News Resources for ESL Students

 

 

Pile of newspapers

One of the best ways to learn new vocabulary and improve your grammar is through reading. The more you read, the more you will notice the patterns of American English, and this can help you improve everything from your conversations to your formal academic writing. But what should you read? Do you like reading the daily headlines in your own language? Are you interested in staying up to date with current events? Do you enjoy discussing hot topics with your friends, colleagues, and classmates? Then maybe one of the resources below will help you:

CNN Student News: This site is a good way to practice your listening skills. Every week, there is a new video about current events from around the world. Before listening, you can print out a transcript of the video so that you can read, follow along, and take notes as you watch and listen.

News for You: Would you like to receive a newspaper published especially for English language learners? This is a weekly paper that you can subscribe to online or in paper. Every article is written in English you can understand and comes with extra vocabulary activities and even puzzles!

New York Times Learning Network: This is an amazing site that is updated daily. You can find guided practice for reading for details, and there is an active community of learners who post comments and responses to writing prompts. In addition, there is also a weekly news quiz and a word of the day.

Breaking News English: This site has new articles every week about current events around the world. Each article is available in four different versions: from easy to advanced English. Also, take advantage of the reading activities that include vocabulary, matching, and writing prompts. Even if you practice alone, the writing prompts could help you practice vocabulary and fluency.

Voice of America News: This site has a good combination of reading, listening, and videos. Choose your level, and read articles about current events, politics, science, and culture. Each article also comes with its own glossary to help you understand new words.

Leave us a reply below and share your favorite current event or news link!  Happy reading!

Vocabulary
Up to date– (adj) someone who knows a lot about current events
Headlines– (n.) the most important news stories each day
Hot topics– (n.) current events that everyone is talking about
Transcript– (n.) the words from a listening or video exercise
Glossary– (n.) a list of new words with definitions to help you understand a reading

(*image from http://www.charitybags.org.uk/clothing_collections_in_the_media.shtml0

Posted in Current Events, ESL Students, Practice Your English in NYC Tagged with: , , , , ,

Global ESL Academy students – Enjoy a day at the beach

Photo credit: www.nycgovparks.org

Summer is coming to an end, and maybe you have had a lot on your plate this summer and just need to get away from it all. If you have not had the opportunity to enjoy one of New York City’s beaches, you should go before the summer is over. The beach is a great place to beat the heat, soak up some sun, and take a dip. Whether you stay in Queens and go to the Rockaways or visit the iconic Coney Island in Brooklyn, it will be a great day at the beach!

Coney Island is one of New York City’s most famous beaches. In addition to the beach, you can have fun on roller coasters and other amusement park rides, walk the boardwalk and eat typical boardwalk food like ice cream and hot dogs, or maybe even enjoy a baseball game and fireworks. Coney Island is a “must-see” destination for international students in New York for the summer.

Top-rated Rockaway Beach is right here is Queens and accessible from Flushing by first taking the 7 train to Woodside and then the Q53 bus. The beautiful Rockaway Beach will really help you to feel like you got away from it all. And if you enjoy surfing, this is New York City’s surfing beach.

At the end of a busy summer, enjoy a day at the beach. Figuratively, a day at the beach is an expression used to describe a relaxing day or event, even if it is not at the beach. Before you prepare to enjoy a literal day at the beach, here are definitions of some of the summer vocabulary words and expressions from this article that you may not know:

Beat the heat – escape from the heat

Boardwalk – a wooden walkway along the beach front

Need to get away from it all – need to relax and escape everything that keeps you busy

Soak up some sun – to sunbathe

Take a dip – go for a swim

To have a lot on your plate – to be very busy

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Current Events

Dictionaries for ESL students

Having and using a good dictionary is essential for everyone studying English. Why? Because it will help you improve your vocabulary, and that is essential to improving your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. A good dictionary can help you with pronunciation as well. Sample sentences can help you understand how to use the word correctly. However, to get all of these benefits, it is important to know how to use your dictionary effectively. This article will share some techniques that will help ESL students of all levels, as well as some of the best dictionaries that you can use.

succeed

The first question that many ESL students may ask when thinking about dictionaries is “should I use a bilingual dictionary or an English dictionary?” Bilingual dictionaries can be very useful for beginning level students who do not yet have much knowledge of English. They are also useful for occasional, quick translations. When using a bilingual dictionary, it is important to remember that every word may have multiple translations. It is important to take the time to check your word choice and to be sure that you are using the word with the appropriate definition. Do this by looking up the word in English and seeing what the translation is in your language. Is it still correct? Then you have likely chosen the correct word. If it does not make sense, then you may need a different word.

