For students

Apart from being a teacher, I’ve also been learning languages myself, and I have been fortunate and determined enough to reach proficiency in two (English and Spanish), while I’m still working on perfecting my German and French, and are more and more tempted to crack Portuguese soon. So, I’d like to share with you here the practical insights about learning languages, backed by years of teaching practice and experience .

In this section I’m going to post links to posts by myself and other people which contain language learning tips. These will hopefully help you become an even more successful learner, as well as make learning a new language – perhaps still arduous and tedious at times – not only effective, but also fun and engaging.

The tips are divided into 4 main categories: General advice, Skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing), Systems (pronunciation, lexis and grammar), Exam Prep, Business and Academic English. At the moment you might find that some categories have very few links. Please bear with me, though. I’ll try to write and post as quickly as I can.

Finally, this is a page for you. So please comment, suggest and tell me what you’d like to find here. The more ideas you give, the more posts will appear! And if you’d like to write something yourself, contact me through my official website Polish your Languages or through its FB page.

1. General advice:

a) learning apps

b) becoming a better learner

c) learn a language more effectively

2. Skills:

a) listening

  • not listening enough in English? Nothing simpler: go to this link for hundreds of free podcasts on different topics
  • interested in documentaries? topdocumentaryfilms.com is a free (no subscription, sign up, hidden fees, etc.) website which contains thousands of documentaries grouped by category. Be careful – it’s addictive!
  • I love using ted.com with my students: the videos are short, there’s something for everybody, new videos are uploaded very often, and you can put on subtitles in a score of different languages, including English
  • an absolute treasure: British Council’s videos and podcasts together with activities that will help you improve your listening skills
  • a fantastic selection of short videos and films with activities
  • podcasts for additional listening practice
  • 14 podcasts to improve your listening

b) reading

c) speaking

d) writing

3. Systems:

a) pronunciation

b) grammar

  • whether you need to improve your basic grammar, or whether you need a real challenge, this BBC’s section will be a good first bet
  • do you need to quickly refresh a specific grammar point? This BC website is the place to go!
  • don’t know when to use gerunds and when infinitives? Go here.
  • a very good explanation of reported speech: reported speech
  • a fun game to practise irregular past simple forms
  • great explanation of when to use ‘make’ and when ‘do’ by Vicky Hollett
  • a through and easy-to-digest explanation of the present perfect 

c) lexis

  • which on-line dictionary is the best? Larissa’s Languages helps you make the choice
  • find out how technology and a bit of ingenuity, backed by scientific research into the learning process, can boost your memory. Learn more than 10 new words a day, by devoting less than 10mins of your time: read my post about Memrise.com
  • learn phrasal verbs with BBC’s “Face up to Phrasal Verbs” series
  • learn a new word every day with BBC’s Today’s Phrase
  • great resource of short videos which will help you get your head around phrasal verbs (by Dave Skypelessons)
  • learn UK slang

4. Exam Prep:

a) IELTS

5. Business:

6. Academic:

 7. Other:

  • if you’re particularly musical, English through Music is a great choice for you: improve your English and listen to some great songs

 8. Spanish:

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