Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a wonderful New Year, bringing everything you wish for and more!

Traditionally, we wish others a "Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year".

Enjoy this video of Sydney's spectacular New Year fireworks:


Friday, 27 December 2013

Learn English Through Films

Films are an interesting and entertaining way to improve your English. Films expose you to language used in a (largely) natural way in a variety of accents and give many insights into the cultures of English-speaking countries.

Here's a great source of free online films:


Have fun!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Talking About the Future in English

Talking about the future

Here's a quick review of the main ways we talk about the future in English.

Let me know if you have questions!

present continuous

definite arrangements

We're having a party on Saturday night.

They're driving to Wilmington tomorrow morning.

She's coming for lunch on Sunday at 1.00.

going to

plans and intentions

I'm going to do my homework tonight.

We're going to play tennis next week.

predictions from something in the present

(The sky is cloudy.) It's going to rain.


simple future

(He's 20 years old.) In 5 years he will be 25 years old .

It will be summer in January.

something we decide to do just before/as we speak

O.K. ! I'll answer the telephone !


Here's a link to an article on predicted marketing trends in 2014: http://www.sugarspunmarketing.com/blog/marketing-evolution-changes-come-2014/#.UrmcSfk_tNM

After reading the article, make sentences about the future using

1. present continuous
2. going to
3. will

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Examiner approved IELTS Tips

Go to http://www.ieltsessentials.com/prepare/essentials_pack.aspx to download IDP's free examiner approved IELTS tips.

You will need to complete a brief form before you can download.

Hope it helps!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

IELTS Speaking and Writing -- Intensive Preparation Package


IELTS Speaking and Writing Tests - Intensive Preparation Package: 5 one-hour classes plus review of 4 writing tasks for $300 (prepaid)

- See more at: http://www.englishteachinglive.com/#sthash.CVwiu9Ju.dpuf

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Australians are living longer, are healthier and better educated than a decade ago

"Australians are living longer, are healthier and better educated than a decade ago, according to a snapshot released by the Bureau of Statistics.

The Measures of Australian Progress report is broken up into four areas: society, economy, governance and environment. It has found a nation in good shape in most areas."

Read the complete article at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-14/progress-report/5091566 .

What are the five areas in which Australia has seen progress?

Which are the two areas in which there has been regress?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Three Great Time Management Tips

Feeling your days slip by way too quickly? Most of us have hectic schedules to manage.

"We've all experienced it. The day ends, the to-do list is longer than it was in the morning, and you don't know where the time went. It just seemed to fly away.

Actually, the issue is never time. Time is time. It doesn't fly, walk, or crawl. The issue is how effectively you manage the time you have."

Read the article at


for three great tips.

Have a productive day!

Monday, 28 October 2013

In Memory of Rock Legend, Lou Reed

American rock legend Lou Reed died at age 71 yesterday.

Have you heard of him? Here's one of his most popular songs, which I remember from my youth!

http://www.youtube.com/watch v=QYEC4TZsy-Y

"Perfect Day"


Just a perfect day
drink Sangria in the park
And then later
when it gets dark, we go home

Just a perfect day
feed animals in the zoo
Then later
a movie, too, and then home

Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spend it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
it's such fun

Just a perfect day
you made me forget myself
I thought I was
someone else, someone good

Oh, it's such a perfect day
I'm glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow
You're going to reap just what you sow

(Lyrics from http://www.lyricsfreak.com/ )

Read more about Lou Reed and his musical influence here:


Saturday, 26 October 2013

IELTS Speaking Test - Intensive Preparation Package

IELTS Speaking Test - Intensive Preparation Package: 5 classes for $225 (prepaid)

Intensive program for candidates aiming to lift their spoken English to the next level in the IELTS test - see more at http://www.englishteachinglive.com/

Monday, 21 October 2013

Announcement of Next Live Chat Session ~ IELTS USA Experts

"If you’re thinking about studying in the USA make sure you join us for our ‘ASK THE EXPERTS’ live chat session here on the page on Friday 25 October at 15.30-16.30 BST (British Summer Time).
Experts from IELTS USA will be here to answer your questions so make sure you join us.
Find out the time of the session where you are: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ "

Go to the "IELTS Official" page on Facebook to join the chat: https://www.facebook.com/IELTSOfficial .

