Helping you find new ways to improve your English

Archive for March, 2012

English Club

In the first guest post on Independent English, Tara Benwell introduces EnglishClub.com, a site with many different areas for English learners to explore and use. Tara works very hard as the administrator on EnglishClub.com, setting challenges for learners and helping them to practise their English as much as possible. Over to Tara:

(and you can listen to her read the post too:)

An Introduction to EnglishClub.com (for English Learners)

Englishclub.com has been online since 1997. It was one of the first websites for English learners, and has been growing in popularity ever since. The site is useful for self-learners as well as learners who study English at school. This club is FREE for English learners and teachers.

English club homepage

Here is how English learners can get the most out of EnglishClub.com:

Take the English Club Tour

On the homepage you will see a red bus. Click on the bus for a very short tour of the site. You will discover the 5 main sections.

EC tour bus

The Learn English and Member Pages are the most popular sections for English learners. The Grammar pages in the Learn English section are written in easy English. We also have a Grammar Help Desk.

Search EnglishClub.com

Do you want to learn phrasal verbs? Do you need listening practice? Are you looking for dictations or videos? Find exactly what you are looking for via EnglishClub.com’s search box. The search box on EC is on every page, and works just like Google. Some of the search results will be for English Club’s main site. Some will be from the Member pages. Search is very helpful if you need homework help! If you can’t find what you are looking for, put in a request.

Sign up for RSS feeds

English Club will email you regular updates if you request them. You can receive all of the new pages, or just the ones you want. For example, many members subscribe to Idiom of the Day! Choose the feed you want here. You can also see all of the new EC content in a sidebar on MyEC (Member Pages).

Sign up for Member Pages

My English Club (MyEC) is the social side of English Club. Sign up to receive your own FREE Member webpage, blog and media gallery. Blogging within a community is a great way to  practise English. You will have an instant readership of thousands of English learners and teachers. Read the FAQ for more details.

MyEC homepage

Here are some of the things we do on MyEC.

Join or Start a Group

What are your interests? Do you like music, cooking, or anime?  MyEC has several groups that you can join. Find other learners with the same interests and practise your English as you discuss topics that interest you. Any member is welcome to add a new group.

Chat

Many English learners (and teachers) come to EC to chat. MyEC has one of the most active international chat rooms online. We have an English-only policy, and our moderators work hard to make sure that our chat room is a fun, safe place to practise English. There is also a chat room on the main site called 1997 Chatroom. Here you can create password protected private chat rooms for you and your friends.

Accept or Create Challenges

Many of our long-term members and teachers create regular challenges for English learners to try. These include writing, photo, video, and audio challenges. You can also create your own challenges and contests! Try fun online tools that embed right in your blog posts.

Find a Learning Partner

Self-study is becoming a popular way to learn English, but don’t try to learn a language alone. MyEC will help you make good friends quickly. Join the “Find a Learning Partner Group”  to post a request for a learning partner. You can also use the Advanced Member Search to find other learners in your level or country.

Practise Speaking and Pronunciation

Our members use tools like Audioboo to record and share their voices. The Audio Speaking Group is a great place to practise speaking. In this group you can practise being a newscaster with EnglishClub.com’s Weekly News. Volunteers will help you improve your pronunciation. Many English Club members also Skype together. Find out who uses Skype by using the Advanced Member search.

Connect with EC  via other Social Networks

EnglishClub is on Facebook, Twitter (@EnglishClub), YouTube, and Google +. You can set your MyEC status updates to go to your other accounts. Use the tag #twinglish on twitter to tweet with English learners and teachers from around the world. Invite your friends to join MyEC.

EC Poster

If you sign up for MyEC, be sure to add me as a friend, and let me know if you have any questions. I am Tara,  the administrator of MyEC, and a teacher of English. I hope you’ll join my monthly writing challenges.

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Quizlet

Quizlet

What is Quizlet exactly? We start with flash cards. Students can make their own, or choose from millions of flash cards sets created by others. But that’s just the beginning – once you’ve got flashcards, you can use several study modes including multiple choice tests and study games. You can add images and listen to audio, and even study on the go with on of the Quizlet-compatible mobile apps.

