Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Listening. A key practice for improving your English.

Who’s this for?

English Learners, especially learners at a basic or immediate level.


Because this will make English easier to understand. You will get use to the sounds and the patterns of English and this will also help your speaking skills. You will find it easier to hold conversations in English.

Listening and English

Listen more. Listening is the forgot skill in language learning. It’s also easy to do these days. You can have English on your smart phone, your MP3 player, your computer and TV

Listen to Simple English

Listen to simple English because you will learn faster that way. Many people listen to CNN and BBC news when it’s far too difficult for them. They would learn faster by listening to simpler English.

Simple English Resources

Lingq - Listening and Reading materials

Lingq has lots of short stories and texts with audio. Most of the listening and reading material is free. They have a big library of listening material at all levels. Join them and you will be able to download a lot of useful listening material for English (and other languages).

This YouTube channel has lots of stories for children. They are simple to understand and you can read along as well.

British Council - Simple Short Stories

A collection of short stories in video. The stories are easy to understand and use basic language.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Base Your Learning on What you Enjoy

Enjoy what you Learning. Free Photos!

Today's message is simple.

Get language material on;

• What you enjoy
• What you know
• What you love to spent time doing

For me this is getting language on;

• Travel
• Cooking
• Entertainment
• Art
• Stuff that comprehensible from first viewing

That's it for today.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Be Your Language Learning Boss!

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The good old days

Once upon a time it was difficult to get language resources. We relied on language schools to get them and to show us how to learn. We used textbooks as an entrance to a new language. Reading and writing were important activities in learning a language.

You were a student. The teacher was your Boss. The teacher’s boss was the curriculum and the curriculum was usually decided by some nerd who liked to write textbooks.

Progress was measured by exams and the level of text book that you reached. It didn’t matter whether or not you could understand a native speaker of that language.

The much better new days

Language schools are still around and thriving. Some have moved away from textbooks and offer real choice for the students.

Whether or not you choose a language school, you have much more choice now than before to be the boss of your language learning.

What’s new!

The internet.

This has allowed several things to change with language learning.

• Learners can talk to each other.
• It’s much easier to get in contact with someone who speaks the language you’re learning.
• It’s much easier to get resources.
• Language learning communities have developed based on ‘sharing’.

Learners talk to each other

This is important. The old advice was work hard and get through the text book. This simply didn’t and doesn’t work for a lot of people.

The new advice from learners

• Listen more
• Get ‘real’ language materials. Youtube has tonnes of language material, though at the moment it’s a pain to find useful stuff.
• Focus on your language Environment.
• Get resources that you enjoy.
• Involve people
• Use space repetition to help remember
• Use Audio Books.
• You can find out which language schools have been recommended by other learners.

Get in contact

Facebook, Lingq, Skype, LiveMocha and Meetup are some of the ways you can use to meet native speakers.

New Resources


• Examples of using Youtube - English Dutch
Lingq (lots of free listening resources)
Dutch Resources

Paying Resources
• Yabla TV - Yabla English TV
• Podcasts - Germanpod101

Community learning

Lingq has lots of listening and reading material avai
lable for downloading. The community created the content. I find this approach very interesting and a forebearer of things to come in the language learning world.

Livemocha and Buusu are other language learning communities. Though I’m not sure what exactly they offer.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Narrow Listening - Dutch

This is for Dutch Learners

An alternative to Vocabulary Lists

What is Narrow Listening?

Narrow listening is listening to lots of material based on the same subject. An example will be watching 10 videos on the weather.


Listen to lots of material on the same subject will mean lots of repetition of vocabulary. This makes it easier to guess the meaning of words. Also you get to hear the words in context.


Google translate can give you the basic words you need to do a search. I do my searches on Youtube.

For Best Results.

Watch videos on things that really interest you. Also, if you know the subject well in your own language, then it will make it easier to learn in another language. Remember fun (interest) makes you learn faster.

It was much harder finding groups of similar videos in Dutch than it was in English. Anyway, below are a few examples.

Some Examples

Veggiebende is a channel on vegetables. There are several videoes on the life of a plant. I find these very easy to understand. There are 26 videos on the Channel but some videos are not in Dutch - best to skip these.


RatatouilleTV have 100s of videos online. They have lots on Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Museum

Bruyters is a channel that have makeup demostrations and videos related to Miss Belgium. I've only seen one video in this servies.

Other Ideas

To see similar videos - use the suggestions column on the righthand side.

Weather Forecasts

Police stuff and bicycles

Monday, 25 July 2011

Narrow Listening - English

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This is for English Learners

An alternative to Vocabulary Lists

What is Narrow Listening?

Narrow listening is listening to lots of material based on the same subject. An example will be watching 10 videos on the weather.


Listen to lots of material on the same subject will mean lots of repetition of vocabulary. This makes it easier to guess the meaning of words. Also you get to hear the words in context.


Google translate can give you the basic words you need to do a search. I do my searches on Youtube.

For Best Results.

Watch videos on things that really interest you. Also, if you know the subject well in your own language, then it will make it easier to learn in another language. Remember that fun and interesting stuff makes you learn faster.

Some Examples

Snapfactory Channel on Youtube.

They have a photography channel with 172 videos. They look at different aspects of photography from a photography shooting session to how to use a light meter.

Photography Video


This Channel is dedicated to makeup and doing your hair. They have 111 videos. Women will probably get more from this as many women use makeup on a daily bases.

