Elaine Webb BA Hons, Trinity College TESOL (merit)

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Do mistakes matter?

Students are sometimes very worried about making mistakes in spoken English.

The best way to improve is by speaking in English as much as possible and not worrying about getting something wrong.

It's very unlikely that you will upset someone by a mistake, so don't worry about that.

Just remember that London is a multi-cultural city and we are used to hearing English spoken in different ways. We don't mind!

If someone doesn't understand you, try using different words.

 It's okay to say "Just a minute please... I'm thinking how to say this". I had to do this all the time in Japan recently, and people were very patient.

But try to pronounce words as clearly as you can. I was surprised when two Japanese men said "We're pirates"

Can you guess what they were saying? The answer is at the end of this post.

And ask people to correct you so that you can improve, "Is there a better way to say this?"

Did you guess?

They were pilots!  And their English was excellent.  

Monday, 7 April 2014

Where can I use my English?

The best way to get better at English is to use it as much as you can

If you have a job you'll be using English at work.

If you don't have a job there are lots of other ways to use spoken English and make new friends.

  • Volunteering 

Charity shops often need volunteers so call in and ask them.  Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, PDSA and lots more,  Try the one nearest to your home.

Local groups caring for the environment - Friends of the Earth, Transition Town groups.  Join up and join in!

Hospitals  need volunteers

One of my students volunteers at a National Trust house and one is in a garden group

  • Evening classes or day classes - find a college near you

  • Sports clubs or walking groups or join a team
Here's one London based walking group - there are lots more

  • Libraries often have reading or writing groups
I can help you fill in an application form and get started!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sound more English

Try these really easy ways to make your English sound really natural

1. Use "really" instead of "very"

eg "We had a really great time by the Thames"

"It's been really wet weather this year"

"That's a really good idea"

2. Use "get" as much as you can

eg "Can I get you a coffee"

 "I need to get some bread"

"When did you get here?"

"I'm getting hungry"

"I got lost!"

There are also lots of phrasal verbs with "get" - get going, get started, get ready, get on, get up, get over, get married. Try to use these too - and listen out for them.

See how you get on!