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Academic et General IELTS : Quelle est la différence ?

Il existe deux versions de l’examen IELTS : la version académique et la version générale.  Voici un petit guide pour comprendre la différence entre ces deux tests.

Premièrement, il est bon de savoir que les deux versions du test sont composées des 4 sections suivantes: Compréhension écrite (Lecture), Compréhension orale (Écoute), Expression écrite (Écriture) et Expression orale .

Certaines parties de l’examen  sont similaires et d’autres sont différentes d’un examen à l’autre. Par exemple,  l’écoute et l’expression orale sont identiques aux deux examens alors que la lecture et l’écriture diffèrent selon le type d’examen.

Pour les deux parties consacrées à l’écoute, il faut écouter un total de 4 monologues et conversations et ensuite répondre à une variété de questions. Cette partie dure environ une demi-heure et l’on ne peut écouter le dialogue qu’une seule fois.

Pour les deux examens, dans la partie consacrée à l’expression orale, il faut répondre à des questions sur des thèmes familiers, en parlant de manière continue et fluide pendant environ une à deux minutes par thème. Vous répondez aussi à des questions sur des thématiques plus vastes et abstraites. Cette partie de l’examen se fait de manière individuelle face à un seul examinateur. Cela dure entre 11 et 14 minutes.

Pour la partie “Academic Reading” (la lecture), il faut lire 3 longs textes et répondre à quelques questions à leurs sujets. Ici, il s’agit de textes de nature académique. Vous avez une heure pour terminer cette partie.

Pour ce qui concerne “General Reading”, il faut aussi lire 3 textes et répondre à une quantité de question à leur sujets. Ces textes sont plus centrés sur des thèmes plus généralistes ou relatifs au travail.

Pour l’expression écrite IELTS Academic, if faut écrire deux dissertations : la première est un résumé des informations venant d’un document: cela peut être un tableau, une image, un graphique, un diagramme, etc. La deuxième rédaction est un essai. Le candidat dispose d’une heure au total pour finir les deux exercices d’écriture.

Pour l’expression écrite  IELTS General, il y a aussi deux rédactions à fournir : la première consiste à rédiger une lettre. La seconde est une dissertation. Le temps est d’une heure aussi pour finaliser les deux travaux.

Maintenant, vous avez appris un peu plus sur les similarités et les différences entre le test académique et le test général IELTS !

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The Benefits of Extensive Reading

Extensive reading – what is it?

Well, it’s like intensive reading: intensive reading for English classes or finding answers for your YES / NO /NOT GIVEN questions in IELTS, but for fun! Extensive reading is reading something that you enjoy or are interested in and lots of it; extensive reading is just reading, and it should be for enjoyment, interest or pleasure.

Reading is a mental activity as opposed to TV which is not; TV is purely visual (although TV is good for listening comprehension and pronunciation among other things, but that’s another story).

Everyone including those of us learning a second language can benefit from extensive reading. Carrel and Grabe (2010) argue that language learners can improve their comprehension and vocabulary by doing a little extensive reading. According to Julian Bamford and Richard Day (in Kreuzova 2019) you should read as much as you can on a variety of topics that you have chosen; the materials should be easily understandable to you from books, newspapers and magazines.

Extensive reading is moving away from the intensive reading of answer identification in your Cambridge, TOEFL or IELTS exams, and the reading skills of skimming and scanning toward a more relaxed form of reading; the kind of reading you do on the sofa because you want to, because there is nothing on TV or there’s nothing on your streaming service worth watching. So, think about what you like to read; are you interested in reading about what English-language newspapers say about your country or region; are you interested in learning about your own country’s history from another perspective? Like cooking? Read a few recipes? Remind yourself, what do you like reading in your own language: try reading the same in English.

I was surprised when I started to learn about British history from the Spanish and Argentinians. I never knew the British invaded Buenos Aries in the nineteenth century. I never knew the Dutch sailed up the Themes and stole the English flagship. It has also been suggested that extensive reading helps in examination results, make them more aware of the grammar when they are reading, increase a learner’s reading proficiency and by extension their vocabulary learning (Prowse, 2000) and (Liu and Zhang 2018).