Makeup Experts


This Channel is also dedicated to beauty but uses natural ingredients. They have a 158 videos.

Makeup the natural way

Scotty Kilmer

This Channel is about maintaining and fixing your car. If you’re a mechanic or really interested in cars then this is a channel for you. There are 122 videos in the channel.

Fixing your Car

Other ideas.

With these videos, you can use the ‘suggestions’ on the righthand side of the screen, to see more videos.

UK weather

UK Weather forecast

US weather

USA weather forecast

News earthquakes

News link on Earthquakes

How to play American Football

Learn how to play American Football

How to get a girlfriend

How to get a girlfriend if you're a nerd

Other articles for English Resources

Lingq English Reading Material

Easy English Videos - Watch and Learn

English Reading on Youtube

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

English - Reading on Youtube

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Some English reading resources that are on Youtube

Beginners and Elementary

Channel Appuseries

This Channel has lots of children stories and rhymes on video. There are pictures to help you understand and the text is read with a clear voice.

The Ginger Bread Man


This channel has short videos conversations. The conversations use simple language.

Daily Conversation

World English Club

World English has everyday conversations on video. They only provide text.

Short conversations with text

Douglas King

This is from a book on rhymes. The meaning can be guessed from the pictures. The language flows easily and is good to read along to.

Teacher Phil

He has lots of videos on line. He reads and uses pictures to help with comprehension. He also describes the pictures.

Teacher Phil - vacations

Intermediate (possibly advance)

Easy Reader Jack

In this video Jack reads a book called 'Bicycle Shop Murder'. To read along with the video, you need to go to his website. Sound quality is not so good on this video.

Bicycle Shop Murder Video

Other articles for English Resources

Lingq English Reading Material

Easy English Videos - Watch and Learn

Friday, 15 July 2011

More Dutch Language Resources

There should be something for everyone here.

Dutch fun with Sesame Street or Sesamstraat. I find this hilarious.

Talking Website

Dutch culture in Audio. The Rijksmuseum has many of its pages put into audio. The audio follows the words, so it’s pretty useful. The voice is a little metallic but it's a Dutch voice.

Rijksmuseum website education page

Children Stories

Audio only

Mixture of audio children stories

Story and Audio

These two websites should be really good. They have lots of children stories and the audio. Though, I have a problem with the site. I can’t get the audio to work with some of the stories. The one story that I did get the audio to work with, didn't match the story exactly.

Grimm stories

Andersen Stories

Sexy Dutch

A story about the most beautiful bottom in the Netherlands.

The most beautiful bum in the Netherlands

There’s also a video of a journalist who isn’t a bottom man but a breast man. He goes round looking for the perfect breasts.

Journalist looks for perfect breast.

Previous Dutch Resources

Easy Dutch Youtube Videos

Songs, TV for Dutch learners and more

Monday, 11 July 2011

Language Learning – Beyond the Text Book

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English (insert Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and of course, the world’s no. one language Dutch) is not a text book!!!
I’ve heard many times ‘English is boring, English is difficult’, usually from little kids but also from adults too. But what they call ‘English’ isn’t English at all. The English they are talking about is the over analysed ‘English’ that they are taught in schools. Where a simple sentence is made into a complicated beast thanks to too much grammar explanation and not enough actual use of English.

So let’s get this straight. English is not boring. English is WONDERFUL (any language is). And in so many amazing ways.

Movies. Hollywood, British. God dam it, even Australia has produced many fine movies. If you’re bored with your textbook, why not watch a movie in English.

TV seriesEnglish TV made easier. Yabla English TV, TV with subtitles in some languages.

Games – set the mode to English and get the language drummed into you whilst you fight ghosts, conquer the world and become beautiful.

Audio Books

Comics - A crazy one and a visual list of English comics

Youtube - Look and learn English Videos.


If you’re getting bored of English (or whatever language you are study) it time to look at your material. Are you just using a text book? Text books are noted for their boringness, if you’re bored of them get some real English. English that you enjoy.

It’s not a sin!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Free Offer for English Learners

Language Bridge is offering free use of its software for a limited period.

Get Better at Speaking English

The software is aimed at improving your English speaking. They do this through ‘shadowing’, which is basically listening, speaking and reading at the same time.

I’m not sure how long the offer is on for. So I have written to them to get more detail of when the offer will end and how long you can use it for.

What you need to do to get the Free Software?

Email and explain why you are learning English.

State which package you want. They have the following packages;

• English for Chinese Speakers
• English for Russian Speakers
• English for Spanish Speakers
• English for Czech Speakers
• Generic Version - English for the Rest of the World
• Russian for English speakers

For free use of their software, Language Bridge wants you to share your experience of using it.

What can you say in the email?

Some examples

For Work.

I have been learning English for years but am unhappy with my spoken English. I want to improve my spoken English. With better spoken English my work opportunities will increase. I will be able to work for international companies and work with people from around the world.

For Study

I find speaking English difficult. I want to be fluent in English because I have spent a lot of time learning it. Also with good English skills I will be able to study aboard. This is something I really want to do.

For Travel

I travel a lot but my poor English makes this difficult. I want to speak English fluently so that my travels are easier. Also with fluent English I can make friends and contacts with people from different countries.

