Going Back to Basics - 3 iPhone Children’s App for English Learners

You may very well be over the age of 30, but sometimes when you want to learn a language, its best to go back to the basics—we’re talking about using children’s picture books and games to help you achieve your goal. The apps listed below are technically designed to teach young children how to speak English; however their fun and interactive platform can really be beneficial to beginning adult English-learners as well. And the best part? They’re completely free. That said; to learn some iPhone and iPad apps that can help you perfect your English skills, continue reading.

English First High Flyers
English First High Flyers

The English First High Flyers app is a great way for you to improve and expand your vocabulary—the best part is that you’re having fun with it through games instead of just writing down the words and memorizing them. There are five games in total, each include audio flashcards. Once you master each set of flashcards and earn the appropriate points, you can then move on to the next level of the game. Each level gradually get’s more complex as you move on.

Download English First High Flyers for iPad

English for Kids
English for Kids

The English for Kids app is a little bit more mature than the one mentioned above, but it’s still a fun and aesthetically pleasing way for you to perfect your spelling and pronunciation of simple English terms. Subjects include the human body, food, numbers, colours, and the personality / characteristics of certain people just to name a few. The app is also equipped with a native English speaking “helper” that will notify you when you’ve selected the wrong answer.

Download English for Kids for iPod touch, iPhone and iPad

Reading Monster
Reading Monster

Like the name suggests, the Reading Monster app is designed to improve one’s reading and comprehension. This app is best used for those who are comfortable with vocabulary since learners will build on sentence structure. Although the curriculum of the games and stories are for elementary school students, it can definitely ease off the pressure of trying to comprehend extremely complex sentences.

Download Reading Monster for iPad

Yes, the apps mentioned above may seem quite juvenile for a few individuals, but it’s a good way to ease people into learning English—after all, when you learned your native language you started the same way. Naturally, once you’ve mastered the “fun” portion of learning the English language, you can definitely move on to more advanced and “serious” learning applications.

This is a guest post by Kimberly Wilson. Kimberly is from accredited online colleges, she writes on topics including career, education, student life, college life, home improvement or time management.
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IELTS Listening – Section 1

Section 1 is the easiest part and contains 10 questions. All answers are said in order and the conversation is between 2 speakers. There is a pause, allowing you to read the questions and an example at the beginning. If you spell a word wrong it is considered incorrect. American and British spelling is accepted. Check the number of words you should use (usually not more than 3). For this section you should know:-

The letters of the alphabet: as people’s names, addresses, locations etc. are spelt for you. (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z). Double means two times e.g. double p=pp

Days of the week: (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Weekdays are Monday to Friday while the weekend includes Saturday and Sunday.

Months of the year: (January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December).

Email addresses: @=at, .=dot e.g. info@expressteach.com

Titles: Mr (for men), Mrs (married women), Miss (unmarried woman), Ms (unspecified female status), Dr (either a medical doctor or a person with a PhD)

Condition of items: Poor, Good, Satisfactory, Excellent

Colours: Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, White, Purple, Green, Orange etc. Shades of colour: dark, light, sky blue

Methods of payment: Cash, credit card, cheque/check

Rates: daily, weekly, monthly

Occupation/Position=job e.g. engineer, architect

Numbers (telephone, age, dates, date of birth, time, percentage, post codes, reference numbers, room numbers, subscription fees etc.)

Telephone numbers: The numbers in a telephone number are said individually 9-6-8-7-3-6-8-2, double three=33, triple five=555 0=is 'oh' not zero.

Dates and Date of birth: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st (for days in a month).

When we talk about dates before 2000 we say the first 2 and last two numbers together e.g. 1984 is nineteen eighty four. After the year 2000 we can say the date as a number e.g. 2011 is two thousand and eleven.

Percentages or Discounts: 20% (twenty per cent) 50% (half price or fifty per cent)

Reference numbers and Post codes: Combine letters and numbers e.g. 5467F or GU8 9EW

Time: 11:15 (quarter past eleven), 11:30 (half past eleven), 11:45 (quarter to twelve). Write the time in full (twenty past three) if you can’t write it numerically. Morning is am e.g. 8am is eight in the morning while pm is in the afternoon/evening e.g. 8pm. Noon, midday=12pm.

