Lesson 1: Ice Road Truckers | How to improve English speaking skills | Speaking

Speaking Practice Activity: Ice Road Truckers Improve English Speaking Skills

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In this lesson, we are going to use an interesting video about a very dangerous job which is called ice road trucking. We are going to show you how to improve English speaking skills with this practice activity.

Step 1: Watch the video about how to improve your English speaking skills using this lesson.

Step 2: Watch the interesting and suspenseful video about ice road truckers and see what their dilemma is.

Step 3: Watch the last video which has questions for you to answer and practice using the new vocabulary about this interesting topic. You will also hear how a native speaker would answer the questions so you can learn some new phrases and additional words.

More speaking advice and tips here

Related Vocabulary

  • Semi-truck: A commercial truck that is designed to pull a trailer with a heavy load
  • Current: Flowing or moving water
  • Trucker: The person who drives large trucks that transport or haul prodcuts
  • Crack: To break without complete separation of the parts. A crack in a glass, looks like a line.
  • Loader: A machine that is used to move dirt or other materials.
  • Stuck: Not being able to move. Unstuck: When you are able to move after being stuck.

Questions to Answer:

  1. Why is the ice weak?
  2. Why did the truck get stuck?
  3. How thick to you think the ice has to be in order to support a semi truck and it’s trailer?
  4. What did they do to get the truck unstuck?
  5. Why do you think that these trucks are driving across frozen lakes and rivers?
  6. How would you feel if you were driving a semi truck and it started to break through the ice?
  7. How much would someone have to pay you to do this job?
  8. What aspects of truck driving are dangerous in winter conditions?

Please leave a comment with what you thought about this activity to help you improve your speaking skills. This is a new lesson style for us and we want to hear from you!

5 Commonly Misspelled Words You Should Know – Guest Blog Post

Rochelle Ceira, an English specialist and instructor, has written a very informative guest blog post for us at Real English Conversations about 5 commonly misspelled words that are easy to correctly use if you take the time to know the difference. Here is her article:  

5 English Words that You Should Stop Misspelling

Not only English language learners, but also the native English speakers misspell a number of English words. Those having linguistic issues contribute majorly to this blunder.

Incorrect pronunciation is also a common reason for misspelled words. If you mispronounce a word, you will likely misspell it. For example, if the word “oil” mispronounced, it will be written as “oyeil”.

According to many research findings, people mainly misspell words if they are unable to develop either a visual, motor image or an auditory connection to the word. Also, those who fail to translate the pronunciation of a word into a spelling are more likely to make this kind of mistake.

The same research reveals that other reasons behind misspelling are English language vowels, use of consonants more than 1 time in words, silent letters and the failure to imagine lengthy words. However, you can overcome these deficiencies with misspelling English words with consistent practice.

 

misspelled words

 

The List of 5 Commonly Misspelled Words:

1. There, Their and They’re

All these 3 words are sound exactly the same; however, they have very different uses and meanings.

“There” is used to specify a place. You can remember this in reference to the word ‘here’ which also directs to a place, as in “here” and “there”.

E.g., “Over there you will find two things that are always kept on the table for your assistance.”

“Their” is used to define belonging. The word ‘heir’ thus, means successor, so you can easily relate the use of word “Their”. You can say “Their” is a mean pronoun.

E.g., “Their house is spooky and may be it is haunted.”

“They’re” is a contraction ‘they are’. An apostrophe is used to replace “a” to make a shorter version of this common two word phrase.  It is just used for shortening words or sentences.

E.g., “They’re quite fond of you.”

Many people misspell these words, because they are do not take the time to become familiar with their respective use and they are pronounced exactly the same. Click on each word to hear how they sound: There, Their and They’re

You just need to focus on which context you need to use; this will help you use the correct one.

 

2. Stationary and Stationery

By changing only one letter in these words (‘e’ and ‘a ), it can makes a significant difference in the meaning. The whole context is changed or can be misunderstood if used incorrectly.

The word “Stationary” is used to specify immoveable things. For example, snakes are known to be the stationary vertebrates, as long as they get food and shelter. They never change the area where they live.

The word “Stationery” refers to the items used for writing in offices, home or educational institutes.

For example, “The stationery supplier at my office charges 20% as a commission charge”.

However, the ending, “nary” is pronounced with an “a” instead of “e”, which is another reason of being misspelling it.

 

3. Effect and Affect

The two frequently misspelled words are noun and verb, respectively.  Usually, effect is noun and affect is verb.