Good Luck


Click here for link to Language Bridge

Monday, 27 June 2011

English Resources - LingQ

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For English Learners (also Spanish, German, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Swedish and French)

There’s never been a better time to learn a language than now. We have access to more resources than ever before.

This video was a timely remember that LingQ has lots of listening and reading resources for English Learners.

Lucas Fischer Raymundo said that he didn’t know any English seven months ago but through listening, reading and reviewing he can now speak English comfortably.

To get access to LingQ resources you can join here

Join LingQ

Check out the site here

Welcome to LingQ

Your English gets better everyday


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Crosstalk - Update

Junk mail or the future of language text books

I started using crosstalk a couple of weeks ago and have clocked up 9 hours so far.

I’m lucky that I’ve found a woman who seems to instinctively know how to ‘crosstalk.’

I always use English. She always uses Dutch.

We have used photos, pictures, the environment and retail brochures (Junk mail the new language textbook!!) to make the Dutch comprehensible. She is also very expressive, with gestures and the use of her voice.

Initial reaction

I’m amazed. I can hold a conversation in Chinese (only sometimes as my Chinese is a bit wobbly) but I don’t think I’ve had such in-depth and continuous conversations with a person speaking another language as I have had with crosstalk. I was really communicating. At first, it felt weird – how can this be? I’m talking English and she’s talking Dutch but we can understand each other and when understanding does break down, she either rephrases what she’s saying or we simply start a new conversation.

I have to add, that it’s not like speaking to someone in your native language. The conversations start from pictures, magazines etc and can develop into opinions and stories. Sometimes the detail is too much and the conversation dies but with additional comprehensible material, the conversation soon restarts.

What does this mean for language learning?

It’s a brilliant tool for adventuring in the language you want to learn. What other method allows you to hold a conversation with someone of your target language with little or no knowledge of the language (note - I’ve had about 330 hours of listening to TV and stories with no translations). The basic content is up to you. You choose your materials and conversations grow out of these.

I have only got nine hours of crosstalk so far and I'm not a linguists but if exposure to a language is a key element of language learning, then 'crosstalk' is an excellent tool.

Also if people have the chance to use crosstalk early in their language learning, I think it’ll be a great motivational tool too.

Using English made it easy to focus on the Dutch.

I found myself focusing on what she said, rather than conversations I have had when I was using Chinese, where some of my attention is focused on whether I’m saying something right, not always on listening. Focusing on my language partner certainly helped me comprehend the conversation better.

No time for analysis the language

There’s no time for the English voice in my head to translate the conversation (something which I get sometimes when watching Dutch TV). There’s also no time for working out the grammar etc. The focus is on the meaning and communicating. Though through repetition you can quickly work out some language.

The future

I believe this is an idea to spread. Crosstalk offers huge potential for language learners, opening up doors that didn’t exist before - watching videos, language classes and listening to podcasts are like floating above the jungle in an hot air balloon, you can get a good sense of the language, but with crosstalk, you’re in the jungle, it’s real and you’re surrounded by the language.

For me, I’ve got another crosstalk session tomorrow morning and then next week, we are going on the streets and shops of Venlo. Crosstalk on the move, now this is something I really want to workout.

If you want to find out more about crosstalk, feel free to email me on or leave a comment.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Audio Books for Language Learning

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Audio Books are a great learning tool for languages. You get to hear and read at the same time, as well as gaining a lot of exposure to the language you’re learning. They also make extensive reading much easier.

In language learning, extensive reading offers the learner an adventure into the language but is, in my opinion, overlooked.

There are two types of reading; intensive and extensive.

• Intensive reading is reading for detail and this usually means aiming for 100% understanding. In language learning this usually requires a bilingual dictionary, with every unknown word being looked up for its meaning.
• Extensive reading is reading for the general meaning or overall meaning of the text. In language learning this means reading as much as possible and not worrying about the details. You read and you don’t stop if you don’t know the meaning of a word or even a paragraph. The dictionary is used little or not at all.

In teaching languages the emphasis seems to be on intensive reading but extensive reading is just as helpful (if not more helpful to the learner).

I read Doviende’s experience of using extensive reading to learn German. At first, he used intensive reading to read a novel but gave up because he felt it was too difficult. Nine years later, after reading advice from Steve Kaufmann and AJATT, Doviende picked up the novel again and just read. He didn’t use a dictionary, he just kept his eyes moving over the words. He found that he could follow the story, which he wasn’t able to get with intensive reading.

Doviende found that he was able to work out the meaning of words that occurred often and even though he wasn’t sure why, the more he extensively read, the more he could understand of the story.

He also recommended audio books as a great way to read extensively.

My experience

I joined the Dutch Library and got the audio CDs and book of Roald Dahl’s ‘Danny the World Champion’.

I was also very surprised at how much I could follow the story. The story revealed itself to me and even some of the details come out. It was a very enjoyable experience to listening to a book in a foreign language.

Great things about Audio books

• They force you to go along with the story.
• You quickly get a sense of what words come up often.
• Words that you don’t know but come up often can be guessed at. The guessing gets easier the more you see the word.
• You can hear the words, so you don’t have to try and pronounce them (or mispronounce them).
• On a second listening to a chapter, you usually understand more. This is very rewarding.

LingQ offers a lot of audio and text material. They have also got sections of ‘novels’ that are audio, though I don’t know to what extent. They offer this material in about 10 different languages.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Easy Dutch - YouTube video links

This is for Dutch Learners

Why watch ‘how to’ videos?

