I understand that for many of you talking in the lesson is the most important thing. And perhaps, it should be. But in the learning process the speaking practice should be something more than repeating the same old structures and words. And this “more” comes from targeting certain structures and words. However, to target them, you need to have them written down at some point. And, believe me, there are plenty of opportunities when you can jot things down.
I am not completely sure this post should aspire to its title. It seems that squeezing in a challenge has turned out to be difficult not only for you but also for me. Anyhow, we are here to learn from our mistakes and there's no better feeling than being back on track. And so we are now with our October challenge.
This month I will try to encourage to you to take advantage of multiple online events available on Linkedin. So often times we discuss your professional issues during our lessons. And honing your English skills can always go together with your self-development. Put your English into context, learn something new and have a feeling of accomplishment. Sweet!
And how to find interesting events?
Let's say that you are interested in "coaching", then you type your interest into a searching box and voila! Please read the event description and don't forget to register. Also, make sure that the event is free of charge; you can participate in the paid ones later on.
Here is a pic to get you more familiar with the search.
Oh, it's summer!
Summer is the time to rest and chill out! I guess it will be super hard to plan a challenge that requires being systematic and diligent. Therefore I will give you here a list of less-involving summer-time activities that you can do in your free time. They mostly include online games, puzzles and quizzes. Have fun!
1. Easy speak
You need a mic for this activity. It's quite easy but fun. Good for practising pronunciation as it uses voice recognition mode. There are several categories available. You can try it with friends or even your kids!
2. Phrasal verbs
In this activity you need to choose a proper phrasal for a picture. You have 3 opinions to choose from. The phrasals used here are pretty common and it's good to have them in your active vocabulary.
Here you will get 16 random letters of the alphabet and three minutes. During that time, you have to come up with as many English words as you can using the letters you have, and every time you make a new word, you get points.
The game might not be the easiest but the rules are downright simple: listen to a word and try to spell it correctly. Additionally, you can have a look at visual thesaurus on the right and all the definitions.
5. Crossword puzzles
This webpage is a great treat for any crosswords' lover. It offers a variety of puzzles and levels to choose from.
TubeQuizard is great! It might be more challenging than a simple game as it focuses on intensive listening exercises - it includes short clips from many sources and songs! You can pick and choose as their library is quite impressive. Additionally, you can decide on the level you wish to practise and type of quiz focus - grammar, vocabulary etc.
You have been doing so well in March that it's time to raise the bar.
This month I am inviting you to the "Tell me about your day" Challenge.
The rules are as simple as ABC.
1 - You click the link HERE (there will be an additional link in your learning space if you decide to take part)
2 - put your name (no surnames please)
3 - set up your camera
4 - talk about 1 minute about your day (there's no need to remind you that you don't need to tell the truth; you can lie as much as you want to)
5 - wait for my feedback and the targets for your next recording
6 - get back to point 1
I think we can start from one video a week. The time for submitting your first video is 10th April. Oh, and one more thing - submitting your video equals your registration for this April Challenge.
This month we will be doing some controlled audio recordings.
The task is for you to describe a photo or I guess I should say tell me a story behind the photo. And the target is to use modal verbs of speculation - preferably present and past. Still, please remember you need to sound natural.
As a bonus feature I am giving you a time limit which is 1 minute.
The links to this exercises will be published in this post every week. Pls note that they will become active with a beginning of every week.
Please include your true name and the first letter of your surname if you have a common name in the task. You can submit the task more than once, there's such an option but try not to do it before getting feedback from me.
You might not be celebrating Saint Valentines day but 14th of February seems to be a good day to revise some love idioms.
I've chosen nine; not to overwhelm you :)
Click on a picture to enlarge it.
Also, you can practise these expression on Quizlet - HERE
If idioms were too easy for you, why don't we try some Shakespeare.
Here, you have the sonnet 116 text and just right below Sir Patrick Steward is reading it just for you :)
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
This month we'll focus on our listening skills. And you'll also be able to sing a bit if you're up for it. The whole idea of this task is not completely new as we already did the similar task last year. If you want you can check the whole quiz 🔴HERE🔴.
The choice of the songs in this year's challenge comes up with a short story. A few weeks ago I was binge watching one of my favourite series ever. It's old, even ancient for today's standards, very quirky and packed with good but long forgotten music. The songs, however, are so optimistic, cheerful and funny that listening to them immediately put me into good mood. Inspired by the series, I started browsing my Spotify to find more 60's or 60's like music. And then I thought that I really wanted to share this with you guys.
