Monthly Archives: June 2015

Practice, practice, practice your English conversations

One of the first steps for improving your English conversation skills is to identify what problem is preventing you from making progress at your desired pace. Some problems which prevent progress may result from not being organized, not scheduling time for English conversations, not reading or not speaking English every day. If you can identify the problem, then try this. What if you were someone else, for example, what if you were your Mother, or your best friend? What would your Mother or your best friend tell you to do in order to fix the problem? How might an outside person advise you to fix the problem?

Think about what worked for you in the past, when you wanted to learn a difficult subject. How much time did you devote to learning that subject? What processes or patterns of behavior did you employ in order to be successful? How is this different? What lessons from past experience could you apply to improving your English conversations?

In America, the following question is often posed, since the answer is taught by many mothers to their children.

Question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Answer: Practice, practice, practice.

This is Carnegie Hall:

We can apply the same answer to our English conversations. How do we improve our English conversations? We practice, practice, practice.

We practice listening to conversations: Listen to English videos, movies, movies with sub-titles in your first language, and listen to audio presentations. Listen repeatedly, until you understand. You may have to listen as many as 30 times. Take time to research the meaning of new phrases.

We practice sharing: Share your English skills in conversation with someone who knows less English than you do. Teach someone.

We practice speaking: Speak to your children in English. Go to meetings or events where English speaking people gather. Arrive early. Start asking questions of those persons who arrive early. Engage them in conversation.

Try it, and reply below to tell us how this worked for you.

Reading for Accent Modification

Travel Story at the Texas Ranch, by Sondra Sapper Butler – Travel in Texas
Irving, Texas

I grew up on a little farm in Missouri. From my bedroom window I could look out over the garden and orchard and see the sun rising. In the warm months, I often got up at daybreak and walked through the dewy grass and made my way to the hickory and oak trees at the edge of the woods.

I left the farm at 18. Since then I’ve tried to recapture a little of my country childhood through travel. My husband, Patrick, and I often stay in rural bed-and-breakfasts when we can. They have varied from a rustic Texas farm to a mansion in France. But the one that feels most like my childhood home is the historic Hasse House Ranch in Art, Texas.
We found it one April several years ago while traveling in Texas Hill Country to see the beautiful spring wildflowers. We had no place to stay that night until we saw an open gate by a B&B sign. We drove through the gate and up the little lane. Fields of wildflowers studded with ancient oak and pecan trees surrounded the old stone Texas ranch house. An old-fashioned windmill stood in the backyard.

I felt as if I had come home. Patrick and I have returned several times, because we find Hill Country and Hasse House Ranch one of the most peaceful places in Texas. I’ve wanted to bring along my grandsons, 4-year-old Jimmy and 2-year-old Anderson, so they could experience the wonder of country life. I finally got my chance last spring. As we left the plains of northern Texas and headed south into Hill Country, the landscape became more verdant and interesting. There had been heavy spring rains, and the wildflowers were more profuse and beautiful than in decades.

I was a little apprehensive about the boys’ reaction to the quiet Texas ranch, since they were used to living in a Dallas suburb with television, toys and many friends and relatives nearby. I shouldn’t have worried.

Jimmy ran into the Texas ranch house as soon as Grandpa Patrick unlocked the door. When he saw the large rooms with their stone walls and heavy beamed windows, his excitement exploded. He stopped in the center of the room and dropped the toys he carried. “Wow,” he cried, “this is a great place!”

The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. German immigrants Heinrich and Fredericka Hasse bought the land and built a log cabin there in 1860. They replaced the cabin in 1883 with the German-style stone farmhouse that still stands today.

Patrick started what was to become an evening ritual for the boys when he put them in their American Flyer and pulled them along the 2-mile nature trail to find and “say good night” to the cows. In the quiet evening before sundown, birds filled the trees, chattering their own good nights before settling down to roost. My husband and the boys returned to the house, happy but tired and ready to settle down to roost themselves.

The next morning the boys could hardly wait until after breakfast so they could go for their morning wagon ride to see the wild animals and make sure that the cows were up. They saw the best of Texas countryside: deer in a pecan grove, wild birds, turkeys, wild pigs, and cattle in pastures crowded with wildflowers.

Though months have passed since our visit to the Texas ranch, Jimmy hasn’t stopped talking about the ranch. A few days [ago] after we left Hasse House, he climbed onto my lap and said wistfully, “Grammie, will you take me back to the ranch tomorrow?”
“Not tomorrow, but we will go back,”  I promised with pleasure.

Reading – Rodeo, A uniquely American Sport. Written by Phyllis McIntosh

Download: Rodeo, A uniquely American Sport, by Phyllis McIntosh

Page 47

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Page 50

Page 53 Growth of Prof. Rodeo

Page 53 Making of Rodeo Cowboy

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Listening with your heart – Improve your English conversations

I ask ESL Learners to become better in conversing by listening with their heart.  When someone speaks with you, when they share their personal information, consider thinking about how that person feels about the information they just shared. How would you feel if you were in their shoes?  Make a comment about how you think they must be feeling as part of the conversation. That helps to establish a bond between you and your conversation partner.  Focusing on that rather than on what the person thinks about your accent, is a better use of time.

What effect would this have on the person with whom you are speaking?

English Language Tongue Twisters – Practice slowly

She says she sells sea shells at the sea shore, but if she says she sells sea shells at the sea shore, she sells sea shore shells.

Something in a thirty-acre thermal thicket of thorns and thistles thumped and thundered, threatening the three-D thoughts of Matthew the thug – although, theatrically, it was only the thirteen-thousand thistles and thorns through the underneath of his thigh that the thirty year old thug thought of that morning.

How much wood would Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck, if Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood? If Chuck Woods’ woodchuck could and would chuck wood, how much wood could and would Chuck Woods’ woodchuck chuck? Chuck Woods’ woodchuck would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as any woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could and would chuck wood.

Out in the pasture the nature watcher watches the catcher, while the catcher watches the pitcher who pitches the balls. Whether the temperature’s up or whether the temperature’s down, the nature watcher, the catcher and the pitcher are always around. The pitcher pitches, the catcher catches and the watcher watches. So whether the temperature rises or whether the temperature falls, the nature watcher just watches the catcher who’s watching the pitcher who’s watching the balls.

Meet face-to-face to practice English

Meet face-to-face to practice English: At a recent meet-up event at the local food court, persons from different nationalities who wanted to practice their English, shopped the culinary delights of the Asian world. Where else can you delve into the delectable seafood hot pots, gratify your taste buds with the crispy spring rolls, enjoy Thai beef with sticky rice, and relish the unusually large Chinese dumplings filled with pork and shrimp. The dough was so soft and fluffy, that you could just imagine yourself being in the middle of Shaghai!

That is exactly what they did, as one by one, each person shared with the group what it would be like for the group to visit their country and share a buffet style meal, hosted by the person speaking. Collectively, they imagined visits to the main cities in Spain, China, Mexico, and Jamaica. Anticipation grew as each listened to a description of the tasty meals which would be prepared. They imagined the Spanish guitars playing softly in the background, lulling visitors into a dreamworld of lazy walks down the Gran Via.  Then suddenly hosts and visions changed to imagining a visit to the World Heritage Sites in Iran, along with its beautiful landscapes and deserts.  Regretfully, the visitors returned from their imaginings to the reality of the moment – warmed by the bonding experience through sharing a meal.

Note: Reminder to Marie, never break the head of a shrimp off in public – it splatters everyone!