• These videos are relatively easy to understand from just watching.
• It’s real Dutch! This is for Dutch speakers and it’s how they speak.
• There are ‘how to’ videos for most subjects. Pick something you like and you know well and this will make the ‘videos’ even easier.
• ‘How to’ videos can be quite active. If you follow the actions, you’ll learn better.
• Helps you get more use to Dutch

Don’t worry

• You don’t need to know every word.
• The more you watch Dutch TV, especially kids TV, ‘how to’ and stuff that you are interested in, the easier Dutch is to understand.

When choosing ‘how to’ to watch. Choose ones that you enjoy! If you don’t like ‘how to do a sport’ type of videos, DON’T WATCH Them.

The list here is to get you started and hopefully to show you the variety of ‘comprehensible’ videos that are already out there.


This is one of 19 two to three minute long films on how to cook something. The films are very similar, which is great as you get a lot of repetition.

De Telegraf

They have over 800 videos. This one is from the Vrouw series. The ones I’ve seen from the Vrouw series seem to be useful for learners of Dutch. This series is lifestyle focused and many of the videos are in the ‘How to’ genre.

SOS Piet

SOS Piet is a cook that visit the homes of people who have problems cooking a dish. I find him entertaining. There are several videos on YouTube.

Other links – Making trophies from ‘waste’ around the house. A Dutch ‘Blue Peter’. - How to exercise – this is part of a series of 164 videos related to fitness and health. With exercise videos, it’s useful to do the exercise with the instructor, as this will help internalise the language. - How to exercise – this is part of a series of 35 videos related to fitness and health. - How to make different latte tops – one of 13 videos. - How to make a cup of tea – one of 4 (others are how to; smoke a cigar and a waterpipe) - How to make a Christmas Decorate – there are others in the series.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Videos to watch to help you with English

This is for English Learners

Why watch ‘how to’ videos?

• These videos are relatively easy to understand from just watching.
• It’s real English! This is for English speakers and it’s how they speak.
• There are ‘how to’ videos for most subjects. Pick something you like and you know well and this will make the ‘videos’ even easier.
• ‘How to’ videos can be quite active. If you follow the actions, you’ll learn better.
• Helps you get more use to English

Don’t worry

• You don’t need to know every word.
• You more you watch English TV, especially kids TV, ‘how to’ and stuff that you are interested in, the easier the English is to understand.

When choosing ‘how to’ to watch. Choose ones that you enjoy! If you don’t like ‘how to do a sport’ type of video, DON’T WATCH IT.

Here are some examples

Diethealth is a Youtube channel aimed at women who want to get thinner and improve their health. The videos I’ve seen are American English. Some are good, like the ones above where the language is everyday stuff, there are a few videos that have more ‘technical English’.

This is a video from expertvillage. They have an incredible 138,597 videos online. I guess that they cover all sorts of topics. They also have many videos related to health and diet.

This is from Howcast. They have lots of videos too. The language is fun, easy to follow and it’s something that most adults are familiar with.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Get More Out of Foreign (English) Language TV

Watch TV and learn a foreign language! Sounds good, sounds too good to be true and at the moment it is for most people.

The trouble with most TV is that it’s too difficult to understand so people stop watching. One thing that has worked for me is watching a lot of kids TV in Dutch. I’ve certainly learned a lot of language this way and I’m much more comfortable with Dutch now. The great thing about kids TV is that it’s easy to follow. Unfortunately, many adults don’t like kids TV. Another alternative is to lookup ‘How to’ videos on Youtube.

‘How to’ are good because the subject is restricted, they're usually laid out in steps and there’s some repetition in the language used.

Here is a video for English learners.

‘How to make the perfect cup of tea’

It’s American English and aimed at women who are on a diet. So the language is step by step, on the subject of tea and it’s about health.

1st listening

• How many people do you see in the film?
• What are the two main types of tea?

2nd listening

• What’s the name of the woman who makes the tea?
• First step – do you have to use cold aerated water?
• Which tea (black or green) do you use a kettle to boil the water?
• Do you need to wring out a tea bag?

If you’re really good try these questions – take as many listenings as you like.

• 0:00- 0:15 – woman has started to drink tea this winter. What three reasons does she give?
• What would the ‘tea police’ check, if they came to your house?
• Do green and black tea come from the same bush?
• Can you re-use water in a kettle?
• When the kettle whistles, you need to get to the kettle quickly. Why?
• How is the tea bag protected?
• 3:45 – 3:55 – Why does the woman put a saucer (plate) over the tea cup? 3 reasons.
• How long do you steep: Green Tea
o Black Tea
• What can you use to boil green tea?
• Why don’t you wring out a tea bag?

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Easy to Understand Video

Here are two easy to understand videos for language learners. One is for Dutch learners and the other is for English Learners.

Easy to understand video are a great language learning tool, unfortunately, there aren’t that many around. This surprises me because they’re easy to make.
What should ‘Easy to Understand’ Videos be?

• Easy to understand – i.e. talking about what’s around them, what they are doing or telling an easy to follow story.
• Spoken language (real language)
• Only use one language (no translations)

For the learner. Easy to understand, means that you follow what the person says, not that you understand every single word.


