Stories To Improve English!

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07084#p151Who doesn’t like listening to a good story? What about reading a good one?

I see that reading in English is not as popular as watching and listening. Actually, some of my students give more importance to grammar. As a result, most of them are really successful on grammar exercises. But when it comes to writing, they do the same kind of mistakes over and over. They express their ideas with limited words. I do believe that reading can be a really helpful way to get over it.

As long as you read,

  • it will enhance your vocabulary knowledge by seeing their different usages in context,
  • you usually learn grammatical English naturally,
  • you can read as fast or as slowly as you like,
  • it will give you a chance to know useful and interesting information about the world you live in.

What should we read?

It is totally up to you, but children stories can be a nice start as they have fewer advanced words and grammatical structures. Also, it is highly probable that you have heard or read them in your own language. As you don’t have to check unknown words all the time, you can enjoy reading itself.

But if you like to read on your computer or mobile devices, here is a short list for you;

storynoryA large collection of free audio stories for kids. Listen to fairy tales, myths and legends, classics and original stories.  It is possible to read and also download audio files of the stories.If you want, you can listen to the stories on your mobile devices. (iOS only) 

storylineonline

You can listen and watch professional actors reading notable children’s books and get the extending supplemental activities for each book co-developed by an early literacy specialist. Content is available online 24/7 free of charge. Don’t you want to listen to a story read by Betty White?

 

kidsworldfun

 

There are hundreds of moral stories. They are short and easy to read. They are for children but don’t assume that they are very easy to read. I’m sure you will check some words and phrases time to time.

 

 


 

If you think that these stories are not your cup of tea, and very easy for you, here is a second list for more serious readers.

headera

Don’t you want to know something more about the USA? Folk tales and urban legends can tell you a lot about it. There are some funny, scary and interesting stories which were not simplified for learners. Open your dictionaries and ready to learn them.

englishclub

If you are fond of literacy, there are three short stories in British English includes vocabulary help, vocabulary quiz, comprehension quiz.

News Websites for Learners

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watch and read I watch TV series in English and I read news in English.

These are the most common answers that I hear when I ask my students what they do to improve their English. I think it is a good thing that they get familiar with the authentic language. However, both ways are not as helpful as they think. Because they aren’t ready to understand these authentic materials’ complexity.

Learners often try to process what they read piece by piece and this can greatly inhibit their efforts at getting even a general understanding of a newspaper article. They tend to read each sentence, two or three times to process it and this approach obviously increases in complexity as they continue reading the article. Each time they meet more information, it is added to what has already been read, and this brings about a re-structuring of the whole, which may require the student to return to something they have already read to clarify the new sentence.(Brendan Daly / the Internet TESL Journal, Vol. X, No. 7, July 2004)

To be honest, I’m not sure that my students reread those long news stories or find the unknown words to understand the story better. But, as a responsible teacher, I think I should make the things easier for them if they enjoy doing this activity. With this post, I’d like to suggest some news web sites and apps designed for English Language Learners.   224237v2-max-250x250Newsinlevels provides students of English with news articles in graded skill levels. Each article is available in three levels with audio resources. Possible unknown words are given below the article, which makes reading easier. Also, it has an application which can be used in both platforms.     Google Play    App store

logoVOA Learn English This news web page is a bit more serious than the first one. There are also three levels in here, but it doesn’t give the same story in different levels. There are different stories in each level. It is possible to watch video news with subtitles ready for learners and  download audio files to listen later.

newsmart looNewsmart can be really useful for learners at higher levels and Business English classes. It gives you points and badges as long as you keep reading and doing the exercises. Creators of Newsmart know how to use gamification, I think. 6a00d8341d417153ef01053580e392970cBreaking News English This web page offers you more than reading. There are reading, vocabulary and grammar activities. You can do them online or download pdf and audio files. It is possible to read same story in different levels.


For Teachers;

Here are  some techniques for using newspaper articles and news videos in ESL/EFL classes;

How to Effectively Use News Articles in the EFL Classroom

Using CNN News Video in the EFL Classroom

Teaching materials: using newspapers in the classroom 

Using TV News to Integrate the Four Skills: A Guide for EFL Teachers

 

 

10 New Games for ESL

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I’m trying to suggest extra materials and tools to practice English via this blog. I usually try to share authentic materials which aren’t filtered for learners. Also, there is a page to do some online quiz games which I love to create with Articulate Storyline. I use these games in my lessons to review the topics which we study, and I really like to share them in this blog with other learners and teachers.

There are 10 new games for grammar and vocabulary review. You can find more games on Online Activities page.

imagesThese games are created with Articulate Storyline. It is possible to open them on your ipad or android devices if you download free Articulate Player application. So you can keep them on your devices and use them anywhere anytime without internet connection. iPhone users, unfortunately, can only use them online. Here are the links for the Articulate Player;

Appstore      Google Play


 

games for esl

Who is telling the truth? (A1)

Have to vs. Want to  (A1)

Find the Mistake! (A1)

Which One is Extra? (A2)

Past Simple or Past Continuous (A2)

Confusing Words (A2)

Adjective + Preposition (A2)

Passive Voice (B1)

Gerund or Infinitive (B2)

Common Phrasal Verbs (B2)

 

 

 

wonderopolis

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wisdom-begins-in-wonderThis is a beautiful quote of Socrates, isn’t it? It is said that people wonder more at their younger ages, then something happens and we stop wondering and asking questions. Do you ever ask these kind of questions;  Why do zebras have stripes? , Why do people walk in their sleep?, Why are there so many languages?, Why Are There Revolving Doors?, Why Don’t We Remember Being Babies?

