Monday, October 19, 2015

Learn English by Reading!

One of the oldest, tried-and-true methods of language learning is simply reading. Here are some tips for helping you do that.

1. Connect to your interests.
Try to connect your interests in your first language with your learning of English. For example, if you love to read fantasy novels in Chinese, you should try to find one that interests you in English. 

2. Read a movie!
Another idea is to read a novel of a movie that you really love. Perhaps the novel was written before the movie, or it was written after the movie came out because of the film's popularity. This is called a novelization. These are fun books to read because if you know the story already, it will be easier for you to read in a second language. Also, if you loved the film, you will have a high motivation to read the book, even if the vocabulary is difficult.

3. Read short stories.
Sometimes you don't have time to read a whole novel. Here is a great blog of touching short stories that you can read in your free time. In fact, this whole website is great and could be added to your favorites. 

4. Keep a vocabulary journal.
No matter what you choose to read in English, keep a vocabulary journal - a continuous list of new words and phrases that you learn. This will help you learn faster, and then later on, you can use this vocabulary in your speaking. 

5. Read everywhere!
These days, almost every student has a smartphone. I tell students that your smartphone is a portable language classroom. You can learn English everywhere you go. For reading, get an e-reader app like Kindle and download books that interest you. Then you can read them any time and anywhere you go (except in my class :-)). Use the highlight function to highlight new words that you don't know. Then you can add them to your vocabulary journal when you have free time. 

I wish you all the best in your reading adventures and especially in learning English!

~Prof Dave

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Learning English from Inspiring TED Talks

One of the most interesting ways to learn English on your own is to practice listening to TED Talks. These are short, inspiring videos of speakers who share an important message based on their talent and expertise. 

On the website, you can find many videos to suit your own interest. You can also use the subtitle function for your native language or the subtitles in English. 

I recommend watching the video first with subtitles of your native language, and then watch the video again with English subtitles. As you watch the English subtitles, pause the video when you see a new expression and write it down. This will help you learn vocabulary in a fun way. 

This video is one of my favorite TED Talks by an incredibly inspiring man who speaks on the topic of hope all over the world. Please use the CC subtitle function to watch with English subtitles. 

 Enjoy learning English through TED Talks!