This video is easy to understand because I'm talking about things that you can see and I act out actions I'm talking about


This video is easy to understand because we can see the context - a market seller doing a performance to sell peelers. He talks about his actions and at the end he talks about what a great offer this is. He also jokes. I don't understand every word but I do understand the general meaning.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Introduction to Crosstalk

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Crosstalk is a technic developed at ALG World for their Thai language learning programme. They have a unique approach to language teaching that focuses on comprehensible input. The programme aims to develop an environment for adult language learning that's based on how children learn languages. This approach has gotten very good results, especially for pronunciation with many students getting native or near native accents.

This approach is only available in Bangkok but David Long, the director of Thai studies at ALG, believes 'crosstalk' is the technic that anyone can use, to learn a language. This is what ALG says about crosstalk.

This is my current understanding of crosstalk

Basically, crosstalk is a conversation between two or more people who have different native languages. They use their native language and no translation is used. Instead varies non-verbal communication technics are used, so that the conversation is comprehensible to the people involved.

The non-verbal technics that can be used are familiar to all of us. They including drawings, use of graphics and symbols, pictures and photographs, body language (the more exaggerated, the better), movement, acting out, talking about the environment around you, and the use of objects etc. They can be used on their own but are more powerful when used in combination with one or more other technic.

For example, if you’re talking about time, the use of a clock, some timetables (train etc) and a calendar would definitely help people, who are using different languages, to better understand each other.

If you used the non-smoking symbol, it's fairly easy to indicate that it’s bad for your body and smells through body language. You can also show how expensive it is by writing the price and an upward arrow etc. The good thing about this topic is that most people have an opinion about it.

Advantages of Crosstalk

• It allows you to have an engaging conversation with someone who speaks a different language to you.
• It exposes you to spoken language.
• You use your strengths and you get comprehensible input of the other language. This point is worth expanding on. If it’s me and I use Dutch, the focus will be on correcting my Dutch as it would be pretty rubbish at the moment. Whilst I can understand some Dutch, my active vocabulary is limited and I would struggle to form sentences. It would be slow and painful for me and the Dutch person. No real conversation would be achieved if I used Dutch but it could be achieved if I used my English (my strength).
• From my knowledge (not practice yet), I believe that crosstalk can happen anywhere. You can leave the classroom behind and instead, use the real world as your class. The class with crosstalk could be in the supermarket, shops, walks, gardens, parks, places of interest, farms, factories, homes and more. Because the focus of crosstalk is comprehensible input, if you talk about the environment around you, about things and people you can see, then that would be comprehensible input.

My crosstalk story so far.

I have a theoretical understanding of crosstalk and from this I believe it’s a powerful tool for language learning, especially getting comprehensible exposure to your target language.

My goal over the next month is to move this theoretical knowledge into practical knowledge so that I can improve my Dutch significantly. Also, having a practical understanding of how crosstalk works, I’ll be in a better position to help other language learners use this technic.

My limited use of crosstalk has been with encounters at shops, markets and restaurants. This is a very superficial use of crosstalk (works well in the Netherlands because almost everyone understands English). I’ve also got some input from strangers on the street.

If you’re interested in helping develop the use of and finding out more about crosstalk, then contact me on 0630 790 269 or

Friday, 8 April 2011

Dutch Language Resources.

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For me, finding language resources is one of the most frustrating things in language learning as I feel a lot of the time I’m just wasting my time.

For example, I like to listen to the language a lot but often I go to websites and there’s no listening or very little.

So here’s a list Dutch resources I’ve been using or come across. I have a preference for Dutch only material and most of the material is TV or visual.

Taalklas TV show episode 1-12

Taalklas is a TV programme for immigrants learning Dutch. Here they have the full length programme, which are about 20 mins long. They consist of an opening sketch, vocab section, a singing sketch and some grammar. Each programme is based on a theme, i.e. the house. The programme is Dutch only.

Taalklas website

Taalklas also have their own website. You need to ‘registreren’, which is simple. You write your name and they’ll give you a pass number. This website compliments the TV show by also having exercises relating to each show. There are also 12 additional programmes and sketches on the site.

Links on 2BDutch website

More links. On this page I’ve used the following;

Woordwijzen – a five minute TV programme that introduces 5-6 new words each episode. Dutch only programme for learners.

Doe Maar Gewoon – 10-15 minutes long. This programme is about dos and don’ts in Dutch life. There are two sketches, the first shows an immigrant person/couple not following Dutch customs and the second shows them doing it right. Dutch only.

Lyrics training

But there’s only 4 Dutch songs here.

Netherlands TV

Links to some Dutch TV.

Learn Dutch with translation

I haven’t used this as it contains translations that are hard to avoid. Maybe useful for beginners.

Dutch TV with subtitles

Dutch TV with subtitles in Dutch and a choice of five different languages. Dutch TV themes include, children, political, history, comedy and music programmes. I found these useful as a lot of the videos have a Dutch focus.

Dutch Soap

If you’re into soaps, then this show might be good for you. They seem to upload the full show onto Youtube.

This is not an exhaustive list. There must be lots of quality Dutch material out there. You just have to have the patience and look.

I hope this list gets you started. A lot of the links are from the 2BDutch website. I’m sure that Youtube has a lot of potential too.

If you know any cool Dutch resources, please let me know in the comments.


Friday, 25 March 2011

Is your language learning convenient?

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I’m learning Dutch at the moment and at first I didn’t record the amount of time I was putting in. I just guessed. I only started to record the time I watched Dutch TV when I put pen and paper next to the sofa where I watch TV.

