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The Benefits of Extensive Reading

Extensive reading – what is it?

Well, it’s like intensive reading: intensive reading for English classes or finding answers for your YES / NO /NOT GIVEN questions in IELTS, but for fun! Extensive reading is reading something that you enjoy or are interested in and lots of it; extensive reading is just reading, and it should be for enjoyment, interest or pleasure.

Reading is a mental activity as opposed to TV which is not; TV is purely visual (although TV is good for listening comprehension and pronunciation among other things, but that’s another story).

Everyone including those of us learning a second language can benefit from extensive reading. Carrel and Grabe (2010) argue that language learners can improve their comprehension and vocabulary by doing a little extensive reading. According to Julian Bamford and Richard Day (in Kreuzova 2019) you should read as much as you can on a variety of topics that you have chosen; the materials should be easily understandable to you from books, newspapers and magazines.

Extensive reading is moving away from the intensive reading of answer identification in your Cambridge, TOEFL or IELTS exams, and the reading skills of skimming and scanning toward a more relaxed form of reading; the kind of reading you do on the sofa because you want to, because there is nothing on TV or there’s nothing on your streaming service worth watching. So, think about what you like to read; are you interested in reading about what English-language newspapers say about your country or region; are you interested in learning about your own country’s history from another perspective? Like cooking? Read a few recipes? Remind yourself, what do you like reading in your own language: try reading the same in English.

I was surprised when I started to learn about British history from the Spanish and Argentinians. I never knew the British invaded Buenos Aries in the nineteenth century. I never knew the Dutch sailed up the Themes and stole the English flagship. It has also been suggested that extensive reading helps in examination results, make them more aware of the grammar when they are reading, increase a learner’s reading proficiency and by extension their vocabulary learning (Prowse, 2000) and (Liu and Zhang 2018).

There are other beneficial effects. It is generally believed that reading develops your concentration. When you’re watching TV, you’re probably doing something else: chatting, eating, doing your nails, interacting with social media, but reading, well reading is a different matter.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love binge-watching The Man in the High Castle on a lazy Saturday afternoon trying to forget work. With a book, you need to concentrate and focus on what is written and everything that it implies. Which brings me to another thing reading improves: your imagination. You can lose yourself in a character or situation, imagining yourself in their situation. Imagine yourself as a different person or asking yourself what you would do in such a situation.

In turn, reading is a good de-stressor; you are more likely to read when you’re in a quiet room, with no TV and oblivious to the world outside and exercising the most important organ in your body – your brain. So, while you are doing whatever you are doing like channel hoping, you are not using your imagination. We switch off our imaginations, but with a book we use our imaginations to a greater extent. Reading enhances your verbal skills; TV is visually-based media and normally uses short and simple sentences whereas books contain complex language more than you would find on TV or in a streaming service. This means using a greater range of vocabulary, longer sentences and more complex sentences; you can become aware of punctuation. So, go and borrow a graded reader from your school’s resource centre, borrow a book from the city library or read some on-line articles in magazines or newspapers on-line.

by Chris Scott, March 2020

Reference List

Carrel, Patricia. L., and Grabe, W. (2010). Reading. In: N. Schmitt, ed., Applied Linguistics, 2nd London: Hodder Education, Page 215- 229.

Sarka Kreuzova 17 July 2019, Encouraging Extensive Reading, English Teaching Professional (1 09), viewed 31 December 2019, < https://www.etprofessional.com/encouraging-extensive-reading >.

Philip Prowse (2000), The secret of reading, English Teaching Professional, (13), viewed 2 January,2020, < https://www.etprofessional.com/the-secret-of-reading >

Liu. J., and Zhang. J., (2018). ‘The Effects of Extensive Reading on English Vocabulary Learning: A Meta-analysis ‘, English Language Teaching; Vol. 11, No. 6; 2018, viewed 2 January 2020, < https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1179114.pdf >

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Listening

When we listen to something, it often goes in one ear and out the other – as the popular English idiomatic expression goes, or it falls on deaf ears, but that shouldn’t happen if you want to improve your listening skills; you should be all ears.

