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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yappr.com - Improve Your English Watching Videos

Yappr

In this online resource you’ll be able to see videos in English sorted into different categories: recent, most popular, highest-rated, business, celebrities, sports, films and others. The videos have subtitles but they are not shown in the same way as “Yolango”; they are shown in a text box on the right of the video. Personally I prefer the option in “Yolango” because it allows you to see the video easily.

However, Yappr had the great idea of showing English subtitles in a text box, and also other subtitles translated into your own language. Moreover, it is possible to listen to the video at a slower pace, which is ideal for those words or sentences that are harder to understand.

Also the web page has a well-developed social aspect to it, which allows you to become friends with other Yappr members and you can actually see what they are doing. The Yappr community is very attractive and offers:
  • The possibility of joining a live chat for talking to other people (and thus practice written English).
  • A forum where we can raise doubts, opinions and other issue that we’d like to comment on.
  • The opportunity to look for other members.
  • "What's yappening?", a play on words from "What's happening?" in order to see what’s going on in the Yappr community.
A very interesting web page to improve listening, practise English and have fun!

Visit Yappr.com
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Babbel - Excellent Social Network to Improve Your Vocabulary

Babbel

Tired of not progressing with your vocabulary? Well, don’t worry because this time we present you a web page that’s really useful in this regard: Babbel. This resource allows you to learn new words in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian.

The operation is simple; we can choose different modules that contain words and sentences about a topic or specific situation. For English, we can choose from 62 modules.

For example, if we select the module related to the current Eurocup football championship, we can learn new words such as: “to be offside”, “to be on the bench”, “fan block”, etc. For each of these sentences we can see a descriptive image, listen to the pronunciation and find the translation in our own language. After learning these words, we can click on the “Play” icon that appears on the right and carry out different tasks that will test our knowledge on the newly-learnt vocabulary.

Another interesting feature is “My Vocabulary” where new words and sentences that we’ve already learnt are stored. So as not to forget our new vocabulary we can use this source for revision from time to time.

Increase your vocabulary!

Visit Babbel.com
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Learn American English Online

Learn American English Online

I would like to share this Web page with you, as it has pleasantly surprised me. Despite its slightly unattractive appearance, it contains really interesting resources for practising English.

There are five different levels of incremental difficulty; these are:
  • Blue (basic): the verb ‘to be’, nouns, pronouns, ‘this’, ‘that’ and the present tense…
  • Red (basic+): ‘do’, ‘much/many’, ‘little/few,’ ‘like’, ‘gerunds’…
  • Yellow (intermediate): questions with ‘did’, present perfect tense, modal verbs....
  • Green (intermediate+): the passive voice, (be) supposed to...
  • Orange (advanced): adjective clauses, the future conditional, so/too ...
There is a big variety of lessons for each level (as in the examples listed above). In each lesson you will find an explanation, some examples of use (with images) and many exercises to practise.

The lessons are interesting, although they don’t provide for innovation … And what about the video lessons, you ask me? Well, they are like a particular teacher that explains everything to you… great! To date the author has 62 videos in his YouTube profile.

This web page also offers vocabulary about different topics and even some tips on how to get US nationality.

Go on, go and have a look!

Visit Learn American English Online
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

VOA News - Special English

VOA News

Voice of America is an excellent web page that offers very valuable material for learning American English and much more besides. If with "BBC Learning English" we can practice British English, with "VOA Special English" we can listen to very interesting podcasts spoken with an American accent.

From my experience, I would say that the American accent is much easier that the British, the Irish or the Australian one. That’s why it’s a good idea to listen to different accents, including American ones, to help improve our aural skills.

Why is this resource so attractive?
  1. The podcasts (and complete transcripts associated) have a main vocabulary of about 1500 words, resulting in language that is easier to understand.
  2. The editors use short and simple sentences that contain one main idea. They use active voice and no idioms.
  3. The podcasts are read at a slower pace. In this way each word is pronounced more clearly and is easier to understand.
What else can we find?
  • Podcasts with complete transcripts sorted by a topic or a program. The podcasts can be downloaded, or listen online.
  • Dictionary containing the 1500 words most frequently used.
  • Games and videos.
What else can I tell you? I hope that you find this resource as attractive as I do.

Visit VOA News - Special English
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

TED - Excellent Online Talks

TED

TED? What is “TED”? We have to admit that the name of this web resource is not very informative. However, it consists of a web page with hundreds of videos in English about very interesting topics: Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Science, Culture, Arts … . Moreover, the videos are speeches or lectures given by very important people: Al Gore, Sergey Brin and Larry Page (Google creators) and a very large et al.

It is not a kind of web page like “Yolango”, focused on English learning (subtitled videos, transcripts, related activities …). But the truth is that the videos are extremely interesting, it being possible to download them (in MP4 format) so we can see them through in any compatible device (in my case I use the PSP or the iPod).

Go on, go and have a look!

Visit TED.com
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Italki - Language Exchange

Italki

Today’s resource is called “italki”; it is a web page similar to “soZiety”, but with more functions that the latter.

It is possible to try to find a language colleague from whom we can learn English (or any other language that we are interested in: Chinese, Spanish, Russian, German, etc.) It is not necessary to install any external software (like Skype) to communicate in writing or to speak with a language colleague because the web page offers an application that we can use for this purpose.

