Having trouble learning English? Do it like the stars!

June 30, 2014

Many of Hollywood’s finest non-native speaking actors have had to learn English fast after realising that they were destined for movie stardom stateside. With this need to master fluent English to seize the opportunities of fame and fortune that Hollywood offers, it is no surprise that they have the inside scoop on some of the most efficient tricks to mastering English quickly.

Watching films

Before Charlize Theron was in the movies herself, she would watch hundreds of them, and used this method to learn English the fast way. Charlize, who is originally from South Africa, spoke mostly in her native language of Afrikaans until the age of 19 when she learnt fluent English and headed for Hollywood. She became fluent in English at around 19 years old and has stated that watching American TV shows and movies was vital. Watching films and TV is an extremely good way to learn English, for a number of reasons.

Foreign language films are often accompanied by subtitles. This is very useful as it is easier to read a new language than it is to understand it in free flowing speech. By listening to the spoken version and associating it with the subtitles, it is easier to create a link between the sound of the word and its written form. TV shows and movies also help people to learn current terms and slang, as this is not taught in classrooms. This is particularly helpful for actors, who must often play characters with a rough street background.

French actress, Melanie Laurent said in a recent interview that she had to watch Gossip Girl on repeat in order to pick up English quickly as she had lied on her CV stating she was fluent in English. After landing roles alongside the likes of Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds) one would have to say it proved effective!

Language tandem

Language tandem is often used when people must learn a language rapidly and is a tactic that Mexican actress Salma Hayek utilized when she moved to Hollywood early in her career. Language tandem is when two people meet up regularly so as they can each practice the language they wish to learn. For example, a French person who has just started to learn English could meet with an English person who has just begun to talk French. This will usually involve half of the conversation being in French and the other half in English so as both parties are given a chance to practice their non-native language.

The technique proved effective for Hayek as she went on to secure English speaking roles in blockbusters such as From Dusk ‘til Dawn, Wild Wild West and many others.

‘Method acting’ and surrounding yourself with native speakers

By far the fastest way to learn a new language is to go to the country and surround yourself with native speakers. Many people, including Hollywood’s elite, have found this to be the best method. For actors in particular, the need to use authentic sounding slang means that immersing themselves in the language is the only way. Actors have often talked about spending days in character, perhaps speaking and moving the same way they expect their characters to. This practical approach is far more effective than any other method.

‘Method acting’ is the label for a group of techniques widely used by Hollywood actors in order to better immerse themselves in a character role they are working on. Typically, when using ‘method acting’ techniques, an actor will continue to portray their character role outside of actual filming. Quite simply, they become their character 24 hours a day, thinking and behaving like them.

This technique can be utilized for English language learning also. By imagining yourself as a native speaker and going about your day using only English and not your native tongue you can rapidly increase your progression.

Mastering a native accent or dialect

Adopting the native accent or dialect in which you are using your English skills in most often can be beneficial for many reasons. It is very common to see actors portraying specific roles in which they must adopt a regional dialect that is different from their own. For example, we regularly see Hollywood actors from the United States playing roles as British characters and vice versa.

Many actors in Hollywood hire accent consultants who work with them to help them master the correct diction for the role they are playing. Whilst that is not an option for most of us, we can benefit by watching films, interviews and listening to radio that is representative of the accent we are trying to adopt. Youtube can be a great resource for this.

Final word

Speaking is an integral part of the role of an actor and we can find a lot of useful ideas and inspiration from the language methods adopted by Hollywood. Try adopting some of these tactics to your everyday use of English and you could see a measured improvement in your command of the language.

Source: http://www.english-magazine.org/english-reading/english-language-articles/2244-language-article-learn-english-hollywood

Who are you in the classroom? The Physical (Bodily-Kinesthetic) Learner

June 18, 2014

If the physical style is more like you, it’s likely that you use your body and sense of touch to learn about the world around you. It’s likely you like sports and exercise, and other physical activities such as gardening or woodworking. You like to think out issues, ideas and problems while you exercise. You would rather go for a run or walk if something is bothering you, rather than sitting at home.

You are more sensitive to the physical world around you. You notice and appreciate textures, for example in clothes or furniture. You like ‘getting your hands dirty,’ or making models, or working out jigsaws.

You typically use larger hand gestures and other body language to communicate. You probably don’t mind getting up and dancing either, at least when the time is right. You either love the physical action of theme park rides, or they upset your inner body sense too much and so you avoid them altogether.

When you are learning a new skill or topic, you would prefer to ‘jump in’ and play with the physical parts as soon as possible. You would prefer to pull an engine apart and put it back together, rather than reading or looking at diagrams about how it works.

