Songs

Songs are a source of meaningful and engaging input. Many people like them. And they are a great help to committ language to memory. Disadvantages? That sometimes lyrics are difficult to be understood because lack of background knowledge, amount of metaphors… But the advantages are so big when it comes to memorize key chunks of language…: “nothing compares to you” says Sidney O’Connor in her famous beautiful song; and that’s a key linguistic structure. If you learn it, it will come up easily to your mind when you need a chunk of language of that kind.

“Today the wealth of resources is huge. When I studied English we didn’t have as much. I rememeber we used some books; one by Mario Papa & Giuliano Lantorno: Famous British & American songs and their cultural background, published by Longman.

Songs’ videoclips

Watch and enjoy the videoclip as many times as you want.

Eg. George Michael’s White Light

Songs’ lyrics

You could just listen to the song  or if you prefer listen to it while you read the lyrics.

A good webpage to practice this is Lyrics Training.

Enjoy this example (Call me maybe).

Talking dictionaries

Talking dictionaries are those that give you not only the meaning of a given item or expression but also it’s spoken pronunciation.

If you look up the Cambridge Learner’s DictionaryImage, one of the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, and one of  the most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English, you can  click on any speaker icon to hear how the word is pronounced – red for British English, blue for American English. For example, hear the word “sorrow”.

That option is only available in that monolingual dictionary, not in the bilinguals published by Cambridge, neither in the “English-Spanish” dictionary nor in the “Español-Inglés” dictionary.

Some other resources:

. “Longman English Dictionary Online” is another good tool to hear the pronunciation of words and phrases:

. Wordsmyth.

. MacMillan Dictionary.

. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

. Learn English words-English Core 100 Word List: This collection of the most useful and practical vocabulary words in the English language will rapidly grow your vocabulary and help you attain English fluency even faster.

Talking journals and magazines

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Basically these are journals accompanied by a CD/DVD where some of the articles of the issue concerned are read. These resources give way to exploit the text and the audio in different ways.

“One I used quite often was Speak Up. I have good memories of this Journal. Because it was really useful.”

Talking to yourself

ImageThe aim of what we propose is to practice the English you know by talking to yourself. Talking to yourself or thinking aloud are perfectly natural, something we do quite often.  And something you can use to your own advantage in the process of  learning.

  • Recommendation: a very small book

Chris Sion. 1993. Talking to Yourself in English. Heerlen, The Netherlands. Desert Island Books.

You will find out many things you can do and interesting suggestions about procedures; and interesting answers to relevant questions too. On page 7, for instance, the author says: the book “is designed to help you improve your fluency. The idea is to help you activate your passive knowledge of English, not to teach you anything new. Do you ever find yourself saying: “I know that word. It’s on the tip of my tongue. But I can’t find it at the moment.” Using this book will help you find those words more quickly.”

Ok. To give you an idea, this is a simple activity that you can do:

. Aim: To listen carefully and describe what you can hear at the moment. (You may find helpful to close your eyes.)

. Talking to yourself: “As I sit here writing, I can hear a little traffic in the street, the click of the keys of the computer as I type and, if I close my eyes, my own breathing. It’s nice and quiet today. Now a car has just stopped outside the house. I wonder who it is.” (From Talking to Yourself in English, page 7)

Reading aloud

Written language acquires a new dimension when you deal with it from an oral perspective. That is what happens when you read a text in a proper way.

Reading aloud can be an excellent strategy not only to work on English as sound but also to help you have a better grasp of the language itself. In order to do your reading you could follow a procedure along the following lines:

a) Choose a small text you like.

b) Work on comprehension . And assure that you utterly understand the whole text.

c) Work on pronunciation. And assure that you utterly pronounce the whole text perfectly well.

d) Prepare your reading aloud making use of different cues and strategies (colour, symbols…) that will help you  do it in a proper way.

e) Read the text aloud as many times as you need.

f) When you are satisfied, you can tape your reading if you want; and show it to the teacher or a student and keep it in your portfolio.

Note.- As you become more confident and competent you can try with longer texts.
There is an interesting website to help you.

Aims of English is sound

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  • To pool resources and strategies that have turned out to be useful for us as learners in the field of English as sound.
  • To do it in a selective and tentative way in a PLE (Personal Learning Environment).
  • To share our experience a) at a professional level with colleagues devoted to second language teaching and learning b) and with learners as well.