(Information from IELTS Official Facebook Page)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

IELTS News: High Tech ID Verification Measures Introduced

"IELTS, the International English Language Testing System and the world’s most popular English language test for higher education, has introduced biometric measures – including finger scans – to verify the identity of test takers."

According to IELTS, "the new security protocols incorporated finger scans in jurisdictions where this was permitted, along with high resolution photography."

For more details, go to http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=2013101111554962

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Understanding Basic Patterns of Intonation in English

Here's link to a good, clear summary of the way some basic intonation patterns are used in English:


You can use the audio which accompanies the article to hear, and practise, the examples.

Note: these are just some of the ways intonation is used in English. However, if you can begin to use these patterns correctly in your own speech, you're off to a very good start.

Monday, 30 September 2013


When you read and listen, question everything with a critical mind.

When you write or speak, ask yourself if you have evidence to support your claims. Sometimes, we accept ideas simply because they fit with our beliefs and values.

Make a habit of stopping often to check!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Reading: Choosing the people who are right for you

"There are people, places and things that make me feel like I’m building my energy stores, that rejuvenate me, and help me to do my best work. Likewise, there are also people and places that zap my energy; that leave me exhausted; that make me feel as though I’ve wasted my time and my energy – and my day – without getting anything useful done."

Do you feel the same way about the effects of spending time with different people?

This writer classifies people on an energy spectrum, from "high, positive energy, to balanced and stable individuals, to strong negative energy.

Read more at the link below, and make a list of the 11 groups into which people are classified.


Do you know people who fit into each of these 11 categories?
In which category do you think you might belong?
Do you disagree with the author on any points? Why?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Science: How activation of genes in the womb can shape health over a lifetime

Here's a very interesting article on recent genetic research. Scientists are looking at how genes are activated in the womb by the activities and environment of the mother. It appears that through such interactions, gene changes can occur which will affect the child in his or her later life.


Friday, 20 September 2013

Food: What the World Eats

This fascinating project, "Hungry Planet," documents "that most basic of human behaviors — what we eat".

Peter Menzel's photographs show all that an average family eats in a week, with its total cost.

"The results will be exhibited by The Nobel Peace Center to give viewers a peek into kitchens from Norway to Kuwait, and to raise awareness about how environments and cultures influence the cost and calories of the world’s dinners."

Read more and see photos at http://world.time.com/2013/09/20/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/#ixzz2fSoBNyt7

Germany: The Sturm Family of Hamburg

Friday, 13 September 2013

Using Your Time More Effectively

"Busy people all make the same mistake: they assume they are short on time, which of course they are. But time is not their only scarce resource. They are also short on bandwidth."

To learn what is meant by "bandwidth" and to discover how to use your time more effectively, read the article at


Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Benefits of Learning Another Language

Most people who learn another language will agree that the process brings many benefits in addition to being able to communicate in the target language -- for example, you might find your memory improves.

Can you think of ten extra benefits to learning another language?

Write down your ideas before reading the article here: http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/10-superb-psychological-advantages-of-learning-another-language.php#

Cambridge speaking examiners discuss what makes a good speaking test candidate

"What makes a good Speaking test candidate? In this video three experienced examiners give their advice and tips for the Cambridge English: First and Cambridge English: Advanced Speaking tests."

Note: these tests use different formats to the IELTS tests but much of the advice is useful for all speaking tests.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How to Study Effectively -- British Psychological Society

The British Psychological Society has published an excellent "digest" (a summary or compilation) of research on how to study.

Go to http://www.bps-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-digest-guide-to-studying.html to see if you are approaching your study in the right way and to pick up some very useful information on what works best.

Sleep after learning improves results

You may already have discovered this for yourself, but research has now established that sleep after learning improves results.

"A nap as short as 6 minutes after learning can help to consolidate learning and improve performance."

Learning before you sleep at night is helpful, too.

Read http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/offline-learning-how-the-mind-learns-during-sleep.php# for more details.

Can you change your learning habits to take advantage of this information?

Monday, 9 September 2013

How long does it take to become fluent in English (BBC)?