The difference between ty and teen: numbers between 13 and 19 end in the sound teen, that’s why people who fall into this group are called teenagers. Numbers ending with 0 end in the sound ty.
13 (thirteen), 30 (thirty)
14 (fourteen), 40 (forty)
15 (fifteen), 50 (fifty)
16 (sixteen), 60 (sixty)
17 (seventeen), 70 (seventy)
18 (eighteen), 80 (eighty)
19 (nineteen), 90 (ninety)
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VocaTube - English vocabulary about illnesses and health problems

VocaTube - English vocabulary about illnesses and health problems

How do you say “I have a headache” in English? What if you get sick and you don’t know how to explain your symptoms to the doctor? Whether you know it or not, we’d like to invite you to read the following article that contains a series of videos from YouTube with a lot of English vocabulary about illnesses and health problems.

Remember that vocabulary can only be improved with practice and listening through repetition. It’s difficult for everyone to understand from the beginning but you’ll notice that the more hours you listen, the better your understanding.

Vocabulary about illnesses in English – elementary English

Link to the video on YouTube

Great video that teaches different health-related vocabulary – elementary English

Link to the video on YouTube

Subtitled video from Mr Duncan about health and exercise – intermediate English

Link to the video on YouTube

Good subtitled video with vocabulary about teeth and the dentist – intermediate English

Link to the video on YouTube

Subtitled video teeth idioms – intermediate English

Link to the video on YouTube

Visiting the doctor – advanced English

Link to the video on YouTube

Making doctor visits fun with Sesame Street characters – advanced English

Link to the video on YouTube
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Culture File - Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar marking the end of the winter season. It lasts 15 days and ends with the Lantern Festival. During this time, houses are cleaned and windows and doors are decorated with paper-cuts and greetings. People buy presents, decorations, food, and clothing.

On New Year’s Eve, a reunion dinner is held in or near the home of the eldest family member. The feast includes meat dishes (pork, duck, chicken), fish, a hot pot and sweet delicacies followed by firecrackers - to drive away evil spirits. Ingredients that have similar sounding names with ‘good luck’ or ‘prosperity’ are used. The world’s largest annual migration takes place as migrant workers travel home.

Envelopes are given to family members during dinner which often contain money whilst gifts (fruit, sweets, other small gifts) are taken when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Red (hóng in Mandarin) also means ‘prosperous’ and is the main colour used in New Year celebrations as it symbolizes virtue and truth.

New red clothing symbolizing a new beginning and having plenty to wear in the New Year is typically worn as it was once believed that it could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.

Dragon and lion dances are also common as it is believed that the loud sound of the musical instruments together with the animal’s face can scare away evil spirits.
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Pie Charts

When explaining information presented in the form of a pie chart, it is a good idea to vary the expressions used.

about three quarters (74%)
almost a third (30%)
nearly three quarters (72%)
approximately a quarter (27%)
a little more than a half (53%)
a little less than a half (48%)
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Essay Writing CheckList

The development of a good essay depends on your essay writing check list. If you properly follow the required checklist than you will definitely gain good score in Essay writing.You can check essay check list of students. The Essay Writing checklist used for academic purpose (i.e.IELTS or ESL) or during admission in colleges.The online software's are available for this purpose. Read and follow the following Essay writing check list for better result.

•    Title of any essay is very important. Check your title. The title should be appropriate not generic or boring. It must entice the reader.

•    The lead sentence should be appropriate. Check whether it introduces the main idea and provide a firm foundation for the sentences that follow it.
Essay Writing Check List

•    Check your paragraphs it should be uniform. Whether all of the sentences in each paragraph relate to the topic sentence. It is important to use a variety of sentence lengths.

•    Elaborate on general ideas by providing details such as descriptions, examples, and explanations.
•    Check, identified and eliminated any cliches.

•    Check whether any sentences that need to be shifted to a more appropriate paragraph or eliminated entirely.

•    Check whether every sentence contain a subject and a predicate.

•    Check whether your word choices as appropriate and precise as they could be. Have you looked up any words about which you were uncertain?
essay writing checklist students
•    Check whether your thoughts flow smoothly throughout the paper.

•    Conclusion is very important. Check whether your conclusion provides a final summary or judgment, or make a future prediction.

•    Proofreading is an essential step. So do proofread manually.

•  Word processor’s are very good to check your spelling and grammatical errors.  Run your word processor’s spellchecker to check your spelling and punctuation errors.

•    Read your paper aloud or give your paper to a friend or relative to read it aloud to check your stilted phrasing, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences.
essay writing checklist teachers
•    Check whether all of the sentences in your essay relate to your main idea and topic.