Ears – ears are important; they are our auditory apparatus attuned to sound waves created by the vocal cords of others; our ears pick up sound waves; the ear transforms these waves into intelligible signals that our brains can understand. 

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Listening for communication is to understand the spoken word; as students need to understand what speech is; sentence intonation and stress that maybe focusing on specific information and interpreting the context and topic – stress, intonation, rhythm and the paralinguistic features such as intonation or volume loudness.  A familiar cry from us all when doing a listening exercise in a language class is ‘I don’t understand’.

Normally, in a teaching class where you are leaning the language, as opposed to exam orientation and familiarization, your teacher will play the recording at least twice maybe more using one or more activities; you may even have the transcript to help you.

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But why is listening a problem? Is it you? Is it the quality of the recording? Is it noise pollution from elsewhere in the school or from the traffic outside? Are the accents of the speakers strange or unintelligible? Is the recording not being played enough times? Are the speakers talking too fast?

A lot of the listening comprehension problems stem from unfamiliarity with a speaker’s accent; their speed of delivery, idiomatic language and perhaps most importantly from technical elements of pronunciation that the listeners, us the students, haven’t been acquainted with such as pronunciation, recognising contractions, understanding the reduction and blending of sentences at word or cluster level; the adding of extra sounds in rapid conversation between words and the many English words where we don’t pronounce all the syllables or sounds, for example chocolate where it is pronounced choc-late.

There are also may words that sound the same in rapid speech; words that sound almost the same ‘cab’ and ‘cap’, ‘sheep’ and ‘ship’. There is also the familiarity learners have with one particular type of accent; as learners, we have to be open to the fact that speakers of a particular language, be it English, Spanish or Chinese have various accents and speeds of delivery. If we become accustomed to just one accent, we will have difficulties understanding the range of accents spoken by ‘native’ English speakers from across the English-speaking world and more importantly those speakers of English whose first language isn’t English who outnumber native speakers.

Types of Listening

 So, what types of listening do we do? There are perhaps two types of listening we do not only as language learners but also in our mother tongue; firstly, there is the listening we do in class or a lecture theatre or on TED Talks;  the language here is high in information; we listen for the most part passively; we also watch TV in this way – passively, unless we are shouting at our football team or a politician, but on TV the spoken language is more dynamic with a range of styles formal informal, spontaneous, chatty and prepared.  The second type of listening we do isactive, possibly in a conversation, where we have to understand the subtle cues of politeness and turn taking in a conversation.  In this type of listening where we are participating, non-linguistic features like body language and facial expressions are used to get our meaning across. 

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When I learned Spanish, I spent two years just watching Spanish-language soap operas, mini series and movies; the actors had a variety of accents and came from many different countries.  As such my listening skills are now very good; it required dedication.

So, how do you improve your listening skills? Listen to as much radio, music and TV as possible; listen to as many accents as possible and learn how the language is pronounced.

By Chris Scott, March 2020

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Critical Thinking

Ever since I went to college many years ago, I’ve been hearing the term critical thinking; it keeps popping up from time to time, but do we as teachers and students sit down and think about what this means, and do we use critical thinking outside the confines of academic study? Do we use this in our everyday lives?

For me, critical thinking is challenging the assumptions we have about the way we think, what we believe, what we read in the newspaper, what we are told, see on TV or the internet and hear in the world around us and not just in the classrooms; it’s about challenging dogma; it’s about looking at the preconceptions we and others have of the world around us; it is about challenging what we believe and how we behave.

Levels of Critical Thinking

For Chia Suan Chong (2019) it is about promoting meaningful and positive relationships and building empathy as well as developing one’s academic potential. But how can we use this in the classroom and in our everyday lives? What benefit does it give our students or us as learners?

Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom cited in Pineda-Báez) is most often cited when attempting to define critical thinking. According to Benjamin Bloom, there are six levels of critical thinking.

The first level is Remember; it is the ability to recall dates, people’s names, places, quotations and formula.

Level two is Understand; this is to comprehend what you are reading; it is to understand newly acquired information, to describe, classify and explain it, e.g. what is the difference between a cat and a lion.

The next level, level three, is called Apply; this is where we use this new information, solve problems, demonstrate, and interpret information.

