Improve English Proficiency by Improving Typing Skills

Guest post: by Chassie Lee

City life is fast paced and demanding. More and more people feel like they’re stuck in a rat race, and the marketplace is fiercer than ever. To compete with everyone else in today’s international marketplace you need many skills, freshly-honed talents, and constant improvement of your existing skills – and constant acquisition of new skills, too. This can be so stressful that it ends up incapacitating people who are unable to keep up with the demands of the 21st century.

Thankfully, there are some ways that you can get ahead without stress, such as improving two skills in a single practice session. In this article we’ll talk about how you can improve your typing skills while practicing your English skills — you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Improving your English proficiency and get a side benefit: improved typing skills

Say you want to become a better, faster typist. One way to do this is by copying text found online in a word editor. This way you can improve your typing skills while also solidifying your knowledge of and fluency in the English language.

When you touch type a ready-made text you familiarize yourself with all possible aspects of the English language, including syntax, vocabulary, grammar, and colloquialisms (like “killing two birds with one stone”).

The more you interact with English texts the more intuitive your awareness of language rules becomes. In other words, your knowledge of English is not confined to structured classroom teachings. You’ll learn how to communicate, not just how to get a good grade on an English exam.

For even more substantial results, you can work on your writing skills as well, by creating your own texts rather than copying existing ones. This way your language study is more thorough (and demanding), and the results will be outstanding!

Instead of using pen and paper to write a paragraph or longer piece of text to practice your English, you can do so with a word editor. This way you activate brain modules that allow you to integrate the act of typing along with those involved in gaining mastery of a second language. As a result, you become an efficient speaker of English while you also improve your typing speed and accuracy.

You’re probably already overwhelmed with the many things you need to learn at school, but typing doesn’t have to be one of them. Combining typing and language study is an easy trick you can practice at any time. The results will be amazing; your English fluency will improve and you will find yourself typing with more ease and speed and without those annoying, time-consuming typos!

Here are some quick ideas on how to improve your typing performance through studying English:

  • Type out essays you’ve written previously and which your professor has corrected. By re-typing the edited version you will get to focus on what mistakes you often make, and where you have knowledge gaps in terms of syntax and grammar. By using a corrected text you will become more familiar with the flow of language as used by a native speaker.
  • Type out a news article from an online newspaper or magazine. Choose a newspaper that provides content that’s written for an audience above your current English level. This will ensure you will get to learn new vocabulary, pick up new phrases and colloquialisms, and learn a new fact or two. As a bonus benefit, you get to practice your touch typing skills!
  • Type out a piece of print or online content that truly interests you. The idea is to find something you’re passionate about. This will ensure you are truly focus on the typing process and this means you are also more receptive and open to learning – a win-win situation.
  • Play online English language improvement games. There are hundreds of online educational games you can play. And since these games require a keyboard to play them, at the same you’re learning to touch type efficiently you’ll also be enriching your vocabulary, spelling, and overall English competency skills.

 

Studying doesn’t need to be hard or boring. There are smart hacks you can implement in any study routine to make learning more time-efficient and progress-oriented.

Learn to integrate technology in your learning to make it more efficient. The next time you want to study your vocabulary, do so on your with an online vocabulary game. And the next time you want to hone your typing skills, see if you can combine keyboarding with a spelling exercise online. You get the idea!

 

About the Author: Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Vocabulary, Ultimate Typing and Ultimate Typing EDU which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

(New Edition) Master the Basics: English

I’m apparently behind on my publication of new materials, despite the inordinate amount of time I spend in bookstores. I have rather lame excuse for my inattention to this new edition…I was reading other books…for my Master’s degree.

Nevertheless, I am now aware that there is in fact a third edition to Master the Basics: English.  If by some chance, I am not the last person to be aware of this fact, I shall spread the word.

I wrote a blog post for the second edition of Master the Basics: English in December of 2012.  The third edition was published in September of 2013.

