Anyone who has ever studied a second language in a classroom and then had the experience of speaking with a native speaker in a real conversation can tell you; the real thing is so much harder to understand!  You might think that you are fluent in French until you are greeted by your waiter at Huitrerie Regis in Paris and struggle to order the oysters.  “Why does he talk so fast!?”  You may ask yourself.  “What’s up with his accent?”  You have just learned first-hand that experiencing a language in the real world outside of the classroom is a lot different than the books and the careful practice conversations.

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Tale of Focus and Dedication
Every so often, I like to blog a case study.  I like to do these blogs because it shows you firsthand what it looks like to work with me and how I can help you achieve your goals, and it also highlights the success and victories of my extremely hardworking students!  This case study illustrates a journey we both took to reach a particular language goal.  Like the other case studies I have done, the benefit gained was mutual, but unlike the others this case study was a very scary journey. Continue reading

Expand Your Vocabulary
One of the fun things about learning any language is expanding the number of words with which you can express yourself!  Each language has many, many words to choose from all with their own shades and nuances of meaning.  Widening your vocabulary in every language that you speak is always a fantastic goal to have.  If you have decided that it is time to stretch your linguistic wings a little, then this post is exactly what you need!

In this post, I suggest 10 things you can do to expand your vocabulary. I also recommend two things that I normally tell you NEVER to do!! Continue reading

IELTS writing section
I have had many students over the years tell me that the writing portion of the IELTS is very intimidating.  Well I am here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be!  In fact, the writing section can be a section of the IELTS that you feel very confident in, and yes, even enjoy!  Follow my tips below and turn your struggles into confidence.
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In a previous post, we looked at blogging, which is a great place to practise and improve writing skills, gain some confidence, and attract comments.  These can be supportive and constructive, but they can also be very critical and even hurtful – this is the risk you take.  There are, however, gentler and more modest ways of writing for a public audience.

If you are not ready for the level of risk in blogging or don’t feel that your writing skills are developed enough to tackle a blog, then here are other ways in which you can write online for a large audience. Continue reading

10 Ways to be a Terrific Language Student
I have spent decades teaching students English. Over the years, I have learned just as much from them as they have from me. One thing that has always fascinated me is how they approach the process of language learning.  I was recently thinking of a group of students that I was privileged to work with one summer many years ago.  All of these particular students worked hard and made progress and were delightful to teach and work with.  Later on, I spent some time analysing their preparedness and study methods which gave me some insights into what sort of things seem to work well. Continue reading

Boost Your Spoken Language SkillsI’ve been thinking about some quick ways in which you can practise English as you go about your daily life.  I realise that not everybody is in a position where they are surrounded by English every day. (Although, if you can swing it, an immersion programme is an excellent way to skyrocket your English progress, and we have the perfect immersion programme waiting for you!)  For others, they have very limited time to practise and need ‘quick fixes’ to keep their language skills moving.  One area which poses a particular problem here is speaking.

I thought back to my early days of learning French.  I was in a similar position with no French around me and without handy things like internet access that are available today!  I invented little tricks and tasks to do in French to keep the momentum going.  I’ll share these with you here and I’ve added a few more that I have observed from other people. Continue reading

Learning Languages than Others?
I’m sure there is a lot of scientific and linguistic research about this topic and this is not a scholarly post. It is something I have thought about often in the years that I have been teaching and learning languages and I simply wanted to share my thoughts with you. I hope that they strike a chord, tally with your opinion and/or experience and spur you on to improving and developing your own language skills. Continue reading

Write a blog, improve your english IELTSIt will soon be a New Year!  This is a perfect time to pursue new projects and rekindle commitments to long held goals.  Perhaps this year will be the year that you achieve the band you desire on the IELTS.  Perhaps you have always secretly wanted to start a blog.  Well I am here to tell you that one of these desires can help you achieve the other.  Starting a blog, written in English of course, is a great way to improve your writing skills and achieve the band that you need in the IELTS.

Writing a blog will give you excellent and invaluable writing practise, and it can also give you a critical audience to both correct and enjoy your writing.  All of these things will help you make great strides forward in your mastery of the English language.  All you really need to get started is some ideas on interesting subjects to write about, a computer with internet access, and a healthy dose of courage!

Before you leap in and launch your blog to an unsuspecting audience you need to consider three questions: Continue reading

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