“Affect” is referred as a verb, because it depicts an impact, consequences, etc.  For example, “John’s habit of drinking too much alcohol has affected his studies greatly.”

“Effect” is used to portray an outcome or a result. For example, “The after effects of earthquake were severe and only few are expected to survive.”

Here the meaning of the two words is very similar which causes confusion with using these 2 words. Knowing how they function in their respective context is a must.

 

4. Compliment and Complement

Both words “Compliment” and “Complement” are adjective that have a level of complexity that can make them difficult to cope with.

When you praise someone, you are actually conveying or giving a compliment. For example, “You are looking gorgeous in this dress”, is a compliment.

The adjective of “compliment” is “complimentary”, which has two meanings. For example, “She was very complimentary by saying how beautiful my dress was.”

However, “complimentary” also means free of charge. For example, “The hotel provides complimentary tour to its guests.”

“Complement” refers to things appearing nicely when they are together or “complimenting each other”. For example, “as a couple, the husband and wife complement each other.”

As an adjective, complementary is used like this: “Both sisters provide complementary skills, one is good with doing facials and the other is great with hair cutting.”

5. Lose and Loose

Both words “Lose” and “Loose” are misspelled all the time. These two words have no similarity in their meanings. In speech, the words are pronounced differently.  Listen to ‘Lose’ here. And Loose here.

“Lose” is the opposite of win; and “Loose” is opposite of tight.

For example, “I don’t want to lose you, but my mother is against our relation.”

“This shirt is too loose for me.”

Perhaps you can remember the difference by remembering that “loose” has two O’s which makes it a bigger word. Big, like a loose shirt.

Work on avoiding misspelling words in English. You shall find many guides that are available on Internet for your assistance. Your constant efforts will sure help you overcome these mistakes.

Leave a comment below with any other commonly misspelled words that you know to let me know if you learned anything new about the words in this article.

About the Author:

Rochelle Ceira is an specialist in English Language currently serving as an instructor in a private institute at her locality. She’s an avid reader of Dan Brown’s and G.R.R Martin, and loves to indulge herself in their novels whenever they get time.

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Lesson 142: Go Together #2 | English Phrasal Verb Course

Go Together #2 English Phrasal Verb

The English phrasal verb ‘Go Together’ has 2 different meanings that are used when we are speaking. We are now going to discuss that it means to combine objects well. To help you understand this meaning easier we have created the following easy examples of using ‘Go Together’ in context.

 

Phrasal Verb: Go Together

by Real English Conversations | Phrasal Verb Course

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Phrasal Verbs Lesson: Go Together #2

Alternative Meaning:  To combine things well

Example 1:

  • That blue shirt and the black pants go together nicely.
  • That blue shirt and the black pants look good when combined.

Example 2:

  • Red wine and red meat go together better than white wine and red meat.
  • Red wine and red meat taste good when combined better than white wine and red meat.

 

The English Phrasal Verbs Course

Learning phrasal verbs from a list is not the best way to do it. You need to learn the meaning of phrasal verbs through the context of a situation. In our phrasal verb course, you will get two examples using the phrasal verb in each lesson. Once you have studied 10 lessons, you can test your knowledge using the phrasal verb stories.

The phrasal verb stories are the key to helping you understand the verbs that have multiple meanings and to comprehend what the phrasal verbs mean when you hear them. To learn more about the course and see an example of the lessons you will receive Click Here.

Please share this lesson if you thought it was helpful and leave a comment below using an example if you want to receive a correction 🙂

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  • 2 phrasal verb stories
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250 Phrasal Verb Lessons with 25 Stories

Start understanding phrasal verbs that you hear in everyday conversation. Our audio lessons give you the training you need with PDF transcriptions to master English phrasal verbs.

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English Listening Skills: Solutions to Fix Poor Listening Comprehension

english listening skills

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In a conversation, English listening skills are just as important as speaking. The fact is that you cannot respond to someone if you do not hear them well. What’s worse, you could give an incorrect response because you had to guess what was said to you.

Students tend to focus on speaking as a problem because they find it difficult to put together entire sentences properly. Listening seems easier in the beginning because you can guess what a message means with hearing as little as 30 or 40%. For this reason, many students reach an intermediate or even an advanced level before they realize they need to focus on improving their listening skills.

In this article, I’ll explain the different stages of listening in a way that will help you understand exactly where your ears need help. Plus you will learn the techniques I used to improve my English listening skills to be able to start learning new vocabulary and phrases, with only my ears.

