How computer games can help you to learn and practice English

Computer adventure games can be a fun and interesting way to learn and practice English.

Adventure Games

An adventure game is like a movie/film but one in which you control the lead character and, to an extent, the other characters as well. Your role is usually that of a detective of some description and you can move your character around the screen, look at things, collect and pick up things and best of all interact with the other characters in the game by speaking with them.

When you talk to someone in the game, a list of possible things that you can say appears at the bottom of the screen for you to select. Whatever you select will determine the reply you receive and to a lesser extent, the outcome of the ‘scene’. Both what you say and what characters say back to you can usually be shown as subtitles on the screen which is a great aid for lower level English learners.

Take a look at this clip from a great adventure game called “Grim Fandango”

Adventure games are great fun and you can soon find yourself completely engrossed in the adventure while at the same time learning and improving your English.

Benefits of playing computer adventure games:

  • Fill your head with English
  • Improve your understanding of spoken English
  • Improve your pronunciation
  • Motivate yourself (adventure games can be very engrossing and great fun!)

Tips when using computer adventures games to learn English:

  • Try to make sure you have a dictionary at hand. Pause and look up any words or expressions you don’t understand.
  • Write down all the new words and expressions you learn
  • Try to repeat English sentences to improve your pronunciation
  • Try to play the game without subtitles to improve your understanding of spoken English

Mr TESOL.

Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

Which side of your brain do you tend to think with?

The Human Brain!

The Human Brain!

Although no one is completely left-brained or right-brained, you probably favour one side over the other. Schools have traditionally favoured left-brained students but it is thought, with online learning becoming more and more popular, that is changing.

Take a look at some of the general differences between the left and the right brain hemispheres.

Left/Right Brain Characteristics.

Left/Right Brain Characteristics.

In most online learning environments a right-brained learner may have a distinct advantage over a left-brained learner. Left brained-learners like structure and schedules that are normally not commonplace in the online learning environment. Right-brained learners, on the other hand, love the flexibility that online learning presents. They love colour, images and the ability to learn English in their own time.

You may be able to spot if your teacher is more left-brained or right-brained. Take a look at the following.

Left-Brained / Right-Brained Teachers

Left-Brained / Right-Brained Teachers.

So are you more of a lefty or a righty? Have a look at the video below. It shows a dancer turning around on the spot. If you see her spinning in a clockwise direction then it is said you are using more of the right side of your brain. If you see her spinning anti-clockwise then you are supposed to be using more of the left side (please note that this is not a scientific way to determine if you are left/right brain dominant. It does, however, raise some interesting questions about vision).

Look carefully and focus. Can you change the direction in which she is turning?

Restaurants 3

English Skill: Making an Invitation

Situation: You’ve been having a good week at work and are just about to take your lunch break when you see one of your colleagues standing outside the entrance to the company. You are feeling upbeat and generous, so decide to invite your colleague to lunch/dinner. Take a look at the related English phrases below to see how common phrases can be used to make dinner/lunch invitations.

Making Invitations

How long are the lunch/dinner breaks at your company? Do you feel they should be longer? In some countries, lunch breaks can last for as long as three hours!

Mr TESOL.

Restaurants 2

English Skill: Ordering from the Bar

Situation: You and some colleagues/friends are enjoying an evening out at a local bar/restaurant. You are all having a look at the drinks menu in order to see what is available and to decide what you will have to drink. Take a look at the related phrases you could use to discuss what’s on the menu and to speak with the waiter when he arrives to take your order.

Restaurants 2

Any questions? ūüôā

Mr TESOL.

Restaurants 1

English Skill: Selecting a Starter

Situation: You and a friend are dining out at a nice little restaurant downtown, have ordered your drinks and are now deciding what to have as an appetiser. Sometimes deciding what to have from the vast array on offer on the menu can seem like mission impossible – everything just sounds so nice! Take a look at various phrases that you may want to make use of next time you find yourself in a similar situation.

Eating Out Selecting a Starter

When was the last time you dined out and had to use English? What did you have as your starter?

Mr TESOL.

Conversations 3

English Skill: Starting a Discussion

Here are a couple of situations for you. Do either of them sound a little familiar?

  1. You are out doing a bit of shopping and you see an old colleague/friend. You decide to approach him/her and start a discussion with the intention of finding out what they are doing these days, how their family is, etc.
  1. You need to speak with a work colleague who is full of the joys of spring having just returned from holiday. It’s time to start a discussion with him/her and explain what it is you need/want from him/her.

Although starting a discussion should be a piece of cake, doing so can often be more difficult than first anticipated. You don’t want to come across super awkward or sound unnaturally weird and you certainly don’t want to be a pain, so here are some common phrases you may want to employ next time you have the opportunity to practise a bit of conversation starting English!

Starting a Discussion

Starting a Discussion

What phrases have you used to start a discussion recently? Do you think you will use any of the expressions above?