Many, many students have asked their teachers how long it will take to master English.

Many, many teachers have answered, "It depends on several factors...".

A new BBC Channel 4 documentary - Why Don't You Speak English? - explores this topic, looking at four immigrants who have struggled with English since arriving in the UK a year ago.

"Age is the most important factor in language acquisition, says Mila Vulchanova, professor of linguistics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

"There is a sensitive period in language learning, which is biologically determined, with an onset at birth and a decline around puberty. So the younger the immigrant, the better. Since this decline is only gradual, teenagers are at an advantage over adults."

Would you like more details? Read the rest of the article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23407265 .

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Perfect Language Learner

The Perfect Language Learner -- an excellent infographic from St George International.

(from http://www.stgeorges.co.uk/blog/)

Is there anything you'd wish to add?

IELTS Official on Facebook Live Chat: Ask the Experts about the Listening Test

Have you found IELTS Official on Facebook yet? If not, I recommend doing so right now! Go to https://www.facebook.com/IELTSOfficial and be sure to "like" the page so you'll receive their posts in your Facebook news feed.

Today, IELTS Official will host another ‘Ask the Experts’ live chat session on their Facebook page. It's on Monday 09 Sept at 13.30-14.30 BST. You will have the opportunity to ask IELTS experts your questions about the Listening test.

To find out the time of the session where you are: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ .

If you missed today's "Ask the Experts", never mind. Just be sure to stay tuned for the next one!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Preparing for IELTS? Join my Facebook page!

If you're preparing to take the IELTS test, I recommend reading back through this blog in chronological order (from the first to the most recent post).

For extra tips and information updates plus interesting material for vocabulary, reading and listening practice, you can follow my IELTS_Live page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/IELTS_Live/459147834166466 .

My website is at http://www.englishteachinglive.com/ .

If you have any questions, please ask here or email: teacher @ englishteachinglive.com .

Monday, 2 September 2013

"Do you know the four criteria examiners use for the IELTS Speaking Test?

They are Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation."

Fore more details, go to

With thanks to The British Council


Sunday, 1 September 2013

"Voluntourism" and why you need to think twice about taking part

"Voluntourism" is a word created by combining the words "volunteer" and "tourism". (Although, while volunteer work is usually done for no pay, people taking part in "voluntourism" usually pay for the experience).

Here's a very thought-provoking article about the subject:

Cambodia's orphan business http://aje.me/JanuaI

Having read the article, would you consider being a "voluntourist"?

Friday, 30 August 2013

Reminder: Use the official IELTS website for test samples and information

The official IELTS website is at

https://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/test_sample.aspx (this link leads to the test samples on the official site).

Other websites may contain misleading or completely inaccurate information (better described as "misinformation").

Be very wary about what you may read or hear about IELTS!

Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the information on the official site.

Friday, 23 August 2013

IELTS Official YouTube Channel

Have you checked out the IELTS official YouTube channel yet? If not, you need to go to


right away! Don't forget to save the link in your Favourites list!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Need to get your brain in top gear to attack some important task? Check this article from PSYBLOG for six very helpful tips.

"Here are six tips based on psychological research that can improve your state of mind and help you do what needs to be done..."


Which tip do you think is most useful?

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Online Literature Sites (from The British Council)

If you're a Facebook user, I strongly recommend following all The British Council's excellent pages.

Today, their "LearnEnglish" page at https://www.facebook.com/LearnEnglish.BritishCouncil posted a list of links to online literature in English.

Reading literature is a fabulous way to enrich your English language and understanding of English-speaking cultures.



LearnEnglish – British Council:

"I had a request today for a link to free literature so I thought now would be a good time to remind you of some of the online literature sites we've shared before!