From ‘About Quizlet‘, March 2012

Parts of this guide

Quizlet has many different functions, so there are a lot of parts to this guide. Click on any of them in this list to go straight there:

Please note: the last major update to this post was July 2016, and since then Quizlet has updated some of its functions, most notably the Space Race, and added the Quizlet Live function for teachers. Some of the screenshots may not represent the site as it is now, but a lot of the information still applies, and the links to my groups are still correct. Enjoy!

Why use Quizlet?

The site is very easy to use and allows you to study the vocabulary you want  to learn in many different ways. You can make your own sets quickly and easily or use sets created by other people. There is a lot of variety and repetition, making it much more fun than traditional lists of vocabulary. You can also use the site to study other subjects, including everything from history to biology and much more besides.

You don’t have to sign up to use the site, but I would highly recommend it. Find out how here.
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How to find flashcards

To help you out, I have created groups of flashcards (‘classes’) for different levels of English learners. All of these groups contain only English, sometimes with pictures to help you understand the words.

I also have groups for:

If you want to study something different, type in a keyword related to what you want to study, for example “idioms”, and press ‘enter’ or click the magnifying glass on the right.

Quizlet search

As you can see, there are over 5000 sets, which is quite a lot! You can also see classes with ‘idioms’ in the title.

Quizlet idioms search

To see what’s in a set, hover over it (point your mouse at it, but don’t click). This also helps you to see whether all of the information is in English.

Quizlet set preview

You can reduce the number of sets by choosing to show only ‘sets with images’. Now I only have 414 to choose from!

Quizlet set preview with images

This set has English idioms with translations into Spanish:

Quizlet idioms with Spanish

If possible, I think it’s best to study using only the language you are trying to learn, so I will use an English-only set for my example.

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How to use the flashcards

Once you have chosen the set you want to study, click on the title and it will take you to the set page. Click ‘Flashcards’ in the top left.

Quizlet set page

The flashcards show you the definition/picture at the moment. Click the definition to hear it.

Quizlet flashcards

Read the definition. Click anywhere on the card to check the word/phrase. Click the word to hear it.

Quizlet flashcards term

Use the buttons on the right to change what you see first: the definition/picture, term or both sides. You can also change the way you see the cards (flip = 1 card, flow = all cards), mix the order of the words (‘shuffle’) or hear the words/sentences being pronounced – it is mostly computer pronunciation, unless a teacher has recorded it, so there are sometimes problems with the stress in the word, but most of the time it is correct.

Quizlet flashcard controls

Use the arrows to move through the flashcards and familiarise yourself with the words.

Quizlet flashcards arrows

If you don’t know a word, you can click the star in the top-right corner.

Quizlet starred flashcard

Three things happen: a star appears, you see a yellow line, and you can see how many stars you have at the top of the screen.

Quizlet all or starred

You can click ‘All 42’ to study all of the cards, or ‘1 *’ to only study the words which are difficult for you.

Click ‘Back to set’ to see the study page again.

Quizlet back to set

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Print the flashcards

If you don’t want to use the computer too much, you can print the vocabulary in a few different forms. On the set page, look on the right. Click on ‘Print’.

Quizlet print

Choose what form you want to print the words in (as a list, a table or as flashcards):

Choose mode

If you’re not sure, click on the different forms to preview them. When you’re ready, click ‘Open PDF’:

Open PDF

This will automatically open your .pdf reader (such as Adobe Acrobat or Preview). You can then print the flashcards from there as you would any other .pdf file.

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Practise your spellings

When you think you know most of the words, click on ‘Speller’ on the set page or at the top of the page.

Quizlet learn and speller

Quizlet top menu

Listen to the word, look at the picture and read the definition.

Quizlet speller mode

Click ‘replay audio’ on the left if you want to listen again. Above the replay button there is also a menu where you can choose whether the computer should speak fast or slowly.

Write the word/phrase in the box with the correct spelling and press enter/return on the right of your keyboard.

