Apr 062018
NYFA ESL students

Our latest video is special!

It was a joint project with ESL students from the New York Film Academy, so students who are studying English as a second language and filmmaking at the same time. The students came up with the concept for a video and we shot it together at the YouTube Space in New York.

They were our cast and crew and they were a joy to work with. They arrived well prepared with props and costumes. The actors had learnt all their lines and prepared all their moves and we had plenty of willing hands to operate cameras, move lights, operate the clapper board and all the other things that need to get done. There are always technical hitches at video shoots and problems to solve, but their energy never flagged. We want to say a special thank you to their teacher, Meghan Killeen for all her hard work on the project. It really was a team effort and we couldn’t have done it with out her.

So here it is: Potato Chips by ESL students at the NYFA. See some slang and informal English expressions in action: stressed out, chill out and screw it.

 Posted by at 8:12 pm
Mar 222018
a an the pronunciation

Jay and I had a request from a viewer asking us how we pronounced a an and the, and also, whether we pronounced them differently.

We could only think of one case where we said them differently in British and American, but it reminded us that the schwa sound can be hard to spot and pronounce, and of course the schwa is involved in all three words.

Here’s our video about it:

 Posted by at 12:35 pm
Mar 092018

We write ‘it’s’ with an apostrophe when it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. We don’t use an apostrophe when ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun.

Native speakers sometimes get this wrong and of course it’s tricky for English language learners too. I think people muddle them up because they confuse possessive nouns with possessive pronouns. We explain the difference in this video and also show you how not to rob a bank.

 Posted by at 9:50 pm
Mar 042018
speak English challenge

We love getting messages from our viewers of our videos and would love to get to know everyone better. So this week we issued an invitation.

We’re inviting everyone to make a video of themselves speaking in English and to tell us:
*who they are
*where they are from
*what they do.

We will compile all the videos we receive into one video that we’ll post on our Simple English Videos channel on YouTube. We’ve never tried anything like this before and we’re really looking forward to seeing the videos people make. If you would like to rise to the challenge, or if you know an English learner who would like to try this, we’ll be delighted. The deadline is Monday March 12th, 2018 and here’s a video with all the instructions.

Hoping to hear from you!

 Posted by at 3:37 pm
Feb 232018
explain or explain me?

One of these sentences is incorrect, but would your students know which one?
1. Please explain.
2. Please explain me.
3. Please explain me this word.
Of course number 2 is wrong, but lots of students make this mistake when they are learning English. And it’s not a simple one to explain because there are situations where we can say things like ‘Explain yourself’ or ‘I didn’t explain myself properly.

We aim to fix the problem in our latest video. Enjoy!

 Posted by at 9:53 pm
Feb 092018
Super Bowl Slang GoBirds

Last Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl for the first time and the city went crazy. People have been partying all week and yesterday there was a big parade. Here’s a video we made with happy excited Eagles fans on the streets of Philadelphia as they celebrated yesterday.

It provides listening practice with natural spoken English and includes some informal colloquial expressions and slang, such as, ‘It was lit’, ‘We had a blast’, and of course, ‘Go Birds!’

It was an interesting video for us to make. We’ve found gathering vox pop interviews in the street a bit hit or miss in the past. Some days we stand there begging people to be in a video and nobody is interested and then other days it’s great and we meet some really nice people. There was one glorious summer day last year where we actually had a queue of people forming! But other days we’ve come home with just one recording or nothing. Yesterday it was easy because everybody was in such a good mood and we could have found a hundred fans willing to help us.

It was also an interesting video for us to make because we turned it around very fast. \We shot the footage at lunch time yesterday and then I had to write and record a script and get it edited over night for Jay to audio edit this morning. With more time, I think I could have written a better script, but it was good to know we could make a video that fast. And while I was editing it I was wondering whether this sort of video could make for very helpful listening practice. I’d love to know what you think because we could try to make more like this when the weather gets nicer.

 Posted by at 10:31 pm
Feb 032018
connectors so because

Connectors (or conjunctions) signal how our thoughts are connected, so of course they’re valuable for understanding spoken English and for speaking too. They’re also valuable if you’re taking a speaking exam for IELTS or Cambridge First Certificate. Using them correctly can boost your score.

In this video lesson we tell a funny story and show some of the most common connectors in spoken English in action. We also compare a couple that my students sometimes muddle up: so and because.

 Posted by at 6:45 pm