Level four is Analyse; it looks at materials and decides what the overall purpose is; what is its relationship with other parts in society and the world in general. It is to differentiate, organize, and to relate information to the wider world, and compare or contrast.

The fifth level is Evaluate; this is to form an opinion or judgement based on standards and criteria; it seeks to appraise, argue and defend a point of view or opinion; it judges, selects, support, and critiques information.

The final level is Create; it is to use conjecture, formulate new ideas, and to investigate; it is to put all the information you have and create something innovative.

Critical Thinking Based on Reason

Another simpler definition of critical thinking is which I like is from Tim Moore (cited in Schmidt); According to research conducted by Moore, critical thinking is based on reason; in today’s world basing an argument on reason as opposed to reactionary opinions that are so prevalent in the news media and politics today is a good thing; it allows us to decide if something is good or bad, true or false, it allows us to consider the validity of something; it is thinking sceptically; critical thinking involves thinking productively, challenging ideas and producing new ideas; it involves coming to a conclusion about an issue or issues; importantly for me and something I feel strongly about; it is about looking beyond a reading or listening text’s literal meaning.

Critical Thinking in the EFL classroom

When we look at these levels, we see that we as students use most of them in the EFL classroom; those of you preparing for the IELTS and Cambridge English exam use them all the time; it is a valuable skill that students use when they enter institutes of higher education.

Regardless of your background we use critical thinking skills when deciding what to what, buy in the supermarket or believe in the newspaper.

How can they be used more in the EFL classroom or our own language learning? In her article Ten ways to consider different perspectives, Chong suggests a number of activities where critical thinking can be applied to classroom activities; one activity is ‘What would their day look like? Where the students select a photo of a person, animal or inanimate object, do a little research and give a little presentation to the rest of the class; another activity is the classic debate where you could divide the class into opposing teams; Chong suggest having students argue for or against something they would normally oppose or disagree with. This is a good way for students to try to understand something from another’s perspective.

Most of the activities involve trying to see life through someone’s else’s eyes. I saw a similar activity in Buenos Aries a few years ago when students used shoes to imagine the shoes lives.

by Chris Scott, January 2020

Reference List

Chia Suan Chong 17 July 2019, Ten ways to consider different perspectives, English Teaching Professional, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.etprofessional.com/ten-ways-to-consider-different-perspectives>.

Clelia Pineda-Báez December 2009, Critical Thinking in the EFL Classroom: The Search for a Pedagogical Alternative to Improve English Learning, ResearchGate, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277834572_Critical_Thinking_in_the_EFL_Classroom_The_Search_for_a_Pedagogical_Alternative_to_Improve_English_Learning >.

Anthony Schmidt [n.d.], CRITICAL THINKING AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING PT. 1, EFL magazine, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.eflmagazine.com/critical-thinking-english-language-teaching/ >

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Mejora tu Listening

Si estás intentando mejorar tu audición en inglés, es importante que escuches tanto como sea posible sobre temas en los que estás realmente interesado – si no estuvieras escuchando ese tema en tu lengua materna, probablemente tampoco querrías escucharlo en inglés.

Letra de canciones: Primero, elige una canción en inglés que te guste. Luego busca el video lírico correspondiente (video musical con letras) en YouTube, escucha la canción y cántala con la ayuda de las letras.  

Películas/ programas de televisión: Piensa en un género que te guste. Busca una película o programa de televisión en inglés de ese género y mírala!  

BBC Radio 4: Si tu inglés ya es relativamente bueno, intenta escuchar BBC Radio 4. No hay música, pero hay muchas conversaciones en forma de programas que se ven a menudo en la televisión inglesa.  

Intercambio de idiomas: Busca a alguien con quien puedas practicar inglés. ¿Por qué no te reúnes con alguien y hablas? Te verás obligado no sólo a hablar por ti mismo, sino también a escuchar lo que dice tu contraparte. 

TED Talks: TED Talks es un sitio web con muchas presentaciones en inglés. Las presentaciones son sobre muchos temas diferentes, así que puedes elegir algo que te interese. También es posible activar y desactivar los subtítulos. Es una buena idea escuchar la presentación una vez sin subtítulos y luego de nuevo con los subtítulos para buscar algo que se te haya pasado por alto o que no hayas entendido. 