There are other beneficial effects. It is generally believed that reading develops your concentration. When you’re watching TV, you’re probably doing something else: chatting, eating, doing your nails, interacting with social media, but reading, well reading is a different matter.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love binge-watching The Man in the High Castle on a lazy Saturday afternoon trying to forget work. With a book, you need to concentrate and focus on what is written and everything that it implies. Which brings me to another thing reading improves: your imagination. You can lose yourself in a character or situation, imagining yourself in their situation. Imagine yourself as a different person or asking yourself what you would do in such a situation.

In turn, reading is a good de-stressor; you are more likely to read when you’re in a quiet room, with no TV and oblivious to the world outside and exercising the most important organ in your body – your brain. So, while you are doing whatever you are doing like channel hoping, you are not using your imagination. We switch off our imaginations, but with a book we use our imaginations to a greater extent. Reading enhances your verbal skills; TV is visually-based media and normally uses short and simple sentences whereas books contain complex language more than you would find on TV or in a streaming service. This means using a greater range of vocabulary, longer sentences and more complex sentences; you can become aware of punctuation. So, go and borrow a graded reader from your school’s resource centre, borrow a book from the city library or read some on-line articles in magazines or newspapers on-line.

by Chris Scott, March 2020

Reference List

Carrel, Patricia. L., and Grabe, W. (2010). Reading. In: N. Schmitt, ed., Applied Linguistics, 2nd London: Hodder Education, Page 215- 229.

Sarka Kreuzova 17 July 2019, Encouraging Extensive Reading, English Teaching Professional (1 09), viewed 31 December 2019, < https://www.etprofessional.com/encouraging-extensive-reading >.

Philip Prowse (2000), The secret of reading, English Teaching Professional, (13), viewed 2 January,2020, < https://www.etprofessional.com/the-secret-of-reading >

Liu. J., and Zhang. J., (2018). ‘The Effects of Extensive Reading on English Vocabulary Learning: A Meta-analysis ‘, English Language Teaching; Vol. 11, No. 6; 2018, viewed 2 January 2020, < https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1179114.pdf >

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Listening

When we listen to something, it often goes in one ear and out the other – as the popular English idiomatic expression goes, or it falls on deaf ears, but that shouldn’t happen if you want to improve your listening skills; you should be all ears.

Ears – ears are important; they are our auditory apparatus attuned to sound waves created by the vocal cords of others; our ears pick up sound waves; the ear transforms these waves into intelligible signals that our brains can understand. 

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Listening for communication is to understand the spoken word; as students need to understand what speech is; sentence intonation and stress that maybe focusing on specific information and interpreting the context and topic – stress, intonation, rhythm and the paralinguistic features such as intonation or volume loudness.  A familiar cry from us all when doing a listening exercise in a language class is ‘I don’t understand’.

Normally, in a teaching class where you are leaning the language, as opposed to exam orientation and familiarization, your teacher will play the recording at least twice maybe more using one or more activities; you may even have the transcript to help you.

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But why is listening a problem? Is it you? Is it the quality of the recording? Is it noise pollution from elsewhere in the school or from the traffic outside? Are the accents of the speakers strange or unintelligible? Is the recording not being played enough times? Are the speakers talking too fast?

A lot of the listening comprehension problems stem from unfamiliarity with a speaker’s accent; their speed of delivery, idiomatic language and perhaps most importantly from technical elements of pronunciation that the listeners, us the students, haven’t been acquainted with such as pronunciation, recognising contractions, understanding the reduction and blending of sentences at word or cluster level; the adding of extra sounds in rapid conversation between words and the many English words where we don’t pronounce all the syllables or sounds, for example chocolate where it is pronounced choc-late.

There are also may words that sound the same in rapid speech; words that sound almost the same ‘cab’ and ‘cap’, ‘sheep’ and ‘ship’. There is also the familiarity learners have with one particular type of accent; as learners, we have to be open to the fact that speakers of a particular language, be it English, Spanish or Chinese have various accents and speeds of delivery. If we become accustomed to just one accent, we will have difficulties understanding the range of accents spoken by ‘native’ English speakers from across the English-speaking world and more importantly those speakers of English whose first language isn’t English who outnumber native speakers.