I guess your answers are mostly No.

While learning a language, we usually focus on grammar, when it comes to reading, we prefer some story books and news stories. Before we reach the higher levels, we don’t try to read informative academic writings as they have more complex grammar structures and a lot of unknown words. In my opinion, we should start reading academic and scientific passages earlier than these levels as they offer real and interesting information about life around us. Also, we will able to start to use the language we learn to improve our knowledge, not only to answer business emails and have meetings with our overseas customers and managers or watch TV series.

At this point, I would like to suggest a web page; Wonderopolis. This page is brought to life by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Wonderopolis walks the line between formal and informal education. Each day, they pose an interesting question and explore it in many ways.

Actually, it is not a site which is prepared for English language learners, it is mostly for school children in the USA, but it is used by people from different ages all around the world.

How can it be  useful and helpful for English language learners?

Firstly, the topics of these articles are really interesting. Secondly, the language of the articles is not difficult, but still authentic and also you can learn unknown words by clicking on them while reading. It means you can read faster and easier by the help of this convenience . In addition; after reading section, it offers you some quizzes related with the words and the topics of the articles.

Wowonderopolisnderopolis can be visited online, or you can download its free application and enjoy it on your mobile devices.

Google playstore        Appstore

 

If you wonder the answers of the questions I asked in the first paragraph, you can get them by following the links below.

Why do people walk in their sleep?

Why are there so many languages?

Why Are There Revolving Doors?

Why Don’t We Remember Being Babies?

 

Podcasts for English Language Learners

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Smartphones? They are great! Tablets? They are great, too! But, for what?

It is said that we can reach information with these tools faster. But, which information?
Do you just use them to find out the name of the film or the song which you can’t recall? Or to learn what your friends have eaten for dinner? Or to improve yourself in different areas?

Don’t worry, I am not going to grumble about how technology changed our communication or how asocial we are now. These are not the issues of this post. On the contrary, I’m going to point a way for learners, a simple way to improve their English with a simple tool: Podcasts!

There are  1.08 Billion mobile phone users in the world, and in Turkey, the country where I live and teach English, 12.4 million people use smartphones.
However, when I suggest my students use podcasts to improve their listening and vocabulary skills, they give me a look as if I was talking about NASA’s  new project on Mars.
Those tools which make you faster in communication can also make you better in communication in English. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know that our wonderful tools have a feature like that.

I have shared a post in which I suggested some podcasts, and there are some new podcasts for English Language Learners.

Let’s stop using whatsapp and instagram for a while and listen to some podcasts.

better-at-english-300pxThis site is devoted to helping non-native speakers improve their English, one step at a time. In addition to Real English Conversations podcast, you’ll find short lessons, listening activities, language learning tips, and other info that can help make learning English an enjoyable part of your day. (by Lori Linstruth – Founder of Better at English and your host in the podcasts.)


 

tae

Make the English you speak sound more natural with The English We Speak from bbclearningenglish.com. Every week, they look at a different everyday English phrase or piece of slang in this fun three-minute program.

 


cover170x170Dramas for English is a great podcast for language learners. Every Friday you can improve your English by listening to a drama specially created for English language learners. Listen to retellings of classic stories and adapted dramas on specific topics. Each episode will be between six and 10 minutes long. Most dramas will be told over a several episodes.


site-logo4They will help you in English conversations, professional interviews, meetings and presentations. Discover how to work or study with Americans and how to feel accepted in American society.
All Ears English is a fun, friendly way to improve your English and your life!

Free Taboo Game Cards for A1&A2 Levels

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         Sometimes, learning English can be challenging and  frustrating.  Learners can consider the process as an obligation which  they have  to go on for their targets. Then, you (as a teacher) start to  see bored  faces in your classes.

         As a   teacher, I have experienced it so many times that I have  been trying hard to make learning more enjoyable and more  interesting. Hence, I started to create my own materials according to  needs and interests of my students.

         These new Taboo Game Cards are the last materials I have  designed. I just love them as it is possible to play different games with them.  They are not only taboo game cards, also can be used as flashcards while teaching and learning vocabulary, storytelling cards, charades cards or it can be simply said that the only limit is your imagination.

Three months ago, I shared some other game cards which most of my lower level students have found really difficult to tell. So, I decided to prepare high-quality colorful cards for each level.

See sample cards here.

        Here is the first part , totally 172 cards ; free Taboo Game Cards for A1 & A2 levels.

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Games for Compound Nouns

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While learning a new language, we all do like playing games as they have the power to make the learning process more exciting.

Articulate Storyline is a great e-learning design tool to create games and quizzes. Also, Articulate Community is a place where you can learn how to use the program, download templates, get help when you need and to push yourself to be more creative as a designer. In my opinion, teachers ,at least, have a look at it.

In this post, I would like to share Compound Nouns games whose template I created for E-Learning Games for Children Challenge. I call it simply ‘Figure It Out!’ This game was supposed to be for children but all my students ,including adults and young adults, love the game. So, I would like to share it with you now.

figure-it-out

 

  Compound Nouns Game 1

  Compound Nouns Game 2

  Compound Nouns Game 3

 

 

 

 

A compound noun is a noun that is made with two or more words. A compound noun is usually [noun + noun] or [adjective + noun], but there are other combinations (see below). It is important to understand and recognize compound nouns. Each compound noun acts as a single unit and can be modified by adjectives and other nouns.

There are three forms for compound nouns:

  1. open or spaced – space between words (tennis shoe)
  2. hyphenated – hyphen between words (six-pack)
  3. closed or solid – no space or hyphen between words (bedroom)