English version https://eurospeak.org.uk/eurospeakblog/2019/01/04/improve-your-listening/

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SeaCity Museum, Southampton

Last week was amazing; I visited the SeaCity museum in Southampton with my friend Hassan.  I learned a lot about Southampton’s history and the Titanic.  Actually, I got very excited watching the Titanic film. 

While we were at the museum, we talked about what happened, and we visualised the lack of safety boats on the Titanic and how this changed for future ships.  In my opinion, there is no person to blame, but this was the result of a sequence of mistakes and wrong decisions.  

The important thing is that we get the benefits of what happened and maybe try to avoid such events again. 

Mustafa A.

October, 2019 

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Aprende inglés en cualquier momento y en cualquier lugar

Algunas de las mejores y más divertidas formas de practicar inglés también pueden ser completamente gratis. Todo lo que necesitas es un teléfono móvil y conexión a Internet, y tendrás acceso a una increíble selección de aplicaciones que pueden ayudarte a mejorar sin importar dónde estés. Estos son algunos de nuestros favoritas:

  1. Memrise –Esta aplicación fue diseñada por un Gran Maestro de la Memoria y un neurocientífico para ayudar a la gente a aprender idiomas de forma más eficiente y poder recordar mejor. Puedes elegir entre un conjunto de vocabulario, o puedes crear el tuyo propio.

www.memrise.com

  1. Quizlet – Esto también te ayudará a aprender vocabulario, pero con fichas. Puedes estudiar las palabras primero, y luego ponerte a prueba de diferentes maneras. Si tienes una lista de palabras que necesitas aprender para una clase o para un examen, entonces puedes entrar en la aplicación y aprenderlas en un abrir y cerrar de ojos

www.quizlet.com

  1. Wordreference – Todos usamos Google Translate para ayudarnos a entender nuevas palabras, pero esta aplicación de diccionario es mucho mejor. Incluye muchos idiomas diferentes, como francés, español, italiano, árabe y mucho más. También le ayudará a entender mejor la gramática de la palabra y te dará ejemplos de oraciones.

www.wordreference.com

  1. Macmillan Sounds – Esta es una gran aplicación para mejorar la pronunciación, ya que muestra todos los diferentes sonidos que usamos en inglés. Puede pulsar un sonido y luego repetirlo hasta que estés satisfecho con tu pronunciación.

http://www.macmillaneducationapps.com/soundspron/

¿Hay alguna otra aplicación que te guste? ¡Cuéntanos sobre ellas!

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Estudiar inglés en Eurospeak – Southampton (UK)

Estudiar inglés en Eurospeak – Southampton

Eurospeak Southampton abrió sus puertas en octubre de 2018 y es la segunda ubicación de Eurospeak en el Reino Unido, Eurospeak Reading fue fundado en 1991.

Eurospeak Southampton está ubicado en un edificio histórico de 4 pisos frente al parque más grande de Southampton, el Watts Park. A 5 minutos a pie de la estación de tren, a 5 minutos a pie del centro

 

Cursos

La academia ofrece clases de inglés a todos los niveles desde nivel básico A1 hasta nivel avanzado C1. Aquí podrás prepararte para el examen IELTS, o los exámenes de Cambridge B2 (FCE) o C1 (CAE). Además de poder elegir el nivel que mejor se adecue, también podrás elegir el horario al que quieras asistir: de mañana, de tarde, o tarde-noche. Al mismo tiempo podrás elegir entre clases puntuales (el mínimo de reserva son 5 clases) o cursos más intensivos combinando clases: las clases por la mañana tienen una duración de tres horas (con un descanso de 15 minutos), las clases de la tarde y tarde noche duran dos horas.

Los cursos que ofrecemos son inglés general a todos los niveles, preparación de exámenes IELTS, preparación de exámenes Cambridge, conversación baja, conversación alta, clases de escritura y clases privadas 1 a 1.

Precios

La academia te ofrece precios inmejorables. Para los estudiantes de la unión europea cada hora sale a 6£ y podrás elegir entre pagar cada semana (o cada 5 clases), o bien reservar más de 10 semanas y obtener precio de miembro con descuentos desde el 10 hasta 20%.