Types of Listening

 So, what types of listening do we do? There are perhaps two types of listening we do not only as language learners but also in our mother tongue; firstly, there is the listening we do in class or a lecture theatre or on TED Talks;  the language here is high in information; we listen for the most part passively; we also watch TV in this way – passively, unless we are shouting at our football team or a politician, but on TV the spoken language is more dynamic with a range of styles formal informal, spontaneous, chatty and prepared.  The second type of listening we do isactive, possibly in a conversation, where we have to understand the subtle cues of politeness and turn taking in a conversation.  In this type of listening where we are participating, non-linguistic features like body language and facial expressions are used to get our meaning across. 

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When I learned Spanish, I spent two years just watching Spanish-language soap operas, mini series and movies; the actors had a variety of accents and came from many different countries.  As such my listening skills are now very good; it required dedication.

So, how do you improve your listening skills? Listen to as much radio, music and TV as possible; listen to as many accents as possible and learn how the language is pronounced.

By Chris Scott, March 2020

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Critical Thinking

Ever since I went to college many years ago, I’ve been hearing the term critical thinking; it keeps popping up from time to time, but do we as teachers and students sit down and think about what this means, and do we use critical thinking outside the confines of academic study? Do we use this in our everyday lives?

For me, critical thinking is challenging the assumptions we have about the way we think, what we believe, what we read in the newspaper, what we are told, see on TV or the internet and hear in the world around us and not just in the classrooms; it’s about challenging dogma; it’s about looking at the preconceptions we and others have of the world around us; it is about challenging what we believe and how we behave.

Levels of Critical Thinking

For Chia Suan Chong (2019) it is about promoting meaningful and positive relationships and building empathy as well as developing one’s academic potential. But how can we use this in the classroom and in our everyday lives? What benefit does it give our students or us as learners?

Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom cited in Pineda-Báez) is most often cited when attempting to define critical thinking. According to Benjamin Bloom, there are six levels of critical thinking.

The first level is Remember; it is the ability to recall dates, people’s names, places, quotations and formula.

Level two is Understand; this is to comprehend what you are reading; it is to understand newly acquired information, to describe, classify and explain it, e.g. what is the difference between a cat and a lion.

The next level, level three, is called Apply; this is where we use this new information, solve problems, demonstrate, and interpret information.

Level four is Analyse; it looks at materials and decides what the overall purpose is; what is its relationship with other parts in society and the world in general. It is to differentiate, organize, and to relate information to the wider world, and compare or contrast.

The fifth level is Evaluate; this is to form an opinion or judgement based on standards and criteria; it seeks to appraise, argue and defend a point of view or opinion; it judges, selects, support, and critiques information.

The final level is Create; it is to use conjecture, formulate new ideas, and to investigate; it is to put all the information you have and create something innovative.

Critical Thinking Based on Reason

Another simpler definition of critical thinking is which I like is from Tim Moore (cited in Schmidt); According to research conducted by Moore, critical thinking is based on reason; in today’s world basing an argument on reason as opposed to reactionary opinions that are so prevalent in the news media and politics today is a good thing; it allows us to decide if something is good or bad, true or false, it allows us to consider the validity of something; it is thinking sceptically; critical thinking involves thinking productively, challenging ideas and producing new ideas; it involves coming to a conclusion about an issue or issues; importantly for me and something I feel strongly about; it is about looking beyond a reading or listening text’s literal meaning.

Critical Thinking in the EFL classroom

When we look at these levels, we see that we as students use most of them in the EFL classroom; those of you preparing for the IELTS and Cambridge English exam use them all the time; it is a valuable skill that students use when they enter institutes of higher education.

Regardless of your background we use critical thinking skills when deciding what to what, buy in the supermarket or believe in the newspaper.

How can they be used more in the EFL classroom or our own language learning? In her article Ten ways to consider different perspectives, Chong suggests a number of activities where critical thinking can be applied to classroom activities; one activity is ‘What would their day look like? Where the students select a photo of a person, animal or inanimate object, do a little research and give a little presentation to the rest of the class; another activity is the classic debate where you could divide the class into opposing teams; Chong suggest having students argue for or against something they would normally oppose or disagree with. This is a good way for students to try to understand something from another’s perspective.

