Friday, March 1, 2013

Methods for mastering English conversation and vocabulary

The following is one of a series of guest posts by Mike Shelby. Mike is a former ESL teacher who has been quietly (i.e., without his own blog) disseminating his thoughts on language learning around the internet for quite some time.

I have developed my own unique suggestions on mastering English conversation and vocabulary. They are based on my experience and knowledge, and my tips and advice may be valuable for all students of English. I hope that they will become a short but indispensable guide for many learners of English. I have thoroughly read on the issue of effective methods and aids for learning English. Those aids include audio, video, websites, study books, etc. I want to share with you that information for English language learners.

Of course, everyday communication in English with native English speakers on a variety of topics helps best in order to be able to speak English fluently. But relatively few learners of English have such a long-term opportunity. To eventually be able to speak English fluently, first of all learners of English must have materials with important content on all everyday topics (audio, video, printed texts/study books, etc.) for beginning, intermediate and advanced levels of study. The materials must include dialogues, monologues (thematic texts), questions and answers with important content, thematic lists of difficult word meanings and phrases (expressions) with usage sentences, and comprehensive vocabulary on all everyday topics.

I believe that learners can master English conversation and vocabulary with the following methods:
  1. It is important for learners of English to listen to each sentence in conversations (thematic dialogues) in audio materials several times and to see their transcript at the same time, and to understand everything in those sentences clearly.

  2. It is helpful for learners of English to read (pronounce) each sentence aloud and to compare their pronunciation to the narrator's pronunciation.

  3. Speaking activity with self-check: It is a good idea for learners to check if they can orally convey the content of those dialogues closely to the original dialogues as much as possible.

    It is expedient for them to try to be an actor for both speakers in the dialogues. The most important thing for them is to speak English, and to check in the transcript of conversations (dialogues) whether they have made any mistakes in speaking.

    Learners can also make up their own written questions on the dialogues that require long answers contained in the dialogues to facilitate (make easier) imitation of the dialogues. Alternatively, learners can write key words and phrases, or main ideas as a plan to make easier for them to imitate those dialogues.

    There are English conversation books and websites with thematic dialogues and narrative/informative texts on various topics to practice speaking in English.

  4. It is useful for learners to prepare potential questions and answers with helpful content on all everyday topics, and to practice speaking. To show different ways of expressing a particular thought they can make up several potential questions and answers on one point in this speaking activity. There are a few websites that contain a lot of ready-made questions in English on a wide variety of topics:
  5. Students of English can learn a lot of vocabulary on every topic from general thematic English dictionaries in addition to English phrase books. Good thematic English dictionaries provide clear word usage explanations and also a few usage sentences for each word meaning, which is especially useful. It is also helpful for students of English to make up their own sentences with difficult vocabulary. It is reasonable for them to think about the real life situations where and when that vocabulary can be used.

  6. It would be very useful for learners of English to make lists of difficult word meanings and of phrases (expressions) on every topic with usage sentences from English phrase books and general thematic English dictionaries. Reading those ready-made vocabulary usage sentences many times would help learners remember difficult word meanings. Longman Language Activator Dictionary (a unique English idea production dictionary) covers this issue thoroughly. It would also be very practical for learners to make up their own sentences with that vocabulary for personal potential use, taking into consideration real life situations.

  7. Learners can also master new English vocabulary by reading thematic texts (materials), first of all on everyday topics with important content, for example: Hints & Tips To Make Life Easier: Practical Solutions for Everyday Problems. Such self-help books on settling everyday matters are available at public libraries, book stores and on the internet.

    It is better for learners to write down unknown vocabulary in whole sentences to more easily remember it. It would be effective for developing English speaking skills by learners to practice telling the content of the texts that they have read.

  8. Constant review of material ensures solid knowledge and success in learning.

  9. It is important that learners make use of various aids on a variety of topics to improve their English conversation and vocabulary skills: audio, video (English learning videos, travel videos, etc.), internet resources, English-learning magazines, newspapers, newsletters, radio programs (especially the BBC's English learning programs/materials), TV programs (educational programs, documentary films, movies, news), books, audio books and e-books on a variety of subjects, online communication with native-English speakers (chat, email, Skype). Good libraries, book stores and the internet have a wide selection of English-learning aids.
The actual conversation process consists of two integral parts: listening and speaking.

In my view it is expedient to master a conversation topic in English in the following order:
  1. Learners listen to and pronounce each sentence of English conversations (thematic dialogues and narrative texts with transcripts).

  2. Speaking on each conversation topic (imitation of dialogues (role play), ready-made thematic questions and answers with helpful content for using in daily life, narrations/telling stories, talking points and discussions of issues).

  3. Learning of additional conversation sentences and vocabulary from English phrase books, conversation books and general thematic English dictionaries that provide useful usage sentences. Making up one's own sentences with difficult vocabulary for potential use in daily life.

  4. Extensive reading of thematic texts and materials from various sources. Telling the content of thematic texts.

  5. Writing on real life topics.


  1. Wow, this english conversation book idea sounds great! I'll have to find one to give to my relatives the next time we get together. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Idea is really great.I have recently started learning English.I wanted to join classes but later could find free English lessons these are available for free and easy to learn.

  3. There are quite a lot of ready-made conversational dialogs on a
    multitude of topics with authentic natural wording with useful content
    (and vocabulary) for practice at all levels of difficulty from basic to
    advanced levels. It's hard and time-consuming for learners on their own
    to create such dialogs with diverse content as this would require a lot
    of imagination about potential content of conversations in various
    situations and issues of discussions.

    Therefore it is a good idea for learners to select ready-made dialogs
    with the most practical helpful content at all levels of difficulty and
    with the best wording in terms of vocabulary. So learners can select at
    their own discretion a number of ready-made dialogs on each real life
    topic. On the basis of those ready-made dialogs learners can create
    their own dialogs taking into account their potential needs,
    preferences, circumstances and personal situation.

    After listening to and reading dialogs learners can write key words and phrases, or main ideas as a plan, or questions on each dialogue that require long answers to make easier for them to imitate (reproduce, act out/role play) each dialog to practice speaking in the target language.

  4. When practicing speaking using ready-made dialogs on one’s own it is a
    good idea to record one’s speech on audio and to compare it with the
    original text or audio recording.

  5. When practicing English,we should concentrate in pronunciation,grammar and usage of words,phrases If we concentrate on this we can easily learn English.

  6. Great tips on learning English. It's also a good idea to go to a country (US, UK) and spend there some time studying or working and interacting with native speakers as much as possible. The most important part here is to forget about your native language for the time while you are there so you are all into learning the language. It will start to bring some results when you begin thinking in English.

  7. the given methods are very important for learning


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