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Hello everybody and welcome to my newest lesson! My question this time is from a student from Saudi Arabia who will be studying in the US this summer. Like many students, he would like to know how studying here in North America can make a difference in his English learning experience. I have included many tips in my video and a few more below it.
Do your research ahead of time to make sure that the number of students in your class is smaller, anywhere from 8 to 10 students should be fine. The lower end schools tend to pack as many as 18 – 20 students or more into a classroom. It makes it harder to keep the class going in one direction since the bigger the class is, the more difficult it is to guarantee that all of the students are at the right level: basic, intermediate, advanced. Also make sure that everyone in the class is around the same age as this also can make a huge difference.
Basically, most schools for many years now have focused on the conversational English approach to learning. So a grammar point is introduced and then students are put into groups to practice through directed conversation activities. Some ESL schools will give tests each month to see how much the students have learned. Questions to ask: Does the school follow a set curriculum? Are there tests?
Based on my years of teaching at ESL schools, if the owners of the school are foreign, they tend to have more students from their own country of origin and may favor them over you. This is simply a business decision, but it may affect your learning experience.
The families that students will stay with can provide a wonderful learning experience. A good homestay family will spend some time to get to know you and hopefully make good meals beyond soup and sandwiches. I wouldn’t expect too much though. I remember catching up with a private Swiss student and asked him how his homestay was going in terms of food. He said, “it’s not bad! Soup, sandwiches and for dessert……. an apple, ya! Never be afraid to talk to your homestay coordinator to tell them that you’d like to switch if you are not comfortable with the homestay you have.
Hello! Hello! Hello! Here is a video to help you become more fluent in English. I took longer to release this video as I put a lot of thought into it. I sat and reflected on my own learning experience with French and Portuguese. I also reflected on how fluency improvement has come about with my one-to-one students. This video has a lot of vocabulary and phrasal verbs and I want to highlight them here in this post
To set you on the right track means to point you in the right direction and this is what I intend to do in this lesson. One of the things I talk about is how someone’s self-confidence can go from high to low when the subject of conversation changes
Yes, it’s true. When I’m giving class to students who specialize in any given particular field of business or academic study, they can literally blow me away with their English. This means they can really impress me with their English.
So many English learners have to switch sometimes to small talk, i.e. casual or trivial conversation. You could call it chatting or chitchat and I see many people’s level of self-confidence drop when we change to this kind of speaking. This is one of the main reasons so many students get tongue-tied: they simply can’t find the right words to speak properly. It’s not that you don’t have a good command of English, it’s just a question of expanding upon your vocabulary.
Some people live in parts of the world where there are no native speakers to practice English with. We are lucky to have the internet so that learners can at least connect with non-native speakers to put what they are learning into action. In my own case of self-learning with French and Portuguese, I didn’t have the internet to rely on. So I took up unorthodox approaches like mumbling, i.e. saying in a quiet and indistinct way the language to myself as I walked to work. If you can find any native speaker in your town to talk about this and that(talk about a wide variety of topics), you can put a lot of what you are learning into practice.
Hello! Hello! Hello everybody! As promised, here is my newest video: How to speak English fast – Learn English Live 17. In this video, you’ll hear me talking about how the perfect tenses are used in spoken English here in North America and the differences and similarities between “I’m sorry” and “I’m afraid”.
DO AMERICANS AND CANADIANS USE THE PRESENT PERFECT?
The answer is: yes and no. I have observed from talking to people from different classes of society that usage of the present perfect will vary. One of the common trends I talk about in this lesson is how the simple past is quickly taking the place of the present perfect in daily speech. The more I do research, the more I find that even news anchors and TV personalities are replacing: “I have been travelling these past few weeks” with “I am travelling these past few weeks”. I’m pretty certain these new tense substitutions come from the influence of Spanish on American English since they are exactly the same when translated. In many U.S. states where nearly half the population is of Hispanic origin, it is quite plain to see that their speaking has influenced popular American English. This should come as no surprise as Afro-American English has been part of the “cool” vocabulary of the U.S.A. for decades. “Chill out” is a prime example.
SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO USE? PRESENT PERFECT OR SIMPLE PAST?
My advice if you’re intermediate to upper-intermediate is to learn to follow the rules using the perfect verb tenses before you start breaking them. The grammar books still haven’t incorporated this verb tense change and in more formal English, the perfect tenses are still used. At the most, North Americans still mix the present perfect and simple past. The important thing as you will see in my video examples is how the verb tenses are used according to level of formality i.e. register.
“I’M SORRY VS. “I’M AFRAID”
Sometimes when two words are similar in meaning it can be tricky to use them in the right way. “Sorry” and “afraid” are two good examples. Sometimes, as you will find out in the video, “sorry” and “afraid” can mean basically the same thing. The formality might change though. On other occasions, “sorry” and “afraid” can be totally different and sometimes inappropriate. Well everyone, this lesson was a lot of work and fun. I spent a long time researching the topic and actually had to film it twice. Please give it a like and feel free to ask me any questions here or on the comment section of the Youtube video. Bye for now! Steve