Listening is a fundamental skill in communication. No matter what language, good listening can ensure good comprehension and, is a symbol of respect. Naturally, listening is more difficult when English isn’t your first language.
If you’re wanting new ways to supplement your English listening (rather than relying on watching movies/shows). Here are some ways you can strengthen your skills.
Watch The News
Not only is this a great way to see what is happening around the world. The daily exercise can be great to create an English environment. Perhaps, you can listen to it while eating breakfast or on the commute to work.
A great one to start with is “One-minute World News” by the BBC. It’s short and insightful and a nice bit of factual listening practice.
If you have a little time on your hands, why not try to note some keywords you hear?
Or, write a transcript of what you hear
Listen to Podcasts
If you’re someone who enjoys listening to motivational speeches or, just something stimulating. A podcast is a great listening tool.
So, where to begin?
TED/TEDx Talks – Speakers will discuss a range of topics e.g. motivational videos. What’s great is their videos are transcribed. You can not only listen, but read along.
Culips – Provide podcasts of slowed down, natural, English conversations. Great for learning grammar and sentence patterns! They also provide transcripts and key vocabulary in a study guide!
If you want the benefits of reading, without having to sit down and read, consider listening to an audiobook. Audiobooks have made reading accessible for all; no matter what lifestyle! Here are some places to start:
English is a widely spoken language. We know this and assume it’ll be straightforward. However, between the two most popular accents, there are many differences. Differences include pronunciation, spelling and word choices. Grab a notebook and pen because here we will share some useful differences you need to know.
The first way that British and American English differ is with particular words. Here is a list of examples.
Another way British and American English differ is pronunciation of words
Lastly, you may notice that the spelling of words differ.
Letter ‘S’ or ‘Z’
American English – Realize, organize, apologize
British English – Realise, organise, apologise
Adding the letter ‘U’
American English – Color, behavior, armor
British English – Colour, behaviour, armour
Hopefully, this brief introduction into the differences between British and American English has made things a little more clear. Feel free to check out more of our blog posts or sign up for a free class by visiting our site!
Feeling anxious about booking your trial English class? There’s really no need to worry, our teachers are the warmest and will always prioritise your learning and comfort during each class.
If you’re new to the e-learning industry, you may want an idea of what will happen. This post will give you some insight.
As with any first meeting, your first online class will consist of a little introduction. Questions you could be asked may be:
What are your hobbies?
Why are you interested in learning English?
This is also a chance for you to ask your teacher some questions. Perhaps you want to know where they are located or what their hobbies are? Feel free to ask.
Creating Your Learning Plan
Voice your hopes. Let us know what you want to achieve with your English classes. Are you studying English for work, exams or living abroad? Whatever your reason, by letting your teacher know, we can curate a learning plan specifically for you.
In addition, this is also a chance for you to share how you learn best:
Audio or video classes?
Do you like to do lots of speaking or more reading?
Are you someone who enjoys homework after classes?
Want to focus on vocabulary and making sentences with them?
If your teachers know how you learn best, we can support you in the best possible way. Remember, not every learner is the same.
Understand How Lessons Are Carried Out Online
Thanks to the rise of online learning, learning has become accessible for pretty much everyone – No matter where in the world you are. At Panda Learn, we offer classes through Zoom/Microsoft Teams/KakaoTalk.
Of course, occasionally we may encounter technical problems. To minimise these issues we ask students the following:
Use a headset or earphones to minimise echos
Try using a computer connected to your wifi router
Take classes in a quiet environment
Video classes will allow you to see your teacher and lesson material. So a good connection is important.
So that pretty much covers everything. Whether it’s your trial class or first class, there isn’t anything to worry about. Be positive, motivated and ready to learn.
Feel free to drop by our site and complete a form on our “Contact Us” page if you’re interested in booking your free 15 minute trial class. Who could refuse a freebie?
Idioms are a fun way to spice up how we express ourselves. They are used a lot by English speakers and, though they may not make sense, once you learn them, they can help you sound more native.
Here are five food/drink idioms commonly used by English speakers.