1) Lit2Go - a fantastic project by the University of Southern Florida with a free online collection of novels, stories and poems which you can listen to and read online or download and print. http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/authors/

2) Booktrust - more than 40 free short stories from award-winning contemporary authors. http://www.booktrust.org.uk/books-and-reading/short-stories/stories/

3) Classic Reader - thousands of free books by authors such as Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare and many more. http://www.classicreader.com/

4) Short Stories - this is an interesting site which mixes classic authors with unpublished writers and even has teaching resources and interactive stories! http://www.short-stories.co.uk/

5) Project Gutenberg Australia - Lots of modern classics from Fitzgerald, Orwell, Woolf and more http://gutenberg.net.au/

6) Library of American Short Stories - a great mix of classic and modern short stories http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/p/stories-sorted-by-author.html

7) And of course, let's not forget our own fantastic Stories & Poems sections on LearnEnglish and Learn English Teens! http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/stories-poems

8 ) ...and our Read at Your Level section on LearnEnglish Teens. http://learnenglishteens.britishcouncil.org/english-skills-practice/read-your-level"

Thursday, 8 August 2013

7 Reasons You Aren't As Smart As You Think You Are

Read the seven reasons you aren't as smart as you may think at


List the reasons in short sentences using your own words. Add one example from your own experience.















Can you add any more reasons?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Messy desk or tidy desk?

"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" —Albert Einstein

How does your desk look -- crowded or bare?

Read more about the psychology behind your desk at http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/08/tidy-or-messy-desk-which-is-best-for-the-mind.php

How are messy desks useful?
How can a tidy desk help us?
What are the main conclusions of the reasearch?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

What do children learn from playing?

All children enjoy playing. Play isn't just fun, though; it serves an important purpose in preparing children for adult life.

Read the article explaining five important lessons children learn from play: http://www.examiner.com/article/5-ways-that-child-s-play-teaches-very-grown-up-lessons

Can you think of any more lessons we learn through play?

Thursday, 18 July 2013

How Eye Contact Works

Most of us know that use of eye contact can be important, and that the "rules" are different from culture to culture.

"Eye contact can signal love, hate, intelligence, creepiness, persuasion, sarcasm—and sometimes lies."

So, how does eye contact work?

Read more at: http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/07/how-eye-contact-works.php

Monday, 15 July 2013

Culture: How to Shake Hands Correctly in the American Business World

In many cultures, people shake hands when meeting and greeting. However, the way people shake hands varies enormously not only from one culture to another but also within cultures.

Here's an excellent article about how to shake hands in the business world in the USA:


Do you shake hands in your culture? Is the way you shake hands different to the US business style?

With thanks to SalFalko (http://www.flickr.com/photos/safari_vacation/) for the image.

Awesomely Untranslatable Words From Around The World

It's interesting to consider the relationship between language and culture. This article lists twenty words for which there is no equivalent in English. Do you know of any untranslatable words or concepts in your first language?

20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world (via Matador Network)

Photo: laogooli There are at least 250,000 words in the English language. However, to think that English – or any language – could hold enough expression to convey the entirety of the human experience is as arrogant of an assumption as it is naive…

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Learning a foreign language: five most common mistakes

Do you think that only highly intelligent and talented people can succeed in learning foreign languages? Wrong!

You simply need to know how to learn in the right way. Read this extremely helpful article to get yourself on the right track.

"Here are the five most common mistakes language learners make – and how to correct them..."


Are you making some of these mistakes?

Spend five to ten minutes writing about how you plan to change!

Monday, 1 July 2013

Which are the best online dictionaries for learners of English?

Here's a link to another blog which you may find helpful if you're not sure which online dictionaries to use:


I would add that I like http://dictionary.reference.com/ because the definitions are clear and easy to understand, you can click to hear the pronunciation of the words and because examples of the usage of the words are given, including use in idioms.

As always, feel free to ask questions or add comments here!

Which topics do you think are most difficult to talk about?

Do you find it easy to talk about computers? How about clothes? Or pets?

Everyone has different interests so we may not find all topics equally easy to talk about. That's one reason why IELTS candidates need to expose themselves to a wide range of material by a variety of different people when reading and listening. A few times per week, when listening and reading in English, you should deliberately choose topics outside your usual range of interests and speakers/writers with whom you might not agree or even find appealing!

Then again, some topics - such as "love" - might be considered difficult by most people. Here are some interesting definitions of love to reflect on:

What Is Love? Famous Definitions from 200 Years of Literary History

by Maria Popova

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.”

See more definitions here:


Which definition do you like most?

What is your own definition of love?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Four Subtle Changes Occurring in English

Have you noticed these 4 subtle changes which are occurring in English?