For beginning level students, picture dictionaries are another good idea. They are usually arranged by topic and give students the opportunity to associate pictures with the new vocabulary words. The Oxford Picture Dictionary and The Heinle Picture Dictionary are two good choices. For lower level learners, Word by Word published by Longman is excellent. A good online option from Merriam-Webster, another major dictionary publisher, is http://www.visualdictionaryonline.com/.

Once students move beyond the beginning level, an English language dictionary is usually the best choice. While it can be more challenging at first, the benefit is that reading the definition in English will help students continue thinking in English. As with bilingual dictionaries, it is important to read the definitions carefully to be sure that you understand which one is appropriate for the context. When using an English dictionary, you will probably encounter other words that you do not know. This is normal, and when you go to search the definition of those words, you are building your vocabulary even further. When looking up words, pay attention to the part(s) of speech as well as the pronunciation key.

Is it better to use a print dictionary or an online dictionary? Online dictionaries are certainly more convenient and are regularly updated, but some studies have shown that students connect to the content better when reading print books rather than online or electronic books. While most students will prefer the convenience of an online dictionary, do not ignore the value of a good print dictionary. Click here for another interesting article on the benefits of print dictionaries. Some of the ideas include making your brain work harder and learning new words by seeing multiple entries on the page.

So, what are the best dictionaries for ESL students? Some of it will depend on personal preference. When studying in the United States, make sure the dictionary you choose is in American English. The following is a list of some of the best dictionaries for ESL students:

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/ (Merriam-Webster)

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/learner-english/(Cambridge)

http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/ (Oxford)

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-cobuild-learners (Collins)

The links are for the online versions of the dictionaries, but they all have excellent print editions as well. Longman has some excellent print dictionaries for ESL learners. Visit your local bookstore to take a look at some of the dictionaries. A learner’s dictionary or a study dictionary will be the most beneficial for an ESL student.

Using a dictionary effectively takes practice. Use the information in this article to find a dictionary that you like. Use it as much as possible, and you will begin to see an improvement in your skills.

Posted in ESL Students

Learn English at the movies

free-Movies

When the weather gets hot as it does in July and August in NYC, ESL students like you may not want to spend time outdoors exploring the city’s parks. Instead, you want to do something inside like watching a movie. Whether you catch a big summer blockbuster at the multiplex, stream a cult classic at home, or wait until the sun goes down to take in an outdoor flick, movies are a great way to improve your English. There are a number of strategies you can use to help you better understand the movie as well. Read this blog post to learn about some strategies you can use to improve your English while watching a movie.

First, before you watch the full movie, watch the trailer. This can help you to make some predictions, begin to understand the setting and the characters, and have an idea of the plot before you watch the movie. Making predictions will help you focus your listening as you watch the movie. Having a sense of the setting, characters, and the basic plot will make the movie easier to follow.

Another strategy that you should use before you watch a movie is to read some reviews of the movie to learn what other people have said about it. You can find reviews on imdb.com or search online. Be aware of spoilers that may give away the ending or unexpected surprises. Reading reviews can give you an idea of who the characters are and what the plot will be, and they will help you make predictions.

As you are watching the movie, try repeating expressions that you like, copying the tone and intonation of the actor. Repeat favorite scenes so that you can listen again and try to repeat the dialogue. You may feel silly, but it is an easy way to practice and learn some new vocabulary and expressions.

Learning and practicing English does not have to be work. Having fun and watching a movie does not have to mean that you are not learning.  Use movies to help you practice your English so that you can learn and have fun at the same time. With these ideas, you will find that your English is improving. Enjoy the show!

 

Vocabulary:

blockbuster – a movie that is a big commercial success

cult classic – a movie that has a cult-like following or that is particularly popular with a certain group of people

flick – an informal way of saying movie

spoilers – something that reveals the ending or surprises, particularly in movies or books

trailer – a preview of an upcoming movie

 

Posted in ESL Students

ESL Students – Visit NYC parks this summer!