If you ignore poor English listening skills

I wonder if you can relate to my experience…

As I started to reach an intermediate level (with my second language), I had learned enough vocabulary that I could finally understand basic audio conversations. Even though I couldn’t hear every word, I understood enough of the audio to create a story in my head that made sense when I thought about the context of the situation.

At this stage, you get excited that you can finally understand something in this language you have been studying for a really long time and you say to yourself, “I just need to learn more words and verbs then I’ll be able to understand more.”

My listening skills had always been weak, I was only able to recognize words that I knew really well or if a person spoke really slowly and separated all the words. Because of this, I became developed with the skill of guessing what I was hearing based on the few words I could hear.

Very often in a real conversation, I just pretended I knew what the other person was talking about and agreed until I was asked a question. This is when you realize you have no idea what they just asked you which is super embarrassing!

This type of situation is completely acceptable and normal at an intermediate level. It starts to become a problem if you continue ignoring your poor English listening skills. You will strengthen the habit of only hearing words you know and your ears will continue ignoring all the little words in between. Fully understanding movies, conversations and other audio (without context) will continue to be impossible!

The worst part is you are missing out on the opportunity to learn grammar, vocabulary, and expressions while you are listening to English. It is very rewarding when you realize your listening skills are improving and you can finally understand movies and TV shows without subtitles!

 

‘Listening’ is NOT Just One Skill

You may be surprised to know there are several steps that happen when you first hear something. Once you identify the stage where your listening is ‘broken’, the solution to fix it is easy!

Let’s take a moment to look at all the processes of listening:

  1. Hearing sounds
  2. Recognizing the sounds are parts of a word
  3. Connecting the word to its meaning
  4. Remembering what each word means
  5. Understanding the concept of all of the words together

 

Testing Your English Listening Skills

The easiest way to know if your listening skills need some attention is to listen to a new piece of audio with the intention of recognizing the areas you CAN’T hear or understand perfectly.

Listen for each word you do not recognize, take note of it by counting with your fingers or using a piece of paper to draw a dot or a line each time you aren’t 100% certain you are hearing and understanding everything.

Listen to some audio to test your listening skills!

Take 5 minutes to recognize how much your listening can improve with one of our conversations. Do not use a transcription while you are testing your listening.

Identifying Your Problems with Listening

Now that you have identified that there are still some areas you can improve your listening skills, let’s go into more detail about which skill needs practice and the solutions to become an expert listener 🙂

 

1. Hearing Sounds

This is the first stage in the listening process. If you can hear sounds like the dog barking outside, humming of the fridge… then you have nothing to worry about.

 

2. Recognizing the Sounds as Words


This was my biggest problem. It took me a long time to recognized it but once I did, my listening started to improve. My ears were acting like a filter. They were ignoring the foreign sounds (or syllables) in the language I was listening to.

English sounds and syllables are ‘foreign’ to your ears compared to the sounds in your native language. Your brain is choosing to ignore these sounds and treating them like they are not important. It is ignoring those sounds in the same way that it can ignore the annoying dog barking outside all day.

This is the main problem that students have when they complain about having poor listening. The solution is to train your ears to recognize the sounds it is ignoring. It takes a bit of patience to do the exercises to correct the problem but you will hear the first results after only a few hours of training 🙂

Watch this interesting clip from Chris Lonsdale, an expert in language acquisition. He speaks exactly about the ‘sound filters’ which are your ears. You only need to watch seconds of the video now, but I highly recommend you watch the whole video later.

How to Fix this Listening Skill

Listen to audio that is appropriate for your level, not too difficult or too easy. If the audio is too fast, use a software like Audacity to slow it down. This video I recorded shows you exactly how to use it in this way:

English Listening Training

You need to train your ears to pay attention to these new sounds so they are recognized as something that has a meaning and needs to be recognized and heard.

Start by listening to a small section of audio with a word or a phrase you cannot understand very well. Sometimes, I need to listen to a very short audio clip (1 second long) as many as 20 or 30 times with the audio slowed down until my ears were recognizing the individual words and sounds. After I can identify the words with slow audio, I listen 15 or 20 more times at a normal speed audio.

It takes a while to understand 2 or 3 words that are said very quickly and blended together.  Using a transcription is very important in listening training. Read the words as you listen once or twice, then try to listen without the transcript. Continue using the transcript to help you identify the sounds and words with the goal of work toward being able to hear to the audio perfectly without the transcription.