 

Inglés para menores de 18

En verano ofrecemos cursos para alumnos menores de 12 a 17 años, siempre y cuando tengan padre o tutor que sea responsable de su seguridad y bienestar fuera de la escuela.

 

Las clases y nuestros estudiantes

Somos muy flexibles con nuestros estudiantes, si alguna semana no puedes asistir y nos avisas con antelación podrá recuperar aquellas clases a las que no haya podido asistir. No tenemos periodos de enseñanza por lo que podrás comenzar el curso cualquier lunes y podrás terminarlo cuando pienses que has alcanzado el nivel deseado.

Todos nuestros profesores están perfectamente cualificados por lo que adquirirás excelentes habilidades lingüísticas, la metodología de enseñanza está basada en las últimas investigaciones, facilitando así que el estudiante pueda alcanzar sus objetivos.

 

La media es de 12 estudiantes por clases, siendo 16 el máximo. Contamos con alumnos de diferentes edades y nacionalidades como por ejemplo saudís, franceses, brasileños, españoles, italianos… Por lo tanto es una oportunida perfectad para conocer gente y otras culturas! Organizamos eventos, excursiones y actividades para nuestros estudiantes dentro del programa social, así ellos podrán conocerse mejor y al mismo tiempo divertirse y aprender.

Pancake Day

Durante toda la estancia en la escuela tendrás asesoramiento personal, cualquier duda o problema que te surja intentaremos resolverlo. También te ayudamos a conseguir el libro, y en caso de que lo necesites, te proporcionaremos una familia con la que hospedarte ( solo estudiantes +18).

El edificio tiene excelentes instalaciones. Hay un ascensor hasta la segunda planta, una sala para estudiantes con sofás y una mesa en la cual podrás almorzar o estudiar, una cocina donde podrás obtener café gratis.

En cada planta hay varias clases muy luminosas con vistas al parque. Las clases están perfectamente acondicionadas con mesas y sillas para cada estudiante y con pizarras inteligentes.

Para más información visita nuestra página web o contacta con nosotros:

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HOW TO MAKE NEW WORDS

Every time we create or discover something new, we need to name it. This means that we are always adding new words to our language, and it can happen in a few different ways:

  1. Adding two or more words together. For example, if we want to talk about a piece of paper that gives us news, we can call it a newspaper.
  2. Mixing words together. How do you describe a meal that happens between breakfast and lunch? Brunch, of course!
  3. ‘Borrowing’ words from other languages. We get the word ‘robot’ from Czech, ‘shampoo’ from Hindi, and ‘yogurt’ from Turkish!
  4. Using brand names. We ‘google’ information on the internet, we ‘hoover’ our houses and, if we’re lucky, we might use a ‘jacuzzi’ at the swimming pool!

Can you think of any more examples? Do you know how new words are created in your language? Tell us in the comments!

 

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

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WHY ENGLISH CAN BE HARD

English can be difficult because sometimes words with the same spelling can have different meanings and / or pronunciations.

Here are some examples for you to try to figure out:

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was cultivated to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that the workers had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • The soldier decided to desert his tasty dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present to his girlfriend.
  • A bass was painted on the bass drum.
  • I did not object to the object which he showed me.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid in his hospital bed.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about who would row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer.
  • To help with planting, a farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail around the mast.
  • Upon seeing the tear in her painting, she shed a tear.
  • I has to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
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IDIOMS – ANSWERS

Here are the meanings of the idioms featured in our last blog post:

to beat about the bush:

  • to avoid the main issue; to not speak directly about a topic
  • Stop beating about the bush and get to the point!

a bed of roses:

  • an easy, comfortable situation
  • Living with my ex-husband was no bed of roses.

to bite off more than you can chew:

  • to take on a task that is bigger than you can really manage
  • My wife certainly bit off more than she could chew when she decided to cook for a dinner party of sixteen people.

to call it a day:

  • to stop working on a task
  • We can continue working on this tomorrow, but let’s call it a day for now.

cat nap:

  • to go to sleep for a short time
  • I’m just going for a cat nap now. See you in about half an hour.