Hey…Hey! Happy August! ♥
But, ummm…. where did July go?! This summer has just flown by, and I can’t believe we’re entering the second half of the year. Before we know it, it’ll be my birthday (woooo! 😉 ), the holiday season, and then, BAM, 2016! I am already getting ahead of myself here, so let’s bring the focus back to the present, AUGUST.
I am so excited for this post, and to share with you all a 4 week learning plan to help you improve the 4 core skills in English: reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Within these 4 weeks you’ll also naturally have the chance to increase your vocabulary, review grammar, and get a better sense of the skill areas you feel the weakest in and need additional focus and practice. As you’ll see in the infographic below, each week will have 3 tasks for you to complete, and I encourage you to involve yourself as much as you can! How can you involve yourself? It’s easy! You complete the tasks; whether it’s a writing assignment, creating a video to practice speaking, or commenting on and connecting with others via the blog or social media, and then following up and sharing it with me and others! Explore the hashtag #AugLp on social media, that’s why I created it, for an easy way to find others also learning. Say hello to other learners, and give each other encouragement. The more you personally involve yourself, the better!
The reason I’ve only included 3 main practice activities, is because I wanted to create a realistic plan for the majority of people. Creating a realistic learning plan, with attainable goals is really important when setting out to learn a new language. You will not benefit from setting expectations that are too high, because you most likely won’t follow through. You’re busy, you work, have friends, a family, etc… and I’ve taken those things into consideration when putting together this 4 week plan.
Now, if you have a look at the month of August on a calendar, you’ll see that there are technically 6 weeks when considering Sunday as the first day of the week. So I want you to use the “first week,” Saturday, August 1st, as your day to prepare yourself for the learning plan. I encourage you to look at the month, the activities of each of the 4 weeks, and set aside some time that you will dedicate to English. Besides finishing this learning plan, what specific goals do you want to accomplish by the end of the month? Do you want to read or write faster? Do you want to feel more confident while speaking? Do you want to improve your pronunciation and reduce your accent? Setting up these goals can give you more motivation while learning, because you have an “end” target that you’re moving towards.
The final week, August 30th and 31st, should be a day that you reflect on everything you will have studied. (FUTURE PERFECT, nice!) What was super easy, or incredibly difficult for you? Which of the 4 core skills do you feel the strongest in? ..the weakest? Did you reach the specific goal(s) you set for yourself, why or why not? You can also use this time to create your own learning plan for September. Make sure you share with me all of this pre and post learning plan reflection, I love being a part of the learning journey! 🙂
Are you ready to start improving?
Below are detailed activity instructions!
- For your first activity of week 1, visit the website given on the infographic and test your reading level. You’ll be tested on your ability to recognize vocabulary and understand grammatical structures within a sentence, all while being timed! This “test” will give you an idea of where you are at, and a baseline to see how much you’ve improved. You’ll never see the answers to the test, so you can take it again at the end of the month (or in a couple of months) to see how you’ve improved!
- Activity 2 will give you the opportunity to practice a very important reading skill, scanning. Scanning will help you get the major idea or most important parts of a text, and can help for academic tests, or in academic/professional settings. It’s not always necessary to read a text thoroughly, or even understand 100% of it, so do this exercise to scan more confidently! You’ll even get access to a helpful resource for increasing vocabulary!
- The final activity will help you improve another important skill, skimming. Skimming, like scanning, is not reading a text all the way through, rather reading quickly for the main ideas. You don’t need to understand everything you read, as long as you have an idea of the key points. This will again help you in academic or professional settings, when you need to just have an idea of what is going on.
- EXTRA PRACTICE IDEAS: 1) explore some of the different areas on English Club, and complete some of the many practice exercises. 2) explore more of my vocabulary lists (& others) on Quizlet, and don’t forget to practice with the 6 different learning exercises, I like “Space Race!”
Everyone wants to improve speaking skills, so this is the week to do it! You’ll have real opportunities to connect with me and other learners, and find out different ways to practice speaking on your own.