Another secret I have discovered is that your brain needs time to digest the new sounds. Try listening to the audio a day or two later. You might be able to hear the audio perfectly! You will be able to hear more than the first time you tried to understand it because your brain has had time to process the new sounds.

 

3. Connecting a word to a meaningstudying and improving listening skills

Reading a word is completely different than recognizing a word in audio or a conversation. It is 100% normal to not recognize a word when you hear it, even though you ‘know’ the word really, really well in writing.

It will feel effortless to understand the words that you already have an audio connection to. This is because you have already made a connection to that word before.

Words you have learned recently or words that you have never heard before do not have a strong connection in your mind. It takes you a moment to recognize and remember the meaning of the word the first time you hear it.

How to Fix this:

This activity helps you build a connection between the words you ‘know’ to be able to recognize them when you hear them. It also lets you practice new vocabulary without studying a list of words!

  1. Start by listening to some audio.
  2. Stop the audio the moment you don’t know or can’t remember the meaning of a word you heard.
  3. Look up the meaning or read the transcription to see what is being said.
  4. Listen to the audio again with a focus of listening for the new words.
  5. Work toward being able to listen to the audio without needing the transcription.
  6. Listen to the audio a day or two later to review the new vocabulary you learned.

This activity is only to practice your connection with words you already know when you are studying alone. During a conversation, you cannot stop to think to remember a word or look up the meaning.

Remember to relax when you are listening to someone speaking in a conversation. Only focus on the words you can hear clearly and try to make a connection, even if you have to guess.

Stopping to think about the meaning of one word during a conversation can stop you from hearing several sentences while you are thinking. 20, 30 or even 40 words can pass by while you are trying to remember one word. Remember, the words you know well will feel easy to hear.

 

4. Remembering What You Just Heard

At first, it seems like this step should happen without effort and be a skill that transfers from your native language.  For some people (including me), I needed to spend a day or two practicing ‘how to remember’ what I just heard.

You will know you have this problem if you feel like you recognize every word you are hearing while you are listening to audio… but the moment the audio stops, you can’t remember the details. If someone asked you what the audio was about, would you be able to tell them all the details?

This activity below is great for anyone to try even if you do not think you have a problem remembering what you just heard.

How to fix this: 
Listen to one sentence of an audio track that you can understand well. Not too easy, but you can understand every word.
Try to repeat the sentence. If you can repeat the sentence after two attempts, great!

If you can only remember the last few words, it’s okay. You will improve. Continue to listen to the next few words in the audio and try to repeat as much as you can. The objective is not to repeat the sentence because it is memorized, it is to ‘remember’ what you just heard.

A tip to stay focused while you are listening to audio is to tell yourself that you have to explain what you are listening to the moment it is finished. In fact, you can turn this into a speaking exercise by stopping to explain the audio every 2 or 3 minutes with this speaking practice technique in this article.

5. Understanding the Concept (Listening comprehension)

Understanding what you hear, otherwise known as listening comprehension, is something that will affect most listeners when the audio they are listening to is challenging. Perhaps the audio contains a lot of new vocabulary, fancier words or a complex grammar structure that you aren’t used to seeing or hearing.

How to fix this:

Again I will say, using a transcription while you are listening allows you to use your eyes to assist your brain in understanding better. You mind needs practice processing information (and all the little details) at the speed of someone speaking. Slowing down the audio is a great way to give you more time to understand. Gradually, increase the speed of the audio, then stop using the transcription. You should be able to understand the concept perfectly,

Slowing down the audio is a great way to give you brain more time to think about what it is hearing. After listening to the audio a few times at a slower speed. Once you feel comfortable understanding everything at a slower speed, try listening without the transcription.

Next, increase the speed of the audio to its regular speed. You may need to use the transcript again to help you feel like you are understanding everything perfectly.  After you are confident with the regular speed audio, stop using the transcription. You should be able to understand everything perfectly, at a normal speed

As an advanced student, it is easy to overlook the 10% of an audio that you don’t understand or comprehend. It’s really important to comprehend all of the little grammar pieces and words that may change the meaning. For example, a tiny word like ‘will’ can change the verb tense to the future. Or hearing the difference between ‘the man is on the car’ versus ‘the man in the car’. With one letter changing in the proposition from ‘on’ to ‘in’, the meaning changes completely.

I hope this article has helped you to identify where your ‘listening’ skills have been getting stuck. Just be patient with your ears and realize that you need to take the time to focus on specific activities to help you overcome the small stages in the process.

Which stage of listening do you have problems with?

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