SUPER TIPS: How to practice the four English skills
September 10, 2018
How about some tips for practicing all four English skills? Teacher Lydia O’Donnell has brought you information and cool ideas to help you with your Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking in English. Check them out!
Practicing the four English Skills: Reading
Reading is a skill that is often part of practicing other skills, however, sometimes we need to isolate skills and practice them with only one other skill in order to really see big improvements.
To focus on reading, we recommend reading shorts stories, poems, news articles, or magazine articles about subjects you enjoy or know something about. If you have an interest or some previous knowledge, this will help you to understand the general idea of what the meaning of each sentence is. Writing over again what you read really helps you to identify new words and their meanings again and allows your hand to feel comfortable forming the letters of English words further solidifying them in your memory.
We also recommend not getting frustrated or spending too much time and energy on the few words you don’t understand, go for the ‘bigger picture’, or the bigger idea. Small details can be written down and looked up in a dictionary at a later date.
Watch a video at least 2 times and write down everything the teacher writes on the whiteboard. Write down all questions in quizzes, slides, and worksheets provided on a separate sheet of paper or in a notebook. Use your dictionary to look up new words.
Using any book magazine or magazine, find a paragraph that you have read to copy down into your notebook. A paragraph in English is a minimum of 4 sentences in one grouping.
Find a good book to read in English and simply read for pleasure. Recommended books include, “The Old Man and the Sea”, “The Giver”, and “Of Mice and Men”. These books are short and can be read quickly, but still, provide some challenging vocabulary to keep you learning. Reading a book in its entirety, despite it being short, will build your reading confidence and allow you to take on a more challenging material.
Often practiced alongside reading or listening, writing is essential in modern communication with email and text messages dominating all communication from business to personal.
When learning a new grammar point or vocabulary word with SEDA Online or anywhere else, be sure to write down the rules, definitions, grammar structure, and any other relevant information that the teacher mentions. Often whatever the teacher writes on the board is essential for you.
One new grammar or vocab has been written down, practice writing at least 5 sentences that you create on your own with the new grammar or vocab. This will be great writing practice and create long-lasting understanding.
Speaking practice can come in many forms, however, all of them require the learner to be comfortable and confident in themselves. If one is concerned about appearing stupid, then they will not be able to achieve the English pronunciation and clarity of accent that they wish for. Believe in yourself, you can do it and it’s ok to make mistakes!
Speaking is often practiced alongside listening but can be practiced with other skills.
Practice ‘parroting’ videos. Use the SEDA Online videos and play them repeatedly. Practice saying a few words that the teacher says. Pause after the teacher says a few words, then repeat them immediately by yourself. One you feel comfortable repeating a few words accurately, then try a sentence, then a few sentences, This will greatly improve your speaking and listening.
Listen to a podcast and repeat after the speaker… “Here’s the Thing” is highly recommended due to the accuracy and elegance of the host, Alec Baldwin’s, speaking voice.
Try recording yourself to really hear how well you are speaking. Listen to a recording, then record yourself repeating it. Then playback the original followed by yourself to compare. This will allow you to self-correct.
Practice speaking with a native speaker either on skype or face to face if possible. This allows for trial and error at the moment and will help you achieve improvement in your speaking much more quickly.
Reading and listening practice can be combined with the fun of music to create a great study practice. Print out or write down the lyrics(words in a song) to your favorite song in English, you can easily find them online. Read/sing along with the song, practice it over and over again until you know all the words from memory.
Improving listening skills often means incorporating the skills of reading and speaking. Listening can be a difficult skill to perfect due to the multitude of accents in English. Many students are accustomed to the simple and bland American Accents portrayed in Hollywood films. These do not reflect how most native speakers sound. This means it’s really important to expose oneself to the varying other accents which are common with native speakers. We recommend listening to materials created in the Southern United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, and Scotland to really improve your ear.
Watch the “Harry Potter” films, first with subtitles to understand the plot. Then immediately repeat the film/films with no subtitles. If you don’t understand a word or scene, repeat it with subtitles so that you do understand, then watch again with no subtitles to train your ear. This film series will expose you to many English, Scottish, and Irish accents to really open your ears. You will understand almost 50% of the accents of English after that.
Next, you want to train your ear to understand Australian accents and the south of the USA. Watch films like, “Mad Max”(the original), “Fried Green Tomatoes”, and “Dirty Harry”, to understand those more difficult accents. Start first with subtitles again, then rewatch without subtitles until you feel you can understand almost every word perfectly.
Watch a film without looking at it, close your eyes and just listen for 10 mins… then rewind and watch it with eyes open… did you understand what was happening just by listening???
Audiobooks are great for listening practice. Choose an audiobook ( often found on youtube) of a book that you have already read in your language. Listen to it in English and you will learn lots of new vocabulary, but still understand because you read it before.
You can also learn a lot and practice your listening to podcasts. Suggested podcasts include… “Here’s the Thing”, “Clear and Vivid”, “The Allusionist”, “The Bugle”, “An Irishman Abroad”, and “Maeve in America”. All of these have been chosen with content, accent, and relatability in mind.