Unisfera_Flushing

Summer in NYC is a great time! There are many free events and activities that you can do. Whether you are an ESL student who is visiting the city for only a short program, a student who is planning to stay for a while but experiencing your first summer in NYC, or one who has been here for the summer before, there is plenty to do and see. Last year, I shared ideas about how to find free outdoor fitness classes during the summer months, many of which are annual events. Today, I would like to share some great parks in NYC that you should visit this summer.

Do you like exploring different areas of the city? Do you enjoy touring historical sites? Do you love riding a bike, lounging in the park with friends, or seeing public art displays? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to visit Governor’s Island this summer. Governor’s Island is a former military base turned public park space with numerous sites that you can visit, public art displays, bike rentals, concerts, and other special events. You can visit every day by taking a ferry from lower Manhattan. The fare is $2/person, but it is free until 11:30am on Saturday and Sunday.

One of Manhattan’s most unique public parks is the Highline Park. Built on a former train track, this elevated park is also one of New York’s newest parks. To practice your English listening skills, consider taking a tour or a joining a class offered at the park. Visit on Tuesday evenings when there are stargazing events and ask a few questions to practice your speaking skills.

While in Manhattan, we cannot forget about the iconic Central Park. If you love Central Park as much as I do, you will be interested in some of the free events that take place there. View the calendar to find everything from tours to concerts to sporting events; there is something for everyone!

If you want to stay in Queens, you can head over to Astoria to visit the popular Astoria Park. With a free public pool, track, and large open lawn, it is a great place to spend time with friends. If you are new to the United States, you will want to experience Independence Day celebrations. You can start the celebrations early at the Astoria Park Independence Celebration which includes fireworks and is always held before July 4th. In 2015, the event will be on Tuesday, June 30.

Even closer to Global ESL Academy is Flushing Meadows Corona Park. If you enjoy playing sports, this is a great place to find a pick-up game. This can be a fun way to meet new people, practice speaking and listening to English, and really getting involved in your new community. Flushing Meadows Corona Park is usually quite busy on the weekends and is only one stop from Global ESL Academy on the 7 train.

This summer, get together with your classmates or friends, visit a park, and enjoy the warmer weather outdoors!

Vocabulary:

annual – occurring every year

elevated – raised above ground

iconic – widely recognized

lounging (to lounge) – to idly pass time, to spend time relaxing

pick-up game – a game that starts spontaneously

Posted in Practice Your English in NYC

ESL Learner Strategies: Vocabulary (Part 2)

WordItOut-word-cloud-830761

Last year, I wrote a post about strategies that ESL learners can use to improve their vocabulary. Because improving vocabulary is so important for ESL students, I would like to share some additional strategies for improving vocabulary.

Learning idioms is a challenging thing for ESL learners at all levels. Global ESL Academy shares an idiom of the week on our Facebook page, so if you like us on Facebook you can learn a new idiom each week. If you are not on Facebook, email us at info@globaleslacademy.edu and ask to join our Idiom of the Week mailing list to get a weekly email with a new idiom. You can also buy a good American Idioms dictionary such as the Longman American Idioms Dictionary.

Another good strategy is to become familiar with common suffixes as well as the part of speech and meaning.

Here are some common suffixes for nouns:

-er, -or (a person who)

-ism (a belief)

-ance, -ence (a state or quality)

-tion/-sion (a condition or action)

-ment (a condition or result)

-ness (a state, condition, or quality)

Some common suffixes for verbs:

-ize, -ise (to become)

-ify (to make or become)

-ive (to have the quality of)

-ate (to cause something to be)

Common suffixes for adjectives:

-al (quality)

-ful (having)

-ic, -ical (quality)

-able (worth or ability)

-ed (having the quality of)

Common suffix for adverbs:

-ly, -ally (in the manner of)

 

This list is not comprehensive, but it is meant to give you an overview of common suffixes used for different word forms. For a more complete list, visit http://www.prefixsuffix.com/rootchart.php.

Now that you know some common suffixes, how can use this knowledge to improve your vocabulary? As I mentioned in my earlier article about the topic of learning new vocabulary, when you learn a new word, try to also learn what different forms the word takes. This is a great method for quickly expanding your vocabulary. You can also learn what prepositions are frequently used with the word.

Here is an example that my high-intermediate intensive academic program class just learned. A new word from a report we listened to was escapist. It is an adjective and was used to describe online games: games are escapist. Another form of the word is escape which can be a noun or a verb. We often use escape with the preposition from. For example, “games are an escape from reality” or “people escape from reality when they play games.”

