Learning English

group of people pointing at a laptop computer screen
group of people pointing at a laptop computer screen
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

My students often ask me for tips about the best free websites or apps for practicing their English skills at home. A good question, but a tough one — there are so many great sites to choose from. To keep this list simple, I’ve included seven that I find particularly useful and interesting.

They can help you exercise all four language skills (listening, reading, speaking, writing) and offer different approaches depending on your level and personal preferences.

Listen & Read: Sites for Practicing Your Comprehension Skills

There are lots and lots and lots of great sites on the Internet where you can practice reading and listening to Real English, but this list would not be useful if it included every website found in Google Search. …


For All Genres

How will you go about becoming the best writer you can be?

notepad surrounded by leaves and feathers
notepad surrounded by leaves and feathers
Photo by Victoria Strukovskaya

Writing is a peculiar skill — one that you begin learning as a child, but don’t really get the hang of until adulthood. It’s both a basic task and a complex craft, and unlike learning to tie your shoes, there’s always something new to discover, something fundamental to reconsider.

That’s why I find it unfortunate that most writing exercises seem geared toward children, or seem to push you toward writing like a child.

Write about your day. Write about a dream. Write about some pictures.

For youngsters intimidated by writing, or adults whose imaginations have gone dormant, these writing prompts can indeed be helpful. …


Learning English

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Steve Johnson

There are many ways to write a professional email or business-style message in English, and many reasons why you may need to write one.

In some cases, you may not need to worry too much about the style or format of your email, because these aspects of writing in English have become more informal since the invention of the Internet.

In other cases, it can be important and very helpful to write in a formal style. For example:

  • You are writing a message to a person you have never met or talked to.
  • You need this person (who works perhaps at a government agency or a big company) to do something for you (like send you some information). …


Writing Inspiration

a man standing in a field
a man standing in a field
Photo by Jake Melara

For a long time, my favorite quote came from Samuel Beckett, the Irish writer, who wrote:

“Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on.”

His words seemed to encapsulate the sense of frustration I would often feel as a writer. But I think they also capture the weird experience of writing more generally. Especially when read at greater length:

Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on. Can it be that one day, off it goes on, that one day I simply stayed in, in where, instead of going out, in the old way, out to spend day and night as far away as possible, it wasn’t far. Perhaps that is how it began. You think you are simply resting, the better to act when the time comes, or for no reason, and you soon find yourself powerless ever to do anything again. No matter how it happened. It, say it, not knowing what. Perhaps I simply assented at last to an old thing. But I did nothing. I seem to speak, it is not I, about me, it is not about me. …


Learning English

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet

Of the four modules of IELTS, the Speaking module can be the most difficult to prepare for. As we will see below (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3), each section of the speaking test has slightly different requirements and expectations.

With a bit of preparation and practice, however, it is quite easy to get the high score you need for your university or visa application. Below are the most important tips I offer my students, plus a few sample questions and answers to help you understand what a successful, high-scoring answer looks like.

But first, let’s review a few important things about the IELTS Speaking Test. …

About

Matt Lemanski

writer. teacher. curious creature. @ soenglish.me

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