It's back to school and back to English! If you're ready to practise your English, watch this video from France24 about "back to school and work" in France. There's also a vocabulary worksheet to download if you'd like to do a bit of extra practice.
And for all my readers who are French, watching "French Connections" on France24 is a fantastic way to practise your English: short videos in English about French culture. It's easier for you to understand because you already know the topics.
Want to practise your English listening but don't know what to listen to? Here's a great website with lots of true stories, told by real people. Most of them are between 5 and 14 minutes, which means you don't need lots of time to listen to one.
Did you ever do something when you were younger, that you were afraid to tell your parents about? Here's a lovely story from Chrissie Graham about something that happened to her when she was in her early teens.
A few words you'll need to know:
a dork someone not very socially aware, a bit silly. You'll often see this in terms of teenagers at school. A dork is someone who is not part of the popular gang, probably dresses strangely and has strange habits
cool In French, this word is used to mean relaxed, but in English it refers to someone who is socially adept, part of the popular gang, fashionable...
thick glasses what you wear on your face to be able to see, but if your vision is really bad you have ones with a big piece of glass.
contact lenses the tiny things you put into your eyes to be able to see, instead of wearing glasses
What do you need to be able to speak a language? Words. That means you have to remember words. A lot of them. And this is not going to happen by itself, you have to put some effort into it. Your brain is a muscle and you have to train it.
I've just spent a wonderful weekend in the Netherlands, where I was amazed at how well everyone speaks English. And by everyone, I mean old and young people alike.
Even though it's already the middle of January, everyone in France is still saying Happy New Year. If you're French, you know all about these customs, but could you explain them to someone in English? This video will help you. Who knows what we do in England when it's New Year?
Top Tip! This is a great way to practise your listening: If you are French, this is a topic you already know, which means that watching the video will be much easier. In general, if you have difficulty with listening, listen to things that you already know some information about. If you have to listen to something new, try to guess what it could be about before you start listening. Your brain starts working to predict what it will hear and it makes listening much easier.
Chunks are everywhere. And they are very useful for you when you're learning English. What are they?
For anyone who organises training for their company - read my article on getting the best training for your budget on LinkedIn here!
Have you ever looked up a word in the dictionary and 5 minutes later had to look it up again because you've forgotten it? This used to happen to me all the time. I thought I was never going to remember any vocabulary.
I speak French pretty well. It's not perfect, and I know my writing is full of mistakes, but I can watch French films without subtitles, join in the conversation at dinner and participate in a conference call.
But...I still have an accent. No one would ever mistake me for a French person. I often get comments about my accent, and I think some people are surprised that I can speak good French but haven't got rid of my British accent.
In the last post, I talked about sentence stress. Here's a nice example of a short listening with nice and clearly stressed content words.
Ok, I admit I do have a soft spot for Leo and I think his Oscar acceptance speech where he talks about climate change was great.
Here's what to do: Listen and try to note down all the important information. You can repeat this as many times as you like. (There might be some vocabulary you don't know, just leave that out or write what you think you heard.)
Then download the transcript I've written and check.
Practise your English every day!
You'll find lots of exercises to help you improve your English - listening activities, reading, advice and lots more.