How to use the internet to improve your listening skills

Because I’m teaching in an English-speaking country, some students learn to listen and speak very quickly and confidently. However, I also teach many students who spend almost all their time outside of school communicating only in their first language.  Even if they work, they often work in a place where there is very little spoken communication.  Some of those students look terrified every time I open my mouth.  They don’t have any confidence at all about their listening skills.  Those students will need to do more listening practice outside of class.  Here are some great tips for improving listening, especially later in the post.  There are also great ideas for ESL teachers to introduce listening.


Are your students struggling with authentic listening activities? Below is a brief guide I wrote to help my EFL students overcome both confidence issues and poor strategic choices when doing indepe…

Source: How to use the internet to improve your listening skills

3 Ways Pokémon GO Can Create Meaningful Learning Opportunities | EdTech Magazine

Pokémon GO has only been available in Canada for about 10 days, but it’s become extremely popular, in a very short amount of time.  Players should pay attention to their surroundings, and they should be considerate of people who live and work near Poké Stops & Gyms, where you collect weapons and have battles.  Unlike other video games, players have to get out and move around their communities to play Pokémon GO.  It’s very interesting to see how much exercise players are getting, and how much interaction is happening, when players meet each other.  So many strangers have given me advice about how to play!  Think about some skills that you want to learn and how you can use Pokémon GO to help you learn those skills.  Prepositions are one area of vocabulary and grammar that are often difficult to learn.  Ask for advice and give it about where to locate Pokéstops, gyms, and monsters! Find new places around your neighbourhood, as well as when you go someplace new.


A Pokémon gym in Fort Assiniboine, AB, also the world’s largest wagon wheel & pick!

Educators from around the web offer ideas for incorporating Pokémon GO into the classroom.

Source: 3 Ways Pokémon GO Can Create Meaningful Learning Opportunities | EdTech Magazine

Good & Bad Experiences: vacations and nights out



My necessary travel equipment: passport, ID & money, and a good book


Last night:


Last night, I went out with my friends. Nine women got together, and we went to Pampa. It’s a Brazilian restaurant that’s downtown. It’s a good restaurant but more expensive. We had meat and wine, and we talked about men, politics and life. We had a fun time there, and then we went to Central Social Hall. It’s a bar, and we drank and danced there. I don’t like drinking alcohol very much, so I drank one Cuba Libre, which is rum with Coca Cola. I don’t like dancing either, so I didn’t go out very late. I got home at midnight. I went home in my friend’s boyfriend’s car. The rest of my friends danced and drank until very late, so they got home about 3 o’clock. It was a good night but not very much fun for me.

When we traveled to Real de Catorce, my first bad experience was when we burst a tire on the way. We had to stop for 3 hours because we hadn’t brought a spare tire, and that was boring. The people in the village were friendly, and they helped us to buy another tire because we didn’t know where to go.

My second bad experience was in the desert. When we were down in the desert, it started raining and we couldn’t ride because the land was converted to quicksand. We got stuck in the mud for 5 hours, and we had to stand around until the rain was over. It was terrible and funny because when we finished, we were very dirty.

I’m writing about a night out with friends. One weekend, three months ago, I went to another city to visit two very good friends.

When I arrived at my friend’s house, I got dressed in her home to go out. After that, we went to pick up my other friend. We went first to a restaurant for dinner and after that, we went to a quiet pub to drink and talk. Once we went into the bar, we met other friends and we decided go to a party in another city 1 hour away from this city. But the four had drunk alcohol, so that wasn’t a great idea. We drove, and then left my car in the parking lot, so we paid for a taxi to travel to the other city. We danced and drank until 7 in the morning. In the disco, I lost my coat, but someone returned it. The moment with my friends was fantastic and it finished when they closed the disco. Then, we returned to my friend’s house and slept here. When I got up, I remembered my car but I didn’t remember where it was parked, so my friend and I searched for it for 2 hours! I was very angry and I felt pretty bad but finally I found my car and laughed about the experience.


In Edmonton, the Sugar Bowl is a restaurant and bar, and this is my favourite place. I went with a friend two weeks ago. I wanted to have food with meat, but because of my limited English, the waiter didn’t understand me and I got three burgers. I was eating burgers all week and I didn’t want this food any more! But this restaurant is always excellent. I get breakfast there with my husband every weekend, and we always have a good time there. We talk about our families, our country and our experiences and plans in Canada. There, I can see interesting people, and the majority are students at University of Alberta. The ambiance is very nice. When I finish my breakfast, I get a coffee and I go to my apartment walking between the trees, and beside the river.


