Clearly Web Extension for Reading English

Make Reading English Online Easier with This Browser Extension

Reading articles online can be sometimes difficult. On certain sites, there are adverts, links, and other information trying to get your attention.

But what if you just want to focus on the article. Well, I have an extension for your browser that transforms any article into a simple design so that you can focus on the content.

Check out the video!


Using Clearly

Download Clearly for Chrome
Download Clearly for Firefox
Safari User? Just click the “reader” button in the browser.

When you are on a webpage that is cluttered (has lots of things on it), then to transform the article you just have to click the browser extension (note: this is for Chrome. It might be different for your browser).

It transforms the article from this:

Before Using Clearly

Before Using Clearly

 

To this:

After Using Clearly

After Using Clearly

All you have to do to achieve this is to click the extension button. Then, to go back to the original, click the back button.

I hope this video and post makes it easier for you to read articles in English online and to focus on the content.

Subscribe to Blogs in English

Subscribe to Blogs: Make Reading Interesting Things in English a Habit


In a past video, I talked about how to find and subscribe to podcasts in English. This post will show you how to do this for blogs.

Reading in English is a vital part of making progress. Too many people see this as an obligation rather than something to enjoy. And that is why I made this video: to bring excitement and fun into your reading, and to show you ways to ensure that you do this every day.

Watch the video above and then follow the steps below to ensure that you read enjoyable articles that are relevant to your interests and your learning.

Step One: Find Blogs that Interest You

 

Find Blogs in English

Use Google.com to find blogs in English

Go to Google.com and search for the following, “your interest blog list 2014.” For example:

  • Business blog list 2014
  • Football blog list 2014
  • American politics blog list 2014

You will find different websites that have a list of blogs relevant to your interests. Click on one of the lists and then take a look at the blogs the writer recommends.

Take a quick look around and maybe read one or two articles. If you like the blog, then move on the step two.

Remember: It is important to find blogs that match your interests. This is because you will:

  • Be engaged by the content and find it enjoyable.
  • Read more because it interests you.
  • Learn English that is relevant to you and your interests.

Step Two: Subscribe to Blogs You Like

Subscribe to English blogs

Enter your email address to receive updates

Find the subscribe button for the website and enter in your email address. When you subscribe to a blog, you will receive an email every time a new post is written, or a newsletter is sent.

Receiving this email is like receiving a reminder to read something in English. And because you are subscribing to things that interest you, you will look forward to receiving this notification and will want to read these posts.

Bonus tip: Also follow the blog on social media too. This will expose you to more English that interests you.

Step Three: Read Something Every Day

Get into the habit of reading something every day. Choose a specific time of day (first thing in the morning, lunch time, in the evening etc.) when you read something in English.

I recommend that you subscribe to both natural English and also English learning sites. But the more you progress, the more you should focus on natural English.

Over to You

What blogs do you read and recommend (natural English blogs)?

Let us know in the comment section below. And please subscribe to this blog (you get a free book too!).

Positive English

Surround Yourself with the Right People to Make Faster Progress

5 People Artwork Finished

If you’re reading this, then you will no doubt want to reach a high level of English. But, could there be something that is stopping you from reaching your goals that you are not aware of?

After reading this post you will be able to recognize if others are holding you back [stopping you from progressing] and learn what you can do about it.

The Average of 5 People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Our friends, family, and workmates influence us more than we think. The famous quote from Jim Rohn states that we are the average of the five people that we spend most of our time with. Here are some examples:

  • If everyone around you eats unhealthily, you will most likely eat bad food too.
  • If everyone around you is always complaining and isn’t enjoying life, it will be difficult for you to be carefree and to have fun.
  • But, if everyone around you is highly motivated, you are more likely to be motivated too.

As James Clear puts it:

Most of our behaviors are driven by two things: our environment and our beliefs.

And environment is perhaps the most powerful of those two because in many cases your environment can shape your beliefs. This is especially true when you consider your environment to include the people who surround you

How We Can Apply this to Learning English

It’s hard to do anything on your own for a long time, especially when progress can’t always be seen. Learning English is a long-term journey; a journey full of different challenges. And it’s even more difficult to do what we need to do over the long-term if others aren’t supporting you.

We only have so much willpower [the ability to control our actions]; we need the support of others and to be in a positive environment to achieve our goals. Think about the people that you spend the most time with:

  • Are they driven and motivated?
  • Are they supportive of your English learning goals?
  • Are they the type of people who can achieve a goal such as learning English?

