タグ別アーカイブ: TOEIC

To all my ‘listening’ students: How to improve your listening

So, you’re studying Eiken, TOEIC, TOEFL or even just general English, but you still can’t fully understand what you hear. Read this, and let me know if you find it useful.

Then check out our lessons at NELS here.

広告

The easy way to understand tenses in English

Strictly speaking there are actually only 2 tenses in the English language: present tense, and past tense. However, there are 16 different aspects of tense which makes it difficult for English learners to work out if they should be using the past perfect simple, the present perfect continuous, or any of the 14 others!

But don’t worry! Look at these easy to understand tense charts which show you simply  the situation in which we use each of the tense aspects. Study the image, read about it below, then click the arrow on the right to study the next.

Then, why not write your own sentences for each of the 19 situations presented in the charts! Good luck!

Being able to use tenses well in English will help you get a good TOEIC score. It will also help you in 英検 and TOEFL tests in understanding written texts.

Collocations with the word ‘goal’

To commemorate the end of the World Cup, let me share with you a page where you can learn some great collocations using the word ‘goal’.

As I’m sure you know, goal has two meanings: one in sport and the other with a more general meaning.

Learn 20 collocations with ‘goal’ here.

To find out more about NELS courses, please visit our homepage here.

‘t’ and ‘d’ pronunciation class homework sentences

This month my pronunciation lesson was about ‘t’ and ‘d’. Students learnt about strong ‘t’s at the start of words (e.g. to, top), and in clusters (e.g. st- stop, -tch watch); about silent ‘t’s and ‘d’s (e.g. Christmas, Wednesday); and about held ‘t’s and ‘d’s when the full sound of the letter is not pronounced. ‘t’s and ‘d’s can be held at the end of words (e.g. ‘what’ becomes whaʔ, ‘good’ becomes gooʔ), in /tli/ words (e.g. ‘recently’ becomes ‘recenʔly’, ‘lately’ becomes ‘laʔely’), and in the pattern t + vowel + n (e.g. ‘written’ becomes /rɪʔən/, ‘certain’ – /sɜːʔən/). They also learnt about how, in -nd words (e.g. ‘and’), the ‘d’ is cut which is why we write rock ‘n’ roll, and fish ‘n’ chips.

At the end of the lesson, I gave some homework to review some of the rules and patterns that we’d covered.

‘t’ and ‘d’ sentence practice

How do you pronounce the ‘t’s and ‘d’s in these sentences?

1. What time tomorrow?       2. How about meeting at eight?       3. I was sent home.

4. I slept well last night.       5. Don’t do that.         6. He doesn’t want it.                  7. I wanted to know.

 

Answers

– = words linked

1. Whaʔ time tomorrow?       2. How abouʔ meeʔing aʔ eighʔ / at-eighʔ / ad eighʔ?       3. I was senʔ home.

4. I slept well last nighʔ.       5. Don’ʔ do thaʔ.         6. He doesn’ʔ wanʔ it / want-it / waniʔ.                  7. I wanted to know.

Actual pronunciation will depend on the speaker, and as you can see, there are a number of alternatives. Native English speakers may use a lot of ‘held’ sounds, but sometimes this does not mean that their English is good! For example, in British English, saying ‘waniʔ’ instead of ‘want it’, or ‘wanid’ instead of ‘wanted’ is not considered ‘nice’ English!

Practice saying the sentences above using ‘holds’ and ‘cuts’ so your ears will more easily recognise these patterns when you hear them. It is probably not such a good idea to try and speak ‘bad’ English!

Remember your goals: To speak so that others understand you; to be able to understand what others are saying.

Why not record yourself and then listen to how you sound? You may be surprised how native like you have become!

Have fun cutting and holding those ‘t’s and ‘d’s!

 

Hardly, scarcely, barely, seldom, rarely and hardly ever: What’s the difference?

I was recently asked the difference between

hardly, scarcely, barely, seldom, rarely and hardly ever

so let me explain:

Hardly, scarcely and barely refer to how easily something happens. However, as all the words have a negative nuance, it means that the event is/was or will be difficult, and is/was or will be only just achieved

Hardly emphasizes the difficulty. e.g. I could hardly endure the pain.

Scarcely suggests a very narrow success margin which is unsatisfactory. e.g. He can scarcely read.

Barely stresses the narrowness of the success margin. e.g. We barely succeeded.

They are quite synonymous (i.e. they have very similar meanings, so can therefore be used interchangeably for the most part).

 

Seldom, rarely and hardly ever refer to how often something happens, although again, as they have a negative nuance they all mean the event doesn’t happen very often at all.

 

So what’s the difference between hardly and hardly ever?

Try these questions to see if you know:

1A: How much did you learn?

B: I _______ learned anything.

 

2A: How often do you go there?

B:  ________.

 

3A: I’m so fat.

B: No, you’re not! You _______ eat!

 

Let me know you’re answers and I’ll post the correct answers next time.

Then write me your own examples using each of the words.

You may be tested on this in TOEIC Reading Part 5, or Eiken but just knowing how to use the words correctly for general conversation will really help you sound more like a natural English speaker.