If you make a mistake like the one below (don’t learn this!), the computer corrects you and spells the word you didn’t know:

Quizlet speller mistake

Quizlet speller mistake corrected

You can then try again to help you remember:

Try again

After seven words, the system shows you your progress:

Quizlet speller progress

If you sign up with Quizlet, the site will remember this and you can continue from where you stopped the last time you used the site.

You can continue with this mode to keep improving your spellings, or click ‘Back to Set’.

Quizlet back to set

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Learn the words

Click on ‘Learn’ on the set page or at the top of the page.

Quizlet learn and speller

 

Quizlet top menu

This mode remembers what you do and don’t know:

Quizlet Learn

Look at the picture, read the definition and write the word/phrase. If you can’t remember it, click ‘Give Up’:

Quizlet Learn give up

The computer marks the word as ‘Incorrect’ (the red box on the left) and gives you the answer to copy:

Quizlet learn I don't know

Sometimes your answer might be only a little different from the computer, so you can tell it that you were right:

Quizlet learn override

Be careful with this though: sometimes the article can’t be changed or the ‘s’ that you forgot has to be there 😉

If you sign up with Quizlet, the site will remember which words you have studied and you can continue from where you stopped the last time you used the site.

When you fancy a change, click ‘Back to Set’.

Quizlet back to set

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Test yourself

Click on ‘Test’ on the set page, or at the top of the page.

Quizlet test scatter space race

Quizlet top menu

There are four types of question in the Quizlet tests:

  • written: look at the picture and write the word/phrase;
    Quizlet test written questions
  • matching: match the five words/phrases to the correct definitions/pictures by writing the letters in the boxes;
    Quizlet test matching questions
  • multiple choice: read the word/phrase, then choose the correct definition/picture;
    Quizlet test multiple choice questions
  • true/false: look at the word/phrase and decide if it is the correct one for the definition/picture shown.
    Quizlet test true or false questions

Answer all of the questions, then click ‘Check Answers’ at the bottom. The computer will give you your score:

Check answers

Test score

Oh dear! Looks like I need to practise more…

If you sign up with Quizlet, the site will remember your test score and you can try to do better the next time you use the site.

When you have finished, click ‘Back to Set’.

Quizlet back to set

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Play a matching game

Click on ‘Scatter’ on the set page or at the top of the page.

Quizlet test scatter space race

Quizlet top menu

Click ‘Start Game’

Start Scatter

You will see some of the words/phrases from the set you are studying and the matching definitions/pictures:

Quizlet Scatter

Click on any word/phrase and drop it on to the correct definition/picture. If it is right, the word and the definition will both disappear. You can also drop the definition/picture onto the word/phrase. Which one did I find first?

Quizlet Scatter minus one

When you have matched all of the vocabulary, you will see your time and the list of fastest times.

Quizlet Scatter scores

You can click play again and try to be faster.

If you sign up with Quizlet, it will remember your fastest time so that next time you log in you can try to be faster.

When you are ready to play another game, click ‘Back to Set’.

Quizlet back to set

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Play a typing game

Click on ‘Space Race’ on the set page or at the top of the page.

Quizlet test scatter space race

Quizlet top menu

Click ‘Start Playing’:

Start Space Race

You will see a definition/picture. Write the matching word/phrase into the box at the bottom of the page and hit return/enter on your keyboard. If you are right the definition/picture will disappear. If you are wrong, it won’t, so keep trying!

Quizlet Space Race

If you really don’t know a word/phrase, you will see a box with the correct answer for you to copy. You will also lose a life in the bottom right corner:

Quizlet space race don't know

For every word/phrase you write correctly, you will get points and go up levels, as well as gaining extra lives. As you go up through the levels the pictures move faster, so you have to type more quickly.

Don’t worry if you’re a slow typer though: the computer learns this and will go more slowly on level 1 to give you more time to write.

When you have lost all of your lives, you will see the high score board. If you want to see your name on it, you need to sign up with Quizlet.

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How to join Quizlet

With Facebook or Google

If you use Facebook or Google and don’t mind attaching them to other websites, joining is very easy.

