How to Immerse Yourself in a New Language Through Food

How to Immerse Yourself in a New Language Through Food

  1. By Marry McAleavey
  2. On April 15th, 2016

Are you trying to learn a language but can't stomach the boring grammar lessons? Why not take a more creative and enjoyable approach to learning? 

It just so happens that food and language learning can be a perfect combination. If you've seen the film version of Eat Pray Love, you may remember the scene where Julia Roberts expertly orders a meal for her and her friends in Italian after a few weeks of exploring all of Italy's culinary joys.

Food is an inherently cultural expression and a wonderful way for you to not only learn more about the culture, but also the language.

Here are some ways that you can eat your way to learning a new language:

Go to an Authentic Restaurant

No matter where you live, there's likely to be an authentic restaurant owned by foreigners whether it's Italian, Greek, Thai, Indian, Chinese or any other ethnicity. If there is a large number of immigrants from their country in the community, sometimes, they'll have a menu that's in their native language. In that case, you can copy the menu and translate it. You can then try to order food in its native language with the staff. 

They may be willing to help you with your pronunciation and even answer some of your questions on what certain words mean. People are often welcoming when someone is trying to learn their language. Chances are, you'll find assistance and maybe even new friends with this method. If this isn't the case, don't force things or take it personally. Maybe they're just busy working.

Start Cooking

Check out some recipes from the country whose language you want to learn. This will help you understand more about the food traditions there. You'll learn some new vocabulary. You could try recipes first in English, and then, as you get better, try your hand at mastering a recipe written in a foreign language. 

Watch Foreign Cooking Shows

Every country has cooking shows. Find out which ones are popular in the country whose language you want to learn and start watching. If you look for the videos on YouTube, you'll often be able to enable Closed Captioning, and sometimes even subtitles. If you only have access to Closed Captioning, you'll have to spend more time on Google Translate until you understand what's being said. In Brazil, for example, the show Mais Voce hosted by Ana Maria Braga is the number one cooking show in the country. Here's a video of her show on YouTube for you to see how you can enable closed captioning. Repetition is key to language learning. So don't just barrel your way through a bunch of shows. Choose one and spend a good amount of time with it. The great thing about a video clip is that you can pause it as often as you like. Eventually, you can turn off the subtitles and test yourself for:

Listening comprehension. Do you understand what's being said?

Pronunciation. Can you repeat what they're saying?

Vocabulary. How many words are familiar to you?

The ultimate test, of course, would be for you to cook the meal they're teaching by following the cooking instructions in the native language. 

Make Flashcards

Write down food vocabulary on flashcards and test yourself on them. You can do this in stages to successfully build vocabulary. Start with 20 cards. Then do 20 more once you've memorized the first 20. Continue to do this in 20 word increments until you reach 100 words. Then mix all of them together and test yourself on all 100 words. 

Label Your Kitchen

Make labels with foreign words and place them on food and kitchen items. Make sure you label as many things as you can, including refrigerator, stove, spatula, pots and pans, plates and more. That way, you can be reminded of the language every time you go to eat something. 

Write Your Grocery List in a Foreign Language

As you prepare your grocery list, why not write it in the language you're trying to learn to continue reinforcing the vocabulary you have?

Of course, the best way to learn a language is total immersion. If you have the ability to travel to the country where you're trying to learn a language, there's no better way to practice your new skills than lingering at a cafe in Paris, or a tapas bar in Barcelona or a sushi bar in Tokyo. This is where you'll get hands on practice and discover if your pronunciation is up to par. It will also test your listening skills and most likely give you new lessons in that country's authentic cuisine direct from the source. 

No matter which language you want to learn, there's a way for you to do this through food. Enjoy and bon apetit!

Marry McAleavey is a former ESL teacher and currently works at The Essay Service writing company.

Top Myths about Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Top Myths about Teaching English as a Foreign Language

  1. By David White
  2. On April 13th, 2016

If you are looking to enter the field of teaching, perhaps you have encountered the acronym TEFL, or teaching English as a foreign language. Across the country and around the world, there are many different TEFL opportunities with students at various skill levels. Unfortunately, it is also a field bound in several prohibitive myths that prevent qualified and passionate teachers from becoming involved. If you are unsure about whether TEFL is right for you, dispelling some of the most common myths might just change your mind.

Myth #1: You must relocate in order to teach

While it is true that many TEFL opportunities are outside America and other English-speaking countries, this does not necessarily mean that there is a dearth of teaching positions in your area. People learn English for a variety of reasons, including a new arrival in an English-speaking country. 

If you live in an urban area, there are likely adult learning facilities, cultural centers, and other organizations that help immigrants acclimate to their new homes. This is a great way to begin a TEFL career without traveling overseas. 

If you live in a very rural area, or an area without many opportunities, try searching for online teaching jobs. Many companies—both here and abroad—hire short- and long-term TEFL teachers, and your location will matter less than your internet connection.

Myth #2: You must be able to speak another language

When teaching English, it can be of some benefit to speak another language, but it is by no means a prerequisite. Many students come to English lessons with some level of prior skill, which they hope to strengthen. Moreover, there is no guarantee that you will be teaching a class in which everyone speaks the same language. For these reasons, you should primarily be able to speak English well, and you should have the ability and patience to teach it to others.

Myth #3: You must teach children

When most people hear the word “teacher,” they picture an individual teaching children. But there are many adults who, for various reasons, need or wish to learn English—and this means that you have options when it comes to choosing who you teach. 

If the idea of teaching children does not appeal to you, there are many places that cater to adult learners at various levels. For example, if you would like to teach business professionals, foreign companies may have opportunities for such a teacher. Similarly, if you would like to help adult refugees learn English, there are plenty of opportunities in cities around the world where you can do so.

Myth #4: TEFL is not “real” teaching

For some people, the idea of teaching English as a foreign language can seem like a paraprofessional or temporary job. While there are part- and short-term positions in this field, teaching English is in fact no different than teaching any other subject, and there is thus no reason to view it as being different from any other teaching position.

Teaching English as a foreign language can be a life-long, rewarding career. Regardless of whether or not you ultimately make it your career, TEFL requires the same commitment and passion that one puts towards any other teaching field. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors. 

Best 9 Online Tools To Help You Learn a New Language

Best 9 Online Tools To Help You Learn a New Language

  1. By Anna Olinger
  2. On March 31st, 2016

Congratulations on deciding to learn a new language! Every time you learn a new language, you open doors of possibility! You can meet more people, get involved in more activities, travel, and experience the world more fully. And thankfully, there are some fantastic websites that can help you as you move forward on your journey. Here are a few of the best sites for language learners.

1)  Duolingo - Duolingo is one of the best ways to learn a language today. The website is free and gives you access to 13 commonly spoken languages (including Spanish, English, French, and German). The website (and accompanying app) let you learn a new language the same way you learned your native language: with repetition and deduction. Not only is it an effective way to learn a new language, but it’s also a lot of fun. Complete levels and unlock prizes along the way. Prizes can be anything from extra language categories (like flirting and travel) to costumes for your Duolingo navigator, a talking owl. 

2)  Plagiarism Checker - One of the most important parts of writing a strong essay is to make sure it is free from plagiarism. PlagTracker can make sure your essays are 100% your own. The website will scan the entire document to search for instances of plagiarism across the web. If they find any, they will notify you so you can rewrite them. If you’d prefer to pay a little more, PlagTracker can rewrite them for you so they are completely original.

3) Dissertation Writing Service The service can review the dissertation before you turn it in to make sure it is properly edited, formatted, and fully proofread. If you want some help without hiring anyone, you can gain helpful insights from their blog and infographics.

4) LiveMocha - Live Mocha is free, and it lets you take online lessons in over 35 languages. Once you finish taking a lesson, you can submit your work and scores to receive personalized feedback from community members. Some are native speakers and educators. What’s more, in addition to the feedback, you might also learn about the culture and gain speaking and pronunciation tips. If you want to move past the free section, you can either opt to pay a small fee or provide feedback for other language learners.

5)  Memrise - Memrise is a little different in that it lets you learn spoken languages and also take computer and engineering classes. So, you can learn some technical “languages” as well. If you’re artistically inclined or have an appreciation for beauty, you might prefer this site for its aesthetics. As you learn new words, they “grow” into flowers. Words you’re still learning only have a green stem, while those you have mastered sit in fully bloomed flowers.

6) Essay Services - If you’re writing an academic essay while still learning a new language, a little help can go a long way. Enter essay writing service Essays Capital. The professional staff of writers can help you as you write you paper.

7)  Polyglot - Instead of thinking of Polyglot as a program to learn a new language, think of it as a personal assistant to any of these programs. It’s a supplemental website of sorts. Use Polyglot to make your own flashcards in whatever language you are learning in one of these programs. Keep the app on your phone to practice on the go.

8)  Busuu - Busuu is the world’s largest social networking site for language learners. The site has more than 50 million users who learn 12 different languages through interactive exercises and conversations. What’s really nice about Busuu is the forum section. So, even languages that aren’t represented on the site can exist in the forums. Native speakers and learners can chat with one another to improve their skills.

9) - Like Polyglot, is a supplemental program to help you learn a new language. Scan through web articles, emails, and websites to find words you want to learn in your new language. will create flashcards for these vocabulary words and let you flip through them at your leisure to practice. You decide how many you want to review at a time depending on how much time you have to study at the time you use the app.

Learning a new language is exciting and fun! But it also requires a lot of commitment, time, and sometimes money. Not only can these websites save you a lot of money (most of them are free) but they can save you a lot of time as well! (In fact, 34 hours of Duolingo is the equivalent of an 11-week class.) So, choose a website to get started, and set aside an hour every day to practice. Before you know it, you’ll be speaking a new language and opening the door to new possibilities. Buena Suerte!

4 Easy Ways to Practice Your Conversational English

4 Easy Ways to Practice Your Conversational English

  1. By David White
  2. On March 22nd, 2016

After meeting the language requirements for study at an American school, you are confident in your academic and formal English, but how well did you prepare for casual conversation? 

Casual English can contain many confusing elements, including slang terms, regional language, and linguistic quirks like idioms. For non-native speakers, phrases like, “I love you to death,” or, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” can seem strange, which can add a bewildering or embarrassing element to the conversation. 

Unfortunately, there are far too many of these quirks to learn them all, and they tend to change rather quickly. There are, however, several exercises that you can use to become more familiar with the nuances of English and to improve your conversational skills:

1. Participate in school groups

One of the most effective ways to improve your conversational skills in any language is to be surrounded by those individuals who are fluent. So, with that information in mind, why not join an extracurricular activity or student group that is comprised of international and native-born students?

Not only is this a great way to meet new people, but it will also provide you with an opportunity to regularly practice your conversational skills with a group that is casual, patient, and understanding.

2. Watch television

If the idea of joining an extracurricular activity or student group is daunting, you can turn to the Internet or the television to find a wide variety of programs in conversational English. Furthermore, television programs and Internet content are often designed for specific audiences, so you should have no problem locating different types of speech. For instance, try watching American news shows—these programs are generally fast-paced and involve diverse tones. They also feature multiple forms of communication that one typically learns through social interaction, rather than in books or classrooms.

3. Master nonverbal communication

Whatever the language, verbal communication is generally supplemented or enhanced by nonverbal communication like raising an eyebrow or rolling your eyes. Many of these nonverbal cues are culturally or socially specific, and they can give you a good sense of what the person is truly trying to say. 

If you have practiced your conversational English with native speakers or watched conversations on television, you have likely seen many nonverbal cues already, which can help you begin practicing your own. Experiment with standing in front of a mirror and practicing conversational English with the addition of nonverbal cues. These can be particularly effective when communicating humor or emotion, and you will want them to look natural.

4. Read children’s books

Reading children’s books may seem like an insulting or silly way to improve your conversational English skills. However, when you consider that these books are often designed to familiarize young people with the nuances of a language, you may find that reading children’s books is one of the best ways to improve your conversational speaking skills.

In addition to teaching children grammar and sentence structure, children’s books may also introduce aspects of humor and other elements of English that can help them develop a fundamental understanding of the informal use of the language. While it might not be the most exciting material, this can still be a great way to improve and practice your conversational skills.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors. 

A St. Patrick's Day Lesson Plan

A St. Patrick's Day Lesson Plan

  1. By The TEFL Academy
  2. On March 17th, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The following is a St. Patrick's Day Lesson Plan courtesy of The TEFL Academy.




Level of students targeted by the plan: Grade School/Elementary students

Topic: Holidays and special events

Time: 30 minutes


This lesson plan aims to enlighten the minds of students about holidays, special events, and traditions that people in the United States celebrate annually. 

The information provided delivers details about one of the most celebrated occasions in the United States among those of Irish descent. 

Reinforce facts about history and American and Irish culture.



Ask you students to read the following facts about St. Patrick’s Day. Answer the questions in the drills down below.

  • March 17

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated every March 17. It is considered to be the most important national holiday in Ireland, it is also celebrated by Irish men and women living in different parts of the globe.

It is customary that people of Irish descent wear green during St. Patrick’s Day. This color represents the national color of Ireland, which also happens to be the color of the shamrock- a plant with three leaves on a single stem. This symbol is yet another popular item associated with Ireland. It is also considered the official symbol of St. Patrick’s Day. 

In many cities, people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by way of parades, dances, and festivals. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you will notice the Irish community will have a celebration of sorts for this occasion. 

It is also customary for people to greet each other with well wishes and good fortune during St. Patricks’ Day. In fact, most Irish people will send cards to each other in commemoration of this social event. 

During St. Patrick’s Day, stores are decked with green decors, cakes, pastries, and candies.  There are also Irish pubs and bars that sell green-colored beer during this festive occasion.

  • A Brief History of St. Patrick’s Day
  • St. Patrick is actually British. He was born in Britain at the end of the 4th Century. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16 and was taken back to Ireland.
  • St. Patrick was sold as a slave in Ireland. He worked for six straight years as a shepherd. He led a lonely life while in Ireland so he turned to the Bible for comfort and solace. 
  • He escaped from slavery when he went to France at the age of 22. He studied the Bible thoroughly and became priest in France. 
  • He returned to Ireland to convert the natives to Christianity.
  • St. Patrick grew popular in Ireland due to his strong sense of bravery. Many admired him for his work, as his mission allowed him to build churches and schools all over Ireland. With the spread of Christianity, he was also able to build a strong sense of national spirit among the Irish people. 
  • The Shamrock
  • St. Patrick allegedly used the shamrock leaf in his Christian bible teachings. In his teachings, he used the shamrock to compared it with the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)
  • There are no snakes in Ireland
  • There are no snakes in Ireland. This is a fact, and is believed to be due to a miracle performed by St. Patrick. It is said that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland by placing all of them in a box and hauling them into the sea. 
  • It was on March 17, 461 that St. Patrick died. Soon after his demise, March 17 was then marked as St. Patrick’s Day. Apart from celebrating the life of a saint, St. Patrick’s day is also a special occasion as it remembers the conversion of Ireland into a Christian nation. 

The Lesson #1

Read the statements and answer them aloud before placing your answers on the space below. 

  • St. Patrick’s Day is regarded as a national holiday in which European country?
  • St. Patrick was born and raised in which country?
  • What happened to St. Patrick when he turned 16?
  • Upon arrival in Ireland, what was his main line of work as a slave?
  • How long was he a slave in Ireland?
  • Where did he go when he escaped from slavery?
  • What was the main goal of St. Patrick for returning to Ireland?
  • When did St. Patrick die?
  • How do people from all around the globe celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
  • What were the contributions of St. Patrick to show his love and concern for the people in Ireland?

The Lesson #2 

Vocabulary Review

  • Matching Test

Directions: Simply match the words on the left with their correct definition/ meaning on the right.

____ 1. Parade a. a book of sacred writings of the Roman Catholic Church

____ 2. Pirate b. a religious individual who serves and represents the Church

____ 3. Miracle c. to steal or take away a person 

____ 4. Admire d. an act of God, an unbelievable event that cannot be explained

____ 5. Convert by Science

____ 6. Priest e. an individual forced to work for someone, a person

____ 7. Bible bought/sold

____ 8. Shepherd f. coming from; origin

____ 9. Slave g. a plant native of Ireland featuring three long leaves in one

____ 10. Shamrock single stem

____ 11. Kidnap h. a robber who lives in the sea

____ 12. Descent i. to adore or respect

j. an individual with the main task of taking care of sheeps

k. to change or alter

  • Complete the Sentences

Directions: Choose the correct word from the box below in order to complete the following statements.

  • Francisco is of Argentinian __________. His grandparents moved to the United States 50 years ago.
  • In many animated movies, a _________ wears a black patch over one eye and a scarf on his head.
  • When his father recovered and fully healed from cancer, the whole family thought it was a ________.
  • The ________ is the national symbol of Ireland.
  • The _________ customarily performs the wedding vow in a church.
  • There are many clowns, dancers, and entertains in the __________.
  • Before the American Civil War, it was normal for Americans to own _______.
  • You can _______ your US dollars to Singapore dollars at the airport. 
  • He is a very religious person. He reads the _____ daily



















  • After they _______ the rich businessman, they asked for 5 million dollars for his safe return. 

This lesson plan was provided by The TEFL Academy.

Top 10 Academic Writing Resources

Top 10 Academic Writing Resources

  1. By Kenneth Waldman
  2. On March 16th, 2016

As an academic author, you know the importance of writing clear and logical articles. You are aware that your work requires strong references and proper grammar. However, it’s not easy work. And even if you comprehend what successful academic writing includes, it’s not always an easy road. 

It’s a complex process. Seeking support is nothing to be hesitant about. Try the online tools listed here. Each can help guide you through the academic writing process. And each will simplify the overwhelming areas of academic writing, such as annotated bibliographies and dissertations. 

1.  Grammar Girl

If you are in need of grammar assistance check out Grammar Girl’s “Quick and Dirty Tips”. The site allows readers to send in grammar questions and receive tailored suggestions. Visitors can search for specific topics and browse through various grammar subjects to find the help they need. 

2.  Purdue Online Writing Lab

The Purdue Online Writing Lab is a one stop shop for academic writers. The site contains 200 resources that will guide you through the writing process. Topics include grammar, research, mechanics, technical writing and style guides. 

3.  Dissertation Proposal Resources

Obtain dissertation or similar writing assistance with UC Berkeley’s Dissertation Proposal Resources. Graduate students and professors will both benefit from the categorized topics such as process and parameters, nuts and bolts, style and examples.

4.  Harvard Guide To Using Sources

The proper use of sources is an important component to any piece of academic writing. This guide will show you how to find proper and reputable sources in relation to any topic and how to properly use them. 

5.  Purdue OWL's Four Main Components for Effective Outlines

Purdue OWL’s guide to writing a strong outline could be the difference between tightly structured writing and sloppy writing. Academic authors have no business being lazy with their work. The guide helps writers to discover appropriate examples and to find proper sources. 

6.  EssayMama's Writing Guide

Essaymama’s free writing guide can help any writer who is blocked. From creating an appropriate outline to researching and referencing materials, the site also offers professional assistance with editing and proofreading. 

7.  Dragon Naturally Speaking

This transcription tool is a paid service, but a highly useful one for academic writers. The software allows writers to dictate and send any document or email as well as search the web, all with voice recognition. 

8.  Writing and Presenting Your Thesis Or Dissertation

This extensive website features pretty much everything you could ask for in terms of academic writing. Writers will receive one on one suggestions and guidance through the entire writing process. From brainstorming and subject matter to preparing proposals and thesis or dissertation writing, any academic writer will likely benefit from the site. 

9.  Punctuation Made Simple

Learning the nuances of punctuation can be tedious. Even for the best writer or professor, the rules can fall through the cracks during editing. Punctuation Made Simple is a website that first lets you choose your area of question (colon, semicolon, comma, dash, or apostrophe) and proceeds to detail all uses. It’s a great refresher and proofreading guide for any author. 

10.  Clearer Writing

If your writing is unclear, then no amount of proper grammar or correct use of punctuation can save it. Clear writing is essential if you want to be taken seriously or successful as an academic writer. This website explains how to structure your work and helps you to convey profound ideas with clear sentences. The site also assists with incorporate information, when to limit or expand your vocabulary and how to formulate logical arguments.

These tools will help any academic author find success and enhance their productivity. First identify your weaknesses and then review the options. Try incorporating one of these resources next time you begin writing. They each can help you reach your highest potential. 

Kenneth Waldman is a professional content writer with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes education, marketing, freelancing. 

How to Choose an International College When You Can’t Afford to Visit Campus

If you have been following American news or politics over the past few years, you have likely encountered a story or two about the rising cost of college in the United States. It is true that college is expensive, but what is less rarely discussed is how costly it can be to apply to college.

For American citizens, the cost of application fees, standardized tests, and other requirements can quickly mount, but for international students, especially those who have been accepted, the most challenging and cost-prohibitive aspect of the process can be traveling to visit campuses. After all, how can you be sure that the school is right for you if you are not able to visit before accepting its offer?

Fortunately, recent technological advances have changed the ways in which we communicate, and they can help you decide which college offer to accept, even when you cannot physically visit the campus. You can: 

1. Take a virtual tour

The on-campus environment of a particular college or university is often a central factor in the college decision-making process. Unfortunately, this can be difficult—if not impossible—to gauge for many international students. But schools have begun to ease this burden by offering virtual campus tours on their websites. Taking such a tour can allow students to gain a sense of the college’s location and its facilities—without leaving their homes.

While virtual tours cannot provide you with a complete picture of the campus, they can be a great first step. 

2. Contact faculty and staff members

Perhaps you have already spoken with several faculty and staff members about your academic background, ambitions, and how you might fit at their school. But what you may have neglected to inquire about was the environment and its opportunities.

There are few individuals who know a college or university better than the faculty and staff members who teach and work there. Thus, they can provide valuable insight into whether or not this school is the best option for you. Consider reaching out to any faculty or staff who you have previously spoken with to see if they have any advice or thoughts to offer.

3. Join online groups, and speak with current students

In order to provide prospective students with an objective or more detailed overview of their programs, many colleges maintain a list of current students who have volunteered to act as liaisons for prospective or incoming students. These individuals can answer any questions that you might have about the campus culture (including its academic opportunities and extracurriculars), and they may be easier to contact than faculty and staff members.

In addition, certain programs may have established online groups where you can have your questions answered by peers who have opinions and insights that may be of significant value. Of course, they cannot tell you whether or not the school is right for you, but they can share their own experiences, which can give you a better idea of what to expect.

4. Read campus newspapers

As student-run publications, college newspapers offer a unique perspective on their institutions, administrations, and campus cultures that you likely will not find elsewhere. These newspapers can give you a sense of the school’s priorities (sports vs. academics, for example), as well as familiarize you with certain groups or opportunities.

In many cases, you may be able to access college newspapers for free online, but there may be some occasions where you are expected to pay. It is also important to keep in mind that while they are largely objective, the stories in these newspapers may not tell you all that you need to know.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

How to Turn Your Lunch Break Into Language Practice

How to Turn Your Lunch Break Into Language Practice

  1. By Megan Hicks
  2. On March 8th, 2016

5 Ways to Fit Language Learning Time Into Your Day

People are advised to spend time working on learning a new language each day. This can be difficult to do when you work and have a family. It’s not always appropriate to use your new language in the workplace, and if your family isn’t learning the dialect along with you, home isn’t the best place to start. 

If you’re one of the super busy people described, you may not be able to learn a new language while you’re at work, but you can surely make the most of your breaks. Here are some simple tips to help you hone your second language while out to lunch.

1) Download a Language Learning App on Your Smartphone

Get some headphones, and use your app on the bus or in the elevator. Try not to do exercises that require you actually speaking without a headset, or you might end up looking completely crazy. Listening to the language, however, or playing a game, can be very helpful in your learning process.

Try one of these free language apps to get started:

Duolingo - Learn English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Polish, Esperanto, Turkish, Norwegian, Ukrainian, or Welsh for free while having fun.

Memrise - Learn over 200 languages with high quality courses with adaptive technology, and even compete with your friends. 

iHandy Translator Free - Translate any sentence into another language with this app.

busuu - English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, or Polish with a worldwide community of learners.

50Languages - Learn one of over 50 languages with a free course and free, shareable mp3 files. 

2) Text a Bilingual (or Monolingual) Friend

You have to have at least one friend who speaks the language you’re learning. Go ahead and shoot them a text and see if they respond back. If you don’t know anyone who speaks the language yet, that’s okay. Your recipient can easily use Google Translate to figure out what you’re talking about. 

I never had any desire to learn German until my friend Adam sent me a random text, “Wie geht es dir schön?.” I had to translate the sentence and figure out a way to respond. It was a little flirtatious while, at the same time, mentally stimulating. Texting is a fun way to practice a second language with someone else from a distance.

3) Order Lunch in the Language You’re Learning

Eat out at a restaurant where the staff speaks the language you are learning. For example, if you’re learning Spanish, you can eat out at a Mexican restaurant. Try out your new Spanish skills with the waiter or waitress. Patient staff is required if you’re not fluent yet. Keep a translator app handy. 

4) Subscribe to a Newsletter from Another Country to Read on Your Break

If you’re learning Afrikaans, try to subscribing to a newsletter from South Africa. Sign up for the English version as well so that you can compare the two when you get stuck. Reading news or current events in a new language is a great way to hone your skills. You are able to see a lot of information in a natural layout. This gives you an experience similar to what you would have traveling abroad. 

5) Email a Foreign Colleague in Their Native Tongue

Now is the perfect time to practice your new skills in a real world situation. This is why you’re learning, afterall. Be sure to let the other person know that you are just learning their language, and may need clarification. The last thing you want is for this to turn into a business transaction wherein you accidentally have 500 puppies delivered to your office. That isn’t going to look good on a resume. 


So, when you’re trying to learn a new language and time is an issue, there are ways you can squeeze practice into your lunch break. Download an app or two, text a friend, order lunch in the language you’re trying to learn, subscribe to a foreign newsletter, and email a colleague. What other things do you do to practice learning your second language? Share your tips with us!

Megan Hicks is a former ESL teacher now working is a student consultant at writing service. She loves finding new ways to inspire her students.

Top places in the UK to use your TEFL Qualification

Top places in the UK to use your TEFL Qualification

  1. By Ryan O’Sullivan
  2. On March 4th, 2016

One of the most exciting aspects of qualifying to teach English abroad is the prospect of living and teaching abroad, and it’s for this reason that many newcomers to TEFL decide to begin their career.  However the adventurous backpacker’s existence isn’t for everyone, with more and more newly qualified UK TEFL teachers opting to instead stay within the UK, either as a means of first gaining experience or as a long term plan to remain settled.    Though this may at first seem like it’s completely contrary to the adventure and experience that draws in many new students each year, the UK is home to many fantastic and vibrant cities where TEFL teachers are in demand virtually year around, offering newly qualified teachers the chance at brilliant new experiences without ever having to leave home. 

Below are a few of our top picks of the most popular cities within the UK in which to teaching English as a second language. 


Brighton is a smaller town with that bigger city feel, a coastal retreat with a bustling night life and endless daytime events and attractions.  Located just an hour’s train journey south of London, Brighton boasts many of the same thrills as the big city, along with the unique experiences of playing a few rounds of games on the Pier, walks along the gorgeous seafront, and even a quick dip in the frigid sea!   All the while being only a short hop, skip, and jump away from the nation’s capital. 

TEFL teachers are constantly in demand in Brighton as it’s a popular destination for foreign students studying abroad, having come to the UK to specifically learn English as a second language.  As is the case each year, Brighton explodes in the summertime as students from Italy, Spain, France and more flood the city, everyone looking for the amusement of spending the warmer months seaside whilst continuing their study programmes.  As a result, there is end to all the ESL and TEFL job opportunities Brighton has to offer, both within public and private language schools.   Additionally many of these schools are filled to capacity year around and not solely during the breaks and holidays, giving TEFL teachers the ease of steady work. 

The TEFL teachers that settle in Brighton typically attribute the appeal to the fact that Brighton offers a great work/life balance: as a teacher, you will be well paid and can find work all year long, and the city (indeed the entire region) offers no end in terms of entertainment value, and the public transport will get you anywhere you need to go, whether it’s just across town or on a weekend train journey to another city.   Newly qualified teachers should not overlook all that Brighton has to offer. 


Cambridge is another hot spot in the UK for foreign students looking to learn English.   Home to Cambridge University and more than twenty different accredited language schools, Cambridge is another city where the ESL teacher will have no troubles finding work year around, regardless if through public schools or as a private tutor, thanks to the allure this beautiful and historic city offers.   Cambridge also boasts an active ESL scene, dozens of arts and literary festivals each year,  and endless student activities thanks to the city’s university, making it easy for the ESL teacher to involve their students in the local flavour.

One of the biggest draws for teachers, however, is Cambridge’s academic feel.   The university and the students who attend any of the wonderful schools in town are a big influence for city and many new teachers cannot help but falling in love with the idea of intellectual conversation in any one of the city’s quaint (and likely, famous) pubs.  Much like Brighton, Cambridge is only a short train journey away from London as well, leaving the TEFL teacher spoiled for choice in terms of off time entertainment.  


Similar to Cambridge, Oxford is another city offering both the charm and appeal of a historic town combined with the bustling student life surrounding one of the world’s top universities.  From Oxford’s endless museums and galleries to the colourful student nightlife, it’s no wonder Oxford is top of the list for many foreign students wishing to learn English… and why it’s on our top list of cities in which to teach English. 

Like with Cambridge, TEFL teachers are in near constant, year around demand in Oxford.  Not only is the university a big draw for foreign students, but Oxford also has a number of accredited language schools that are filled all year long, providing steady and well-paid positions both during peak holiday seasons and year round. 

Academic ambience once again tops the reasons why TEFL teachers choose Oxford, with events, lectures, and unique exhibits always on and open to the public.   Many teachers find the appeal of sitting in an old pub where many famous authors penned their work to be too much to resist.  And given the seemingly endless attractions Oxford has to offer, there is plenty to do with the hours not spent teaching. 