Conversations 2

English Skill: Keeping a Conversation Flowing

Have you ever been in the difficult situation of having (or trying to have) a conversation with someone who, for whatever reason, just does not want to contribute to the conversation? Perhaps he/she is a little bit shy or maybe they are not confident enough in their use of English, but either way it doesn’t make things any easier and those quiet times when the conversation dries up can be awkward! Well, next time you find yourself in a similar situation, why not try to help things out by incorporating a few useful English phrases? The phrases below are common English phrases that native English speakers often use to help keep a conversation flowing. The phrases don’t need to be used just in awkward situations and are equally suitable to help along a nice discussion with someone such as a friend.

Common phrases to help keep a conversation flowing.

Common phrases to help keep a conversation flowing.

  • Have you ever been involved in a conversation that included some uneasy silences? What did you do?
  • What other phrases might you use to keep a conversation flowing with someone? Let me know your thoughts by posting a comment!

Mr TESOL.

Conversations 1

English Skill: Ending a Discussion

It’s great to be able to have a conversation with someone in English, but sometimes it can be difficult to find a way to end it. You just keep on chatting away, unsure of what you could say to finally end the conversation and not offend the person you are speaking with.

Take a look at the situation below. You have probably experienced it (or something like it) before. The picture that follows it provides you with some common phrases that native English speakers often use to end a conversation.  Maybe next time you find yourself in a similar situation, you could try using some of them!

Situation: You are walking down the street in your city/town and you see an old friend who you have not seen for a while. You approach him/her, engage in conversation and chat about family, work, friends, etc. After a chatting for a little while, you really need to get on with your day, but how do you end the conversation? Take a look at the picture below to find some common expressions to end a discussion (politely) with someone.

Common phrases to end a discussion.

Common phrases to end a discussion.

Are there any other phrases to end a discussion that you can think of? Do you sometimes find it difficult ending a discussion?

Mr TESOL.

Exercise: Men Dating Tips

This article on dating tips has been written by an author other than me. I have been given permission to publish this article – enjoy!

Exercise: The paragraph in green has been jumbled up. Can you put it back together in the correct order?

Men Dating Tips

On a date.

On a date.

I’m going to try to give you some men dating tips that I believe can really help you in your love life. Some of these tips may seem a little off the wall, and not the kind of tips you normally get.

I’m not going to tell you things like “play to his ego” or “laugh at all his jokes” or things like that. Personally, I think that type of thing is very poor advice.

Instead I will provide you with tips that will help you meet a great guy and, hopefully, have a great relationship. But, it will be a relationship of equals, not of a woman catering to a man and losing herself in the process.

It will be about finding a relationship between equals and a relationship of mutual love and respect.

So, if that sounds good to you, here we go:

 

Number the following lines in the correct order:

(    ) guy who has to dominate or undermine you to feel good about himself, do you? If you are desperate that is
(    ) First of all,
(    ) exactly the type of man you will attract.
(    ) be ok with being on your own. Sounds weird, I know, but if you are desperate for a guy you will attract the wrong
(¬†¬†¬† ) kinds of guys. You don’t want an insecure

 

Instead, be a successful, confidant woman who has lots of interests and lots of friends. A woman who would love a great man to share her life with but doesn’t have to have one just to feel good about herself.

Build your life first and a good man will usually appear!

 

  1. While we all want to be appreciated, many men will be uncomfortable if you come on too strong and try too hard to please. Oddly enough, the type of guy you would probably really want to be with: someone who is self assured and kind, probably isn’t the kind of guy who will respond well to phoniness.

A confidant man will want a woman who truly appreciates¬† him, but that doesn’t mean some brainless robot who seems like she is faking her appreciation of his humor or actions.

A real man likes a real woman. Someone who is confidant, strong, kind, loving and who has a mind of her own. A strong man won’t appreciate a weak, needy woman who doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own.

Be yourself, don’t change to be who you think he wants you to be. If he doesn’t appreciate who you are, then he isn’t the right guy for you.

 

  1. Be willing to try new things, but don’t be fake. If your guy likes to watch sports, give it a try. Once you know a little bit about a certain sport, you might actually find that you enjoy it. But, even after a fair try if you find that you don’t actually like it, tell him.

The two of you can compromise; he can either watch the (football) game on his own while you go do your thing, or you will watch the game with him (and be a good sport about it) but that means he’ll have to watch something that you like that he may not really be in to (and he has to be a good sport about¬† it).

Really, any successful relationship comes from two mature, self confidant people who are willing to compromise and who know how to explain their feelings in a constructive way. There are no secrets or gimmicks, it’s just about knowing who you are and how to get along with others without losing yourself. These are the best men dating tips I can give you.

English Grammar 1/3

English Grammar

Hi there folks!

There are a series of English grammar PDFs on the Internet that are freely available to everyone, but they can be quite difficult to locate. Over the next three blogs I will be uploading them ten at a time.

I hope you find them useful.

Happy Holidays!

Mr TESOL.