Five Ways to Use Tech to Enliven your Studying

Technology has evolved considerably in the last few years at an almost terrifying pace.  We are truly fortunate with the number tools at our fingertips.  If anything, we might be a little too blessed with what’s available as it becomes difficult to identify a single tool that will suit your needs.  It takes time to learn how to use a new program, and even longer to implement it effectively in the classroom.  That being said, some programs are very student focused, need no input from a teacher, and can be used inside and outside the classroom.

Here’s five ways that students can use technology to help aid their language development.

Recording new vocabulary

There are many ways to record new words, but not many that will test your ability to remember them.  One great (and free) tool for documenting any new content is ‘Quizlet’ (http://www.quizlet.com/). Quizlet gives you the opportunity to create unlimited study sets and it will generate quizzes based on your content.  Quizlet is a great way to refresh your memory after a spending a few days studying new material.  There is an app for both Android and iOS so there’s no need to bring a heavy laptop to school.

Listening Practice for Short Phrases

Sometimes the most difficult thing about a new phrasal verb is to apply it to a context.  Take ‘look’ for example, the number of prepositions that could follow this verb is quite daunting for a student and remembering the different meanings can be quite a challenge.  A really useful tool for seeing phrasal verbs used in context is ‘Play Phrase Me’ (http://www.playphrase.me/) which plays short video clips of people using whatever text you enter into the search bar.  The website scans videos that have been uploaded into their database and looks for matches.  

Collaboration with Other Students

Students love to share.  In our experience, regardless of age differences, students love sharing new knowledge that they’ve come across – be it online or offline.  The problem with sharing content is that it’s often difficult finding a platform that everyone can access without the need to sign up for an account, a process which can be quite time consuming.  A quick and free solution is ‘Padlet’ (http://www.padlet.com/) which is a shared ‘wall’ where anyone with the address can share content without the need to sign up.

Speaking Practice

Speaking is a very difficult skill to practise alone.  How can you give yourself feedback? You could record your voice and listen to yourself at a later date, but if you’re looking for immediate feedback then grab your smartphone and install Google Keep (http://www.google.com/keep/) which is a very handy app.  Google Keep is a note taking application designed to allow the user to make quick notes on the go.  However, it also has a very useful voice recording feature which will attempt to transcribe your voice.  Simply speak into your phone and it will turn your words into text – if your pronunciation is not accurate then the software won’t transcribe it properly.

Reading and Listening

TED (http://www.ted.com) has become a wonderful source of content for internet users around the world.  Language learners can take advantage of a really useful feature that is ignored when videos are played full-screen.  TED videos come with an interactive tapescript which you can follow whilst listening to the TED speaker deliver his/her presentation.  What makes it really useful is that you can select any piece of text, like a button, and the video (which plays in the top left corner of the screen) will jump to the text’s location and play it.

 

Dear Diary..

Several weeks ago we have posted the first extracts from our project called “Dear Diary” where students are writing about their experiences in Edinburgh and at ELA.

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It’s a great project and both our students and teachers benefit from it: students practice their English by using narrative tenses as well as other grammatical aspects, and vocabulary they have learnt or revised while studying at ELA; and teachers are provided with an opportunity to check students’ progress and receive their feedback.

We would like to share some parts of students essays with all of you.

Sara Baglivo wrote that her experience was amazing despite the initial fear of being in a new city. She was really looking forward to improve her English and had a strong desire to develop. Sara’s teacher, David, made the whole group feel very welcome and was involving each student in all activities. But, of course, as every person who travels to a new country Sara had some culture shock moments related to food that was different from her home town and getting on with her groupmates. However, all those troubles were insignificant and were solved within the first week of their stay; the group enjoyed their excursions to Loch Lomond, Arthur’s Seat, the Floors Castle and many other places. They were really inspired by gorgeous landscapes and medieval architecture. And Sara mentioned that she would love to come back to Edinburgh.

Enrico Emilio Diviggiano mentioned that he was enjoying everything: the weather was unusual for him but he got used to t very quickly; his lessons were very productve and enjoyable thanks to his teacher, David, who he called a “King of teaching”; various art galleries and museums stunned Enrico and Loch Lomons, Arthur’s Seat and St.Andrews impressed him and insired for new discoveries.

Fara Galeoni said that originally she wanted to go to London but when the teacher informed all the students about their new destination in the UK, Fara got really excited and started gathering information about Scotland and Edinburgh. There were some things that were unusual: public transport system was well organised, Scottish people were very friendly and welcoming, buildings were beautiful and full of history and, of course, lessons at ELA helped a lot to improve the level of English. And as Fara said: “I left a piece of my heart in Edinburgh and ELA.”