If not, they could be slowing down your progress without you knowing it. They could be affecting you subconsciously and stopping you from doing the things you need to do to reach English fluency.

This might sound quite depressing, but there is good news..

Spend More Time With Those Who Inspire You

What I don’t suggest is that you leave your family, ditch all your friends, and then only hang around [spend your time with] Richard Branson, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama!

But a great starting point is to hang around with others in person or online who have similar goals and ambitions that you have. For example, I meet up with four other entrepreneurs once a month in my local area, and we chat regularly online too. We all inspire, motivate, and help each other to do the things that we need to do in order to achieve our goals.

I’m also friends with teachers online who are as driven and commitment as I am. We inspire each other to keep creating amazing resources for our students and to keep improving as teachers.

Being surrounded by these people has helped me and this website grow tremendously over the past year. And I don’t think that I would be where I am now if I hadn’t taken that step [second conditional].

So, let’s now take a look at what you can do to improve your circle of influence so that you reach your English learning goals.

Over to You

As learning English isn’t something that can be achieved in 3 months, you may hear a lot of negative things from other learners, such as:

  • English is so hard.
  • I’ll never reach fluency.
  • My English is terrible and it’s getting worse. I should give up.

What I suggest you do is to ignore these comments, and don’t spend time with these people (when possible). Instead, connect with others who are going to have a positive influence on your English learning. The effect this will have will be huge, and will make a big difference to the progress you make.

You can do this by:

  • Following inspiring people on social media (teachers and language learners) and communicating with them in meaningful ways.
  • Join groups with other English learners to discuss your goals and what you are doing to achieve them. Keep the discussion positive, and encourage each other to keep progressing.
  • Change the subject when someone talks about your goals in a negative way.

This is a great starting point, and you will soon notice how being around positive people, both teachers and fellow learners, will have a positive effect on your learning.

 

AirBnB JDA Artwork

Earn Money while Practicing English with Native Speakers (and a new way to travel)

AirBnB JDA Artwork

My family and I have just come back (returned) from our vacation. We spent a week in Charleston and Savannah – two beautiful and historic cities on the east coast of the United States.

We did something a little different during this trip, something that we hadn’t done before: we didn’t stay in a hotel or hostel, but instead stayed with people that we didn’t know. And, we want to do this again and again in the future.

We used a service called AirBnB and stayed in the spare rooms of two different families. We looked for listings in both Charleston and Savannah, read the details and reviews of each one, and then contacted the people who had listings that we were interested in. We made sure that we stayed with people who were the right fit for us, and everything was booked securely on the website.

Using this service made me think about how it could be beneficial for English learners (more on this below).

Using AirBnB

You can do two different things with their service: look for places to stay (like we did), and also list your spare room/apartment/house so that others can stay with you (for a fee that you set).

The website has grown dramatically over the past couple of years as you can make money from your spare room and also save money when traveling as it’s usually cheaper than a hotel or a bed and breakfast.

But, how can we use this service for learning English?

Earn Money while Practicing Your English

Your AirBnB Listing

Listing your place on AirBnB.

If you have a spare room, then consider renting it out to tourists who want to visit your town or city. Not only will you earn money, but if your area is popular with English speaking tourists, you will also get the opportunity to practice with native speakers. The service is all about making friends and interacting with your guests, meaning lots of speaking practice for you.

You can also act as a tour guide for your town/city when they visit, and take them to your favorite places, giving you even more speaking practice.

Communicating with native/proficient speakers is important when it comes to progressing in English. With AirBnB, you can do this while getting paid at the same time. Getting started is really simple, and once your listing is live, you can accept or reject those who request to stay with you.

Stay with Others When You Travel

Find Listings AirBnB

Searching for listings in Manchester, UK.

 

If you are thinking about traveling to an English speaking country in the coming months, then consider using AirBnB. Staying in a hotel severely limits your speaking time. Choosing a hostel is a great alternative as the atmosphere is very friendly and you will have numerous opportunities to speak with others, but many of you reading probably want something a little more comfortable.

AirBnB is the perfect compromise. You can browse through the listings and stay with someone who wants to socialize with their guests. Meeting and socializing with locals changes your trip completely, making it richer and more enjoyable. And, it will give you lots of opportunities to speak English with the natives.

Always stay with those who have received positive reviews, as although hosts have to go through a security process to ensure that they are trustworthy, it’s best to stay somewhere that has received positive feedback.

So, the next time you are considering a trip, check out AirBnB and see what is available. Make the most of your time in an English speaking country and get the speaking practice you need to make progress.

