Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Speak Better English With Your Cell Part 2

English learners have never had it so good. Ten years ago, you would have had very few opportunities to practice your listening and speaking  the way you can now.  As I mentioned in my last post, the voice recorder on your cell phone is a terrific tool to help you improve and practice your pronunciation, not just with the help of a teacher, but with the help of any English speaker who is willing to give you tips on how to pronounce difficult words. 

Record new vocabulary and idioms as soon as you hear them 
That same voice recorder can also help you to remember new vocabulary. Let's say you are having a conversation with someone who drops some new words, or idioms that you've never heard into the conversation. All you need to do is take out your cellphone, and ask the person you're talking to to tell the meaning of the new words. You can also ask for other examples of how the words are used. Later, you have instant access to the new words, and their pronunciation. An extra bonus is that you also have the recorded voice of a native speaker with all its correct English rhythm and intonation. 

Record yourself ( Check your own speaking strengths and weaknesses) 
Speaking into your own recorder also allows you to hear yourself as you really sound. Most of us hate the sound of our own voices the first few times we hear ourselves. But you get used to it quite quickly. In YOUR case, you can start paying attention to the actual WAY you speak.
  • Do you sound better than you thought you would? Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a little encouragement. 
  • Are you improving your fluency? Do you sound more natural than you did a few months ago? Again. Give yourself some credit instead of constantly worrying  that you aren't improving fast enough.
  • Does your English sound choppy and unnatural? This is something you can work on improving.
  • Do you have trouble understanding your own pronunciation - particularly the final sounds? This would be a strong indication that you really DO need to take a pronunciation class. 
  • Do you notice any specific grammar mistakes you seem to constantly make? For example, are you using the present tense instead of the past tense all the time? Are you forgetting to add the "be" to present continuous verbs? Are you forgetting to put an "s" on the end of your words when you need to? 
Focus on improving your grammar when you speak 
Listening to yourself in short bursts ( 2 to 3 minutes) allows you to focus on specific grammar mistakes you might want to actively work on improving. Of course, don't try to do everything at once. If you notice you aren't using proper verb tenses, focus on that one problem for as long as you need to until you feel you have it under some control. Then, you can move on to improving some other aspect  of your oral grammar. 

In my next post, I will add a few more tips on how to use your cellphone to improve your English speaking. 

Let me know if you have any comments, or suggestions of your own. I look forward to hearing from you.


  1. Thanks! It's useful,and give me a way to work on my own.


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  3. I'm glad you are enjoying this Suad. I appreciate the comment.


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