London is the top city for the new TEFL teacher.  Though ESL salaries tend to be lower and inversely the cost of living much higher than the rest of the country, London acts as the gateway to the English-speaking West, so it’s no wonder why London hosts more students each year than anywhere else in the UK.  Given that there is no shortage of students in London, there is no shortage of ESL jobs either, with many language institutions paying hourly and flexible to the hours you want or need (within reason).  London language schools also have perhaps the most varied student body than in any other city in the UK, with people of all ages and countries of origin having flocked to the UK to learn English. 

Many find the idea of a big, bustling city to be intimidating, but it needn’t be, and there is a load of activities and events to check out in your downtime, from cultural and academic events, to the big city nightlife, to all of the historic locales, and more.  Additionally, London’s colourful cultural menagerie and events offers the TEFL teacher the opportunity to involve their students as well, helping to bridge the gap between their home and host cultures.  

About Ryan O’Sullivan - English Instructor at The TEFL Academy

Ryan is an experienced EFL Teacher and director of The TEFL AcademyA combined love of language learning and a hunger to travel led Ryan to become a TEFL teacher. He advocates the practice of language teaching from the students’ perspective and believes that empathy and patience are essential for this job. Ryan has plenty of advice for new teachers, but thinks the most important thing in his job is to take a genuine interest in your students.


5 ways technology can make life easier for ESL teachers and students

  1. By Micheál Heffernan
  2. On February 26th, 2016

It takes time to get to grips with the basics of a foreign language. Learning the verbs, pronunciation, grammar rules, vocabulary and local colloquialisms takes lots of dedication. In the past by this would mean burying your head in a book for hours on end or listening to a tape recorder to pick up speech patterns and accents. 

But language learning has changed and things are now much easier and more intuitive with the right tools.

GoConqr is a free online learning platform that gives users the freedom to create a wide variety of learning resources or to simply discover and use those created by other users. It’s cloud-based so students and teachers can access their learning material at any time and from anywhere – from desktops, tablets or mobile phones.

And with 2 million users, the good news is that there are countless ESL and EFL resources to help you teach and learn English.

So how can you use GoConqr to help improve your language acquisition and teaching skills? Well, let’s take a look at some of the ways it can help.

5 ways GoConqr can help ESL teachers and students

1. Easier access to study material

The four key areas that English language learners (and all language learners for that matter) need to work on on before they can communicate effectively are: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Because each of these areas pose their own unique challenges, students and teachers have generally had to use a variety of materials to progress. 

However, with GoConqr you can access a rich variety of ESL materials – from Quizzes to Mind Maps to Slides. Users can also insert images, web links or language-related audio and video files into their resources, so that they can access all the material they need in one place – text, video, audio and web.  

2. More ways to improve your vocabulary

Some of the tried and tested resources that you can use to improve your English vocabulary include easy-to-use Flashcards and Quizzes. You can either put together your own or find and copy ones created by other users, just like these below. 

Just as effective, however, are the thousands of other learning materials that have been created in a range of contexts, covering every subject you can think of. These let English-language learners explore a variety of words and terms they may not encounter in their everyday studies.

3. Collaborative learning

Working with others makes learning a lot easier, and that’s especially true when it comes to learning a language. You can create or join communities of learners using GoConqr’s Groups function. Here you can connect with others, share resources, and open discussions in which you can give one another feedback and support or just use it as a place to swap and try out any new words and idioms you have picked up.

4. Culture and history

Language is like a record of all the cultural and historical changes of the place it comes from. The more you know about these, the deeper your understanding of the language will be. Because GoConqr has such a vast library of resources, you can discover all kinds of material that will help you learn more about the background of the English language and how it has changed over time. Plus, as the number of GoConqr users grows, so does the number of resources for you to explore.

5. Remote access

It takes lots of practice and hard work to truly acquire a new language, so why limit your studies to the classroom or home when you can continue learning no matter where you are? As mentioned earlier, GoConqr is a cloud-based platform. This means everything you’ve saved can be accessed on any device that has an online connection – so whether you’re sitting in a café, traveling by train, or simply out and about, your ESL resources are always just a few clicks away. 


4 Myths about College Life in America

4 Myths about College Life in America

  1. By David White
  2. On February 16th, 2016

In the age of the Internet and mass media, you might think that it is easy to find reliable information on just about any subject in a matter of seconds. If you wish to know what life is like for American college students, you can just look it up online... right? 

Not necessarily. In reality, the United States has a very diverse collection of campus cultures, each with its own identity and priorities, and the Internet does not always reflect this adequately. With this in mind, here are four common myths about college life in America:

1. College is primarily a social event

The film industry has produced many movies that depict American college life as a continuous social event, with very few hours spent in class. Such portrayals are occasionally reinforced by articles and lists like, “The Best and Worst Party Schools in the U.S.” In reality, American college students are often held to high academic standards, and they are expected to meet those standards if they wish to return each semester, and to graduate. This means that, while many students do enjoy socializing, they also prioritize their academic responsibilities.

2. There is no support for international students

Moving to a foreign country, whether for a semester or for four years, can be stressful. For many students, the process is rife with anxiety-provoking concerns about whether or not they will be welcome or will fit in. Some international students may even fear that the college to which they are applying will not provide adequate support. 

Luckily, most schools have formal departments (like the Office of International Student Affairs) that are designed to help international students acclimate to their new environment. These departments can assist you with student visa questions, or they can help you with simpler requests, like directions or referrals. In addition, there are many on-campus clubs and organizations that can provide peer support and opportunities for socialization.

3. Americans are less academically driven than students in other countries

Another concern among international students is that Americans are less academically driven than their foreign peers, which might seem to suggest that the quality of classes is sub-standard. However, this is generally a matter of cultural difference. U.S. classrooms tend to be more relaxed or informal than education in some other countries, and instructors often encourage student interaction with peers or the professor. This makes learning less of a one-directional activity, but it does not mean that it is less rigorous or challenging.

4. It is possible to commute everywhere

In many countries, public transportation is widely available, and it allows citizens to travel great distances. Sadly, in the U.S., this is not always the case, and it can pose a problem for students. While most American cities have some form of a transit system, it is often limited to urban areas. If you plan to attend a college that is located in a city, this might not be a problem for you, but if you are applying to rural schools, you may find yourself limited to campus activities (or to activities that are accessible via the campus bus system) if you are without your own car.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

7 Ways Learning a Second Language Will Make You Smarter

7 Ways Learning a Second Language Will Make You Smarter

  1. By Eva Creerson
  2. On February 9th, 2016

We all know that learning a foreign language will come in handy, allowing an otherwise non-existent opportunity, to communicate easily with an entire demographic of people who also use that language. We know that an understanding of a second language looks excellent on a job resume. We even know that speaking another language is a way to impress your friends. What some may not know is that bi-lingual capabilities correlate with a string of other mental functions. 

If you’re seeking some extra motivation to tackle a foreign dialect, read about what those functions are here in this list of seven, scientifically-proven ways that a second dialect can make you more intelligent. From the somewhat obvious to the cellular changes under the cranium, this is how you will become a smarter person.

1. You’ll Be Able to Learn From More People When You Travel

When traveling abroad without being able to speak the language can be exhausting. You have to carry around a language dictionary with you just to order the right food. Even then, you won’t always get what you’re looking for. This is an obvious way that speaking a foreign tongue will benefit you, but real nonetheless. As you visit other countries with fluency over the native language of the land, you will be able to pick up on the subtler cues, giving you a broader understanding of the culture, the individuals, and the little gems of wisdom offered by those you meet. You never know when a guru might enter your path; the last thing you want is to not be able to understand what he is trying to tell you.

2. Your Vocabulary Will Instantly Double

For every word you know, becoming fluent in another language, you will find at least one alternative way to speak it. If nothing else, knowing twice as many words is great for trivia. Unconsciously, you’ll probably be picking up some root words, and automatic comprehension of similar words in other languages. If it’s an extended vocabulary you’re looking for, why not start here.

3. Your General Foreign Language Aptitude Will Expand

The language that you learn and your native tongue will not be the only forms of communication you will have a better understanding of. According to, your general foreign language aptitude correlates with knowing more than one language. So, although you may not have fluency in Portuguese, knowing two other languages will make it easier to pick it up than if you only know one.

4. Verbal Intelligence Will Rise With Foreign Dialect Practice  

As you practice speaking a new language, the same study that showed changes in foreign language aptitude tells us, you will see a rise in your verbal intelligence. So, the way in which you use your first language will change for the better. Likely, since you’re aware of grammar and multiple word uses for your second language, those same aspects of the first become more dominant in your mind. Are you ready to become a better conversationalist? It might be hard to keep people from wanting to sit and chat, in which case you’ll need to keep up your time organization skills.

5. When You Learn Another Language, Reasoning Capabilities Will Be Heightened

The final thing that the particular referenced study taught was that, surprisingly, reasoning capabilities were higher amongst the sample of language students than those that spoke only one language. If you are interested in attaining better reasoning skills for any reason, learning to speak another dialect may be a way to kill two birds with one stone. Who doesn’t want to have better communication and rational fuel for their decision making process? 

6. Your IQ Will Go Up Significantly

It has been shown that Intelligence Quotient is affected by the acquisition of a new language. If you’re looking to join mensa, get a foreign language under your belt. Learning a new language could help land you in the genius zone. Of course, you may still want to take the practice exams to find out what they actually expect from you.

7. Learning Another Language Will Literally Change the Density of Your Brain’s Grey-Matter

This is not a joke. According to a study on the topic of language and the brain, published in 2004, the grey-matter in your inferior parietal cortex will become more dense as you acquire a second language. Therefore, learning a second language will not only have effects on your mental capabilities, but the physical structure of your brain too. The density of your inferior parietal cortex plays a key role in many cognitive functions. As it increases, so do various intellectual abilities. If that’s not solid proof that a new language will make you smarter, nothing is. 

What did you learn, unexpectedly, when learning a foreign language? 

Eva Creerson is a former ESL teacher . She now works as a student consultant and a writer at writing service

Happy Lunar New Year!

Happy Lunar New Year!

  1. By
  2. On February 8th, 2016

Also referred to as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year 2016 falls on February 8 and begins the Year of the Monkey. This holiday designates the first day of a secular or sacred year as coordinated by the cycles of the moon. Chinese New Year celebration is called Spring Festival

Read more about 2016 Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year in the Telegraph article: Happy Chinese New Year 2016! Everything you need to know about the Year of the Monkey.

How to Choose Between the ACT and SAT as an International Student

International students who plan to apply to American schools face a number of challenges—distant campuses, language requirements, and, perhaps most importantly, the question of which standardized test will be most beneficial to their application.

When applying to undergraduate programs, students have the choice between taking the ACT or the SAT. While these assessments are generally used for the same purpose (comparing applicants), their focus and formats can be quite different, which, depending on your strengths and learning style, can make one or the other a better fit for you.


For almost 100 years, students have taken the SAT in their junior or senior year of high school as they prepare for the college admissions process. While the test’s format and purpose has changed over the years, the current version of the SAT is used to measure a student’s general academic knowledge and critical thinking and reasoning skills.

Students must complete a number of math, reading, and writing items over the course of several hours. As previously mentioned, the SAT is largely focused on assessing your ability to use critical thinking and reasoning to solve problems. For example, students may not know the meaning of each vocabulary word that they encounter, but by analyzing the context and the available answer choices, they can potentially deduce the correct answer.


Unlike the SAT, the ACT has a focus that includes science—an attribute that can be important to those students who plan to apply to American science programs. The ACT also assesses your math, reading, and writing skills in a timed environment. 

In general, the ACT utilizes questions that are less complicated than the SAT’s. But it is also critically important to note that for students in foreign countries, the ACT is not as widely offered as the SAT.

Which exam is right for you?

For many international students, one of the most important items to consider when choosing between the ACT and SAT is language ability. Given the SAT’s emphasis on grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary, the test-taker’s knowledge of and ability with the English language will play a key role in success. 

For those students who are concerned about how their English skills will affect their test scores, the ACT offers less emphasis on English grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary. (It is worth noting, however, that it is not entirely absent from the exam). Students who are stronger in quantitative subjects like math and science may find that the ACT is more oriented toward their abilities and academic knowledge. 

Ultimately, either test will satisfy the colleges to which you are applying, so the answer to this question lies in your strengths and weaknesses. For native English speakers and those with advanced English language skills, the SAT may pose little issue, and it may be more readily available to you. For individuals with less developed language skills, the ACT can be a great way to demonstrate your abilities in other areas like math and science. 

Whichever you choose, good luck!

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.


Mystery Bag Storytime

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On January 29th, 2016

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games.

This article is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Mystery Bag Storytime is a great ESL game to use in your high school or adult classes.  It combines: Listening, Speaking and Vocabulary building skills.

The Details:

  • Materials required - A non see-through bag or sack.  Various things (toys, schools supplies, food, etc..)
  • Ages - this game requires higher level vocabulary so I suggest using it with high school & adult students.
  • Time - This game can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your class and how many items you place inside the Mystery Bag.
  • Class Size - This game works great with anywhere between 3 and 10 students.  Anymore than that and I would suggest breaking your class into groups.

How to :

  1. Fill a Mystery Bag  (a.k.a. Feely Bag) with as many random items as you can.  At least 1 item per student.
  2. Have your students make a circle.
  3. Begin your story by saying something like: "Along time ago in a galaxy far away.......". or "Let me tell you about my weekend.......", etc.
  4. Reach into the bag and pull out an object.
  5. Use that object to add a line (lower ability level) or paragraph (higher level) to the story you already started.
  6. Pass the Mystery Bag clock wise and have the student next to you another item out of the Mystery Bag and then add another line (lower ability level) or paragraph (higher level) to the story you already started.
  7. Continue this process until the Mystery Bag goes all the way around the circle.


2 Confusing English Grammar Rules (and How to Master Them)

2 Confusing English Grammar Rules (and How to Master Them)

  1. By David White
  2. On January 26th, 2016

When it comes to learning a second language, one of the biggest hurdles to leap is its nuances. Most people can master a vocabulary term here or there, but it is items like verb tense and contractions that make the practical use of the language much more difficult than one might at first expect. This is especially true of English, which has many formal grammar rules that can be confusing or contradictory when the language is spoken or written casually.

For non-native speakers, these rules, which are often broken in casual situations, can make mastering the language more challenging. Fortunately, there are several tricks that can help you overcome some of the more confusing aspects of grammar—and perhaps even help you speak better English than native speakers.

1. Verb tense

Verb tenses are an important and central part of many languages because they signal to the listener or to the reader when an action has happened or will happen. With that said, verb tense is an aspect of grammar that many people (including both native and non-native speakers) struggle with. Verb tense becomes even more complicated when you realize that, in English, there is more than one present tense.

While there are many elements of verb tenses that can be downright confusing, we will focus on consistency. Consider this passage: “She was walking through the park. A stranger stopped her, and asks, ‘How do I get to Main Street?’” This is an example of improper use of verb tense because “She was walking through the park,” is in the past tense, but “A stranger stopped her, and asks, ‘How do I get to Main Street?’” is in both the past and present. If you are unsure about how to remain consistent with your verb tenses, always consider when the action that you are describing happened, and then remember that all other actions in the passage must happen at the same time.

2. Contractions—specifically “it’s” 

In grammar, the term “contraction” refers to when two words are combined to form a single word like “they’re” (short for “they are”), “don’t” (“do not”), or “weren’t” (“were not”). In most cases, contractions are fairly simple, and they can help you make your use of the English language a bit less formal or wordy. However, there is one use that can be very confusing: “it’s” versus “its.”

When you wish to change “it is” into a contraction, you simply place an apostrophe between the t and the s to form “it’s.” Using the word “its” without an apostrophe is not a contraction, but instead a possessive pronoun because you are attaching a thing (“it”) to something else. For instance, “The dog wagged its tail,” calls for the possessive form (“its”) because you are talking about the dog’s tail. (In other words, the tail belongs to the dog.) If you are ever unsure about which to use, ask yourself, “Do I want to say ‘it is’?” If the answer is no, then you most likely want to avoid the contraction. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

How to Set Up ESL Games

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On January 15th, 2016

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games.

ESL games are supposed to be easy and fun.  However many new language teachers run into problems when trying to introduce new games to their students.  It’s not that the game is bad.  It’s not that the students are bad.  Most times if an ESL game is unsuccessful in class it’s simply because the teacher didn’t introduce the game properly.

How To Set up an ESL Game:

Make sure the students are paying attention .  Do not let your class touch any game objects while you’re explaining the game.  Kids get distracted very easily, it’s much better to keep the objects visible but away from them.    Keeping the objects visible sparks curiosity which will in turn make it easier to set up the game.

Demonstrate the game as easily as possible.

1. Use the simplest instructions and the least amount of English you can.  Once the students comprehend the game you can add the language later on.

2. Play the game by yourself.

3. Play the game with a stronger student.

4. Slowly bring other students into the game.

5. STOP!

6. Start the game properly.

As a teacher you have to remember to relax.  If your having fun the class can sense it and will follow your lead.

Relax :

● The game is practice at English.  Students don’t have to be perfect.

● Different students have different abilities.  Make sure your game is level appropriate.  

Better students should have harder objectives so that they don’t get bored.  Lower students should have simpler goals so they don’t get discouraged.

● Winning doesn’t matter.  Keep points to spark competition but the second the game is over everyone forgets the points anyways so don’t stress about them.

● If you’re playing against them...DESTROY THEM.  Not with the English but with the game.  Be the best ESL UNO player you can be!  That way if, and when, they beat you it means more to your students.

Remember EVERY GAME GETS BORING.  If your classes behavior is starting to slip, quit the game as soon as possible.  If you finish a game while the class is still having fun they’ll beg to play longer.  If you let it go on too long, they’ll never want to play again.

First Day Jitters

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On January 7th, 2016

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games.

The first day of any ESL / EFL class is always a little bit hectic. Student's always have a lot of curiosity about who their new teacher is. As a new teacher, my first class of the year often turned into an hour-long monologue about who I was and where I was from. It was an introduction but there was no lesson. The students weren't engaged or participating.

While attending an English Teachers in Japan conference last year I attended a presentation given by the ETJ founder David Paul.  For his introduction he had the class completely engaged in a guessing game as we pieced together scattered bits of information about him until we had figured out who he was.

How do you do it? It's simple!

1. Write 10-15 random words and numbers about yourself on the board.

2. Ask the class what the words mean. 

3. Work with the class as they guess the meaning of each word and number.

That's it.  

This introduction ESL / EFL activity is so simple it can't fail.  If a student guesses correctly, expand on their answer and tell them an extra little tidbit about yourself.  It's more than likely they'll ask you follow up questions as well.  If the class guesses incorrectly there's still plenty of extra conversation and engagement opportunities after their incorrect responses.

Best of luck with your new classes in 2016!

5 New Year’s Resolutions for English Language Learners

5 New Year’s Resolutions for English Language Learners

  1. By David White
  2. On January 5th, 2016

As 2016 begins, many people are busy setting New Year’s resolutions for the months ahead. Now is a wonderful time to contemplate new goals—for instance, what can you do to improve your language skills? Rather than set one large goal like, “I will master English,” choose smaller goals that can keep you moving toward your final objective. And if you are not sure where to start, consider these five resolutions: 

1. “I will seek out peer support”

As any language learner quickly realizes, what you encounter in a book or in a classroom, and what you encounter in the “real world,” can be very different. Thus, book learning alone is unlikely to lead to fluency.

A great way to overcome this challenge is to identify a person or a group of people with whom you can practice the practical application of your skills. This peer support can occur in a more formal environment, like a campus language group, or in a less formal environment like a dinner with friends. Aim for a mix of native and non-native speakers who can help you grow your abilities and feel supported in your endeavor. 

2. “I will capitalize on practice opportunities”

The saying “Practice makes perfect,” may be well worn, but it is well worn for a reason—it is true. If you hope to improve your language skills, you will need to apply them often and in various contexts. Think of places where you can practice, like casual public speaking engagements, restaurants, or other creative outlets. Language works differently in different environments, so by varying the areas in which you practice, you may find one that is very effective.

3. “I will embrace writing opportunities”

Like speaking, learning to write in a second language can be challenging. We tend to write differently than we speak, and there are often more rigid rules for writing than there are for speaking. 

If you are an international student, you are likely required to write in your second language on a regular basis, but academic writing is only one type of writing. So, look for other opportunities, especially those that are outside of your comfort zone. For example, if you are confident in your technical writing abilities, set a resolution that you will find a number of opportunities to practice your creative writing in the coming year.

4. “I will expand my vocabulary”

This may seem like an obvious goal (and it may even be one that you are already addressing), but that does not mean that it is not important. A strong command of any language requires a well-developed vocabulary that extends beyond that in textbooks or language apps. Perhaps you decide to set a goal to learn a specific number of new words each month, ideally across multiple contexts. For example, you might spend one month learning 10 new words that are commonly used in your field of study, while next month, you focus on 10 phrases that you might use in a doctor’s office. 

5. “I will improve my use of slang and humor”

It is often said that English is a difficult language to learn, which is in part due to the slang, idioms, and colloquialisms that we use regularly. These aspects of the English tongue can defy the basic rules of the language, effectively confusing non-native speakers. Given this fact, you might set a goal of improving your understanding and use of humor and slang by practicing with native speakers or by watching television series and films.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

Comparison Chain

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On December 24th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games.

A Comparison Chain is a fun and easy ESL game that will help you teach comparisons in your ESL / EFL classroom.   

In practice it's a more complicated version of the classic game Shiritori.  Where Shiritori is a word chain that connects words based on the last and first letters, this ESL game connects nouns through the usage of comparative adjectives. The Details:

■ The only materials required to play this game are a whiteboard, marker and a timer. 

■ This game works with students from about the ages of 10 and up.  They fairly advanced vocabulary to play.

■ A game can take between 5 and 20 minutes. How to:

1. Brainstorm a list of comparative adjectives.  I personally love using an A ­ Z Race as a fun way to brainstorm.

2. Write the grammar structure "(noun) s are (adjective) er than (noun) s" on the board.

3. Pick a topic.  E.g., animals.

4. Fill in the target grammar structure with examples. E.g., "Rabbits are cuter than Donkeys."

5. The next step is to link the second noun (animal) in the Comparison Chain to another a different noun (animal) through the use of a comparative adjective.  I like to show my classes many examples so that there can be no questions about how to play the game.

6. The most important rule is that in this ESL game, students can not reuse any comparative adjectives or nouns (except when linking).

7. Class Sizes:

A. For smaller classes set a timer for around 2 to 3 minutes and see how many links your class can make in the Comparison Chain.  Switch topics and have the class try and beat their score.

B. For larger classes divide your students into teams and have them compete against each other.  The team with the most links without repeating wins.

8. Switch topics and repeat. Enjoy!

Vital Tools Every ESL Student Writer Should Know and Have

Vital Tools Every ESL Student Writer Should Know and Have

  1. By Ben Russel
  2. On December 22nd, 2015

Writing is an essential and integral part of the education process across all levels. It is the major way through which examiners and instructors gauge a student’s understanding and grasp the concepts, theories and philosophies taught in class. In order for an ESL student to show mastery of a given subject or topic, it is vital that they know and possess certain tools that are pertinent to effective and efficient writing. This article will critically look at these tools and provide valid reasons as to why they are important for any and all ESL student writers.

The Internet

In the 21st century, technology has revolutionized every sector of human living. Education has also been affected positively by technology in the form of the Internet. This is owing to the fact that the Internet is the largest database of information in the world. It contains information pertaining to any and all fields of education and knowledge in their updated form. Information on the Internet is constantly updated, so to keep it both relevant and usable by any interested party. This makes the Internet a very important tool for research, one which every ESL student writer should know about and have at their disposal. 

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL)

According to writing experts at, every given assignment or paper has its own specifications concerning the formatting and citation style to be employed in the writing of the paper. Currently, there are four types of citation styles that are mainly used by most universities around the world; namely APA, MLA, Harvard and Chicago (Turabian). However, there are other citation styles that are not predominantly used by education institutions. The Purdue Online Writing Lab is the most recognized and internationally accepted source of the most recent updates and changes to these citation styles. In order for an ESL student writer to be accurate and up-to-date with these citation styles, they ought to be able to access the Purdue Online Writing Lab through the link This website provides all the citation styles and paper formatting requirements related to each citation style. It is vital that every ESL student writer knows how to properly and adequately format their paper and cite all sources according to the required citation style.


Journals have been important tools for academic researchers and scholars from time immemorial. These journals provided all information pertaining to a given subject or field. However, the most important aspect of journals is the fact that all information contained in any given journal has to be accredited and approved by a standing body of authority within the given scientific field. This makes journals a very crucial source of information for an ESL student writer as they assert the credibility and authenticity of the information presented by the given writer. Electronic journals provide such services at the convenience of the writer. It is therefore important that all ESL student writers have access to electronic journals so as to add credibility to their research.

Online Libraries

Books are an integral part of any given research. This is because for almost any given research topic, someone has conducted a research on it and written a book. This information is crucial to act as a foundation for any given research, whether it is a research on the same topic, or a progressive research to further knowledge on the given topic. It is important that all ESL student writes have access to online libraries, be it regular online libraries or online university libraries, with an adequate number of books as sources for foundational information for their research.

In conclusion, the Internet is a fundamental tool for all ESL student writers; it contains every possible tool and resource that the writer may require to complete any given work of writing. Some of the important and helpful tools on the Internet such as the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL), e-journals and online libraries help make one’s research process easier and effective. It is vital that ESL student writers know and possess these tools that are pertinent to effective and efficient writing.

Ben Russel is a freelance writer contributing to various educational websites and academic writing websites. One of his recent posts is on how to write a good college application essay

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Twelve Days of Christmas

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On December 16th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games.

The Twelve Days of Christmas.jpg

With the holiday season quickly approaching many language teachers find themselves scrambling for holiday themed lessons and activities to use in their classes.  This 3 step Christmas activity is a fun and useful activity for any high level ESL lesson.
The Details:
How to:
Step 1:
Step 2:
Step 3:
How To Play:
Divide your class into groups of 4 (2 teams of 2) or pairs.  Pairs work best because it forces each student to speak more.
Take the 1 - 12 cards out of a regular deck of playing cards.
Shuffle the cards and lay them face down on the table in a 3 x 4 grid.
Player one (or team one) turns over any card and uses the number on the card to make a sentence using the lyrics to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas.   E.g. if a player turns over the 3 card they have to say "On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me. Three French hens."  From now on that card is the first card in the routine.
Player one is then awarded 1 point because they turned over one card and remembered the lyrics correctly.
Turn the 3 card back over so that all of the cards are face down once again.
Player two must then turn over a different card.  If they turn over the 9 card they must begin by saying “On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me. Nine ladies dancing” and then add on the gift from the 3 card which was turned over originally. “Three French hens.”  The full answer would be: On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me. Nine ladies dancing and three French hens.
Player 2 is then awarded two points because they used the target language correctly for the first and second card.
Now player one has to turn over a new card followed by the second card (the nine card) and finally the original card (the 3 card). If they correctly remember the card order and song lyrics they are awarded 3 points.
Repeat the process using one extra card every time until either one player turns over a card out of order or forgets the correct sentence.ESL GAMES - The Twelve Days of Chrstmas - Game Play.jpg
If a player makes a mistake they forfeit their turn and the competing player gets another chance to score points.
Once all twelve cards are turned over in order while using the correct lyrics: it's time to tally the points.  The player with the most points is the winner.
This game is great in both adult and high school level classes.  Students realize that there is a lot or repetition of the target language however the difficulty of the game ensures everyone still has a great time.

  • This activity is based on the classic Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas.

  • The series of activities should take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete.

  • To complete this activity you’ll need a copy of The Twelve Days of Christmas lyrics with fill in the blanks (Download it here), a stereo and multiple packs of playing cards (apx 1 pack for every 16 students.

  • By the time the activity is completed every student should be able to sing the The Twelve Days of Christmas from memory.

    1. Before handing out the fill in the blank worksheet have the class listen to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas and write down any words they hear.  There is a version attached below.


    3. After the song is finished ask your class what they heard and discuss any vocabulary questions.

  1. Hand out the fill in the blanks hand out.

  2. Listen to the song again and have your class fill in the blanks as they listen.

  3. Take up the answers and address any vocabulary questions.

Play a game of routines.

ESL GAMES - The Twelve Days of Chrstmas 1 -12.jpg

ESL GAMES - The Twelve Days of Chrstmas - Face Down.jpg

3 Things International Students Should Know about College Internships

Of the many resources and opportunities available to students on college campuses, few rival the internship’s return on investment. An internship can help a student narrow down his or her intended fields or areas of interest, as well as expose students to new ideas, help them develop new passions, and enable them to form relationships that will be of tremendous benefit after they graduate.

These opportunities are generally open to all students in the United States, but securing an internship as an international student can add a new layer of challenge to an already difficult process. If you are thinking about how to find, secure, and make the best use of any potential internship opportunities in your area, consider the following items before starting your search:

1. You must distinguish yourself

Just like an employment search, an internship search takes time, care, and attention to detail. Internships are often in short supply, and there may be considerable competition for the most attractive positions. This is in part because internships can serve as a springboard to a strong career, as well as because they offer the opportunity to form connections with those individuals who are well established in your intended field. Given this competition, you might wonder how you can get your proverbial foot in the door.

The best place to begin is by ensuring that your name and/or work is recognized by others in your field. Rather than rush into an internship this semester, set a goal of securing one in the following semester. In the meantime, you can establish an online presence by participating in groups or message boards that are related to your subject, or by starting a blog. You can also reach out to faculty or community members who work in your area—once you have, ask for their advice. The objective is to make yourself more recognizable, which can be done in a number of creative ways. No matter what approach you ultimately decide to take, remember that this is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments.