I only started when it was convenient to do so.

Many people believe motivation is the silver bullet to ‘problems’ big and challenging and whilst I agree with goal setting, incentives, positive talk etc, I now think that making goals easy to do is more important.

For example; If you want to listen to lots of Spanish, which ‘option’ would be the best for this?

1. Having some Spanish but only on CDs.
2. Having some Spanish on your Ipod/MP3 player.
3. Having only Spanish on you Ipod/MP3 player.

Most people would agree that the most convenient ‘option’ for listening to lots of Spanish would be the third option. With this option the person can only listen to Spanish.

Khatzumoto, at 'All Japanese All The Time’ pushed this to the extreme when he was learning Japanese. He created an environment in his home that was basically Japanese. He had only Japanese music, films, comics. He build up his environment so that he could listening or do something in Japanese at any time of the day and that it was easier to do or listening to Japanese than it was to listen to English.

What have I done to make learning Dutch easy?

• Move to the Netherlands. Result. - I hear Dutch every day, I'm surrounded by Dutch people and I have loads of TV channels. I’ve watched a lot of Dutch TV.
• Have an Ipod with mostly Dutch stories and songs on. Result – I mainly listen to Dutch when I’m on the go.
• Have Dutch TV. Though having a girlfriend who doesn’t want to watch Dutch TV makes this a little harder. Result - I watch Dutch TV when my girlfriend isn’t around.
• Having Dutch TV on my computer. Result – I watch Dutch TV when my girlfriend is around.
• Having Dutch books. Result – I can compare some listening stories on my Ipod to the written stories.
• Having a Dutch book or newspaper in my travel bag. I can ‘read’ or look at some Dutch material when I’m bored or have a few free minutes.

What are you doing to make your language learning easy to do?

Friday, 25 February 2011

Dutch - Update

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Dutch the Silent Way


Overall, I’m happy that I’m making progress and at the moment I feel that Dutch is a very learnable language. Most of my input so far has come from Dutch children TV. I’ve also used 'crosstalk' for everyday situations and got some 'heroes' to help me from the street.

I’ve written some emails to people to get some feedback on my approach. Here are some responses.

David Long, head of the Thai language programme at ALG, Bangkok

“I think that at the early stages, you should be careful of spending much time on anything that is too difficult. Keep it simple. I would also tend to focus on Crosstalk and see if it is possible to get 2 or 3 people to meet with you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This way, you will begin to really develop situations that are memorable, and understandable.”

John Fotheringham,Foreign Language Mastery

“I haven't actually used the ALG approach myself, but many people swear by it. While I think it will lead to good pronunciation and strong oral fluency, it does have a major disadvantage: it isn't practical for people who will be moving to a country right away and need to use the language to get around, buy groceries,.
I would also add in podcasts as they allow you to get passive listening input while doing chores, cooking, etc.”


• I’ve watch just over a 100 hours of Dutch TV. This has been mostly children’s TV as it’s simple and quite easy to understand. I definitely feel I understand more now than I did at the start.

• I’ve probably only got about 30-40 minutes of Dutch input from people.

• Listening to Dutch children’s stories on MP3 player – approx.. 4 hours

March targets

• Watch 60 hours of Dutch TV
• Start regular crosstalk session with some Dutch people. Aim for 3-4 hours per week by the end of March.
• Listen to 30 plus hours of Dutch on my MP3 player.

It’s certainly not my intention to learn Dutch by watching TV. I definitely want the human input as I feel it’s needed and it’s more enjoyable. So, by the end of March, I definitely want my Dutch learning to have that human touch.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Learn English from Popular TV shows

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This blog is for intermediate and Advance learners of English

The internet has some amazing resources for English learners. I recently found out that a lot of TV shows have their transcripts up on the web. Shows such as Spongebob, Two and a Half Men, Sex and the City, Chuck and a whole load more.

Why use transcripts? Because this is how people speak! People don’t speak the English used in English text books. These TV shows are a much better example and they’re entertaining too. Also, by using transcripts you can first read and then listen, and this will give you more of a chance to understand.

I’ve also added a link from LukasEnglishPodcast. In a six minutes video, he talks about ‘subtitles’ in videos. He believes that it’s better to just listen to a video and not read ‘subtitles’ (or a transcript) at the same time. Watch his video for how to use listening and reading materials. Link at the bottom.

SpongeBob is fun. It’s written for adults as well as kids. So join in the fun! At Wikia, they have transcripts of many episodes of SpongeBob.

Sex and the City transcripts.

Two and a Half Men transcripts

Here's a list of transcripts for other TV shows from Twiztv

Lucas Video on using 'subtitle' and transcript for listening practice

In the future, I will create an English exercise using transcripts and ‘Youtube’
Thanks you for reading and I hope you enjoyed today’s blogs.

Listen and your English will be great!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Fun Resources for English Learners

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Bored of text books, grammar and the classroom? And yet still want to learn English?

Don't worry! Instead of studying, you can learn better by using games and fun websites.

Lyrics Training

Lyrics Training is fantastic for people who love music! And who doesn't love music!
Also, it'll introduce you to a lot of songs in another language. Most songs are in English but there are six other languages too, including Spanish, Italian and also Germany, which is good for me.

How it works (very easy to use)

• You choose the song you want to play.
• Game option – beginner, intermediate or expert.
• Play and write in the missing word.
• To repeat, use backspace.

