Tag Archives: reading

Rewordify: a Free Online Tool to Simplify Difficult English

Today I want to share with you an amazing free online tool which has a lot of potential for learning English.

Rewordify simplifies difficult English and helps you understand what you read.

How this tool works

  • Go to Rewordify.com
  • Enter sentences or whole paragraphs difficult to understand into the yellow box at the top of the page. You can also enter a web site URL.
  • Click Rewordify text and you’ll instantly see an easier version of the text providing clear, easy-to-understand definitions. (see picture below)
  • The reworded words are highlighted in yellow— click them to hear and learn the original harder word.
  • You can also click the non-highlighted words to read their definition.
  • Click the Print button and choose the type of printout you want. You can print the original text, the rewordified one, vocabulary lists with definitions and without them, a word bank quiz, a standard quiz or a difficult one… etc (see picture below)
  • By clicking the Parts of Speech button you’ll see nine part of speech categories (see picture below).You can turn on and turn off the highlighting of each part of speech by the words in the header. For example, if you only want the nouns and verbs highlighted, click all other parts of speech in the header

You don’t even have to register but if you free register:

  1. You can change how the highlighting works to match the way you learn
  2. Store, edit and delete your documents
  3. Share your documents
  4. Save vocabulary lists

Up for a little game?

And if after working hard on vocabulary you still feel up for a little challenge, Rewordify has created two word games for you

  • Reword where you’ll have to select the correct definition for the hardest words in English, as fast as you can.
  • Difficult Hangman. An old favourite but with hard words.

Thanks for reading!

The 8 Best Audio/Video News and Current Affairs Websites to Learn English.

I’m currently really tied up with checking exams, so I’m going to make the introduction to this blog post really brief.  I’m sure you have enough on your plate, too. June is usually a hectic month for almost everybody, isn’t it?

So, how do you keep up with the latest news? Or maybe, are you one of those who, sick and tired of reading bad news, have decided to completely isolate yourself from the world? I wouldn’t blame you!

If you are one of those, I kindly suggest you make an exception for the sake of learning and improving your English. You won’t regret it! Reading is one of the best ways of acquiring vocabulary and learning grammar without studying.If you read and listen to one article every day, or two if you feel overzealous, your reading and listening skills will improve very quickly. Trust me on this!

This is my selection of the best audio/video news and current affairs websites to learn English.

I have looked at the following features in all the websites:

  • If the news is written in levels
  • If the same news is written/read at different levels
  • If it is audio news or video news
  • If the transcript is provided
  • If the site provides a ready-to-use lesson plan for the news
  • Any other relevant additional content

The image below is interactive. Click on the icon and read what each website has to offer.

How else can I use these sites in the classroom?
• Choose one news website from above and ask students, as homework, to read a piece of news they find interesting. Ask them to read the news several times until they feel confident they can retell it. In the next class, ask students to work in threes and share their news.

• The news. Same procedure as above but this time, at home, students will need to rewrite the piece of news in their own words. In class, and again working in threes, students will be asked to assume the role of newsreaders and present the news to the rest of the class.

The interactive image has been created with Genial.ly,a free online tool for creating visual interactive content.

6 Excellent Free Sites to Practise Reading Comprehension

It’s been too long since I’ve written about improving reading skills. Last time I posted about sites to help you practise reading comprehension was in May last year. Way too long. The truth is that doing reading comprehension activities in class takes time, especially if we are talking about long texts with an amount of difficulty, and very often this is one of the tasks we give students as homework.

On the other hand, I am one of those teachers who think reading aloud in class is a good exercise. In my opinion,

  • Reading aloud fluently not only helps to improve the reading ability, but also oral expression.
  • It gives students a chance to focus only on fluency, pronunciation and intonation as they don’t need to worry about grammatical accuracy.
  • It gives teachers a nice opportunity to correct pronunciation mistakes.
  • It helps students enhance comprehension as pauses should be made in the correct places.
  • Reading aloud is especially good for students who don’t feel very confident speaking English in public. It gives them a nice chance to use English in a safe environment and helps them gain confidence.

These are some of the sites I’ve been recommending my students to further practise reading comprehension.They are all completely free.

1. Newsela. Have you already tried Newsela? It’s a really good site to help students become stronger readers while reading current event articles.

I teach different levels, and what I like most about Newsela is that you can give the same news article to all your classes no matter the level. Why? Newsela offers five different levels of the same news item. You just need to choose the levelled version you want to use.

The site also offers a multiple choice exercise to test your comprehension of the article.

Although you have to sign up, the site is free. As a teacher, you can assign articles to students in your classes and monitor their progress. Find out how to do it here .

2. Dreamreader is a free website with more than 500 reading lessons. Every lesson comes with free audio, a free printable worksheet and a free multiple choice quiz.

The site offers 5 categories, but the most interesting ones to help enhance your reading comprehension ability are “Fun English” and “Academic  English”. This last category is full of lessons and quiz questions for beginner, low intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate and advanced students.

3. GCF LearnFree.This is a fantastic site to improve your reading skills. There is a wide variety of topics displayed at the top of the page. Choose the topic you want to read about and then at the bottom, select the kind of exercise you want to do. If you want to practise reading comprehension, select “Text” and then from the two options offered, choose “Reading Comprehension”.