The third edition did not go through a major rewrite.  In fact,  it is nearly identical to the second edition.  There is, however, one new section: “Common Forms to Avoid”. This section goes through pronunciation and each of the parts of speech with advice on common errors that ESL/ELL students make.  This is very helpful for those students to curb major problem areas.  It is also helpful for native speakers to help them understand common errors and be ready to correct (and explain) those errors.

There is also a brand new yellow cover.  This now standardizes the Master the Basics covers and the 501 Verbs books.  They still only have Master the Basics for English, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and English for Spanish Speakers.

The third edition also boasts it is fully recyclable and printed in the USA.

For more information on Master the Basics: English and other language guides by Barron’s, visit www.barronseduc.com.

Podcast Review: English Pronunciation Pod

One of my main complaints from my ESL/ELL students is that people cannot understand them when they speak. Grammar books and bilingual dictionaries don’t help them when they want to converse with native speakers or simply go about their lives in the United States.

I sympathize with my students greatly and empathized with them slightly. Too many high school and college Spanish courses have taught me that I sound like a dummy when I speak to my native-speaking professor.

Thus, I searched to find materials that will actually help them reduce their accent in a meaningful way.  There are too many pronunciation tools out there that have students repeat words and sounds without telling them how to make those sounds.  A student can hear “dog” over and over, but if they don’t know to drop their jaw to produce the vowel sound, it will always be said with an accent (discounting children…their brains are wired for language differently than adults).

Enter in Charles Becker and his podcast, English Pronunciation Pod.  I found this podcast several years ago and have used it over and over again with numerous students.  They love it.  They love it because it tells them how to speak English, including: what they are probably doing wrong, what “wrong” sounds like, and common mistakes for some languages.  Students have found his pronunciation easy to understand and like listening to him.  Of course, some of the really novice students have too much of a difficulty understanding him so this podcast is best used with students who know English but want to improve their pronunciation.

I really like that this podcast has transcripts on its website for students to follow along.  However, he could have used a better editor…there are some glaring problems that Microsoft Word can fix quite easily and quickly.  I like to copy and paste the web transcript into a Word document, fix the errors (save it so I only have to do it once!), and print it off for my students to use while they listen to the podcast.  This allows them to read and hear at the same time.  Unfortunately, the transcript isn’t a word for word transcription.  It seems to be the podcast in visual form.  It leaves out some digressions.  It does confuse my students at first, but then they get used to his format and appreciate the succinctness of the transcript for future reference.

Podcasts can be downloaded via iTunes to an iPad or iPhone.  I have them all downloaded to my iPad.  However, it is also possible to listen to podcasts on the web.  You can listen to the podcasts on the archive page or the transcript page.

The most unfortunate thing about this podcast is that it is no longer being updated.  I do not know why.  Awhile ago I emailed Charles Becker telling him I used this podcast frequently and would love more podcasts.  He did reply back indicating he would publish more podcasts.  However, only a couple podcasts were published in 2012.  Most of the podcasts were published in 2008-2011.

You can also purchase his “full pronunciation course” (Best Accent Training MP3s) that you hear an advertisement for at the end of every podcast (I usually stop the podcast before that…my students understand and appreciate it).  I’ve looked into it before.  It costs $75 and consists of most of the same material that is presented in the podcast.  Thus, I have not purchased it.  Let me know if you have purchased it and find it to be vastly different from the podcasts!

Overall: I love this podcast.  I have learned more about my own language while listening to this podcast.  It has helped me become a better teacher and has helped my ESL/ELL students reduce their accent and sound more like an American.

Monolingual vs. Bilingual: Are Two Languages Better Than One?

Many high schools in the United States require at least two years of foreign language in order to graduate.  In some states, however, many students feel they will never use Spanish, French, German, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, or any other language the World Language department offers.  So why do we insist on a second language?  It’s not just about the language…my proficiency in English improved with the systematic study of a second language.  Take a look at the differences between being monolingual (one language) and bilingual (two or more languages).

infografia_es_mejor_la_educacion_bilibgueSource: Teach them English