As always, try to use your new words as much as you can. Try writing a sentence of your own, and then ask a teacher, trusted friend or family member, or anyone else who is helping you to improve your English if the word is used correctly. When you find an example of the new word being used, try to repeat the sentence to yourself.

Learning new vocabulary is a continuous part of learning a language. At every level and stage of your learning, you will continue to learn new words and new uses of words you already know. For this reason, you should not get frustrated if you feel you do not have enough vocabulary. It is a never ending process.

Posted in ESL Students

Oral Presentation Advice for ESL Students  

Intensive

Many students at Global ESL Academy give their first oral presentations in their classes at the school. For many ESL students, public speaking might be a frightening prospect, but it is an important skill to learn because speeches and oral presentations are common in American colleges and universities. As an ESL student, how can you overcome your stage fright? How can you calm the butterflies in your stomach? There are many steps you can take before, during, and after your presentation to help you feel more confident.

Before the day of the presentation, you must practice! Prepare your notes, prepare the PowerPoint presentation if needed, stand up as though it is the day of the presentation, and speak. You may want to practice in front of a mirror, or if you can, ask a friend or classmate to listen to you. Also consider recording yourself using a digital camera or smartphone. Most people do not like to watch themselves on video, but it is a good way to see and hear how you are doing. For example, you may have awkward hand gestures that you can change or you may be blocking the view of your PowerPoint.

You also want to be sure to practice the pronunciation of difficult words. As an ESL student, you are probably aware of the sounds that you have trouble pronouncing. Focus on words with those sounds. Don’t forget about your intonation either. Prepare notes to speak from rather than preparing a full script. Reading from a script is much less interesting to the audience than if you speak from notes, making eye contact and connecting with the audience.

Just before the presentation, take a moment to breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths will help you to focus on your breath rather than your speech. This will help you to relax. If you can, hold a “power pose” for at least a minute. A power pose, such as standing tall with your hands on your hips, will help you feel more confident. You can learn more about power poses and the influence body language has on our minds in this excellent TED talk by Amy Cuddy. When you begin to speak, smile, make eye contact, and speak in a loud and clear voice. Remember, your classmates are probably feeling just as nervous about their presentations as you are.

When you finish your presentation, you might want to put it behind you and move on to the next assignment, but you are not done yet. Take a moment to reflect on your presentation. What did you do well? When we are doing something new, it is just as important to think about our successes as it is to think about areas for improvement. What would you do differently if you were going to give the presentation again? Keep all of these things in mind as you prepare your next presentation.

Public speaking is one of the biggest fears for many people, not just ESL students. Use these tips and techniques to become a more confident public speaker.

Vocabulary and idioms:

Stage fright – nervousness before a speech or presentation

To have butterflies in your stomach – to feel nervous before a presentation

To put (something) behind you – to forget about an unpleasant experience

Posted in ESL Students

Learn about Daylight Saving Time

1289770395

Here in New York, we are all anxious for spring to arrive. Despite the snow that continues to fall, one of the first signs of spring is here with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the United States. As an ESL student, you might not know what this is if your country does not have Daylight Saving Time. This article will give you a brief explanation of what it is, why it happens, and some vocabulary and idioms using the word time.

In the United States, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March. On this day, clocks spring ahead (move forward) one hour beginning at 2am. On the first Sunday in November, clocks fall back one hour at 2am. We then go back to Standard Time. We use the expression spring ahead, fall back to remember which way to reset our clocks and watches. We use the letters D and S to indicate Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time when using abbreviations for the time zones. For example, EDT means Eastern Daylight Time, the time zone for New York City. In the fall and winter, we use EST which means Eastern Standard Time.

Why do we have to change our clocks? The common belief is that it was created to benefit farmers and give them more daytime hours of sunlight. However, the History Channel website explains that this is a myth and that it was actually retail and recreational businesses that encouraged DST.

While the second Sunday in March brings the loss of one hour in our day, it also brings a little more daylight to our day. The sun sets at a later time, and it is a sign that spring is near. You may not have as much time on your hands, but you will likely appreciate the extra daylight in the evening.

Time vocabulary and idioms:

Just in time – at the last possible moment

There were delays on the train, but fortunately, I made it to school just in time and wasn’t late for the test!

