Generally useful websites and resources

  • Blackboard – The University of Leicester and Leicester City of Sanctuary have created a Blackboard site for refugees and asylum seekers who wish to improve their English. This site includes links to many useful resources and activities. If you would like to use this site, we can register you. Just send your first name, surname and email address to Matt Duncan at [email protected] and he will send you the information that you need in order to access the site.
  • ERASMUS+ Online Linguistic Support – this project ( http://erasmusplusols.eu/ ) offers online language courses in many languages including English. It is offering these courses through Leicester University free of charge to refugees, asylum seekers and their volunteer teachers. They will ask you to take a language assessment to find out your level, then you can access an online language course for free for a period of 13 months. If you would like to apply for this, you need to:
    • o Email Phil Horspool at [email protected]
    • o Tell him your name and email address
    • o Put “Free Erasmus Resources” as the subject of the email

You will then receive details of how to join this course.

Speaking and pronunciation

    • 1:1 Pronunciation Support Tutorials – gain individual help with your pronunciation by having a tutorial with a teacher at the University of Leicester. Email Frances Jones at [email protected] for more information
    • Reading Circle – come along with your lunch and read and discuss texts with others. This will give you good reading practice and good speaking practice too! We meet on Thursdays at 1-2pm in Room 108, Readson House, 96-98 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 7DF.
    • Speak English to a variety of people with different accents as often as you can
    • Join a local group to meet people and practise your English (e.g. a local church group or a walking group)
    • Volunteer in your local community. This is also a great way to meet people and practise your English while developing a skill and helping others
    • Listen to pronunciation on radio / TV / online dictionary and copy it. You could even record yourself copying it and compare the two recordings. A good online dictionary with audio is www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com
    • Listen to the TV whilst reading subtitles to help with pronunciation

Listening

You could take notes while you listen, then summarise the main points afterwards (in writing or by telling a friend)

    • Here is a useful strategy you can use when you listen to an audio which has comprehension exercises and a transcript:
    1. Before you listen, think about the topic. What do you already know about it?
    2. Read the questions and think about possible answers
    3. Listen once and try to answer the questions
    4. Listen again and fill in more answers
    5. Listen a third time whilst reading the transcript, pausing if you need to. This is to confirm your answers.
    6. Look at the transcript and highlight any useful or difficult words and phrases to add to your vocabulary book
    7. Practise reading some sentences aloud from the transcript. Check your pronunciation by listening to that sentence again.
    • Try doing dictations to improve your ability to listen for detail:
    1. listen to a sentence of an audio and then pause the audio and write down the exact words that you heard
    2. repeat this process a few times (as many times as you want to)
    3. check whether your sentences are correct by comparing them with the transcript
    4. identify your errors. Which words did you get wrong (e.g. missing prepositions, incorrect verb tenses, new words, etc)?
    5. try to work out why you got them wrong (e.g. you couldn’t hear the word / you didn’t know the word / you have a problem with that area of grammar, etc. this gives you very useful information about what you need to work on to improve your English.
    6. listen again, perhaps after a few days, and repeat this activity. See how much more you can understand now
    7. Remember: it is more useful to listen to a short audio many times than to listen to a long audio just once.

Reading

    • Reading Circle – come along with your lunch and read and discuss texts with others. This will give you good reading practice and good speaking practice too! We meet on Thursdays at 1-2pm in Room 108, Readson House, 96-98 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 7DF.
    • Read many different types of texts – web pages, newspapers, leaflets, posters, signs, etc.
    • Read graded readers (books written for your level) when you read for pleasure
    • To improve your reading fluency, try to read as much as you can without stopping. Try to understand the main meaning even if you don’t understand every word (you can use a dictionary to check new words later).
    • After you have read a text, you could summarise the main points and:
    • tell someone about what you read
    • write a book review

Writing

    • Remember that writing is a process. When you write, it is helpful to:
    • Brainstorm ideas
    • Organise ideas into a plan
    • Write a draft
    • Review / edit your draft
    • Re-write and re-edit, if necessary, until you produce a final version
    • Writing a diary regularly is a good way to improve your writing fluency
    • Use social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to comment (in English!) on things that interest you

Vocabulary

    • Keep a vocabulary book of new words. You could record the following information for each word:
    • meaning / definition (from an English-English dictionary)
    • spelling
    • pronunciation
    • word family (other words with the same root)
    • example sentences
    • collocations
    • Write an example sentence which is personal to you. This will help you remember the word better
    • Useful vocabulary apps:
    • My Word Book App (a free British Council app for learning/recording words)
    • a free English-English dictionary app (e.g Merriam-Webster)
    • Work through a text book such as:
    • English Vocabulary in Use (CUP)
    • English Idioms in Use (CUP)
    • The following website shows you how words are built: www.uefap.com/vocab/vocfram.htm
    • If you need to improve your academic vocabulary, look at the Academic Word List and complete some exercises to help you learn the words:
    • http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca/eld/sites/default/files/awlsublists.pdf – this website has the AWL sub-lists in printable format
    • www.academicvocabularyexercises.com – this website has all of the AWL sub-lists (including pronunciation and definitions). It also has multiple-choice gap-fills, which are an excellent way of testing your ability to use these words in sentences.

Grammar

    • Do exercises in grammar books, such as English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (CUP)
    • Practise your grammar in your writing and speaking. For example:
    • You can record yourself having a conversation, or describing a photograph, or summarising a film. Then, listen to the recording and find any errors. You can then re-record it, trying to correct your errors.
    • You can write a diary entry about your day. Then, find any errors and correct them. You can then try writing it again without looking at the original one.
    • When you are learning an aspect of grammar (e.g. past simple verbs), try to find examples of it in your everyday life and keep a record of how it is used. This will help you understand and remember it better.
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