Archive for the ‘Language Learning Tips’ Category

A fun little language app and a tip for using it

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I’ve always loved using technology for study and learning. There are a ton of fun things out there to use, but I recently started using one that has been around for quite a time but I just started using it. You might know it. It’s called Duolingo

There are some fun languages there to try, but there are also some other cool ways to use this app for your study, especially if you’re learning English. You can choose the language you want to use to control and manage the app and be your base language.

So, for fun, try to learn a little Spanish, or Italian, or French, and use it in English. This will help you to focus more on the new language and use English for doing it. You don’t have to really worry about what you are actually learning. Just focus on using English for the process.

There is also a companion app called TinyCards. There are lots of fun things there too besides the companion cards for the Duolingo courses. TinyCards is a flashcard app. There’s also audio with the cards. It’s fun, and it works. Give it a try.

I did the courses for American Sign Language for the alphabet and for some basic words in sign language. I also saw cards for state capitals, bones, anatomy, Greek Mythology and many other fun looking topics. Playing with those flashcards is certainly more productive than slinging birds at stuff…


Learn English podcast

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

I have been listening to podcasts for years. I have several I create playlists from and put on my iPod and listen to off and on throughout the day.

I love the medium – using audio to get information. There are a ton of really good podcasts out there, too.

I listen to mostly sports or podcasts about writing, but I have looked around quite a bit for a good English language podcast to recommend.

I usually don’t recommend podcasts specifically for learning English, and usually recommend students just listen to podcasts about topics they are interested in learning or knowing more about. That’s the purpose of learning a language anyway, right? — to be able to use it to do something.

I have one learning podcast I can recommend though. It’s the English as a Second Language Podcast at  It has a wide variety of topics, and usually scripts are presented at a slower rate of speed and then after some explanations given again at a normal native speaker speed.

The information is interesting in the English Cafe Episodes and the conversations are usually funny and interesting along with consisting of useful topics and vocabulary.

If you’re looking for a podcast for yourself or to recommend to your students, this is a good one:


Red Yarn Music Video

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I am so looking forward to seeing the rest of the videos and hearing the new album from Red Yarn.

This is a friend who used Kickstarter to fund his album and videos.

I was so happy to see so many people supporting my friend, and this kind of work.

These are some fun songs, great for kids, and for people learning English. You probably won’t learn any of the difficult vocabulary for TOEIC or TOEFL, but it’s all good.

Watch the video below:

Pronunciation Practice – Accent and Stress Drill

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

This year I am back to teaching a class on presentation skills.

Some presentation classes focus on collecting your content and organizing it well, along with preparing it for the proper audience.

We do that, too, but in my class we also talk about the importance of stress, tone, pitch, and accents when speaking to help people understand better.

English can be understood more easily than many Asian languages for the simple fact that accents and tones and pitch help listeners to decipher which words are the most important and where the meaning is really coming from.

Here’s a little drill I created to help students practice emphasizing different words to move meaning and to help listeners to understand them better.

Before the class, I created several sentences of varying length. Each of the sentences had no repeated vocabulary. This is a little challenging with the repetition of so many prepositions and articles in English, but I was able to fashion several rather lengthy sentences to meet this requirement.

Then I had the students repeat the sentences word by word and move the accent from the first word to the last as they went. We did this by having one student do the same sentence alone from beginning to end and also by going around the room and having the students take turns and having to accent the word following the one that had been accented in the previous speaker’s sentence.

Here’s a quick example:

He wants chocolate cake.

He wants chocolate cake.

He wants chocolate cake.

He wants chocolate cake.

Now, you can also do this by creating a rising, questioning tone on each word as well to change the emphasis.

So “He? wants chocolate cake.” (This is a question about ‘who’ wants chocolate cake.)

He wants? chocolate cake. (This is a question about whether or not he ‘wants’ chocolate cake.)

He wants chocolate? cake. (This is a question about what kind of cake he wants. Chocolate, of course ;-))

He wants chocolate cake? (This is a question about what kind of chocolate food he wants.)

Now, this might seem trivial, but it is useful, and if done quickly and in turns, a fun and engaging exercise for class.

One of my favorite ways to learn language

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Most people who know me at all know there are two things I really, really enjoy.

Movies and Music

Both are great ways to not just spend time, but to improve your language skills.

This week, on Saturday evening, you can come and sing some fun, famous songs in a sing-a-long charity event in memory of the famed folk singer, Pete Seeger. I will be there, and I will be playing guitar, and yes, singing.

You won’t have to know the words even, but I’m sure you will know some of the tunes.

pete-seeger event photo