The site is very visual and user- friendly and I highly recommend exploring all its possibilities.

4. Easy reading

This is a section of the British Council especially aimed at teens though I have often used it with adults with great success, too. Here, you can read stories and articles written at three different levels A2 (elementary), B1 (intermediate) and B2 (upper-intermediate).

After the reading test, you can do an online interactive multiple choice exercise to test your comprehension and a grammar exercise based on the text. The site also gives you the possibility of downloading the text and the activities.

5. Literacynet. Aimed at adults with an advanced level of English, it offers texts on a variety of subjects.

Select a topic and the piece of news you want to read. Click on “Story” and then from the menu on the left, choose the activity you want to do. There are five comprehension activities.

6. Teaching Kids News is a very interesting site that offers original news articles on topics that are “timely, relevant and intriguing”. Though it doesn’t offer the standard type of comprehension exercises you normally find in English exams, each article includes Writing/Discussion Prompts, Grammar Features, and a Reading Prompt.

Hope you find these sites useful!

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Two Superb Sites to Practise Pronunciation by Reading Along

In this post, I want to share with you two superb sites that can help you improve pronunciation by reading along.

Aim:

By asking students to repeatedly read a selected text or story while simultaneously listening to a text or a story, you can help them

  • improve reading fluency
  • improve pronunciation
  • improve automatic word recognition

1. The first site Listen A Minute.com is one I have been using for years. Here you can find alphabetically-listed topic- based activities  from  Airports and Harry Potter to Zoos.You don’t even need to register. It’s completely free!! Choose a topic and read along. One minute a day… that’s all they are asking and in return… you’ll be passing your listening/speaking tests with flying colours.

2. The second site I want to share with you is a youtube channel called Learn English Through Story ,where short stories at various levels are read at a slow pace to further improve reading and listening skills in English. There are 7 levels. Choose the one that fits your level best. Visit youtube and write  Learn English through Story on the search box.

Procedure:

  • Pick a topic or a story
  • Set a  timer for one minute, and read the article/ story aloud until the timer goes off.
  • Read aloud the same passage  three times or until you feel confident.
  • Remember that the aim is to read along, not just to listen.
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Lesson Plan: The Etiquette of Social Kissing.

“How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart”. William Butler Yeats

I was once kissed by a marquis, or maybe he was a count, but it was in a palace. I cannot remember his rank, but he was old and ugly, at least for me! Nothing to daydream about, believe me, but the fact remains that I was kissed by a nobleman. He was a long way from Prince Charming, but that was ok for me. He was selling. I was buying. That was it!

But the kiss… yes…back to the kiss. First time ever I had been kissed on the hand. I was ready for a handshake so I extended my hand. Instead the marquis suddenly, and in a very quick gesture took my hand, bowed and made the gesture,  and I have yet to decide whether he actually kissed my hand or just the air. Now that I know a bit more about the etiquette of hand-kissing I realize he probably never kissed me.

Photo by Tim Rooke/Rex/REX USA

Level: B2

♥DISCUSS: It is not very often that a woman has her hand kissed nowadays. But let’s reflect a bit on how we greet each other in our different countries. Discuss these questions with your partner:

  • What are the rules for social kissing in your country? Do you always know how you are supposed to greet someone? Have you ever experimented any awkward moments where you didn’t know what you were supposed to do?
  • When kissing as a form of greeting, do you kiss on one cheek or on both cheeks?
  • Is it the right or the left cheek you kiss first? Know that you should kiss the right cheek first to avoid awkward situations.
  • If you don’t like the kissing business, how do you cope with people who want to kiss you as a greeting?
  • Is it appropriate to kiss in a business setting?
  • Do you ever hug?
  • Apart from the handshakes, cheek kissing and hand kissing which are quite common for us, do you know any unusual ways  of greeting people ?

♥READ: Have a look at this interesting article about Unusual Ways to Greet People Around the WorldWhen you finish reading , tell your partner which form of greeting  you found most unusual.

♥LISTEN: Watch this video about the etiquette of social kissing and answer the following questions:

  1. In Good Morning America, the *anchorwoman describes an awkward moment when you get to a party. Why is it awkward for some people to greet your host or hostess?
  2. The British are described as” buttoned-up”. What do you think it means?
  3. Laura Ford is a British artist. Does she kiss people she doesn’t know? Choose from the options below and justify your answer.
  4. always b. never c. sometimes
  5. According to Hillary Brown, social kissing in France might be getting out of control. Why?
  6. Social Kissing is taught at some schools. Which ones?
  7. What are some of the rules of kissing taught at these schools?
  8. How are Americans and Latins different as regards social kissing?
  9. At the end of the clip, the anchorman apologizes. Why?

*anchorman/anchorwoman = a person who presents and coordinates a live television or radio programme involving other contributors.

CHECK: Answers here

READ: Why do we shake hands?

♥WRITE: Imagine a foreign student is coming to your school/house on an exchange visit. What advise would you give about your customs. Use the ideas below and the modal verbs should/shouldn’t , could, must/mustn’t.

  • greeting someone
  • meeting someone for the first time
  • being punctual
  • being invited to someone’s house
  • tipping

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