I hope above mentioned checklist helps you to write effective essays which gain an excellent score.
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Two Great Apps for Your Phone - Podcasts and Vocopedia!

Learning any new language is a difficult process, and many people consider English to be one of the hardest languages to learn. Not only is English proficiency important for strictly English majors today, but it is also important in many fields of work ranging from information technology to medical transcription.

But technology is a wonderful tool that can help you learn English more quickly and effectively. With most mobile phones allowing development of apps, and popular internet browsers like Firefox and Google Chrome doing the same, there are now more tools than ever available to help you learn English. Here are some of the best ones out there. As a bonus, all the apps listed are free - just download and get started!

LearnEnglish Elementary Podcasts
LearnEnglish Elementary Podcasts

The British Council's Learn English division has numerous apps for mobile phones and Facebook targeted at English language learners. The free Elementary Podcasts app is designed for elementary English learners, and helps increase spoken and written English proficiency.

Each podcast is 20 minutes long and features two speakers who ask the listener questions about English. The listener can answer the questions as the podcast progresses. A written transcript is also provided in real time alongside the audio, allowing the listener to read alone with what is being spoken. If the learner is confused, there is an option to contact the podcasters via Facebook directly from the app so their questions can be answered.

Download LearnEnglish Elementary for iPhone and iPad

Download LearnEnglish Elementary for Android

Download LearnEnglish Elementary for Nokia

Download LearnEnglish Elementary for Blackberry


For English language learners of all proficiencies, from those who are just starting out to advanced speakers, the free Vocopedia Android app is a great vocabulary builder with many interactive features that will add an element of fun into your language learning.

Over 3900 English words of varying difficulties are presented on flashcards, alongside their synonyms, their part of speech, and examples of their usage in real sentences. You can bookmark flashcards and save specific flashcard sessions to go over later. Also included is a hangman game that features words from the flashcards. This app is useful not just for English learners, but also for those studying for tests such as the SAT, the GRE, or the TOEFL.

Download Vocopedia for Android

These apps aren't designed to completely replace all the other elements of your learning process (classes, books, and one-on-one lessons), but when used alongside them, they are great ways to start enjoying the process of learning English. The days of learning without technology are long gone now. These days, your phone and computer are some of the most important tools you have to make your goal of learning English a reality.

This is a guest post by Marina Salsbury. Marina planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She currently writes on a variety of topics, but always seems to veer back to education-related articles.
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Dictionary with ‘real’ British translation

British people are known for being very polite when speaking and expressing themselves. However, those who learn English and come from societies that use a more 'direct' way of communicating can misunderstand the message being transmitted.

The following is a list of examples (includes humour) that explains what a British person says, what they mean and what others understand from such expressions.

Table 1: Dictionary with ‘real’ British translation
What the British sayWhat the British meanWhat others understand
I hear what you sayI disagree and do not want to discuss it furtherHe accepts my point of view
With the greatest respect...I think you are an idiotHe is listening to me
That's not badThat's goodThat's poor
That is a very brave proposalYou are insaneHe thinks I have courage
Quite goodA bit disappointingQuite good
I would suggest...Do it or be prepared to justify yourselfThink about the idea, but do what you like
Oh, incidentally / by the wayThe primary purpose of our discussion is...That is not very important
I was a bit disappointed thatI am annoyed thatIt doesn't really matter
Very interestingThat is clearly nonsenseThey are impressed
I'll bear it in mindI've forgotten it alreadyThey will probably do it
I'm sure it's my faultIt's your faultWhy do they think it was their fault?
You must come for dinnerIt's not an invitation, I'm just being politeI will get an invitation soon
I almost agreeI don't agree at allHe's not far from agreement
I only have a few minor commentsPlease re-write completelyHe has found a few typos
Could we consider some other optionsI don't like your ideaThey have not yet decided
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Essay Scoring Criteria

Use the following scoring guide to score each of your essays. Better yet, have someone else read your essay and use the scoring guide to help you see how well you have done. Sample essays for the first six essay topics follow this scoring guide.

