70 ways to improve your English

Fall Quarter will finish soon, and in the long Winter Break, don’t let your English get rusty. There’s lots of interesting and fun ways for you to continue improving your English. Many of them can be done in your daily routine and hobbies! Take a look at this list of 70 ways to improve your English. You’re probably doing some of them already, but it’s always great to find new things to try. Recommended for all levels.

We’ll be on Winter Break for about a month after next week. Check back on January 10, 2017 for updates.

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How to Write a Summary

For English students learning how to summarize, check out this video on how to write one; it explains the things you should and shouldn’t do for an effective academic summary. Apply these tips the next time you read a text. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).

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6 Study Tips for ESL Learners

People study in different ways, and what doesn’t work for one person can work for you. So it’s important to try different study habits and narrow down what does work for you. Check out these 6 study tips and give them a try if you haven’t yet (it’s good for reading practice too!).  Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400+).After reading, also try our study page here, which has a lot of different resources, from reading material and exercises to videos and worksheets.

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English Club Exams

As an English learner, you have to pass so many exams not only in your classes, but also various outside placement or proficiency exams like IELTS, TOEFL, or TOEIC. That’s why practice, practice, practice is an ongoing mantra for English learners. One way to practice is with English Club. They provide practice exams and tips about IETLS, TOEFL, and TOEIC. Take a look through the site and give their materials a try. Good luck when you take your exam! Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 500+).

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Getting ideas out of your brain

Welcome back to Fall quarter! After the school break, maybe it’ll be hard to get back into school mode. One thing that may be difficult to start again is writing. I’m sure everyone has experienced writer’s block–that’s when you can’t seem to write anything. Your ideas are blocked. Well, then how do you unblock them? Luckily, there are 3 useful writing exercises that can help you gather ideas:

  1. Brainstorming (also known as mapping or clustering),
  2. Listing
  3. Free-writing

This stage of the writing process is known as Pre-Writing, when you gather ideas before you actually write your paper. Watch the video to learn how to use these 3 exercises. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 300+)

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What kind of learner are you?

ACE - learning channelsDo you learn best by  watching, listening, or doing something? These 3 different ways to learn are also called visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. If you know your best learning styles, you can study better; focus on materials in your styles. For example, if learning English is easier by listening, you can study with a lot of audios like movies, videos, radio, and even music.

Our blog has a useful Study Page that can help you learn how to improve your study skills and habits (and also meet American academic expectations to succeed in school!). Go through the page for information, tips, resources, and activities. Recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 300+).


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Writing for a North American Academic Audience

Audiences from different countries also have different standards for everything, from music and movies to books and yes, even writing. How you write in one country may not match the standard of another. So when you go to America to study, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with American academic criteria and expectations.

For writing in particular, not only do you consider your own ideas, but also readers–the audience. With your writing style, can you convey your ideas successfully to American academic audiences like your professors or classmates? Read Purdue OWL’s article on this topic and review your style! And be sure to check out the other useful information on writing at their website’s left menu (e.g.: Stance and Language, Tone and Purpose, etc.). Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).


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5 Secrets to Improve Your Listening

When you’re learning a foreign language, it’s no secret that listening is hard. But there are good strategies that can help you improve your listening skills. Watch the video below for 5 of them (and get some reading practice with the subtitles too!) Recommended for intermediate learners (Levels 300-400).

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10 Tips for ESL/EFL Academic Writers

You’ve mastered the basic essay model of introduction, body, and conclusion. Now it’s time to advance that model into a complex and fully-supported academic or scholarly essay. This is a challenge. You have to convey your ideas in engaging sentences, transition smoothly between paragraphs, provide credible and convincing evidence or examples, and more–and don’t forget the basics of English grammar!

Though academic writing is a challenge, many students can succeed with practice. If you put in the hard work of reading other works, rewriting your own work in multiple drafts, proof reading, and peer reviewing, it will all pay off! As you do all that, try Jane Mackay’s 10 Tips for ESL/EFL academic writing writers (and everyone else too). In her many years as a copy editor, Mackay has read and edited a lot of work by non-native English writers. Therefore, her article offers tips and insights that are especially useful for English learners.

Recommended for advanced learners (Levels 600-800/EAP).

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The Hamburger Essay

Writers know that the basic model for an essay is introduction, body, and conclusion. Think of this model as a hamburger–the two bread buns are the beginning and end, and the meat patty is the body, where all the essential flavor of your essay is. But your flavor, your writing quality, may start off bland. You need to practice–do many writing exercises, read a lot (especially examples of good writing), and write as many drafts as you need to until your “flavor” is delicious.

Read the article How to Write an Essay and see how the author Kenneth Beare explains this hamburger essay model. Continue with his 30 minute writing exercise; watch the video and follow the steps and see how good of a “hamburger” you can make! Recommended for intermediate and advanced learners (Levels 400+).

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