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I am a nervous test-taker. Interviews, speaking in front of an audience, and standardized exams all my palms sweaty and my mouth dry. For many students, this feeling of nervousness stems from a lack of confidence in the material being tested. We fear that we didn't study enough, or that we'll be quizzed on items we were never taught by our teachers. I can tell you that SAT test-makers are not out to get students, nor do they want to trick them into choosing the wrong answer. And students can increase their chances of doing better on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT by expanding their vocabulary (and root words, prefixes and suffixes, which are building blocks). You see, vocabulary expansion goes a long way towards helping you understand a topic even if you've never heard of it before. Take this example from a PSAT practice test: "Greta praised the novel for its ----, claiming it depicted reality so vividly that it seemed more like fact than fiction." (A)... read more

Pueda ser que la idea de aprender ingles lo intimida. Para muchos adultos, es una labor de enormes proporciones y muchos acaban antes de empezar. Pero si quiere aprender un segundo idioma, tome el ejemplo de un niño pequeño. Los niños aprenden rápidamente porque no tienen miedo de hacer un error. Nosotros como adultos somos más conscientes y nos da miedo de que nos hagan burla, pero necesitamos practicar cada día, por lo menos unas cuantas palabras. Si quiere lograr fluidez en unos cuantos meses, su meta debería ser aprender unas 30 palabras cada día y rodearse con hablantes del idioma. Además, aunque todo el mundo sea su maestro, es una buena idea trabajar con un ayo que conozca bien las reglas de gramática y que mezcle las lecciones con conversación para ayudarle aprender. Aquí mismo me puede contactar para aprender el ingles! No hay modo de lograr cualquier meta sin práctica. Pero si practica, no hay duda que mejoren su vocabulario y su confidencia! It may be... read more

I can't stress how important consistency is to any endeavor, whatever your age. This is particularly true when you are learning a new language. Practicing English everyday, whether it's 15 minutes a day or 4 hours (if you're seeking to achieve fluency within 3-4months), will make a difference that you'll notice right away and will encourage you to keep practicing! Here are a few tips to get you motivated: 1) Practice vocabulary: There are about 3,000 words in any language that are commonly used (more or less), so use flashcards to learn new words (you can learn about 30 everyday). Review these cards every day. 2) Practice reading. I recommend starting out with a good grammar book. Many of the most common mistakes for English learners are in conjugating verbs. If you want to advance beyond basic communication, you should know how to properly use the language. Practice reading everywhere you go (billboards, traffic signs, menus). 3) Practice speaking. Children are... read more

History may sound like a bunch of boring dates and names that you have to memorize as a student. In fact, history learned that way is quite dull. Names and numbers become meaningless if you don't place them in context- that is, if you don't know the stories of those lives and why they're important to history. For example, did you know that we have the Shakers to thank for the flat bottom of a broom, for drill saw, and apple peelers? Some of the most common household items today come from their dedication to perfecting their crafts as a form of worship. Did you know that Cleopatra, the infamous last Pharaoh of Egypt, was one of four children? As was customary to prevent civil war, she had her two brothers and sister murdered. When her own children died abroad, there were no more heirs to the Ptolemy line and the age of the Egyptian pharaohs was over. And did you know that even though President Teddy Roosevelt was a famous hunter, it was he and other hunters who lobbied... read more

My memories of summer vacation during my elementary years are fantastic. I spent large portions of my days playing out in the yard (making a mess, I'm sure my parents thought), eating lots of fruit, and reading piles of books. As I loved school, it was easy for me to avoid the dreaded brain drain through reading. My mother also signed me up for the school's summer program for advanced students, and I roamed the LA Exposition museums with delight. I was a fan of educational programs like Reading Rainbow and Square One, a PBS program about math, and waited for them to come on every afternoon. When school came around again, I wasn't out of practice because I'd been learning and having fun all summer long. I loved summer vacations because, as much as I loved school during the year, summer also gave me the opportunity to do the things I liked with no schedule. I could do as much of the activities that I was naturally good at and tended towards. Working with my own niece this... read more

I've learned that the two most important tools in my ESL bag of tricks are patience and humor. Many students learning a second language are self-conscious-- it's even tougher for those students who have a naturally shy disposition. But I found that these two qualities helped two of my best students in Korea, who seemed terrified of speaking to me the first time I met them. One student was female and 11 years old. The other was a 22 year-old male who had just returned to school following his time served in the Korean army. Although it took them many long minutes to answer questions at first, they had both made significant progress at the end of six months, and my older student had advanced from a beginner to high intermediate speaker. They understood the jokes that I made in English, and they were able to make jokes themselves that set the entire class laughing, which is a huge confidence booster. Korean education emphasizes grammar over conversation, but you need both... read more

Vocabulary learning can be a drag for most children, but not if you make it a contest! Spiders and Candy is a great game that you can always bring out, and that they will never tire of. It works best with a group of 4-6, but it's easily suited to a smaller group of 2-3. When I was teaching in Korea, this was a great game to play because even the shyest students would get competitive. It was also a great way to use play as education; kids thought they were getting a free day from the books, and they built their knowledge of verbs and basic English words. Begin by printing and cutting out small pictures of candy and spiders. MES English was my go-to resource site for all ESL games and they have a printable set here: http://www.mes-english.com/games/spidersandcandy.php .You also need a deck of index cards with your target vocabulary words printed or written on one side. Place these face up on the table. While your students have their back turned to you, slip either a candy... read more

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