Our English language students (pupils) at Saint Mark are very busy people who do not have very much free time to spend formally learning our language in class or at home.

Although our students are dedicated (committed) to learning and improving their English language skills (abilities), often the everyday (daily) tasks (work) of earning a living and taking care of a family take up so much time and energy that very little time is left (remains) to study.

The teachers (instructors) Saint Mark’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program understand (comprehend, sympathize with) this problem because they too (also) have experienced it when they learned other languages or maybe (perhaps) even English.

Fortunately there are many resources (aides) that can provide quick (fast) and easy assistance (help) for learning and improving English. Here are some:



Watch and listen to American English TV. Watch whatever programs (shows) that interest (are of interest to) you: news, documentaries, educational programs, comedies, drama, sports, entertainment, soap operas, children’s shows – anything. BUT watch and listen to shows in American English.

Configure your TV to display (show) subtitles (closed captions or captioning) in English. In that way you can follow (accompany) the written words and the way those words are pronounced and used in normal (common) situations (circumstances). Using this method, you can easily improve listening, pronunciation and reading skills.



This method can provide even (still) better results by using a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). If you have a DVR, record the program with the subtitles. Then (in that way) you can easily go back (return to) parts (segments) of the show and repeat them as frequently (as many times) as you need to master a particular (specific) word or phrase. If you have more time, you can also repeat (imitate) the words or phrases out loud in your voice. You can also practice writing them on a piece of paper or in a notebook so that you can review (go over them) whenever you want (like). If you concentrate on one word or phrase each day, you will soon find (discover) that your ability to communicate in English will improve.

If you have FiOS cable TV here is how to set up (configure) subtitles (closed captions or captioning):


Other TV services are similar.




Subscribe to (sign up for) the free English Word-a-Day email service at Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/ . You will receive an email every day with a new word in English and its meaning (definition) and its roots (origins).   Even better – each email contains a link for hearing the pronunciation of that word. Imagine! After only one month you can learn thirty (30) new words in English! Even many native speakers use this email and website to increase their own vocabulary.




If your first language is Portuguese or Spanish, you can subscribe to a free English Word-a-Day email that also provides the translation (meaning) of the word in your native language.


 If your first language is Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Pashto, Polish, Russian, Swedish, or Turkish – you can subscribe to a similar free email that translates one word from your language into English. But this service does not provide audio pronunciation in English.



There are many other resources of this type. If readers of this blog find this information helpful, I will return with more hints next time.


About the Author:

DRDavid Rogus is a parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church and a former American diplomat and Naval Officer who has lived all over the world. He speaks Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and a number of other Romance languages. He was raised in a home where Polish was spoken. As a resident of many places around the globe he understands the necessity to learn the national language. Coming from a family of immigrants to the USA, he likes to make newcomers here feel welcome and enjoys teaching about our country.


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