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I will try to enter new tips for English usage here every week. Some will be about grammar (YUK) and others about writing, vocabulary, and many other things found in English.

English Learning Tip # 68

20 June 2014

Tips for Being a Great Teacher

Principle 4. The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students' development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and performance skills (Lesson Methodologies and Problem Solving).

English Learning Tip # 67

13 June 2014

Tips for Being a Great Teacher

Principle 3. The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners (How Students Learn and Teaching Special Needs Students).

English Learning Tip # 66

6 June 2014

Tips for Being a Great Teacher

Principle 2. The teacher understands how children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development (Effective Learning and How Students Learn).

English Learning Tip # 66

30 May 2014

Tips for Being a Great Teacher

Principle 2. The teacher understands how children learn and develop and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development (Effective Learning and How Students Learn).

English Learning Tip # 65

23 May 2014

Tips for Being a Great Teacher


You and I and a couple million other people have all been in schools for a number of years, and we all have some pretty good ideas about the qualities we feel are important for good teaching. Not surprising, several agencies and organizations have looked into the characteristics of good teachers. One of those is the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).

The INTASC establishes guidelines for preparing, licensing, and certifying educators. Among other things, they promote 10 standards that should be part of every teacher's classroom practice or personality (after some principles I have listed articles that address the specific topics):

Principle 1. The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

English Learning Tip # 64

16 May 2014

6 Chances to Educate Your Kids after School!

We know you care much about your children's school work, but we would like to remind you that family education is also a crucial part for kids outside the classroom. Here are 6 tips for you to spend time with your children and help them learn:

1. Take full advantage of public libraries and encourage your children to read.
2. Take trips (no matter short or long) with your children and teach them about the society and the world.
3. Teach your children skills (like cooking or sporting) through everyday activities.
4. Involve your children in meaningful religious or social activities and events.
5. Be willing to answer every "Why".
6. Allow kids to surf the Internet, but teach them to use it wisely.

English Learning Tip # 63

9 May 2014


  • Tell students to compare their notes and discuss what they understood in pairs or small groups.
  • Encourage students to respond to what they heard. For example, where possible ask questions like Do you agree? and encourage debate.
  • Tell pairs to write a summary of the main points. Then have them compare their summaries and check if they covered all the main points.
  • Play the recording again and tell students to call out ‘Stop!’ when they hear the answers they were listening for.
  • Put students into groups and tell them to make a list of comprehension questions to ask each other.
  • Tell students to make a list in their notebooks of any new vocabulary they feel is useful.

English Learning Tip # 62

2 May 2014

While listening

  • As a general principle, try to play the recording once for overall comprehension. Then play the recording again for specific details.
  • Tell students to note any dates, people or places they hear.
  • Divide students into groups and give each group a different listening task (e.g. different questions). Then swap their answers and have students listen again and check their classmates’ answers.
Don’t be afraid to repeat the recording… especially the parts students have most trouble understanding.

English Learning Tip # 61

25 April 2014


  • Tell your students they shouldn’t worry that they have to understand every word they hear. Not every word is important!
  • Where possible, make sure students know what they are listening for before you start listening. Explain they should focus only on the information they need.
  • Give two or three general questions to check students’ comprehension of the basic details.
  • If possible, check for any words that your students may not know. Pre-teach these so they do not interfere with understanding.
  • Brainstorm students’ ideas on the topic they are going to listen to. This will help focus them.
Don’t choose a listening that is too long. If necessary, stop the recording at certain points and review what students have understood so far.

English Learning Tip # 60

18 April 2014

Vocabulary 6

Put it to good use

Now that your students have brought out all their existing knowledge about your topic and you have added the new vocabulary you intended to teach, it’s time to put this vocabulary to use. You have as many options for assignments as days in the year, but here are some simple ways for your students to use their newfound vocabulary.

      1. Write a skit as a group and perform it in front of the class
      2. Write an informative paragraph
      3. Write a creative story
      4. Give a speech about the topic
      5. Create an original crossword puzzle complete with original clues
      6. Play a game which requires students to use the new vocabulary
      7. Go to an environment where they will have to use the new vocabulary in conversation
      8. Watch a video that uses the new vocabulary and test student comprehension

If you are tired of the traditional list of words and definitions when it comes to teaching new vocabulary, try this simple six step process. Your students will be more engaged and make better connections between what they are learning and what they already know, and you’ll feel good about how well they remember new vocabulary.

English Learning Tip # 59

11 April 2014

Vocabulary 5

Expand your mind

After the titles are in place at the top of the chart and the words are listed underneath them, encourage your students to add any other words that come to their minds. You might encourage them to take each category and think about other items that would fit into it. As they come up with these words, they should add them to their charts.

Once they have run out of ideas, present to your class the new words that you have planned to teach. Your list may contain some of the words your students have already listed, or your list may be completely new. In either case, present new words to your students and explain their meanings. As you present the words, have your students add them in the appropriate columns. Note, because students have been working in groups, not every student will have the same categories on her paper. That is not important. What is important is students listing new words in their chart in logical places. If students find a word or two impossible to fit into their existing lists, have them add a column to their chart. Then have them brainstorm any other words they know that would fit into each new category they add.