How can you best prepare for the IELTS test?

As most of you will know, there's a huge amount of misinformation about IELTS online.

Take care not to waste your time looking at silly "tips" on unreliable websites.

To prepare for the IELTS test you must:

1. Familiarise yourself with information about the test from the official sources:








2. Continue to work on building your English language skills daily (reading, writing, listening and speaking)

3. Practise the test. Some feedback on your speaking and writing from an experienced IELTS teacher may be helpful but is not absolutely necessary.

4. Join an IELTS class locally or online if needed.

That's it!

If you have questions, feel free to ask :).

Friday, 28 June 2013

Speaking Topics: Travel

"Trip Advisor" is a popular travel review website. Today, their "Travelers' Choice 2013 Top 25 Landmarks - World" list was released.

Can you guess which world landmark was at the top of the list?

Check here http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cLandmarks-g1-a_Mode.expanded to see if you were correct!

Have you visited any of these places?

Which five of these landmarks would you most like to visit? Why?

What can we learn from visiting other places and cultures?

Being Prepared for Discussion in Speaking and Writing: Another Great Resource (Time Magazine)

If you've been practising the speaking and writing sections of the IELTS test, you'll be well aware that you need to be able to discuss a range of topical issues. This requires both awareness and language.

Throughout this blog you'll find numerous recommendations for free online reading and listening resources to help develop both your awareness of such issues and the language needed to express your ideas in English.

Another such resource is Time Magazine. Their "most popular stories of the week" page is very useful:


If you wish, you can choose to have the week's top ten stories sent to your email.

Enjoy learning about the world while you improve your English language skills!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

English Language Learning Tips - Listening Test Skills

Here are some great tips for your listening test from Cambridge English Language Assessment:


Which tip did you find most useful?

Cambridge English Examinations

The IELTS test is just one of the tests from Cambridge English Language Assessment (formerly known as University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations) in which you may be interested.

Cambridge English Language Assessment is a not-for-profit department of the University of Cambridge.

"Cambridge English Language Assessment offers the world’s most valuable range of qualifications for learners and teachers of English. Over 4 million people take our exams each year in more than 130 countries. Over 13,000 universities, employers, government ministries and other organisations around the world recognise Cambridge English qualifications as proof of English language ability."

Their website is http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/ .

You can follow Cambridge English Language Assessment here:




More information about Cambridge English Exams and Qualifications can be found at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams-and-qualifications/

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Learn about the world while improving your English: United Nations Radio

Here's a great resource for improving your English skills as you learn about the world:


"UN Radio has a daily 10 minute programme, with a news bulletin and two features, which is uploaded onto our website and iTunes at around 1800 GMT on Monday to Friday. We also have three regional magazine programmes; UN and Africa, UN calling Asia and Women as well as Caribbean News Report individual stories specifically for the Caribbean region. The programmes are all 10 minutes long and can be downloaded as stand-alone programmes for rebroadcast.

Is there a fee to use UN Radio material?
No, we never charge for our content; it is always free.

How can I access the content?
All our content is accessible online. It can be downloaded free of charge after registering."

Listening daily to good models of English is very important to the development of your spoken language. It's also essential to keep up to date with world affairs in order to be able to hold a discussion in the IELTS Speaking test and support your views in the Writing test, Part 2 (essay).

Top Five Free English Language Learning Websites

Trying to bring your English language skills to the next level? Check out the top five free websites recommended by OpenLanguage:

"Top 5 - English Language Learning Websites

There are thousands of free English resources online; some can be extremely valuable tools but it can be difficult to sort through all of the material out there to find the gems. The resources we have listed below will help you improve your speaking, listening, reading and writing."

Go to http://blog.openlanguage.com/2013/05/27/top-5-english-language-learning-websites/

***Note: the link to the VOA (Voice of America) website seems to be broken. It should be http://learningenglish.voanews.com/ .

Monday, 27 May 2013

First "IELTS Official" Ask the Experts Live Chat on Facebook

IELTS Official on Facebook is holding their first ever ‘Ask the Experts’ live chat session on 07 June at 13.30-14.30 BST.

You have the rare chance to ask IELTS experts your questions about the General Training Writing task.