Go on, give it a go! It's very addictive! (you'll play again and again)

Ello (Home Page)

This site has lots and lots of English listening material. There are different activities to do and games too. Give it a go! Listening a lot is very important to being about to speak better.

Listening Games

English Yabla

Watch TV and play games. This is not what your English teacher told you but this is excellent. I've used the German version and it's fun (only the free part).

• There are different levels; one star - very easy, five stars – difficult
• Some of the easy videos you can understand by watching and guessing
• There are captions in English and your languages (only for German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish at the moment)
• You can play listening games to help your listening and writing.

Go on, have fun with learning English or whatever language you want. You'll get better results learning this way then by using materials that don't interest you.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Dutch is the Silent Way

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It took me sometime to realise this but at the moment Dutch needs to be the number one language priority. Put simply, I live in the Netherlands and knowing Dutch would make my life a lot easier. It's also easy to find Dutch speakers here.

Dutch the Silent Way.

For the past two years I've been fascinated by the completely different approach taken by ALG(there's a more informative page somewhere - tb updated later) towards teaching a foreign language. Here are five videos with David Long, the Head of ALG Thai Language, explaining their approach.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

They are each about ten minutes long so if you haven't the time to view them here's the basics of ALG's approach.

• You don't speak until you feel the words are ready to 'pop'. For Europeans learning Thai this could be up to 800 hours. A rough estimate for English to Dutch will be a lot shorter (perhaps 150 hrs).
• To learn to speak, the key is not speaking but understandable input.
• Two teachers in the class - this way you get the genuine spoken language.
• Classes are based on different activities that use visual aids, actions, games and interactions to help comprehension. There's no focus on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, activities that you might get in a 'traditional' language school
• They are aiming to teach you like children. They believe that children can not go wrong with learning a language but adults can. Most adults, especially in the Western world have gone through the education system. Here, the practice makes perfect attitude develops. So this approach is used, for adults, to learn languages. At ALG, they believe this causes too much stress and inhibits language learning.
• There order of learning is; understandable input (listening to easily understood situations), speaking (starts after 800 hrs for a Western), reading (starts after a 1,000 hrs?) , writing.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to take classes for this approach to learning a language only seems to exist in Thailand. So how can I use this approach?
I’ve got lots of experience teaching children. The approach used lots of games, competitions, songs and in general worked towards making the classes’ fun. Also ALG have lots of example classes on the net. From those videos, the overall general principle I can gather is ‘talk about the things you can see and feel’ and not abstract ‘adult’ topics.

For me, this is an experiment. To see if I can apply the ALG method as an individual. Also to experience how this way of learning feels.

My current approach will be:

• Watch TV, especially children’s TV as that’s easier to understand.
• Use crosstalk. (This is where I speak English and the other people speak Dutch. For more complicated language, drawings etc can be used to help with comprehension )
• Short Videos – People are instructed to talk about a topic – ‘Your Family’, ‘life Story’ ‘Games I Enjoyed when I was a Kid’ etc
• Picture Book - get people to describe the pictures.
• Talking tour – where people take me on a ‘guided tour’ of a place. They talk about the things that we pass, see, can touch and feel.
• Popular songs
• TPR (Total Physical Response – a Dutch person will speak about the action they are doing e.g. I’m brushing my teeth. I will copy. It’s a bit like training a dog and very effective. Used with enough baby steps, the student can understand fairly complicated language quiet quickly.
• Hang out with Dutch people and listen in on their conversations.

For me, the hardest part will be to get comprehensible conversational input from Dutch speakers. Any suggestions?

And do you have any suggestions for other activities I can do to help me with this approach?

I will be contacting David Long from ALG and other leading language experts on the web, to see if they have suggestions for other activities I could do and which areas to concentrate on most.

Thanks, next time some cool links for English language learners. You’re going to love these!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

English for a Coffee - Venlo

English for a Coffee

Hi everyone!

English for a Coffee in Venlo. Yes, it's true, you can get some real English conversational practice at Hemingway Eetcafe, every Wednesday from 5-8pm. And it will only cost you a cup of coffee!

There will be three hour slots - 5-6, 6-7 and 7-8pm. Call Chris, that's me, on 0630-790-269. First 10 people to call will also get a free extra hour of English conversation.

See you at Hemingway Eetcafe, H. Geeststraat, Venlo.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Grammar - video and script.

I decided to post the video again, even though it was in yesterday's post, which explains why I'm telling the story in this way. The script is below the video.

The Transcript

Hi, it’s teacher Chris and today we have a short story that will help you understand tenses better. Let’s start.

(the story)

Sam went to Vietnam last year. Did Sam go to Vietnam two years ago? …………….. No, he didn’t. He didn’t go to Vietnam two years ago. He went to Vietnam last year. Who went to Vietnam? ……………. Sam, Sam went to Vietnam. When did he go? ………………. Last year. He went to Vietnam last year. He went to the mountains to go hiking. Where did he go in Vietnam? …………… He went to the mountains. He went to the mountains to go hiking. What did he do in the mountains? ………... Hiking. He hiked in the mountains. He went hiking because he loves it.