English Learning Tip # 58

4 April 2014

Vocabulary 4

Give it a name

Once your students have grouped their words, it’s time to label the categories. Some students may have already given the groupings titles, but if they haven’t now is the time to do so. Then have students make a chart with a column for each categories they have. In my picnic example, I would make a chart with three columns and put the titles at the top of each column. Once they have their charts, students should list the words under the appropriate category.

English Learning Tip # 57

28 March 2014

Vocabulary 3

Find connections


Once you have gotten as many words on the board as your students can come up with, it’s time to sort them logically. You can either do this as a class or have small groups of students do the sorting. If you choose group work, have three or four students work together to group the words as they choose. Any organizational strategy will work as long as it is logical. In the picnic example, students might group food (fried chicken and potato salad), items to bring (blanket and basket) and activities to do there (eat and fly kites). Encourage students to fit all of the vocabulary into their organizational scheme if at all possible.

English Learning Tip # 56

21 March 2014

Vocabulary 2

See what they already know

Before introducing the new vocabulary to your students, see what they already know about the topic you have chosen. If you do, you will have a better understanding of what your students know and how well they will learn the material you will present. Will this vocabulary unit be a difficult one for them? Do they already have a strong foundation in this subject? In addition to informing you, bringing up what they already know will help them make mental links to new information. Think of the mind like a set of Lego blocks. New information is retained most easily when it is connected to information the learner already possesses.

To see what they already know, write the topic on the board, picnic for example. Then as a class, brainstorm all the words they already know associated with the topic. In this case, your students might offer words such as the following: summer, eat, kite, blanket, basket, food, fried chicken, potato salad, ants, etc.

English Learning Tip # 55

14 March 2014

Vocabulary 1

Choose your topic


You may be following a curriculum, or you may have the freedom to choose your own material in your ESL classes. Either way, you can’t teach your students a new set of content vocabulary if you don’t first know what topic you want to cover. Teaching students new vocabulary centered around a theme makes it easier for their vocabulary learning efforts. So the first step in any vocabulary lesson should be to decide what theme your vocabulary will center around and then compile or review the specific vocabulary you want to teach.

English Tip # 54

7 March 2014

Listening Skills


Train your ears

When learning English, you will probably find it difficult to understand what native speakers say. People who are comfortable with a language usually speak very quickly and often take it for granted that everyone understands them. This can make it very difficult to accomplish simple tasks, such as ordering a portion of fish and chips in London or Manchester. If you want to communicate freely in English, then you will have to find a way to adjust your ear to the voices of native speakers. You can do this by visiting an English-speaking city.

Whether you are learning English in London, or Spanish in Barcelona, the onus is on you to make friends with native speakers and to practise regularly. You can make friends the traditional way by visiting social hotspots, or you can use one of the many online social-networking sites to find someone who wouldn’t mind meeting for a cup of coffee once in a while.

Remember, true proficiency in English doesn’t come from a textbook – it comes from speaking to those who use the language every day.

English Learning Tip # 53

28 February 2014

Audio Books

Buy or rent an audio book, one that you already have the book of and are familiar with.

Make sure the audio book contains the full text and isn't condensed or abridged.

If you haven't already read the book, try to read it first to familiarise yourself with the story, then listen to the text whilst reading the book again.

You can even buy audio books especially recorded for English learners at different levels of ability that have the text included.

English Learning Tip # 52

21 February 2014

Train your ears

Your ears will recognise words that are similar in sound to your own language, but may well ignore sounds they're unfamiliar with. You need to train them, just like you have to train your mouth a bit when you're practising pronunciation. Find mp3 files and videos on the internet that you find challenging, and concentrate on distinguishing individual words, don't worry too much about understanding what everything means. Listen to recordings again and again, until it's easy and relaxing.

English Tip # 51

14 February 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

Incorporate English into your daily life.

See if you can name everything you come into contact with, from getting up in the morning, until you go to bed at night.

English Tip # 50

7 February 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

When you come across a new word avoid translating it into your native language.

It is tempting to do so, but it is easy to mistranslate words and it will slow down your progress eventually, or even worse might lead into embarrassing situations.

English Tip # 49

31 January 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

Keep a notebook and pencil on you at all times. Whenever you see or hear a new word, write it down. Write down where you saw or heard it too, it will help you remember it later. Look the word up on the internet or in a dictionary when you get home.

English Tip # 48

24 January 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

Linking a new word to a picture is a good way of remembering it. Try searching Google Images for the word.

For example: Search for the word "tarpauline" in Google Images and you'll find lots of pictures of tarpaulines.

You can even print out the best one you find. Stick it on a flash card - picture one side - word the other. That way you can test yourself later.

English Tip # 47

17 December 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

If you find it difficult to remember the meaning of a word write it on a card - then look it up in Wiki or Google and copy out (with pen and paper on the other side of the card) a few sentences that you find relating to the word.

