If you are already learning with Perfect Cuppa, you’ll know the difference our trainers make. Our select team work with me to deliver your English & Culture courses across London & even across the world, via Skype. The team is high-calibre, highly qualified & professional, and we love it when you can see your progress & gain confidence in communicating in English. This month I would like to introduce Simon from our team to you and he shares his top tips for learning English & British culture.
1. What are your top tips for clients to improve their English?
My main tip is to focus on building your vocabulary – this can help to improve your comprehension and general competence relatively quickly. I recommend the old-fashioned method of using a notebook to write down new words and expressions and reviewing them regularly. You can use a smart phone or other device, of course, but I believe that writing with a pen on paper helps to better anchor the new piece of vocabulary in the brain. Another tip is to use songs in English – listening to them, but particularly singing them yourself. The rhythm and repetition can help you to retain words and chunks of language, and songs will also help you to imitate correct pronunciation (even if most singers use an American accent!).
2. What common challenges do you find people sometimes have with learning English, and what do you recommend?
One of the biggest challenges for learners of English is the frequently irregular relationship between spelling and pronunciation. One of the illustrations of this often given is the variety of pronunciations of the letters “ough”: though, through, bought, rough, cough, borough, bough. I recommend that students become familiar with the international phonetic alphabet – not necessarily learning all the symbols, but some of the key ones so that when they look up a word in a dictionary they can see the phonetic spelling as well as the conventional one. This
will help them to pronounce the word more accurately.
3. What do you enjoy most when working with a client?
I enjoy getting to know them and tailoring the teaching approach and materials to their needs, interests and temperament. And it is certainly rewarding to see the progress they make.
4. Share with us an interesting insight into British Culture...
I think British people’s relationship to food and cooking is an interesting topic. British food has long been regarded as bland, limited and often unappetising. But in the past 30 years there has been a food revolution in this country, with people becoming much more adventurous in terms of what they choose to eat and cook. There are now many cooking programmes on British TV – the most iconic being MasterChef and particularly the Great British Bake-off. The added humorous aspect of “Bake-off” makes it a particularly British cultural phenomenon.
5. Where do you go for your perfect cuppa?
I recommend the Teahouse at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond – they serve good quality loose-leaf tea and delicious home-made cakes that you eat in greenhouses dotted with shrubs and trees in pots.