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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH

 


     Here are some “how to” methods that can improve your English in four skills, reading, writing, listening, and writing.  These are also useful for instructors to stimulate learners to be interested in English.

I. How To Improve Your English

Learning English (or any language for that matter) is a process. You are continually improving your English and the following “How to” describes a strategy to make sure that you continue to improve effectively.

Difficulty Level: Average   Time Required: varies

Here’s How:

1.  Remember that learning a language is a gradual process-it does not happen overnight.

2.  Define your learning objectives early: what do you want to learn and why?

3.  Make learning a habit. Try to learn something every day. It is much better to study (or read, or listen to English news, etc.) for 10 minutes each day than to study for 2 hours once a week.

4.  Remember to make learning a habit! If you study each day for 10 minutes, English will be constantly in your head. If you study once a week, English will not be as present in your mind.

5.  Choose your materials well. You will need reading, grammar, writing, speaking and listening materials.

6.  Vary your learning routine. It is best to do different things each day to help keep the various relationships between each area active. In other words, don’t just study grammar.

7.  Find friends to study and speak with. Learning English together can be very encouraging.

8.  Choose listening and reading materials that relate to what you are interested in. Being interested in the subject will make learning more enjoyable-thus more effective.

9.  Relate grammar to practical usage. Grammar by itself does not help you USE the language. You should practice what you are learning by employing it actively.

10.  Move your mouth! Understanding something doesn’t mean the muscles of your mouth can produce the sounds. Practice speaking what you are learning aloud. It may seem strange, but it is very effective.

11.  Be patient with yourself. Remember learning is a    process-speaking a language well takes time. It is not a   computer that is either on or off!

12.  Communicate! There is nothing like communicating in English and being successful. Grammar exercises are good-having your friend on the other side of the world understand your email is fantastic!

13.  Use the Internet. The Internet is the most exciting, unlimited English resource that anyone could imagine and it is right at your finger tips.

Tips:

1.  Remember that English learning is a Process

2.  Be patient with yourself.

3.  Practice, practice, practice.

 

II. How to Develop a Class Curriculum

Planning the curriculum of a new ESL/EFL class can be a challenge. This task can be simplified by following these basic principles.

Difficulty Leve1: Hard   Time Required: A few days

Here’s How:

1.  Evaluate students’ learning levels-are they similar or mixed?

2.  Evaluate nationality makeup of class-are they all from the same country or a multi-national group?

3.  Establish primary goals.

4.  Investigate the various student learning styles-what type of learning do they feel comfortable with?

5.  Find out how important is a specific type of English (i.e. British or American etc.) to the class.

6.  Ask students what they perceive as being most important about this learning experience.

7.  Establish extra-curricular goals of the class (i.e. do they want English for travel?).

8.  Take time to investigate what teaching materials are available to meet these goals. Do they meet your needs? Are you limited in your choice? What kind of access do you have to “authentic” materials?

9.  Be realistic and then cut your goals back by about 30%-you can always expand as the class continues.

10.  Establish a number of intermediate goals.

11.  Let student’s know how they are progressing so there are no surprises!

Tips:

1.  Having a map of where you want to go can really help with a number of issues such as motivation, lesson planning and overall class satisfaction.

2.  Time spent thinking about these issues is an excellent investment that will pay itself back many times over not only in terms of satisfaction, but also in terms of saving time.

3.  Remember that each class is different-even if they do seem alike.

 

 

III. How To Improve Your Pronunciation

Pronouncing every word correctly leads to poor pronunciation!

Good pronunciation comes from stressing the right words-this is because English is a time-stressed language.

Difficulty Level: Hard     Time Required: Varies

Here’s How:

1.  Learn the following rules concerning pronunciation.

2.  English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic.

3.  In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress but each syllable has its own length).

4.  English pronunciation focuses on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, non-stressed, words.

5.  Stressed words are considered content words: Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter-(most)principle verbs e.g. visit, construct-

Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting-Adverbs e.g. often, carefully.

6.      Non-stressed words are considered function words: Determiners e.g. the, a-Auxiliary verbs e.g. am, were-Prepositions e.g. before, of-Conjunctions e.g. but, and-Pronouns e.g. they, she.