Find out the time of the session where you are: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

You'll need to find and like "IELTS Official" on Facebook to join: https://www.facebook.com/IELTSOfficial

Monday, 20 May 2013

New Facebook Page for IELTS Preparation

You can find the new IELTS_Live page on Facebook at


Click "like" to follow the page and opt to receive notifications if you would like updates to appear in your Facebook newsfeed.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

How to Learn a Language or Succeed in IELTS ~ the ultimate top tip

You'll find no better advice than this on how to learn a language or succeed in IELTS.

"How to Get There" by Australia's Michael Leunig

Of course, it's great advice for life in general, too :).

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Virtual Job Interview in English

Just the thought of a job interview will cause a rush of adrenaline in many people. Interviews are even more stressful if you're not using your first language. We can overcome stress and build confidence through preparation and practice.

Here's a link to an interactive, virtual job interview in English to help you practise answering some common job interview questions:


Good luck!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Interactive Map of North American English Dialects Based on Pronunciation

This is really fascinating!


"In his free time, linguist Rick Aschmann collected a treasure trove of information on the English dialects of North America on his website, North American English Dialects, Based on Pronunciation Patterns. The centerpiece of the site is a hugely detailed interactive dialect map of North America. The map is linked to a huge collection of audio samples of local dialects."

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

10 foods to boost your brainpower before a test

My mother, a nurse, always prepared healthy meals for the family and also believed that specific foods could help improve brain performance. She would feed my brother and me steak or fish the night before our exams started. She called these "brain food". Both are high protein foods; good for strength and stamina.

Do you believe that eating certain foods before an important test or other mental challenge can increase your brainpower? Which foods are they?

Here are ten suggestions from the BBC:


Are any of the ten foods on the list the same as the foods you would recommend?

Good luck with all your tests and challenges!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Which is your preferred learning style?

It may be more than one, or you may use all of these styles in different situations.

Which style or styles do you prefer when learning language?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Understanding the IELTS Speaking Test

Here's a very good short article about the IELTS Speaking test: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/articles/evaluating-speaking-ielts-speaking-test

The article is intended for teachers of English but it's not too difficult for learners of English to understand. I recommend reading it if you're preparing to take the IELTS test.

Have fun practising spoken English with videos

Here's a reminder about a very useful website for practising your spoken English.

In particular, the activities on this site will help you produce the distinctive rhythms, stress and intonation patterns of English that native speakers use. These special features of English pronunciation are essential if you wish to do more than just communicate at a basic level in English. You'll also find that understanding these features better will help in improving your listening skills.

Go to http://www.englishcentral.com/videos#!/index and look around.

I think you'll agree that practising with the videos is both entertaining and helpful.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Practise your English with other learners

My students often tell me that they lack opportunities to speak English with others.

I understand this difficulty but let's not ignore the many opportunities modern technology provides. It's now extremely easy to meet other interesting and intelligent people online who also wish to spend time practising English.

(By the way, don't think that only practice with native English speakers matters. Research has shown that interaction with other learners is a very important step in the development of proficiency in a second language.)

If you'd like me to connect you with other learners, send an email to teacher@englishteachinglive.com .


Groups you can join:


“This group aims to improve your English Speaking Skill, by talking on Skype every night at 23:00 Japanese time (Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +9 hours).

Whenever you want to speak English, or improve your English skills, you can join us.”


I'd be happy to share information about other groups for English learners. Just drop me a message if you'd like to recommend one.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Useful Resources for Improving Pronunciation

There are many excellent free resources online for help with pronunciation. Here are some you may like to try:

http://www.learnerstv.com/Free-Language-Video-lectures-ltv200-Page1.htm (series of 15 videos on sounds, stress patterns and intonation)

http://www.englishcentral.com/videos#!/index (choose a video, listen, record yourself speaking and get feedback; useful, detailed description at http://ddeubel.edublogs.org/2009/10/08/english-central-bringing-voice-and-output-to-learning-english/ )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/pron/ (the sounds of English and important features of pronunciation, with quizzes)

http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/english/frameset.html (the sounds of American English)

http://www.howjsay.com/ (online English talking dictionary of pronunciation)

http://www.onestopenglish.com/skills/pronunciation/phonemic-chart-and-app/interactive-phonemic-chart/(interactive chart of English sounds)

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed, as always.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

What happens in the IELTS Speaking test?