Get Started

If you want to sign up to use this service click the link below:

Click here to check out AirBnB.

Listing your place is really simple, and you can also find some great places to stay for your next vacation.

Let me know in the comments below if you have used this service before, or if you are considering using it in the future.

English Podcasts

How Podcasts Can Dramatically Improve Your English and Where to Find Them


Everyone who is in the JDA English community will already know that I regard listening to be extremely important when it comes to making progress with English (If you’re not in my community, you can join by clicking here: you’ll get a FREE book too!).

I suggest that you fill your MP3 player and/or phone full of English podcasts and music. In fact, I recommend deleting anything in your native language (that way there is no choice between English or your native language).

Podcasts, especially conversational podcasts, are perfect to listen to while on the go. You can listen to English podcasts while doing other activities, such as:

  • Going to work.
  • Doing housework.
  • Walking the dogs.
  • Exercising.
  • Working.

Always have your music player with you wherever you go, and always be listening to English. Even if you’re not fully concentrating on the English, it’s still helping you get used to the sounds and rhythm of English.

Conversational Podcasts

The majority of  learners that I communicate with are looking for ways to improve their conversational English. So, it makes sense then to listen to podcasts that involve conversations.

By listening to lots and lots of conversations you will learn the correct vocabulary, pronunciation, collocations, expressions, grammar, and sentence structure that are needed for conversations. And, you can do this while listening to things that you enjoy.

For example, one of students in my WizIQ course loves football (soccer in American English). So, he now spends his time listening to football podcasts. As well as getting used to conversational English, he is also becoming familiar with football terms.

The best way to look for conversational podcasts is on the website Stitcher. Then, if you want to download the podcasts, you can do this at iTunes. Soundcloud is also a great place to find and stream podcasts.

There are some great podcasts for English learners (for example, I was recently interviewed by All Ears English, and Real Life English also have some great audio), and I recommend downloading these podcasts as they are more natural and involve conversations.

If you are an intermediate learner or higher, then I recommend staying away from the slower English learning podcasts, and focusing more on natural audio (podcasts that aren’t specifically made for English learners). It might seem too fast at first, but:

  • Listening to the same shows will mean that you will get used to the speakers.
  • You need to push yourself a little and get used to natural English spoken at normal speeds.
  • If you repeat the show, you’ll be amazed at what you understand the second time.

Listen as much as you can and you’ll soon get used to natural spoken English. You’ll never be able to adapt to normal speech if you never listen. So, give it a go!

Over to You

Take action today!

At JDA English we want to inspire you to take the necessary steps to set up your life so that your are surrounded by English. Here is what I want you to do:

1. Go to Stitcher and find five new shows that are conversational and also related to your interests..

2. Download the application or download the shows to the devices you use (use iTunes for this).

3. Delete audio that’s in your native language.

4. Try to listen to English for 2+ hours a day. Make it fun and interesting.

Now, I have a question for you:

What podcasts do you like listening to?

Leave your comments below.

Best Free Tools for English Learners

5 Amazing Tools to Help You Understand New English Words (and one that most people use and should be avoided!)

Understanding the meaning of new words in English is vital if you want to expand your vocabulary and make progress. But, I see too many learners doing this the wrong way which then leads to confusion, wrong translations, and hesitation when speaking.

Watch the video below to find out how you should be learning new words and phrases, and which tools will help you do this effectively:

(Note: All these tools are available on Google Chrome)

(Click here to watch this video on Youtube)

What to do when you see new words and phrases

Before I get too far into the tools you should be using, I want to briefly go through what you should do when you encounter a new word or phrase. In brief:

  • Try to understand it from the context and decide if you need to take further action.
  • Understand the context of the word in the sentence (preposition, collocation, expression, idiom etc.)
  • If you don’t understand it, look up the English definition and/or enter it into Google.com.
  • If this doesn’t help, use the best translating tool out there.

The Five tools that you should be using

The tools that I have listed are available on Google Chrome. For similar tools on different browsers, just search in the appropriate web store.

Google Dictionary

Click here to add to Google Chrome.

I recommend that you start using English dictionaries (without translating) if you are an intermediate speaker. Translating, even when done properly, can cause confusion and also stop you from building momentum (there are times when translating is fine, but try to reduce it as much as possible).

Getting out of this habit will greatly help you when it comes to speaking and thinking in English. Achieving an advanced level is difficult if you continue translating into your own language all the time.