I guess I don't need to tell you that we can learn a lot from songs - of course here in this task we'll be mostly listening to a few seconds of audio clips to get the lyrics but I do encourage you to take this exercise a step further - listen to the whole song; check the words or expressions you're not familiar with, sing a refrain or even dance to it - soooo many possibilities!
The extracts will be published 3 times a week (Monday- Wednesday- Friday)
Try to check the page regularly.
OK, let me give you a set of instructions so you wouldn't feel lost.
If you would like to join our free 12 Months, 12 Tasks program please register HERE
Some time ago I sat down and started talking to myself. I talked for about something for one hour. That had not been my intention but when I finished I thought that it would be a great exercise for my students; or just a great exercise for anybody who doesn't want their English to get too rusty. Based on this experience, I created your first task this year. I believe that you can benefit from it, repeat it now and then and reap the benefits of your hard work.
TALK, TALK, TALK
Make a list of the current topics you have recently discussed with your family, friends or colleagues. The list shouldn't be too long - 3 topics would be more than enough.
Choose one topic from your list.
Set a time limit. If you are an intermediate level student, you can start from 5-10 minutes. The higher the level, the time limit also should be longer but try not too exceed 1 hour.
TiP: It would be a good idea to use a timer.
Talk on the topic for the set amount of time.
Do not finish earlier; if you lack ideas of what else to say, ask yourself an additional question connected with your topic.
When you finish try to write down the words/phrases you felt you were missing during your talk or frequent repetitions.
TiP: Do this immediately after your talk. Do not postpone this step as your memory might fail you the next day.
Check the words you didn't know in a dictionary and write them down.
If you notice you had problems with repetitions, write down the phrases you often repeated - then look for some different structures or synonyms; also write everything down.
TiP: Don't write too much. Having 10 key items in your notes is ok.
Repeat the task a week later but this time shorten the time. If your initial talk was 15min long, make it 7; if 20, make it 10 and so on.
TiP: You can have a look at your notes before your second attempt.
You can record this talk and listen to yourself afterwards.
You can do the same with other topics on your list.
Finally, mark your January task as done; comment on the task if you find it useful; seek your tutor's help if you have doubts about the challenge.
I think planning your learning is good. It boosts your motivation, engages you in the learning processes and gives you a sense of accomplishment (if you, of course, have finished the task).
Every year I encourage my students to prepare a yearly plan of extra tasks they would like to do every month. And as the new year tunes us more into making new resolutions, the fact remains that sticking to the plan can become very daunting at the beginning of April ,if not sooner.
That’s why I’d like to invite you to the 12 Months, 12 Tasks Challenge in which I will be guiding you through the tasks each month. The tasks won’t suck the life out of you, I promise. The tasks will be for people at any level from intermediate to proficiency. They will be published every month and there will be a monthly reminder sent to you.
Please join us; spread the word among your family and friends - the more the merrier!
If you are up for the challenge please submit your info below.
With so many things going on these days it might be quite hard to put oneself in a festive mood. It seems even harder to write a light and cheerful post about it.
But surprisingly, this year, I've already managed to go through my Christmas-do-list; something that has never happened before. There are of course bits and pieces to finish but I think it would be quite safe to say that I am ready to celebrate.
I have already encouraged you to try out some of Pick up Limes comfort food recipes. However, there seems to be one more that has really stolen my heart. It's for mulled apple cider which fills your house with Christmas aroma and pampers your soul with its vibrant colours. I put the recipe below; in the video it starts at 05:22
8 cups (2 L) apple cider or apple juice
1 orange, thinly sliced
6 cardamom pods, cracked
4 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2cm/1-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
Place all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and let infuse for 20-30 minutes.
If you have never read or seen this a great opportunity to get to know this classic tale by Charles Dickens. It'd been almost a compulsory reading in every house before the TV era. I definitely encourage you to read it but if finding the book might sound like a daunting task, I am sharing you the youtube version from 1970.
Another classic story that would be good to read this festive season is "Little Women". It's a bitter-sweet experience- just as Louisa May Alcott's like might have been as the story is an autobiographical account of her life. There's the latest version from 2019, I believe but I am sharing the one from 1994, which I think is a gem of a movie.
the Nativity story
This video is 17 minutes long. It made me laugh and it made me cry.
A beautifully told story of Jesus birth. Nothing more to add. A must-watch.
And since I am sharing the video I also think it would be good to share the source
Let's have a look at the story as it is written in the Holy Bible.
Every year I try to choose a different passage to read before Christmas Eve supper; here I am going to quote the most common one from the Gospel of Luke.
The Birth of Jesus
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS
Written by Agnieszka Kansy