7.  Read the following sentence aloud: The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.

8.  Read the following sentence aloud: He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening.

Notice that the first sentence actually takes about the same time to speak well! Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressed words in each sentence. Write down a few sentences, or take a few example sentences from a book or exercise. First underline the stressed words then read aloud focusing on stressing the underlined words and gliding over the non-stressed words. Be surprised at how quickly your pronunciation improves! By focusing on stressed words, non-stressed words and syllables take on their more muted nature. When listening to native speakers, focus on how those speakers stress certain words certain words and begin to copy this.

Tips:

1.  Remember that non-stressed words and syllables are of the “swallowed” in English.

2.  Always focus on pronouncing stressed words well, non-stressed words can be glided over.

3.  Don’t focus on pronouncing each word. Focus on the stressed words in each sentence.

4.  Intonation and Stress: Key to Understanding and Being Understood.

5.  Try this short exercise. Say this sentence aloud and count how many seconds it takes.

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance.

He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening.

Time required? Probably about 5 seconds.

Wait a minute the first sentence is much shorter than the second sentence!

   The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance

   He can come on Sunday as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening

You are only partially right!

This simple exercise makes a very important point about how we speak and use English. Namely, English is considered a stressed language while many other languages are considered syllabic. What does that mean? It means that, in English, we give stress to certain words while other words are quickly spoken (some student say eaten!). In other languages, such as French or Italian, each syllable receives equal importance (there is stress, but each syllable has its own length).

Many speakers of syllabic languages don’t understand why English speakers quickly speak, or swallow, a number of words in a sentence. In syllabic languages each syllable has equal importance, and therefore equal time is needed. English, however, spends more time on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, less important words.

Let’s look at a simple example: the modal verb “can”. When we use the positive form of “can”, we quickly glide over the can and it is hardly pronounced.

They can come on Friday. (Stressed words underlined)

On the other hand, when we use the negative form “can’t” we tend to stress the fact that it is the negative form by also stressing “can’t”.

  They can’t come on Friday.

As you can see from the above example the sentence, “They can’t come on Friday” is longer than “They can come on Friday” because both the modal ”can’t” and the verb “come” are stressed.

So, what does this mean for my speaking skills?

Well, first of all, you need to understand which words we generally stressed and which we do not stress. Basically, stressed words are considered CONTENT WORDS such as.

Nouns e.g. kitchen, Peter

(most)principle verbs e.g. visit, construct

Adjectives e.g. beautiful, interesting

Adverbs e.g. often, carefully

Non-stressed words are considered FUNCTION WORDS such as

Determiners e.g. the, a, some, a few

Auxiliary verbs e.g. don’t, am, can, were

Prepositions e.g. before, next to, opposite

Conjunctions e.g. but, while, as

Pronouns e.g. they, she, us

  Let’s return the beginning example to demonstrate how this affects speech.

The beautiful Mountain appeared transfixed in the distance. (14 syllables)

He can come on Sundays as long as he doesn’t have to do any homework in the evening. (22 syllables)

  Even though the second sentence is approximately 30% longer than the first, the sentences take the same time to speak. This is because there are 5 stressed words in each sentence. From this example, you can see that you needn’t worry about pronouncing every word clearly to be understood (we native speakers certainly don’t). You should however, concentrate on pronouncing the stressed words clearly.

  Now, do some listening comprehension or go speak to your native English speaking friends and listen to how we concentrate on the stressed words rather that giving importance to each syllable. You will soon find that you can understand and communicate more because you begin to listen to (and use in speaking) stressed words, All those words that you thought you didn’t understand are really not crucial for understanding the sense or making yourself understood. Stressed are the key to excellent pronunciation and understanding of English.

IV. The Problem with Listening is…

Does this situation seem familiar to you? Your English is progressing well, the grammar is now familiar, the reading comprehension is no problem, you are communicating quite fluently, but: Listening is STILL a problem!