The thought of sitting in a lecture listening to someone else talk is repulsive. In those circumstances, you fidget or can’t sit still for long. You want to get up and move around.

Common Pursuits and Phrases

Pursuits that involve the physical style include general physical work, mechanical, construction and repair work, sports and athletics, drama and dancing.

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • That feels right to me.
  • I can’t get a grip on this’
  • Stay in touch.
  • Get in touch with’
  • That doesn’t sit right with me.
  • I have good feelings about this.
  • My gut is telling me’
  • I follow your drift.

Learning and techniques

  • If you use a physical style, use touch, action, movement and hands-on work in your learning activities. For visualization, focus on the sensations you would expect in each scenario. For example, if you are visualizing a tack (turn) on a sailboat, focus on physical sensations. Feel the pressure against your hand as you turn the rudder, and the tension lessening on the ropes. Feel the wind change to the other side, feel the thud as the sail swaps with the wind, and feel the boat speed up as you start the new leg.
  • For assertions and scripting, describe the physical feelings of your actions. For example, a pilot might script as follows: ‘I feel the friction as I push the throttle forward to start my takeoff run. The controls start to feel more responsive as I check the airspeed, oil pressure and temperature. At takeoff speed, I pull back slightly, and I feel the vibrations of the wheels stop as the plane leaves the ground. After a few moments, I reach down and set the gear selector to up. I feel the satisfying bump as the gear stops fully up.’


  • Use physical objects as much as possible. Physically touch objects as you learn about what they do. Flashcards can help you memorize information because you can touch and move them around.
  • Keep in mind as well that writing and drawing diagrams are physical activities, so don’t neglect these techniques. Perhaps use big sheets of paper and large color markers for your diagrams. You then get more action from the drawing.
  • Use breathing and relaxation to focus your state while you learn and perform. Focus on staying calm, centered, relaxed and aware. If you want to gain more control over your physical state, look up some references on Autogenics. This was a secret behind the great Russian athletic performances over the past few decades.
  • Use role-playing, either singularly or with someone else, to practice skills and behaviors. Find ways to act out or simulate what you are learning.

Who are you in the classroom? The Verbal (Linguistic) Learner

June 11, 2014

The verbal style involves both the written and spoken word. If you use this style, you find it easy to express yourself, both in writing and verbally. You love reading and writing. You like playing on the meaning or sound of words, such as in tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks and the like. You know the meaning of many words, and regularly make an effort to find the meaning of new words. You use these words, as well as phrases you have picked up recently, when talking to others.

Common pursuits and phrases

Pursuits that use the verbal style include public speaking, debating, politics, writing and journalism.

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • Tell me word for word
  • Let’s talk later.
  • The word you’re looking for is
  • I hear you but I’m not sure I agree.
  • Let me spell it out for you.
  • In other words

Learning and techniques

  • If you are a verbal learner, try the techniques that involve speaking and writing. Find ways to incorporate more speaking and writing in techniques. For example, talk yourself through procedures in the simulator, or use recordings of your content for repetition.
  • Make the most of the word-based techniques such as assertions and scripting. Use rhyme and rhythm in your assertions where you can, and be sure to read important ones aloud. Set some key points to a familiar song, jingle or theme.
  • Mnemonics are your friends for recalling lists of information. Acronym mnemonics use words, focusing on the first letter of the word to make up another word or memorable sequence. You can also make up phrases using the items you want to memorize.
  • Scripting is also powerful for you. You don’t just have to write them down. Record your scripts using a tape or digital audio recorder (such as an MP3 player), and use it later for reviews.
  • When you read content aloud, make it dramatic and varied. Instead of using a monotone voice to go over a procedure, turn it into a lively and energetic speech worthy of the theatre. Not only does this help your recall, you get to practice your dramatic presence!
  • Try working with others and using role-playing to learn verbal exchanges such as negotiations, sales or radio calls.

Source: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/style/verbal-linguistic/

Football Basics!

June 9, 2014


Soccer is a ball game played by two teams. The ball is advanced with the feet, that’s why the sport is also called football. As not to confuse it with other variants of football, e.g. American football, rugby, or Gaelic football, the official name of this sport is association football (after the London Football Association). But English native speakers usually just call it soccer, football, footie, footy or footer.

Basic rules

Object: The object is to score goals.

Players: Each team has 11 players:

  • a goalkeeper (also called goalie) who tries to block the shots by the opposing team
  • the fullbacks (defense) who try to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals
  • the halfbacks (or midfielders) who play both offense and defense
  • the forwards (or strikers) who try to score goals for their team

Duration: The game is played in two halves of 45 minutes each. At halftime the teams change ends.

Playing: Except for the goalie and at throw ins, players must not(i) touch the ball with their hands or arms. They can, however, use any other part of the body.