ℕ𝕠𝕥 𝕞𝕪 𝕔𝕦𝕡 𝕠𝕗 𝕥𝕖𝕒. – Something isn’t to your liking or of interest to you. For example: Rock music is absolutely not my cup of tea.
𝔸 𝕡𝕚𝕖𝕔𝕖 𝕠𝕗 𝕔𝕒𝕜𝕖 – Used to describe something you find easy. For example: The maths homework was a piece of cake.
ℂ𝕠𝕞𝕡𝕒𝕣𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕝𝕖𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕠𝕣𝕒𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕤 – Comparing two things that cannot be compared because they’re very different. For example: You’re comparing apple to oranges. Me and my sister have no similarities.
𝕐𝕠𝕦 𝕔𝕒𝕟’𝕥 𝕙𝕒𝕧𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕔𝕒𝕜𝕖 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕖𝕒𝕥 𝕚𝕥 𝕥𝕠𝕠 – You can’t have everything. For example: Getting good grades without studying is pretty impossible. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
𝕋𝕒𝕜𝕖 𝕚𝕥 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕒 𝕡𝕚𝕟𝕔𝕙 𝕠𝕗 𝕤𝕒𝕝𝕥 – Don’t take something seriously because it may be untrue or when someone has the tendency to exaggerate. For example: I took it with a pinch of salt when Lisa told me she was mad, she always exaggerates things.
I hope you found this useful. Be sure to try and add these to your next English conversation.
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Since these days, technology has become extremely advanced. Many of us flick through our phones on Instagram, Facebook etc. A lot of that time we probably realise was time-wasting. Perhaps you associate your phone with an escape from studying. But it is so important that we start using technology to do us some good.
Let’s get down to business. You want to learn English and feel like online classes might not be effective? I’m going to prove to you why that is wrong.
Flexible: You can take classes at a time that is best for you. If you feel that you’re busy with work or school during the day, it might be difficult to learn a language with a tutor in a physical setting contrastingly, if you take online classes, you can study after work or school. So, enjoy your dinner and take a class. Seems like a win-win to me!
Comfort: If you are a bit of a homebody (like me), you perhaps dread the thought sometimes of leaving the house. (Ah, the tiresome task of choosing an outfit…) Taking online classes saves you the trouble 🤭 You can take classes in your comfy PJs with your favourite snacks beside you. Seriously, it’s one relaxing but rewarding time. *Please note, don’t make your teacher jealous with your delicious snacks – we can get slightly jealous*
Cost: If you compare the cost of studying online vs in a physical classroom, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s a lot cheaper to study online!
1-on-1 learning time: Perhaps you’re a little shy. In the past, the thought of speaking aloud in English in front of your peers sent chills down your spine. Don’t fret! With the online classes, you have the attention of your teacher. You won’t have to worry about others or any feel pressure. If you don’t understand something, you can work with your teacher through the issue until you finally understand. What’s great is you can work at your own pace and build a great rapport with the teacher. Check out some of our teachers😉
Range of classes: Picture this, it’s the new year and, you’re super busy with family and celebrating. However, you usually take English classes every Saturday and, you don’t want to break the routine. You might not want to take your usual 45-minute class, so thanks to the flexibility of online studies, you can perhaps squeeze in a 15-minute class. So yes, there’s a range of timings you can choose from and different class topics. Whatever your interest or schedule, you have no worries.
“I don’t want to show my face”: Don’t let your shyness hold you back anymore. Do you want to learn English? You are capable! If you really dislike video calls, online ESL schools offer the option for audio classes. This is excellent to build on listening skills too and some all-important self-confidence. Even us teachers get super shy sometimes too, so know, you’re not alone!
If you’re feeling motivated and inspired to start learning English and booking your first class, please be sure to check out https://panda-learn.com. You can book your free 15-minute class with us and get a taste for studying English online now.
Learning any new skill can at first present many challenges. Sometimes, a single challenge can deter us from continuing something we initially wanted. To combat this, it is crucial we implement useful habits and achievable targets. Learning a new language takes time and effort, we have to acknowledge this first! So, where do we start when wanting to learn English? Here are some tips from Panda Learn to our dear readers, enjoy.