 

References:

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090503230920AA82VuL

http://www.englishforums.com/English/HardlyScarcelyRarelySeldom/gpnrm/post.htm

 

動画

So how DO you say ough?

I’ve just watched a very funny old clip from an American comedy show called I Love Lucy.
This clip is about ‘good’ ‘proper’ English versus how English is REALLY spoken. It also shows how reading English words can cause difficulties, even for native speakers! It looks at the pronunciation of the letters ‘ough’ which I have previously blogged about here: https://naturalenglishlanguageschool.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/the-wonderful-world-of-english-spelling-and-pronunciation/
You can read the subtitles on the video to help you if you need them.
Enjoy!
For more information about NELS pronunciation classes, click here:http://nelseigo.com/specialcourse.html

Reading in English

So, you want to read books in English but you don’t know how to find ones which are at the right level for you. You tried reading English children’s books but realised that they were actually too difficult. Don’t worry, I can help you.

A student has just told me about the website he uses to find his English books. He can read reviews of the books in Japanese, find out how difficult the book is, and how long it is. He can then order the book on-line for about 500yen and read it on his i-pad. He says he has read about 25 books in English just this year! Well done Y!

If you want to find out more, click here.

TOEIC success using NELS Repeat ‘n’ Speak method

One of our NELS students surpassed his target score by a massive 45 points recently when he took the TOEIC test for the FIRST time! He was on our 780 target score course, and his personal target was 800, but he scored 825 out of a maximum 990!

We are so proud of him! He studied hard using our ‘Repeat ‘n’ Speak’ method and his hard work paid off. Here he is proudly showing his score with me and Yoko.

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Our ‘Repeat ‘n’ Speak’ method has the aim of being able to accurately repeat what you hear or read. If you understand what you have said or read, then this will make your comprehension so much easier. It will also mean you are learning patterns which is at the heart of learning any language.

Another key factor is being able to understand natural linked speech. For example, if you can recognise that ‘KunIhavanotherapple’ is ‘Can I have another apple?’ then you should be able to answer the question: ‘What does the speaker want?’ And your answer is…?

Our method also improves speaking ability, as our students must speak to repeat and are therefore activity working and using the language, rather than just passively receiving information. If you don’t use language, you lose it, so whenever you read, read aloud! So are you reading this blog aloud too?!

If you can hear accurately and repeat accurately then you are improving not only your listening, speaking AND pronunciation, but also your comprehension skills – four for the price of one! So isn’t it about time you started improving your English with ‘Repeat ‘n’ Speak?’

Pronunciation of final s

NELS has another one day pronunciation lesson soon, so I have been busy preparing for the lesson. We are going to be looking at the sounds /s/ as in snake, /z/ as in zoo, /ʃ/ as in shower and /ʒ/ as in television. For learners of English, certain sounds can be hard to not only pronounce, but also to distinguish. When you don’t have the same sound in your native language, your ears and brain have not been trained to hear it, and therefore your mouth has not been trained to be able to make it. So, pronunciation is just a matter of training – if you can understand how to use your mouth to produce the sound, then you will be training your brain to recognise it. That’s why I always say that listening and speaking are inextricably linked – if you improve one, the other also improves. And I believe the best way to do so is to work on your pronunciation first, then if you can say it clearly, you will more likely hear it clearly. And both speaking and listening are so important in your English, whether you are learning communication and conversation, or for exam based courses like TOEIC, TOEFL and Eiken.

Anyway, as part of my research for my lesson, I became interested in the pronunciation of final ’s’ in words. Sometimes it is pronounced as a /s/, and sometimes as a /z/, and sometimes as /Iz/ (/I/ is the phonetic symbol that sounds like a short ‘i’ sound).

So, how do you know which one to use? Well, I found a pretty good website which explains.I’ll show you it in a minute. The main principle is whether the final sound before the final ‘s’ is voiced or voiceless. That is to say, do you use your voice, like when you say /z/, or not, as when you say /s/? If the final sound before the final ‘s’ is voiceless, you say a voiceless final /s/, as in ‘stops’. /p/ is voiceless, so you add voiceless /s/. If the final sound before the final ‘s’ is voiced, you add a voiced /z/, as in calls. /l/ is voiced so you add voiced /z/. Got it?

A few sounds take the /Is/ sound. They are: /s/ kisses; /z/ freezes; / crashes; /ʧ/ watches; and /ʤh/ changes.

You may notice that all of these words end with the same letters – es.

Why don’t you test this rule yourself? Write down the first 20 nouns and verbs that you think of, and add s to the end. Then put them into 3 categories of /s/, /z/ or /Is/ final /s/ sounds. Even better, type your list and answers in a comment to this post, so everyone can learn from you!

Good luck!

And check out this website for an easy to understand explanation: http://evaeaston.com/s-z-Iz-pattern.html

 

TOEIC mock test success!

We had our first TOEIC mock test today. The student is on our target 650 course and has been studying with us for 11 weeks. Her previous score was 575. Today in her ETS test she scored 700! We were all very happy! Next lesson, having analysed her errors, the teachers will give her feedback and help as to how she can still improve on those areas before she takes the actual test in January.

Well done!