For example: squirrel

On Wikipedia - One well-known trait of some species of squirrel is the gathering and storing of nuts for the winter.

On Google - Squirrel is the common name for rodents of the family Sciuridae, and can sometimes be used to describe someone who is a 'goof' or 'clown'.

English Tip # 46

10 January 2014

Learning New Vocabulary

Read 10 words from your English dictionary daily.

After you've read them, try writing two sentences using all 10 words. It's not easy, but it can be fun.

English Tip # 45

3 January 2014

Oral Tests

If you are asked to give a presentation, try to choose something that interests you. You need a topic that you are very familiar with and can research quickly and efficiently.

         What are your interests or hobbies?

         Do you have a sporting talent that you can talk about?

         Do you know about an interesting subject that no-one else in your group does?

When you have decided on your topic and are writing about it, make some "cue cards" with the important points written on them.

Make the presentation eye-catching and attention grabbing. Get a couple of pictures or illustrations to accompany it (a picture paints a thousand words, but don't overdo it).

Rehearse your talk in front of a mirror, try recording it (or even videoing it) and play it back. If you're feeling really brave, post it on YouTube and invite feedback, but be warned, some people on the net aren't very nice.

It may also help your confidence to give the presentation in front of supportive members of the family or your friends.

These tips should make sure you are confident by the time you give your presentation.

English Tip # 44

27 December 2013

Use Forums Effectively

Be original

There are lots of forums out there, so try searching Google to see if someone has already written about your topic or asked that burning question.

If you are in a busy forum try the forum's own search engine to see if your question or answer has already been posted. If it has, respond to the original post instead of starting a new thread.

English Tip # 43

20 December 2013

Use Forums Effectively

Become a teacher yourself

The best way to learn, is to teach.

Read other posts and try to spot any errors, if you are confident enough point out the error. This way you may help someone else as well. Of course you could end up in a blazing argument, so be discrete and maybe save this tip for English learning forums.

English Tip # 42

12 December 2013

Use Forums Effectively

Optimize Your Messages

The English forum is becoming very popular. However not everyone seems to "get it". Forum is a Latin word, it was the main public square at the centre of a Roman town, which acted as the main meeting place and shopping area. Generally speaking a forum on the internet is a place to share knowledge and thoughts.

Your messages should be concise, think carefully about the content, intent, and tone. If you want to encourage people to talk with you try this five-stage process for writing your messages:

1. Get to know the forum.

When you find a forum you like just start by reading the forum's messages carefully. Try reading the discussion boards for a week or so without actually responding or posting anything yourself. In chat rooms, just sit quietly for a while to see if the discussions that are going on are truly something in which you wish to engage. Don't respond to private messages in that time either, just make a note of things you want to follow up in your message.

2. What do you want to discuss?

Identify the core content of your message. Jot down the basics of what you want to say (e.g., a paragraph about the 3-4 most important issues raised by the group so far, a sentence about one area you'd like to explore in more depth, and an open-ended question to encourage more discussion).

Imagine that you are one of the forum participants. Read the message aloud to check your tone. Does it foster a spirit of community building, co-learning, etc.? Does it "sound" like the way you talk?

3. Keep it topical.

Revise your message, checking to make sure that what you say is appropriate for the forum and it is in the correct topic area.

4. Keep it friendly.

Reread / revise the message again, this time adding finishing touches such as a greeting or opening sentence.

5. Be correct.

Check for spelling and grammatical errors.

6. Ask for feedback

Don't be afraid to admit that English isn't your first language. Ask people for help.

English Tip # 41

6 December 2013

Use Forums Effectively - 2

Keep Discussion Going on the Forum

Once you have found a forum that suits you you may find that some individuals want you to start corresponding through e-mail. However, there's a downside to this, others won't be aware of those conversations and the person you are in contact with may drop out after a while.

Whenever possible/appropriate, write your thoughts, comments, and questions on the forum. That way you will be corresponding with a whole group of people, you will be more visible and everyone will benefit from any response / feedback.

English Tip # 40

20 December 2013

Use forums effectively - 1


First find a forum you like. It's not difficult. Nowadays you can find a forum on just about any topic you can think of. If you have a hobby or sport, why not share your passion?

A good forum should be well moderated and have enough active members.

Forums where you have to register to participate are better than free for alls, where you may get trouble from spammers etc.

Post an introductory message and wait...

Parent Tips on Learning to Read #39

13 december 2013

An excerpt from the phonics webinar by Kimberly Oliver Burnim, 2006 National Teacher of the Year and a Senior Curriculum Advisor at

Parent Question: At what point in a child’s phonics instruction should we start teaching sight words?

Answer: There are many levels to phonics instruction. Before your child is introduced to sight words, he or she should be familiar with identifying the letters of the alphabet and the sounds represented by each, and should be starting to learn to blend sounds when reading words. As your child is introduced to beginning reader books, he or she will come across many sight words. (By the way, sight words are often called “high frequency” words because they appear so often throughout sentences and books.) As your child begins to read the sentences in the readers, he or she will need to become familiar with such words. This would be a great time to start adding sight word recognition alongside phonics instruction.

