Something new to read, every day

Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Reading |

Every weekday morning, I get an email from Delancey Place.  It’s a non-profit organisation that sends short excerpts from non-fiction books and if you buy the book through the link they provide to Amazon, they make a donation to children’s literacy programmes.  For me, it’s a short piece of good writing I can enjoy when I have a 5 minute break in my day.  For you, it could be a nice way to have a broad choice of things to read in English. In the email from 1 May, you can read a very negative reaction to the introduction of technology into the classroom… from Plato!  He says that writing “is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.”  Write that in your speaking exam and let me know what score you get! You can subscribe to the Delancey Place emails on either of the links above or directly on this page.  Happy...

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This I Believe–Essays from ordinary Americans

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Listening, Reading, Writing |

It’s difficult to become a good writer without spending a lot of time reading good writing.  And I think we all know the quality of most of the writing on Facebook and Instagram.  So where do you find good writing that’s not 350 pages long? One place where you can read (and listen to!) short essays about hundreds of different topics is at This I Believe.  The website is a revived version of a radio programme in the 1950s where people could listen to essays from famous people talking about their beliefs and motivations.  The new version of the show is similar except the essays are by people from all walks of life.  The goal of the programme–as the Executive Producer says on the about page,–is “not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.” Start reading and listening to essays at This I Believe now! Check the other posts I’ve written about places to read good writing: blogs daily news sites weekly or monthly news sites...

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Karaoke at home

Posted by on Apr 10, 2013 in Listening, Reading, Speaking, Videos |

Doing grammar exercises is not the only way to improve your English!  Sometimes you just want to have a little fun and sing a song.  Karaoke Party is a clever website where you can sing a bunch of different songs for free.  You can search by genre, year or keyword and you will see a flash video with or without the words and a representation of the melody (kind of like SingStar for the PS3).  You can already sing a few songs without registering, if you register you will get more.  There is a paid membership if you want access to all the songs but they have a nice selection for registered users already. Have...

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Ask a teacher

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in Grammar, Learning Websites, Vocabulary, Writing |

You’ve checked your dictionary and your grammar books and you still don’t know the best way to say something.  Or maybe you know the “right” way to say something, but you want to know why it’s the “right” way.  You might have problems with an idiom, slang or phrasal verbs; or you just want someone to check some sentences you’ve written. Here are two great forums where English teachers and native speakers will answer your questions for free!  I post on these forums because I like to learn more about the language and I just like talking to people. UsingEnglish.com/forum  I post here as Mr_Ben EnglishForums.com  I post here as mrBen Please be patient with the teachers on these sites we all answer questions in our free time and some questions are more difficult than others.  A lot of us answer questions on both sites as well, so please only ask your question once.  But I look forward to hearing from you… see you on the...

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Learning with your DVDs

Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Listening, Videos, Vocabulary |

Practicing English by watching films is good for improving your stamina, but there are other things you can do as well.  Take a film that you know very well from watching it in your mother tongue.  Now watch this movie in English (with English subtitles if you like) and you will learn all kinds of language because you know what they will say so you can pay attention to how they say it. When you’re watching a film for the first time, after a conversation you understand that he’s mad at her, she wants a divorce, there’s not enough money… the basics.  When you watch a film that you know, you know what will happen–he’s going to tell his mother-in-law that he hates her and then she’s going to tell him that she’s going to ruin his life (I’m afraid I’m not very good at writing movie scripts)–so you can really pay attention to how he tells his mother-in-law that he hates her and how she says she will ruin his life.  You’ll be able to remember much more vocabulary this way and learn lots of new and exciting ways to express...

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