The speech accent archive

Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Speaking |

The speech accent archive is a project run by Stephen H. Weinberger at the George Mason University Program of Linguistics.  He and his colleagues and students have collected and phonetically transcribed hundreds of speech samples from English native speakers and learners from around the world.  Everyone reads the same short script so you can really hear the differences in accent!  It’s a fun way to travel around the world, linguistically!  Below you can see the map of speakers in Europe, click the image to go to the...

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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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Real-world dictations

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in Listening |

If you want to improve your listening (and spelling) skills, try out this site: Listen and Write.  They have taken media from a wide range of sources, found transcripts, and made them into dictation activities.  This means that you can listen to (or watch, many of the sources are on youtube) a news report, an interview, a song, a film trailer or a TV show and then listen to it in “chapters” so you can focus on 5-10 seconds of text at a time.  It’s a great way to practice your listening while following your...

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Free audiobooks–Librivox

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Listening, Vocabulary |

We all need to practice our listening skills, but it can be difficult.  Listening to the news can be boring.  Watching films or TV shows can be fun, but do we really understand what they said?  Can we remember it?  Sometimes we want to check if we really heard everything. Librivox is a community of people who are trying to record all of the books in the public domain.  This means that all of their resources are 100% free and legal!  It also means that you won’t find Harry Potter there, but for a free resource it is really excellent. How does it work?  Go to Librivox and do a search or just browse their collection.  I enjoy short stories, and I got a lot of results for “short” and “stories” when I searched for those terms.  You can also try terms like “poetry,” “ghost,” or “mystery.”  Click on one of the titles and on the next page you will be able to find links to the text and the recording.  Some readers are better than others (they are all volunteers), so try a different title if you don’t have a good reader.  Read along in the text as you listen, you’ll learn lots of new vocabulary as you improve your listening...

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