Most of the activities involve trying to see life through someone’s else’s eyes. I saw a similar activity in Buenos Aries a few years ago when students used shoes to imagine the shoes lives.

by Chris Scott, January 2020

Reference List

Chia Suan Chong 17 July 2019, Ten ways to consider different perspectives, English Teaching Professional, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.etprofessional.com/ten-ways-to-consider-different-perspectives>.

Clelia Pineda-Báez December 2009, Critical Thinking in the EFL Classroom: The Search for a Pedagogical Alternative to Improve English Learning, ResearchGate, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277834572_Critical_Thinking_in_the_EFL_Classroom_The_Search_for_a_Pedagogical_Alternative_to_Improve_English_Learning >.

Anthony Schmidt [n.d.], CRITICAL THINKING AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING PT. 1, EFL magazine, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.eflmagazine.com/critical-thinking-english-language-teaching/ >

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Mejora tu Listening

Si estás intentando mejorar tu audición en inglés, es importante que escuches tanto como sea posible sobre temas en los que estás realmente interesado – si no estuvieras escuchando ese tema en tu lengua materna, probablemente tampoco querrías escucharlo en inglés.

Letra de canciones: Primero, elige una canción en inglés que te guste. Luego busca el video lírico correspondiente (video musical con letras) en YouTube, escucha la canción y cántala con la ayuda de las letras.  

Películas/ programas de televisión: Piensa en un género que te guste. Busca una película o programa de televisión en inglés de ese género y mírala!  

BBC Radio 4: Si tu inglés ya es relativamente bueno, intenta escuchar BBC Radio 4. No hay música, pero hay muchas conversaciones en forma de programas que se ven a menudo en la televisión inglesa.  

Intercambio de idiomas: Busca a alguien con quien puedas practicar inglés. ¿Por qué no te reúnes con alguien y hablas? Te verás obligado no sólo a hablar por ti mismo, sino también a escuchar lo que dice tu contraparte. 

TED Talks: TED Talks es un sitio web con muchas presentaciones en inglés. Las presentaciones son sobre muchos temas diferentes, así que puedes elegir algo que te interese. También es posible activar y desactivar los subtítulos. Es una buena idea escuchar la presentación una vez sin subtítulos y luego de nuevo con los subtítulos para buscar algo que se te haya pasado por alto o que no hayas entendido. 

English version https://eurospeak.ac.uk/eurospeakblog/2019/01/04/improve-your-listening/

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SeaCity Museum, Southampton

Last week was amazing; I visited the SeaCity museum in Southampton with my friend Hassan.  I learned a lot about Southampton’s history and the Titanic.  Actually, I got very excited watching the Titanic film. 

While we were at the museum, we talked about what happened, and we visualised the lack of safety boats on the Titanic and how this changed for future ships.  In my opinion, there is no person to blame, but this was the result of a sequence of mistakes and wrong decisions.  

The important thing is that we get the benefits of what happened and maybe try to avoid such events again. 

Mustafa A.

October, 2019 

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Aprende inglés en cualquier momento y en cualquier lugar

Algunas de las mejores y más divertidas formas de practicar inglés también pueden ser completamente gratis. Todo lo que necesitas es un teléfono móvil y conexión a Internet, y tendrás acceso a una increíble selección de aplicaciones que pueden ayudarte a mejorar sin importar dónde estés. Estos son algunos de nuestros favoritas:

  1. Memrise –Esta aplicación fue diseñada por un Gran Maestro de la Memoria y un neurocientífico para ayudar a la gente a aprender idiomas de forma más eficiente y poder recordar mejor. Puedes elegir entre un conjunto de vocabulario, o puedes crear el tuyo propio.

www.memrise.com

  1. Quizlet – Esto también te ayudará a aprender vocabulario, pero con fichas. Puedes estudiar las palabras primero, y luego ponerte a prueba de diferentes maneras. Si tienes una lista de palabras que necesitas aprender para una clase o para un examen, entonces puedes entrar en la aplicación y aprenderlas en un abrir y cerrar de ojos

www.quizlet.com

  1. Wordreference – Todos usamos Google Translate para ayudarnos a entender nuevas palabras, pero esta aplicación de diccionario es mucho mejor. Incluye muchos idiomas diferentes, como francés, español, italiano, árabe y mucho más. También le ayudará a entender mejor la gramática de la palabra y te dará ejemplos de oraciones.