2. It is wise to begin with the international student services office

One reason that it may be more difficult for international students to secure an internship is because there are certain regulations that dictate what international students can and cannot do in regards to employment. These regulations can be complicated, and they are very important, so do not ignore them or rely on secondhand information from friends.

Instead, visit your school’s international student services office. This office exists to assist students with situations like the one above. Before submitting any applications or resumes, check in with the international student services office to gather all the necessary need-to-know information. The office may also be aware of certain internship opportunities that are specifically designed for international students.

3. You should feel free to ask questions

When it comes time to start your career, there are few things on your resume more valuable than professional experience. This is why internships are so important, and it is also why you should make the most of your internship experience. If you are relatively unfamiliar with the sub-field in which you ultimately intern, use the opportunity to gain new skills and to gain insight into the nuances and specific tasks required of employees or specialists.

This is also the perfect time to ask as many questions as possible. Depending on your personality or culture, you may not feel entirely comfortable asking questions of your supervisor, but that is precisely what an internship is intended for. In fact, most supervisors expect that interns will have many questions, and they are usually more than happy to answer them. 

When your internship is over, you want to be able to leave with as much new knowledge and understanding as possible, so be observant, work hard, and be sure to ask questions.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.


  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On December 5th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

This is quite possibly the easiest ESL game of all time.  A childhood favorite in almost every language that goes by many names.  I call it Watermelon.

The rules are simple. One person describes a person, place or thing WITHOUT using it’s name. Instead the person must refer to the person, place or thing only as “my watermelon”.  The other players must then try to guess what the “watermelon” is.

The Details:

  • This game is ideal for smaller groups.  Anywhere from 2 - 6 members.

  • There are no materials required.

  • It can be played by students with almost any level of English ability. However I find that if students are older than 10 it tends to work better.

How to:

  1. Split your class into groups of between 2 and 5 students.  

  2. Choose a player to go first.

  3. That student must think of a person, place or thing and describe it without saying it’s name.  It must always be referred to as “my watermelon”.

  4. Other group members are allowed to ask questions about the “watermelon” but they must call it “your watermelon”.

Speaker - My watermelon is cute.

Speaker - My watermelon is furry.

Speaker - My watermelon is named Fido.

Group Member - Is your watermelon a dog?

Speaker - Yes it is!

  1. The first group member to guess what the “watermelon” is wins.

  2. Switch speakers and repeat steps 2 - 5 as desired.

This game is very effective as a warm-up, application or just for fun.  It helps students practice fluency, vocabulary, listening and circumlocution.  

Have you ever used this game in your ESL classroom?  Do you have a different name or use slightly different rules?  If you have any great tweaks on this classic game I’d love to hear them.


6 TOEFL Prep Mistakes to Avoid

6 TOEFL Prep Mistakes to Avoid

  1. By by David White
  2. On December 2nd, 2015

If you are currently working your way through the college application process, you have no doubt realized that your test scores are an important factor in whether or not you receive an acceptance letter. Although exam results are not the only items that admissions departments consider, as an international student, your score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (or TOEFL) is a significant portion of your application.

Fortunately, with a commitment to studying and working hard, there is no reason why you should not do well on this exam. Nevertheless, when it comes to the TOEFL, there are several common missteps that many people make during the prep process: 

1. Assuming that the TOEFL is a general study of the English language

Like other standardized tests, the TOEFL has a particular structure, and you will be asked certain types of questions about specific material. The exam is designed in this way because colleges and universities are less interested in how well you speak conversational English than they are in your ability to translate quickly and respond thoughtfully. 

Rather than assuming that your grasp of English is sufficient to score well, take the time to review the test ahead of your exam date in order to review the types of questions that will be asked. This will allow you to consider how to best answer questions on test day—and how to prepare now.

2. Disregarding the structure of the exam

The TOEFL will test you on certain abilities, such as reading, speaking, and writing. As mentioned above, you will need to know specific pieces of information—and, conversely, there are certain things that you will not need to know. By reviewing the exam in advance, you will be able to gauge your strengths and weaknesses, which will allow you to better strategize and focus your attention on the specific areas that need it most. 

3. Forgetting that all areas of the test are equally important

English is a challenging language because of the many nuances and oddities that can complicate becoming adept. It is thus critically important that as you study for the TOEFL, you keep in mind that there are four sections. Instead of being over-prepared for one section and woefully under-prepared for another, try to split your study time evenly between each area.

4. Ignoring pronunciation

It can be very easy to become distracted by the definitions of words and how they are commonly used, and to entirely forget about their pronunciation. Given that some English words utilize identical spelling but different pronunciation, this is one area that you do not want to ignore. In addition, the Speaking section of the exam moves quickly, and you might not have time to stop and consider each task at length before you respond. Therefore, it is in your best interest to be constantly mindful of your pronunciation as you review for the TOEFL.

5. Failing to prioritize

Although the article previously stressed the importance of dividing your time between sections, you should also prioritize any gaps in your abilities. For example, if you feel that you are strong in reading, but your writing skills need work, make sure to particularly focus on writing. 

6. Over-studying

Earning a high TOEFL score may understandably be very important to you, but reviewing non-stop will not help you achieve your goal. Over-studying can even affect your test-day performance. Rather than spend all of your waking hours perusing study guides and flashcards, focus on balancing memorization and day-to-day experience.

For example, try to study with friends who can help you with your verbal skills and pronunciation. You can also set study limits for yourself each day to ensure that you are not attempting to force too much information into your head.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.



  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On November 27th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

This game is a twist on ESL Game #012 Charades.  Charades is, of course, a classic

ESL / EFL game that requires students to act out a language target or vocabulary item without 

speaking while the rest of their classmates try to guess the that the actor is miming.

To play Hieroglyphics students are required to draw the vocabulary item or language 

target rather than mime it out.

How to play:

1. First, divide your class into 2 or 3 teams.

2. Then, start the game by showing one of your ESL / EFL students a flash card, 

vocabulary target or better yet a full sentence that uses level appropriate English.

3. The artist then has to illustrate the language target they were shown using only pictures.  

No writing, numbers or letters!

4. The first team to guess the word or vocabulary target correctly gets a point.

5. Repeat steps 2­4.

Can you guess what this one says?

ESL Game #036 - Hieroglyphics

ESL Game #036 ­ Hieroglyphics

That's right!  She doesn't like hamburgers.


Play Hieroglyphics on the Easy ESL Games website.



  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On November 20th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

Routines is a simple ESL game that requires almost no set up and is an extremely effective way to teach almost any target language.

The Details:

  • The only materials required are a deck of playing cards plus a pencil and a piece of paper to keep score.
  • This game is ideal for a small class of either 2 or 4 students.  If you have a larger class simply divide your class into groups or pairs.
  • I love this game because it uses so much concentration students forget the amount of target language repetition involved.

The target language is "I (verb + noun) at (number on the card) o'clock.  E.g. "I watch T.V. at 9 o'clock."

How To Play:

1. Introduce the target language.  In this example, I'll be using routines and time.
2. Take the 1 - 9 card out of a regular deck of playing cards.
3. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down on the table in a 3 x 3 grid.

4. Player one turns over any card and uses the number on the card to make a sentence using the target language. E.g. "I go to school at 3 o'clock."  From now on that card is the first card in the routine. I go to school at 3 o'clock.

5. Player one is then awarded 1 point because they turned over one card and used the sentence correctly.
6. Turn the 3 card back over so that all of the cards are face down once again.

7. Player two must then turn over the same card player one tuned over and repeat player one’s sentence.  In this example it was the number 3 card and the sentence was "I go to school at 3 o'clock." Next, Player two must then turn over a second card and make a new sentence using the number on the card as the time. E.g. "I wake up at 8 o'clock." "I go to school at 3 o'clock. I wake up at 8 o'clock."

8. Player 2 is then awarded two points because they used the target language correctly for the first and second card.
9. Now player one has to turn over the first and second cards in order and use the target language correctly before turning over the third card (they can choose any card that hasn't been turned over yet) . E.g. I go to school at 3 o'clock. I wake up at 8 o'clock. I eat dinner at 6 o'clock. "I go to school at 3 o'clock. I wake up at 8 o'clock. I eat dinner at 6 o'clock."

10. Repeat the process using one extra card every time until either one player turns over a card out of order or forgets the correct sentence.
11. If a player makes a mistake they forfeit their turn and the competing player gets another turn.
12. Once all nine cards are turned over in order while using the correct target language: it's time to tally the points.  The player with the most points is the winner.

This game is great in both adult and high school level classes.  Students realize that there is a lot or repetition of the target language, however the difficulty of the game ensures everyone still has a great time.

You can easily adapt this game to work with almost any target language.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Teach singular vs plural with "I have (number) dogs."
  • Teach food + countable non-countable  with "I want 3 hamburgers", "I want nine plates of pasta", etc
  • Write a list of verbs, nouns or adjectives that correspond to the numbers 1 - 9.  If number 1 on the list = the verb "play", the student must use the verb "play" in a sentence when the 1 card is flipped over.   
  • Teach want vs have with "I want 3 cars", "I have 6 brothers".

(See below for card layout images.)

I love using this game because it’s easy to set up, effective and lots of fun.  Give it a try in your ESL class and let me know how it works


ESL GAMES #62 -1

ESL GAMES #62 -4

ESL GAMES #62 -telling time

ESL GAMES #62 -telling time7

ESL GAMES #62 -telling time8

ESL GAMES #62 -telling time9

View Routines on

10 Tools That Are Life Savers When You Are Studying Abroad

10 Tools That Are Life Savers When You Are Studying Abroad

  1. By Jeremy Flores
  2. On November 19th, 2015

If you are offered the chance to study abroad, take it! It is a once in a life time experience that you will remember forever. However, if you do decide to travel for a year or semester abroad, make sure that you are fully prepared. Pack carefully, get your shots, and make sure that you have all of your papers in order. Then, make sure that you use these 10 life saving tools for students studying abroad.

1. World Lens

Imagine this. You are sitting in a small trying to order a meal. None of the menus are in your native language. None of the staff speaks your language either. You can recognize a few words on the menu, but not enough to feel safe placing an order. What do you do? Do you point to something, and hope that whatever you get is edible? Of course not! You pull up the World Lens app and point your mobile device at the menu. In just a few moments, World Lens converts the text on the menu to your native language. Isn't that neat? Even better, the app works perfectly well without an internet connection.

2. Viber

The Viber app gives you the ability to call, message, and share pictures with your friends regardless of your or their provider. Viber can be used in any country, and it can be used on the desktop or downloaded as an app. The app's capabilities even include video calls. 

3. DuoLingo

Duolingo is a free language learning platform where anybody can learn to speak and read another language. All instruction is done interactively, with lots of visuals and games to keep you engaged. You can select one of many languages to learn, and if you create a profile, DuoLingo tracks your progress so you can see how much you have accomplished. 

4. Smart Paper Help

Academic writing assignments are difficult enough when you aren't struggling with language and cultural differences. Keeping up with writing assignments and trying to find time to meet new people, and explore your new surroundings make things even more difficult. Fortunately, the writers at Smart Paper Help are happy to help you complete your writing assignments in order to make sure that your grades don't suffer.

5. SkyScanner

Studying abroad is a great opportunity, and it shouldn't be wasted by staying in one place once you arrive at your destination. You should plan at least a few excursions to other cities, states, provinces, or even other countries (depending on where you are studying), while you are overseas. Once you decide that you are going to go, you can use SkyScanner to find the best flights and hotel rooms.

6. Currency

Currency is a simple, yet absolutely essential app. If you need to know an exchange rate, or calculate a conversion, you can do so directly from your phone using Currency.

7. SnapChat

Share your experiences with friends and family members by sending them pictures of your adventures along with your commentary. Be sure to take advantage of the SnapChat storytelling feature to really make your loved ones feel as if they are in on the action. 

8. AroundMe

Don't travel to a new area without the AroundMe app. If you are in unfamiliar surroundings, this app will direct you to restaurants, hospitals, nearby ATMs, and other locations that are useful for travelers. You can even use the app to book a hotel room, or find a local movie theater.

9. Wi-Fi Finder

Wi-Fi can be difficult to find in a foreign country. It can also be expensive. Wi-Fi finder scans the area around you and lets you know where you can find open WiFi connections. After all, nobody wants to be stuck in their room every time they want to access the internet.

10. Eat Your World

Eat Your World is an online guide to local and regional foods. If you are interested in experiencing a culture by drinking and eating like the locals, this is a great resource. You can find local restaurants and bars that feature cuisine that has a regional connection, or that has simply been grown or raised nearby. Remember that eating local is more than just a culinary experience. It is also environmentally friendly and is a great way to support local, family-owned businesses.

Jeremy Flores is a blogger who likes writing articles about college life, studying and learning languages. He also enjoys modern technologies and always studies something new.

It's Magic

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On November 13th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' 

Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

ESL Games are great for creating a need for your student's to speak.  Today's ESL magic trick will create a burning desire to speak.  Guaranteed!  Truth be told this isn't my original trick.  I saw a teacher use this as his Introduction/Demo lesson and I along with everyone else in the room was completely blown away by it (thanks Daniel).

The language target is ordinal numbers: First, Second, Third and Fourth.  This lesson also has reading
practice, a lot of extra language and of course.......MAGIC! 

The Details:

  • Ideally you'd be teaching this trick to a class of children between 5-10 years old.
  • Depending on the size of your class the trick should take between 15 and 20 minutes with larger classes taking longer.
  • If you're using this as a demo lesson or first day activity I'd suggest doing it at the end of class so that you leave the class on an unbelievable high note.

Materials required:

  • Enough balloons for every student in the class.
  • A packet of paper clips.
  • A white board.
  • A marker.

How to:

1) Write, "First, blow up the balloon." on the board.

2) Look at the board as if you’re puzzled and ask the class to read it with you.  As they sound the final word balloon smile and pull the balloons out of your pocket.

3) Have your students line up in a single file line and ask you for balloons.  It is remarkably easy to get any child to say, "May I have a blue balloon please?" if they get balloon directly afterward.

4) Blow up the balloons.

ESL Games - Fill up the balloon

5) Once every student has a balloon write, "Second, tie the balloon." on the board.

6) Make sure that everyone re-reads step one together before sounding out the second sentence out with your class. E.g. "First, blow up the balloon." "Second, tie the balloon."

7) Tie the balloons.  Depending on the ages of your students you might have to tie a lot of balloons at this point.

8) Write, "Third, open the paperclip" on the board.  Re-read steps 1 + 2 and then sound out the third sentence together.  As you're reading the third step gesture open and once again act confused when you get to the word paperclip.

9) Pull your pack of paper clips out of your pocket and open one lengthwise so that it's as flat as possible.  At this point the kids are all in.  Everyone should be extremely curious about what's about to happen.

ESL Games - flattened paperclip

10) Have you class make a single file line so that they can ask you for a paperclip.  Here you should be recycling the language from step 3 "May I have a paperclip please?"

11) Once all of your students have paperclips have them open them up as straight as possible.

12) Write, "Forth, put the paperclip in the balloon." on the board.  Make sure to re-read steps 1-3 with the class before you sound out the fourth step.

13) Act really surprised when they say "Put the paperclip in the balloon."  Pretend to put the paperclip into the balloon a few times.  Make sure you have a scared/unsure expression on your face.  This trick works best when you as the teacher really sell it.

ESL Games - Don't do this

14) As you’re gesturing the putting the paperclip in the balloon make sure you're pointing the paperclip at the fattest part of the balloon.

15) Put the paperclip in the balloon.  The trick is you can pierce a balloon right at the bottom of the balloon really close to the knot without it popping.  The balloon will have enough elasticity to close the tiny hole without much air escaping.

16) Make sure that when you put the paperclip into the balloon you're holding the balloon with the knot facing yourself and the fat part of the balloon is facing the class. 

ESL Games - close to the knot

ESL Games - Almost in

17) Once the paperclip is inside the balloon gently shake it so that your students can see that the clip is really inside the balloon.

18) Here's the fun.  A few kids will be brave and try to put their paper clips into their balloons, which are guaranteed to pop.  Amazing!  At this point they should believe you’re a witch/wizard.

19) Have the students come towards you and show them that they can pierce the balloon near the knot.  Simply repeat "Fourth, put the paper-clip in the balloon" as you perform the trick with the balloon low with the knot facing your class.

20) Have your class try for themselves.  A few of them will surely pop their balloons or want to put lots of paper clips into their balloons so it's good to have extra supplies.  Just make sure that if anyone needs another balloon or paperclip they use the target language.  "May I have a ________ please?"

If you’ve timed your lesson properly your class should be just about finished at this point. All you have to do is say goodbye and let your legendary performance speak for itself.

I hope you love this magic trick as much as do. It’s easy enough to learn the first time you try it and it’s guaranteed to amaze.


Watch the full animated lesson on the Easy ESL Games YouTube page

5 College Application Tips for International Students

5 College Application Tips for International Students

  1. By David White
  2. On November 12th, 2015

Applying to college is an exciting—and occasionally daunting—process of writing, testing, and interviewing. This process can be even more challenging when you are applying to schools in a foreign country. Foreign students may be unable to visit prospective campuses, and they may be uncertain about what will be expected of them during the application and enrollment process.

The fact that this process is challenging and, at times, frustrating, should not discourage you from applying to an American school, especially if it is your top-choice institution. Instead, consider the following tips before compiling your application:

1. Aim for strong standardized test scores  

Your standardized test scores are an important component of your college application. The ACT and the SAT, for example, can play a central role in whether or not you are accepted to a given college or university. Similarly, you should also plan to devote a significant period of time to studying for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (or TOEFL). Earning a competitive score on this exam demonstrates that you have attained proficiency in the English language, which can increase your viability as an applicant.

2. Emphasize fit

When you hear the term “American school,” do you automatically think of Harvard University? How about Yale University? These are indeed elite (and well known) schools, but that does not necessarily mean that they are right for you. Instead of simply applying to the “best” colleges and universities in the United States, conduct research to determine which school is ideal for you. Consider your potential major, the resources or assistance that you might require, location, and so on. You will likely be surprised to find that there are many colleges outside the Ivy League that suit your goals and needs.  

3. Capitalize on the admissions essay  

As previously mentioned, a great TOEFL score can show an admissions committee that you are proficient in English, but it will not tell them what actions you took to reach that point. So, when writing your admissions essay, be sure to mention how you learned English. 

For instance, if you took private lessons or studied abroad, include these details in your essay. They can demonstrate your commitment to your academic and career goals, an admirable quality in any applicant. Moreover, your admissions essay will give you the opportunity to illustrate your command of the language by virtue of its being written in English. Take the time to choose your words and phrases carefully. You may even want to have a native speaker proofread your essay before you submit it.

4. Familiarize yourself with the American educational system

Educational systems vary from country to country, which can make the process of applying to college—and succeeding once accepted—confusing or downright overwhelming. This can be an intimidating thought, but know that there will be people on your campus who can help you succeed. Nevertheless, investigate what will be expected of you, and explain how you are equipped to handle these challenges in your admissions essay.

5. Highlight your extracurricular involvement

All schools like to see proof that you are active in your community. For example, if you have volunteer experience, discuss what motivated you to volunteer and what you have learned as a result. Occasionally, your level of familiarity with the wider world can be just as important as your grades and test scores, so make room for it in your application. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.



  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On November 6th, 2015
This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

Fortunately/Unfortunately is an awesome game for teaching the  simple past tense.  It’s a fun take on the classic children’s book by the same name.  

Fortunately Details:

  • There are no materials required.
  • You can play with between 2 and 10 participants.
  • A game should take between 5 and 15 minutes depending on your classes size and ability.

How To:

  1. Pre-teach the words fortunately and unfortunately.
  2. Divide your class into 2 teams: Optimists & Pessimists.
  3. Tell your team of optimists that it their duty to always look on the bright side of things.  They must begin every sentence with the word "fortunately".
  4. Conversely, your team of pessimists must always see the negative side of every situation.  They have to start every sentence with the word "unfortunately".
  5. The teacher starts by making a random statement about something that happened earlier in the day, e.g., " I talked to a famous actor at lunch today".
  6. Then the optimists must then expand on the story by adding an extra detail about talking to the famous person while using the simple past tense, e.g.,  "fortunately, they looked really cool".
  7. The pessimists must then add the next link to the story, e.g.,  "unfortunately,  they smelled really bad".
  8. The process continues until one team cannot think of an appropriate response.  Depending on how the game is going you can either restart the game with a new story or end the activity.

Here's an example of Fortunately/Unfortunately that my students used in class (I've edited out the mistakes).

Teacher: I saw Tom Cruz at the lunch today.

Optimists:  Fortunately, he looked really handsome.

Pessimists: Unfortunately, he didn't speak to me.

Optimists:  Fortunately, he smiled at me.

Pessimists: Unfortunately, he kicked me in the leg.

Optimists:  Fortunately, it didn't hurt.

This ESL game has little to no structure.  It's fun, crazy and gets everyone talking while practicing the past tense.


Can You Learn a New Language Through an App?

Can You Learn a New Language Through an App?

  1. By David White
  2. On November 5th, 2015

Thanks to the Internet, learning a new language has become quite a bit easier than it once was. There are translation programs, chat groups, message boards, and more than enough free resources to help with pronunciation, tenses, and gender. But of all these new innovations, one appears to have more potential than the others: the language learning app.

Available for your phone, tablet, or just about any other device, apps have made studying and learning a new language fun, easy, and in some cases, free. Yet, while there is certainly no reason to turn down a resource, you may wonder whether it is really possible to learn a language from an app on your phone. 

Given the fact that apps are relatively new products, there is little data available about their efficacy. Nevertheless, by applying what is known about language learning to these products, you can gain a sense of whether or not they are right for you.

App nuances

Certain language apps exist not to teach you a language, but instead to help you get by when traveling or acclimating to a new environment. Translation apps, for example, have fairly limited capabilities, and they are best used for finding a word or phrase that you cannot quite remember. 

Think of these apps as digital versions of phrasebooks that you can refer to every so often, rather than as learning programs. They feature a list of basic words and phrases, and many provide an audio example of proper pronunciation, but they do little to help you grasp the nuances of a particular language.

Memorization/repetition apps

Outside of “phrasebook” apps, there are those programs that claim to help you attain fluency in a set number of weeks or months. This is a bold claim, and whether or not it is true ultimately depends on the user. Many apps provide a short flashcard-like lesson on a limited number of words and phrases. After each set, you can test yourself to see how well you learned the concepts. This approach largely centers on memorization and repetition. 

Learning through memorization and repetition can indeed help you master vocabulary, and it may also help you improve your pronunciation. However, like “phrasebook” apps, these programs lack the context, nuance, and peer-to-peer engagement that are critical for learning a language. When it comes to memorization/repetition apps, it may be best to keep your expectations low.

Engaged learning apps

Increasingly, language apps have begun to expand their offerings as technology improves. This means that many companies have started to move beyond memorization and repetition to offer better-developed platforms. Duolingo, for example, offers lessons in 10+ languages, taught through a combination of written, verbal, and conversational elements. 

Moreover, some apps—such as Living Language—incorporate cultural elements into their programs to help contextualize the learning experience and make it more meaningful and memorable.

Because immersion is among the most effective ways to learn a foreign language, having an app that offers the opportunity to converse with native speakers can greatly increase your chances of success. This element, combined with exercises in memory and pronunciation, is perhaps the closest approximation of immersion that one can get through their phone, tablet, or laptop. 

Keep in mind that these apps may involve one-time or monthly membership fees.

The bottom line

Whether or not you can learn a language through an app ultimately comes down to which app you are using, how often you are using it, and any other learning exercises that you incorporate into your daily life. Can you learn a language by only using an app? Perhaps not. You can, however, use these apps to strengthen your skills and connect with others for support. While apps are not a panacea for language learning, they are well worth your time and investment. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

A-Z Race

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On October 30th, 2015
This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

This is a fun ESL game that can be used as a warm-up activity to help build vocabulary in your ESL / EFL classroom.

ESL games are great when they let your students work as teams towards a common goal. An A - Z race is one of the easiest ways to get your students working together to brainstorm vocabulary that they already know.

The Details:

  • This game is great for any class size large or small.
  • This game works from ages 10 and up.  Basically, players need the ability to read and write.
  • The only materials needed are a pencil, paper and a way to keep time.  For large classes teachers should have a whiteboard and marker as well.
  • An A-Z race should last anywhere from 10 - 15 minutes.

How to:

  1. Divide your class into teams.  Pairs or small groups work best.
  2. Have each team write the alphabet from a - z in list format with one letter on each line of their papers.
  3. Give your class a topic.  In the video above I used food.
  4. Brainstorm a few examples: A= apple, B= banana, etc.
  5. Give the class a time limit. 2-5 minutes depending on age and ability.
  6. As the class is thinking of vocabulary, you as the teacher should be walking around helping out.  Make sure each group gets a good number of words on their lists.
  7. Once the timer goes off have your EFL students count how many words their groups could think of.
  8. The team with the most words on their list is the winner.
  9. After your ESL students tally the total number of words they came up with have your class work together to make a master list on the whiteboard.
  10. Help your class out if there's any letters that they’ve miss.


1st Lesson From Premier ESL: New Rat Discovered In Indonesia

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Gavin Lucas and Premier ESL

Greetings, TEFL teachers!

My name’s Gavin and I’m writing you this post because I’d like to introduce our website full of useful, ready-made, bespoke ESL lesson plans. I think you’ll find it very useful!

Our site is called and we focus primarily on conversation questions surrounding news & current affairs, but we also offer full, comprehensive and engaging lesson plans which you can simply print and use completely free of charge.

We would love it if you came over and checked out the site. We’d also been eager to hear your feedback on how we can make it better. If you have any requests for lesson plans or ideas on improvement, you can drop us a line and we promise they’ll be read.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post and we hope you enjoy the full-length, free lesson plan, a teaser for which is posted below.

We’d also like to thank for the chance to post our lesson plans here!

Best of luck and happy teaching,

Gavin, Premier ESL

New Rat Discovered In Indonesia

Teacher’s Notes

Level: Elementary / Pre - Intermediate

Target Language: Past Simple and Forming Questions about Past Events

Contents of Lesson Plan

  • Warmer – Who Discovered What? - Engaging matching activity
  • Pre-Reading Questions – Further engagement in to the topic of discoveries and usage of the past simple
  • Reading – New Rat Discovered In Indonesia – Reading passage with blanks for students to write the questions to elicit the answers
  • Post Reading – Rat talk – using images of this newly discovered rat to talk about it and other discoveries in the animal world
  • Activate 1 – What did I find? – a fun activate stage where students get to use the target language of the lesson
  • Activate 2 – Alien Alibi – adapted from the classic past simple game – this is a great activity which gets everyone speaking
  • Cooler – fortunately/unfortunately

Warmer – Who Discovered What?

In the Student Materials PDF, print and cut up the Who Discovered What? sheet. This would be an ideal small group activity because it will get the students talking to each other straight away as they will need to discuss who discovered what and when the discovery was made.


Christopher Columbus



Clyde Tombaugh



Check the answers as a whole class activity by drawing a table on the board and getting the students to write the answers up on it.

Pre-Reading Questions

  • Do you know of any other discoveries?
  • What is the difference between a discovery and an invention? Was the Internet ‘discovered’ or ‘invented’?
  • What do you think is man’s greatest discovery? Why?

Reading – New Rat Discovered in Indonesia

Print out enough copies of the reading passage from the Student Materials PDF but make sure you cut the missing answers off from the bottom of the page before handing text out.

Allow the students to work in pairs or small groups because forming questions can be quite a difficult exercise.

The reading passage ‘New Rat Discovered in Indonesia’ has 9 blank spaces, the activity is to read through the text and write past simple questions which will give them the answers to fill in the blank spaces later.

Go through the first example on the board

A team of scientists said they discovered (1)__________________ in Indonesia.

Elicit from the students the question we would need to ask to find out the answer

If the students are having trouble with this, let’s help break it down for them.

Instruct them to look at the title of the reading passage – this will inform them of what was discovered.

From knowing that, ask which ‘wh’ question word should be used? Who? Which? Where? What?

Once the ‘wh’ word has been elicited, we have a starting point.


Ask the students, what word do we have to use to form (most) questions when the main verb is not the verb ‘be’?

Elicit – do/does and ask for the past simple – did

What did

Next, and in my experience this is where students over complicate things, we use the words in the passage to help form the question.

What did a team of scientists said they discovered (1)__________________ in Indonesia.

Delete the gap and add a question mark.

What did a team of scientists said they discovered in Indonesia?

Ask the students if this is now correct. Hopefully, they will say NO.

For questions we need to change the past simple verb ‘said’ into the ‘present’ (base verb to be more exact but saying present helps comprehension) ‘say’.

What did a team of scientists say they discovered in Indonesia?

Allow the students to continue in their pairs or groups to write out the remaining eight questions.

Once the students have worked through this exercise, invite them to come to the board and write a question up on it. If the sentence is not correct, use peer correction to elicit the correct way the question should be formed.

Note: because these are questions, there could well be more than one correct answer, this should be pointed out to the students.

With all the correct questions on the board, hand out the answers and instruct the students to insert them into the correct gaps.

Have a selection of the students read the passage aloud for class correction.

Full copy of reading passage – New Rat Discovered In Indonesia

They found the little creature in a remote forest on the island of Sulawesi and it has been named Hyorhinomys stuempkei.

Earlier this year, in January, researchers from Australia, Indonesia and the U.S. also discovered five other rodents. However, the scientists are particularly excited by this latest find.

Mammal expert, Kevin Rowe said that it was ‘an exciting moment’ finding this new hog-nosed rat. We set traps up overnight and it was one of these that caught this amazing new spiecies. 

Mr Rowe continued by saying, ‘I hollered immediately for my colleagues as I knew it was a new spiecies.’

The rat appeared to be in very good health. It had a full stomach and it weighed 250g

This rat’s uniqueness had ‘far exceeded expectations’ a member of the team said, ‘Obviously its nostrils, which resemble a hog’s, are very unique, but it also has a long face and larger ears for a rat of its size.

