How to massively improve speaking confidence in conversation classes

Happy Jizo statue in Sendai

What's the one thing most students are afraid of? Making mistakes. Looking silly in front of the other students. Being corrected a lot by the teacher, or by the other students. This drains their speaking confidence and can ruin a … [Continue reading]

Choosing conversation topics

Cats snuggling

Conversation language courses are considered difficult to plan for - there is no textbook to follow, no grammar that must be covered, no vocabulary list that must be learned. Apart from the focus of each class to improve speaking and listening … [Continue reading]

Starting a new conversation class

Questioning cat

If you are anything like me, as both a teacher and a student, starting a new conversation class is terribly scary. Will the group work well together? What will we talk about? Will I have the confidence to talk, or be too scared about making … [Continue reading]

Why LearnedWords?

Typewriter monochrome

It all started with words, losing myself in piles of books from the time I started to read. I’d devour page after page, get lost in imaginary worlds, and chase down stories. I started writing my own stories in primary school, such terrible copies … [Continue reading]

Illness and treatments

Cat yoga

Most of us have been ill. We've all done things to 'fix' our illness, even if it's just the common cold. Most of use have been to a doctor or specialist, had tests, and been prescribed medications or therapies. Unfortunately, this also happens … [Continue reading]

An (un)welcome immersion in language

Strings of rainbow origami cranes at a shrine in Fukushima

Immersion really is key to fast language acquisition. But only when you keep using it afterwards! A recent (planned) week-long stay in hospital showed that I can, in general, function in German. I did study a bit harder leading up to this stay, as … [Continue reading]

Words rhyming with ‘ale’

I usually give these vocabulary building exercises to my conversation class students as homework, although completing them in class can result in a surprising amount of noise and talking! Download the PDF version, without answers: Word rhyme - … [Continue reading]

Bite-sized podcasts for English fluency

Podcasts are an excellent and enjoyable way to increase your listening fluency and pick up new words, in context. I've been using a few in German, and have noticed it's much easier for me to put together sentences - I'm soaking up grammar and new … [Continue reading]

What if you won a medieval village?

I've been running this mini 'project' in both my business and conversation classes. Each group's suggestions are completely different to all other groups and fascinating! It's a great chance to practice conjunctions, if-conditionals, modal … [Continue reading]

Professions crossword

Fountain pen

A number of my classes are deep in the jobs and professions topic area. Crosswords are a fun way of increasing vocabulary (both in the answers and in the questions!) Download:  Professions crossword (PDF) If you found this crossword useful, … [Continue reading]