English Tip # 37

6 December 2013

Take Part

It might seem a bit obvious, but believe me I've taught enough classes to know there's always one person who is reluctant or unwilling to take part. The one who sits with his or her arms folded as if to say "Go on then, teach me." Well I'm afraid that no one can teach you any language. Rather, you have to learn it and in order to do this you have to participate. To get the full benefits of any learning experience you need to be active, if not proactive:-

         Get involved, participate in discussions and don't let your shyness hold you back.

         Think of your learning experience as a good investment. The more you put in, the more you'll get out.

         Ask your teacher to organise some role-plays or 10 minutes free speaking time in the lesson.

         If there's something you don't understand in the lesson say so. Teachers aren't psychic, if you sit with a smile on your face nodding politely, we'll quite happily move on to the next nasty bit of grammar.

         Join forums, or social networking sites where you can make friends and practise your English. By now there's probably a forum for every hobby or interest you can think of.

Ask for help - don't be too proud to admit you don't know everything.

English Tip # 36

29 November 2013

Learn Synonyms

Synonyms - are words that mean the same thing. When you have learnt a new word see if there are any synonyms for it. It expands your vocabulary and it will make your English more interesting and less repetitive.

There are several online dictionaries that can help: ||

Yet again using flash cards as a memory aid can help. Write the word you know on one side of the card and the most common synonyms for that word on the other side. See how many you can remember.

English Learning Tip # 35

22 November 2013

Learning Vocabulary 2

Learning a word won't help very much if you promptly forget it. Research shows that it takes from 10 to 20 repetitions to really make a word part of your vocabulary.

It helps to write the word - both the definition and a sentence you make up using the word - perhaps on an index card that can later be reviewed.

As soon as you learn a new word, start using it. Review your index cards periodically to see if you have forgotten any of your new words.

English Tip # 34

 15 November 2013

English tip - Being Understood

If you're struggling to get someone to understand you, try the tips below:-

         Speak more slowly (not louder!)

         Keep it simple. Use common words. For example, if you want to say cat, don't use the word feline.

         Use only basic sentence structures (subject/verb/object).

         Don't worry about pronouns, instead use the names of people you are talking about.

         Use a lot of hand gestures. "Do you mean up?" Raise up your hands to help the person understand the word.

Use sound effects. You may feel silly, but if you are trying to tell someone that something exploded, using the sound "Ka Boom!" will get your point across!

English Tip # 33

8 November 2013

Learn to learn

You never finish learning, nor do you ever finish learning how to learn.

         Think and work independently don't depend solely on your teacher or trainer.

         Develop a love of learning.

         Have a vision that motivates you.

         Participate in any related activities.

         Help others to learn.

         Learn from your mistakes and failures.

         Keep a sense of humour.

         Don't give up!



English Tip # 32

1 November 2013

Learn from your mistakes

We all make mistakes, so we need to learn to accept them as a fact of life. Making a genuine mistake does not make you any less of a person.

If anyone gives you an unnecessarily stressful time about making a mistake, remember they will have made just as many mistakes as you, if not more. The question 'May I congratulate you on never having made a mistake in your life?' is a useful answer here (just not to your teacher)!

Never making a mistake means never living life to the full.

More useful lessons are learnt from mistakes than from successes.

Children learn to walk because they get up when they fall, not because they stay down.

Repeat each morning that to risk failure is to court success.

English Learning Tip # 31

25 October 2013

Learning Vocabulary 1

Learn words in context

Research shows that the vast majority of words are learned from context. To improve your vocabulary pay close attention to how words are used. Doing a search on a word using Google or DejaNews (for searching newsgroups) will give you many examples of how that word is used in context.

English Tip # 30

18 October 2013

Reflect on what you are learning

Try to recall what you have learnt as you are taking a class as well as afterwards. Try different ways of studying the material. Think about applying these new concepts to your work situation. From time to time, review the classes you have completed as a refresher. Do some of the exercises you did a few months ago, and see if you've improved your score.

English Tip # 29

11 October 2013

Talk to yourself

Talking to yourself is no longer the first sign of madness - it's the first sign of excellence.

"Self-talk" can help you to become more fluent. And the great thing is - you can do it anywhere: in the bath, in the car, while you're taking the dog for a walk.

Try to put a regular time aside every day when you can talk to yourself in English. Talk about what you did yesterday, what you are doing, about interesting things which have happened to you and the things you're planning to do in the future.

English Tip #28  -  Size can be deceptive

4 October 2013

Pay attention to the little words

These are the most commonly used words in written English (According to the American Heritage Word Frequency Book)

1. The
2. Of
3. And
4. A
5. To
6. In
7. Is
8. You
9. That
10. It
11. He
12. For

They might be the most common words, but they're also the ones that will probably give you the most trouble, knowing them is one thing, knowing how to use them quite another. Not one of them is more than four letters long, but size can be deceptive, so pay as much attention to the little words as you do to the big ones.