All our students enjoyed their experience and mentioned that their encounter with a new culture was very positive, even though they had to get used to several things such as food and the weather. Some of them even mentioned that this school trip changed their life and the way they thought of Scotland and the UK.

We would like to thank all of our students for all the unforgettable moments and a very positive experience full of new adventures and discoveries.

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Let’s prepare for IELTS (Writing test advice)

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is probably the world’s most popular English language test.

You might need to take this exam for various reasons, among which are life abroad, education and work around the world. A lot of companies worldwide accept IELTS, including government, academic and employment institutions. IELTS is the only English language test accepted for immigration purposes by all countries that require one.

In less than three hours, it will help you to assess all of your English skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Today we would like to share with you some writing tips that might be useful, if you decide to prepare for this exam.

  • During the exam you can write your answers in pen or pencil.
  • Carefully analyse each task and spend some time making notes
  • Plan your answers.
  • Write using paragraphs; put one idea in each paragraph.
  • Try not to repeat ideas using different words.
  • Avoid copying whole sentences from the question – you will receive no marks for this.
  • Always remember to stick to the topic; do not write about unrelated subjects.
  • It is important to manage your time; remember, Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1.
  • Spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • Word count matters; pay attention to the number of words required for each task; you  need to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.
  • Your answers should be written in full; answers written in note form or in bullet points will lose marks.
  • It is recommended to avoid informal language.
  • Make sure you have time to check your spelling, grammar and punctuation; you will lose marks for mistakes. Spend just several minutes re-reading and correcting your answers.

Follow this link to listen to more tips from IELTS test takers: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/tips-candidates

Have you ever taken IELTS test? What advice can you give to those who plan to take this test soon?

 

How to Improve your English

It doesn’t matter whether you are a foreign student or a native speaker, your English skills can always be improved. We would like to share several tips with you:

 

  • Watch films and TV programs and listen to any online radio. This will help you to improve listening skills and expand your vocabulary at the same time. If you decide to watch documentaries, films or TV programs, you can start doing it with subtitles turned on, then turn the subtitles off when the listening part of this activity becomes easier.

 

  • Read a lot: books, newspapers or journals, magazines, blogs, articles and other materials in English. Try to choose material that is slightly above your current level, use a monolingual dictionary if necessary (for example such dictionary as Cambridge online dictionary http://dictionary.cambridge.org/). This is also a great tip for improving your English in a technical or professional field. You need to spend only 15 minutes a day to improve achieve good results.

 

 

  • Record your monologues or answers to various tasks and keeping a diary. This allows you to use all your reading, listening and grammar skills that you’ve been practicing.

 

  • When you feel you are ready, surround yourself by English speakers and try to avoid using your native language as much as possible. There are many native speakers you can chat with via Skype or other programs.

 

  • If you do all the activities mentioned above, your progress will be great. And, of course, after such hard work don’t forget to reward yourself.

 

Enjoy learning English!

Dear Diary..

At ELA our students write diaries describing their emotions and impressions about the school, our gorgeous city and their host families.

We would like to share some of their thoughts with you.

Rosalia Anderi: “Tuesday, 22nd of July. It’s the first day in Edinburgh. ..The climate was fantastic and my first impressions were good. Edinburgh is fabulous.”

SarahVercelli: “Friday 25th of July. I like every day I go to school. At 13:30 I went to the Museum of Scotland. It is very beautiful.”

Chiara Bavastro: “Sunday 26th of July. We visited the zoo and we went up the Arthur’s Seat, from which we saw Edinburgh. Also this week we ate Fish and Chips. It was very good because it is traditional food of England.”

Charles: “Now it is August. We spent 6 days in Scotland. The weather is really cold here and it can rain three times a day. But this city is really beautiful and the air is fresh. I really like it in here.”

Alex: “We studied at ELA in the morning and visited some scenic spots in the afternoon. I live in a lovely house. The host is an old woman who is very kind. My teacher at ELA is Ewan and he is very patient.”

Frain: “Our host family was an old couple. However, the house is very beautiful and our bedrooms are very comfortable. Besides, actually the food we were served is better than anywhere else. As for school, ELA, is a professional school and it;s interesting to study there. The school is near the Princess street and it’s convenient to go to school and back home. Studying here is a brilliant choice.”

Dear students, we would like to thank you all for your kind words. You inspire us and keep us going. We will be preparing more interesting programs for you and amazing tours.

Edinburgh Language Academy #ELA

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