First of all, remember that you are not alone. Listening comprehension is probably the most difficult task (noun=exercise, job) for almost all leamers of English as a foreign language. So, now you know you are not alone…! OK. The most important thing it to listen, and that means as often as possible. The next step is to find listening resources. This is where the Internet really comes in handy (idiom=to be useful) as a tool for English students. First you need to:

Download The RealPlayer from RealMedia.com The RealPlayer allows you to listen to RealAudio and use the Internet like a radio station. Once you have the RealPlayer you can begin to listen to English as it is used in everyday life. The possibilities are almost unlimited. You can:

1.  Listen to All Things Considered news stories on NPR

2.  Listen to interviews in English with your favorite stars, business executives, computer specialists etc.

3.  Listen to books and short stories read aloud Choose from the classics, popular fiction, science fiction, philosophy and many other categories.

Once you have begun to listen on a regular basis, you might still be frustrated (adjective=upset) by limited understanding.

What should you do?

Here is some of the advice I give my students:

1.  Accept the fact that you are not going to understand everything.

2.    Keep cool (idiom=stay relaxed) when you do not understand -even if you continue not to understand for a long time.

3.      Do not translate into your native language (synonym=mother tongue)

4.    Listen for the gist (noun=general idea) of the conversation. Don’t concentrate on detail until you have understood the main ideas.

I remember the problems I had in understanding spoken German. In the beginning, when I didn’t understand a word, I insisted on translating it in my mind. This approach (synonym=method) usually resulted in confusion. Then, after the first six months, I discovered two extremely important fact; Firstly, translating creates a barrier (noun=wall, separation) between the listener and the speaker Secondly, most people repeat themselves constantly. By remaining calm (adjective=relaxed), I noticed that-even if I spaced out (idiom=not to pay attention) I could usually understand what the speaker had said I had discovered some of the most important things about listening comprehension:

Translating creates a barrier between yourself and the person who is speaking.

While you are listening to another person speaking a foreign language (English in this case), the temptation is to immediately translate into your native language. This temptation becomes much stronger when you hear a word you don’t understand. This is only natural as we want to understand everything that is said. However, when you translate into your native language, you are taking the focus of your attention away from the speaker and concentrating on the translation process taking place in your brain. This would be fine if you could put the speaker on hold (phrasal verb=to make a person wait). In real life, however, the person continues talking while you translate. This situation obviously leads to less-not more-understanding. I have discovered that translation leads to a kind of block (noun=no movement or activity) in my brain which sometimes doesn’t allow me to understand anything at all!

Most people repeat themselves. Think for moment about your friends, family and colleagues. When they speak in your native tongue, do they repeat themselves? I don’t mean literally (adverb=word for word), I mean the general idea. If they are like most people I have met, they probably do. That means that whenever you listen to someone speaking, it is likely (adjective=probable) that he/she will repeat the information, giving you a second, third or even fourth chance to understand what has been said. By remaining calm, allowing yourself not to understand, and not translating while listening, your brain is free to concentrate on the most important thing. Understanding English in English.

Tips

1.  Listen to something you enjoy

Probably the greatest advantage about using the Internet to improve your listening skills is that you can choose what you would like to listen to and how many and times you would like to listen to it. By listening to something you enjoy, you are also likely to know a lot more of the vocabulary required!

2.  Listen for Keywords

Use keywords (noun=principal words) or keyphrases to help you understand the general ideas. If you understand “New York”, “business trip”, “last year” you can assume (verb=to take for granted, suppose) that the person is speaking about a business trip to New York last year. This may seem obvious to you, but remember that understanding the main idea will help you to understand the detail as the person continues to speak.

3.  Listen for Context

Let’s imagine that your English speaking friend says”…I bought this great tuner at JR’s It was really cheap and now I can finally listen to National Public Radio broadcasts.” You don’t understand what a tuner is. If you focus on the word tuner you might become frustrated. However if you think in context (noun=the situation explained during the conversation) you probably will understand. For example; bought is the past of buy, listen is no problem and radio is obvious. Now you understand: He bought something-the tuner-to listen to the radio. A tuner must be a kind of radio! This is a simple example but it demonstrates what you need to focus on: Not the word that you don’t understand, but the words you do understand.

Summary

  It might seem to you that my ideas on how to listen encourage you not to understand everything. This is absolutely correct. One hundred percent understanding is something to work towards (phrasal verb=to have as a goal, a plan for the future) and not to expect of yourself now. Listening needs a great amount of practice and patience. Allow yourself the luxury of not becoming nervous when you do not understand, and you will be surprised by how quickly you do begin to understand.

