Using Dictation to Improve Your SPEAKING

Many people like to practice dictation (listening to someone speak and writing what you hear).  It helps improve your English listening and writing.  You can also use dictation to improve your speaking.

The website englishharmony.com has some suggestions for how to do this:

  1. Listen to a recording of someone speaking.  It’s best if …
    1. you can understand most of what they are saying
    2. they’re talking about something you find interesting
  2. Write down what you hear (pause the recording as needed) and – SPEAK the words out loud as you write them down.
  3. After you finish writing, read your sentence(s) out loud a few times
  4. Then play the recording again and try to read along – out loud – comparing your pronunciation to theirs
  5. Finally, try to tell (out loud) about what you just heard/wrote, looking at your writing as little as possible.  Do this a few times

You can start with some short dictation exercises that we have recommended.

Note: The Englishharmony website offers online training to buy.  Learning English in MetroWest does not make endorsements for any online training programs.

Small Talk

Small talk is simple, polite conversation – usually with someone you don’t know very well.  Making small talk is a good way to practice your English speaking – such as when you meet someone walking in your neighborhood, or waiting in line at a store.  You can talk about things like the weather (“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”), or someone’s cute dog.

Here are some examples of small talk conversations that you can read, and listen to.

SayLish for Pronunciation Practice

  SayLish is a quite-new website to help you listen to English words and phrases – as part of presentations and conversations posted on YouTube.  PLUS – you can record your own voice, to compare your pronunciation with the video.

Voice recording support has been added just recently on iPhone/iPad with Safari, and we’ll give an example with that.  It also works with Android phones/tablets, and desktop computers.

For example, if you search for videos with the word “infrequently“, you will see part of a YouTube video that contains your chosen word.  After you listen to this, you can pause and …

  •   Repeat this to hear it again 
  •   Go to the next video that contains this word
  • or press the “Speaking” button to switch to the screen where you can record your voice
  •   After you listen, press the microphone to record, and try to pronounce the words you hear.  Then press Stop () when you finish

Then you can …

  •   Compare your pronunciation with the speaker in the video
  •   Go to the next part of the SAME video
  •   Go to the next video that contains your search word

Saylish has additional features which we will cover in another posting.

Use Your Dog To Practice English

Your English will improve if you speak or sing – out loud in English – to your dog.

But also, have you noticed that when you go walking with your dog, other dog lovers will usually be more friendly?  Maybe they’ll say hello, or ask you questions about your dog, or ask, “Can I pet your dog?”  Use this as a great opportunity for some small talk – short, informal conversation. Remember – the more English you speak, the more comfortable it will become.

Besides walking in your neighborhood, great places to meet other dog lovers (and for your dog, too) are parks in the area that are dog-friendly.  One of the best places is Eagle Pond at Callahan State Park in Framingham (shown in picture). Here’s a list of many more.

Do you have another favorite place?

Speaking English As Much As You Can

  We all tell our students that 6 hours/week of class is not enough time to learn to speak English well and we encourage them to find opportunities to speak English beyond the classroom. Last term, I told my class how important it was to be exposed to English as much as possible. This is especially important if you are not in class now.

The students were assigned the homework below. Most of them did the homework and practiced speaking English with more people.

HOMEWORK

  1. Find someone who speaks English and whom you have never spoken to before.  For example: post office clerk, supermarket cashier, waiter, etc and try to speak to them in English for a few minutes.
  2. Write 4 or 5 sentences describing this experience – who, what, when where, etc.

— Thanks to Charlie for this article —

Small Talk

Small talk is simple, polite conversation – usually with someone you don’t know very well.  Making small talk is a good way to practice your English speaking – such as when you meet someone walking in your neighborhood, or waiting in line at a store.  You can talk about things like the weather (“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”), or someone’s cute dog.

Here are some examples of small talk conversations that you can read, and listen to.

Volunteering

    Volunteering is a great way to meet people in your community, practice speaking English and use your skills to help others. You decide when and how often you can help. Below are some of the many ways you can lend a hand in Framingham.  If you don’t live in or near Framingham, there will likely be similar organizations in your own community that can use your help.

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