You’re the best vocabulary teacher you can get. Here’s why: 

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  Have you heard this before? “Don’t learn words in isolation!” “Learn vocabulary in context!”. You probably have. And this one? “Learn chunks.”   That’s great advice, by the way.   Chunks are sequences of words that native speakers of a language feel are the natural and best way of expressing something (phrases, expressions, collocations, idioms, phrasal verbs, verb patterns, … Read More

The best podcasts to help you at an English-speaking university

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To be accepted at universities in English-speaking countries, you’ll need to achieve a certain result in proficiency exams like IELTS and TOEFL. To prepare for these exams, you will study both general and academic English. You’ve studied hard and achieved the necessary result to be accepted on an undergraduate or postgraduate programme. Great! But, what happens when you start your … Read More

The 7 steps to listening to authentic podcasts in English

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*All strategies listed here also apply to listening to audiobooks. In this case, use the paperback or e-book version instead of the transcript. In reply to a post where I list 5 strategies for making the time to listen to podcasts, a friend of mine wrote: “Sometimes my mind flies when I’m listening to podcasts because I didn’t understand so … Read More

5 strategies for making the time to listen to podcasts

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  Not so long ago, people who wanted to learn a language needed to do some strange things. I, for instance, would queue to hire some tapes I could only listen to in booths at the library on my English course. Some years later there came cable TV with international channels, and yet more years later Youtube would premiere on … Read More

Are all podcasts and audiobooks good for your English?

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  Podcasts and audiobooks are the most powerful tools to help you learn English. They’re a rich source of language input, which can help you improve your listening, vocabulary, pronunciation and even speaking.   That’s because they provide you with both the audio and the written version of a text.   However, there’s a quote from Shakespeare that I very … Read More

Can I escape the intermediate plateau?

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  The answer is, it depends… It depends on how you’re spending your time with the language. It depends on the tools you’re using. You might be using the wrong ones —“All that glitters is not gold” – William Shakespeare. It depends on your strategy. Didn’t know you needed one? —“There’s science in everything” – My grandfather.   Here is … Read More

I’m stuck on the intermediate level. Is this my fault?

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  You’re long past the stage of having just enough English to get by during a trip. Now you can maintain conversations and express your ideas. You can understand most of what you read and even watch your favourite TV series without subtitles.   However, you don’t seem to be able to go beyond this stage: you want to understand … Read More