Listening often is most important way to improve your listening skills. Enjoy the listening possibilities offered by the Internet and remember relax……

  Come back next week for a reading comprehension quiz based on John F. Kennedy’s 10961 inaugural speech. Drop him a line (verb=to write to ) at esl.guide@about.com with your ideas for further features and any questions you may have.

 

Teaching Conversational Skills-Tips and Strategies

  When employing role-plays, debates, topic discussions,  etc., I have noticed that some students are often timid in  expressing their viewpoints. This seems due to a number of reasons:

1.  Students don’t have an opinion on the subject.

2.  Students have an opinion, but are worried about what the other students might say or think.

3.  Students have an opinion, but don’t feel they can say exactly what they mean.

4.  Students begin giving their opinion, but want to state it in the same eloquent manner that they are capable of in their native language.

Other, more actively participating students, feel confident in their opinions and express them eloquently making the less confident students more timid.

Pragmatically, conversation lessons and exercises are intended to improve conversational skills. For this reason, I find it helpful to first focus on building skills by eliminating some of the barriers that might be in the way of production. Having been assigned roles, opinions and points of view that they do not necessarily share, students are freed from having to express their own opinions. Therefore, this can focus on expressing themselves well in English. In this way, students tend to concentrate more on production skills, and less on factual content. They also are less likely to insist on literal translations from their mother tongue.

Implementing this approach can begin slowly by providing students with short role plays using cue cards. Once students become comfortable with target structures and representing differing points of view, classes can move onto more elaborated exercises such as debates and group decision making activities.

This approach bears fruit especially when debating opposing points of view. By representing opposing points of view, students imagination are activated by trying go focus on all the various points that an opposing stand on any given issue may take. As students inherently do not agree with the view they represent, they are freed from having to invest emotionally in the statements they make. More importantly, from a pragmatic point of view, students tend to focus more on correct function and structure when they do not become too emotionally involved in what they are saying.

Of course, this is not to say that students should not express their own opinions. After all, when students go out into the “real” world they will want to say what they mean. However, taking out the personal investment factor can help students first become more confident in using English. Once this confidence is gained, students-especially timid students-will be more self-assured when expressing their own points of view.

 

V. How To Increase Specific Vocabulary

Improving vocabulary skills requires constant attention. This “how to” focuses on a basic strategy for increasing vocabulary in specific subject areas through the use of a vocabulary tree.

Difficulty Level: Average   Time Required: Varies

Here’s How:

1.  Choose a subject area that interests you very much.

2.  Write a short introduction to the subject trying to use as many vocabulary words concerning the subject as possible.

3.  Using your introduction, arrange the principle ideas concerning at the subject into a vocabulary tree.

4.  To create a vocabulary tree, put the subject at the center of a piece of paper.

5.  Around the central subject, put the principle areas relating to the subject. Example-verbs, descriptive adjectives, where, etc.

6.  In each of these categories, write the appropriate vocabulary. If you need to, write sub-categories.

7.  Create the same vocabulary tree in your native language.

8.  Your native language tree will be much more detailed. Use this native language tree as a reference point to look up new words and fill in your English tree.

9.  Rewrite your introductory essay concerning the subject taking advantage of the new vocabulary learned.

10.  To make this vocabulary active, practice reading your essay aloud until you can present it by memory.

11.  Ask a friend or fellow classmate to listen to your presentation and ask you questions about the subject.

Tips:

1.  Remember that vocabulary goes from passive knowledge to active knowledge-this means that you need to repeat a word often before it becomes active vocabulary.

2.  Be patient with yourself, it takes time for this for this process to work.

3.  Try to always learn vocabulary in groups of words instead of random lists. In this manner, words are related to each other and are more likely to be remembered over the long-term.

Lesson: Vocabulary Charts

  Vocabulary charts can be very useful helping students widen their passive and active vocabulary based on related word group areas: Typically, students will often learn new vocabulary by simply writing lists of new vocabulary words and then memorize these words by rote. Unfortunately, this technique often provides few contextual clues. Rote learning helps “short term” learning for exams etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really provide a “hook” with which to remember new vocabulary. Vocabulary charts, on the other hand, provide this “hook” by placing vocabulary in connected categories thus helping “long term” memorization. In this lesson, you will find a printable vocabulary chart and a lesson outline focusing on creating in-class vocabulary charts.

