have added to the document
  • How to chat with collaborators
  • How to bring other people (non-collaborators) into the conversation

THESE IDEAS COME FROM “EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY & MOBILE LEARNING”

HAVE YOU EVER TRIED IT? HAVE YOUR SAY AND MAKE COMMENTS ON THIS SUBJECT

 

Smart Up Your English

LEARN NEW WORDS, EXPRESSIONS, PHRASES...

Helendipity Weblog

learn English and share your experiences (SERENDIPITY= the accidental discovery of something pleasant and useful!)

Adrian Underhill's Pronunciation Site

Practical Discovery of English Pronunciation

Smart Up Your English

LEARN NEW WORDS, EXPRESSIONS, PHRASES...

Helendipity Weblog

learn English and share your experiences (SERENDIPITY= the accidental discovery of something pleasant and useful!)

Adrian Underhill's Pronunciation Site

Practical Discovery of English Pronunciation