Did he go shopping in the mountains? ………………. No, no, he didn’t go… no, he didn’t. He didn’t go shopping in the mountains. He went hiking in the mountains. He went hiking because he loves it. Does he love hiking? …………… Yes, he does. He loves to go hiking, especially in the mountains. He loves the scenery and (the) fresh air you get when you go hiking. Does he love the scenery or the fresh air when he goes hiking? …………………… Mmm, he loves both. He loves the scenery and the fresh air. In Vietnam he felt the mountain scenery was very special. Did he feel the mountain scenery was boring? ………………………… No, no, he didn’t. He didn’t feel the mountain scenery was boring. He felt it was very special. Did he feel it was strange or very special? …………………… He felt it was very special.

What did he feel was very special? ………………… He felt that the mountain scenery was very special. Where was the mountain scenery very special? …………….. In Vietnam. The mountain scenery was very special in Vietnam.

Sam loves hiking so much he said that if he had gone to China last year, he would’ve gone hiking there too. Did Sam go to China last year? …………………….. No, he didn’t. He didn’t go to China last year. But if he had gone, he would’ve gone hiking. Would he had gone sailing in China? ………………………… No, no, he wouldn’t had gone sailing in China. He would’ve gone hiking. If he had gone to China, he would’ve gone hiking. Why would have he gone hiking? …………………….. Because he loves hiking. So, if he had gone to China, he would’ve gone hiking. But did he go to China last year? No, he didn’t. He didn’t go to China last year. He went to Vietnam.

End of Story

Thursday, 27 January 2011

English Grammar - a different approach to learning

I made this video last year and it uses an interesting approach to teaching grammar.

It doesn't concentrate on the mechanics of grammar but rather shows you the structure of the language through repeated use.

I read a short story and I constantly ask questions. You should answer the question. After a short pause, I also answer the question, so within the story, you get all the common grammar structures;

Sam went to Vietnam last year. positive structure
Did Sam go to China last year? question structure
No, he didn't. He didn't go to China last year. negative structure

The 'past tense' is the main focus of the video.

I hope you find the video useful. I personally think it's a great alternative to traditional methods of teaching grammar. In my view, people who learn languages ultimately want to communicate well in that language. I believe this approach is more helpful than the book approach.

I will provide a script for the video tomorrow.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Languages I'm learning and plan to learn

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I can currently speak some Chinese and have been listening to lots of German. I plan to start learning Dutch in April.

So my current language priorities are;

1. German
2. Chinese
3. Dutch

German - the Plan


• Listen to two hours a day
• Find some German speakers, make friends/contact with them
• Setup a language exchange with a German speaker that will run throughout February.


• Listen two hours a day
• Use it in shops, even though I’m in the Netherlands, we’re on the border.
• Be in a German ‘social’ environment for at least 5 hours per week.



I'm only listening to Chinese. If I'm to keep my Chinese, then I'll need to find some Chinese speaking contacts. I currently know one in Venlo. There's a Chinese club in Eindhoven that I'll contact next week and there's Chinese restaurants in Tegelen and Venlo, so finding Chinese speakers isn't a problem.


Why is it the number three priority when I live in the Netherlands? Good question, it's mainly because I started German when I was in the UK - German material is easier to get than Dutch material and also I want to learn Dutch in a very specific way. There is also another reason that I want to start it a bit later. I want to have 'willing' Dutch friends who will be able to teach me in the way that I want. I will write more about the method I plan to use later.

Dutch will become my number one priority in April.

So those are my language learning priorities at the moment. Let me know, if you're learning a language too. Especially, German, Chinese or Dutch.

Cheers everyone!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

English Video - In the Garden

I made this video last year, when I was living in Taiwan.

I describe what you can see or hear in the video. I use spoken rather than book English. The script is also provided as well as some questions to encourage you to listen again to the video.

Exercises for “In the Garden Part One”

1st Listening

What floor do I live on?
What ‘word’ do Americans use for garden?

2nd Listening

There’s a little bit of noise on video. Where does it come from?
Which one’s bigger, a flowerbed or a flowerpot?
What’s wrong with some of the coffee trees?
How many anti-mosquitoes plants are there in the garden?
‘Anti’ in English means against. ‘Anti-mosquitoes’ plants – Are they good or bad for mosquitoes?

In the Garden Part One – The script.

Hi everyone, welcome to the garden, you’ll have to excuse the noise because we’re outside and there’s cars in the street below. Um, I’m lucky enough to live on one, two, three, four, on the fifth floor and lucky enough to have this garden. American would say yard, ok, in this yard, or garden, we’ve got a flowerbed, over here, we’ve got some plants and some weeds.

Hello, eh, over here in the yard, we’ve got some flowerpots, and …. Not very successful here, we’ve got some dead plants. These are dead coffee trees. These are live coffee trees. Ah, we’ve got this plant, this is a, it’s supposed to be an anti-mosquito plant, it’s a kind of pepper. And this is anti-mosquito as well and over here, we’ve got some chili plants. Can you see? This is a chili, and a little rose tree here. So, we don’t only have flowerbeds, but we’ve got flowerpots as well.

New Branding

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Welcome to Orange Easy!

This is a rebranding of the Easy English, Easy Chinese blog as I've moved to the Netherlands, the title doesn't fit what I'm focusing on anymore.

What can you expect from Orange Easy?

• Focus on English, German and later Dutch.
• Links to English and German resources, especially ones for listening and that have a fun element to them.
• English videos with exercises.
• Introduction to ‘excellent’ language learners who are based on the web.

Next post I'll post up an English Video, with script and Exercises.