Better reading – it’s in the chunks


What is reading? Very simply, reading is trying to make sense of a sentence, paragraph, essay, article, or book. It’s trying to understand what’s in the writer’s mind. And the key to making sense of what we read is in the chunks – groups of words – not individual words.

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Revising for better English


“So what is good English?” asks William Zinsser. “…it’s plain and it’s strong,” he answers. “It has a huge vocabulary of words that have a precise shade of meaning; there’s no subject however technical or complex, that can’t be made clear to the ordinary reader in good English – if it’s used right.”

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Something to read – August 2011


Something to Read for August 2011 – more than news, different than fiction; a monthly collection of articles about fascinating people, events, and ideas for high intermediate and advanced readers.

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Does practice make perfect English?


Practice (verb) – to do an activity, often regularly, in order to improve a skill or prepare for a test. “I need more practice” may be the most frequent statement I receive from English learners. How concerned should they be about practice?

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Making good choices


One of my students – let’s call him Bryan – recently asked me, “How can I be sure that what I’m reading (or listening to) is good for me?” Bryan wants to improve his English as quickly as possible, and he’s worried about wasting time.

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Something to read: best articles of the last 60 years


Reading doesn’t get much better than this! This month, Something to read offers a special collection of the best magazine articles of the last 60 years. The articles provide a unique view of American history and culture by some of its best non-fiction writers. High intermediate and advanced English students will find many hours of good reading to feed their English acquisition process.

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When you do the right thing and it doesn’t seem to work


Of all the students I’ve worked with, one group always seems to do better than the rest even though they all do the same thing. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it – but it’s true. Make sure you’re in the right group.

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Who needs slang?


Slang. Many English students worry about it. Some teachers spend a lot of time trying to teach it. And publishers keep printing books about it. But why? Is slang that important? Is it worth the worry, time, and money?

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Something to read – June 2011


Something to read – more than news, different than fiction Most of our fluency comes from what we read, so reading is the most important thing you can do to improve your English. To get the greatest benefit from your reading, find articles and stories that are easy enough for you to enjoy without stopping […]

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Good writing, meaningful memories


Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S. – a day during which we honor those we love who have passed away and those who have given their lives to defend our country. A few days ago, I honored my mother, who passed away two weeks ago, on the ESL Podcast blog. Today I offer William Zinsser’s American Scholar essay In Memorium to honor those who have died for our country. This is the way memories should be written about.

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Helping battered English learners


Students at a well-known Japanese college of technology were frustrated. They had studied English for several years, but their English still wasn’t good. The school tried using native English-speaking teachers, language laboratories, and computer-assisted learning, but nothing seemed to help. To make things worse, students were bored with studying grammar and translating texts. Then the school introduced a program that changed everything.

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SuccEng Nominated for Top 100


Successful English Twitter feed nominated for Top 100 SuccEng, the Successful English Twitter feed, has been nominated as one of LexoPhile’s 2011 Top 100 Language Twitter Feeds. The Top 100 will be chosen by a combination of votes from followers and the opinion of a professional jury. Voting is open from May 17 until May […]

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Something to read – May 2011


Reading is the most important thing a language learner can do because most of our fluency comes from what we read.
Something to read is a monthly collection of articles and essays for high intermediate and advanced readers. They are more than news, different than fiction – longer, in-depth articles and essays about fascinating people, events, and ideas.

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Speaking success


It’s often helpful – when you’re trying something new – to hear how others have done the same thing. You pick up new ideas. You’re encouraged by their experiences and successes. And you learn that you’re not alone; others are trying to do the same thing you are. I hope these stories – about success speaking a new language – will do all of that for you.

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If I wanted to speak better English


Every English learner would like to speak fluently. And some have to. Most of my coaching clients, for example, are people who need to speak English fluently for business, professional, and personal success. Unfortunately, fluent speaking is often the most frustrating goal for English learners, especially those who live where English isn’t spoken. Happily, there’s a good way to improve your speaking – a way that takes time, but that’s too enjoyable to be called work or study.

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