Post Reading – Rat Talk

In the Student Materials PDF, print and hand out the images of this new rat.

  • Do you think this is a good looking creature?
  • Some people keep rats as pets, would you like this a pet?
  • How does this rat differ from rats we generally see?
  • Why do you think this rat have evolved differently?

GET THE FULL LESSON PLAN HERE: New Rat Discovered In Indonesia

How to Set Achievable Language Learning Goals

How to Set Achievable Language Learning Goals

  1. By David White
  2. On October 27th, 2015

There are many reasons to learn a new language. Perhaps you are seeking a challenge or an interesting cultural experience, or perhaps you are hoping to expand your employment opportunities. Regardless of your reasons for embarking on this journey, one thing is certain: becoming fluent in a foreign language is no easy task.

Each language, like the culture from which it stems, is unique. There are grammatical rules, regionally-specific slang, and even non-verbal cues that can be difficult to master. These challenges may make you wonder whether or not you are capable of learning this new skill. But before you quit, take a moment to think about how your goals might be affecting your learning process.

The goals that we set for ourselves serve as a roadmap of sorts. If we only consider the big picture (i.e. “I want to learn English”), our map may look sparse, and we may feel confused, frustrated, or defeated. Here is how to avoid that outcome: 

1. Consider your needs

If you are learning a new language in a group setting, your lessons are likely oriented toward the group as a whole, rather than to your specific needs. This is often necessary when teaching more than one person, but it will not necessarily help you achieve your own goals. 

Take a moment to think about your personal reasons for learning a new language. For example, if you hope to teach in a foreign country, your needs will be different than someone who simply plans to visit a foreign country. Knowing why you are doing what you are doing can help you remain on track to achieve your objective.

2. Set short-term goals

Long-term goals can be wonderful – especially if they are clear, relevant, and achievable. However, as discussed above, only setting long-term goals can be counter-productive because they take time to achieve, and it is easy to lose your motivation in the interim.

Rather than just focusing on long-term goals, consider the smaller tasks that will ultimately help you achieve your main objective. For example, in order to speak a language fluently, you will need to be proficient in vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and so on. Setting short-term goals will help you progress toward your larger goal, and they will also help you feel productive as you achieve each one.

3. Adhere to a specific plan

Identifying your ultimate goal is the first step toward success, but you will still need a plan to reach it. 

By first identifying your personal goals and needs, you will have a better sense of how to achieve your short- and long-term aims. When developing your plan, defer to your learning style and to the strategies that work best for you. For instance, if you are a visual learner, try to incorporate video lessons or experiential learning into your plan. And be specific – rather than think, “I need to work on pronunciation,” identify the particular areas of your pronunciation that need the most work, and begin there.

4. Be realistic

Like any learning process, mastering a language takes time. You simply will not become fluent overnight. Instead, set aside daily blocks of time for study and practice. At the end of each session, complete a brief review to evaluate your progress.

Remember, too, to be realistic. Identifying a series of short-term goals will aid your focus and motivation, but be sure to maintain realistic expectations and standards for yourself. Everyone learns in different ways and at different paces, so it is best to avoid measuring yourself against others. Instead, start each week with a realistic goal – like learning ten new phrases – and gradually increase your expectations along the way.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

What's Missing?

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On October 23rd, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

What’s Missing is a fun and easy ESL game that helps to teach and reinforce new vocabulary in your ESL /EFL classroom.

To set the game up properly you should start by introducing your ESL / EFL  lessons target vocabulary using the 2-1-0 method for learning flash cards quickly

The details:

  • What’s Missing is an ESL game that works best with young learners however it can easily be adapted for more advanced students by simply adding and taking away more flashcards.
  • The only materials required are a set of teacher sized flashcards and some magnets.  With smaller classes relia works just as well if not better.
  • A game of What’s Missing should take between 5 and 10 minutes including set-up (2-1-0).

How to play:

  1. Start by choosing 7 vocabulary flash cards.
  1. Cycle through them using the 2-1-0 method for teaching vocabulary quickly.
  1. Put all of the cards on the blackboard using magnets.
  1. Review the 7 vocabulary items once more.
  1. Take the cards off the blackboard and remove 1.
  1. Put the 6 remaining cards back onto the board.
  1. Ask the class…”What’s Missing?
  1. Repeat steps 5 – 7 while changing the cards you’ve removed from the original 7 vocabulary cards.  Make a point of taking out an increasingly large number of cards.

This is a great quick game that require your ESL / EFL students to participate and think about newly learned language vocabulary.


Learn to Understand Different English Accents

Learn to Understand Different English Accents

  1. By Florence Mendoza
  2. On October 22nd, 2015

Learning how to speak English is a difficult task, no doubt about that. Another altogether more difficult task is learning to understand all the different types of English accents. English is the third most spoken language in the world, with about 340 million native speakers of the language. If ESL speakers are taken into account, there are 850 million speakers, likely making it the most popular language in the world. Each of those people have their unique way of speaking English, and taking steps to understand them is very important if you're learning English with the intention of verbally communicating with them.

Ask people to slow down

If you find yourself talking to a native speaker and it's tough for you to keep up with them, don't hesitate to ask them to speak a little more slowly or clearly. Most people will be happy to oblige, slow down, and speak more articulately so that their conversational partner can keep up. Don't be shy about this – people will understand that you're an ESL speaker and will try their hardest to accommodate you.

Watch films and TV shows from different countries

It's likely that most of the English-speaking media you've been exposed to so far have been American-made and feature the General American accent. You will do well by seeking out films and TV series produced in different countries and with different accents to expose yourself to different types of speech. You can find TV shows and films you might be interested in listed by country of production by going to IMDb.

Watch with subtitles turned on

There are dedicated communities online providing subtitles to people who need them. If you're proficient enough to understand written English at least somewhat well (if you're reading this article without the help of a dictionary, for instance) then you can download subtitles in English and read everything you don't understand – thus bettering your understanding of different regional accents.

Listen to podcasts

When you don't have time to watch a movie, listen to a podcast. Podcasts are, essentially, self-produced 'radio' programs. Lots of them are funny, insightful and educational. You'll have no trouble finding professionally made shows that air on the radio uploaded as podcasts for free. Listen to podcasts made in different regions made by people with a variety of different regional accents to immerse yourself in various speech patterns and understand local accents better.

Listen to audiobooks

This piece of advice is in the similar vein as the previous one. Except audiobooks are often produced by professionally trained voice actors. This means that the speech you hear will be delivered very carefully, and if a character in a book has an accent, or an affectation, you'll hear that come out in the actor's performance – this is a delightful way to learn English, but only if you're already somewhat proficient and don't need to pause every ten seconds to reach for the dictionary.

Subscribe to videobloggers

There are huge communities of people making videoblogs on YouTube waiting for you to discover them. These videobloggers come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, so you can pick any accent you'd like to familiarize yourself with, and find a real native speaker with that accent to learn from. Immersing yourself in different types of English this way is fun, and best of all, free!


Traveling and immersing yourself into the world of native speakers is ultimately the best option if you want to understand how a different accent is spoken. This method is a bit “sink or swim”, but you'll have no other option but to understand someone. Only do this if you're at least somewhat comfortable with your level of English, and, if you're not, take an English-speaking friend to not feel completely lost. 

As you can see, all of the advice in here is centered around one thing: immersing yourself in real people speaking their form of English. Proficient ESL speakers report that spending, on average, at least an hour every day listening to English being spoken has done wonders for their own proficiency. Even if you're very busy and don't have that kind of time to spare, you can fit watching short YouTube videos and podcast episodes into your day. Remember: the key to learning a language is practice, practice, practice!

Florence Mendoza is a content writer at BuyAnEssay writing service. She provides writing help for college students and is a former ESL teacher.

Tips for Writing a Timed Essay in Your Second Language

Tips for Writing a Timed Essay in Your Second Language

  1. By David White
  2. On October 20th, 2015

There are a number of benefits to being a foreign student immersed in the culture of a new language. Being surrounded by native speakers – and having access to a variety of opportunities to practice your skills – can lead to a better-developed understanding and use of the language, particularly when it comes to its nuances. Unfortunately, as most non-native speakers know, there is a large difference between conversational English and formal writing.

Given enough time, most students can succeed on a test or essay. This, however, becomes more complicated when the test or essay is taken under time constraints. If you are looking for ways to improve your skills on timed essays, consider how these four tips can help:

1. Work within your skill set

Every student is better at some subjects than he or she is at others. A skilled speaker, for instance, may struggle with writing. Thus, one of the best ways to avoid making mistakes in your essays is as follows:

If you are allowed to choose your essay topic, consider those concepts or subjects that you know well and have spent some time discussing with others. This will ensure that you are familiar with the key terms and technical language associated with your topic, and that you will be able to better articulate your ideas. 

2. Identify your main point

In some cases, your essay may have a format that is familiar to you, regardless of your native language. For instance, in a five paragraph essay, you likely know to begin with your introduction, expand on your main idea in the three-paragraph body, and conclude your argument in the fifth paragraph. Your conclusion is one of the most important parts of your essay because it emphasizes your main point one last time.

So – spend a bit of time thinking about your main point, and how you can bring it to a strong conclusion. Time constraints can be stressful, but if you know where you want your essay to go, you will have a much easier time guiding it there.

3. Utilize your class notes

You may or may not be allowed to use your class notes during a timed essay. Even if you are not permitted to refer to them, they are nonetheless important, as they are one of the best ways to prepare for an essay assignment. 

The notes that you have taken throughout the semester or year likely contain the content that you will be addressing in your essay. If you are unable to use them, review them prior to your timed essay test, and identify any knowledge gaps that you can improve upon before the test. 

4. Ask to use blank paper

Taking any test, timed or otherwise, can be stressful. Unfortunately, stress can affect your ability to clearly articulate your thoughts. However, there are ways to overcome this stress. 

As long as your teacher has no objections, keep several blank pieces of paper handy for jotting down notes or other thoughts. Moreover, your blank pages can serve as a place to write words or phrases in your native language, and to consider how you would translate them into English.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

Prepositions Chant

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On October 17th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

ESL chants are a great way to teach vocabulary in your ESL / EFL classrooms.

This chant is really easy and effective way to teach prepositions.  The best thing about this ESL chant is that the only material required is an eraser. 

Access Prepositions Chant on YouTube

The Details:

● The Prepositions Chant is an easy way for English students from 6 to 96 to learn and internalize basic English prepositions.

● The only material required is an eraser.

● The Preposition Chant is an extremely effective way to teach prepositions.  I suggest immediately following it up with reinforcement activities. 

● Learning and memorizing The Preposition Chant should take between 5 and 10 minutes.

How to play:

1. Instruct your students to take out their erasers.

2. Put you eraser on you hand and say "On."  Make sure your class is following your lead and putting their erasers on their hands and saying "On". 3. Flick your eraser a few feet in the air, catch it in the palm of your hand, close your hand and then say "In".  Wait for your ESL class to follow your lead.

4. Slam your hand onto your desk with the eraser under your hand and say "under". Your ESL students should know by this point that they are repeating your actions.

5. Leave the eraser on you desk and move your hand to the side of it.  Say "Next to."  

Once again the class should be repeating.

6. Move your other hand onto your desk on the opposite side of your eraser and say  "Between."

7. Move your hand behind the eraser so that the eraser is in front of it and say "In front".

8. Finally, move your hand in front of the eraser so that the eraser is behind your hand and say "behind."

9. Repeat steps 2 ­ 8 until the class can do it without your help.

*It's important to keep in mind that the preposition chant refers to the placement of the eraser and not where your hand is.

The entire chant only has 7 prepositions so it’s very easy for an EFL / ESL to pick up and learn.  

The repetition helps students internalize the order and the action of putting the eraser in a specific place while saying each preposition really helps students comprehend the meaning.

Once your ESL / EFL students are equipped with the vocabulary required for a preposition 

chant you can easily move onto other ESL activities that help them use their newly acquired knowledge.


Tips to Improve Your Pronunciation When Studying English


  1. By Coby Stephens
  2. On October 16th, 2015

The first step to learning how to pronounce everything perfectly is choosing the accent you'd like to learn. With English, the choices you have are American, Australian, British, or Kiwi (New Zealand). The most logical choice would be the American accent, for several reasons:

  • With the proliferation of American media, you'll never run out of examples to emulate. American accents, obviously, come in different regional varieties, but you shouldn't worry about that at the early stages of learning how to speak English. In the US movies, TV shows, music and the rest of media, General American will be the standard.
  • This accent is easily understandable by all English speakers. Most will have no trouble understanding well-spoken American English, for the reason mentioned above. 
  • This is the accent most ESL students will find easiest to learn (depending on their country of origin). 

If you don't live in a country where English is widely used, the most important thing you can do to learn is to immerse yourself in as much English as possible. Watch as many movies, as many TV series in English as you can. If you struggle at first, use subtitles, but try not to rely on them too much – after all, you're learning how to better your pronunciation, and that will mean listening to dialogue closely so you can imitate the accent. So, with that in mind, here are some tips that you can use to immerse yourself and improve your pronunciation:

  • Listen to podcasts like NPR.

Listening to podcasts whenever you have free time, like when you're washing dishes or commuting, is a great idea for those who can't immerse themselves properly. NPR (National Public Radio) is non-profit media organization that uploads their radio shows for everyone to use, for free! Their shows are all different, from news & politics to game shows to interview shows, you're sure to find something of interest to you.

All their hosts use General American accents and are very clear and well-spoken. This is a good place to start if you're past the beginner stages of learning English, since some of the vocabulary will be more advanced.

  • Find someone to practice with on Reddit

Reddit is a great resource if you want to waste time, but it can also be utilized in very productive ways. You can use the linked subreddit to find native English speakers to learn from and, in return, all you have to do is help them master your language. Just create a post saying what language you want to learn (English, in your case), your level, and your native language, or just find someone to learn within the existing posts. 

  • Listen to audiobooks

In the same vein as the advice on podcasts, listening to audiobooks will help you improve your English. Reading books is great, and you'll improve your vocabulary with each one that you read, but listening to them is even better for your pronunciation. For double points, try listening to an audiobook with the actual, printed book open before you. You'll learn spelling and pronunciation at the same time, how great is that? 

Now, some learners might find it hard to follow, since the speed at which the books are read is geared towards native speakers, and that can be punishing for someone who's at the start of their studies. If you're having trouble, choose a book that you've read before and know well; or you can always go with a book that's been turned into a movie.

There are lots of resources out there specifically dedicated to teaching ESL learners how to pronounce sounds in English (including textbooks), but nothing is better than an audio guide that will actually tell you how to sound out difficult-to-pronounce words.

This project was started by two ESL teachers who have experience in developing curriculums for over 20 years. They have built an excellent resource that helps with words that students typically find most difficult.

Coby Stephens is a professional writer, blogger, a former English teacher and an education enthusiast. He currently works at Same Day Essays writing company, which provides academic help to college students.

The Hungry Panda

The Hungry Panda

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On October 10th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

This ESL game is a fun way to get your class working together to sound words out phonetically and then spell them correctly.

The only materials required are a blackboard, chalk and a few vocabulary cards.

For this game to work the most effectively you need to be really deliberate about how you set it up.  I usually start by showing the class an easy flash card, like a dog.  Then, I draw 3 lines on the board (one for each letter).  Next, I ask the class "What animal is on the card?"  Once they answer in a thunderous chorus of "DOG!!!!!" It's time to start trying to spell the word. I break the word into each of its phonetic components verbally, D (d), O (ɒ), G,(g).


This is a good opportunity to use some misdirection.  Repeat the (d) sound over the first of the 3 lines you wrote on the board. However instead of writing the letter D write an A.

More than likely some of your ESL students will shout is disagreement as your saying (d) (d) and pointing at an A.

At this point invite one of them to come to the front and write the correct letter in the first space.  Then work together to complete the word. D O G.

Once the set-up is complete your ESL class will have figured out that this is a game about spelling.

How to Play:

  1. Tell the class that you are a Hungry Panda.  The only thing that you like to eat...IS WORDS!
  2. Put a vocabulary card on the board and ask your ESL / EFL class how to correctly spell that word.
  3. Have a student come to the front of the classroom.  * The whole class should be helping to figure out how the word is spelt.
  4. Walk to the back of the classroom and start acting like a Hungry Panda.  For myself, this usually involves looking really angry and shouting "I'm hungry".
  5. A correct letter will keep you in your place nibbling on the delicious correct spelling.  A wrong letter will drive you into a hungry rage.

Back of the Class

  1. Every time the class guesses the wrong letter take a step towards the blackboard.

Wrong Letter

One Step Closer

  1. If  your class can spell the word correctly before you get to the front of the classroom they win.  If not, you have the choice to either declare yourself the winner or eat the class in an angry fit of Panda rage.  I would advise going for the former approach.


 To make this game more difficult select a series of vocabulary cards and put your class on a timer. They then have to spell all of the words in the series of cards before it's "Dinner Time".

This ESL game is tons of fun but it really depends on your ability as the teacher to "sell" it.  So give it your best, have fun with it and let us know how much fun your ESL / EFL students had with this game.


Immersing Students into the World of English through Films and Videos

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Antonio Tooley

When teachers base language lessons on grammar and vocabulary practice, the students build a good foundation that enables them to solve basic tests. What happens when they find themselves in a real-life situation that requires communication skills? They start with the phrases they learned, but they can hardly understand the real nature of the language. Thus, it’s no wonder most of them need to rely on Edu Geeks dissertation help when college teachers ask them to complete papers.

The English language is very versatile; it comes in the form of different dialects, accents and slangs. If you don’t expose your students to the native English accents throughout their studies, you won’t prepare them well for real situations. When you show movies and other types of videos during class, you’ll encourage a productive discussion afterwards. 

The Importance of Videos in Language Learning

When they watch a video, your students understand how a native speaker uses the phrases and words in a natural context. 

If you base your teaching methods upon lectures, your students will have to memorize the new words they encounter. If you show a film, on the other hand, they will intuitively understand the meaning of new words by relating them to the context of the sentence. 

Grammar and spelling are not the only aspects of foreign language learning. Each student needs to understand the culture of the country in order to comprehend the communication habits. Properly chosen videos convey the culture, history, and social development of the country in question. 

Introducing Films into a 60-Minute Class

One way of implementing movies and videos into your teaching methods is by asking your students to watch them at home and discuss them during class. This strategy is not that effective, simply because you don’t want your students to perceive this as another assignment. 

That’s why you should include this activity into the 60-minute class. When you plan the time carefully, you’ll realize that a class of this length gives you space for everything: a lesson, movie, and active discussion. This is how the class would look like:

Warm-up – 10 minutes

Help your students’ minds get to ‘English mode’. Start with a relaxed conversation and ask them to respond in English. 

Start by asking less active students about their weekend. Help them relax, don’t make them feel like you’re evaluating their language skills for a grade. 

Play the Change Identity game. First, a couple of students present themselves to each other, and each of them assumes the identity of the other person. For example, Lara introduces herself to Raquel, and Raquel introduces herself to Lara. Now Lara starts acting like Raquel, and vice versa. They ask each other simple questions for ten minutes. Choose a different couple of students for each class. This is a fun game that all learners like. 

Play the Never Have I Ever game. You start by telling the class something you have never done. This is a nice way to put present perfect and simple past tense into practice. Then, you pick a student who does the same thing, and he picks the next one. Continue playing the game for 10 minutes. If you notice that some of the students don’t get picked by their classmates, you should be the one who calls their name during the following classes. 

Vocabulary Practice – 10 minutes

Pick 20 interesting words from the movie and write them on the blackboard. 

Ask your students if they know the meaning of those words. Some of them will know how to translate them in their native language, but ask them to think of a definition in English. This will help them practice pronunciation. 

If some of the words are completely new for the entire class, write them on a separate section of the blackboard. 

Watch the Movie – 20 minutes

Pick a short movie or an episode of a fun TV show (like Friends, Avatar: The Last Airbender, or an Australian/British show that presents a different accent). If you really want to show a long movie, then you can divide it into a few sections of 20 minutes. 

Watch their behavior during the episode. If you realize they don’t understand something, make sure to explain!

Discussion – 20 minutes

Start by offering your own opinions about the episode you just watched. Then, ask the students to discuss different situations.              

In order to boost the engagement, turn the discussion into a debate, role-playing game, or a mingling activity.               

The discussion practices will depend upon the habits of your class. Whatever exercise you choose, make sure it makes the students feel comfortable to express opinions and practice their vocabulary.   

Antonio Tooley is a Newark, NJ-based hopeless optimist who enjoys basking in the world's brightest colors. He loves biking to distant places and occasionally he gets lost. When not doing that he's teaching English around the world and writing for

20 Questions

  1. By Kevin Fabris
  2. On September 16th, 2015

This article is intended as a lesson suggestion for English teachers and is part of the series 'ESL for Teachers.' Today's lesson comes courtesy of Kevin Fabris and Easy ESL Games

ESL Games are an excellent way to put students in situations where they need to use English.  Basic repetition and rote memorization can work to a point but to master a language you need to be able to make it your own and play with the language as a whole rather than simply compartmentalizing a weekly target language.

In my experience one of the best ways to use the English language as a whole is by using very broad and vague guessing games like 20 Questions.  20 Questions is a simple game that you probably already know from your own childhood.

The Details:

  • There are no materials required.

  • 20 Questions works for almost any size of ESL class.

  • This ESL game will work with almost any level of ability.

  • A game of 20 Questions should last between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the size of your class.

How to:

1.) Divide your ESL class into pair or small groups of 3 or 4 students.  I prefer pairs but in larger classes, small groups tend to work better.

2.) One person in the group has to think of a "thing" and not tell anyone what that "thing" is.  It can be a food, name, place, color, etc.  Usually the "thing" selected will be a noun.

3.) The other members of the group have a total of 20 Questions to figure out what the "thing" is.

4.) To make it more complicated the "Answerer"  (the person answering questions) can only reply to question using "yes", "no" or adverbs of frequency like "sometimes", "rarely" and "usually".

5.) The "Questioners" (people asking the questions) must ask questions such as "Is it something you can eat?" "Is it something you should eat?" ect.

6.) If the Questioners can guess what the "thing" is before they've reached the 20 Question maximum they win.  If the fail to guess before the 20 Question limit the Answerer wins.

What makes this ESL Game so great is the simplicity.  There are no materials required and the set-up takes seconds.  The students asking questions have to figure out how to ask "yes/no" style questions and the randomness of the activity will surely bring some new vocabulary into the lesson.

8 Confusing English Figures of Speech

8 Confusing English Figures of Speech

  1. By David White
  2. On September 18th, 2015

When it comes to the English language, there are more than a few items that make it very difficult to learn. Conversational English tends to be informal, and it often incorporates slang or regionally-specific words. These are challenging to master, but they are nothing compared to the confusion brought about by many of the figures of speech used regularly in English conversation.

A figure of speech is a saying or phrase that is used for dramatic emphasis or to make a description more colorful or interesting. There are many different kinds of figures of speech, but they usually involve combining words in ways that are different from their literal meaning. These sayings or phrases can sound incredibly strange to non-native speakers, and they may even result in considerable misunderstanding. 

The following are eight commonly-used figures of speech with brief explanations of their meanings:

1. “ the wind.”

For native speakers of English, the phrase “ran like the wind,” is fairly common in films, novels, and general conversation. It simply means that someone or something moved quickly, such as the wind moves on a stormy day. This figure of speech fits into two separate categories of speech, because it is both hyperbole (an exaggeration for effect) and a simile (comparing one thing to another).

2. “...passed away.”

“Passed away,” is another very common figure of speech. The phrase “passed away,” is a euphemism that means someone or something has died. Euphemisms are used regularly in English because they are a way of softening difficult subjects or saying something nicely. For example, explaining to a child that someone has died can be very difficult, so one might instead say that they passed away.

3. “Time is money.”

This is another very common figure of speech that might be familiar from novels or movies. “Time is money,” implies that time is potentially being wasted when it could be used to make money. This is a metaphor, which means that the speaker is comparing two items that are not alike in order to emphasize his or her point.

4. “I’d rather die…”

Among the figures of speech that might sound most confusing to a non-native speaker is the popular phrase “I’d rather die…” It is usually used to express how uninterested someone is in doing something (i.e. “I’d rather die than go back to the store on Christmas Eve”). This is a hyperbole because the speaker uses a very dramatic event (dying) to describe just how much he or she does not want to do something.

5. “Pull the wool over their eyes…”

Technically, the phrase “pull the wool over their eyes,” is an idiom, which means that the actual meaning cannot be understood based on the words alone. The phrase means to deceive someone through trickery. For instance, if you wanted to reserve a table at a crowded restaurant, you could look at the reservation book, and then tell the host that you had a reservation under one of the names that you saw on the list. You would have tricked the host into thinking that you were someone that you are not, which would be a representation of pulling the wool over someone’s eyes.

6. “Pretty as a picture…”

Unlike the previous example, “pretty as a picture,” is a phrase that is fairly easy to decipher. It simply means that someone is very beautiful, or perfectly beautiful, as they might appear if someone took many hours to paint or photograph the person. This phrase is a simile.

7. “The wind howled…”

If someone was describing a particularly strong storm, he or she might say that “the wind howled.” This is meant to emphasize that the wind was strong and very loud during the storm. It is what is known as a personification, which means that a non-human thing (the wind) is being given human characteristics.

8. “Eats like a pig…”

This is one figure of speech that most people have probably heard, but it might be confusing regardless. It means that someone is either eating a lot of food or is a sloppy eater, or both. This is also a simile.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

5 Perks of College Language Clubs!

5 Perks of College Language Clubs

  1. By David White
  2. On September 11th, 2015

For most students, transitioning to college involves both excitement and anxiety. It is, of course, a major step in a young person’s life, but it is also one filled with new people, places, and ideas that can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. These feelings can be especially challenging for foreign students who may not have mastered English and have limited options for support.

Most colleges and universities make an effort to help foreign students acclimate to their new environments, but this kind of support can feel formal, and it might even be short-term. Fortunately, there are less formal opportunities for ongoing support, like your school’s language clubs. These clubs are generally student-run groups that are intended to help people develop stronger language skills – but for the foreign student, they can be so much more. Here are five perks of joining a college language club:

1. Socio-emotional support

Though college language clubs are primarily intended to aid in learning or developing foreign language skills, they can also offer tremendous socio-emotional support. In an English language club, there will be varying degrees of proficiency and skill with the language, but for the most part, everyone is in a similar situation. This means that the other members of the group know what you are going through, and they can empathize with your struggles and achievements in ways that other students may not.

Because the students in the group have diverse experiences with the surrounding culture, this can also be a great place to find advice. A student that is in their third or fourth year has considerably more experience with the new environment than a freshman, and he or she can act as an informal mentor.

2. Practice

No matter how much training you have had in English prior to arriving at your new school, there is a significant difference between formal training and conversational English. This might make you anxious about practicing your verbal or writing skills with a native speaker, who may or may not have the patience you require. Given this background, a language club can be an excellent place to informally practice your skills with peers who understand your struggles.

Keep in mind that while this is a great option for practice, it should not be your only practice. One of the best ways to become fluent is to engage with native speakers; add that to your practice from time to time.

3. Contribution

As previously mentioned, in language clubs, there are people with varying degrees of ability and diverse experience. However much you may feel that you need some help, there will very likely be someone else who needs it as much, if not more. This is a good way for you to contribute to the lives and well-being of others in the group by using your skills to help someone else. Consider making a list of everyone’s skills, and seeing where people's abilities can be best applied. 

4. Study help

Though not as difficult as conversational (or casual) speaking, reading English can still be a challenge for non-native speakers. The language club can be a great place for you and your peers to help each other with assignments or test preparation, which undoubtedly will require a considerable amount of reading. 

Remember, these are your peers, and they know better than anyone else what it is like to be in your situation. Do not feel bad about asking for help or assistance with studying, particularly if you find yourself truly struggling – this is how you improve.

5. Meet new people

Finally, joining a language group gives you an excuse to meet new people. Being new can be hard. These are feelings that almost every new student feels, native or otherwise. By joining a language club, you will almost certainly meet a diverse group of students with different interests and backgrounds who know exactly how you are feeling as a new student. The shared experiences and casual environment of a language club can give you the space to meet new people without worrying that your conversational skills are not good enough.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

Introduction to How I Learned English: The Story of a Brave Mexican Girl!

Introduction to How I Learned English: The Story of a Brave Mexican Girl

  1. By Paula Massadas Pereira
  2. On September 10th, 2015

Hello. I'm Paula. I'm a librarian, former ESL student, and now ESL writer and illustrator. Below is some information about my new book. I hope you all like it.

How I Learned English: The Story of a Brave Mexican Girl was written with the intent to motivate ESL young adult and ESL adult learners. This fictional picture book describes the story of Claudia Sanchez, who moves to the United States and faces challenges typical to the immigrant community. 

Several themes related to immigration are presented in the story, including cultural values, culture shock, family separation, higher education, and determination.

If you would like to find out more about Claudia's journey to adapt to a new life in a foreign country, feel free to visit my website at

Prep for the TOEFL, One Book At a Time

  1. By David Recine
  2. On August 21st, 2015

There are a lot of resources out there to help you prepare for the TOEFL, but not all of them will help you achieve your target score. To get the score you want, you’ll need to study from the best possible materials. 

Many free resources are insufficient and low quality. And many of the paid resources and classes are really expensive! So, what materials should YOU use to prepare for the exam? 

In order to be truly prepared for the TOEFL exam, there are a few related books that students should definitely be using. If you can only afford one or two books on your budget, the best TOEFL books are the official guides published by ETS -- the makers of the TOEFL exam. The official guides will help you learn the format of the exam, as well as provide you with high-quality practice materials to put your skills to the test. 

The Official Guide is the best place to start for studying

ETS’ Official Guide to the TOEFL Test includes three full practice exams, with software that allows students to take the exams on their computer screen. This is very helpful if you’re taking the TOEFL iBT (and chances are, you will be taking this version of the exam! Ninety-six percent of TOEFL takers take the iBT). An answer key with explanations is included. 

