Site of the Day — Read Listen Learn — The English Blog

The English Blog shares a great resource with Read Listen Learn. Read on to learn more:

Reading is one of the four main skills that learners of English need to improve (the others being Listening, Speaking, and Writing), but it’s not always easy to find interesting reading material at the right level. Most of the main EFL publishers have a range of graded readers (see here and here, for example), but…

via Site of the Day — Read Listen Learn — The English Blog

Volunteering as an International Student

When people study abroad in America, they think of making friends, visiting new places, and learning the culture (and studying, of course!). The obvious answer is to gain those experiences through school and travel in the country you’re studying in. But have you ever thought of volunteering as an international student? Not only can you enjoy volunteer service, but it has many other benefits as well. As the article from International Student Blog says,

“the US also provides great volunteer opportunities that allow you to give back to the community. Volunteering as an international student will expand your horizons and introduce you to a new part of the US culture. Not only does volunteering help you meet new friends, but it shows potential employers or scholarship panels that you care about your community.”

Some of their volunteer suggestions include:

  • Working at a food pantry or soup kitchen
  • Tutoring students
  • Presenting about your country and culture at events or schools
  • Cleaning a beach or park
  • Walking or playing with dogs at a shelter

If none of those ideas interest you, then let’s start thinking about what other ideas would! The article offers 3 key points to help you find that interest (and do the research to find organizations or events you can participate in).

  1. Play to your strengths
  2. Gather information
  3. Figure out the “why?”

Continue reading here for the full explanation on the 3 points and more tips to volunteer as an international student in America.


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Culture Shock!

Many people will feel culture shock when they study abroad. Especially for language learners, it can be stressful to adapt to the culture and school work. However, culture shock is a well-studied topic and there are many coping tips. “How to Deal with Culture Shock while Studying Abroad” by Mandi Schmitt is great article that explains how to overcome culture shock. For example:

1. Learn as much about your host country as possible

Read through travel forums, guidebooks, news reports, or novels. Talk to people who have been there or — better yet — are from there.

Get to know as much as you can about what’s considered polite or rude (for example, did you know it’s rude to step over someone’s bag in Madagascar?) and prepare yourself for some of the differences before you go.

2. Ask study abroad coordinators for advice

Specifically, ask them what other students have had a hard time adapting to and what they’ve done to cope. Each country has it’s own nuances, so you’re going to face a different situation in France as you would in Thailand. Ask those who know best!

3. Set learning goals for your study abroad trip

This may be obvious, but make sure you have goals for your study abroad trip, and make sure they include learning about your host culture. Do you love food? Make it a goal to learn how to cook a local dish.

4. Write down what you love when you first arrive, and look back later

During the honeymoon phase, write down all the things you love about your new host country (maybe even in your new study abroad blog?). Later, when you’re feeling frustrated or irritated, use this list to remind yourself of all the good things about your host country, instead of the things that annoy you.

5. Find a healthy distraction

Especially in stage two, when you may have negative feelings towards your host culture, find a healthy distraction. Take some time to yourself, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, cook a meal from home, or have a solo dance party in your house.

Continue reading the full article here.


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Tips for Writing Under Pressure

One common final exam is writing, and that is coming soon with the end of our Spring quarter. Many students will feel a lot of pressure from writing paragraphs or an essay with a short amount of time. That’s why it’s important to learn how to handle that pressure. Here’s a great article from ThoughtCo. that shares how you can to do that:

“8 Quick Tips for Writing Under Pressure”

by Richard Nordquist

You have 25 minutes to compose an SAT essay, two hours to write a final exam paper, less than half a day to finish a project proposal for your boss.

Here’s a little secret: both in college and beyond, most writing is done under pressure.

Composition theorist Linda Flower reminds us that some degree of pressure can be “a good source of motivation. But when worry or the desire to perform well is too great, it creates an additional task of coping with anxiety” (Problem-Solving Strategies for Writing, 2003).

So learn to cope. It’s remarkable how much writing you can produce when you’re up against a strict deadline.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by a writing task, consider adopting these eight (admittedly not-so-simple) strategies.

Continue reading here for the 8 strategies


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Free Pearson Resources

Many schools use Pearson books and online resources to teach students English, including us! They have many topics to choose from: seasonal (holidays, events), adults (life skills, conversational topics), early learners, and more. Though the resources are aimed at teachers, the materials are great for students too. Go to Pearson’s Classroom Resources and check them out!

ACE - pearson free

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Connectors and Comparisons

Have you heard of “linking language”? These are words that connect two sentences. It’s important to know how to use linking language because they help you change the flow and rhythm of your writing style. More importantly, they connect two ideas. In other words, linking language helps you explain more complex ideas and express more nuance. If you don’t use linking language, your sentences are possibly short or disconnected in terms of rhythm and ideas. Mastering linking language shows you know how to logically connect ideas.

Below is a chart of linking language, or connectors, you can try. Read the original  article by Kenneth Beare for more explanation about what connectors are and how to use them: Sentence Connectors and Sentences – Showing Comparison. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

TYPE OF CONNECTOR

CONNECTOR(S)

EXAMPLES

Coordinating Conjunction and…too High level positions are stressful, and can be harmful to your health too.

Customers are satisfied with our sales, and they feel our marketing team is friendly too. 

Subordinating conjunction just as Just as high level positions are stressful, they can be harmful to your health.

Just as students need a vacation from studies, employees require some downtime in order to bring their best efforts to work.

Conjunctive adverbs similarly, in comparison High level positions are stressful at times. Similarly, they can be harmful to your health.

Students from Asian countries tend to be excellent at grammar. In comparison, European students often excel in conversational skills. 

 

Prepositions like, similar to Similar to other important professions, high level business positions are stressful at times.

Like the healthy pursuit of free time activities, success in the workplace or at school is essential to a well-rounded individual. 

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A very close look at English verbs

Have you noticed that there are different categories or kinds of verbs? What divides them into different kinds though? Here’s an article that explains in-depth about the kinds of verbs we have in the English language: “10 Types of Verbs (and Counting)” 

Check it out and learn how to use verbs and grammar even better! Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

The Language of Graphs and Charts

Throughout the quarter, many of you are doing presentations. You might be using graphs and charts in them too, and it can be difficult to describe them because you don’t often use them in your daily life. In other words, the language used to describe graphs and charts can be unfamiliar. Here’s a useful article “Language of Graphs and Charts”. You can practice using the phrases from the article for your next presentation! Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400-800/EAP and EIB).


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Riddles and Quizzes

You don’t always have to study with homework and textbooks. It can be interesting to try practicing English with different activities like riddles and quizzes. At English Grammar Online, you can try riddles and quizzes on topics like food, sports, vocabulary, and holidays. Recommended for beginner learners (Levels 100-300).


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Small Talk with English Club

Winter quarter is just starting, and many of you are meeting new classmates and teachers. Now is the perfect time for making “small talk.” Small talk is pleasant conversation about general topics and common interests. It’s a good way to begin making friends. English Club has a great page for learning small talk (recommended for Levels 300+). As they explain,

In most English-speaking countries, it is normal and necessary to make “small talk” in certain situations. Small talk is a casual form of conversation that “breaks the ice” or fills an awkward silence between people. Even though you may feel shy using your second language, it is sometimes considered rude to say nothing. Just as there are certain times when small talk is appropriate, there are also certain topics that people often discuss during these moments.

Read through English Club‘s lesson on small talk, do their practice exercises, and take the quiz here:


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