Podcasts

A podcast is a broadcast audio recording – a radio show that you can play on your smartphone, tablet, or computer any time you want.  There are more than 100,000 podcasts, about all kinds of topics.  Most podcasts are released on a regular basis – for example, one new episode every week.  If you find a podcast that you like, you can “Subscribe” to it, so that you can receive new episodes when they are available.

There are MANY podcasts to help you learn English. One is called the “VOA Learning English Broadcast” from Voice of America, which has a new 30-minute episode every day. They speak more slowly, and have news and stories.

On your iPhone/iPad, you can play using your Podcast App (which comes installed on your iPhone/iPad).  Open the app, and search for VOA Learning English Broadcast. There are other free apps you can install from the App Store to manage your podcasts – such as Overcast.

On an Android smartphone, you can play podcasts using the Google Play Music app (which usually comes installed).    Here’s a video with more information about how to use podcasts with the Google Play Music app.  There are other free apps you can install from the Google Play Store to manage your podcasts – such as Google Podcasts and Podcast Addict.

Below is a video with more information about how to use podcasts on your iPhone…

 

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.

Synonyms

A synonym is a word that has the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word.
Synonyms for “cold“:  chilly, icy, frigid, and frosty.
They are good to learn because:

  • They improve your vocabulary
  • They make your speaking and writing more interesting (not always using the same words)
  • They make your speaking and writing more clear (closer to what you really want to say)

One good place to find synonyms is Thesaurus.com   A ‘thesaurus’ is a synonym dictionary.  Type in a word such as delicious, or enjoy, and they will show you several synonyms – with the most common synonyms listed first.  You can also check the pronunciation and definition for each of these words. (It’s important to check the definition for words that you don’t know.)

There’s a popular thesaurus that’s part of the Dictionary.com App – available for free for IOS and Android.  After you install the app, you can switch to the thesaurus to find synonyms.  There’s also a special tab for English learners, with more explanation.

Here’s a basic list of synonyms for almost 100 very common English words.

Can My Phone Understand Me?

  Smartphones can listen to you speak, and display your words.  So can iPads and computers.  If your phone can understand you, other people will probably understand you.

Practice your speech on iPhone or iPad

  • Open the Notes App    and create a new note     
  • Press the Microphone icon next to the Space Bar on the keyboard
  • Start talking – and see what words are shown
  • Are they the same words that you spoke?  If not, try again.

Practice on Android phone or tablet

  • Install the Google Keyboard app from Google Play
  • Then open your email or memo app, or use a free notes app like Evernote
  • Press the Microphone icon next to the Space Bar on the keyboard
  • Start talking – and see what words are shown
  • Are they the same words that you spoke?  If not, try again.

When your phone can understand you, you can use your voice for … email, text messages, Siri questions on iPhones (“Hey Siri“), Google searches (“OK Google“), Alexa, and more.

Google Translate

On iPhones or Android phones, you can also use the Google Translate app (Android; Apple) for this.

  • Make sure the language is set to English
  • Press the microphone button and start speaking

Free eBooks

bookbubBookbub.com is a website that tells you about free or inexpensive digital books – eBooks.

You can read these books on an eBook reader (such as Kindle or Nook).  But you can also read them on your phone, tablet, or computer – usually with the free Kindle App or Nook App.  If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can read many of these using your iBooks app.
For example, on BookBub they have listed an eBook version of the popular children’s book I Wish You More, selling now for $1.20 on Amazon .
And here is their latest listing of Free eBooks.

Duolingo

duolingo-owl    Duolingo is one of the best ways to teach yourself English – for free.  It’s a good place to begin.  You can use it on your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
To use Duolingo:

  1. Go to the Duolingo website on your computer – or – download the app to your smartphone/tablet
    (Apple app store); (Google Play store)
  2. Follow the instructions to start a course
  3. Create a profile (username / password ) so that you can save your work
  4. If you find it helpful, try to use Duolingo for at least 10 minutes every day