I traveled to the beach in Brazil two years ago with my husband. We drove there by car. It was great because I love to drive for a long time.

When we arrived there, it was a terrible experience for me. The place was beautiful. But everything went wrong that day. The weather was pretty bad; it was raining a lot and cold. We didn’t go to the beach. We stayed in the hotel for one day with nothing to do. The hotel was horrible. The people were unfriendly, they didn’t accept cards, only money, they didn’t have parking for the car, and the room smelled bad. I didn’t like the sheets because they weren’t clean enough for me. I asked my husband to move to another hotel, but they were all full. However, I liked the food. It was terrific.

At night, my husband and I went out to see the city. I loved the city; it was fantastic. There were good restaurants, many stores were open late at night and many people were in the street. It was supposed to be a three-day vacation, but we returned home on the second day.

I went back there again, but that time, the weather was amazing and we stayed at a fantastic hotel.

I went out with some friends, and we went to a pub and restaurant. It was a good one, with a beautiful design. We had typical food, like steak, salad, and fish, and then we had wine and entertainment. It was a very good evening. My friends and I enjoyed live music, we danced, and we talked about our vacations and experiences. We enjoyed our evening and we went home by taxi. We left the pub at 2 am, and we got at home about 2:30 am.

Fantastic. We had a great time: 10/10 points.

Bad experiences.

I went home last September, and I when I came back to Edmonton, my flight was terrible. I had to wait in the airport for 3 hours. The food on the plane was bad because it was cold. The flight attendants were also cold. After I got to Montréal at 11 pm, I missed my other flight, and I waited in airport another 12 hours for the next one. I was very tired because I didn’t sleep. After that, I finally arrived in Edmonton. For me, it was a bad experience.

A bad day in Valencia:

My girlfriend and I went to Valencia in the summer. One day was horrible because that day the people were unfriendly and cold in general and the weather was terrible (Oh my God!): It rained all day! My girlfriend lost her wallet in the restaurant where we went that day and the food was pretty bad (we did not return). At night, we went to a pub with live music and it was fantastic (we liked it). We drank a lot of alcohol, we ate a very big meal and then we went home by car at about 7:00 a.m. It was a day to forget, a bad day.

Hi sweetie,

How are you?   I went to Beijing.   The weather was fantastic. First I drove to Bar Street, a street with about 50 bars. The people were friendly. I was lost, and they directed me. I went to Wangfujing Hotel, where there were lots of people and delicious food. After dinner, I went to a teahouse because it’s a good place to talk.

Holiday: My husband, my son and I came to Beijing. The weather was horrible, we couldn’t get a taxi, I lost my luggage, and I was very anxious. The people were unfriendly. We checked into a hotel, but it was dark. When we came to a restaurant, it was crowded with too many people, and someone stole my wallet. I felt so depressed, and this holiday was very unhappy.

I wanted to tell you about my trip when I went to Germany.

This was a bad experience. Why? Let me explain that. I flew from Belgium to Frankfurt in Germany and on the plane, everyone was talking in German and a little English. I was frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do when I needed something. I didn’t know how to ask questions. You know what? I asked for water to drink and I didn’t specify that I wanted mineral water, either non-sparkling or with gas. So, the hostess gave me gas water, which I didn’t like because I don’t like sparkling water.

When I arrived in Frankfurt, I couldn’t find one of my suitcases. This was another problem, how to ask the question and in what language? The people didn’t respond, and they were unfriendly and very cold.

But just after, I asked another hostess the question: did she work at the airport, and did she speak French? She replied yes, and I was very happy because I was already starting to cry. And she got the information about my luggage. She told me to write everything that I had in my luggage and also the address where I would be. She told me to be quiet, and they would send me home. The good news is that I received my luggage 3 days later.


I went out with my friends, Victoria and Elvira, in August. I wore blue trousers, a white blouse, and high heel shoes. My friends also wore nice clothes.

We went to “Hard Rock Café”, which is a bar and restaurant. There is good food and live music. On the weekends, various rock bands perform.