Spare time – free time or time not dedicated to anything else

I enjoy learning English idioms in my spare time.

Time flies when you’re having fun. – time seems to go faster when you are enjoying yourself

Wow! English class is over already? Time flies when you’re having fun!

Time on one’s hands – time with nothing to do

Now that he has retired, he has so much time on his hands. He needs to find a hobby!

To run out of time – to not have enough time to do something that you wanted to do

We really wanted to go to the movies this weekend, but there was so much to do at home and we ran out of time.

 

Posted in ESL Students

Brrr… cold weather idioms

February in New York means cold weather, and this year is no exception. With temperature in the single digits, we are all dreaming of spring and warmer weather. Until that moment comes, here are some cold weather idioms that you can learn and use.

Real_snowflake-4

To be left out in the cold – to not be included in something or to feel forgotten

My friends went out last night but did not invite me. I was just left out in the cold.

To get cold feet – to suddenly change your mind about doing something you had been excited about doing

I wanted to ask her out on a date, but I got cold feet. Maybe I will be more confident and ask her the next time I see her.

To give someone the cold shoulder – to ignore someone or behave in an unfriendly manner

She must really be upset with me. I said hello, but she just gave me the cold shoulder.

To stop someone cold – to stop suddenly, often because of bad news

When I heard about the accident, I stopped cold. I was so shocked.

To throw cold water on something – to disapprove of something and take away other’s enthusiasm for it

We were excited about new project until our boss threw cold water on it and told us there was no money.

 

Are you shivering yet? (Shiver – to shake with cold) Here are a couple of warmer idioms to end the lesson!

To warm up to something – to begin to like an idea

I didn’t think that I needed to join another English class, but now I am warming up to the idea. I think a class will really help me.

Warm welcome – a very friendly greeting when you first arrive

When I first visited Global ESL Academy, I got a very warm welcome. I knew immediately that this was the right place to study English.

Stay warm!

 

 

 

Posted in ESL Students

Read a book in English

books
 

Happy New Year! In the United States, many people make resolutions at the start of the new year – goals for things that they want to accomplish in the upcoming year. Why don’t you set a goal of reading a book in English? As an ESL student, you may find it difficult to know how to choose the right book in English. It is true that going to a library or bookstore can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have not read many (or any) books in English before, but there are online resources that can help you such as goodreads.com. On this website, you can look through lists of books  categorized by genre. While not created specifically for ESL students, it can be a great resource, and I hope you will check it out.

Reading literature in English is an excellent way to improve your English language skills. It will expose you to new vocabulary and grammar in a real context. It gives you insight into aspects of culture that you may not otherwise be able to see. You can learn about history. You can be entertained. However, reading a novel is not the same as reading a newspaper article, a blog post, or an essay. When reading a novel, try not to get caught up in the need to understand each and every word. At the end of a page, ask yourself if you understand the gist (the main or essential information) of what is happening. If not, then go back and identify the vocabulary that you do not know and that you think is important to the story. These words will usually be nouns or verbs. Look up those words, re-read the passage, and then ask yourself again if you understand what has happened. If you understand the main ideas, then keep reading.

When reading a novel on your own, it is important to choose something that really interests you. This will help you to stay motivated to read. Think about the types of novels you enjoy reading in your language, and look for something similar. Goodreads.com categorizes books by genre, so start with categories that interest you in your language. Read reviews that others have written, and when you finish a book, consider adding a review of your own.

Talking to others who have read or are reading the same book can also be very beneficial. Try to find a friend or classmate who will read the same book so that you can discuss it together. Or, see if your local library has a book discussion group that you can participate in.

I encourage you to check out goodreads.com and tell us what you think by commenting on this blog post. I have also added a new feature to this article. The words and phrases that appear in italics throughout this article are listed with definitions below. Add them to your vocabulary notebook and review them regularly. This is another great way to improve your vocabulary.

Happy New Year!

 

Vocabulary you may not know:

Genre – a particular type of writing which has certain features that all examples of this type share, such as business writing or science fiction writing

Gist – main idea or general idea

Italics – a type of printed letters that lean to the right, often used to emphasize particular words

Resolutions – a promise to yourself to do something such as a New Year’s resolution

To check (something) out – to look at something in order to evaluate it

To get caught up in something – to focus on to something without noticing anything else

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in ESL Students