Click ‘Sign up’ in the top-right corner.

Quizlet sign up

Then choose ‘Sign up with Google/Facebook’.

Quizlet sign up with Google or facebook

For facebook, complete your information in the pop-up window, then click ‘Allow’ in the next box which appears.

Facebook login

For Google, choose your account, then follow the instructions.

Without facebook or Google

Click ‘Sign Up’ in the top-right corner.

Quizlet sign up

Complete the information in the boxes and click ‘Sign Up’:

Quizlet register

The next page will tell you about the difference between free Quizlet, Quizlet Plus and Quizlet Teacher. Everything I have shown you on this post can be used on free Quizlet. You need to pay if you want to use your own pictures to make flashcards, if you don’t want to see advertising while you are using the site or if you want to record your voice. If you don’t want to pay, click the big green ‘Start using Free Quizlet’ button.

Quizlet choose your type

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Your homepage

Once you have joined the site, your homepage will show you all of the sets which you have studied in the past or which you have created yourself. To return to it, click your username at any time (in the top right corner):

Quizlet homepage

You can click on the name of any set to see the set page again.

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Your progress

Once you have an account, Quizlet will remember what you have studied. You can click on ‘Your Progress’ on the set page to see what you have done.

Quizlet Your Progress

You can also see which words are difficult for you. In this example, these five words are often a problem for me. For example, when writing (learn/speller/test/space race) I got ‘baggage reclaim’ right 5 times and wrong 2 times.

Quizlet progress sometimes missed

I have clicked the star next to ‘baggage reclaim’ and ‘aisle’ because these are the most difficult. I can click ‘Select these 5’ to put a star next to all of these words.

Quizlet select all

I can now use any of the modes (flashcards, learn, speller, test, scatter, space race) with all of the words, or just with the difficult (starred) words. When I use all the words, everything will be blue.

Quizlet all words

When I just have the starred words, everything will be yellow.

Quizlet starred words

To see if you are the best person in the group, you can click on Scores. It tells you who has finished ‘Learn’ and ‘Speller’ modes, who has the best times in Scatter, and who has the highest scores in ‘Space race’.

Quizlet scores

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Classes

To help you out, I have created groups of flashcards (‘classes’) for different levels of English learners. All of these groups contain only English, sometimes with pictures to help you understand the words.

I also have groups for:

After you have joined Quizlet, you can click on any of the classes above to go to the group page. If you want to, you can click ‘Join Class’ on the right to get emails every time I add flashcards to the set.

Quizlet Join class

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Make your own flashcards

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is how you make your own flashcards…

Click ‘Create a Set’ at the top of the page:

Quizlet create a set

This is what you will see:

Quizlet Create a set blank

Write a title and a description for your set.

Quizlet set title and description

Choose a language for each side of your flashcards. Of course, the language on both sides should be English 😉 but you could put translations in the definition box if you feel you need to.

Choose a language

Next, add some words and definitions. If you can’t think of a definition, click ‘auto-define’ and the computer will help you. You could also look at an online dictionary. If you have more than 5 words, click on the ‘Add Row’ text or press the ‘tab’ (->|) button on your keyboard and it will give you more boxes.

Sometimes, definitions aren’t the best way to learn a word – my definitions in the picture above aren’t great! Tick the box next to ‘Add Images’ then click ‘Search Images’:

Add images

Quizlet searches Flickr to find pictures which match the word you typed in the first box. Sometimes these are suitable, sometimes not, so you might have to type different words in the search box to find a suitable picture. Hover (point but don’t click) over an image to see a preview. When you see a picture you like, click it.

Quizlet create set image preview

It will then appear above your definition, like this:

Quizlet create set word with image

When you have added all of the text and images you need, click ‘Save’ at the bottom of the page:

Quizlet create set save

You now have a set with all of the words you want to learn:

Quizlet create set example

If you want to correct a mistake or add more words later, you can easily do this in two ways. At the top of the set page, click on ‘Edit’:

Quizlet edit set

OR Go to the bottom of the page and click ‘Add or remove terms’:

Quizlet create set Add or remove terms

Both of these links will take you to the same page where you made the flashcards.