Aim: Creation of vocabulary charts to be shared around the class

  Vocabulary charts can be very useful in helping students widen their passive and active vocabulary based on related word group areas. Typically, students will often learn leam new vocabulary by simply writing lists of new vocabulary words and then memorize these words by rote. Unfortunately, this technique often provides few contextual clues. Rote learning helps “short term” learning for exams etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really provide a “hook” with which to remember new vocabulary. Vocabulary charts, on the other hand, provide this “hook” by placing vocabulary in connected categories thus helping “long term” memorization. In this lesson, you will find a printable vocabulary chart and a lesson outline focusing on creating in-class vocabulary charts.

Aim: Awareness raising of effective vocabulary learning techniques followed by vocabulary tree creation in groups.

Level: Any level

Outline:

1.  Begin lesson by asking students to explain how they go about learning new vocabulary.

2.  Explain the concept of “short term” and “long term” learning and the importance of contextual clues for effective “long term memorization.

3.  Present the idea of creating vocabulary charts to help students learn specific content related vocabulary.

4.  Distribute a copy of the example vocabulary chart.

5.  Divide students into small groups asking them to create vocabulary charts based on a particular subject area. Example: house, sports, the office, etc.

6.  Students create vocabulary charts in small groups.

7.  Copy student created vocabulary charts and distribute the copies to the other groups. In this way, the class generates a large amount of new vocabulary in a relatively short amount of time.

Example Vocabulary Chart.

Example Vocabulary Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lesson: Vocabulary Tables

  Vocabulary tables can be very useful in helping intermediate to advanced students increase their vocabulary based on different forms of a particular word that is known to them. This activity can be strengthened by having students base their vocabulary tables on specific topics. By basing tables on specific topics, students also improve their “long term” memory of related words. In this lesson, you will find an example vocabulary table based on words related to making music, specifically classical music, as well as a lesson outline.

Aim: Expanding vocabulary in specific contexts

Activity: Table creation providing verb, noun, adjective and adverb forms of words.

Level: Best with advanced levels

Outline:

1.  Begin lesson by asking students to explain how they go about learning new vocabulary.

2.  Explain the concept of “short term” and “long term” learning and the importance of contextual clues for effective “long term” memorization.

3.  Present the idea of creating vocabulary tables to help students build on pre-existing vocabulary knowledge.

4.  Distribute a copy of the example vocabulary table based on classical music terms.

5.  Divide students into small groups asking them to create vocabulary tables based on a particular subject areas. Example: work actions, character, sporting actions, etc.

6.  Students create vocabulary tables in small groups.

7.  Copy student created vocabulary tables and distribute the copies to the other groups. In this way, the class generates a large amount of expanded vocabulary awareness in a relatively short amount of time.

Example Vocabulary Table-Classical Music

Lesson: Vocabulary Tables

 

Example Vocabulary Table-Classical Music

Verb

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

melodize

melody

melodeon

melodiousness

melodizer

melodious

melodic

melodiously

melodically

harmonize

harmony

harmonist

harmonization

harmonizer

harmonic

harmonious

harmonizable

harmonistic

Harmonically

harmoniously

harmonistically

tune

tune

tunelessness

tunefulness

tuneful

tuneless

tunefully

tunelessly

sing

song, singer

singable

singingly

compose

composer

composition

compositional

 

perform

performance

performer

performable

performing

 

orchestrate

orchestra

orchestration

orchestrator

orchestral

 

 

VI. Differences Between American and British English

While there are certainly many more varieties of English, American and British English are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL/EFL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is “correct”, however, there are certainly preferences in use. The most important rule of thumb is to try to be consistent in your usage. If you decide that you want to use American English spellings then be consistent in your spelling (i.e. The color of the orange is also its flavour-color is American spelling and flavour is British), this is of course not always easy-or possible. The following guide is meant to point out the principal differences between these two varieties of English.

 

Use of the Present Perfect

  In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:

    I’ve lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

  In American English, the following is also possible:

    I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?

  In British English, the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally excepted in standard American English. Other difference involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.

 

 

 

British English:

I’ve just had lunch.

I’ve already seen that film.

Have you finished your homework yet?

 

American English:

I just had lunch OR I’ve just had lunch.