The official IELTS website, http://www.ielts.org/ , has published recordings and transcripts of a sample IELTS speaking test at http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/test_sample/speaking_sample.aspx .

Checking the information on this page is highly recommended if you're planning to take the IELTS test.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Why Facebook Makes You Feel Bad About Yourself: Reading Practice with Questions

We log in to Facebook hoping to experience happiness through friendship and support from our social networks. "But skimming through photos of friends’ life successes can trigger feelings of envy, misery and loneliness as well, according to researchers from two German universities.".

To find out more, read the article at

http://healthland.time.com/2013/01/24/why-facebook-makes-you-feel-bad-about-yourself/#ixzz2KcwqTqWp .

Then try to answer the comprehension questions below. You can check your answers with the suggested answers at the bottom of the page.


1. How is Facebook supposed to make us feel?

2. According to the researchers, how many people felt bad after looking at Facebook?

3. What effect can looking at Facebook without posting have?

4. What results may feeling envious when looking at Facebook have?

5. What differences can be seen in the way men and women present themselves on Facebook?

6. What are the two most common causes of frustration with Facebook?

7. Overall, do the positive effects of using Facebook seem to outweigh the drawbacks?


to skim (v.) - to look through quickly or superficially

envy (n.) - to want something that another person has

misery (n.) - great unhappiness

lousy (adj.) - bad, terrible

to scan (v.) - to look over quickly, sometimes when searching for information

frequenter (n.) - a person who frequents a place (visits a place often)

to post content - to share information online

common (adj.) - usual, frequent

an observation (n.) - something you notice or observe

to portray (v.) - to present, to show

to supersede - to overcome, be stronger than

Suggested answers:

1. happy, warm, loved, supported and important

2. one in three

3. more likelihood of feeling dissatisfied

4. people may use the site less or leave the site

5. men - more likely to post self-promotional content; women - more likely to stress physical attractiveness and sociability

6. a. users comparing themselves socially to friends b. “lack of attention” from fewer comments, likes and general feedback compared to friends

7. yes

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Valentine's Day: Short Video plus Quiz with Answers

Valentine's Day is celebrated in different ways by different cultures.

Ready to learn about Valentine's Day around the world while testing your listening skills?

Watch the short video: Celebrating Valentine’s Day around the world (1.54 minutes) at http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrating-valentine-s-day-around-the-world .

Decide if the statements below are True (T) or False (F). Write down your answers.

Watch the video again, if needed.

Check with the Answer Key below.


1. On Valentine’s Day (February 14th), boys in Korea give candy.
2. In Denmark, it is traditional to send snowdrop flowers to your friends and lover on Valentine’s Day.
3. In China, visit the Temple of Matchmaker on Valentine’s Day.
4. In Spain, wives send beautiful bouquets of roses to their husbands.
5. Chocolate is the most popular Valentine’s gift in Japan.
6. In Australia, over 19 % of people aged between 18 and 24 celebrate Valentine’s Day.
7. The world’s first printed Valentine’s Day card is on display at the British Museum in London.


1. F (only girls give candy on February 14th in Korea)
2. T
3. T
4. F (husbands send roses to their wives)
5. T
6. F (over 90%)
7. T

How many corerct answers did you have?

You can find out more about Valentine's Day by reading the article at:http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrating-valentine-s-day-around-the-world .

Friday, 8 February 2013

Excellent English Language Listening Resources from The Guardian

Here's another link to add to your list of favourites for listening practice:


(If you're not familiar with "The Guardian", it's a very highly regarded UK news publication).

At http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/series/the-guardian-audio-edition you'll find the best of the Guardian's journalism in an easy to digest weekly podcast.

You'll also find podcasts on a range of interesting specialist topics from science, technology and books to music, football and more.

Have fun and expand your mind while improving your English!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How Your Choice of Music Can Improve Your Workout

Are you lazy? Scientists say we are all lazy by nature: " ...like other animals, humans naturally aim to use as little energy as possible during most movement". (well.blogs.nytimes.com)

Researchers have established that when the speed of a treadmill is increased, people very quickly increase the pace of their steps. It seems that the extremely rapid response is made possible by a section of our brains which learns and stores memories of different paces.

