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Practise your Speaking & listening at home
This is always one of the hardest things to practise when you're not in the classroom. However, with the wonders of modern technology, there are now some very clever ways for you to work on your speaking with your computer and to get some feedback on how clearly you are speaking!
Try this amazing website where you can watch videoclips and then you have to imitate the video clip and you get feedback on how clear your speaking is. There are quite a few free clips, but then to access everything there is a monthly subscription fee:
If you like learning from authentic media but want to avoid paying a subscription, there is this nice YouTube channel:
It is not as structured as English Central, but is a great way to practise listening and improve your comprehension skills. Try out the Harry Potter clip on the home page of the channel:
Another brilliant YouTube channel is:
They have chosen some inspiring speeches and added clear and accurate subtitles to help you follow the speech. Just to get you started, this one from Steve Jobs is a brilliant, inspirational video...
If you are keen to focus on listening activities which also include comprehension activities, then ELLLO is a fantastic library of free graded listening activities for you to listen to and complete linked activities. A really nice aspect of this site is the fact that they use speakers from all over the world so you really get to hear a wide range of accents which is an important aspect to work on to improve your listening skills:
If you prefer watching more authentic video clips, then TED Talks are a must. There are so many great websites out there in the world but TED must rank up there as one of the best for the amount of valuable information it shares with the world.
One of the truly fantastic things about the TED website is firstly, the quality of the speakers and the speeches they have uploaded. And then, secondly, the surrounding content that supports the speeches. Many of the speeches have been translated into multiple languages and often with a range of educational activities to support a particular speech. This is a must subscribe website.
Here is one of my favourite videos to get you started.
It seems particularly apt in our current situation... (best viewed on this link on the TED website)
And so, lastly in this section of the blog on Speaking & Listening, let's get back to a couple more ways to develop and improve your speaking skills online.
A great website to hear examples of natural speaking by students preparing for the Cambridge or IELTS exams is on the Splendid Speaking website.
This website has been created by Cambridge examiners to give lots of examples of natural speaking with tips and techniques for the Cambridge & IELTS exams. This page in particular gives you lots of examples for different style of speaking for different parts of the speaking exam:
OK, my final link for you in this section is an interesting YouTube teacher who really gets you to focus on improving your pronunciation.
She is a British English speaker and she gives lots of great tips and strategies for improving your pronunciation focusing on specific words and thinking about phonetic sounds :)
Focus on Grammar & Vocabulary
OK, so we've looked at some fun stuff with lots of video clips, but of course I am sure you also want to do lots of grammar and vocabulary practice too!
Well here are some recommendations for you to help work on these aspects of your English too:
Here's an example video on the present perfect, hopefully by the time we get back to school, you will have all perfected this frustrating aspect of English grammar ;)
Lastly, in our grammar section, here is a link to download the bible of grammar practice:
By following this link you can download a digital version of this amazing grammar book that every student should own. I would recommend actually buying the real book from Amazon or you can download an app version for your phone!
Get your exam practice here...
I know a lot of students will be preparing for important English exams and this will be a particularly worrying time as lots of exams have been cancelled around the world.
You can find out more about whether the exams are going ahead in your country during the Coronavirus outbreak by following this link: www.cambridgeenglish.org/cmp/novel-coronavirus-2019/ - you are also advised to contact your local examinations centre for the most up to date news.
In these times, it is still really important to keep up your exam practice so you are familiar with the exam activities and you are keeping your language alive and active.
We all know what happens when you stop practising for a few weeks! So here are some amazing sites where you can keep up with your exam practice for free.
Most of the students at Language Tree prepare for the IELTS exam or the Cambridge English exams (FCE / First & CAE / Advanced), so all the links here are focused on these exams:
Moving on to the Cambridge exam, our favourite website is:
Although, all the links above are focused on a specific exam, there is no harm in following all the links regardless of which exam you are preparing for.
Below is a video from the Cambridge English website showing a real example of the Cambridge First (FCE) exam. You can also download the examiner feedback from the exam. On their YouTube channel you will find lots of really useful videos to help you prepare for the Cambridge exams. You can also find a similar channel for the IELTS exam here.
Try a complete course online!
For our final section of the blog, we've put together some links to a few websites which provide complete courses.
One of the best ways to really push your English level forward - especially if you are at that B2 - C1 level - is to do a real course - not one just focused on English language learning.
Online learning is becoming more and more popular and it seems the current lockdown has provided a real opportunity (and need) for people to actually be able to study exclusively online.
One of the leading providers of high-quality, free online courses is:
Many of the biggest universities in the world are offering free courses through this website platform.
The site has a really easy to use, two-stage subscription service. You can access all the courses for free and participate in them fully.
However, if you have a paid subscription, you get more time to complete the course and you qualify for full certification.
If you are looking for something interesting and challenging to do, choose a course on Future Learn, just click on the subjects at the top to find something that interests you (personally I would recommend avoiding any courses on Coronavirus - I am sure you are hearing enough about it from all the other aspects of your life!).
If you prefer to focus your learning specifically on English, then here are a few final recommendations:
I hope you have found this blog article useful and that there are some links here that will really help you practise your English both now and in the future.
Last but not least, as well as keeping your mind active, it is just as important to keep your body active too!
If you are in the UK, you have probably heard about the online sensation Joe Wicks, who is offering morning PE (Physical Education) lessons for the nation. The initial focus was to provide a sport's lesson for children who are not at school. However, his sessions have been really popular with the whole nation and every morning millions of families in the UK are doing his morning workout.
Here is a link to start your day with Joe Wicks and millions of people in the UK! ....
p.s. For all you English language learners, one of the extra benefits of doing one of Joe's workouts is that he doesn't stop talking! So not only are you exercising but you are also getting to practise and listen to lots of authentic English connected to the topic of PE, sport, kids, online learning and life in the UK!
Best wishes and ongoing good health to you all :)
Small language school based in Cornwall in the south-west of the UK.