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Go mobile!

If you have a smartphone or a tablet computer you can download apps to help you practise words on Quizlet. Go to the bottom of any set page. Then click on ‘iPhone/iPad’ or ‘Android’ to go to the app stores and download the app.

Quizlet mobile apps

The apps are a bit different to the main website, but very similar. I haven’t used the Android version, but on the iVersion, the main difference is ‘Scatter’, which is also known as ‘Match’ and looks like this:

Quizlet mobile Match

I hope you enjoy using Quizlet and find this guide useful!

Quizlet teacher ambassador badge

(As of February 2017!)

English Central

(Sorry, no recording to listen to while you read this blog post at the moment as I’m losing my voice! I will add it when I feel better)

English Central is a website which allows you to watch videos, read the dialogue and record yourself saying it. It analyses your pronunciation and compares it to the original video, offering advice on how to improve. It also helps you to expand your vocabulary.

This video shows you how it works.

For me, the best thing about this website is the ability to work on your pronunciation. When you log in to the site (for free!) it will track your progress and show you how you are improving. It also records how many times you have seen pieces of vocabulary in the videos and shows you which areas of pronunciation to focus on. Here are some testimonials from students and another teacher who use the site. They describe why they find it interesting/useful.

How to sign up

You don’t have to sign up to use the website, but I think you should, as you can personalise your experience on the site and it will remember things for you!

Go to the home page.

English Central homepage

Click ‘Register Now’ in the top centre. You will see this window.

English Central registration

You can enter your details or join via facebook. Click ‘Register’.

Choose your main reason for learning English. You can change this later (see ‘How to manage your topics’ below)

English Central reasons for learning English

Next, choose your level. At our school we use levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. These are part of the CEFR.

English Central levels

Finally, personalise your English Central experience by telling it your native language, country and if you are male/female.

English Central personalisation

When you have finished registering, you will be welcomed to the site with this box.

English Central welcome

Click ‘Get Started’.

How to manage your topics

When you first join English Central, you can choose a reason for studying English. This helps the site to choose videos which you might be interested in. You can edit this list at any time.

On the ‘My English’ page, look for ‘My Topics’. Next to it, click ‘Manage’.

Manage topics

Then, tick the boxes next to the topics you are interested in.

Manage topics

Watching the videos

Click on a video which you are interested in. One of my favourites is ‘Do you speak English?

Click on the image from the video in the top left corner.

Do you speak English?

Watch the video and read the words.

Watch the video

If you want a puzzle, you can set a challenge. Click in the bottom right corner of the screen and tick the box next to ‘Hidden Challenge’.

Set hidden challenge

The programme will remove some words for you to write in.

Hidden challenge example

If there are any words you don’t understand, you can click on them to see a definition and example sentence and see and hear the pronuciation.

Definition

Click on the snail to hear any line more slowly.

Snail

Practising your pronunciation

When you have finished watching the video, it will take you to the ‘speak’ mode. Click ‘Start’.

Speak now

Listen to the line again, and click on words if you are not sure about their pronunciations.

When you are ready, click on the microphone.

Microphone

Read the line as accurately as you can. The computer will analyse your pronunciation, give you points, and show you something like this:

Pronunciation analysis

The green words are pronounced perfectly. There is a problem with the yellow word. Click on it to compare your pronunciation to the native speaker and to see what the problem is.

You and the native

I got 33/44 points for this line. I am a native British English speaker, so sometimes some of my pronunciation isn’t exactly the same as the American system. Don’t worry if you don’t get 100% – aim for 80-90% if you can. You can record each line as many times as you want to.

All of the points for the videos go into your progress bar at the top of the page. The more videos you do, the more progress you will make. Eventually, you will move to the next level.

Progress bar

A freemium service

So far, everything I have told you about is completely free. If you want to get more vocabulary practice, or listen to specialist pronunciation videos allowing you to focus on particular sounds, you need to pay. I haven’t tried the full paid version, so I won’t tell you more about it here, but if anybody does, please add your experience to the comments.