Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How To Listen Effectively - Repeat Session Tonight 19:30

Hello everyone.

Tonight my learnèd colleague Bruce Warburton is repeating a session he gave a few weeks ago. It's of vital importance to any student of English, or any other language. It's about How to Listen Effectively.

Here are a few notes below:

 When listening to English spoken by a native speaker, remember PALS.

Why are you listening? Remember the context. Use your knowledge of the subject and its vocabulary to guess the meaning of anything you don’t understand.

Accents and stress
Focus on the stressed syllables (the stressed syllables are the ones the speaker wants you to understand the most). Remember that all English accents stress the key words.

Don’t worry about words you don’t understand. Keep listening. It will usually become clearer later. Don’t focus on what you have missed, but on what is coming next.

You need learning strategies in order to improve your listening skills. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Buy a ‘reader’ (a graded novel) with a CD. Listening and following the text simultaneously will help you make the connection between spoken and written English. It will also improve your pronunciation.
  2. Watch DVDs or download films. Choose a film that you would like to see in Italian. If you are not interested in the content, it will be much harder to understand. You can also watch the Italian version first so that when you watch the English version you can focus more on the language.
  3. Record the news, or watch it on internet. Watch it the first time without any sound and predict the vocabulary you will hear. Play it again with the sound to see if you were right.
  4. The British Council website,, has lots of interesting material. For example  . There is also the apps page on
  5. Download podcasts from the internet. Listen to them on your MP3 player when you are going to work. For example, or
  6. Register on an on-line course on a subject you want or need to study. Look at MOOC sites like or
  7. Don’t forget that has something on almost every subject from all over the world.
  8. Learn vocabulary in ‘blocks’. Practise saying them to learn the rhythm. This way you will understand them more easily.
  9. Make listening to English part of your daily routine. Remember, learning a language is like doing a sport. The more you train, the better you get.

 Relax. If you are anxious or pessimistic when listening to English, you will understand less.

 Good Luck!

Try to get to Bruce's workshop. If you can't, there is plenty of help available on this Blog.
Have a nice day!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Proud to be an Introvert

Hello everyone. As promised, here is another Six Minute English quiz. 

Lately, students have been talking about personalities, about our individual characteristics which make all of us so different. We're going to listen to Alice and Neil talking about this very topic on the BBC Learning English "Six Minute English" programme. Here are some questions before you listen.

A note about this exercise: if there is a gap (_____) in the text, then insert one word. If you see a series of dots (....) then write any short answer which completes the sentence logically according to what you hear. 

And if there's a simple question, then write a simple answer. But always pay attention to grammar and spelling.

1. (Official question) Who first used the term 'extrovert'? 
Was it… a) Sigmund Freud? b) Friedrich Nietzsche? c) Carl Jung?

2. What's the essential difference between Neil and Alice?

3. Alice thinks she's a(n) _________ .

4. Alice rebukes Neil for being too _______ .

5. According to Alice, what two qualities do introverts possess?

6. According to Lisa Kaenzig, introverts are people who get their ____ from within ____ .

7. Introverts frequently find noisy environments _____ .

8. In Kenya, psychologist Dr. Peter Aloka recommends that introverts and extroverts work ....

Now listen to the programme. When you have finished, post your quiz answers on the Tag Board or as a comment.

At the same time, tell us whether you think you are an introvert or an extrovert, and say why.

I personally think I am a mixture of the two. I like being with other people. I am happy to be in a crowded bar even if no one speaks to me. So what am I? The word you need to answer this question is heard in the programme!

Let me (and the rest of us) know!
All the best, and more soon,
Mike (Editor, "Rome English")

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

USING THE PHONE IN ENGLISH - A Workshop by Bruce Warburton

Bruce has a background in English for business and exams. Here, he takes a look at how to make impactful, effective phone calls in English.

And he will be presenting his ideas tomorrow, 12 January 2017, at the British Council Rome in rooms Keats and Shelley. All students currently enrolled on a course are welcome.

Most learners of English find using the telephone to be very difficult. This is mainly because there is no visual information and you have to rely entirely on the language. It is surprising how much we depend on visual information when we communicate face to face.
Here are some of the ‘tips’ mentioned in the workshop:

 When possible or necessary, plan your call and predict possible responses. Even if you get an unexpected response, you will have a greater chance of understanding it if you have done this. 
When receiving calls, make sure you have all the necessary information. Ask clarification questions and don’t try to guess.
Make sure you are good at spelling. Native speakers use spelling all the time as the pronunciation of a name or place does not necessarily give any idea of how it is spelt. You can also ask for the spelling to give yourself time.
Speak slowly. If you speak slowly, the other person will also probably slow down.
Practise with friends. Most of the difficulty people have with the telephone is due to not getting enough practice.
Learn standard telephone expressions. 
Buy a book so you can practise at home. Here are some examples:
Telephone English by John Hughes, published by Macmillan.
Telephoning in English by  Naterop & Revell, published by Cambridge University Press.
English for Telephoning  by David Gordon Smith published by Oxford University Press.

Remember, using the phone in English is like anything else. It’s just a matter of practice.