I’ve already seen that film OR I already saw that film.

Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish you homework yet?

 

Possession

  There are two forms too express possession in English. Have got

    Do you have a car?

    Have you got a car?

    He hasn’t got any friends.

    He doesn’t have any friends.

    She has a beautiful new home.

    She’s got a beautiful new home.

  While both forms are correct (and accepted in both British and American English), have got (have you got, he hasn’t got, etc.) is generally the preferred form in British English while most speakers of American English employ the have (do you have, he doesn’t, he doesn’t have etc.)

The Verb Get

  The past participle of the verb get is gotten in American English-He’s gotten much better at playing tennis. British English-He’s got much better at playing tennis.

Vocabulary

  Probably the major differences between British and American English lies in the choice of vocabulary. Some words mean different things in the two varieties for example:

Mean: (American English-angry, bad humored, British English-not generous, tight fisted)

Rubber: (American English-condom, British, English-tool used to erase pencil markings)

 

  There are many more examples (too many for me to list here). If there is a difference in usage, your dictionary will note the different meanings in its definition of term. Many vocabulary items are also used in one form and not in the other. One of the best examples of this is the terminology used for automobiles.

American English-hood, British English-bonnet

American English-trunk, British English-trunk

American English-trunk, British English-lorry

Once again, your dictionary should list whether the term is used in British English or American English.

Prepositions

  There are also a few differences in preposition use including the following:

American English-on the weekend, British English-at the weekend.

American English-on a team, British English-in a team.

American English-please write me soon, British English-please write to me soon.

 

Past simple/Past Participles

  The following verbs have two acceptable forms of the past simple/past participle in both American and British English, however, the irregular form is generally more common in British English (the first form of the two) and the regular form is more common to American English.

 

burn burnt OR burned

dream dreamt OR dreamed

lean leant OR leaned

learn learnt OR learned

smell smelt OR smelled

spell spelt OR spelled

spill spilt OR spilled

spoil spoilt OR spoiled

Spelling

  Here are some general differences between British and American spellings:

Words ending in-or (American)-our (British) color, colour, humour, flavor, flavour, etc.

Words ending in-ize (American)-ise (British) recognize, recognize, patronize, patronize etc.

  The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see there are really very few differences between standard English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.

 

VII. How To Take Tests

Doing well on English examinations-or any examination for that matter-depends not only on your knowledge, but also on having a good strategy.

Difficulty Level: all levels    Time Required: 20 minutes

Here’s How:

1.  Do not insist on completing each question before going to the next. By insisting on completing each question you can loose time and become nervous.

2.  If possible, go through the entire test answering the questions you are sure you know.

3.  Go through the test a second time working out the answers to more difficult questions.

4.  Once you have gone through the test twice, see if any of the questions asked can help you answer those really difficult questions.

5.  If you have a strong feeling about a question when you first answer it, don’t go back and change it later.

6.  Play the odds: If you don’t know the answer, write something. In a 4 choice multiple choice question you have a 25% chance of being right.

7.  Do not cheat! Asking a test is as much for you as it is for your teacher. If you cheat, you don’t help yourself in the long run.

8.  Do not translate from your mother tongue!

9.  Don’t block when listening

10.  Limit yourself to what you know.

11.  Look for time signifiers when having to conjugate.

12.  Throw out the ridiculous answers in a multiple choice question.

13.  Don’t try to be too funny or clever.

Tips:

1.  If you don’t know an answer, don’t worry about it. Worrying about what you don’t know can keep you from showing what you do know.

2.  Remember that tests not only to test your ability, but also help you learn what you need to focus on to improve your English.

3.  If you don’t understand why you have made a mistake, make sure to have the courage go ask the teacher why in a latter session. Being embarrassed about mistakes will never help you improve, so ask!

Effective Test: Taking Strategies

  Sooner or later, most students are confronted with the necessity of taking some form of English examination. These tests include:

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Cambridge Examinations (First Certificate, CAE, Proficiency)

University examinations

On the Job examinations

Examinations given by your teacher

  As you have probably noticed, some students are more successful than others when taking such an examination. Often the more successful students are better prepared. However, sometimes students who do well have better test taking skills. These abilities really have nothing to do with understanding English better. They are strategic skill that make taking the test easier, and therefore provide better results.