We had different dishes and drank wine and beer. We talked about music, movies and fashion.

We had a wonderful time.

After the restaurant, our husbands came for us. I got home at 1:30 am.

When we lived in Kuala Lumpur, I had bad experiences with taxi drivers. My daughter and I were returning from my friends’ place. We caught a taxi near her home. He said that price would be 15 RM. When we arrived, he said that the price was 50 RM. When I refused to pay, the taxi driver shouted at us. The guard from our condominium helped us. I paid 15 RM and he left. It was terrible and unpleasant.

IMG_2363.JPGWhen I flew to Canada I had a very stressful trip. This was my first flight, I flew alone, and I didn’t know the English language. The entire trip lasted 20 hours. I had two transfers, first in Warsaw in Poland. I had very little time, maybe 50 minutes and I was afraid that I would not make my connecting flight. And my second flight change was in Toronto, Canada. The airport was very large and very strange. I had to find my baggage and my plane to Edmonton. I had three hours until my next plane to Edmonton, but checking to find my baggage and debriefings in Customs and Immigration took me a long time. Everything is very difficult when you don’t speak the English language. My last flight from Toronto to Edmonton was first delayed for 30 minutes and then the storms ended, and we could land in Edmonton. When I landed I was very happy because I was very tired of traveling. For my 2 weeks back in Poland, unfortunately, I have to survive this journey again. I have learned a little English, so it will certainly be easier!


English for talking about makeup and cosmetics |

A lot of my students are very interested in fashion, shopping, and makeup.  There is a LOT of vocabulary about these subjects, but you can learn it pretty easily if it’s important for you.  I recommend that you look for English fashion magazines, which contain a lot of photographs.  Generally, there will be a very detailed description of each of the styles that are in the book, including colours and styles.  Many women’s magazines also contain a lot of ads and articles that relate to cosmetics.  Take some time to browse, if fashion is important to you!

Aaron’s Phrase Mix covers a lot of English expressions and idioms, and you can follow Aaron on Twitter @phrasemix

English for talking about makeup and cosmetics |


Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen | Talk Video |

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen | Talk Video |

TED talks are an excellent place to find short, clear speeches on many interesting subjects.  This 10-minute speech covers bad habits to avoid, good habits to use, a toolbox of communication skills, and public-speaking warmup.  The speaker is speaking UK English, and the vocabulary is at an academic level.

Introduce yourself!

Meeting new people is interesting!

Meeting new people is interesting!

Once you can ask people important questions like, “Where is the bathroom?”, one of the most important skills in a new language is introducing yourself.  In all of my classes, I ask students to introduce themselves (not “present” themselves) every time there’s a new student in class.  It’s obviously awkward for many students, even after plenty of practice.  Remember that when you feel awkward, the person you are talking to will often feel awkward and uncomfortable, as well.  Take time to practice a “script” that you can use, whenever you meet someone new.  The main information they will want is your name, your occupation, and your country of origin.  If you include a little bit more, like hobbies, family information, or personality, it will help the 2 of you have some ideas about what to talk about, next time you both meet.  Make eye contact with the person you are meeting, smile, and don’t speak too quickly.  Practice makes perfect!

Remember to listen when other people introduce themselves.  Find out something that you can ask them about later on.  If it’s your first time with a new group of people, it’s a good idea to write down their names, and 1-2 things about each person.  If you forget someone’s name, tell them you forgot, and ask them to tell you again.  People really like to hear their own name, so try to use it soon after you meet someone.  It will be easier to remember that way.

tell someone about yourself, and find out about them.

tell someone about yourself, and find out about them.

Let me introduce myself

• Hi, my name’s …………… OR Hello, I’m …………… (full name)
• You can call me OR Please call me ……………
(nickname, given name, English name)
• I’m from …………… (city, country)
• My first language is …………… and
I’ve studied English for …………… (length of time) at/in …………… (school/location)
• I’ve lived in Canada for…………… (length of time) OR
since …………… (date, year, month)
• I’m … years old. (This is NOT necessary information,
but it’s okay if you’re comfortable sharing)
• I’m a/an …………… (occupation)
• I’m working as …………… (occupation) at …………… (employer)
• I’m a …………… (faculty/ level) student at …………. (eg. University of Alberta)
• I study English because ……………
• In this class, I hope to/need to ……………
• I’m married/single/a mom/dad/engaged/single (This is NOT necessary information, but it’s okay if you’re comfortable sharing)
• There are … people in my family.
• They are …………… (locations, occupations, personality
• My father is a …………… and my mother is a ………………
• My hobby is …………………..
• In my free time, I also like ……………
• I don’t like …………………………
• My favourite sport is …………………..
• I enjoy eating/drinking ……………
• My favourite singer (or band/kind of music) is ……………..
• I like …………….. (movies).