Having Google Dictionary gives you the ability to do this while reading online. Once installed, just highlight a word and double click it (or use the icon).

Here is a screenshot of what you see:

The Free Dictionary

Click here to add to Google Chrome

This is an alternative that will take you to their site. I’ve included this as it has many different example sentences to help you understand the context.

Google.com

Okay, it’s a search engine. But the vast majority of English learners don’t use it to understand the meaning of new words.

This is especially beneficial when the word is part of a collocation or expression. You can do a quick search, look at the results, see lots of examples, and see the language being used in context.

This especially great with slang terms, collocations, and other phrases. If you use Google Chrome, this should be simple to use. Just highlight a word or phrase, right click, and then click “Search Google for..” Here is an example:

Search Google Right Click

Take a look at the results and see if anything comes up. In this example, it is a good idea to take a look at the images as they will give you a good visual of what it really means.

[note: you will need to change your search engine in your browser to do this. Want to know how? Do a search over at Google to find out!

Wikipedia

Click here to add to Google Chrome

If you’re not already using Wikipedia in English, then do so now! If you want to look up and find out more information about anything, then this tool is for you.

There are two ways to do this:

1. Right click on a word or phrase and open a new tab:

Wikipedia

2. Enter the term into the extension:

Wikipedia Tool 2

WordReference

Click here to add to Google Chrome

My favorite translating tool by far! It has the best translations (lots of collocations and expressions) and gives you the ability to see lots of examples. You can change the settings so that it translates into your language.

Here is an example:

WordReference Extension

As you can see, it gives a definition of the collocation and then has some examples (there are more examples and subtle differences listed).

Bonus Tool: Urban Dictionary for Slang

Click here to go to Urban Dictionary

I haven’t been able to find a good tool for this site for Chrome, but if you come across slang that you don’t understand, then this is the best site to use.

It has clear examples and definitions that are created by the user. So, if you’re watching a movie or a television series and hear something that sounds informal, then use this site to find out what it means.

One Tool to Avoid (but it can help if you use it in the right way)

I see most English learners using this tool to look up new words, and it can do a lot of harm if you don’t use it correctly. This tool is Google Translate!

The reason I don’t recommend this tool is that, in most languages, it does a terrible job of translating correctly. This is especially true when it comes to collocations, and it often makes strange translations with single words too.

Using WordReference is much better as you will be able to look at the small differences so that you get the correct translation. To highlight the limitations of Google Translate, take a look at this video:

When to Use it – Google Translate can be useful if you’re trying to understand the general meaning of a sentence. This is especially true with long sentences (from my experience, it does a better job with longer sentences). But, I would use the other tools first before using this one.

Final Word

The tools I listed above will help you to understand new words and phrases. Use the ones you like best, feel most comfortable with, and the ones that are the most effective for you.

Remember that context is key. So, start the process of learning new words by reading/watching/listening to things that are interesting to you and are part of a greater context.

Find a balance between looking up new words and just going with the flow (reading without looking up new words). If you reread something, you will be amazed at how much more you understand the second time.

New Year's Resolutions Learn English

What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

The end of the year is a time when many people think about what they have achieved and set new goals for the coming year.

This lesson will look at some common resolutions and reasons why a lot of people fail with theirs. It will focus on English learning as the resolution.

But first, here’s a video:

The Clip

How to Achieve Your English Learning Goals

1. Keep Motivating Yourself – Remind yourself every few weeks why it’s important to learn English.

2. Make it a Habit – Get into a habit of learning every day. Start with 15 minutes and go from there.

3. Make it Fun – Enjoy yourself and do things that you enjoy.

4. Join a Group – Get support and motivation from others and hold each other responsible.

Discussion

What are your English learning goals for next year? Let us know in the comment section!

Expensive City

Topic: Most Expensive Cities for Tourists

JackinBrazil

I wasn’t staying in 4 star hotels in Rio!

How much does a dinner for two with a bottle of wine cost at an averaged price restaurant cost where you live? Do you normally pay more or less when you go on holiday?

In this lesson you will see how much it costs for tourists in select cities.

The data below is taken from Trip Advisor and looks at how much hotels, dinners, taxis, and cocktails cost in each city (for two people).