Some General Guidelines

Here are some very important-and often ignored-guidelines to taking a test successfully.

1.  Do not insist on completing each question before going to the next.

This is extremely important. If you spend a lot of time on one question that you don’t understand there can be two negative outcomes:

2.  Loosing time

Remember one question may only be worth one point, if you are not able to answer questions later because you have lost time you could lose more points!

3.  Becoming nervous

Becoming nervous can make you lose your concentration and that leads to worse results.

4.  If possible, go through the entire test answering the questions you are sure you know.

This results in your being more relaxed and feeling more confident.

5.  Go through the test a second time working out the answers to more difficult questions.

Now you will feel more confident and this will improve your test taking. However, remember not to waste too much time on any one question.

6.  Once you have gone through the test twice, see if any of the questions asked can help you answer those really difficult questions.

This is a little used trick. Sometimes questions asked are

answered in later questions asking for different things. This should not be tried until you have finished the test and have some time remaining to try the questions you have had problems with again.

  If you have a strong feeling about a question when you first answer it, don’t go back and change it later.

  Usually (but not always) a strong first impulse means we know the answer and we don’t really have to think about it too much. Going back to think about it usually makes you unsure and often causes an error. This is very common so be very careful!

7.  Play the odds

If you don’t know the answer, write something. If you are answering 4 possibility multiple choice question you will still have a 25% chance of being correct!

8.  Do not cheat!!!

Taking a test is as much for you as it is for your teacher. If you cheat, you don’t help yourself in the long run.

 

VII.  How to Write a Business Letter

There are many different reasons for writing a business letter. However, most business letters follow some general guidelines as described below.

Difficulty Level: Average   Time Required: 40 minutes

Here’s How:

1.  Use block style-do not indent paragraphs.

2.  Include address of the person you are written to at the top of the letter, below your company address.

3.  After the address, double space and include date.

4.  Double space (or as much as you need to put the body of the letter in the center) and include the salutation. Include Mr. For men or Ms for women, unless the recipient has a title such as Dr.

5.  State a reference reason for your letter (i.e. “With reference to our telephone conversation…”)

6.  Give the reason for writing (i.e. “I am writing to you to confirm our order…”)

7.  Make any request you may have (i.e. “I would be grateful if you could include a brochure…”)

8.  Close the letter with a thank you (i.e. “Thank you for your prompt help…”)

9.  Finish the letter with a salutation (i.e. “Yours sincerely.”)

Include 4 spaces and type your full name and title

sing the letter between the salutation and the typed name and title.

Tips:

1.  Keep the letter brief and do the point

2.  Do not use shortened verb forms-write out (i.e. “don’t instead of do not”)

3.  Always keep a copy of correspondence for future reference

Business Letter: Writing Basics

  The basics of good business letter writing are easy to learn. The following guide provides the phrases that are usually found in any standard business letter. By using these standard phrases, you can give a professional tone to your business letter in English. These phrase are used as a kind of frame and introduction to the content of business letters. At the end of this guide, you will find links to sites that give tips on the difficult part of writing successful business letters-arguing your business objective.

Business Letter Writing Basics

The Start

 

Dear Personnel

Director,

Dear Sir or Madam

(use if you don’t know who you are writing to)

Dear Mr., Mrs, Miss or Ms

(use if you know who you are writing to, and have a formal relationship with-VERYIMPORTANT use Ms for women unless asked to use Mrs or Miss

Dear Frank

(use if the person is a close business contact or friend)

The Reference

 

With reference to

your advertisement in the Times,…

your letter of 23rd March,…

your phone call today,…

Thank you for your letter of March 5th

 

The Reason for Writing

 

I am writing to

enquire about…apologize for…confirm…

Requesting

 

Could you possibly…?

 

I would be grateful if you could…

 

Agreeing to Requests

 

I would be delighted to…

 

Giving Bad News

 

Unfortunately…

 

I am afraid that…

 

Enclosing

Documents

 

I am enclosing…

 

Please find enclosed…

 

Enclosed you will find…

 

Closing Remarks

 

Thank you for help

 

Please contact us again if

we can help in any way.

There are any problems.

You have any questions.

Reference to Future.

Contact

 

I look forward to

hearing from you soon.

Meeting you next Tuesday.