Know Your Motivation– This tip may seem a little obvious, but if you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated in the long run. No matter your motivation, once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit. Set yourself some challenging yet achievable goals. By doing this, you’ll feel you’re progressing, which will, in turn, motivate you to continue learning the language of your choice. So it’s a win-win situation! Rewards are great motivators! Don’t forget to treat yourself when you achieve your goals. If you have one really productive day of studying, why not take a break the next day as a reward? Or set yourself a goal for the day. If you achieve it, go and treat yourself to a nice slice of cake or something you’ve been craving.
Set time for learning – If you’re serious about learning a language, it’s important to make a plan for how much time you can commit to learning. Schedule learning around your day. Most of us give the excuse we have no time. But once we reflect on our day, we realise we do! Even setting aside 10 minutes in the evening to read and review new vocabulary is extremely helpful! To get results, we need to be consistent.
Leave Your Comfort Zone – Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, being corrected, and trying again. This is the same with any new language, and mistakes and errors are part of the journey. If you managed to say something, and someone else understood what you meant, then you’re successfully using the language! Willingness to make mistakes means being ready to put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations. This can be scary, but the only way to develop and improve. No matter how much you learn, you won’t ever speak a language without putting yourself out there: talk to strangers in the language, ask for directions, order food, try to tell a joke, etc. The more you do this, the bigger your comfort zone becomes, and the more at ease you’ll be in any new situations.
Practice with a Tutor – Friendly native speakers can help you improve your skills and build your confidence. Conversing with native speakers will, unsurprisingly, increase your ability to speak to native speakers! They tend to talk much more quickly than non-native speakers, so understanding them can seem daunting at first. That’s why it’s important to get familiar with native speech habits, so you won’t find it challenging to understand your target language outside an educational setting.
Read to learn English – The more you read English text to yourself or aloud, the more confidence you will have. If you feel nervous, start by practising at home then, move on to reading in front of an audience and asking for their feedback. Of course, it’s also enjoyable to read some wonderful stories. E-readers and tablets make learning English even easier because if you don’t know a word, you can click on it to read the definition. Others recommend listening to and reading simultaneously as an excellent way to enhance the learning process.
Add Music– There is no need to go further to choose what music to listen to. The advice is to start with the songs you already listen to. Find the lyrics you love. We hear our favourite songs dozens of times a day, but we do not pay enough attention to the content and meaning of the words. Repetition is one of the most important factors in learning a foreign language. The joy of singing along to songs you love makes it easier for you to pick up the correct pronunciation. Learning how vocabulary is used in sentences is a key part of learning how to speak in the real world. You can’t learn isolated words in your target language and expect to become fluent.
Watch TV Shows/Films– If you are someone who loves to watch movies and shows, now you have an even better excuse to watch them! There are just so many benefits of watching movies and shows when learning English (or any language). To start with, if you find you want to pick-up a particular accent, watch your favourite actor/actress and try to imitate them. Additionally, you will be able to learn an abundance of contemporary expressions. By choosing something that interests you, you’ll truly soak up a lot of learning from listening and observing. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our list – https://panda-learn.com/2021/01/17/british-shows-movies-you-can-start-watching/
Record yourself – This is a great way to review your own speaking. I particularly encourage this to students who are preparing for speaking exams (IELTS). Maybe you can try recording a video/audio diary of your daily life or record yourself imitating someone. After, listen to your recording. Do you think you could improve? If yes, try again. Over time it will be nice to listen back and hear your improvements.
Keep a notebook– When taking classes, it’s important to have a book in which you organise all your class notes. Treat your English learning journey the same. Write down any new vocabulary, meanings and synonyms. Make notes on grammar rules and create example sentences where you use these rules. If you’re struggling with the pronunciation of a word, break down the word as you hear it e.g. Listening – lih-suh-ning
Have fun! – Lastly, remember that learning English should be fun. It unlocks so many exciting and rewarding opportunities for you too. From the tips above, you’ll see that there are plenty of fun ways to study English, that don’t just involve memorising grammar rules. Find a method that you enjoy the most and stick with it.