English Tip #27 - Take Responsibility
27 September 2013

Take Responsibility For Your Own Learning

It's normal to expect your teacher to teach you, but that's not how language acquisition works. Your English teacher is really there to present English to you, in all its glory, but you have to learn it. After all, you wouldn't expect a waiter to eat your dinner for you, or a barman to drink your beer for you, would you?

I am always very clear with my students. In the first lesson I tell them, "I am not here to teach you English", and once they have got over the shock I explain, "I am here to help you learn it".

So, what is the difference? Well, once you've been presented with new English words or vocabulary, it's up to you to use them, review what you've learnt, even play with it. It's the only way you'll get it to actually stick in your brain, start to make sense of the structure of English and develop a feeling for the language.


Tip #26 – Practice

September 20, 2013

PMP - Practice Makes Perfect

I presume that as you've got past tip number one, you've started. So, now what?

Now you have to practice - a lot.

Have you ever worked out how many years it took you to gain your current level in your native language?

Don't forget you had exposure to that language 24 hours a day seven days a week. Now work out how many hours that was.

So, if you think you can learn all the English you need in an hour and a half a week - think again. Don't get me wrong, it's fine if you only want to learn certain phrases for travelling or fun: "Two beers please", or "Hello my name is ...", and you can probably pass the exams and tests, but if you want to become truly proficient, you've got a long way to go.

You can do a lot by yourself, you can read books, take part in classes, you can rehearse conversations and explanations you might need to use in real life, but then you have to get out into that real life. Luckily with the internet you can do a lot to help yourself online.

Think of learning English like learning to play a musical instrument. You can read lots of books and you can listen to or watch people who are already proficient, but eventually you will realise that you have to pick up that instrument and start to play. The first sounds you make might be horrendous, but with practise you will improve. If you can find a good teacher, that's even better. Well, it's the same with English.

Go into social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Second Life, Twitter, Skype, Yuku and Google. You might find a friendly native speaker who would like to learn your language, or learn about your culture and you can set up a language exchange. You can either arrange to meet up for an hour or two a week, one session each, or if they are learning your language, you can arrange to speak or write in English to them, and they have to reply in your language.

If you can't find a tame native speaker (they can be a bit shy), don't worry, you can do a lot by finding a language buddy, someone who is learning English and is on a similar level to you. Finding someone who is better than you certainly helps, and once you are more proficient find someone who needs your help too.

Just remember, English is a living language, you need to live it.

Tip #25- Start Learning English

September 13, 2013

Yes, simply start!

It sounds simple doesn't it? But over the last ten (plus) years I've met lots of people (in real life and virtually) who say they want to learn English, but really they just want to "know" English. They have little or no intention of actually learning it.

So start - now!

If you don't start, you'll never finish, and the longer you put it off, the more likely you are to give up.

Find an English class.

Find some English learning software or books.

Join an English learning forum.

Begin learning the English alphabet (ABC) and numbers (123).

Learn the vocabulary for your hobbies or interests.

Do something. Do anything.

Once you've started - don't stop.

Tip # 24

September 6, 2013

How to Learn English Grammar

In my view learning English grammar in the following sequence ensures firm solid thorough knowledge of English grammar:

1.   Read a short clear easily understandable explanation of a grammar rule.

2.   Study several practical usage examples (sentences) illustrating that particular grammar rule. Check yourself whether you have mastered the examples.

3.   Do several exercises for that rule with communicative content (with sentences that most likely can be used in real life situations).

Grammar exercises that contain dialogues, interrogative and statement (or narrative) sentences on everyday topics, thematic texts and narrative stories are especially effective for mastering grammatical structures.

Grammar practice should also include exercises in listening comprehension and speaking, not just in reading and writing.

Grammar exercises must help learners not only form correct sentences, but also use them correctly in context in real life situations. Contrastive and contextualized exercises give practice in form, meaning and use.

It is very important to learners for practicing English grammar on their own that there are answers provided to the exercises (the key) in the grammar practice book for self-check.

A learner of English can't rely on real life communication alone to be proficient in using grammatically correct English. Learning English grammar from books, audio and video aids is equally indispensable to substantially accelerate mastering of English grammar.

Correct oral communication in English is based on knowledge of English phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, and on practice and experience in communicating with native English speakers in all kinds of situations.

Tip # 23

August 30, 2013

Study English with Friends

Meet friends and study English together.

You can repeat your English vocabulary, do your homework together and help each other with English grammar. And why not try one of many games on the Internet. Studying with friends simply is much more fun.

It’s also a good opportunity to exchange ideas on studying in general. Maybe your friends have found out about a good way of studying more effectively. Or, who knows, maybe you can advise your friends on this?

