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Effective ways of improving English for English-as-a-Second-Lauguage students

Though I agree with maintaining language diversity, in today's globalization business environment, we become captive user of English. I am attending some classes, but still struggling to figure out more effective ways of improving my language (English) skills. I'd prefer more fun and creative ways :)

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    Apr 1 2011: I myself have been looking for some good (and free) educational software for learning English. Since you are Chinese many of the programs i have found will not work for you...
    Actually there is only one that I can think of: "Rosetta Stone", it is the best language program I've found ever... sadly it is really expensive...

    Otherwise, practicing your writing here on TED is perhaps one of the most fun and rewarding ways...

    If you wish to speak with people "random chats" are always a good way in combination with a headset... try Omegle for that...
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    Apr 4 2011: Here's another tip - just follow these easy instructions:

    There are more than 700 - 800 TED talks that have already been translated into Mandarin Chinese:
    1. At the top of the TED main page, click on 'Talks'.
    2. At the top of the menu on the left, where it says "Show talks subtitled in:", choose Chinese (Simplified) or Chinese (Traditional).
    3. Choose a talk, for example this one:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/chi_hans/michael_pawlyn_using_nature_s_genius_in_architecture.html
    4. On the right side, just above the talk description, click on the link that says "Open interactive transcript". Now you can see the full text in Chinese. You can also choose the full text in English.
    5. Open a new Word or OpenOffice document, and create two columns.
    6. Copy the full English text and paste it into the first (left hand) column.
    7. Copy the full Chinese text and paste it into the second (right hand) column.
    8. Now, first read the whole Chinese text so that you understand what the talk is about.
    9. Next , listen to the video while reading the text in English.
    10. Look for words and phrases in the English text that you don't understand, and compare them to the Chinese translation.
    11. Copy unknown words and phrases into your vocabulary learning book or even better, a flashcard program such as Anki: http://ankisrs.net/

    A fun, interesting and very efficient way to practice your English!
    I've shown some of my students this method, and they love it.
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      Apr 5 2011: TED Flashcard Translation Method - that's the first thing that came to my mind when I saw your reply to this post, as this is how I'd entitle it, if I could give it a heading at all.
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        Apr 6 2011: Try it with a Russian TED text! Or perhaps your English is good enough already. :)
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    Apr 4 2011: Hi everybody, I can strongly recommend the flashcard program 'Anki'. It is free, open source and awesome:
    http://ankisrs.net/

    It is based on the concept of spaced repetition, in order to make sure that facts are more easily retained in long-term memory.

    One great feature is that people can share 'decks' they've created in an online database, which is quickly growing. So, already there are a huge number of decks available for learning many different languages, as well as decks for other topics such as medicine. In short, it's a fantastic tool for learning large numbers of facts. You can also insert audio, video, pictures, Latex (maths language), etc. into each card.

    The program is also available in many different languages. The main website is in English, but when you download the program, it automatically detects the language of your computer system (OS).

    You can create a free online account so you can synchronise your decks across multiple computers, or access your decks from any computer. There are now also versions for Android devices and iPhones, etc.
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    Apr 2 2011: I don't know if my "theory" on learning is correct but this is my thought.

    You can't rush learning. as a human you have different speeds of learning in different subjects, if you are a slow learner of speech it will take you longer time. The only thing to make it easier for you to find a new better way of learning english you have to find it yourself.

    People could easily give you pointers and such but the main focus is on you. You are uniqe just like all of us, and we all learn thing in our own speed and our own ways. But just search for different ways to learn until you find one that really works for you.

    Hope this helped!
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    • Apr 3 2011: Even Standardized English should not replace a national language or even dialect...it is best served as a supplement, a lingua franca. I, and some of my students, have found Rosetta Stone to be weak.

      I teach a course using western tv shows and films to build English and cultural understand, but I feel just "watching" the show without the insight or someone there explaining the reasons things in the west happens is incomplete. Western sarcasm and humor is almost totally unintelligible to my eastern students.

      How do you learn the nuances of humor or sarcasm...or any other strategic competences without immersion or authentic conversation with a native speaker?
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        Apr 3 2011: Rousie, in what way is Rosetta Stone weak? I admit that I have not used it more then perhaps 50hrs but I've found it to be a great program... what are the things that need improving on it or what is it lacking?

        Birdia, Rosetta Stone is considered by many (not all) to be one of the best ways of learning a foreign language without previous skills in any language...
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          Apr 4 2011: Rosetta Stone's two main weaknesses: incredibly expensive and very slow to progress to higher levels. You have little influence on the pace of your own learning. It claims to not use repetition, but in reality it uses repetition (review) a lot.