For Speaking and Writing, the book also gives sample student answers that are scored. The scores are explained based on official TOEFL rubrics. In addition to these sample exams, there is a chapter that provides an overview of the whole TOEFL exam, followed by four chapters that look in-depth at each section of the TOEFL (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing). At the very end of the book, there is a special focus on the TOEFL Writing section, with a writer’s handbook specifically designed for English language learners.

The Official Guide to the TOEFL is the TOEFL book you should start with. If you finish the Official Guide and need more practice, you can move on to ETS’ other TOEFL book, Official TOEFL iBT Tests. Like the Official Guide, Official TOEFL iBT Tests has sample exams, answer keys, rubrics, and a CD. However, Official Tests has no tips, no sample student responses, and no explanations for multiple choice answers. Instead, this extra ETS book focuses solely on practice tests, with five full-length exams.

Some other books to consider

Once you’ve read through these important ETS books, you may want to look for other books that focus on specific English skills for the TOEFL if you’re struggling in a particular area. 

Grammar and vocabulary are especially good skills on which to focus. I recommend Collins’ Vocabulary and Grammar for the TOEFL Test. Like the ETS books, this book includes a CD of TOEFL-style listening tracks. It also has TOEFL-style activities to help learners study vocabulary and grammar. Another book I often recommend to my students is The ELT Grammar Book by Richard Firsten and Pat Killian. This book is actually written as a guide for ESL teachers, and it doesn’t actually focus on the TOEFL. However, this book explains grammar in a way that is easy for students to understand, covering all the grammar basics you’ll need to know on test day.

In my opinion, these four books are the best TOEFL books. Students can find other official ETS materials here and some free ETS TOEFL ebooks here


David Recine is a TOEFL expert at Magoosh. Magoosh provides affordable online TOEFL prep to help you ace the exam. For more advice on taking the TOEFL, check out Magoosh’s TOEFL blog.

5 English Words Even Native Speakers Use Incorrectly

5 English Words Even Native Speakers Use Incorrectly

  1. By David White
  2. On August 29th, 2015

For individuals who are learning the English language, there are a number of items that make English difficult to grasp. In addition to the homonyms that have similar pronunciations but vastly different meanings, there are also colloquial phrases and slang words. To further complicate matters, there are also a number of common words that are often used incorrectly – even by native English speakers. Here are five to note: 

1. Literally

The word literally means, “exactly as defined or stated.” For example, if you were stranded on a desert island, you might literally starve to death if no rescue came. More often than not, when someone says something like, “It is so hot out that I am literally melting,” he or she is using literally to emphasize the point that he or she is incredibly warm. The speaker is not truly claiming that he or she is about to melt. In this case, what the person really should say is, “It is so hot out that I feel like I am melting.”

2. Ironic

If you skim the many lists of misused words in the English language, you will likely find that ironic tends to be somewhere near the top. Usually, people will use the word ironic to describe a coincidence or an unexpected happening. For example, if you encounter someone on the street, and he or she says, “How ironic, I was just thinking about you,” he or she means that it is a coincidence. In truth, irony is when you intend for something to happen, and the exact opposite happens instead. 

3. Peruse

If you are ever out shopping with friends, and someone says that he or she would like to stop into a store to peruse their wares, it is very likely that your friend will not be perusing anything. The word peruse is often misused to suggest that someone wants to quickly look at an item, when it actually means to examine something very carefully.

4. Sympathy and empathy 

When someone has sympathy for someone else, it means that he or she feels bad for the other person. When someone dies, for example, you would extend your sympathy to his or her loved ones. Empathy, on the other hand, means that you know exactly how a person feels, or that you can imagine exactly how that person feels. Despite their similarities, these words are not interchangeable. For example, unless you have had someone close to you die, you cannot empathize with someone who has – but you can sympathize.

5. Redundant 

Redundant is a very tricky word. Why? Even when it is misused, it might still be correct!  Redundant is most often used to say that something is repetitive, but what it actually means is that something is unnecessary. In the case of a proper usage, repetition can be redundant if it is not necessary, but necessary repetition is not redundant. Quite the puzzle, we know!

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors. 

Major Differences Between American and International Colleges

Many students, both around the world and in America, have discovered the value of studying at a college or university outside of their home country. Whether your interest in an international education is due to academic, cultural, financial, or other reasons, there are several major differences between international and American colleges. They include: 

Scope of study and instructional style

American colleges and universities regularly require students to take an assortment of classes across a variety of disciplines – these courses are often referred to as gen ed (or general education) classes. This concept is not universal, however, and some countries may choose to focus more heavily on degree-specific courses. In addition, classes at American schools may include a greater degree of class participation, discussion, and time spent one-on-one with the professor. 

Student life

There is a definite difference between student life in the United States and student life in other countries. A sense of community – promoted by campus features and extracurriculars like the Greek system – may be more immediately evident at American universities than it is at universities in other countries. 

The Greek system of fraternities and sororities is not a part of all schools in the United States, but it is still a central fixture of college life in the 50 states – and it is unique to America. Furthermore, some international universities are housed on large, spread-out campuses, instead of on centralized campuses like those often seen in the United States. It is also common for university students to have private accommodations, as opposed to a shared dorm room (as is typical in America). All of these factors contribute to a different – though not necessarily better or worse – atmosphere where student life is concerned.  

Cost and academic year

The price of a college education, as well as the length of an academic term, may also vary between American and international schools. For example, the United States is known as one of the most expensive countries to study in. Norway, however, does not charge tuition for its universities – not even for non-residents. This is not to say that the cost of living while attending a college in Norway does not come with its own financial requirements, but tuition can vary greatly around the world.

In addition, the academic terms in the United States are typically either on a semester or a quarter system, with classes normally in session from August or September until May or June. In other countries, however, there may be semesters, trimesters, or quarters, and the school year may vary. 

There are many wonderful reasons to study abroad, from differences in cost to outstanding academic programs – not to mention the opportunity to experience a culture different from your own, and to possibly study another language! Regardless of your reasons for studying in a foreign country, there are a number of major differences to note between American and international schools. If you know what some of these differences are, you should be better prepared to have a wonderful college experience – in the United States or elsewhere. 

Dana Elmore is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors. 

10 Proofreading and Editing Tips for ESL Writers

10 Proofreading and Editing Tips for ESL Writers

  1. By Michael Jones
  2. On September 2nd, 2015

When we proofread and edit our own writing, we have a tendency to read it as we think it should be, which means we misread our spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. We also skip over problems with word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, context, flow and readability. It is therefore essential that you learn how to proofread and edit your written work.

For dissertations, essays, and submissions to journals and publications, hiring a professional proofreader or editor is the best way to ensure your writing is free of mistakes and is coherent and engaging. After all, it is difficult to scrutinise your own cherished words.

However, you can prepare your writing by following these tips before you send it to a professional service for a detailed proofread and objective edit.

10 Proofreading and Editing Tips for Writers

  1. Develop good habits. Proofread and edit every single piece of writing before it is seen by the world. Even if you hire a professional editor or proofreader, always check your work first.
  2. Understand the difference between proofreading and editing. Edit first by perfecting content and language. Proofread second to check for proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, spacing and formatting.
  3. Use the Track Changes function in Microsoft Word when you edit. This function saves your edits. You can then accept or reject those edits. Download the guide to using Track Changes
  4. Breathe. Take time away from a piece of writing before you proofread it. When you come back to your work you will have a clear head.
  5. Before you start proofreading and editing, run the spelling and grammar check in your word processing software. Run it several times. However, don’t count on software or online programmes for spelling and grammar; they can't pick up on context and correct syntax. Nor can they reveal the simple misuse of words.
  6. Read your work aloud. Pronounce each word clearly and slowly as you read. Mistakes will magically reveal themselves. This process will also provide insight into the readability of your work.
  7. Proofread and edit several times. Professional editors and proofreaders will go through texts 3 times or more.
  8. Thoroughly research the spelling of proper names as well as jargon and scientific and technical terms that you’re not familiar with.
  9. Don’t forget to proofread titles, headlines, footnotes, citations, and punctuation.
  10. For academic or commercial writing, choose one of the many style guides and use it consistently.

Happy writing!

Michael Jones is Senior Editor at, which provides English editing and proofreading for education and business.

How Can You Be Fluent in English in 2015? Be SMART!

How to get band 7 or better for all IELTS components

  1. By Julie Petersen
  2. On August 11th, 2015

Before taking an IELTS Band 7 test, you need to know that these tests are normally marked by specially trained IELTS tutors, hence the need to be top of your game when taking them. Whether you are doing it for the first time or the second, it is possible to transform your IELTS practice and, therefore, your IELTS band score. Do not allow IELTS to block you from achieving your life's dream. With these tips, you can band 7 in your IELTS. Remember, when preparing for your IELTs test, ensure that you spend enough time looking at how you can increase your General English level because it is the key to achieving success. Use the steps below as a guide to getting band 7 in your IELTS.

1. Identify not only an achievable but a realistic goal

IELTS tests are not the easiest to take; this means that one needs to be realistic with their goals if indeed they are looking to succeed. Students need to set achievable goals and work hard toward obtaining satisfactory IELTS band scores. For example, if your goal is to be at a certain level of English, ensure that you increase your practice exercises.

2. Come up with a regular study plan and follow it to the letter  

Start by identifying the maximum number of hours that you can set aside for polishing up your English. You need to practice in all four subtests including both your weakest and strong areas so as to increase your chances of getting band 7 or higher. Make these practice sessions as regular as possible and always take rests between your sessions to allow you time to energize. Please note that the secret to achieving success in your IELTS is to work toward your goal slowly but steadily, and with as much regularity as possible. 

3. It is important to speed up

The importance of increasing your personal speed when taking your IELTs can never be overemphasized. Failing to complete the test is one of  the major complaints by the majority of students who have not performed well in these tests. Do not let time be your enemy when you can be master of your own time. Even if you do not complete the test, you need not to worry because these tests are aimed at testing you over a range of scores, basically from 0 to 9, with zero indicating that the test was not attempted.

4. Your sentence reading speed needs to be adequate 

Try as much as possible to increase your sentence reading speed while at the same time remaining accurate. The last thing you want is to be reading the wrong line. You need to read and understand the tests and the instructions that are included in each section because it is the only way that you can be guaranteed of giving the right answers. If you can increase your reading speed and be accurate at the same time, you stand a better chance of obtaining a satisfactory IELTS band score. 

5. Develop your English memory 

Your memory for English will come in handy when it comes to the Listening Test. For you to succeed, you need to remember as much as you can to increase your chances of success. Remember that with such tests, there is no way you can go back because the tape is only played once. With the Reading Test, you'll also need to use your memory, however, you can always go back to confirm what you have just read.  

6. Time management is important

Just like in any other test, you need to know how to manage your time carefully because your success depends on it, especially during the Listening sub-test. You have a limited amount of time to check your work after a passage is heard, therefore, you need to be efficient. 

7. Observe the golden rule

Remember the Golden Rule when it comes to IELTS, "Always give the monkey exactly what he wants." Never give a monkey an orange when it asks for a banana. In short, what this really means is that you need to answer questions according to their requirements. Failing to adhere to the Golden Rule is one of the main reasons many students don't do well on the IELTS.

8. Give answers that are logical, legible and grammatically correct

Your answers should be easy to read and should employ proper grammar usage. Always ensure that you've cross checked for spelling mistakes. The last thing you want is to submit test results with spelling or grammatical mistakes. This will not serve well your quest for a Band 7 or higher test score.    

9. Prepare equally for each IELTS component

When preparing for IELTS, spend equal time on each component –  readinglisteningspeaking and writing. Choose a course or a study tips program that best fits your needs and practice as much as possible.

Julie Petersen is a young blogger and writer who features the latest educational and career trends in her articles. At present time she works at writing company as a writing consultant and blog editor. You may see her publications and contact her via Linkedin.

Best On-Campus Resources for International Students

Best On-Campus Resources for International Students

  1. By David White
  2. On July 28th, 2015

For foreign students pursuing a degree in the United States, college can present a number of challenges beyond those of the typical student. Not only are you living away from your family and friends for what is perhaps the first time, but you are also immersed in what might be a very different, unfamiliar culture. Still, by accessing the campus resources that are available to you, you may be surprised by how quickly you acclimate to your new environment.

If you are looking for ways to adjust to studying in the United States, your school likely has several services and resources that can help you feel more at home. The following are some of the resources available to you as a student, most of which should be easily found in your campus directory or through student services.

1. The international student services office

Many colleges and universities that welcome international students have an international student services office that serves as a point of contact. In some cases, this office may be part of a larger student services department. The international student services office exists to help foreign students with the technical aspects of studying in a different country, like visas and travel, but they can also help with any questions you may have about your new home.

Very often, if the people at the international student services office do not have the answer to your question, they will know who to send you to for assistance. As a result, this should always be your first stop when looking for advice or guidance.

2. Writing labs

Writing in English can be more complicated than speaking conversational English. There is no one to tell you when you have used a word incorrectly, and there are many of elements of grammar that can seem strange to non-native speakers. Given these challenges, you may find yourself somewhat anxious about your ability to compose college-level essays in English or to do well on tests.

Most schools have a writing lab or center to help students with their writing skills. This is an excellent place to further develop your English writing skills, or to brush up on some of the more technical aspects of writing. If you cannot find the physical location of the writing lab, look it up on your school’s website, as it may have transitioned to a digital-only resource.

3. Health services

Almost all college students experience some degree of homesickness – and perhaps even a physical sickness that requires medical attention while living far from home. For international students, this situation can be more challenging because of language barriers, cultural differences, and the fact that they are often very far from home.

Your school’s health services department can be a great place to stop and chat with someone if you have any medical or emotional needs. Additionally, the staff at the health center is generally familiar with the campus and its surrounding areas, which means that it should be able to point you in the direction of whatever it is that you might need.

4. Residential services

Whether it is the formal residential services office or the resident advisor in your dorm, both exist to keep a degree of order in the various campus housing buildings. More importantly, one of their primary functions is to help new students settle in and feel comfortable living away from home. Your resident advisor is most likely an undergraduate or graduate student, which may help your interaction feel more like a casual conversation with a peer. This can be a great relief if you are anxious about some aspect of attending college in America. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

How to Handle a Lecture Class When English Isn’t Your First Language

Depending on your academic interests and your learning style, there will likely be a number of courses in college that seem tedious or that challenge your ability to focus. For example, students don’t often greet lecture classes enthusiastically, due in part to their length and lack of interaction. For students who speak a first language other than English, these courses can present additional challenges.

Lectures tend to involve a single professor discussing a subject or field of study, sometimes for multiple hours. Even for those individuals who have attained a certain degree of proficiency with conversational English, this can be taxing to focus on and process – particularly if the presenter is a fast talker, uses regional slang, or has an accent. Nevertheless, lectures can be very important to your overall education, and being able to keep up with the speaker can help ensure that you stay on track.

If you’re a non-native speaker of English and have been looking for ways to make lectures more useful and digestible, try incorporating one or more of the following into your routine:

1. Sit in the front row

In general, sitting in the front row of a class or lecture hall demonstrates that you are interested in the course and wish to learn as much as possible. Moreover, this can help you stay focused, especially when you consider that you are directly in the professor’s line of sight. 

Sitting in the front row also means that it may be much easier for the speaker to notice if you are confused. This can be a great way to avoid the potential awkwardness of asking your professor to slow down.

2. Use a translation program

If it seems that you are only having trouble keeping up with the lecture every now and then, but can otherwise follow along, it may be helpful to have a translation program at the ready. If you bring your laptop to class, for example, using Google Translate to quickly get clarification on a word may keep you from falling behind.

Keep in mind that if you are having trouble with the speed of the lecture, or with large portions of the speech, this strategy will not be of much use to you. 

3. Find the syllabus online

One of the reasons that it can be difficult to follow along is because lectures can involve esoteric technical language or complicated academic concepts. For first-year students who may not yet have a firm grasp on academic language, these types of lectures can be very easy to get lost in. 

If you find that this happens to you, the evening before the lecture is an excellent time to brush up on keywords and concepts in your textbooks. With a brief refresher, you will likely be more apt to remember the definitions when they arise during the lecture. In addition, professors sometimes post a syllabus or outline before class. If you are able to download this outline, print it out and bring it to class with you so that you can use it as a guide while you listen.

4. Ask questions

Many professors and instructors who teach lecture courses encourage student interaction, particularly if students have questions or need assistance. Be sure to ask during or after the lecture for any clarification you need. You can also consider speaking with or emailing a professor to ask if you can record your lectures. Your professor is there to share information, so he or she may be very willing to help you in any way you need.

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Students

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Students

  1. By Kate Funk
  2. On July 1st, 2015

If you've just bought the newest iPhone, you've paid more than double what you would have paid for some leading smartphone competitors. So it's up to you to get the most out of it. You can do that with the aid of apps.

Students have more uses for apps than most regular folk because they have to deal with a number of issues in the academic world. Simply researching an essay can be aided with the use of quite a few apps, not to mention the apps that help a student plan his/her everyday life. Have a look online for a few apps for students, as they are often very inexpensive or free. Here are ten you may want to consider:

1) Evernote

This is a very popular app that is used by students and business persons around the world. It allows you to save and categorize your notes so that they are easy to store and easy to find. It also has a number of other functions such as allowing you to save voice messages, movies, images, and audio. You are able to create a mini library of all the things that you need to remember and store them in an easily accessible place. If you have stored notes of a detailed or important nature then you can move them over to your computer or the cloud.

2) CourseSmart eTextbooks 

This app gives you access to over seven thousand textbooks from your iPhone. eTextbooks is a paid app with a licensing agreement for each book. It allows access for the duration of your subscription. This means that you do not have to fully invest in your books, you can just “rent” them until you do not need them any longer. For example, you could buy a license that gives you access to a book for as long as your course lasts, or just buy the license that lets you use it for a course term.

3) New York Times

Sure you can use this app to stay up to date with current events and that whole thing, but it is actually very good for creating references for your essay. You are often asked to quote from or to reference a number of different sources instead of just relying on journals and the New York Times is great for this. You can even use it to quote metrics and survey results as it is viewed as an academically respectable source for such things. You can also check to see where NYT got their figures and quote directly from the original source.

4) myHomework

This fun little app allows you to organize your homework assignments. That is putting it in fairly simple terms as you can use it to track when your next class is, what coursework is due and when it is due. You can schedule important matters regarding your education and qualifications and then set alerts for when you need them.

5) Wikipanion

Wikipanion allows you to look up pages on Wikipedia without having to access it via your browser. Wikipedia is not a standard academic resource and you will lose marks for referencing it in your essays, but it is still a good information resource. You just need to remember to check the information that you find on it.  A good way of doing this is to check the references given by the website itself. They often lead you to some very valid resources that you are allowed to quote and reference in your essays. Plus, sometimes it is handy just to know a few things in order to round off your essays more thoroughly. You can check the facts that other sources have given you to see if they are on the level.

6) StudyBlue

This app allows you to create flashcards to help you study and memorize for your exams. Some exams rely more heavily on memorization of figures than others. For example, if you are doing an exam in humanities or history then you need to know certain principles, but if you are doing one in physics or chemistry then you are going to need to know actual equations and theories. This is where you will benefit from the StudyBlue app. You can create your own flashcards and then have them come up in a random order. It will help you to test your knowledge, or you can just have them present you with the facts in the hopes that you will memorize what is flashed on your screen. It is an old memorization trick but it still proves effective even today.

7) Study Buddy

This app allows you to be more productive when you study. It monitors how many breaks you take or how often you are distracted. If you are trying to come up with a study routine then this app may be used to increase your efficiency. After each study session, it will show you a graph of how efficient you were. This may help you choose more optimal intervals as you plan your study sessions.

8) WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha gives you answers to questions. It's programmed with hundreds of different answers for a multitude of subjects, and it can actually do the math on your algebra and calculus problems. If you have a mathematical problem within your chemistry or economics paper, then you can ask the app for the answer. It is a very nice little shortcut for students when they need to know the answer quickly.

9) iTunes U

Oddly enough this is not just an app for finding music, you can also find a lot of good audio information with it. iTunes U has lectures from esteemed professors and industry experts. You can learn a lot from the lectures, and you can even look up their sources with Google to find reference information. This will allow you to quote the lectures when you write your essays or dissertations.

10) Dropbox

This is a cloud service that allows you to store your files online. It makes synchronization between multiple devices and computers very easy. It allows a student to save very large files without having to use the hard drive of their device, and it allows the student the ability to see those files from anywhere that has Internet. It also saves the student from having to carry around paper versions of files.

Kate Funk is an editor and essay writer at aussiewriter, where users can control and coordinate their content writing process and improve their writing skills.

5 Myths About Learning English

5 Myths About Learning English

  1. By David White
  2. On June 19th, 2015

As the world becomes ever more connected, learning a second language can be a wonderful way to gain academic and career advantages. For non-native speakers of English, the influence that English-speaking countries have on global markets can make it an easy and logical decision to learn the language.

When it comes to learning a second tongue, the ease with which you become fluent depends on a number of different, often subjective factors. Nevertheless, because English is a fairly nuanced and idiomatic language, non-native speakers may feel intimidated. These feelings can easily become exacerbated when you start to consider all the myths about how difficult it is to learn English. If you are a non-native speaker, and if you are attempting to gain some mastery of the English language, debunking the following five myths should help you feel more comfortable and confident in your endeavor.

1. English is one of the most difficult languages to learn

Many people believe that English is an incredibly difficult language to learn. While it is true that English relies on elements that may be unfamiliar to some non-native speakers, it is not as challenging as it may at first appear to be.

When compared to certain other languages, English has relatively few inflections, which accordingly limits the ways that words can be used. For example, most nouns are used in the singular or plural, while verbs are generally used in the past, present, or future tense.

2. Pronunciation does not matter

Some people mistakenly believe that learning from a book is sufficient because what truly matters is learning the words and their meanings. This is incorrect. Whether you are mastering English, French, or Arabic, pronunciation always matters. There are many words in the English language that have similar spellings but different pronunciations and meanings – sometimes very different meanings. As with any language, in order to use it properly, you need to know how to pronounce its terms.  

One of the best ways to learn pronunciation is to watch and listen to native speakers. When you do so, pay close attention to how they form sounds and words.

3. The only way to learn a language is through immersion and exclusive use

It is true that immersion programs and the exclusive use of a particular language are great ways to become comfortable with that tongue, but they are by no means the only ways. 

Speaking in any language helps us to develop confidence and cognitive abilities, and to grow as critical thinkers. However, our first language is one of our strongest connections to our cultures, and it can help us bond with others. It is important to spend as much time as possible on studying and practicing your new language, but never at the expense of your first language. This can lead to frustration and feelings of isolation.

4. English is best learned when you are young

It is common for people to assume that English is best learned when the non-native speaker is young. This is not an unreasonable assumption, but it is untrue. Children do tend to master languages more quickly than adults, but adults can learn them too.

The expectations for young language learners tend to be much lower than those for adults, and the content being learned is usually more basic than for learners at a higher grade. In addition, children tend to have much more time to devote to learning than older students do.

5. Conversation leads to mastery

One of the many reasons that a student might want to learn a new language is so that he or she can use it in a conversational context. Perhaps because of this, many people assume that once one is able to engage in conversation with a native speaker, they have achieved a certain level of mastery. While conversational use of any second tongue is one of the more difficult tests, it does not necessarily indicate mastery.

Most languages, particularly American English, have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies that can make one conversation seem flawless and another messy and confusing. If you find that you are having trouble with conversational English, the problem might be that the native speaker is using regional phrases or sayings, or that their pronunciation might be heavily affected by an accent. Rather than despairing, persevere with your language studies. 

David White is a contributing writer for, the world's largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.

10 Best Apps for Your Writing Career

10 Best Apps for Your Writing Career

  1. By Linda Craig
  2. On May 25th, 2015

What is the most important thing in your writing career? Is it getting clients? Finding new clients can be tough, but not if you are good at your job. Is it finding inspiration? You can find inspiration anywhere. Is it writer’s block? This is usually cleared up with a cup of coffee. So, what is the most important thing? It is the will and tenacity to get in there and do the work. To write and work hard on whatever project you are on, no matter where you are at the time. That is where these mobile apps come in.

1) Quip


Quip for iOS 

This is a lightweight writing app that is more suited to note taking than it is to comprehensive writing. It offers a word processor, the ability to create different file types and spreadsheets, and a chat function. It is good for editing forum threads, and for researching and making notes. The spreadsheet function means you can add figures and save them for later use. Over time, the software has been upgraded to include more features. 

2) Editorial 


Editorial for iOS 

This app was created by Ole Moritz Software and has a built-in browser you can swipe in from the side so you can check your research and then jump back to your writing pad in less than a second. It is an intuitive app that makes writing easier and more automated. Unsurprisingly, it is being called a super-charged word processor, which is quite apt given that it is faster, more efficient and more automated than most of the mobile-phone word processors on the market. 

3) Day One


Day One for iOS 

This is a note-taking app that has good categorizing and organizing features. It makes it an effective journal app that you can use for notes or as a diary. It has many features, including a handsome interface, and it is very easy to use. You can pick it up and use it, forget about it for a few months, and pick it up and use it again without having to reacquaint yourself with the software or your previous entries.

4) Writer


Writer for Android

Why is this app good for your writing career? This writing app is a little different because it doesn’t have fancy features or a smooth user experience. It is a fairly bland app that creates a distraction-free environment for you to work. Reducing your distractions may help you get on with the task of actually writing. Despite its fairly basic nature, it has been very well received by the Android community. When searching for a writing app for Android, be sure to give Writer a try. Writer is an uncomplicated app that lets you write without all the extra distractions. Turn to Writer to focus on writing; it’s not a place to make things look pretty. However, it does give you the ability to make lists, italicize and make words bold, and use headers.

5) Fleksy


Fleksy for iOS 

This was originally created for blind people, but there were so many alternative apps for the visually impaired that Fleksy began marketing to other audiences. Now it is used by people who want to be able to write without looking at the screen. They claim it is the fastest keyboard in the world. What it should be praised for is the fact that you can type without having to look at the screen, so you can write in secret, you can look at others while you type under the table, and you can even put it in your pocket and type. 

6) Evernote


Evernote for Android and iOS 

This is a good app for people who need to take notes and efficiently categorize them. This is a note-taking app that allows you to write, take memos, take photos, audio and video, and put them into the categories of your choice. The categories are easy to create and manage, so you can bundle together your research in a way that makes it easy to retrieve at a later date. 

7) Q10 


Q10 for Windows Mobile 

This app removes distractions by making the word processor your central (and only) focus. It has live statistics, on-screen editors, full-screen text editing and a programmable page count formula. It has a spellchecker and a timer, and it is very customizable so you may work under the conditions that suit you whilst removing distractions. 

8) Pages


Pages for iOS 

This is an Apple creation and is one of the more expensive writing apps. It is slightly more costly because it is a fully featured document creator that has been integrated with iOS, Mac and iCloud. It makes creating documents and presentations a little easier, and is wasted if you simply use it for writing. It has some rather good sharing functions, too. 

9) Simple Mind 


Simple Mind for Android 

This is a great mind-mapping app you can use to arrange your notes and your research. Add to it over time and refresh your memory of what has been written without having to re-read all of your notes. This app helps you to organize your thoughts, ideas and concepts in a way that allows you to build on them whilst bouncing from one topic to another. 

10) Note Everything


Note Everything for Android 

This is sometimes described as the ultimate notepad. It may be an exaggeration, but over 100,000 downloaders suggests it is a handy piece of software. With Note Everything, you can take written and voice notes. The most fun feature is "Paint notes," which allows you to write with a stylus and interprets your scrawling. You can also create links within your notepad. 

Linda Craig is writing enthusiast and a professional editor at Her passion is modern British literature and digital education tools.


How to Master the TOEFL

  1. By James Liu
  2. On May 16th, 2015

Mastering the TOEFL Is More Than Possible

If you want to obtain a college or university degree in a foreign country as a non-native speaking student, there is a very good chance that you will have to prove your linguistic skills within the confines of the TOEFL test. The TOEFL (which stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test which may not be the toughest exam ever created, but it can still become a pain in the behind, especially if you don’t have a knack for appreciating and learning foreign languages.

TOEFL listening practice and other valuable tools can help you achieve the necessary knowledge that will keep your dreams alive, but just as anything that worth having in life, obtaining this knowledge will take some hard work and determination on your part. That is, unless you are a natural when it comes to learning foreign languages, which can be a rare case, but certain.

They will gauge your language proficiency

What the TOEFL does is basically to gauge your capabilities and potential to be able to learn the curriculum in a different (English) language. Needless to say, this is completely different than learning something in your mother tongue. It is so different in fact that it will almost feel like a totally different field. This is just how our brain is wired, and there is only so much we can do about it. We can certainly improve that skill, but chances are that we will never be able to obtain information as quickly and efficiently as we could in our original language.

The first step towards a successful exam is accepting this fact. Even after years of living in another country and barely using your mother tongue, your brain will still not forget it and will probably learn faster whenever it takes in something from that familiar linguistic environment. There are three different types of tests, let’s talk about those a little bit more, what are the differences between them, and which one of them represents better choice, or are they even available?

Paper-based, computer-based, internet-based

The paper based test which has been originally available since 1964, is actually not around anymore. At least not in its original form. It was until 1998 but its main problem was its lack of diversity which translated into a lesser accuracy. It was a decent tool that worked for a lot of years, but with the forefront of computers, it was only a matter of time before the new tests took over, and for a good reason. It was the year of 1998 when they introduced the computer based tests. TOEFL listening practices became available as well, and the people in charge were suddenly capable of putting together a more diverse test that offered a much more accurate picture about one’s English skills.

