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7 Great ESL Websites for English Learners

Learning a new language can be time consuming, made even longer by the hours spent searching for good online resources. Whether you’ve just started learning English, or you’re studying for your IELTS or TOEFL exams, we’ve done the surfing for you. Here are our top websites with useful resources to help you on your way.

1. BBC

The BBC has a wide range of resources for English language students, and their Learning English website is a great place to start. With online courses, classes, videos and quizzes for all levels of ability, you can learn new language skills and put them straight to the test. Get help with your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as understanding the words in the news. It’s a one-stop shop for every English student.

2. Business English Pod

If you’re learning English for the workplace, the Business English Pod YouTube channel is for you. Their videos focus on teaching Business English vocabulary and grammar, as well as core workplace skills such as answering the telephone, interview tips and talking in meetings. Their advanced level videos will get you up to speed in no time.

3. English Page

Listening is one of the best ways to enhance your language skills, and English Page has the resources to help. You can access talk shows, drama, news reports, sports, music and much more, so there’s something to interest everyone. With shows from the BBC and American National Public Radio, you can choose to listen to British English or American English programmes.

4. Dave’s ESL Café

Visit Dave’s ESL Café for help with phrasal verbs, idioms, slang and grammar tips. You can chat with other English language students in the online forums and practise your English by joining in on discussions. If you’re preparing for your TOEFL exams, there’s also a job board to help you find work once you qualify as a language teacher.

5. British Council

The LearnEnglish website from the British Council is another great site for English learners.  You can take their free English test to find your skill level, and improve with downloadable podcasts, games, academic writing help and an IELTS section. You can also download free speaking, listening and writing apps for your iPhone or iPad.

6. Flo Joe

If you’re studying for any of the Cambridge exams including FCE, Cambridge Advanced, and Proficiency, Flo-Joe is a great resource. They provide practice tests in all the papers from Listening to Reading. They also have a new resource for IELTS Speaking with free weekly vocab and practice tests on topics that are likely to come up in the exam.

7. IELTS Podcast

If you’re preparing for your IELTS exam, you must visit the IELTS Podcast website. It offers a full breakdown of each exam along with the marking criteria, writing tasks, sample essays and practice questions. And if you prefer to learn on the go, you can subscribe to their podcasts for free tips and tutorials on how best to prepare for your exam.

This means less time searching for these websites, and more time improving your English.

Good luck!

Why You Should Become TEFL Qualified

Teaching English Foreign Language (TEFL) has always been a popular qualification to gain, and the number of people becoming TEFL qualified is only going up.

There are 1.5 billion English learners in the world right now, and this number is expected to rise to 2 billion by 2020. The Chinese TEFL market is worth $4.5 billion right now and is rising by around 15% per year. So, as you can see, the TEFL industry is certainly one to consider.

The average salary for Teaching English as a Foreign Language is around $3000 USD, depending on where you go. Although, if you work privately then you can set your own prices.

Why should you get a TEFL qualification?

  1. Fund your travels!

The main reason people become TEFL certified is to fund their travels. Explore the world, and fund it by teaching people English as you go. It is popular amongst gap-year students to do this, although anyone is more than welcome to!

2. Access more teaching jobs

Schools and businesses are more likely to take on teachers who are actually qualified, as it usually means that they offer a higher quality of service than those who are uncertified. Certified teachers know why the English syntax is the way it is, and they have a greater understanding of explaining past/future participles, adjectives, verbs, and nouns. Keep in mind that the rules are different in every language.

3. Gain confidence in your teaching

Sure, everyone has a rough idea of how to teach. But a TEFL course teaches you how to teach. From lesson plans, to various teaching styles, TEFL gives you the training you need to give the best quality teaching. Do you know how to effectively address a language or cultural barrier? This will make you more confident, and assure your student is getting the most out of their lessons.

4. Prepare yourself culturally

TEFL sites usually give you a break down in the culture of the country/region you are considering teaching in. This will make your time in the country more enjoyable and easier for you, as well as allowing you to make the most out of it. Nothing can set you back further than a culture shock.

Sourced from YouTube.

How do I become TEFL certified?

by enrolling in a TEFL course! They are typically anywhere between 100-180 hours long, but they give you plenty of time it slowly complete them. We will provide some links below:

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Does Watching Movies Help with the TOEFL?

For advanced learners, one of the most popular ways to practise English listening is to watch movies or TV shows in English (usually with subtitles). If you do that, then great—keep watching! After all, movies and TV shows usually have a natural, native English, or at least close to natural. That is, the people speak very quickly, use conversational vocabulary (including a lot of phrasal verbs and idioms), and elide often. And if you’re going to have conversations with native speakers or live in an English speaking country, then you will definitely want to understand full-speed, natural English.

But watching TV may not necessarily help your TOEFL scores. Well, it will help some, of course—any practice is good practice! But it won’t help to prepare you for the particularly difficult parts of the TOEFL. In other words, English movies and TV are very difficult, and the TOEFL is difficult, but they’re difficult in different ways. Let us explain why.

What Makes TOEFL Listening Difficult?

The TOEFL listening section can be difficult even for a native speaker. I’m not trying to scare you if you’re new to the TOEFL; I just want to clarify what, exactly, you should be practising. After all, watching a movie isn’t difficult for a native speaker—it’s one of the easiest, most comfortable things! So it’s important to consider what exactly is different about the TOEFL, and what will help you prepare for it.

The big difference is that ⅔ of the recordings on the TOEFL are lectures. They’re not conversations, which you might be used to and more comfortable with (especially if you like watching English TV). Lectures are different for a couple of reasons:

1) You have to consider the structure

In a conversation, you rarely have to think about the relationships between ideas—instead, the focus is usually on different peoples’ opinions, not on complicated, extensive information. In a lecture, though, you have to consider the structure of the talk and the importance of specific information. You have to identify the main ideas and know-how they’re explained—when the professor is giving an example when he/she is defining a core concept, and when the information is just extra, unnecessary detail.

2) There is a lot of information

If you want to succeed on the TOEFL listening, you have to take great notes or have a good short-term memory. Ideally, you’ll have both. You’ll hear a lot of information, and then you’ll be asked six questions, some about very specific details that were buried in that 5-minute recording.

3) There is less change

Lectures, in comparison to conversations, can be a bit boring. Listening to just one person talk for an extended time can be tough. Students who become distracted during the test, who start to think about other things and lose focus, will often have trouble remembering the specifics of what they heard. This, again, means it’s very important to practise taking notes. Doing so can help keep you focused.

4) You might hear a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary

There are two types of tough vocabulary words in TOEFL listening: words specific to the topic that you are not expected to know before listening and words that are used often in general, academic English, not specific to the lecture topic. The first type (topic-specific) is a challenge for everybody, but it’s not so bad. If you listen closely and understand the other words, then those topic-specific words or phrases will be defined. But the second group, academic vocabulary, will not be defined in most cases. You simply have to know them. These are words you might see in writing, but you won’t usually hear from friends who speak English or from English TV and movies.

Watching Movies and TV can still help with the TOEFL

The truth is that movies and TV are a still great way to practise general English listening and more informal English. And the TOEFL does include informal English, too—you will hear both students and professors using conversational words and phrases. So the vocabulary you might learn from watching TV can help.

But the main message here is that you shouldn’t just watch movies and TV. You also need to practice listening to lectures and taking notes. Only by doing that will you improve the specific skills that the TOEFL tests.

This post was written by Lucas Fink, the resident TOEFL expert at Magoosh. For more advice on TOEFL prep, check out Magoosh’s TOEFL blog and try our free TOEFL vocabulary flashcards.

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