www.wordreference.com

  1. Macmillan Sounds – Esta es una gran aplicación para mejorar la pronunciación, ya que muestra todos los diferentes sonidos que usamos en inglés. Puede pulsar un sonido y luego repetirlo hasta que estés satisfecho con tu pronunciación.

http://www.macmillaneducationapps.com/soundspron/

¿Hay alguna otra aplicación que te guste? ¡Cuéntanos sobre ellas!

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Benefits of reading and books recommendations

There is a great deal of research on the benefits of reading for students of a second language. Among them are learning a wide range of vocabulary, improving our written expression, improving general language skills, being motivated to read, developing our autonomy as learners, developing empathy and becoming better readers.

Before starting a book we have to take into account two things, that it is to your taste and that the difficulty of the book fits your level in that language.

To do this Eurospeak will show you below a selection of books that are available at the Eurospeak Southampton school.

Elementary level

The Watchers, Jim and Stella, an English brother and sister on holiday on Crete, and Nikos, their Cretan friend, go into the caves. But the watchers are waiting for them…

The adventures of Tom Sawyer, It tells the adventures of Tom and his friends in a graveyard, in a old house and in a cave… why is Tom afraid?

The Battle of Newton Road, a civil engineer wants to knock down the houses and build a new road. And the people of Newton Road are very angry. But can they win the battle?

A White Heron Sylvia, a shy nine-year-old, is bringing home the milk cow when she meets a young ornithologist who is hunting birds for his collection of specimens. He goes with her to her grandmother’s house. Her grandmother, Mrs. Tilley, has rescued Sylvia from a crowded home in the city, where she was languishing.

The Railway Children

Pre-intermediate level

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Stories is narrated by a man who has been invited to visit his childhood friend Usher. Usher gradually makes clear that his twin sister has been placed in the family vault not quite dead.

The Canterbury Tales , a story told around another story or stories. The frame of the story opens with a gathering of people at the Tabard Inn in London who are preparing for their journey to the shrine of St. Becket in Canterbury.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Boscombe Pool The deceased’s estranged son is strongly implicated. Holmes quickly determines that a mysterious third man may be responsible for the crime, unraveling a thread involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.

The Man with Two Shadows and Other Ghost Stories

Intermediate level

Lorna Doone One day John meets and falls in love with Lorna, a member of the Doone family. She is betrothed to the son of the Doone heir, Carver, and he will do everything in his power to force the marriage on her.

The Picture of Dorian Gray a young man named Dorian Gray who has a portrait painted of himself. The artist, Basil Hallward, thinks Dorian Gray is very beautiful, and becomes obsessed with Dorian. One day in Basil’s garden, Dorian Gray meets a man named Lord Henry Wotton.

Alexander the Great

Advance level

Oliver Twist is a nine-year-old orphan boy who doesn’t know who his parents were. He escapes from a workhouse to London where he meets the ‘Artful Dodger’, leader of the gang of the juvenile pickpockets.

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Consejos para ahorrar en Inglaterra

Alimentos

– En cuanto a los alimentos, se pueden comprar productos con fecha de caducidad cercana, estos productos generalmente tienen un descuento.

– Puedes preparar tu propio almuerzo para el trabajo o para la escuela, es una buena manera de ahorrar en el mes. Si crees que no tienes tiempo, puedes dedicar una o dos horas durante el fin de semana para prepar todas tus comidas de la semana, esto te permitirá comer más sano, comer lo que te gusta y ahorrar algo de dinero.

– Si no quieres cocinar pero aun así quieres comer bien sin que sea demasiado caro, aquí tienes la aplicación “Too Good To Go”.

¡El concepto es muy simple, gracias a esta aplicación se pueden recoger los diferentes artículos no vendidos que se encuentran en restaurantes, panaderías, pastelerías e incluso supermercados! ¡Por lo tanto, estarás haciendo un gesto ecológico y económico y evitando el desperdicio!