Playing uptempo music encourages our bodies to move faster. Just take care not to overdo it!

Read the complete article at:


Do you like to exercise to music?

Have you experimented with excercising to music of different tempos? Which tempo do you like most? Which do you feel is most beneficial?


treadmill (n.)- machine on which people can exercise by walking or running

pace (n.) - speed

rapid (adj.) - fast

uptempo (adj.) - fast or lively pace

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Impact of Climate Change on Australia

The ABC has produced an excellent five-part series on the expected impact of climate change on different parts of Australia.

The first topic in the series is rising seas: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-14/how-will-rising-seas-impact-australia/4460688

The next topics are:

Part 2: What effect will climate change have on agriculture and food production? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-15/climate-change-will-force-farmers-to-adapt-csiro-says/4464506

Part 3: What effect will climate change have on health in the Pacific? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-16/humans-to-feel-heat-of-warmer-future/4466276

Part 4: How will climate change affect biodiversity and ecosystems? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-17/global-warming-to-threaten-australian-wildlife/4468026

Part 5: How will climate change affect Australia's oceans and reefs? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-18/warming-to-put-oceans-and-reefs-in-hot-water/4470104

Following the series is highly recommended for learning about the important issue of climate change and the language needed for spoken or written discussion of this very "hot" (!!) topic.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Extraordinary Dust Storm Hits Coast of Australia

Many people have been noticing strange and unusual weather patterns around the word.

Earlier this week a massive dust storm called a "haboob" collided with the Australian coast.

"The storm stemmed from a surge of high winds over the ocean that stirred up dust and carried it huge distances." (globalpost.com)

"A haboob (Arabic: هَبوب‎ "blasting/drafting") is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the world." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haboob

More amazing photographs and information here:


Free Tool: Make a Website "Speak"

"Select & Speak" is a free extension for Google Chrome. You can select text on a website and the tool will convert it to speech.

There's a choice of 43 different voices and accents and you can change the speed of the speaking.

Give it a try!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Learn English with Australian Radio and Television

All of us should maximise our ability to understand English of many varieties and spoken in a range of different accents.

If you're preparing for the IELTS test or planning to study or live in Australia, exposure to Australian English is particularly important.

ABC Australia Radio and Television offer great resources for language learners.

Please check these pages and explore:



Also recommended are:



Avaguddaaaaay! (That's Australian for "Have a good day!")

Monday, 7 January 2013

Is virtual travel the way of the future?

"According to the UN World Tourism Organization, a record one billion people will have travelled abroad for leisure by the end of this year. While Europe remains the most visited region, Asia's tourism industry is the fastest growing.

But the human traffic can cause extensive damage to fragile sites, increasing wear and tear through erosion and light exposure."

For this reason, in future years more of us may make virtual visits to sites of historic, cultural or natural importance.

One example of the success of such 3D technology is the recreation of the Mogau Grottoes of Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in China's Gobi Desert.

"A flickering torch offers a tantalising glimpse of the exquisite murals painted by Buddhist monks some 1,400 years ago. And then suddenly, the cavern is ablaze with light, its beauty fully revealed in dazzling colour and extraordinary detail."

These virtual recreations not only help preserve the original sites but also offer visitors the opportunity to see and experience far more.

" "You wouldn't be able to see any of this in the real cave because light exposure is so damaging," says Jeffrey Shaw, director of Alive, the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment at the City University of Hong Kong."

Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20802947

What's your opinion?

Can visits to digitised representations replace travel to "the real thing"? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Learning Suggestion:

Re-read the article and underline/highlight useful words related to (1) Travel and (2) Technology.

Add these words to your vocabulary notebook.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

How important are spelling and grammar mistakes?

Here's an amusing cartoon about writing a blog from Grammarly.com:

Most of us will have noticed that, especially on the internet, even very minor errors in spelling or grammar can attract a great deal of criticism! At times, this criticism seems greatly out of proportion to the "sin" committed by the writer.

So, what's your view on the importance of spelling and grammar mistakes in writing? Are they important or not? Why or why not?