This is just one of the differences of “italki” when compared with “soZiety”. There are other interesting functions:
  • Possibility of posing a question to all italki users, like for example: "What is the difference between sensitive and sensible?" And any user who wants to help us will be able to answer.
  • Knowledge creation and consultation; the possibility of actually creating the content (wikis, pages) that we can then use to improve our English.
  • File sharing (usually text files: .doc, .pdf, .txt), with more material.
  • Resources with links to recommended web pages.
This web page is pretty interesting for learning and practicing English (and other languages).

Visit italki.com
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Free Language - Several Resources to Learn Languages

Free Language

Today we're talking about a web site that has many free resources, not only for learning English, but also for other languages such as: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, etc

What interests us is to see what resources and materials are available for improving our English:
  • Dozens of articles and links to online resources.
  • Links to web pages where you can listen to the language/s and download podcasts.
  • Links to web pages that give the news in English.
  • Links for watching television programmes in English that are broadcast via the Internet.
In short: a multitude of resources, so you won't get bored and you'll always have new things accessible to you for practising your chosen language. I personally have never once tired of watching programmes in English using the Internet!

Visit freelanguage
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Friday, June 20, 2008

BBC Learning English

BBC Learning English

Free resource from the BBC for the practising and learning of English where there are a great number of different materials.

Something that you will find is:
  • News English: English news with bold words, whose meaning is explained at the end of the article.
  • Business English: with tips for getting a new job, working abroad, work skills …
  • Watch & Listen: many videos and podcasts.
  • Grammar & Vocabulary: questions about the English language, grammar lessons, pronunciation tips, … and a lot of vocabulary for different situations.
  • Quizzes: to test your level and see how much you have learnt.
  • For teachers: test, ideas, etcetera.
Another recommended web site that is updated weekly with new material so you will never be tired and you will be able to learn continuously.

Visit BBC Learning English
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Livemocha - Great Social Network to Practice English

Livemocha

This website is really good. It offers free online courses for learning different languages; at present: German, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Hindi, English, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian. What interests us is the English course.

The way to use this web page is quite simple; there are 4 courses for each language: 101, 102, 201 and 202. I enrolled on the intermediate level English course 202 (the highest one).

It’s not a wonderful way to become fluent, but if you only have a basic level you will see an improvement. Moreover, if you are thinking of learning Mandarin it will be of great benefit because you can do courses from 101 to 201 and at the end you’ll have a basic knowledge of this extremely complicated language.

Livemocha offers TOEFL preparation courses as well, and this can be interesting for many people.

Something very interesting about this web page is its “social” aspect. Exercises and tasks that we do throughout the courses are visible to other users (native speakers of English) who can correct our tasks and give us recommendations. We can help other members as well. There are prizes for the most supportive members. Let’s collaborate!

A 100 x 100 recommended web site.

Visit livemocha.com

Update: Livemocha has changed its platform and there are only two ways to be able to make its interactive courses: by paying or by actively helping other members of the community and earning mochapoints. If you’re looking for similar websites to learn English, you’ll probably find something that you like in our Social Networks section.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Soziety - Free Language Exchange Using Skype

Soziety

The title of this web page is “Languages Exchange for free” and it establishes in a clear way its goal. After the registration process, we have access to a list of connected users that are interested in learning English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese … In the user’s profile it’s indicated what languages s/he speaks very well and what language(s) s/he is interested in learning/practising.

In order to use this web page you should install the “Skype” software on your computer. You can download it here; once downloaded, double click, and next next. You should create a new account (user and password) for Skype and then you are ready to go.

Now, what you have to do is start looking for people with whom you can do a language exchange. It this means someone fluent in the language you are interested in learning and also s/he should be interested in your native language.

From my experience, I can honestly say that it can be fairly difficult finding and getting to know native English speakers. This may simply be due to the fact that everybody wants to learn English and possibly because demand outstrips supply. It’s also the case that only through trial and error do you find somebody with whom you have a good rapport and thus you are able to learn from one another with relative ease. So be patient and good luck!

Visit soziety.com
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yolango - Improve Your English by Watching Videos

Yolango

Not long ago I found out about this web page, which is in alpha version. However, I’d like to say that it works well and I haven’t had any serious bugs.

The idea is quite innovative: videos are shown with English subtitles. It’s a good idea because you can see whatever you don’t understand in written format. What is new is that the subtitles are clickable. This means that if, for example, you see the word ‘weird’ and you don’t know what it means, you can click on it and the translation (of the chosen language) appears, along with some examples of using the word.

Each video has 3 associated activities:
  1. About Blanks: The video is shown with subtitles but some words are missing and we have to complete them.
  2. About Questions: Some questions about the video.
  3. About Definitions: Definitions about some words appear in the video.
There are so many videos (new ones are added continuously) and they can be filtered by many criteria: difficulty level, categories, scenarios, ...

There is another interesting part called “Scoreboard”, in which users are sorted by the points that they have gained by doing the activities associated with the videos.

With this web page we can improve our functional vocabulary, our listening skills and the way we express ourselves in English. A weak point is that we cannot practice any grammar or writing.

To sum up, this is a much recommended web page, with which you can have a great time while improving your English. Moreover, it’s free!

Visit yolango.com
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Presentation

Hi friends,

This blog aims to be a source of information for different web pages that facilitate the learning of English (and other languages) for free.

I can tell you that I’ve used many of these web pages and the outcomes are very rewarding. They allow you to improve all of the required skills when learning a new language: pronunciation, listening, speaking, grammar, etc.

So, I hope that you’ll find the links and options useful and that they will encourage you to practise your English.
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