– En cuanto a los supermercados, en Inglaterra hay diferentes tipos de supermercados, es decir, hay supermercados muy accesibles y otros algo más caros, así que hay que saber diferenciarlos:

Los supermercados más económicos: LIDL, ASDA, Aldi, Iceland (que es un supermercado que vende principalmente productos congelados).

También puede visitar los supermercados más famosos de Inglaterra que también ofrecen precios muy razonables: Sainsburys, Tesco, The Co-operative

Transporte

El transporte es bastante caro en Inglaterra, por lo que es importante conocer todos los consejos para poder viajar más barato:

Coge el autobús

Para los viajes largos, existe el “National Express”, una compañía de autobuses que ofrece precios asequibles. Se trata de un autobús común donde encontrarás tomas de corriente y puertos USB para cargar el móvil así como aseos. Además, el autobus está equipado con aire acondicionado, asientos XL ypuedes conectarte a su wifi de manera gratuita.

Los precios generalmente cambian dependiendo del período de tiempo de antelación con el que reserves el billete. Siempre es mejor hacerlo por adelantado.

¡Además, podrás disfrutar de descuentos con National Express Coach si compras una tarjeta de descuento la cual es muy barata! Aquí encontrará las diferentes opciones de suscripción disponibles.

También es posible compartir el coche, lo que te permitirá compartir los gastos de gasolina, pasar un buen rato y contaminar menos. He aquí una selección que puede utilizarse en el Reino Unido:

Blablacar, es el sitio número uno en Europa

Gocarshare para Inglaterra

Drivercollect: viajes compartidos en Inglaterra

Liftshare: comunidad de vehículos compartidos en Inglaterra

Europe carpooling: este es un portal de uso compartido para todos los europeos, por lo que se puede utilizar en otros países.

 

Entretenimiento

Por último, para las salidas y las actividades de ocio, ¡no te dejes engañar y elige actividades gratuitas!

– Si te encuentras y desea visitar el patrimonio cultural, por ejemplo, la mayoría de los museos son gratuitos (Museo Británico, Museo de Historia Natural).

– En cuanto a la hermosa abadía de Westminster un consejo, ir allí durante las misas, ahorrarás el pago de 23 libras esterlinas. Consultar toda la información en su página web.

– También puedes pasear por los diferentes barrios y parques de la ciudad sin gastar una libra!

– Para sus salidas nocturnas, algunos bares y discotecas no cobran hasta las 23:00 horas. ¡Ten en cuenta que estos establecimientos cierran a las 3 de la mañana podrás pasar una buena noche gratis!

 

Estos son todos los consejos para ahorrar en Inglaterra, así que ahora depende de ti. 😊

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4 ways to keep your English at its best during the summer holidays

Summer is coming! Probably this is your most awaited season …. Holidays, sun, beach and trips!

Everything is so wonderful that makes us forget about our daily life.

In this blog post we will give some tips to improve your English this summer and to avoid feeling guilty next September.

If you do at least a couple of these, I assure you that not only will come back from the holidays more tanned, but also with better English.

Courses abroad

If you are young and want to have fun while learning English, the best option to take advantage of this holiday is to take an English course abroad. Eurospeak Language School is located in Reading and Southampton (UK), you can take a course from one week, from 15 up to 25 hours per week. The school will also help you with the accommodation.

 

Apps to learn English

The mobile is your faithful companion, isn’t it? Well, take advantage of it and do something productive like learn English. There are countless apps to learn languages, so I recommend that you do a simple search and choose the most suitable.

 

Language exchanges

This way of practicing your English is great. Indeed, you can do it anywhere in the world and there are also apps for it, apart from Facebook groups and MeetUps. Language exchanges consist of meeting one or more people and having conversations in your language and in the other person’s language. In this way both of you practice the language you are learning and both of you learn through each other.

 

Netflix, HBO, YouTube and other platforms

If you are keen on cinema or simply enjoy relaxed plans. Watching movies and series in English will give a boost to your language skills while you enjoy your favourite entertainment. Many of them have the option of keeping them on your mobile, so you can watch them during a journey or while waiting in a queue.

 

There are many ways not to forget your English this summer… and besides there are many other ways! Don’t forget to get cracking this summer to achieve your goals.