Tip # 22

23 August 2013

Question: Why do you say that a child’s parent is his or her first teacher?
Answer: Children begin learning from the moment they are born—everything they see, hear, and touch is actually a learning experience. These experiences form the foundation for learning language, for learning about how the world works, for learning how people work and play together, for learning how to control one’s own body—for all kinds of learning. You can think of each of the experiences as a lesson. And even though they don’t plan these lessons in the same way that teachers plan lessons for their students, parents create the environments and experiences in which learning happens, which makes them the first teachers their children will ever have.

Tip # 21

15 August 2013

Question: What are some ways that parents can help their children learn?

Answer: Of course physical development is important, and that starts at birth. For example, you can help a baby improve his or her ability to track motion by holding an object in front of the baby and moving the object from side to side and up and down, or by playing peek-a-boo. As children start to crawl or walk, it’s a good idea to give them something to move toward, such as Mom or Dad or a small toy, and also to praise them by clapping and encouraging them to keep going. And once a child is mobile, they should have lots of time to engage in physical activities, like playing outdoor games or moving to music. Playing catch also has great benefits because it helps the child develop eye-hand coordination.
There are also many great indoor activities that will develop physical skills. Cutting things out with safety scissors helps develop coordination and fine motor skills. Measuring ingredients for cooking has the same benefits. Learning to use a computer mouse also develops motor skills and eye-hand coordination, and we have been hearing at that with a little practice even toddlers can master this skill.

Tip # 20

8 August 20123

Question: What should parents look for when choosing technology for their children?

Answer: Parents should trust their instincts and their own knowledge of their children. What does the child like to do? What are their interests? What are their abilities? How do they like to learn? What are their talents and things that they’re really good at? What are their needs as a learner? The parents should base technology choices and learning choices on that solid foundation, then watch what happens. We want children to feel confident, excited, and eager to play, explore, and learn as they interact with technology. Children should be active participants in building their own knowledge and not just passive recipients.

Tip # 19

1 August 2013

Question: Do you have any other tips for parents on what to look for as their child is interacting with technology?

Answer: Sometimes I talk to teachers about leaning in and leaning back. When a child is really engaged, they lean in towards the device, because they are eager to interact. When a child is a passive recipient of information, they tend to lean back. We all have moments of passive viewing in our media diets, so it’s not that that’s inherently horrible. But when I think about technology that parents are choosing for kids for learning and education, I want it to be a leaning in experience.

Tip # 18

25 July 2013

Question: How can parents help their children learn from the environments they’re in?

Answer: For one thing, every environment and experience provides an opportunity to develop a child’s language skills, whether it’s just talking about what’s in their room, discussing their daily routine, or talking about what they’re having for dinner. A child’s vocabulary will expand as parents introduce new vocabulary. And there are so many other teachable moments, such as a bird flying by, the dog barking, or the cat shedding.

Tip # 17

July 17, 2013

Question: Can you give us a few more examples of teachable moments?

Answer: Pointing out and asking your child questions about changes in the weather, leaves falling, or snow on the ground that wasn’t there before—these are all examples of teachable moments. I have a grandson who loves to count fire hydrants. So while we’re walking and counting, I take the opportunity to ask him if he knows what a fire hydrant does, why they’re there, or why a firefighter needs them. Teachable moments come from the child’s own observations or from things they’re interested in, because they’re so excited and curious to learn more. It can be hard when parents are working and have busy lives, but teachable moments can be just a few minutes or even a few seconds. The trick is to be aware that the things that we see and do as we go through our days may seem mundane to us, but to our children they are wonders.

Tip # 16

10 July 2013

Learn English through Movies

Thanks to DVD, watching films in English has become an easy thing to do.

Choose your favorite film – you’ve watched that film a dozen times and probably know all the dialogues off by heart in your native language. So following the story will be easy for you.

Have paper and pen ready as you may want to jot down useful words or phrases that you wish to learn. English subtitles might be useful for that (although they might differ from what is actually being said).

If you are not used to watching films in English, choose a only few episodes – at the beginning it isn’t easy to concentrate on listening to the foreign language for a long time.

What you see is what you get

Tip # 15

3 July 2013


Set small, achievable targets, e.g.:

  learn 10 new English words or phrases every day, Mondays to Fridays (repeat on Saturdays, relax on Sundays)

  unlearn one typical mistake before the next test (see our backlog analysis)

  study 15 minutes every day

  read the lyrics of an English song every week and try to understand its main content

  read and try to understand one short English text every week

  study English on ego4u every day ;o)


Reaching your target step by step is much better than setting a huge target that you cannot achieve. Easy does it … and keeps your motivation up.

Many a mickle makes a muckle.

Tip # 14

26 June 2013

Motivation is half the Work

“Boring!” Well, that’s definitely not the way it works.

Try to find a positive aspect to studying. Why not watch your favourite film in English and write down some useful words or phrases that you want to remember. You could also read the lyrics of Top 10 songs and try to understand what they are about. Or check out celebrity sites and learn more about famous actors, bands and other stars. This sure is good for your vocabulary and on top of that – it’s lots of fun.

Always look on the bright side of life

Tip # 13

19 June 2013

Don't overdo it!