The TOEFL’s IBT variant has been around since 2005 so for a good 10 years now, and remains the superior method. The IBT is great because it is capable of gauging the student’s language skills in all four major areas. Those four are reading, listening, speaking and writing. The old tests obviously weren’t capable of gauging one’s speaking and listening skills. It wasn’t necessarily their goal though, either - in a fair comparison we have to mention that. If a student wants the most objective outlook on their current English capabilities, there is nothing that beats the IBT at that level. As a superior test, it takes more effort to pass as well, but that will ultimately pay off for the students during their academic career.

Three basic but efficient tips to help you reach your goals

1.) The first and most important is to allow yourself to have enough time to prepare. 

It might sound like a cliché but the single biggest reason why students fail during tests is because they start their preparation way too close to the actual date. You cannot expect to be successful when you do your TOEFL listening exercises in the last minute. It just doesn’t work that way. You can choose between dozens of different preparatory courses. Remember, an effective test preparation usually takes several months, but definitely at least four weeks.

2.) Learning is much easier when you are having fun. 

In fact, at that point, it pretty much becomes obtaining information in a way that does not feel like learning at all. This is similar to our child brain, when we felt like we needed every new piece of information and wanted to ask every question that came to our mind. That hunger for knowledge usually lessens the more we actually know, and we also grow up, of course. Still, those who are able to find that thirst for knowledge in themselves, or can come up with fun methods that allow them to learn without the tediousness of it all (like watching movies in English for example), will find that obtaining information can still be fun.

3.) Think of the unthinkable. 

The more sophisticated the TOEFL test has become the more potential obstacles the test takers had to face. A quick example: Headphones provided for the listening portion of the TOEFL test will greatly vary. In one place you will hear everything crystal clear, only to realize that the same kind of voice quality won’t be available in another establishment. This is why preparation and scheduling is extremely important. While there is no limit to how many times you can try to pass the exam, trying it again and again will take valuable resources, money, and time.

James Liu connected with TOEFL Network at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. TOEFL Network provides an online TOEFL e-learning website offering iBT TOEFL practice lessons to help students prepare for the TOEFL test.

5 Reasons You Should Visit an English-Speaking Country

5 Reasons You Should Visit an English-Speaking Country

When making the choice to learn a foreign language, English is the one that comes with the most benefits in terms of job opportunities, countries you can visit, and amount of people you will be able to communicate with.To improve your English, you can take classes, use various apps, and read all the textbooks you want, but there is nothing quite like full immersion abroad. But why will traveling to an English-speaking country improve your language skills? The reasons are endless. Read on for our top five favorites:

1. Trial by fire. 

Most English-speakers will default to English when out and about, even if they do know a second language. Unlike other countries, where natives will try to accommodate you by speaking your language even if they only know a few words of it, visiting an English-speaking country will force you to overcome your hesitancy without being able to fall back on your native language.

2. You will use your language skills in a dynamic setting. 

All the hard work you put into language classes, learning grammar and vocabulary, and practicing speaking in an artificial setting, is all working towards the chance to use it while traveling.  Speaking English in a real-life situation will allow you to build confidence and become comfortable holding conversations, and you’ll see how much fun knowing a foreign language can be.

3. You will get to speak with native speakers. 

This offers the opportunity for you to become familiar with certain slang terms, modes of speech, and accents that may be too subtle for most ESL classes to address. Keep in mind, however, that different countries and even different regions can have completely unique accents and idioms—so be careful how you use them!

4. You will experience English-speaking culture. 

In many cases, when it comes to using your English skills for getting a job, knowing the language is only half of the battle. To deal effectively with English-speaking clients in a business setting, it’s important to know what sort of culture they come from. How people interact, how important social etiquette and punctuality are, and even a dash of history and pop culture will all go far in making you even more qualified for a job that requires a familiarity with the English language.

5. English-speaking countries are all unique. 

Depending on what kind of vacation you’re looking for and how far you want to travel, there is an English-speaking country for all tastes. Whether you prefer to spend your holidays hiking, going on pub crawls, surfing, sunbathing, or visiting cosmopolitan cities, you’re sure to get a different experience whether you go to the UK, Ireland, the United States, Australia, or South Africa. 

Whatever your motivations are for traveling and whether you’re visiting London, the Grand Canyon, or the Great Barrier Reef, without a doubt you’ll find your trip a life-changing experience that will deepen your knowledge of English. Moreover, visiting an English-speaking country where it’s an official language a crucial step for any serious ESL student who wants to familiarize themselves with the language. So do yourself a favor and book your flight soon! 

Anna Snider writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language tutoring service offering personalized course packages to individuals and groups. Check out their free foreign language level tests and other resources on their website. Follow Language Trainers on Facebook or contact their team directly with any questions.

How Can You Be Fluent in English in 2015? Be SMART!

The 5 Do’s & Don'ts of Online Tutoring

  1. By Cindy Bates
  2. On April 30th, 2015

The tutoring profession has seen a tremendous evolution over the past few years thanks to modern technology. More and more students are opting for the flexibility & ease of online tutoring which has greatly increased the demand for quality online tutors. As a tutor, there are a few things you should consider in order to maximize your profits and make the best use of your time (as well as your students'). 

Here are 5 Do’s & Don'ts for Online Tutoring: 

1. DO Prepare Ahead of Time 

Although you do not need to clock all of the travel time associated with in-person tutoring, online sessions still require a great deal of planning and preparation. Not only will you need to plan out each session’s curriculum, you will also need to figure out how to properly share content, keep your flow to maintain your tutee’s attention, and address the direct needs of each and every student you take on. A little creative thinking and awareness can ensure that your students will interact and learn efficiently during their online tutoring session. 

It’s also critically important to know your software in and out and be prepared to help teach your student how to use it. Always have a troubleshooting plan in place should a disruption happen. A good practice is to include a few software troubleshooting tips on an easy-to-follow PDF and share this with the student before their first session.  

Finally, be ready at least 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled start time. Find a quiet setting that is conducive to effective tutoring and make sure that whatever is in the background is not distracting or disruptive. 

2. DON’T Be Overly Formal 

While it’s easy to bring enthusiasm & energy to a face-to-face meeting, doing the same for your online tutoring session can prove to be challenging. The key is to be as lively and engaging as possible while turning your charisma up a notch. Projecting your voice while using eye contact will help keep the attention of your tutee, making the teaching process easier.  

It’s also important to leave room for flexibility during each online session. Being too regimented with your schedule can deny the student of proper opportunities to ask questions. Your tutee may need extra help with a certain subject he is learning or he may need assistance in another topic altogether. Make sure that you leave a small amount of time where you can switch gears and answer any questions or handle any technical problems that may arise. 

3. DO Keep it Simple & Start Modestly

Too many channels of communication or online tools can become overwhelming and chaotic. Key messages could get lost or an entire lesson can fall apart if any of these tools stops working (for example: Skype, online whiteboards, teleconference numbers.) It is best to start simple and then expand at your learner’s pace to include other educational tools or communication platforms, etc.

If your student is new to online tutoring, it will be worth the time to go over the software or program that you use and explain any expectations that you have regarding communication preferences. 

4. DON’T Worry if It Seems Awkward at First

Online tutoring via web conferencing can take some time to get used to, and can come with a serious learning curve. Being prepared and letting your student know what materials they need ahead of time will help things run more smoothly and can reduce the anxiety of both the tutor and the student. Each student is different and some may find it a bit difficult to engage over the internet. Encourage conversation and interaction by asking thought-provoking questions. Praise your tutees for sharing their ideas and eventually the student will take a cue from the online etiquette that you follow.   

5. DO Cater to the Student’s Learning Style 

There are a number of different learning styles and each of your students may respond differently to your method of teaching. It is best to get familiar with your student’s learning style and then offer a custom approach that is personalized to their needs. Some students may be more engaged and stay on-task better when they have short, more frequent sessions as opposed to hour long online tutoring appointments. Others may require a more visual method of teaching that includes bright imagery, pictures, colors, and diagrams to help them understand new concepts. Incorporating your student’s strengths into your curriculum and teaching techniques will help them make tremendous achievements in their understanding of complicated ideas.    

Online tutoring opportunities have removed the distance & time barrier that many busy students face.  The best possible online tutoring experience a student can have is one in which they feel as if the tutor is right there with them. When the technology fades into the background, learning is able to take center stage. These efficient tips for online tutoring will help tutors maximize the learning experience of their students. 

Cindy Bates works as a freelance writer and editor at BestEssayTips. She formerly wrote articles and shared her knowledge and experience in the educational sphere.

Broken English or Poetry?

Broken English or Poetry?

  1. By Lisa Doctor
  2. On April 25th, 2015

If I could share one truism with new speakers of English here in the United States and abroad, it would be this: You are not stupid, no matter how many grammatical errors you make, and nobody is going to see you as stupid. Rather, when you try your hand at speaking English, you’ll be seen as someone who is bold enough to communicate in a language you’re still in the process of learning.  

          English language learners are the fastest-growing segment of the public school population, with numbers that have nearly doubled to more than five million. Too often, new speakers of English are faced with the unrealistic expectation of mastering grammatical correctness before they begin communicating, which can become understandably frustrating and, ultimately, demoralizing. Our language is complex, filled with exceptions to grammatical rules, non-phonetic spelling, and countless, confounding idioms. If native speakers of English have difficulty conjugating verb tenses with absolute correctness—and they surely do—it’s exponentially difficult for those who are new to the language. Many give up before they have their first conversation with a native speaker for fear of not being understood.

            Their concern is unfounded, fueled by the misconception that they need to speak perfectly in a foreign language in order to be understood. But perfection, or anything resembling it, is an unattainable goal in any new endeavor, including language learning.

            “Broken English”—an expression I cannot bear—should be stricken from the English language. It insults and stigmatizes those who have made the courageous choice to speak in a new language. It does a huge disservice not only to new English learners, but to native speakers as well; it deprives us all of conversing with and learning about people from other cultures. It’s painful to think how much open communication we in America are missing out on because newcomers are afraid of “getting it wrong.” What we as a race—the human race—is lacking is authentic connection that stems from open conversation. When we write and speak from the heart, without fear of grammatical correctness, we’re giving ourselves and each other the great gift of compassion, of empathy, of the joy that comes from mutual understanding. Language is a living entity that’s meant to bind humans, not separate them. Waiting for that illusive perfection is tantamount to wasting precious time, when we can be happily sharing time with others.

            Rather than viewing grammatical mistakes made by the new speaker as “broken English,” I propose that we view it as poetry. Imagine how the confidence of English learners might soar!

            How often has a visitor in America put a hand sheepishly to his mouth and said, with eyes averted, “Excuse please, my English.” It’s heartbreaking when a new speaker, struggling to find the right word, slaps his forehead and says, “I am so stupid.” We native speakers need to comfort the person who says this, assuring them there’s no need for shame, even if we believe that we, too, would apologize in much the same way for our own grammatical blunders. While visiting a family in Spain, I wanted to offer congratulations on their daughter’s athletic success, and tell her parents she’s a champion. But I confused the words and said, “Su hija es un champinon,” which translates to, “Your daughter is a mushroom.” While my face grew warm with humiliation, they laughed, understood what I meant to say, asked me to please stop apologizing, and our evening continued.

            It’s time for new speakers of any language to dispose of the idea that we can and should speak perfectly before trying our hand at it. And when we do engage in conversation, we must know that the results, whatever they are, will not be broken but, rather, poetic.

            I’ve had the great pleasure of helping new learners of English improve their skills through creative writing. I ask probing questions like, can you feel sorrow without collapsing under its weight? And, when have you grasped for hope, only to have it elude you? One passionate former student said he can now write in English with “heart and soul and bones and guts.” These English learners are amazed by their own ability to write deeply with a limited vocabulary and be readily understood. When people write from their heart and let go of the faulty belief that they need to construct the perfect sentence, their confidence grows and real communication takes place.

            As one European student wrote, “I want to bite life and devour it and eat it in a fanatic way.” Is this not poetry?

Lisa Lieberman Doctor is the author of the writing book, Accidental Poetry: Improve Your English Through Creative Writing and the novel The Deflowering of Rhona Lipshitz. She has been working with writers since 1977. Over the years she has served as: a development and production executive at Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers, TriStar Pictures (where she was Vice President of Robin Williams’ company, Blue Wolf Productions) and several independent production companies; a staff writer on ABC’s General Hospital, where she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy and Writers Guild Award; an expert witness in motion picture copyright law; and a writing instructor at the UCLA Writers Program; the California State University; The Esalen Institute; The University of the Balearic Islands; and the TV Writers Fund For The Future. For more info, visit

7 Best Tips for Studying Languages

7 Best Tips for Studying Languages

  1. By Melinda Osteen
  2. On March 22nd, 2015

Before the Digital Age, the classic way to study a new language was brought down to studying grammar from books, solving tests, and having occasional conversations with native speakers. Today, you have many more opportunities that can make you a more efficient learner. Nevertheless, the process of learning a new language is not supposed to be based solely upon the use of digital tools. The following practical tips will help you boost your learning skills.

Make notes and labels

This is a classic technique that still works: start placing post-its on all objects in your home. Label the stairs, windows, door, oven, and everything else in sight. Don’t avoid labeling an object even if you know the word for it. When words are staring at you from everywhere, you’ll have a much better chance to remember them for good. 

Listen to podcasts and radio shows

If radio sounds too old-fashioned for you, then you should consider listening to podcasts. These audio materials come with a great advantage: the presenters speak very clearly and you will listen to the language in its purest form. Listen to podcasts and radio shows whenever you have free time while in your home, if you go for a run, or while driving your car. Don’t be disappointed if you cannot pick up on every word. Your mind will accept the new language as natural just by hearing it on a daily basis.  

Learn through movies

Movies have always been a great tool for improving a learner’s vocabulary, but do you know how to watch them properly? If you have the right approach, films can help you learn a language much more productively. This is what you need to do:

- Choose a nice movie in the language you are learning 

- Watch it with subtitles first, and then watch it again, but without subtitles

- Find the script online, download it and print it out

- Read the script and highlight the unknown words, then try to remember them 

- It’s time to watch the movie for the third time - now, you will read the screenplay along with the actors 

- If you think you are ready for the next step, you can play the movie again and start learning the lines by heart 

Who said you had to talk with a native to improve your speaking skills? The movie-watching technique will make you a more confident learner. Remember: repetition is the key, so don’t give up on watching the movie at least 5 times in a single week. 

Open up to new friendship

No matter how much you talk to yourself, study grammar and listen to a language, you won’t be able to express yourself efficiently without real interaction. When you talk to a native speaker, you won’t have the time to translate the phrases in your mind before saying them. You don’t need to search for native speakers in your area or send letters to a pen pal; the Internet makes everything easier nowadays. You can communicate via Facebook messages or even have a Skype conversation with a native. Dating sites are another fun way to practice your language skills through small talk. When you find yourself faced with such a situation, you might get confused when the other person expects you to respond quickly. Don’t give up, though; proficiency is a matter of practice.

Change the way you think!

You can say you’ve mastered a new language when you catch yourself thinking in it. Before you get to this stage, you’ll need to talk to yourself out loud (no matter how weird that seems). Not that you need to care what other people think of you, but try to find a private space for this type of exercise. Talk to yourself in the new language, and the new words will eventually seem natural to you. When you find yourself in a real-life situation, you won’t be frightened about making a mistake since you’ll already have enough practice. Pay attention to the movements of your mouth. Different languages require different facial muscles to be used, so practice in front of a mirror until you get the words right. The movie-watching technique will help you a lot with this aspect. 

Read the classics

All countries have writers they are proud of. When you read an impressionable novel in the language you want to learn, you will realize how the lessons you’ve been learning can be turned into something beautiful. Of course, newspapers and magazines are usually grammatically correct and you can read them as well, but they won’t convey the “magic” of the language. When you read poetry and novels, you won’t focus on form, but on essence. Reading books is the best way to learn new words and pick up conversational skills along the way. 


One of the best ways to practice a new language is to use it in written form. In addition to writing emails and messages to native speakers, there is another way to exercise when you are ready to elevate your practice to a new level: write poetry. You don’t have to be a born poet to ponder your emotions and thoughts and express them with words. There are fun ways to write poetry. Haiku, for example, will focus your mind on the rhythmic structure of the words. 

When you start using the new language creatively and put your identity into the words and phrases you learned, it will become part of you. Don’t worry about the quality of your poetry; no one has to read it if you don’t feel confident about it. If you stick to a writing routine, you will be able to look back at your work and see how your vocabulary has progressed. 

If poetry is too abstract for you, try writing a diary. Get a nice notebook or choose an online platform where you can write as much as you want without being afraid that someone would have remarks on your grammar.                                                

Persistence is the key to success

When it comes to learning a new language, the beginning is usually enthusiastic. You watch YouTube videos and listen to fun podcasts in the new language, and everything seems fun. However, it’s not easy to maintain a regular practice routine, which is necessary for success on this journey. Make daily plans and include small learning tasks in different portions of the day. Remember: discovering the different nuances of a new language is a life-long activity.   

Melinda Osteen is a writer and an editor who features the latest writing and studying trends in her articles and intends to share her knowledge with young specialists. She works as a writing expert and an editor at Papersgear writing service. 

How to Practice English with a Native Speaker for Free (and almost free)... Seriously!

As an English teacher, both online and in a brick and mortar school, I always hear the same questions from students. The most common question I get is "How can I improve my English?" or some variation of that, such as "How can I improve my speaking skills?" To be honest, this is not an easy question to answer, and there are hundreds of learning techniques, studying methods, language "hacks" and "secrets" that promise to get you to fluency overnight, and this doesn't even scratch the surface of the issue. Many university professors and academic researchers have written numerous studies about this topic, and they all seem to disagree with each other! 

But there's one thing that students, teachers, and professors can agree with... the more you practice, the more you use English, the more speaking that you do.... the better! Unfortunately, there is no secret method or iPhone app that can help you get you to fluency. Improving your speaking skills takes good, old-fashioned hard work! And I'm afraid that your progress and improvement are going to be a gentle slope rather than a big mountain. I talk about this concept a lot in my new Internet course for Korean students -- OPIc Star -- which helps them prepare for the OPIc, a popular speaking proficiency test that is quickly replacing the TOEFL and TOEIC. 

So if you're really serious about improving your English, you have to be committed and practice for a long period of time. Joining conversations classes and hiring a private tutor for many years can be expensive. In this article for, I will tell you one way to practice your English with a native speaker for free... or almost free. 

Use Skype! Skype is a popular platform for online English lessons, but many students forget that you can use Skype to call businesses and other organizations in the United States, Canada, and the UK. The prices for calling these countries are very cheap, about $1-2 per hour, which is a lot cheaper than joining an online class or hiring a private tutor. But even if you don't want to spend any money calling the US, you can still call many businesses for free! Toll free numbers, often called 1-800 numbers, are free to call, and you'll never have to pay if you call them using Skype. 

It sounds like a crazy idea, but calling businesses in the United States is a way to practice your English. Of course, it won't help you be fluent in one day, but remember, speaking practice is very important! The more you do, the better! So what are the benefits?

  • It's cheaper than online classes and hiring a private tutor, and calling toll free numbers are free.
  • You will get authentic speaking practice. No more memorized dialogues and silly situations. 
  • It's great for listening practice because you will hear a lot of accents. 

So try it out today!

Stephen Mayeux is an English teacher who specializes in helping beginning and intermediate students make rapid progress, as well as in preparing students for studying in American universities. Stephen began teaching in 2008 and has taught ESL for non-profits, universities and language institutes in North America and Asia. He is the founder of ESLHipHop, a community for ESL teachers and students who have a passion for the art of hip-hop. To learn English with music videos, check out Stephen's ESLHipHop Page.

5 Recent Digital Tools for Teachers!

5 Recent Digital Tools for Teachers

  1. By Michael McPherson
  2. On March 11th, 2015

A teacher is supposed to try new teaching techniques and new software as time goes on. Moving from one set of ideas to another can be difficult for teachers who have been in the business for a long time. But the students change as time goes on, even though not so much the way they are taught. Here are five digital tools a teacher should consider trying in order to move with the times.

1. Creaza

This is a set of tools that fall under one pricing plan. There is the cartoonist, movie editor, audio editor and Mindomo. The main selling point of this tool-set for teachers is the fact that multimedia teaching is probably the direction most schools and colleges are going to go. Having a teacher or professor talk and write on a board is still used--but it is getting old. Planning a lesson and creating a multi-platform backup for a lesson plan is the way of the future. Lessons are becoming more of a presentation than they are an intimate lecture, and this tool-set takes advantage of that fact. 

Spell out concepts and ideas with the cartoonist tool. This is a step above projector slides and writing on the whiteboard. It helps to bring in the number of students (approx 20%) that are kinesthetic learners, while appealing to visual learners, too. If a teacher talks his or her students through the process, then the teacher will gain the attention of the audio learners for a more penetrating lesson. The movie and audio editors allow teachers to create visual presentations that they can interact with as they present them. The Mindomo offers the teacher a way of creating mind maps and will help teach critical thinking too. Over 75% of users use it to expand on a concept using class participation, where the teacher adds things to the mind maps as the students give answers.

2. Author Stream

Many professors use this type of tool. Author Stream allows teachers to share presentations on the web. There are a few apps and programs that do this sort of thing; the Author Stream is an effective version that teachers should consider. 

The reason this sort of software is used so often is because teachers/professors have moved away from slides and projectors and onto PowerPoint presentations. They talk to the students through the lesson and move the slides as they go. The Author Stream allows teachers to convert their PowerPoints into videos for easier dissemination amongst the students, and the PowerPoints or videos may be shared privately so that only the students in the class may see it. 

Teachers can share the PowerPoints and videos with a larger audience, and there are collaboration tools, too. The teacher has the option to present the PowerPoint online.

3. Planboard

This is a free program teachers can use on their desktop or mobile device. It is built specifically for teachers to plan their day. They can plan classes in great detail, and can track standards as they go. This may help a teacher see how lessons and lesson plans are affecting performance in a more objective way. It helps with both a teacher’s short and long-term assessment duties, and teachers can collaborate too.

4. Fun Brain

If a teacher is teaching a younger generation, then games may be one way of helping them learn. This is especially true of math, where some students seem to be really struggling. If a teacher can help make the process a little more fun, it may help the students engage for a little longer.

There are learning-arcade games, books and comics, reading games, math games and playground games that students can try outside when not in class. The reading arcade attempts to connect fun ideas and visual imagery with reading. It is a step in the right direction because according the Prager University a lot of boys do not read because the material given to them is not fun. Boys want to read about monsters, aliens and buildings blowing up. The stories within the reading games are not “that” boy friendly yet, but things such as “Galactic Hotdogs” and “Skullduggery Island” are a step in the right direction.

5. Prezi 

This is not a new piece of presentation software, but unlike the others it receives regular updates and re-tools. The Prezi of today is nothing like the Prezi you knew a few years ago. 

What sets Prezi apart from the others? It is a cloud-based presentation program (software), which is fairly common, but it allows for a deeper sense of control. It allows teachers to create more dynamic presentations where a teacher has more control over what the viewer focuses on. 

The fact that it allows teachers to zoom in on certain elements in the presentation makes understanding a little easier for the viewer. It is also good for helping teachers interconnect concepts and ideas. A teacher can help students bounce around from one idea to another without causing the students to become confused, whilst still allowing them to see how the ideas are connected to each other.

Still not convinced? What about the fact that a large number of TED speakers have used Prezi? Even TED curator Chris Anderson used a Prezi for his 2010 TEDGlobal presentation! Prezi has are over 50 million users and since its creation in 2009 there have been 160 million presentations completed with the software. 

Michael McPherson is a graduate student at Boston University, a freelance blogger and a regular contributor at Follow Michael on Twitter: @McPhersy

Understanding Grammar in Various Languages

Understanding Grammar in Various Languages

  1. By Amber Woods
  2. On March 6th, 2015

Learning grammar in any particular language can be an extremely daunting task. It is only by understanding the grammar of a language that an individual can be able to construct meaningful sentences. Therefore the importance of understanding grammar in various languages cannot be overemphasized. The steps below should allow you to learn grammar in various languages:


  1. Know your word order. It is very important to learn about the intricacies involved in arranging words in the correct order. This is perhaps the most valid lesson an individual will have to learn immediately after they have acquainted themselves with the language’s vocabulary and pronunciation. Adhering to the right word order will make sure that the sentences you create are logical and easy to understand.
  2. Learn how to shape shift. Shape shifting refers to the ability of words to change in different manners to reflect the role they are playing in a sentence. A good example can be seen in English language, where verbs highlight the individual performing the action and also when the intended action is taking place. 
  3. Understand the regular and irregular patterns. Pay a lot of attention to understanding the regular grammatical patterns and look for examples whenever you are reading or listening to someone who is speaking the language. The fact of the matter is that each and every language has its own regular and irregular grammatical patterns. Languages with fewer irregularities are easier to learn. Try as much as possible to apply regular grammatical patterns to all the relevant words. 
  4. Make use of redundancy. There is some form of redundancy in all languages. Take this example in Spanish; "the friends" can be translated to "los amigos". It is clear to note that the sentence is in plural as indicated by the article "los" and the noun ending "amigos". In as much as an individual may forget to make one plural, they can still be understood. 
  5. Distinguish the genders. Since all languages have a tendency of dividing nouns into different genders, a learner should be able to clearly make a distinction between the different genders. It just so happens that English is known to have the remnants of a three gender system (masculine, feminine and gender neutral) which has the effect of determining what kind of pronouns should be used. Languages such as French, Spanish and Italian only have nouns of either masculinity or feminine genders.   


  • When trying to understand grammar in different languages, it is very important to understand the applicable rules. For example, in English, when referring to nouns such as tables and chairs you need not to be bothered by the gender, however in languages such as French, each and every noun has a gender and it is imperative that you know about them. 
  • In order to put your skills into action, you may want to get feedback on your mistakes. Instead of just memorizing vocabulary lists, make a point of testing what you have learned. Today, it is possible to use applications to rate your progress.   


Amber Woods is from Chicago (US), studied at Central European University in Hungary, and is currently living in Canada. She’s creative and passionate about learning new things and enjoys writing about education in an easy-to-understand manner. She’s always in search of new technological and educational possibilities and approaches. More articles by Amber can be found at


How To Use Social Media For Learning a Second Language

How To Use Social Media For Learning a Second Language

  1. By Cari Bennette
  2. On February 19th, 2015

Traditional foreign language learning mainly includes repeating grammar rules and vocabulary writing exercises. Engagement with native speakers and conversations on real-world topics are not so common. Today, however, language learning is a much more dynamic and practical process. Thanks to social media, people seeking contact with native speakers of other languages have it easy. Instead of having to spend thousands of dollars in immersion programs in another country, you can simply sign on to your social media account of choice and start learning for free.

Sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and others offer language learners entertaining and interactive experiences with native speakers. Here's how to get the most out of language learning through social media.

Facebook & Twitter

There are hundreds of Facebook pages and groups as well as Twitter accounts that are dedicated to foreign language learning. Some include videos, music, cartoons or daily grammar and vocabulary lessons. To join a page or follow an account, type in the language you want to learn. Ex: Learn Spanish. Several pages and accounts will pop up. Click 'Like' or 'Follow' button and you'll start receiving their posts in your Facebook or Twitter feed.

The benefit: Some of these pages are written by language teachers. You'll gain access to their lessons without having to pay fees, buy books or language software or schedule lessons. 

You can also friend or follow people who speak the language you're trying to learn. You'll have an access to their posts and comments which will help enrich your vocabulary and grammar skills. You could also arrange a language exchange with them. Ex: your new Facebook friend or Twitter follower will help you learn to speak Portuguese if you help him to speak English.

The benefit: This is the practical side of language learning. You'll get exposure to real-world conversations and discussions. Here's where you'll also learn more about the culture, values and idiomatic phrases. 

Another way to practice a foreign language is to change your Facebook and/or Twitter account to another language setting:

Click on Settings

Open the Account page

Click on the Language menu

Change it to the language you wish to learn

Click on Save changes

The benefit: Those who use these accounts frequently (and who doesn't?) will be constantly immersed in the new language. 


Pinterest also provides a way to learn foreign languages. I typed in "Learn Russian” in their search box and a page with hundreds of pins popped up with vocabulary lessons and photos and pictures. Follow the pins that interest you.

The benefit: Those of you who've used Pinterest before know how addictive this site is. Which is exactly why it's a great tool for language learning. You won't want to stop!


YouTube is a goldmine for language learning. Get access to thousands of videos in different languages. From the serious to the hilarious, you'll find videos that match your learning style. You'll also have access to films and music in the language you want to learn, sometimes with subtitles. 

The benefit: YouTube will provide you audio-visual language lessons which will help you listen and speak. These are very practical language skills that you won't get from reading and writing.

Blogs and Wikis

You can also check out sites like and Wikimedia, blogs & wikis dedicated to language learning. Many teachers and organizations collaborate to mount these sites to use in their classrooms. 

The benefit: Though not as interactive as some other sites, you'll still be granted access to free and educational language sites. What more could you want?


Then there are sites that are specifically dedicated to language learning like Livemocha which links native speakers with those wishing to learn that language. You can sign up for free and interact with people who are there specifically for language exchange. 

The benefit: Access to native speakers interested in teaching you. Live chat, audio lessons and grammar exercises. 

Social media makes it easier than ever to learn a foreign language without having to leave home. These sites are free to anyone. Learning languages through social media is more dynamic and practical than traditional learning methods. Make good use of the social networks you already use and start learning a new language today. 

Cari Bennette is a passionate writer and content manager at custom writing service JetWriters.  She is also dedicated to blogging about educational topics, essay and resume writing. Contact Cari on Google+.

