Thursday, July 23, 2009

Language and Culture Videos

Hi everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Over the past few months, I've been creating a number of language and cultural videos to help students practice their listening skills. They deal with common situations I experience regularly living in the United States. You might find them useful for you.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Visual Search Engines: Do they help students find information better?

Most people have used Google to find information on the Internet, but fewer people have ever used a visual search engine to location information. The Web site,, is one such Web site where you can preview pages before you look at them.

Currently, I am doing some research on whether such search engines are less, more, or just as useful as something like Google. If you have a moment, please take my survey on this topic, and/or share your opinions. Try using a topic with key words like "cell phones cheating" or some other topic in both Google and Which search engine helps you find information?



Friday, July 17, 2009

Improving Your Listening Skills: Watch Video

Hi everyone,

I've just created a video where teachers and students can watch in which I share some keys or "secrets" to improving your listening skills. I have also included some PowerPoint slides and a Student Assignment Sheet. This video is part of a new Web Conference Center I have just created. Visit the link below and then click on the Watch Video link at the top of the page:


I suggest reading the entire page so you understand the project's purpose.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fast Speech: How Students Can Understand it Better

Often times, my students tell me that native English speakers talk too quickly, and then I respond by saying that they listen to SLOWLY. We often laugh about this, but I try to help my students realize that the issue is that native English speakers often reduce some sounds in what is called relax speech, which is hard for students to understand.

In other words, although English has only 5 main vowels (a,e.i,o,u), we sometimes don't pronounce these clearly in unstressed syllables. In other languages with the same vowels, these sounds are almost always stressed. Here are a couple of examples in English:

  • I want to go to the party.
  • I wanna go ta the party.
  • I have to call him tonight.
  • I hafta call 'im tanight.

Keep in mind that faster speech doesn't mean better communication skills. I've created a Web site to help students called There are also a number of good books that help students improve their use and understanding of conversational English. One of them is Whaddaya Say: Guided Practice in Relaxed Speech. You can find more of my recommended books and electronic devices at:

Besides understanding fast speech, what other factors do you think affect a student's ability to understand a language? Share your thoughts on this topic.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Freedom: What does it mean to you?

The idea and concept of the word, "freedom," can vary from person to person and place to place. Personally, I appreciate the freedom to share my beliefs and ideas with others without fear of action against me. If I want to, I could stand in a park and pass out information on my personal views, and I allow others to do the same.

However, with freedom comes responsibility and respect and potential consequences. Freedom doesn't mean you violate the freedoms of others. For example, I don't smoke, but in the area where I live, people are allowed to do so as long as it is within local laws and ordinances. If I violate somone's freedom, then I could be arrested.

So, what does freedom mean to you? Are there certain freedoms that you wish you could enjoy? Share your ideas.