teacher policeman doctor
nurse builder architect
civil servant engineer social worker
secretary businessman shop assistant
manager fire fighter shopkeeper
cleaner postman waiter/waitress

Hobbies – Free time activities

• reading, painting, drawing
• playing computer games
• surfing the Internet
• doing yoga
• going to the cinema
• playing with friends
• playing soccer/tennis/golf
• going to the park/beach/…
• listening to music
• shopping, singing, dancing
• travelling, camping, hiking


action movie
romantic comedy
horror movie
sci-fi movie
war movie
animated cartoons

• … I like it a lot.
• … I think it’s important.
• … there are many things to see and do.
• … I have to.
• … it’s relaxing/popular/nice/…
• … it’s a lot of fun
• … it’s interesting

Here is a video with some nice, short introductions.  They don’t use contractions (I’m), which almost all Canadians will do when meeting someone new.

Most university students’ English skills at rudimentary levels – News VietNamNet

Most university students’ English skills at rudimentary levels – News VietNamNet.

When I taught English in Viet Nam, I saw that most students had very weak communication skills.  Often, I could hear their other classes through the walls of my classroom.  I noticed that most Vietnamese English teachers taught “English class” entirely in Vietnamese!!  Students were very familiar with English grammar rules, because they spent most of their class time focussing on grammar.  However, it was nearly impossible for them to focus and understand the simplest questions or answers.  Because there is so much international business, there is a strong awareness that communication skills need to improve.


Watch the news at different levels

Watch the news anywhere!

Lots of students want to follow the news in English, but most news is at a university level, so it’s very hard to understand.  This website is great for learning some news stories.  You can listen to the news stories at 3 different levels, and you can learn new words at the same time.

How to improve your English with News in Levels:



  1. Read all today’s articles and translate all words which you don’t understand.
  2. Read the articles from the day before and see if you remember all new words.


  1. Listen to all today’s news.
  2. Stop the video after every sentence and repeat the sentence.
  3. Repeat point 2 for the news which you listened to the day before.


  1. Answer the questions under today’s news and write them into the comments.
  2. Chat in the  Chat room for at least 2 minutes. You can write about today’s news.


  1. Choose one person from the SKYPE section.
  2. You can talk about today’s news or you can answer questions from

If you want to know how to learn English effectively, please visit

Read more:

Practice THINKING in English, so you can speak English easily!

The writer of this article argues that you shouldn’t spend too much time and energy using study materials in English, instead you should take a more active part in your learning, by practicing speaking English and thinking in English about every new experience and activity.  I agree with the writer, because I see that students expand their vocabulary and improve their grammar very quickly, when they’re talking about experiences that are important to them.

Learning to cook in English: those cookies tasted SO delicious!

Learn about speaking and listening

This article is written to teachers, to help them to encourage students to have good conversations.  I think that there are a lot of good tips for students, to help you to understand more about the art of North American conversation.  In my academic class, we recently talked about the large cultural differences in conversational styles.  In cultures like Japanese cultures, all speakers take turns, based on age and rank, and there isn’t the back and forth style that is common in North America.  In some cultures, it’s disrespectful to make eye contact with someone who is older or who has a higher rank, whereas here, it’s seen as a sign of boredom, disrespect, or dishonesty, when speakers and listeners don’t look at each other.

Time to communicate

Time to communicate


Order of adjectives

There are many different skills to master when you’re trying to master a new language. One thing that native speakers rarely think about is the order for adjectives, when you are listing several in a row. This is very common. It will be very confusing to a native speaker if you list the number after listing everything else, or if you begin with origin. These were a couple of the charts that I found, and there’s more information available online.

Think about this: Three beautiful, big, pink, plastic flowers.

What order should you use for adjectives?