An introduction to blogger and English teacher Stephen Mayeux

An introduction to blogger and English teacher Stephen Mayeux

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On February 11th, 2015

Where are my manners? How could I be so rude? I have been writing blog posts for for a couple of months, but I haven't introduced myself yet. That's not a very good first impression, and I have to fix this right away! I want to get off on the right foot, so please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Stephen Mayeux (pronounced MY-you), but you can just call me Steve. I'm originally from Baton Rouge, which is a small city in the Southern United States, but I like to tell people that I'm from California. I have been an English teacher, trainer, and blogger for over seven years, and I really love what I do. I particularly love using unconventional methods and materials to teach adult students, and I blog a lot about that at I have taught all over the U.S., but currently I'm teaching in the coastal city of Busan, which is in South Korea. It's a lot like California, so calling Busan home has been really easy to do. 

My first stint in Korea was back in 2008 when I was fresh out of university. I had a positive first impression of the country, but I was quite shocked by the country's infatuation, dare I say addiction, with learning the English language. Parents and students were dropping thousands of dollars in private English tutoring services, and there was a burning fever running rampant through the whole country. Children and adults alike needed to learn English not only to do well on tests but also to secure a good future for themselves. Back in my early days, I noticed that most Koreans studied English in the same way they studied other subjects, like math and science, and speaking English was essentially done by rote memorization and parroting native speakers. Needless to say, it was a very inefficient system for learning a foreign language. And while I was comforted in knowing that I had a secure job in this country for years, even decades, to come, I also felt the frustration of my students and wanted to help them learn English more efficiently. 

Fast forward seven years later: People are still learning English like crazy, and the country is still investing billions of dollars into the English education market. They have a long way to go, but the attitude and mentality of students are changing for the better! I teach adults, mainly young professionals and university students, at a private language academy. Many of them have visited foreign countries and studied abroad in an English-speaking country, but this was not so common a few years ago, mainly because a lot of Koreans regarded English only as a means to an end. For these people, English was the key to getting accepted into a great university, then on to a great job, career, marriage, family, the whole nine yards. English is still regarded as the key to a promising future, but I am really happy that the younger generation is embracing English-speaking culture to broaden their global perspective. Adopting this new frame of mind doesn't make learning English easier than before, but it provides learners with a deeper context and finally answers the question, "Why is English so important and why should I study it?" Which is why I love being partners with organizations like They connect students with schools across the world so that more and more young people can improve not only their English but also their understanding and appreciation of the world's cultures. 

I'll be in Korea for a few years, giving all the young job-seekers a fighting chance in landing a great career. If you want to know more about what I do or where I live, then I would love to hear from you! Just drop me a line in the comments below.

Stephen Mayeux is an English teacher who specializes in helping beginning and intermediate students make rapid progress, as well as in preparing students for studying in American universities. Stephen began teaching in 2008 and has taught ESL for non-profits, universities and language institutes in North America and Asia. He is the founder of ESLHipHop, a community for ESL teachers and students who have a passion for the art of hip-hop. To learn English with music videos, check out Stephen's ESLHipHop Page.

12 Annoying Phrases in English That Can Make You Cringe!

12 Annoying Phrases in English That Can Make You Cringe!

  1. By Madeline Allan
  2. On February 5th, 2015

There are a few phrases in our literature that have been used so much in common language that they can end up annoying the literary scholars or ‘Grammar Police.' Some of them sound silly, whereas others just do not make any sense. Take a look at the following twelve most annoying phrases in English out of the hundreds:

At The End Of The Day...

... It’s night. This phrase needs to exit our English dictionary and take its place in the museum of Old English next to Thou, Thee & Art. The phrase makes a person sound like a 19th century worker who is more interested in getting his bread “at the end of the day.” Instead, you can replace it with the word “Ultimately.”

Give Your 110 Percent

You would be amused to learn that people not only use the amount 110, they also suggest applying 200 percent effort while asking someone to put their heart and soul into a task. Why do they do that? This is just not right, and quite impossible when it comes to maths.

I Literally Died From…

Who is narrating the story then? Using ‘literally’ every now and then to make your story sound more realistic is just not cool. You cannot die from joy, hunger or laughing and then come back to life again to tell the story to others, literally!

Fairly Unique

A person can be either unique or not unique. The word unique itself stands for something that is special and cannot have a substitute. So, you cannot fairly have a substitute when you can actually have the whole substitute. Cut the fairly and stick to unique, singularly.

At This Moment In Time

No matter how popular this phrase may be, it is not only annoying but also very confusing. You are not a time traveler. If someone wants you to do a task, you either reply "yes" or "no", or "never." Do not try to leave them puzzled with the timing scenarios.

With All Due Respect

This is one of those phrases that tries to negate the insult that you just delivered. With all due respect, the phrase is annoying. There, I said it! And the same goes for the sister phrase “No offense, but…” Please inform the subject that you apologize for hurting their feelings but that you must tell them your opinion honestly.

I Know, Right?

This phrase is also overused in literary and spoken communication. Either the person has informed you of something, so you thank them for informing you, or you ask them what they mean. Just because you agree with them does not mean you question what they just said.

Do You Know Who I Am?

The phrase is nice when being used by someone whom you've met for the first time. But, when used by someone you know in order to show off your status or reputation, this phrase becomes just plain wrong.

It Is What It Is

This phrase can be completely annoying, especially when used in situations wherein you do not have any other advice to give. It seems as if “whatever” has been replaced as a sentence filler. Just stop talking if you have nothing more to contribute to the conversation.

Just Saying

You deliver very philosophical advice and then you end it with, “Just saying,” like you did it quite casually and it did not mean anything. When, actually, you just tried and failed at humbleness all for the sake of a compliment. Please do not do it.

You Only Live Once

This phrase has also been abbreviated to the acronym YOLO and is commonly overused in the worst literary scenarios possible. The phrase would have been appropriate if you were performing a daring act such as bungee jumping or taking a selfie at the top of Burj Khalifa. However, it does not fit when you are enjoying a vanilla ice-cream.

I Personally Think...

Saying “I think” will be enough if you are giving an opinion. There is no need to claim “I personally think,” as your opinions are your own personal conduct. Unless you have two human beings residing within you collectively, avoid this phrase altogether.

Madeline Allan is an experienced English language consultant. She has a passion for teaching the ins and outs of language to online communities. She also works as a part time essay writer for students. You can find her on EssaySpot and Facebook.

Gamification and Education: how to make your lessons more innovative

Games are interesting for students of any caliber: average, smart, super-smart. Games are addictive too. Students love playing video games, because a video game keeps them thoroughly focused and in the end there is always the happiness of winning the game. It is fascinating how students can play a video game tirelessly without a break. 

Gamification means converting the traditional learning process into a more interactive and fun way of learning. In this article, we will see how to make this type of learning possible. 

Designing a game requires three things: Activities, Point Value and Levels and making the game interesting and educational. It requires the ability to grade each activity, empowering the students with ownership towards the outcome of the game and allowing the students to learn from failure.

 Let us look at this educational game building process in further detail:

  • Activity

The ability to design a learning activity which can be played lies in the core of an educational game. The activity is the foundation of an interactive game. For instance: if the tutor intends to teach the student about natural resources such as wood, water, precious stones and minerals then she would design an activity around this lesson. 

For example, the tutor could design a treasure hunt game for this geography lesson wherein each activity will have its own value. Further, the classroom can be divided into groups of 4-6 students in each group and each group can be classified and given a unique name. 

For instance: The Diamond Stone Group, The Water Group, The Wood Hunter Group and so on. Each of the groups would know where their own natural resources are stored, i.e.: Water Group would know where water is stored. But the groups will not know the location of resources which are owned by their competitive groups. For instance: Water Group will not know where wood is stored. And thus, the expedition will begin and player groups will compete with each other. 

  • Point value

Once groups are formed and activities are designed for a lesson – each activity should be assigned a specific point value. The point value can also be equal for each activity meaning that each activity is equally valuable. 

For instance: the value of finding wood will be the same as the value of finding water. This can be as simple as locating natural resources on the World Map. And alternatively this can be further complexity can be added, by letting the group of students also plan the travel to the respective locations. Let us say travel by sea. This will give them exposure of the marine export business. The game could be won by the group which is able to export the most resources to their country. 

  • Game level

There can be various levels assigned to each activity in the game. Levels will decide the progress of each team or individual. If the point value is the same for each activity or each level then the team that is able to achieve its goal before any other team will win the game. Further, the game can be strategized on various levels. 

For instance: the team which acquires the natural resources in the most cost-effective manner will win the game. Also, to add more thrill to the game, a sea storm or other natural calamity could be included and those who are unable to salvage their resources will lose early. This will also give the students exposure to business marine insurance. 

  • Player ownership

In this process, as the game progresses, the students will feel a sense of ownership about their team. The students will also believe in their abilities and learn more from an educational gaming experience. The more they learn about the game – the more they will enjoy playing the game. Everyone will play to win but failure should not be digressing. Students who lose should enjoy the game as much as students who win the game. Students who are out of the game early can play different roles such as that of monitoring the game or any other role which will ensure their active involvement in the game. 

  • Learning from failure

In some cases, teams or individuals who lose the game should be given another chance to play. This way even if they lose, they will play to enjoy and learn more about the game. In some cases, where it isn’t possible to give the team or individual another chance to play, the team should be encouraged to do better next time. 

In the end, the students who lose can also write an essay or make a presentation about their experience of playing the game. The winning team can do the same, as this will ensure that everyone has something to gain and learn from the game. 

There should not be any prizes for the winning team as such. If the winning team calls for a celebration then they should be requested to contribute to a celebration fund and celebrations could take place during every alternate weekend. Students will look forward to these occasions to celebrate and the daily game playing activity will keep them enthralled about their education. 

Thus, gamification can make education innovative, fulfilling and a win-win event which both the tutors and tutees can celebrate to the fullest!  

Yohana Petrovic is a writer and blogger. She has 10 years` experience in educating and now she is a proofreader at You can reach her on Facebook: Yohana Petrovic or on Twitter: @YohanaPetrovic     

Is TEFL for you?

Is TEFL for you?

  1. By Frank Evans
  2. On January 15th, 2015

Alice came to a fork in the road. 'Which road do I take?' she asked.

'Where do you want to go?' responded the Cheshire Cat.

'I don't know,' Alice answered.

'Then,' said the Cat, 'it doesn't matter. 

(Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland)

Okay, Alice – so you want to be an EFL teacher. That’s great! You’ll have the time of your life: traveling around the world, visiting the sites, meeting people from foreign lands, learning about new cultures, tasting delicious foreign cuisines, and generally having a great time teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language). 

Wow! This isn’t a job – this is a lifestyle. So when you get to the fork in the road, make sure you pick the road marked ‘TEFL’ (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) – just like Alice did.

Unfortunately, though, being an EFL teacher isn’t as glamorous as some people make it sound to be; indeed, unless you are truly set on working as an EFL teacher – you should take the other road. Teaching non-native English speaking children can be a very daunting task: here are a few things that you should consider before you follow Alice.

As an ESL teacher, you will be in loco parentis (“in the place of a parent”) responsible for the well-being of your ESL students: put crudely, this means that you get to carry the can for anything that may happen to your students: this is a very onerous responsibility – and only fools take it lightly.

One of your most important goals will be to develop a good rapport with your ESL students by empathising with them and their culture(s): this is by no means easy. You will have to talk to your students, and involve yourself in their world: and you will have to listen with interest and enthusiasm to what they say – even if you are not interested. As an ESL teacher, your students will expect you to empathize with them. At the same time you will have to be able to manage your class; don’t forget – it only takes one badly behaved student to spoil your lessons. Unfortunately, many people are unable, for whatever reason, to discipline children without simultaneously creating resentment and dissatisfaction. In the words of C. J. Hardin: 

The ultimate goal of classroom management should not be on simple obedience, but on having students behave appropriately because they know it’s the right thing to do and because they can understand how their actions affect other people.” 

Finding the correct balance between empathy and discipline can be a difficult task. You will also need to have a sense of humour.

A sense of humour is an important asset because difficult classroom situations can be defused by using humour: do you have a sense of humour? Apart from your role as an EFL teacher, you will also be concerned with the pastoral care of your students. 

This is quite likely if you are an EFL teacher working for a voluntary organization such as the VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) or the Peace Corps: you will be actively involved in “supporting, encouraging and befriending” your students. This may involve visiting the children’s families and getting involved in the local community; all of this can be very demanding since it will be in addition to your normal teaching activities. Apart from having to deal with your students, you will also have to deal with your employer.

Unfortunately, many overseas EFL schools are extremely demanding – especially if you are a novice EFL teacher. In some of the more prestigious private EFL schools, you will be required to keep the students ‘happy’; succinctly, you will have to be ‘a popular teacher’ – or your job could be at risk. This means that you will have to modify your character and teaching style drastically in order to ‘please’ your students: this can become a very stressful experience. 

In schools whose students are from affluent areas, you may end up having to accept behaviour that you would not usually consider to be good behaviour: don’t be surprised if you meet with the “We pay you, so do as you are told” attitude in these schools. Additionally, some principals will load you with extra-curricular activities, which are not part of your contract: supervising clubs, sports activities, chaperoning trips, and administrative work. Furthermore, don’t always expect to be paid for your loss of free time: you will be expected to ‘volunteer’ in order to demonstrate your commitment to the school and your good community spirit. Lastly, but not least – you will have to deal with the ESL students’ parents.

Parents’ evenings can be a real bugbear: especially when the parents are affluent or important members of the community. You will – more often than not – be the scapegoat for examination failures and bad school results. Alternatively, if the student is successful, the parents will lavish praise on their child’s intelligence and ‘natural’ ability in foreign languages: rarely will you ever be praised for your teaching skills – this can be very depressing and frustrating. Considering all the foregoing points – ESL teaching can be a very stressful experience; this is particularly true of the more romantic and liberally minded ESL teachers. 

You can expect to encounter stress in your day-to-day dealings with ESL staff, school red tape, principals, students, parents, and classroom teaching. The effects of stress include the following: “depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, and immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections.” Finally, apart from the difficulties you will face working in an overseas school: you will have to take into account the difficulties associated with working in a foreign country: particularly homesickness and cultural shock.

You will probably experience homesickness after about one or two months abroad, and it is more intense in countries where there are greater cultural difference between your country and country you are teaching in: this is due to the phenomenon of cultural shock – which intensifies homesickness:

“Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply travel to another type of life.” 

(John Macionis and Linda Gerbe)

Do you still want to be an EFL teacher? This article has been written with a view to exposing the unglamorous side of TEFL: it has not been the intention of the writer to dissuade people who are seriously set on a career in TEFL, but merely – “a warning to the curious.”

Frank Evans is a British mathematician, information technologist, translator (Greek – English), and EFL/ESL teacher. He graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) degree from the University of East Anglia (UK), where he read mathematics: specializing in applied mathematics (theoretical mechanics). He then went on to do a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in order to become a qualified teacher of mathematics and physics. Following on from this, he was awarded SERC funding to study for an M.Sc. in information technology at Loughborough University of Technology (UK), where he specialized in electronic communication. For the last twenty-five years or so, he has been working as a freelance educator.


How Can You Be Fluent in English in 2015? Be SMART!

How Can You Be Fluent in English in 2015? Be SMART!

  1. By Stephen Mayeux
  2. On December 30th, 2014

Like it or not, 2014 is coming to an end, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. Some people dread the uncertainty of the future, but I always get this feeling of excitement in the days before the new year. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting and thinking about my accomplishments and failures in 2014. In this year, I was able to accomplish so much, and I have grown a lot in my professional and personal life. The biggest change happened in February when I left my comfortable teaching job at the University of California in order to start my dream of becoming a full-time online teacher and educational entrepreneur. The risks were enormous, and they made both me and my wife very nervous in the beginning. But the pay-off was worth it, and now I am finally living my dream. I created and teach English students from around the world! It was not an easy year by any measure, and I have made a lot of mistakes, but I have to attribute my success by making SMART goals. 

What are SMART goals? Well, I will explain what they are in a moment, but I want  to remind you that 2015 is the year when you can accomplish all of your goals and finally become fluent in English! Do you want to understand English movies and TV shows? No problem! Do you want to get a good TOEFL score so that you can study at an American university? Piece of cake! Do you want to improve your presentation skills so that you can get that promotion at your job? Consider it done!

How can you make this happen? Start making SMART goals now and prepare for success in 2015! 

SMART is actually an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. You can use this criteria to create goals for everything in your professional or personal life, but they are great for English learners as well. 

First of all, your goals should be very specific and avoid making general statements. For example, "becoming fluent in English" is not a specific goal. Fluency is very subjective, and it may differ from person to person. So be specific about your English learning. What is it exactly that you want to improve? Specific goals usually answer the 5 W questions: who, what, when, where, and why. Some specific examples include:

  • Expand my vocabulary of academic words in order to perform better on the TOEFL and IELTS tests. 
  • Improve my writing skills by starting a blog about my everyday life.
  • Become more confident with speaking by meeting other learners online and practicing English on Skype. 

Your goals should also be measurable. If you cannot measure your progress, then it's impossible to know whether you have achieved your goal. So if want to expand your vocabulary, then exactly how many new words do you want to learn? If you want to start a blog, then how many articles do you want to write per month?

A lot of people set themselves up for failure by creating unrealistic goals. Learning 10-20 new words or expressions per week is attainable for most people, even if they have jobs and other commitments, but learning 200 new words per week is impossible and will only lead you to disappointment. Remember that being ambitious and doing a lot of work are not necessarily the same thing. In 2015, work SMARTER, NOT HARDER! 

Goals should be logical and relevant as well. There is no use in doing something for its own sake, and you should always have a reason and purpose for doing a particular task. For example, if you want to improve your listening skills, then studying grammar and reading many books may not be the best way to achieve that because grammar knowledge is irrelevant to the skill of listening. In fact, I have met many students who did well on grammar tests but could not understand a simple conversation. It is a very good idea to discuss your goals with an English teacher or tutor. They have the training and expertise to let you know if your goals are relevant or not. If you are looking for an online English teacher, please contact me at and I will be happy to help you.

Finally, you have to give yourself a deadline. All goals should be time-bound. If you don't set an end date, it is very likely that you will get caught up in a cycle of procrastination and put it off for something else. Even if your goal is specific, relevant, realistic, and measurable, it won't matter much unless you have a specific deadline. 

So what do real SMART goals look like? Use these as a template to create your own:

  • Expand my academic vocabulary in order to get a better score on the TOEFL reading test. Learn 20 new words each week for 10 consecutive weeks for a total of 200 new words. Use Google Scholar to find authentic examples of each new word in context, and create my own sentences as well. 
  • Write a blog about my everyday life at home and work. Write at least 2 blog articles every week for the entire year. Include at least one picture or video in each blog. Share my blog posts on social media and get at least 4 Likes or Comments per month. At the end of the year, select my 10 favorite blog articles and publish an e-book.
  • Join at least 5 English-speaking Communities on Google Plus and meet ten new people from different countries who are also learning English. Speak English with my online friends for at least one hour a week, and then write a short summary about what was discussed. 

So what are you SMART goals for 2015? Please comment below and I promise to read and respond to your goals within 72 hours. I promise!

Good luck with all of your future endeavors and Happy New Year!

How Can You Be Fluent in English in 2015? Be SMART!

Stephen Mayeux is an English teacher who specializes in helping beginning and intermediate students make rapid progress, as well as in preparing students for studying in American universities. Stephen began teaching in 2008 and has taught ESL for non-profits, universities and language institutes in North America and Asia. He is the founder of ESLHipHop, a community for ESL teachers and students who have a passion for the art of hip-hop. To learn English with music videos, check out Stephen's ESLHipHop Page.

Love Through a Language Barrier

Love Through a Language Barrier

  1. By Daria Wasiluk
  2. On December 24th, 2014

Love Despite a Language Barrier

When you live in your home country everything is easier. Communicating in the same familiar language will take you everywhere you need to go. You understand road signs and even if you’re lost, someone around you will help you find direction. Simple, everyday responsibilities turn into a routine and we can easily take them for granted. When we meet new people, we are able to share common ideas and chat about different experiences. If we start a relationship with someone, it can be challenging in an obvious way but there is no language barrier. You don’t have to spend hours explaining why in your culture this particular behaviour is funny or bizarre. Jokes and stories are understood within seconds and family gatherings are less scary. 

Learning Motivation

As a student in a foreign country you have to go through many changes. Big cities like London are very cosmopolitan but in order to avoid confusion, ask for advice before moving there. Soon after arrival, you will hear a different language on every corner. This is a beauty of big cities. Suddenly your circle of friends becomes bigger and before knowing, you spend time with five different nationalities. This can give you a good opportunity to meet new people and among them this one special person. But what if you can’t really talk and understand each other? For better communication, sometimes you will have to go the extra mile and either learn a new language or improve the skills you already have. 

Study Together

There are many ways to overcome language problems. When you are in a relationship with a foreigner, the easiest way is just to learn from one another. Don’t be scared to ask questions. You can write essays and let the other person check them for you. Try to speak more and more every day. It doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning but you will see results very quickly. Always ask your other half to correct you when you’re making mistakes. Buy a funky notebook where you can write down complicated phrases.  Spend more time with your partner’s friends and family. They will definitely notice your progress and give you the motivation you need for further studying. If you’re trying to decide how to spend an evening together, watch a movie and add subtitles. Without realising, you will learn a few words along the way. 

Find Extra Lessons

Give yourself some time to check language schools. Ask among your friends if they can recommend you something in particular. You can also check forums and read different opinions. Being within a group of people who share your interests can be very effective in learning a new language. Take this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and improve your communication skills. Having a schedule will allow you to be more productive and focused. If you’re not a fan of group studying, find a private teacher. Sometimes it could be hard for your partner to explain proper grammar rules. One-to-one lessons will give you a chance to have classes tailored to your needs. This could make your life easier if you have other responsibilities during a week. Choose the most convenient days and times according to your duty list. This way you won’t miss any important modules. 

Dating a foreigner can be a great adventure. Imagine all these exciting differences you will discover about music, art and people. You will become more approachable and tolerant. Apart from that, speaking another language will make your life richer and more exciting. 

Daria Wasiluk currently writes for UKEAS, a company that helps foreign citizens to follow their dreams of studying in London and the rest of the UK. Daria, originally from Eastern Europe, moved to London in her early 20’s and has years of experience living in the UK as a foreigner. Daria now works as a writer and student advisor for UKEAS in Nigeria, where prospective students can find excellent advice on studying in the UK.

Writing English for an International Audience

Writing English for an International Audience

  1. By Michael Jones
  2. On December 17th, 2014

It’s that time of year again, the run up to Christmas, when the offices of English language editors are flooded with Business to Customer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) projects. We love to read about all the special promotions from hotels, travel companies, restaurants and retailers; it gets us in the holiday mood, though I’m not sure many would admit to the tinsel on the laptop. While the world is full of wonderful opportunities for businesses and their customers, the English used to communicate those opportunities is often confused and fails to deliver the right message. specialises in editing for those with English as second language (ESL). Our native English editors have helped hundreds of businesses perfect their campaign messages and communications and have put their heads together to provide you with this guide to writing English for an international audience. A clear message in English is vital in a globalised world of travelers, international students and economic migrants who are often better acquainted with English than an indigenous language. 

 Of course the following applies at any time of year, but for now, Merry Christmas.

The Facts that Matter

• Three-quarters of the world's digital communications are in English.

• More than half of the world's scientific and technical periodicals are written in English.

• The first language of the Web is English.

The Essentials of Writing for an International Audience

• Always be Courteous.

Readers from all cultures appreciate courtesy. Good business is centered on good relationships and great first impressions.

• Use Short Sentences.

Short sentences help to avoid confusion and are easier to write without making grammatical mistakes. Forcing yourself to write short sentences will develop your skills as a writer of succinct and concise messages. A good rule to remember is: one sentence, one idea.

• Avoid Metaphors, Idioms, Colloquialisms and Slang.

Metaphors, idioms, colloquialisms and slang are advanced linguistic tools that make any language rich and colourful. However, they can make a text confusing, even incomprehensible, for the non-native reader. Phrases such as “Thinking outside the box” or “This will knock you off your feet” serve only to confuse your reader. 

• One Word is Better than Two, or Three, or Four…..

If you can communicate an idea in one word, do it. Adjectives are often unnecessary and confusing. If a word isn’t essential, remove it; busy people have limited time to read your words, so make every word count.

• Use Jargon in the Correct Place.

jargon: the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group                                                 ~

Is your audience a specialist community? If so, use the jargon relevant to your area of expertise sparingly. If not, always avoid jargon. Non-native readers have enough to do extracting the message from the simple English.

• Be Consistent.

Use one name for one thing. For example, if you introduce a survey, be sure to continue to call it a survey and not a poll or ananalysis or a study.

Write dates in the following format: 11 April 2014. An all-number date format such as 11/04/2014, means different things to different readers around the world. 

Write numbers in a consistent way using a “.” as the decimal place and a “,” as the digit group separator: 11,000.02. Many cultures use a different system but the majority of English speaking countries follow this format.

• Analogies and Current Affairs.

Cultural analogies and references to sport, entertainment or current affairs will be lost on an international audience. Keep descriptions neutral and keep copy free of religious or political opinion as much as possible.

• Pronouns: John or Him?

We are always editing pronouns out of English writing targeted at an international audience, particularly within internal business communications. “Give John the annual report” is clearer than “give him the annual report”. Using names instead of pronouns can sometimes read a little awkwardly. Native English editors can feel when a pronoun is clear or not.

• Diagrams, Diagrams, Diagrams.

Communicate your information in graphical form. There is a good reason why there are so many nonverbal signs in the world; they are commonly universally understood. Most people understand a simple xy axis graph or a smiley face. Diagrams also help focus the writer and reader; they can present a clear, logical and sequential series of steps, instructions, events or processes.

• The Dreaded Double Negative.

“The conference was not unsuccessful”.

A double negative is both difficult to write and to read correctly. In some languages a double negative can represent a very strong negative sentiment. Avoid the dreaded double negative.

No language exists in a cultural vacuum and this is particularly true of English in the 21st Century. Follow these tips for writing English for an international audience, and keep in mind issues of neutrality, and you are 10 steps closer to perfection. edits English for business and education.

Do you speak English

Best Online Courses For Learning A Second Language

  1. By Steve Aedy
  2. On December 12th, 2014

As our world continues to speed towards globalism, the subject of language becomes increasingly relevant. English has become the universal language. Non-English speakers will find they're being left out of a significant chunk of the global market, from tourism to finance to technology. 

Of course, there are many more reasons to learn English. Most pop music and movies are in English. Also immigration of non-English speakers to English speaking countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia continues to rise. Many top universities are also in English speaking countries. 

Whatever the reason, there are many online resources that will help those seeking to become fluent in English achieve their goal. More and more programs continue to be developed as demand for learning English as a second language increases.

Here's a list of the best online second language courses to date:

Duolingo is one of the most highly rated online language learning courses. The method is simple and unique, and its game-like structure makes it enjoyable. You can engage in a competition with other learners to see your ranking and level on the exercises. Or, keep your stats to yourself if that's more your style. It also encourages two-way translation, an advanced skill in language learning. An awesome mobile app rounds out its slick package. Best of all, it's free. Some drawbacks to Duolingo are that it doesn't allow for skipping levels or self-assessment. You're basically locked into their structure and if you already possess some basic second language skills, it can be tedious to work your way through the initial exercises. Also, the number of languages available is limited (courses available in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian), though Duolingo is planning to expand its language database. You won’t find Dutch, Irish, Danish and Swedish on Duolingo website.

Babbel is another popular program but it isn't free. Depending on the program you choose, you'll pay "between $7.45-$12.95/month." They offer a wider variety of languages than Duolingo, including Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Indonesian, Norwegian, Danish and Russian in addition to the standard European languages. Babbel focuses on conversational skills but also offers quite in-depth grammar explanations. A pronunciation program makes sure you're not only able to speak, but that you'll be understood. The mobile app isn't as developed as the Duolingo app and lacks some of the programs from its website. Great for those whose focus is on learning to speak a language rather than on reading and writing.

Memrise is a fun language learning program that takes a light-hearted approach to languages so that you enjoy the learning process. Like Duolingo, it also allows you to compete with your friends and other members on social media. The technique focuses on memory and timed intervals of repetition. They use the metaphor of “words as plants that need to be watered in order to grow,” and show you which “plants” need to be watered each time you sign in. Memrise gives you the freedom to create a course that's tailored to your needs. And it offers the most comprehensive list of languages of all the online courses with dozens of languages available. It's a user-generated free site, which means that some of the content is excellent and some of it isn't. Great if you want to interact with other members and contribute to the site. While it's a great vocabulary-building tool, it won't be able to provide you with conversation, grammar or writing skills. The Memrise mobile app has all the features of the web version, allowing you to take your lessons with you on the go.

Livemocha is the most social of all the language learning courses. While it provides grammar lessons, reading, writing, speaking and listening exercises, its most unique feature is its interactive tutoring. Livemocha allows you to tutor other members who want to learn your language. Of course, you'll also have an access to your own private tutor, so it works both ways. Great for conversational practice and real-life feedback on your language skills.

Learning English is no longer a luxury, but a requirement for those looking to increase their chances in both international and domestic job markets. Any of these courses would be a step in the right direction for ESL learners.

Steve Aedy is a professional writer, blogger and editor at Fresh Essays – a writing service that provides assistance to those who are looking for expert advice. Steve dives into different topics such as education, academic writing, blogging, content creation and loves to help others sharing his own tips and lists of useful sources.

5 Secrets for International Students

In recent years, record-breaking numbers of students have come to the United States to attain undergraduate and graduate degrees. In 2012 alone, 7% of all university students in America were international students, mostly coming from China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil. If you're going to the US soon to start your university career, I want to say congratulations! You are going to love it and have an incredible experience. Passing the TOEFL and IELTS and getting the proper visa is only half the battle, and there will be a whole new set of challenges waiting for you. In this blog, I want to tell you 5 secrets that are going to make your academic and personal life in America much more fulfilling and successful. 

