Blog Category: Language Skills

Accent, Dialect & Language in English

What is the difference between Accent, Dialect and Language? This article looks at the differences between the three terms. People often confuse them and there is a certain degree of overlap (even linguists don't always agree on what the difference is between them)...

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Voiced and Voiceless in English Pronunciation

Voiced and Voiceless (sometimes Unvoiced) describe the two different ways we can make sounds in our mouths. The basic difference is this: voiced sounds occur when the vocal chords vibrate voiceless sounds occur when the vocal chords are still An Example of Voiced...

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Teaching the /r/ and /l/ sounds

Quite a number of Asian students have problems distinguishing between the /r/ sound and the /l/ sound. Essentially this is because the difference in these sounds does not exist in their mother tongues‏‎ and so they are unable to "hear" the difference. Thus some...

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Pronunciation in English

Pronunciation is the way in which words and phrases‏‎ are spoken. Words & phrases can be said in different ways by different groups of people or individuals and under different circumstances. Several factors influence the way we pronounce words, from the way we...

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Paraphrasing in TEFL

Look at the picture of Winston Churchill on this page. It's not the man himself but rather a waxwork of him. It's a less rounded, less detailed, copy of the real thing. In essence, this is what Paraphrasing is all about. Simply put it is taking what someone has...

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Study Skills

Study Skills are those skills useful for students at university, college, and suchlike to increase their ability to study and pass exams.  They range from organizing and retaining information to understanding assessments; from effective reading to concentration...

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Vowels and Consonants in English

Vowels and Consonants are the sounds which go to make up the English language. If air passes straight through the mouth without being stopped or constricted anywhere, this forms a vowel sound. If the air is stopped at any point or the mouth is constricted somehow,...

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Reading for Pleasure‏‎

Think of the way most EFL‏‎ students read. In classrooms across the world they pick up English books in order to study them. After students have read a text they know that the next step is likely to be them being tested on the meaning of various words‏‎, some...

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One Word Speeches – skills activity

One Word Speeches is a very simple activity which needs very little preparation but which is highly effective in giving your students practice in all four skills, especially listening and speaking. It is very flexible and in different forms it works for both beginners...

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Reading Comprehension‏‎

Reading Comprehension is one of the basic lessons often given by TEFL teachers. It simply consists of presenting a class with a text, have them read and analyse it, then check for understanding. There may be a few follow up activities based on the subject. This...

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Line Talking‏‎

Line Talking is a simple way to get your students listening and speaking carefully. It can be used with any type of speaking activity where an exchange of information is necessary. Method Divide the class into pairs. Each pair will need to exchange information between...

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Guess Who – ice breaker activity

Guess Who is a simple ice breaker which can be used on the first day of class. There's little preparation and it can easily develop into a chat or discussion with more advanced classes. All you need to prepare this activity are small strips of paper; say two for each...

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Conversation Classes in English Language Teaching

Conversation classes are those based almost entirely around getting the students to speak. This contrasts with classes where the other skills‏‎ are employed. Often native English teachers will be used in conversation classes in foreign schools; sometimes this will be...

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Clap Slap – tefl activity

Clap Slap is a simple game which is great fun with younger children. It practices listening comprehension, word groups and also helps them to let off a little steam! Decide first on an appropriate word group. This will depend on your class and their level, but could...

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Speaking Skills in TEFL

Speaking is one of the four main language skills. In general it is the second skill to be acquired after listening‏‎. Later comes reading‏‎ and writing‏‎. There are many areas to speaking and this article looks at the main concerns you, as a teacher, should have here....

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Skimming and Scanning in TEFL

Skimming and Scanning are two skills which are often talked about in TEFL when it comes to reading. In fact, some teachers swear by them; every reading lesson (they maintain) should include practice with these skills because they feel their students will benefit...

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Dearest Creature in Creation‏‎

Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946), who wrote under the pseudonym of Charivarius, was a Dutch writer, traveler and teacher. In 1922 he wrote The Chaos (also often known by its opening line, Dearest Creature in Creation) which is a poem featuring around 800 of the most...

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IPA Decode!‏‎

IPA Decode is a great game to play with the class which helps them understand and use the IPA or International Phonetic Alphabet. It can be used with a reasonably proficient class who are familiar with the IPA already and who would benefit from a little more practice....

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Writing‏‎ in TEFL

Writing is often the last of the four major language skills‏‎ to be learned after listening‏‎, speaking‏‎ and reading‏‎. Subject Matter The first question to ask is what kind of writing will your students be doing? Like all language learning, practice needs to be...

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Non Threatening Debates in TEFL

Non-Threatening Debates are ideal TEFL debates which can be held in class and then voted on. The idea is simple. If you get your class to debate a hot topic (e.g. anything political or religious) then students can get very emotional and carried away. Because they are...

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Reading Skills in TEFL

Reading is one of the four main language skills‏‎ along with writing‏‎, listening‏‎ and speaking‏‎. There are various considerations when you use a text in class. There is the matter firstly of choosing the right text and then of how you present it to the class....

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Listening‏‎ Skills in Teaching English

Listening is one of the four main language skills‏‎ along with reading‏‎, writing‏‎ and speaking‏‎. Whilst in reading and writing we talk about sentences‏‎, the spoken (or heard) equivalent is an utterance. The Components of Listening Listening is often confusing for...

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Intonation in English

Intonation is the system of rising and falling levels, as well as variations in pitch sequences, when we speak. People don't talk in a monotone (unless they're very boring) but instead there is rising and falling in what they say. In other words, intonation is the...

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Process Writing in English

Writing is not just a matter of putting pen to paper. It requires some thought and a certain level of language skills. We talk about good writing when the written work - be it an essay or an email, a poem or a business letter - expresses a clear point, has substance,...

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Minimal Pairs and TEFL

Minimal Pairs are pairs of words‏‎ (and sometimes phrases‏‎) which differ in their sound by just one element. They are an incredibly useful tool in the TEFL teachers' bag and if you haven't started yet, you should learn about them and use them! Mostly minimal pairs...

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Language Register in TEFL Teaching

In linguistics‏‎, the term Language Register is used to talk about the type of language a person might use in a certain social context, in other words, how formally they will speak. For example: A speaker might say I never done nuffin' when talking to their friends,...

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Listening Comprehension in TEFL

Listening Comprehension is related to one of the four main language skills‏‎ areas in English language learning: listening‏‎, reading‏‎, writing‏‎ and speaking‏‎. Essentially it is the ability to listen and understand language. The basic process for a beginner‏‎ when...

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Storytelling in your TEFL Class

Storytelling is an ancient art that developed alongside the development of language and it is one of the earliest forms of folkart. The story can be of a real event or it can be made up. Storytelling has been used over the millennia not only as a means of...

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Teaching the /b/ or /p/ sounds

A Bilabial Plosive in English is either /b/ or /p/ sound used at the beginning of a word as in boy or toy. Or, indeed bilabial and plosive. Some more minimal pairs with b and p include: bat - patbail - palebar - parbig - pigbillow - pillowbelt - pelt These sounds can...

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Teacher Talking Time in the TEFL Classroom

Teacher Talking Time (TTT) is the amount of time the teacher talks in the classroom. It pays to make this as little as possible. Look at this typical TEFL classroom dialog: Teacher: Jimal, what's your favorite TV show? Jimal: Er... Teacher: Baywatch? American Idol?...

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