March – In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb

This is an old expression about the month of March – how the weather is cold and unpleasant at the beginning of the month, and then warmer and more comfortable at the end.

Here’s a children’s story about it:

Try reading it out loud to your child (or just yourself).  It’s good practice.
You can also  buy the book here, or borrow it from your library.

Kanopy – Thousands of Free Movies

  This is a new service from the Framingham Library.  You can watch up to 5 free movies each month – at home, or on your phone with the Kanopy App.

Classic movies, international movies, educational movies (including learning English), and lots of movies for kids too.  All you need is a Framingham library card.  If you don’t live in Framingham, you can check here if your library also has this service.  Or – you can check to see at your own library if they have Kanopy, or other services with movies, such as Hoopla or Overdrive.

 

Dictation

  Dictation is listening to someone speaking and then trying to write what you hear.

Practicing dictation can help improve your:

  • English listening skills
  • Grammar
  • Writing and Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Speaking and pronunciation (if you speak the words you hear – out loud – while you’re writing it)

The EnglishClub website has a good collection of dictation exercises, at 3 different levels of difficulty.  Here’s an example:

1. Listen to the dictation at normal speed (just listen; don’t try to write it).

2. Listen again at slow speed and try to write/type what your hear (with a smartphone, you need to use paper).
Include capitalization and punctuation.

3. Listen again at slow speed if you need to.
4. Listen at normal speed for a last check.
5. When you’re ready, click/press Show Answer and compare the answer to your writing.
    (The mailbox is just behind the big water fountain.)

YouGlish – Listen to “Real” Pronunciation

youglish  Are there words – or groups of words –  that are are especially difficult for you to pronounce, or understand, in English?  “uncomfortable”; “sixth”; “how much does this cost”; “what are you going to do”?

On YouGlish.com you can type in those words, and then listen to how they are said – as part of conversation – by many different people in YouTube videos.  Try it below.  (Press the  button to go to the next video.)

Libby

Reading books and listening to audiobooks is an excellent and enjoyable way to improve your English.  Did you know that you can borrow eBooks and audiobooks (with thousands of choices)  – for free – right on your phone or tablet?  All you need is a library card from your local library, and the new Libby app from OverDrive.

If you live in Massachusetts, you don’t even need to visit the library to get a card.  You can get a free eCard from the Boston Public Library.

After you enter your library card number in the app, you can borrow ebooks or audiobooks.  There are also some “Read Along” books (mostly kids’ books) that you can listen to while you read.

YouTube – Finding English Grammar Lessons

youtube-logo   There are SO many videos on YouTube that can help you improve your English grammar (and much more!).  Search for a video lesson about anything you want to study.  You can start by searching for: beginner English grammar.

youtube-search
You will see many choices for videos.  Which one should you watch?

Look at: youtube-hits

  • How much time the video takes – 5 minutes? 30 minutes? 2 hours?
  • How many people watched (viewed) the video
    (1.3M = 1.3 Million = 1,300,000)
    (14K = 14 Thousand = 14,000)
  • When was the video put on YouTube – 2 weeks ago? 8 years ago?

If you have a problem with something specific, watch some lessons on that. On YouTube, search for English past tense (or ESL past tense); or ESL verb to be; or ESL auxiliary verbs; or quoted and reported speech (direct and indirect speech).

When you find a video you like, you can look for more videos by the same people.  Many people have a “channel” – a group of their videos – that you can go to on YouTube.  Examples of some good YouTube channels for English learners are: Jennifer ESL, EngVid, and Rachel’s English.