Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Back In The Saddle

Wow, its been a long break-- from this blog, from The Linguist, and from learning Spanish.

During the last two months, all of my extra energy has been focused on launching Effortless English. Its been a lot of work!

But I'm happy to say that the site is now up and running. We are still in Beta (test) mode, but we have a small membership and are steadily making improvements.

The site originally started with just learning guides (text articles with a vocabulary word list) and audio (audio version of the article). However, I've been gradually adding to the lessons.

Each "lesson" now includes an audio vocabulary discussion (discussing the more difficult words from the article), a mini-story to reinforce key vocabulary, a text learning guide, and an audio version of the article. By using all four parts, learners get a lot of repetition of key words and phrases-- in different contexts.

The mini-story follows the basic technique used by TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling). I pick 7-10 tough words/phrases from the article. Then I create a foolish, exaggerated, or strange story using these words.

First I tell the mini-story straight through. Then I tell it again- this time asking a lot of questions in order to reinforce understanding of the key vocabulary. Then I tell the mini-story again. In future lessons, I'll do a pause and "repeat after me" section so learners can practice using the phrases and sentences in the story.

Another recent addition (just this week) has been intermediate level lessons. Up until now, the site has been focused on advanced learners. However, I'm now providing simpler lessons for intermediate level students. The intermediate lessons have two parts:

1. A text article (learning guide with vocabulary word list)
2. An audio lesson (audio of the article, plus a short vocabulary discussion)

The intermediate level articles are about the same topics as the advanced articles-- but they are shorter and use simpler, high-frequency vocabulary.

I'm hoping the easier lessons will help some of the learners who have found previous articles to be too difficult (a frequent complaint I get from my students here in San Francisco).

Finally, on a personal note-- I'm really thrilled to be working on this website. As many readers of this blog know, I've been quite frustrated with the traditional TESOL (English teaching) "industry". For a good long while I put my energies alternately into complaining, rebelling, subverting, and avoiding.

I view these actions as necessary steps. But ultimately there comes a time for DOING something instead of being against something. That's been the biggest thrill of Effortless English-- building a site for students based on my own principles and approach. There's nothing like finally taking responsibility and really trying to do something on your own!

It hasn't been easy. There have been plenty of problems and mistakes. The site is still a work in progress-- but this beats the hell out of Thammasat University, or David English School, or any of the other jobs I've had in the "industry".

English Learners- Learn English With Me At Effortless English.

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