- Activity 1 gives you 2 opportunities to connect online with me (& others) to practice speaking in a 60-minute group conversation class! These classes are currently being offered Tuesdays and Saturdays (local time), and with the coupon code: ALP you will get to learn for…FREE! Signing-up is required, and space is limited, so make sure you sign up today: to reserve your spot! (*this classes have now expired for this learning plan*)
- The second activity shows you a way to improve speaking, even if you don’t have anyone around you to practice with. Grab your camera phone, computer camera, or whatever video recording device you have around you and start speaking! Having the “pressure” of the camera, and knowing you’ll post it for others to see will give you more realistic speaking practice. You can’t be shy to speak with others, so hopefully this activity will help you LOSE that shyness and build confidence. Upload your video on Instagram or Facebook, and tag me to see, or upload it onto YouTube. There are 2 topics I’ve given you, so you’ll get twice the practice!
- Activity 3 this week will help you overcome common pronunciation problems and get you speaking better, more like a native, which will help you be better understood. In the link provided you’ll receive information, exercises, and additional resources to help you speak better! Hey, if you want even more practice, make another video of your progress and post it for feedback!
- EXTRA PRACTICE IDEAS: 1) try and find an English exchange partner, connect with other English Outside the Box-ers via social media. Just send someone a message, or tag someone in a comment to see if they’re interested. You can also visit the “Learn English” Google + group to find and start some hangout sessions, here. 2) Join the Conversation Club (click here): a monthly training program designed to give students weekly speaking practice with real conversations.
Improving your writing will benefit your speaking skills, help you in school and the workplace, and have a huge impact on your overall fluency. This week you’ll practice informal writing, creativity, and professional styling writing.
- A new weekly addition of the learning blog is, Creativity Tuesday, debuting this week for your first activity. Pictures are a great way to practice language skills because of the different ways photos can be interpreted. You may see something differently than I do, and a picture can create different thoughts and emotions for people. So, take a look at a beautiful photo, and write about it!
- If you feel your writing is boring, or you are lacking some of the skills needed to make it better this is the activity for you! Activity 2 will teach some writing styles that can add depth and excitement to your writing, which you can of course use while speaking, too!
- In the final activity, you will review a more professional style of writing to help with business related English. If you’ve watched Office Space, you know how important memos are, so learn what they are, how to write them, and get practice doing it this week.
- EXTRA PRACTICE IDEAS: Explore this learning blog, as there are many writing opportunities. If you’re feeling lazy 😉 , just click here, here, or here. You may even learn some phrasal verbs, too! Enjoy!
Can you believe you’re almost done?! Improve your listening comprehension skills this week while having fun with TV shows, music, and intriguing TEDtalks. You’ll improve your ability to passively listen too, which is something you naturally do in your own language!
- Activity 1 will introduce you to my English Through TV Series course, a way to improve vocabulary, grammar, listening, pronunciation, and reading skills, all while relaxing on your couch watching TV. I’ve included 2 different TV show options for you, The Office or Breaking Bad. This is a course I always have available for students, so if you’ve enjoyed this be sure to sign-up for more by clicking here!
- Increasing your passive listening skills will help you better understand while actively listening, because some of the information will be understood without even trying! Have you ever overheard a conversation while at dinner with someone else? Think about it, you’re in a conversation with a friend and you can still understand what another person is saying at another table, isn’t that crazy? This is passive listening, something you can do naturally in your own language, so I’ll help you practice doing it in English, too! The task is described here.
- Let’s end this week with even more learning fun! Music is a great tool to better your English skills. I even talked about it in this post, so I obviously think it’s helpful which is why I am including it in your plan. Listen to songs you enjoy, and follow along with the website’s music cloze activity. Blank spaces will appear in the text and you have to type the word(s) that you heard. Not only will you be improving your listening skills, you’ll be practicing spelling and typing, too!
- EXTRA PRACTICE IDEAS: 1)Check out my YouTube channel, for different educational videos that will not only help you practice listening, but will teach you other concepts as well. You can check out the video below 😉 2) Another favorite resource I have is www.esl-lab.com, which has hundreds of listening comprehension lessons for all skill levels
Did you scroll down, too lazy to read it all? That’s OK! Check out this quick video giving you some of the most important information from this post!
I am really looking forward to connecting with you all this month, and helping you improve your English skills throughout the month of August! Be sure to check back throughout this month, as supporting posts, resources, and even more learning opportunities are coming your way! We even have a new blog contributor that joined the English Outside the Box team! 🙂 Stay tuned!