We all know the importance and value of reading, right? For many of you who want to pick-up an English novel, but don’t know where to start. We have compiled a few of our favourites.
ONE: Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl
The author is very much enjoyed in England among children and adults! This book is fun and is a great story to follow along. If you’re a fan of watching movies, there has also been a movie made based on the book! Some of you may also know of a movie called “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.” This movie was based on Roald Dahl’s book called “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”. If you are looking for fun reads, consider reading some of Roald Dahl’s classics.
TWO: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
A wonderful story that has won awards and is popular among schools. This novel is about a 12-year-old girl and her Mexican-American family. It is filled with fantastic vocabulary if you want to learn more for daily life. The short story is like a diary as it is told in a series of vignettes. One of the themes of this short story is the power of language.
THREE: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway.
Many of our students recognise this classic. Due to its popularity, the book has been translated into many different languages – Korean, Japanese, Chinese, etc. This book is a great one to read for people who feel a little worried they won’t understand the story. I challenge you to read it first in your native language, then in English. The novel is also an excellent choice as it a short story yet, gives you a little challenge with some vocabulary. When you meet vocabulary that you feel unsure about, start by reading the complete sentence and attempt guessing what it means. Underline the word with a pencil and check your dictionary after your reading session. Most times, you will find you can get a pretty good guess. This is something we as native English speakers do!
FOUR: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.
Similar to our first choice, this book is another classic known globally! The sweet story contains beautiful illustrations and an enjoyable story. The Prince is a charming character who takes us through his journey of love, loneliness, friendship, and more! Since it is a short story, I hope that you give it a go! Once again, try reading it in your native language first then, English. Or, if you’re feeling a little lazy, there is a movie!
FIVE: The Giver by Lois Lowry
This book doesn’t fail to grab your attention right from the start! The story is about a little boy named Jonas who lives in a society where there is no crime or sadness (sounds good?) What makes this interesting is that by the age of 12, children are assigned jobs which they have to do for the rest of their lives. Everything is chosen for you… What’s also great is, you can practice your English more by watching the movie.
SIX: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’engle
This novel is great for those of you who like a challenge. There are lots of opportunities to pick up new vocabulary. The story is about a girl who travels through time with her brother and her friend, to rescue her father from another planet. It’s a fun adventure which will be sure to enhance your reading skills.
SEVEN: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling
We couldn’t give you a reading list without having Harry Potter here. The characters and the storyline is something we are all familiar with due to the fantastic movies. It only makes sense that you give reading the award-winning books a try. Though this book is a little lengthier than the others on the list, it is an exciting and gripping storyline! JK Rowling’s novels are written very well and are generally quite easy to follow. It may be useful to keep a pencil and notebook handy to note any new vocabulary!
EIGHT: A Library of Lemons by Jo Cotterill
A story about grief and friendship. Calypso has a lot of responsibility to take care of her home after the loss of her mother. The character enjoys reading and writing as an escape from her routine. It’s an emotional story, but very heart-warming. This novel is quite a nice one that has easy vocabulary and a range of sentences. You can find this book translated in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and more.
NINE: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky
A coming-of-age story that takes you through the life of a teenager dealing with mental illness. It’s an engaging story and has some slang too, so there are lots to benefit from here! If you enjoy reminiscing over high school days, you will totally enjoy this one. Oh, and for Emma Watson fans, there’s a movie that she stars in!
TEN: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I have saved one of my favourite books for last. This story is what I feel inspired me to try using more variety with my vocabulary – even as a native! The story is emotional and written so beautifully. The English vocabulary is relatively simple to follow along with and yet still give you a challenge. Do not be put off because the storyline is very captivating. It’s a hard book to put down. But, seriously prepare a box of tissues.
We hope you are feeling inspired by the reading list. Let us know if you try any out or if we’ve missed any of your favourites from our list we would love to hear!