Saturday, November 17, 2007

Greek Family Lessons

"Greek Family" is one of my intermediate level lesson sets. The set has several parts:

1. A real letter from a woman who is married to a Greek man. The woman writes about her problems with his family. Because she is not Greek, they do not accept her. Even worse, they don't accept her children either. The couple lives in America. In many ways, the letter sounds like it was written about the family in the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"

2. An audio version of the letter. All lesson sets include both a text article and an audio version. Audio is very important because you improve your speaking by listening. Listening to native speakers is the best way to improve your speech: your pronunciation, your spoken grammar, your spoken vocabulary, and your understanding.

3. A Vocabulary Lesson: In the vocabulary lesson, I explain difficult vocabulary. I especially focus on difficult phrases and idioms. Individual words are easy to find in a dictionary, but phrases and idioms are often difficult to understand-- unless a native speaker explains them.

4. A Listen & Answer Mini-Story: The Listen & Answer Story is the most important lesson. In this lesson, I tell a story with questions. I ask many, many questions. Most are quite easy. You answer every question with a loud voice. If necessary, you pause your computer or iPod and then answer.

The question technique I use is very powerful, for two reasons. First, the questions create a lot of repetition of important structures (grammar) and vocabulary. Its not enough to hear something one time-- you will forget it. But in these lessons, you hear the important phrases MANY times. You learn them deeply-- so you understand them instantly and automatically.

Secondly, the question technique is powerful because you must participate. You must respond. You must answer. This is like a real conversation. In real conversations, someone asks you a question, and you answer. Most textbooks and tapes don't ask enough questions.. and the student just sits there (or even worse... the teacher says, "repeat after me"-- terrible). In my Listen and Answer lessons, you learn to think in English. You hear a lot of questions and you answer all of them. After using all of my lessons, you will be ready for real conversations!

4. Point of View Stories. The Point of View stories tell the exact same Mini-Story... but each one uses different grammar. By listening to all of them, you practice the Past tenses, the Perfect tenses, and the Future. But don't worry-- you never study boring grammar rules. You don't even need to know the names of the verb tenses. You learn to understand and use them naturally-- without thinking-- just like a native speaker.

By using all parts of the lesson set, you learn English deeply. You learn to use English automatically. You learn effortlessly.


Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.


Isbll said...

Hey. I´m a swedish girl, age 16, who just singed up to get these 7day-emails. And in this first, you gave the tip to only learn phrases, but you see. I have 60 words to study this week, and it´s impossible for me to memories all the words AND prahses to each word. How do I do ? It totally agree with you. It feels worthless to learn words one by one, but they are to MANY to get along with pharses too. Please, give me an advise.

AJ Hoge said...

School and Learning
Hi. This is a good question... and I dont have a good answer. Here is my very direct and honest answer:

School and learning are separate. Dont expect to learn much in your English classes at school (or any of your classes at school :). The tests, the assignments, the textbooks, the grades-- none of these are for learning.

If you want or need a good grade, I guess you need to memorize those 60 words (and then probably forget them).

But if you really want to learn English-- in other words, you really want to speak fluently, have conversations, etc... you need to follow the 7 Rules you got in my emails.

I think its very important to never confuse school and learning. They are separate. School is for grades, for a diploma or degree, and sometimes for getting a job.

Learning is acquiring real skills, knowledge, information and abilities... and you get those mostly outside of school.

So you have two choices:

1. Quickly memorize those words, take your test, and get a good grade. Then spend the rest of your time following my 7 Rules for learning English!

2. Forget the grades and decide to really learn English. Use only the 7 Rules and really enjoy learning English. You might do worse on a few tests in the beginning, but by the end of the year you will be much better than everyone else in your class.

Good luck!