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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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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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.

ace-happy-holidays

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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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The Good and the Bad

For many English learners who study in the U.S., it may be difficult adapt to an American classroom because the teaching and learning styles are different. One difference may be in how mistakes are corrected. Specifically, American teachers may not correct all of your speaking mistakes. You’re probably wondering, why not? Doesn’t correcting all your mistakes help you? Actually, that’s not always the case. Everyone makes mistakes, even native speakers. These mistakes don’t always mean that you don’t understand certain grammar points, and sometimes they even help your learning process.

Here’s a great article on why some teachers don’t correct all your speaking mistakes for good and bad reasons. If your teacher is an example of the good reasons, then great! You’re in good hands. But if you notice your teacher is an example of the bad reasons, try talking to your teacher and work out a better learning approach together; clear communication is an important way to work through these problems and improve your learning. This article is recommended for intermediate to advanced learners (Levels 400-800/EAP).

Article preview:

ace-correcting-speaking-mistakes-1ace-correcting-speaking-mistakes-2

Continue reading here.


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