Studying 15 minutes per day is more effective than studying 2 hours once every week.

For a whole week, try studying 15 minutes each day. Not less. And definitively not more than that (even if you could).

You will see that the following day, studying is much more fun, simply because you didn't push it to the limit the day before.

Know when to stop before you start.

Tip # 12

Treat yourself to something good!

June 12, 2013


Everybody notices what you failed to do. But nobody appreciates what you succeeded to do. That's rather frustrating, isn't it?

Appreciation is always a good motivation. And if nobody else appreciates your efforts, you'll have to do it yourself. Set a target for the day, the week or the term and do also set a reward for yourself that you can look forward to, e.g.:

If I achieve the target, I will treat myself to...

an adventurous monster killing game on my computer

a visit to the cinema at the weekend

a short trip to London


If it's a long-time target, write your reward down on a piece of paper and hang it up in a place where it catches your eye. This sure will be a good motivation.

Go for it!

Parent Tips on Learning to Read #11

4 June 2013

Parent Question: What is reasonable to expect (regarding the learning of phonics, letters, and sight words) from a 2-year-old?

Answer: Some young children show great interest in books and reading, while others do not, and so your expectations should match your child’s interests and experiences. In general, though, continual exposure through shared reading activities with parents and other family members will help develop a love and curiosity that’s beneficial to future reading. Also, keep in mind that with most 2-year-olds it’s best to plan learning activities that can be done in relatively short periods of time (5 or 10 minutes). And when you’re introducing a new concept, try doing it in multiple ways. You can start by playing a game, and then sing a song. The next time, try a puzzle. Keep it short and fun, and revisit the concept or skill over and over again—that’s how younger children learn best.

Tip # 10 (for parents)

27 May, 2013

Parent Question: Is it OK that my 3-year-old daughter invents stories and pretends that she is reading? Or should I teach her what the books really say?

Answer: Yes, it is OK for a young child to pretend to read. When young children invent their own stories and pretend to read, they develop important pre-reading skills. Not only will she learn concepts of print such as how to hold a book or how to read left to right and top to bottom, but she’ll also learn that words portray meaning. She’s showing an interest and love for reading by creating her own stories and pretending to read. Next time she pretends to read, use that moment as an opportunity to talk about the words she’s reading or the letters she sees on the page.

Tip # 9

Dictionaries are very important tools for both English teachers and students. They make things clearer, give valuable information about vocabulary, and in many cases help teach grammar.


With that said, you should know how to choose your dictionaries.

There are some excellent English-English dictionaries, such as the Unabridged Merriam-Webster, that can make the learner run away in horror... It is simply way too big and complicated for the average learner.

Actually, it can even be way too big and complicated for the average English speaker!


Other dictionaries can be too small. They may have too little words, and too little information for each word. So they can have little or no use.

The trick is to select the perfect one for you.


You should ask yourself the following questions:

- Are the definitions clear to me? Can I easily understand them?

- Does it give enough example sentences? (These are highly helpful.)

- Does this dictionary have most of the words I am looking for?

- Can I get it together with a handy CD? How about an online version or a smartphone application? (This can actually be very useful and time saving!)


There are other features that make a dictionary more worthwhile, such as many illustrations, usage notes, grammar notes, and other cool extras - so you might want to look for those too.

Did you know many good and popular dictionaries have a free online version?

Tip #8

25 April 2013

Have you ever Practiced Adjectives like This?

Twenty Questions


Using guessing games like twenty questions is a simple, no-fuss way to practice adjectives. These exercises will keep your students engaged, and you can find many ways to turn them on their side so you are not just playing the same game over and over again. Discover all the different ways that you can play guessing games and utilize adjectives that are applicable for varied levels. One way to practice higher level adjectives is to assign students particularly advanced or difficult adjectives. Examples could be: ridiculous, humbling, educating, etc. Students take turns getting the class to guess what word they have by describing it or giving example scenarios. The audience can then ask yes or no questions to gain more information about the word. To make it even more challenging, you could supply a list of words that students cannot use when describing their adjective. Students of all ages will enjoy this twist on twenty questions. Another guessing game that is superb for characteristics or emotions is to have students play famous person twenty questions. The twist here is that they can only use characteristics in guessing. For example, Is the person humble/funny/adventurous? You could also only allow them to ask questions with ed/ing adjectives. Making twenty question competitive by splitting classes into teams can also provide positive results. Even a simple game like I spy can be ratcheted up a notch by employing a few guidelines or team dynamics. Tell students they can guess everything except colors, or devise questions using comparisons to other objects. For example: Is it bigger than a coffee mug? Is it smaller than a bicycle? Test out different ways to make twenty questions an intense guessing game that will challenge as well as delight your students.

Tips #7

18 April 2013 

Have you ever Practiced Adjectives like This?