Seeing you next Thursday.

The Finish

(If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Your faithfully

(If you know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Yours sincerely,

(If you know the name of the person you’re writing to)

Best wishes,

Best regards,

(If the person is a close business contact or friend)

 

Here is a sample letter using some of the forms:

Ken’s Cheese House

34 Chatley Avenue

Seatle, WA 98765

Tel:(206)4568967

Email: Kenny@cheese.com

 

Fred Flintstone

Sales Manager

Cheese Specialists Inc.

456 Rubble Road

Rockville, IL 8967756

 

Dear Mr. Flintstone,

  With reference to our telephone conversation today, I am writing to confirm your order for: 120x

Cheddar Deluxe Ref. No. 856

  Please contact us again if we can help in any way.

Yours sincerely,

Kenneth Beare

Director of Ken’s Cheese

House

 

IX. How To Write Resume in English

Writing a resume in English can be very different than in your native tongue. The following how to outlines a standard resume format.

Difficulty Level: Hard      Time Required: 2 hours

Here’s How:

1.  First, take notes on your work experience-both paid and unpaid, full time and part time. Write down your responsibilities, job title and company information. Include everything!

2.  Take notes on your education. Include degree or certificates, major or course emphasis, school names and courses relevant to career objectives.

3.  Take notes on other accomplishments. Include membership in organizations, military service and any other special accomplishments.

4.  From the notes, choose which skills are transferable (skills that are similar) to the job you are applying for-these are the most important points for your resume.

5.  Begin resume by writing your full name, address, telephone number, fax and email at the top of the resume.

6.  Write an objective. The objective is a short sentence describing what type of work you hope to obtain.

7.  Begin work experience with your most recent job. Include the company specifics and your responsibilities-focus on the skills you have identified as transferable.

8.  Continue to list all of your work experience job by job progressing backwards in time. Remember to focus on skills that are transferable.

9.  Summarize your education, including important facts (degree type specific courses studied) that are applicable to the job you are applying for.

10.  Include other relevant information such as languages spoken, computer programming knowledge etc. Under the heading: Additional Skills

11.  Finish with the phrase: REFERENCES Available upon request

Your entire resume should ideally not be any longer than

one page. If you have had a number of years of experience specific to the job you are applying for two pages are also acceptable.

12.Spacing: ADDRESS (center of page in bold) OBJECTIVE double space EXPERIENCE double space EDUCATION double space ADDITIONAL SKILLS double space REFERNCES. Left align everything except name/address.

Tips:

1.    Use dynamic action verbs such as: accomplished, collaborated, encouraged, established, facilitated, founded, managed, etc.

2.    Do NOT use the subject “I”, use tenses in the past. Except for your present job. Example:

Conducted routine inspections of on site equripment.

 

X. How To Use a Computer in Class

The principle idea is that the computer is treated as just another-learning tool. As such, the computer is not the focus of the lesson- effective English learning is.

Difficulty Level: Average    Time Required: 45 minute

Here’s How:

1.  Select target structure or function by deciding what students need to focus on considering past lessons and future goals.

2.  Select computer materials to be used: Are you going to use a program, the Internet or maybe word processing? Choose just one.

3.  Plan the lesson in the typical four areas: warm-up, introduction of materials, class work, summary.

4.  Divide the computer section of the lesson into at lest two sections.

5.  Make sure that you prepare the computer before you enter the classroom. This means loading the computer with the chosen material ahead of time.

6.  When you begin to use the computer in class, remind students that more experienced computer users should be patient and help less experienced uses.

7.  Students who are not comfortable using computers should be placed with students who are.

8.  Have students work on the first task. Communication should be encouraged, as working with a computer is a great task for conversation.

9.  After task is finished, discuss specific language skills and/or objectives with students.

10.  Have students work on second task and repeat the above.

11.  Use the computer as a springboard for discussion. For example, ask students to explain to other students what they have just read in reading comprehension.

Tips:

1.  Keep focused objectives in mind. It is extremely easy for students to begin exploring the infinite world at their finger tips and that can be counterproductive.

2.  Don’t insist that students who are not comfortable with computers use them. Let other, more computer savvy, students dominate if necessary.

3.  Students more comfortable with the computer should be strongly discouraged from using other resources available in the program itself, or in other programs.