Essay Score “6”

A “6” essay is a highly effective response to the assignment; a few minor errors are allowed. It has the following additional characteristics:
•    Good organization and overall coherence.
•    Clear explanation and/or illustration of main ideas.
•    Variety of sentence syntax.
•    Facility in language usage.
•    General freedom from mechanical mistakes.
•    Errors in word usage and sentence structure.
Essay score

Essay Score “5”

A “5” essay shows competence in responding to the assigned topic but may have minor errors. It has the following additional characteristics:

•    Competent organization and general coherence.
•    Fairly clear explanation and/or illustration of main ideas.
•    Some variety of sentence syntax.
•    Facility in language usage
•    General freedom from mechanical errors.
•    Errors in word usage and sentence structure.

Essay Score “4”

A “4” essay displays competence in response to the assignment. It has the following additional characteristics:
•    Adequate organization and development.
•    Explanation and illustration of some key ideas.
•    Adequate language usage.
•    Some mechanical but inconsistent errors and
•    Mistakes in usage or sentence structure.
Essay Scoring Criteria

Essay Score “3”

A “3” essay shows some competence but is plainly flawed. Additionally, it has the following characteristics:
•    Inadequate organization or incomplete development.
•    Inadequate explanation or illustration of main ideas.
•    A pattern of mechanical mistakes or errors in usage and sentence structure.

Essay Score “2”

A “2” essay shows limited competence and is severely flawed. Additionally, it has the following characteristics:
•    Poor organization and general lack of development.
•    Little or no supporting detail.
•    Serious mechanical errors and mistakes in usage, sentence structure, and word choice

Essay Score “2”

A “1” essay shows a fundamental lack of writing skill. Additionally, it has the following characteristics:
•    Practically nonexistent organization and general incoherence.
•    Severe and widespread writing errors.

Essay Score “0”

A “0” essay does not address the topic assigned.
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Critical Reading strategies and Skills

Realistically speaking, standardized tests are an important gauge of a student’s academic Achievement and every student should strive to succeed on standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and school entrance exams. The best way to prepare for reading tests and for future reading challenges is to become a critical reader. The kind of active reader reaches to find a deeper meaning beyond the literal.

Active readers interpret a text by analyzing literary devices and by drawing conclusions based on facts and events presented in the text. A well-told fictional story is a joy to read, and active readers experience an even richer reading experience by exploring the meaning beyond the surface. Active readers analyze, scrutinize, and make judgments and connections regarding important elements such as plot, characterization, and the author’s use of setting and literary devices. Armed with the ability to form inferences and draw logical conclusions, the experienced critical reader has little to fear when faced with a standardized test or entrance exam.
critical reading strategies

Critical Reading Strategies

Here are strategies that will help you to become a more active and successful reader:
•    Start by surveying the book’s title, topic sentences, or photo captions for clues about the main idea.

•    Read and understand about the ongoing theme? Is there more than one theme? Is the theme stated in the title or in the body of the book? Is it implied? What is the author trying to achieve?

•    When you stumble upon a word that is unfamiliar to you, use the context of the   surrounding words to clue you in to its meaning. Read difficult paragraphs more than once to be certain that you have grasped the full meaning.

•    Analyzing dialogue is an important method of understanding a character’s personality and the manner in which he or she interacts with the other characters. Pay attention to what characters say to one another. Analyze the engagement in conflict of characters. Dialogue also reveals important clues about a character’s educational, regional, social, and economic background and his or her moral character.

•    Understand the author’s tone. Analyze the story either it is an optimistic or a pessimistic one. Does the author think that the world is a cruel, harsh place to live in, or does he or she have a positive worldview?

•    Every story contains conflict woven into the plot, because without conflict there isn’t usually much of a story. There can be more than one conflict going on, and the conflict can involve individuals, nature, and concepts (man versus nature, man versus man, man versus society). Read carefully and understand about the roots of the conflict. Analyze the consequences or effects of the conflict either conflict ever resolved or not. If so, how?
critical reading skills
•    Setting details are important and should be analyzed. Historical, scientific, and technological events, climate, economic conditions, occupations, traditions, and religious and cultural customs are important setting details that impact a story and its characters. The racially charged Southern Depression-era setting in the southern Gothic novel to kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an excellent example of the connection between setting and plot development. The science fiction genre often introduces technology in settings that are vastly different from the present-day world.

•    When you are writing a response to a literary text, it is important that you incorporate quotations from the text to support your ideas. Unless you are asked to refer to outside sources, focus on extracting information from the text itself. Use specific quotations to support your analysis. However, don’t let your use of quotations dominate the page or drown out your own voice and ideas.
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