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What else can we do?

Hello, pupils,

On behalf of the former trainees that asked me for some advice of how to keep on track with their English skills in a self-study management, I thought of some good tips which you can follow in your daily routine to keep you familiar with the language. First of all,

there is no effortless nor fast English learning. That

does not exist, although in many advertisements people are led to believe in that miraculous achievement. Mastering a language requires

practice, daily contact

and an



meaningful use of it, but , most important I believe, is the

inner motivation.

Although you might not need English for work, you´re only going to be successful if you commit yourself to it. So if you are really into it, I advise you to set your own goals weekly, monthly or annually and to stick to the schedules. For instance, If you set the target of reading 1 chapter a week of a book, or learn by heart a song and therefore adding new lexica to your vocabulary range, you should commit yourself to it; it´s like sticking to a diet or a fitness plan: the program can be a

promise of success, but if you´re not persistent, next summer we´ll still be
using swimsuits instead of Brazilian bikinis ☺ .

So here are my tips that should be improved and sent to your emails whenever a new idea comes to my mind: During training, study English for at least 10 minutes a day;


Listen to the BBC World service ( language should be


an end, but a mean and a tool for us to take the best advantage of the world,

and BBC has extraordinary documentaries;


While watching a

DVD, read the subtitles in English: it´s a very good way to

match the Speaking with the Reading. Keep a small notebook with you and write down some important words that are unfamiliar to you. Check them later in the dictionary. I myself do this quite often;


Use a

monolingual dictionary: it helps you to improve your understanding skills

and strategies;


Record your own voice and improve your accent; Keep a diary in English: not the story of your life (only if you´re willing to☺), but some notes, for example to have your own Diary of Happiness (write down each day the best thing that happened to you: someone special you´ve met, a meaningful quote, etc.);


Have some

Tandem partners: find someone in your company or in your closest

network with the same goals and arrange a weekly schedule to practice English conversation. It does not require a huge amount of effort: take advantage of coffee breaks at work, for example, or take the opportunity to write in English with your Messenger contacts.

Do not restrict yourself to informal

situations: make a schedule with your partner and decide themes. I advise you
to have “faithful” mates to practice with, and to correct each other whenever is needed.

Teamwork is very important! Commit yourself to one song every week.


Music : who does not enjoy it?

Live with it for a week, learn it by heart: an excellent way of practicing fluency, pronunciation, reading and writing, and you can use the most romantic verses with your sweethearts ☺. Now, the Internet: the Web is a huge tool, and mainly in English you have a great amount of resources available. The following are my favorites: (Please feel free to let me know about other sites that you consider to be useful.)


Audio books: a great resource to practice Listening skills and to enjoy a good
story. You can download the audio book to your mp3 and listen to it in your car. Some sites are paid, but you can download them for free in some Torrents or in Emule. Make a search in Mininova (there are others, look for them) and afterwards download it to your BitTorrent.)



download Itunes to your computer and subscribe some interesting

podcasts . It´s FREE. Check for Podcasts in CNN, BBC and SKYNEWS.


Time magazine: you can read it online or buy at least 1 number a month. The
articles are very attractive and you have the opportunity to broaden your English at a very higher level.


Check out this site:

TEDTALKS. *****( It´s a site of

conferences and presentations of themes regarding several knowledge fields: you can search by speaker or by theme. I strongly advise you the following, although there are much more: Tony Robbins (my favourite conference): a life and motivational coach Jane Goodall War Tapes Schools and creativity Scientist of a stroke Al Gore


In Youtube, you can watch

Larry King´s

talk shows: just make a search for Larry

King and you´ll find many interesting interviews.


Take the opportunity to watch online at Youtube the

democratic debates

between Obama and Clinton. The disputes are extremely vivid,lively, dynamic, straightforward and controversial. The Americans really know how to put up a fight in the Media. Our politicians should learn from them how to get their ideas across and reach to the public. The Google Talks: at Youtube you can search for the Google channel: there you find several links: google authors/women/candidates, where you can listen for quite a long time to intelligent people talking: try Noam Chomsky, for instance, or Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, to try some online exercises: Oxford University Press: ( here you can find several links to practice language: try the adult section: Professional English. Some you can practice with your children. Randall: Check out Livraria Britânica in Oporto: there´s a great offer of self-studying manuals for different business targets and there´s a literature section. Why not choosing a book for your next holidays? You can check in FNAC too: a good literature section at very good prices.





Amazon: go to Amazon UK ( you can look at Amazon USA but the charges are higher)and make a search of used books. Books that are published in America or in England which you do not want to wait for, you can order them through Amazon at good prices.I made that with the last Nobel prize of Literature who had almost any translated work here in Portugal. In 4 days I was reading her. I often make purchases through Amazon and it´s totally reliable.

These are my suggestions for you to keep on track with your English. That is what I personally do on a regular basis. It´s a way of life, let´s say, it´s like a routine that you should integrate in your daily schedule, and with time you´ll see considerable differences in your vocabulary range and fluency.

Enjoy it and send me your feedback or more new ideas!

Sara Guimarães