How do I know these secrets? Well, I was an Academic English teacher at the University of California Davis for two years, and I prepared international students for life at American universities. I mainly taught courses in educational culture, essay writing, and academic listening. These days I teach online at and prepare students for the TOEFL and IETLS Speaking and Writing tests. The biggest lesson I want to teach you in this article is that your journey begins after you have been accepted to a school. Unfortunately, many international students have mismatched expectations and are not prepared to study in a rigorous university setting. I hope sharing my secrets and experience will help you achieve your goals while also making lasting memories. 

In no particular order, this is what I always remind my students who are preparing to study abroad.

1. Arrive Early -- If at all possible, try to arrive 2-4 weeks before classes start. It's very hard to study and concentrate if you have jet lag, and you'll want to hit the ground running if you want to do well in all of your classes. Also, if you arrive early, you will have more time to settle in your new home and learn where important facilities are, such as hospitals, supermarkets, and banks.

2. Connect with other international students and Americans -- If you don't already have a Facebook account, set one up as soon as possible. Facebook is the de facto social media platform for young American students, and you'll be able to stay in touch with your classmates more easily if you have an account. I also recommend joining local interest groups for your school and city as this is a great way to meet new people. Every university in America has hundreds of groups, and you'll find like-minded who will make you feel at home. 

3. Don't be afraid to contact your professors. In many countries and cultures, it might be a sign of incompetence or disrespect to admit that you don't understand a professor's lecture. This is not the case in the United States. Make appointments with your professors and their teaching assistants (TAs) if you don't understand an assignment. Many universities also have resources, such as Writing Centers, who have staff and volunteers who are available to help you with big assignments.

4. Don't Plagiarize -- Plagiarism is the intentional or unintentional act of using somebody's words or ideas without giving them credit. This act can range from copying words directly from a book to forgetting to include a citation of literature consulted. In American universities, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are taken very seriously, and most students will automatically fail the course and may get kicked out of school if they plagiarize, even if it's for a minor assignment.

5. Come to class prepared to talk -- From an early age, American students are taught that participating in classroom discussions and sharing opinions are traits of very good students. In other parts of the world, however, it is expected that the student remain silent or not challenge the teacher's lecture or ideas. Remaining quiet and never participating in classroom discussions in America is usually regarded as lazy, and it might give your teacher a bad impression of you. So always prepare before the class and don't be afraid to speak up!

If you have any more questions about studying in American universities or if you need help studying for the TOEFL or IELTS, please let me know! Just go to and use the contact form to get in touch with me.

Stephen Mayeux is an English teacher who specializes in helping beginning and intermediate students make rapid progress, as well as in preparing students for studying in American universities. Stephen began teaching in 2008 and has taught ESL for non-profits, universities and language institutes in North America and Asia. He is the founder of ESLHipHop, a community for ESL teachers and students who have a passion for the art of hip-hop. To learn English with music videos, check out Stephen's ESLHipHop Page.

Introducing Roots: A Game of Inventing Words Introducing Roots: A Game of Inventing Words
by Predicate

Roots is in the middle of an exciting Kickstarter campaign!

The Predicate Group, creators of Roots, reached their funding goal of $10,000 after only 5 days. You can help them reach their stretch goal! This will allow Predicate to upgrade both content and production value for all copies of Roots.

About Roots:
This is a casual, narrative-driven tabletop game that improves critical thinking and rhetorical skills, reading comprehension and standardized test performance. 

Predicate is offering printable PDFs of the game, physical copies of the game, and extras as rewards to project backers!

Check out the Kickstarter page at the link above and become a backer today!

Unique Resources That Will Improve Your Academic Writing Skills

When you are struggling with academic writing, your professors try to motivate you with completely useless advice: practice, research, improve your vocabulary and you’ll do just fine. Their intentions are good, but that “strategy” never works in practice. 

Resources like Purdue OWL and can be helpful, but they won’t teach you how to write. Here are some tools that will help improve your writing.

1. Common Errors in English Use

There are some common mistakes in academic writing that drive teachers crazy. As soon as you discover them and learn how to avoid them, the quality of your papers will improve. The pedestrian design of this website won’t impress you, but don’t underestimate its value; the things you learn here will turn you into a better writer. 

2. Imagination Prompt Generator by Creativity Portal

When you are dealing with an uninspiring topic, it’s difficult to be creative no matter how hard you try to come up with great ideas. The prompts provided at this website will give your imagination a little boost. You will soon find the value in the random thoughts that are crossing your mind. Click the button that takes you to different prompts and pay attention to the way your thoughts are flowing; the next great idea is right there. 


Sometimes the advice doesn’t help, no matter how thorough it is. When you need more than tips on academic writing, this is the website to turn to. At NinjaEssays, you can get actual help with writing on any paper and any topic. The writers are professionals who hold Ph.D. and MA degrees in the areas they cover, so your collaboration with them will be a great learning experience…. and you’ll get an awesome paper as a result. 

4. WriteWords Phrase Frequency Counter

If you get repetitive with a certain phrase, your paper won’t sound convincing, and your professor will be bored by it. It’s never easy to notice when you use your habit phrases too many times, which is why this tool is important. Paste your paper in the designated area, and you will realize which parts of your paper need some serious editing. 

5. A Research Guide

At this website, you will find practical advice and resources on research paper writing, which will guide you through the technical aspects of academic construction and teach you how to avoid plagiarism. You will also find useful literature guides and tips on formatting papers, as well as presentation tips for public speaking.

6. FreeMind

FreeMind is one of the simplest, but most effective mind mapping tools you could use. It will help you plan your essay, identify your best ideas and construct clean content that your teacher will love. You have probably heard that proper structure adds to the quality of your papers, and this tool will prove that by helping you find the right direction through the chaotic mess of ideas in your head. 

7. Writing Forward

This website offers in-depth grammar tips, creative writing guides, writing exercises, ideas and prompts, writing resources, and another material that will eventually turn you into the writer your professors expect you to be. There are plenty of resources at, so make this website part of your routine and start getting daily doses of writing tips. 

With the right tools and some practice, you will unleash your writing potential!

Academic writing is challenging; all students have been in a difficult situation at least once. There are two factors that make a difference between those who succeed and those who fail in academic writing: resourcefulness and commitment. Thanks to the tools listed above, you already meet the first requirement; the commitment is all up to you!      

Luca Lampariello, a language coach and polyglot, is from Italy. Luca's YouTube Channel is dedicated to his greatest passion - languages.

From Luca's bio -

I've been studying languages for about 20 years and a few years ago I reached a very important conclusion: languages cannot be taught; they can only be learned. Once you realize that it totally changes your approach and you understand why the famous "language classes" have such low success rates. So I decided to share not only my passion for languages but also techniques for studying them: with optimism, passion, effective methods and experience. Learning a new language takes time but it's not difficult. My mission is to help people understand that. If anyone tells you that just knowing English is enough, tell him, "he who learns another language acquires another soul."

In "How to Develop a Language Core" Luca meets with David Mansaray, of Language is Culture, in Madrid to talk about the importance of developing a language core. Watch it now!

You can find more videos by Luca on the Videos Page

Visit Luca's website: The Polyglot Dream

Learn English with Videos on!

  1. By Travis Drageset
  2. On October 2nd, 2014
We'd like to introduce you to a new page on our Videos Page

Now you can learn English while watching videos made by ESL teachers from all over the world. These guys (and women) work really hard to create cool, fun to watch videos that bring you into real life English speaking scenarios and teach in a way that's effective and engaging. Learning English with Rachel, Andrea, Jase, and Julian feels like hanging out with a friend. As Andrea of ESL Basics says, "Watch and learn!"

You can read about each of these great teachers below:

Hi there! My name is Jason R. Levine (Jase, for short.) I teach students, train teachers, and create songs and videos as Fluency MC.

My advice: Lose the BORING LESSONS and STOP feeling STRESSED. Having FUN when you LEARN is when you LEARN the BEST!

Fluency is all about the 3Rs: Relax, Repeat, Remember.

Rachel's English is your online American English pronunciation resource. All videos have closed captioning to help non-native speakers understand. New video added every week!

Learn about the specific mouth positions for each sound with the Sounds: How-To playlist. Spend time with the Words that Reduce playlist to improve your listening comprehension. And watch the videos in the American English in Real Life playlist for fun and to see how native speakers really talk.

Doing English with Julian started six years ago, as a blog. Over time the blog became a YouTube channel. Now I have no blog. Just the YouTube channel, and my newsletter (check

I have several reasons for making lessons here...

1) I want to learn all about you. I want to hear your experiences learning English.

2) I believe in the importance of freely available education. Everybody has a right to learn. YouTube is the perfect medium for that.

3) The small amount of money I make from YouTube and my newsletter pay for my research.

We want to help you learn English and will do anything to make that happen. Watch and learn!

Click here to visit our ESL Videos Page

Speaking with a native English speaker several times a week is the fastest way to become fluent! 

Who are you talking with? italki is giving students on special access to try out their professional online English teachers! 

A professional English teacher on italki will be able to help you with:
• Advancing your career by improving your English communication skills 
• Test preparation for exams like TOEFL 
• Accent reduction

On italki you can find a professional English teacher that fits your schedule, budget, and learning goals! 

Here’s how to claim your 10 USD and start speaking: Go here: Link 

With 10 USD in italki credits you can get 2 to 3 trial sessions with an italki English teacher. Take advantage of this opportunity, and start speaking English now! Learn More

How puzzles and games can increase your language skills

The Advantages of Learning a Second Language

  1. By Ramya Raju
  2. On July 9th, 2014

Learning a second language has become necessary due to globalization. In the international workplace many different languages are spoken. Speaking multiple languages helps in communicating well with everyone but presents many more advantages. The following are some of the benefits of learning a second language. 

Boosts thinking capabilities

It is noted that students who learn a second language get a boost in creative thinking skills. This is because there are many new words that have not been heard or spoken by the student before. This puts his or her creative skills to the test when attempting to put down sentences that contain unfamiliar words. The thinking skills further advance with the comparison of foreign language words to a person’s native language. So it can be said that people learning a second language can enhance their thinking abilities.

Increased productivity at work

These days many countries work with international customers. This increases the demand for employees who can speak the client’s language. It may even happen that an associate will be asked to travel to a client’s home country to work on a project and develop a quality customer relationship. This is only possible if you possess the necessary language skills. Knowing a foreign language will always boost the value for your resume and will provide more lucrative opportunities in the future. Once you are well-versed with a particular language you are better equipped to perform a job. This can range from translating documents to writing letters to the foreign clients.

Enhances living abroad

It is becoming quite common in today’s world for people to relocate to a foreign country. If you are one such ambitious person, it is important that you learn the primary language spoken in that country. It may not always be necessary, but in some cases this can make life far easier. It will assist you in interacting with people in day-to-day life and as well as at work.

Increases cultural familiarity

Learning a language also opens the knowledge gate to the culture of a particular place. It provides a greater understanding of the history of that culture and of the people who use the language. Everyone loves to learn about new cultures. Language enhances this universal experience.

Relieves the stress of travel

It is definitely possible to go abroad in countries without knowing the language and to fulfill the tour. But learning the language provides you with the opportunity to explore more of this foreign culture and to enjoy your trip much more. Also, if you can communicate in the native language your perception of the place and your enjoyment of day-to-day activities is enhanced. It also makes traveling easier since you can find your way by using your foreign language skills.

Making friends abroad is easier

Speaking another language means you can communicate with people and therefore provides you with a chance to make new friends. And knowing the language allows you to make new friends and helps you avoid the trappings of socializing only with those who speak your native tongue. Additionally, if you learn a language and stay in your own country you can make friends with foreigners.

Provides a platform to learn additional languages more easily

Learning a new language surely is not an easy task but with enough patience one can master it quite well. Also in the learning process you may pick up skills to understand unfamiliar words in much better way than usual. You can start by learning an easy language and then gradually move toward a more challenging one. Once you obtain a good command over the second language, preparing for new language is easier since you have already acquired the required skills, patience and confidence.

Keeps the mind sharp and focused

Learning a new language keeps the mind focused and sharp, which is a great way of reducing stress and susceptibility to dementia. It also fosters positive motivation and a confidence that the brain is capable of learning virtually anything. A new language learned provides an additional platform for the expression of ideas. It also energizes the mind. And it surely helps people who are on a stagnant career path and in need something more challenging in order to keep their brain active.

Since the world is getting closer each day, each individual’s need to learn a foreign language is bound to increase. Whether you take it up as a hobby or use it as a career skill set, in any case you will benefit from it.

Author Bio

I'm Ramya Raju, a freelance writer/web designer from India.  I have about 8 years’ experience in content writing and have worked for top blogs and websites. I'm generally an extrovert: I like photography, anthropology and traveling to different countries to learn the culture and living of the local inhabitants. 

Ramya Raju

E-mail id:





  1. By Travis Drageset
  2. On May 7th, 2014 would like to introduce our international Marketplace to followers and to the world of English language learning. now offers the highest quality English learning tools, lessons and apps for sale in digital format. Our marketplace partners have been carefully chosen in order to provide English language students, both casual and those devoted to English language fluency, with only the best and most user-friendly methods of language learning.

We invite you to browse our Marketplace now. 

Our goal is to provide you with everything you’re looking for. If there is a product you wish to purchase that you’re not finding in our Marketplace, please contact us today. 

English language product vendors: to apply for product placement on, please contact our Marketplace Team here.

ABOUT ESL.COM: provides English as a Second Language job, school and learning tool resources and listings. provides a search feature that is user-friendly and intuitive for the international English language needs of both students and teachers. We are in the process of developing to incorporate many other English learning resources.

How puzzles and games can increase your language skills

How puzzles and games can increase your language skills

  1. By Matthew Yoeman
  2. On February 26th, 2014
Hello to the blog readers. My name is Matthew, I’m the researcher and writer over at We are a puzzle company that prides itself on our championing of puzzles in brain training, development and, most of all, creating a relaxing and fun environment outside of the video game world for people of all ages. I’m here today to look at how puzzles and games lend themselves to language development.

Writing about childhood development has been a big past topic of mine. I have a post over on Our Kids Media that looks at how sports help children develop their basic personality traits. I also touch on the topic of puzzles specifically in a follow up article on choosing proper toys for your child’s development. I had an article published a week ago by which looks specifically at using puzzles during early childhood development as well.

These pursuits, and a conversation with a lovely woman, lead me to look at how puzzles and games benefit language development in ESL students.

The conversation that lead to the puzzle and language development link

The woman I have been dating for the last several months is a recent ESL graduate from the  International House here in Cape Town, South Africa. Her name is Vanda. She is from Maputo, Mozambique and is a native Portuguese speaker. Mozambique is a former colony of Portugal, hence the language still being widely used there.

She had never seriously spoken English until moving to Cape Town specifically to learn it at International House. English is a very common language here in South Africa, and is shared amongst nearly all those who speak any of it’s 11 official languages.

I asked her earlier this week “What was your favourite thing about your school?”

She replied, “When we got bored we would play games and solve puzzles together.”

‘Hold on,’ said my brain, ‘Puzzles are my life, how did we not have this conversation already?’

I asked her, “What do you mean you played with puzzles?”

“When we got bored we’d have puzzles and games at our school that we could play with or put together.”

“And the requirement was that you spoke English while playing?”

“Yes, we had to speak English every time.”

“Did it help your English?”

“Yes. It helped us to use English in a more practical setting than what we would do while learning in class.”

This is when it hit me that this school was taking cues from early childhood development ideas and getting new language learners to use puzzles and games to increase practical language skills.

What puzzles and games can do for children and ESL students

Perhaps the most important thing that this school was doing for their students was making learning fun. I have taken a number of second language programs in my time, all self taught at home. What they all miss out on is fun. It is difficult to have any fun at all while you are by yourself listening to someone say words over and over. This leads to giving up, as I have done a number of times, and not learning the language.

By incorporating something as simple as learning through puzzles and games, the International House in Cape Town had found a way to get students excited about coming to class, as Vanda was, while tricking them into learning English!

There are three basic things that puzzles and games do for children as they develop:

Enhance their physical skills as they manipulate and hold pieces
Build their cognitive skills as the solve problems
Gain emotional skills as they learn patience and the reward of completing a task

ESL students have, of course, already developed these skills by the time they enter a program. So what will puzzles and games do to help students? We’ll look at that in Part 2 of this feature.

Training your brain to think in English

We all want to train our brains to speak better English when we’re taking an ESL program. Traditional methods are essential, there is no escaping having a teacher, a textbook and learning basic grammar and phrase usage.

Once you have the basics down, and know how to have a simple conversation, it is best to get in groups and start talking. But what will you talk about? What will get you excited and really trying to speak? Games, puzzles and the competition they bring, of course!

The benefits of using puzzles amongst ESL learners

Below, you will find the three skills that benefit from using puzzles in early childhood development and how they will benefit an adult ESL student, who is beyond early childhood development, in the early stages of language development:

Physical skills: In a childhood setting this means learning how to use your physical body. In an ESL setting this translates to learning the important words for manipulating objects. Quickly identifying how to tell someone how to manipulate a puzzle piece ‘turn it clockwise!’ easily translates to real world situations ‘drive around the roundabout clockwise.’
Emotional skills: In a childhood setting this means building patience and having the reward of solving the puzzle or winning the game. In an ESL setting this translates to learning the use of words in an emotional setting and communicating them to people. ‘I can’t believe you solved that so fast, great job.’ ‘Hurry up and take your turn!’ It helps you build emotional language instead of detached textbook phrases.
Cognitive skills: In a childhood setting this means that puzzles help your child think and trains their brain to communicate with their body. In an ESL setting this translates to helping you think in English and articulating those those thoughts rapidly. There is no time to sit back and think it over when a heated game is going on. Developing your cognitive abilities in English is an essential step.

These are 3 essential elements to developing a well rounded child, and three essential skills for new language learners to develop.

Recommendations for building your skills with puzzles and games

There are many great games right here on the ESL website that can help you build your language skills, no doubt about that. These are computer games that are usually played alone. You’ll learn and have fun, but what about the collaborative art that is any language?

Getting together with some fellow learners and having a real world conversation in the language you’re learning is an invaluable experience in your early language development. Games and puzzles offer the best chance for that in a classroom setting, or while at home with friends.

At Puzumi, we have combined the best of puzzles and strategy games in one game. You can use our puzzles as a tool to help you develop your language skills at your school, and at home, in a social setting that is sure to get you talking. Vanda and I have Super Roundominoes and we routinely have fun playfully yelling at one another over how to complete the puzzle.

She always seems to be right...

How I learned English

How I learned English … by watching television

  1. By SofieCouwenbergh
  2. On February 5th, 2014

An introduction

Being born in Belgium automatically means being born in a trilingual country. The northern part of our country is officially Flemish (Dutch) speaking, while most of the southern part is French speaking. Then there’s also this small part in the east, situated by the German border, where the official first language is German. Oh, and Brussels is officially bilingual: French and Flemish speaking.

Still following? Good.

Ik ben geboren in Vlaanderen, het Vlaams-sprekende deel van België, en mijn beide ouders zijn Nederlandstalig. Ik vermeld dit omdat sommige kinderen die ik kende het geluk hadden dat een van hun ouders Nederlandstalig was en de andere Franstalig, waardoor zij reeds op jonge leeftijd beide talen machtig waren.


Hoe ik Engels leerde door televisie te kijken

Toch verstond en sprak ik al tamelijk snel Engels. Dit kwam voornamelijk door de alomtegenwoordigheid van Amerikaanse series en films op de Vlaamse televisie. In tegenstelling tot de Walen, onze Frans-sprekende zuiderburen, dubben de Vlamingen anderstalige televisie niet. Programma’s in het Engels, Duits of Frans worden ondertiteld.

This meant that from the moment I could read, American series on television in combination with Dutch subtitles allowed me to learn English without me even knowing that I was learning something.

On top of that, my dad has always worked in an international company and when I was younger some of his colleagues would drop by the house and the conversations going on would be in English. Or someone of the office would call our home number (unthinkable today!) and I would pick up the phone and answer… in English.

To further nurture my passive knowledge of English I just had to turn on the radio, where DJ’s where often playing more American and British songs than songs in any other language, including my own.

I guess you could say that when you’re living in Flanders, English is like an unofficial fourth language. At least in a passive way.


We all learn in our own way

Toen ik naar de middelbare school ging en Engels deel ging uitmaken van het lessenpakket, ontdekte ik echter dat niet iedereen die taal zo gemakkelijk oppikte. Hoewel veel van mijn medeleerlingen toch in mindere of meerdere mate al wat Engels konden, bleken sommigen van hen er echt nog mee te worstelen.

Hadden zij vroeger niet naar The Simpsons en Step by Step gekeken? Ik heb het hen nooit gevraagd.

What I do know is that not everyone learns a language the same way and I’m just glad that I could learn English in such a natural and rather ‘playful’ way.



Sofie is a Belgian language lover and travel aficionada who combines a full-time job with a never-ending wanderlust and an upcoming freelance writing career. She uses her weekends, vacation days and public holidays to travel the world and share her experiences with you on Be sure to also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.



What is it like to teach in Brazil

What is it like to teach ESL in Brazil?

  1. By i-to-i TEFL
  2. On January 29th, 2014

Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world, both by geographical area and by population. It’s a dream TEFL destination for many travellers and while the demand for English teachers is high, ESL training is really important in order to be competitive in the job market. The great thing about teaching ESL in Brazil is that you don’t need a degree to obtain a work visa!

The English language is becoming more and more popular in Brazil due to its ever improving economic position. People all across the country want to learn English to broaden their employment opportunities.  As the host of the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, Brazil is definitely THE go to ESL destination for many travellers.

Top Cities

Rio de Janeiro – Home of for the famous Rio Carnival and is Brazil’s top ESL destination with a huge number of people taking English lessons in both state schools and private language institutes.


Sao Paulo – The largest city in Brazil. Home to the Brazilian Stock Exchange and over 60% of the country’s top international businesses’ headquarters are based here.  Its position as the country’s leading economic hub means there is a huge demand for ESL teachers with Business English experience.

Brasilia – Brasilia is the country’s capital and home to all of the apparatus of government. It offers experienced ESL teachers a wide variety of opportunities to teach English in language institutes and in the business sector.


 Love food? Then teach ESL in Brazil and you’ll be in food heaven! What you’ll eat varies depending on where you are teaching in the country but usually ranges from meat and seafood to rice and beans.

 Acaraje, a popular dish served in street markets, is a fried ball of shrimp, black-eyed peas and onions. It’s definitely one to try when you get the chance! If you’re a fan of more hearty food, Feijoada is a traditional stew with black beans and smoked meats and goes really well with a Caipirinha… if you’re a lover of rum that is.

If all this talk of food and top ESL destinations hasn’t made you want to pack up your bags and book the next available flight out there, check out this FREE country guide for the low down on teaching ESL in Brazil.


Where in the World Can ESL Take You?

Where in the World Can ESL Take You?

  1. By Eve Pearce
  2. On October 29th, 2013

Training to teach English opens up the world, meaning you can travel to almost any region and find a warm welcome. There are a whole range of schools around the globe which are looking for enthusiastic and aspiring teachers. If you love your own language and want to share your knowledge with others, this career could be just the ticket for travel, excitement and discovery. However, first you have to decide which area of the world you want to work in – and can help here, showing just how many doors are open to you.

It's estimated that as many as 100 countries offer job opportunities for those teaching English as a second or foreign language. Here is a look at just some of the areas of the world where you could find work as an ESL teacher.

Middle East

There are many openings to teach English in the Middle East, where the salaries can be among the highest anywhere, sometimes as much as $4,000/ 2,900 Euros a month. United Arab Emirates is one of the most popular destinations for ESL teachers working in this part of the world. Abu Dhabi and Dubai both offer the chance to teach at a number of flagship schools and colleges with a high reputation, while another option is to teach English within companies. These two cities are also sought-after places to work because of their cultural life. Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait are among other locations in this region where ESL teachers can build their careers.


Japan is one of the most appealing countries for teachers working abroad, offering a high standard of living and a range of jobs from teaching young children to working with business personnel. With Japanese culture proving influential all around the world, in everything from electronics to design and animation, working here has many attractions. Vietnam is another country with a growing appeal for ESL teachers, because of its range of jobs in major cities, where teachers are given support and scope to work in different areas of the curriculum. The beautiful scenery is just one of the inducements for teachers to travel here. Other Asian countries to consider include South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and China.


Recent college graduates can find ESL teaching opportunities all over Europe. Turkey is one country offering a wide range of career options for ESL teachers, with historic capital city Istanbul proving a big draw, thanks to its large number of language schools and cosmopolitan lifestyle. Spain is another popular choice, not just because of its sunshine and beaches, but also because of its range of jobs, teaching both children and adults. There are also increasing opportunities to teach English in Eastern Europe, including Poland and the Czech Republic.


Teaching English in Africa can present unique challenges, as many schools have few resources. However, the continent offers teachers the chance to take more responsibility and gain valuable experience early in their careers. South Africa, Tanzania and Morocco are among the destinations where ex-pats can build their careers and discover the beauty of the landscapes, along with a world of culture. Many volunteers teach English in Africa, and one doctoral student from Penn State University in the US recently told how rewarding she has found her wide-ranging experience here.

World of Opportunities

Whichever country you end up working in, your time as an ESL teacher will be a real journey of discovery for you, and help your future career. This is equally true whether you decide to make education your life's work or change tack. Teaching is a great way to build your confidence and show you how to project your personality to a room full of people, so, if you decide to go on to a career which involves addressing meetings or dealing with the public in any context, your time in the classroom will pay dividends. Your experience of learning the language of the country where you work is also guaranteed to prove valuable, in whichever field you make your later career. A recent study of bilingual people carried out by psychologists showed how knowing two languages stimulates brain power. Of course, travel also boosts independence, and the fact that you have worked abroad will impress employers in many different sectors.

To decide which part of the world you would like to work in, the first step is to visit's jobs board and schools section and get a feeling of the sheer number and range of institutions seeking staff. The world really is your oyster.

Your future begins with English

How ESL Teachers Can Learn From Traveling

  1. By Eve Pearce
  2. On October 26th, 2013

Teaching English is a passport to world travel for many young people during their gap year, or after leaving university. It's possible to take your knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, your native language and pass it on to others in language schools around the world. There are many different jobs available for ESL teachers, in countries ranging from Japan and China to Spain and Poland. However, you will soon discover that, in effect, you are a student as well as a teacher. Working abroad means you learn a host of lessons which will stand you in good stead for the future, and gain in confidence along the way.

Learning the language

At the same time as teaching English to others, many ESL teachers are busy mastering the language of the country where they are working. Typically, as a teacher, you will encourage your students to immerse themselves in English and use the spoken word as much as possible. You might also incorporate various everyday activities into lessons. All this means your students find themselves using English to communicate and it quickly becomes more than just an academic subject. After a day of using these dynamic methods to inspire others, it's likely you will also enthuse yourself when it comes to language learning. An Irish ESL teacher who taught English in Spain told how he ended up spurring himself on to learn fluent Spanish. Of course, having a good knowledge of the language of the country is also helpful for your teaching, and it is a skill which will pay dividends in the future.

Developing your career

The requirements for teaching English vary in different countries. However, many teachers working abroad do find they are given more independence than they might have at first in a school in their home country. It is also often said that this type of placement can boost personal responsibility and maturity. In particular, volunteer schemes can offer a way in to those with little experience, such as gap year students.

One British student who taught English in Brazil as a volunteer during her gap year had no previous experience of teaching, apart from a brief course. She said that working with children was very rewarding and gave her new faith in her own abilities. This student also felt that her experience helped her to get a place for teacher training after she returned home to the UK. However, even for gap year volunteers who decide not to pursue a career in teaching, the fact that they have shown such dedication will help them in all kinds of other fields. In particular, for anyone wanting to apply to train in a caring profession such as social work, the experience will be very valuable. It will also impress a prospective employer in any other field, from marketing to technical trades.

Putting it down on paper, or the web

Visiting distant countries in order to teach can also lead to a new enthusiasm for writing. Many people find they want to record all their new impressions and spread the word to others about the daily thrill of discovery. It doesn't matter whether you are sampling an exotic delicacy for the first time, touring a historic attraction, or discovering the different teaching methods in a foreign school. In all of these cases, your experiences cry out to be put down on paper – or on the web. Many travelers contribute to websites or blogs where they can upload photos and videos of their experiences and also set down in words exactly what they have seen, heard, tasted and smelt. The digital era has led to a a huge demand for high-quality travel writing, with more ways to get published than in the past, so this can lead to a career rather than just a hobby. This means any teachers who are also aspiring writers should take the opportunity to learn the trade while they are living and working in other parts of the world.

Learning to meet demand

Recent years have seen a growth in demand for ESL teachers, with many international schools opening up in the Middle East and Asia. The next 10 years are expected to see more such schools launched in China and Vietnam in particular. There is also a strong demand in many European countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic. For young people who want to travel and develop their careers and skills, not only in teaching but in a host of other fields, ESL could well offer the way forward. It could also mean they end up learning as much as they teach.

Your future begins with English

Your Future Begins with English!

  1. By Travis Drageset
  2. On October 26th, 2013

Welcome to and! and are new additions to the English learning, travel, testing and teaching world. We plan to take the learning English resources world by storm! Our goal is to become the leading website for all things English by providing every resource and tool needed by English as a Foreign Language teachers, English as a Second Language students and world travelers in the business, school, volunteer, philanthropic or exploratory travel sectors who have an interest in learning or teaching English.

We are still in the process of re-branding, so stay tuned for new and exciting developments to the site. These site additions are happening very quickly - just this week we launched and - so don't blink! New site pages and categories will be announced at the moment of launch on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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We are currently welcoming submissions for our schools, jobs, games and blog pages. Contact us.

About provides English as a Second Language job, school and learning tool resources and listings. provides a search feature that is user-friendly and intuitive for the international English language needs of both students and teachers. We are in the process of developing to incorporate many other English learning resources, including a Testing page, which is currently in the works.

Use to search our database for schools and jobs around the world. Enjoy English learning games and quizzes.