Picture it


You cannot go wrong utilizing pictures to practice using adjectives. There are so many great activities that you can generate as long as you have a stock of photographs. Choose glossy pictures of people, outdoor scenes, homes, famous people, or anything else that you find interesting. Cut them out of magazines and glue them to construction paper and laminate for even longer use. You can begin with thirty to forty pictures and continue adding to them when you have the time. There are endless possibilities for ways to use pictures. You can simply have students describe a scene or person they see on a picture and give them points for using as many adjectives as possible. You can vary difficulty by choosing challenging pictures, focusing on –ed / -Ing adjectives, or by applying more objectives. Another popular use for pictures that is often a perfect introduction for lower-level learners is illustrating a picture. Put the students into pairs, and give one student a picture of a person or a room. The student with the picture must describe it to his or her partner so that the partner can draw an imitation of what they hear. You could supply colored pencils so they can add color, or practice prepositions of place as well as characteristics and basic descriptions. Students will enjoy comparing the real photograph with their own illustration. This can be done with advanced levels too, and you could even have the illustrator be blindfolded for extra challenge.

Another use for pictures is creating a picture puzzle by covering a photograph with post it notes. In front of the group remove one sticky note at a time and have students describe what they see. They can try to guess what they think the picture is or what might be happening. As you remove more slips of paper, students begin to see things emerging differently. It's also fun to add in pictures of artwork or use obscured pictures to keep students guessing.

Tip #6

13 April 2013

The biggest thing I see today is that some schools and teachers still focus on vocabulary and grammar more than anything else. This makes highly educated students who can't communicate.


I always ask my students - If you wanted to be a musician, would you spend 8 years just studying music theory but never actually touch a musical instrument? It would be a big waste of time and money, wouldn't it?


Learning vocabulary and grammar is very important for good English, but if you never actually speak it, what is the purpose of putting all those years of time, effort, and money into it?

Tip #5

1 April 2013 

Go step by step.

Yes, there are many different grammar topics.

And yes, your student won't master English until they understand and can use many of them.

But in this case quality is more important than quantity.

Go over each subject until your student truly gets it. Until They can use it easily when reading, writing or speaking English

Even after you fully cover that rule, go back to it in future lessons, and reinforce your student's understanding.

"Use It or lose It!" is the motto, so make sure the student continues to USE what they learn.

Tip #4

22 March 2013

So here is tip #4 on how to increase interest, involvement and results when teaching grammar:

Give plenty of examples. And make sure the student makes plenty of example sentences of their own.

An incorrect way to do this would be to teach a new grammar rule and then give an example or two.

You should get much better results if you show the student many practical examples, and then have them make at least 5-10 examples of their own.

For instance, in the English Verb Tenses section of Really Learn English, each tense has many illustrated examples, as well as example sentences. Such as:

Don't neglect the student's own examples, as they are key to mastering any subject.

Tip #3

16 March 2013

Teach for a reason. There is a reason for teaching and knowing each grammar rule, other than passing the test.

Each grammar rule is taught for a reason. If your student knows that reason, they will be more motivated to understand and use what you teach.

For example, why do we teach the English parts of speech?

Because a person who knows the parts of speech understands the building blocks of the language. Moreover, when using the dictionary, they can find the right meaning more easily.

For example, Lisa reads the sentence "They water the plants."

She's not sure what "water" means in this case, so she looks it up in a dictionary.

Since the dictionary has the words organized according to their part of speech, she will have an easier time locating the correct definition if she knows that "water" is used as a VERB.

So make sure your students actually know why they study each grammar topic in the first place!

Tip # 2

13 March 2012

How do I help my children to read fluently?

To read fluently means to read words expressively and smoothly. Children who are not fluent read choppily and word-for-word. This can affect their comprehension, because they don’t remember what they have read by the time they reach the end of a sentence. Reading fluently is an important skill.

To help your children learn to read fluently, one of the most important things you can do is to regularly read aloud to your children so that you’re modeling the type of reading you want your children to do. For example, if you’re changing your voice for different characters, your child will know that he or she needs to do the same. If a book that you’re reading has text features such as bold print, and you decide to read a bolded word loudly, you’re modeling that they, too, can do that while they’re reading. Another way to develop fluency is to have your children read a book over and over again. Children tend to become fluent readers after reading the same thing many times. They know when to pause, when to speed up, and when to slow down. As they listen to themselves read more and more fluently, this also helps to build their confidence.

Tip #1
6 March 2012

Grammar is sometimes known to be not so interesting . . .

I must disagree, though, because in most cases I find grammar absolutely fascinating.

But if you, or your students, are not in the same opinion as me, there are some things you can do to increase interest and involvement (not to mention results!):

Make sure the student understands all the words and terms in the subject you are trying to teach.


Incorrect example: teaching the passive voice without explaining what "voice" actually means in this context.

Correct example: explaining what a "voice" means first. Also, make sure the student fully understands the terms SUBJECT and OBJECT, since they will encounter them shortly.

And by the way, a voice in this context means:


The form of the verb that shows whether the subject of a sentence performs the action or is affected by it.


If it performs the action - we call it the active voice.


If it is affected by the action - we call it the passive voice.

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