Scoring: A goal is scored when the ball has crossed the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar.

Field: This is what a soccer field looks like.


The Field:
centre circle
centre line
penalty mark
penalty area
goal area
goal line
The Match:
first league
final whistle
corner kick
throw in
penalty kick
dropped ball
bicycle kick
free kick
extra time
The Team
opposing team
starting lineup
defending champions
Other vocabulary:
That was a goal!
Come on, kick a goal!
Pass the ball!
Which team do you support?
What’s the score?
Who’s winning?
It’s 2-1 for ManU.
They’re still tying.
It’s a draw.
The match was tied./The match ended in a draw.
He was sent off.
The ball is out of bounds/out of play.

Who are you in the classroom? The Aural Learner

June 4, 2014

If you use the aural style, you like to work with sound and music. You have a good sense of pitch and rhythm. You typically can sing, play a musical instrument, or identify the sounds of different instruments. Certain music invokes strong emotions. You notice the music playing in the background of movies, TV shows and other media. You often find yourself humming or tapping a song or jingle, or a theme or jingle pops into your head without prompting.

Common Pursuits and Phrases

Some pursuits that use the aural style are playing, conducting, or composing music, and sound engineering (mixing and audiovisual work).

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • That sounds about right.
  • That rings a bell.
  • It’s coming through loud and clear.
  • Tune in to what I’m saying
  • Clear as a bell.
  • That’s music to my ears.

Learning and Techniques

  • If you are an aural learner, use sound, rhyme, and music in your learning. Focus on using aural content in your association and visualization.
  • Use sound recordings to provide a background and help you get into visualizations. For example, use a recording of an aircraft engine running normally, playing loudly via a headset, to practice flight procedures. Use a recording of the sound of wind and water when visualizing sailing maneuvers. If you don’t have these recordings, consider creating them while next out training.
  • When creating mnemonics or acrostics, make the most of rhythm and rhyme, or set them to a jingle or part of a song.
  • Use the anchoring technique to recall various states that music invokes in you. If you have some particular music or song that makes you want to ‘take on the world,’ play it back and anchor your emotions and state. When you need the boost, you can easily recall the state without needing the music.

Source: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/style/aural-auditory-musical/

The Chaos of English Pronunciation

June 2, 2014

Even a native English speaker has to find this interesting. English must be a very old language, because how else could one explain the random way we pronounce words? I guess the one good thing that has come out of the chaos: spelling bees!


Who are you in the classroom? The Visual Learner

May 28, 2014

If you use the visual style, you prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. You can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in your mind’s eye. You also have a good spatial sense, which gives you a good sense of direction. You can easily find your way around using maps, and you rarely get lost. When you walk out of an elevator, you instinctively know which way to turn.

The whiteboard is a best friend (or would be if you had access to one). You love drawing, scribbling and doodling, especially with colors. You typically have a good dress sense and color balance (although not always!).

Common pursuits and phrases

Some pursuits that make the most use of the visual style are visual art, architecture, photography, video or film, design, planning (especially strategic), and navigation.

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • Let’s look at it differently.
  • See how this works for you.
  • I can’t quite picture it.
  • Let’s draw a diagram or map.
  • I’d like to get a different perspective.
  • I never forget a face.

Learning and techniques

If you are a visual learner, use images, pictures, color and other visual media to help you learn. Incorporate much imagery into your visualizations.

You may find that visualization comes easily to you. This also means that you may have to make your visualizations stand out more. This makes sure new material is obvious among all the other visual images you have floating around inside your head.

  • Use color, layout, and spatial organization in your associations, and use many ‘visual words’ in your assertions. Examples include see, picture, perspective, visual, and map.
  • Use mind maps. Use color and pictures in place of text, wherever possible. If you don’t use the computer, make sure you have at least four different color pens.
  • Systems diagrams can help you visualize the links between parts of a system, for example major engine parts or the principle of sailing in equilibrium. Replace words with pictures, and use color to highlight major and minor links.
  • The visual journey or story technique helps you memorize content that isn’t easy to ‘see.’ The visual story approach for memorizing procedures is a good example of this.
  • Peg words and events come easily to you, however you need to spend some time learning at least the first ten peg words. Afterwards, your ability to visualize helps you peg content quickly.
  • The swish technique for changing behaviors also works well for you, as it relies on visualization.

Source: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/style/visual-spatial/

Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf
Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf
Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf
Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf
Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf

Adapt your lessons to cater for the different learning styles of your students – See more at: http://www.eslkidstuff.com/blog/classroom-management/6-different-types-of-esl-learners-and-how-to-teach-them#sthash.lPYFBODs.nAuSxHrv.dpuf


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