Take a look at the different prices for nine select cities below:

Country Hotel Taxi Dinner Cocktails Total
See the full data here
Warsaw $103 $14 $53 $17 $187
Buenos Aires $159 $4 $45 $20 $229
Munich $183 $23 $72 $36 $314
Moscow $240 $25 $98 $37 $401
Rio de Janeiro $316 $9 $73 $30 $427
London $271 $41 $102 $37 $451
New York $379 $23 $82 $32 $516
Zurich $299 $39 $151 $35 $523
Oslo $230 $29 $277 $45 $581

 

Example Sentences

What we can say that out of these countries:

  • Oslo is the most expensive city for tourists.
  • Buenos Aires is the cheapest city to get a taxi.
  • New York has the most expensive hotels.
  • Warsaw is the cheapest city for cocktails.
  • It’s over six times more expensive to have dinner in Oslo than in Buenos Aires.
  • It’s ten times cheaper to take a taxi in Buenos Aires than in London.
  • In total, Oslo is over three times more expensive than Warsaw.

Criteria

Hotel: 4 Star Hotel
Taxi: A 2 mile return journey.
Dinner: Two Appetizers, two main courses, and a bottle of wine in a mid-range restaurant.
Cocktails: Two dry martinis in a 5 star hotel.

Analysis

The above examples are comparatives and superlatives.

Comparatives

Cheap is regular, therefore we add er = cheaper.
Expensive is irregular, so we put more in front of it = more expensive.

Here is an example from before: Oslo is more expensive than Warsaw.

Superlatives

Cheap is regular, there we add -est = cheapest
Expensive is irregular, so we put most in front of it = most expensive.

Here is an example from before: Oslo is the most expensive city for tourists.

Exercise

Read the examples from before again, and then take our quiz:


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Discussion

So firstly, I haven’t been on holiday for a long time. This is because my family lives in Europe, so when we do have a break, we usually go to visit them. But, I have been to four of the cites listed above, and, to be honest, I didn’t spend anywhere near the prices listed. I stayed in hostels, for example, in Buenos Aires I think I paid about $10 a night.. and this was for a shared room and a shared bathroom. Also in Argentina, a lot of the hostels had barbecues where you could eat as much meat as you want for around $5. And, I remember paying $17 to stay in New York, $30 in London, and about $10 to stay in Rio.

The most striking thing for me about the table (the prices) for me is just how expensive it is to have dinner in Oslo. To nearly spend $300 on dinner is crazy to me. And also, I never realized how expensive taxis are in London.

So, you’re discussion question today is this:

What is important to you when you’re booking a hotel? So, talk about the different criteria, the room, the cleanliness, the price, the location etc.

Also let me know if your city is listed and if not, how much things normally cost in your city.

Leave your comments below!

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan and Failure

Michael Jordan is the most famous basketballer of time, and one of the most talented sportsman that has ever lived.

Do you think that he sometimes fails? Let’s see..

The Clip


“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot…and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Do you fail your way to success?

Photo Credit: Cliff

How to Focus on Learning English

In this post we are going to discuss how to focus on learning English, especially thinking about the different distractions that we face due to being online.

As I work online there are lot of different distractions when trying to create materials for this website. Facebook, email, Twitter, Skype, Youtube, and lots of other websites and services can be very distracting and make it difficult to concentrate. But this post will tell you how

How to Concentrate on English or Other Tasks

Here are a few ways you can focus better on studying English or any other task that you might have.

Get Good Rest

Sleeping well makes a big difference when it comes to being able to concentrate. If you aren’t fully awake it is difficult to concentrate on what you are doing.

Focus on One Task

Recent studies suggest that when you are multitasking you are just doing lots of things poorly. To really gain good results it is important to focus on one task at a time. One way to do this is to use the Promodoro Technique. This is where you focus on a task for 25 minutes and then take a short break for 5 minutes.

There are lots of applications that you can use to help you time this.

Close Other Tabs/Windows

If you are using your computer to study English, it is a good idea to close everything else. You will only get distracted when you receive a message and it is very easy just to let yourself click onto other websites.

Again, there are APPs to help you. The one I use is StayFocusd.

Eat Well and Lightly

When I used to work in marketing we always went to a pub on Thursday to have some lunch. I always ordered something big and ate far too much. This meant that I just couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the afternoon.

I now try to eat small meals that don’t make me tired. It makes a big difference when I have to focus on something.

Work Somewhere Without Distractions

It’s very popular for students in America to do their homework in a coffee shop. I find it very difficult to concentrate in these environments because I like to people watch and there is too much talking.

I work best in my office. There are much fewer distractions and I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Different people have different places where they can concentrate better. Where is yours?

Work at the Right Time

I have problems creating new materials in the afternoon. I’m a little worn out (tired) from my lessons in the morning and my wife is usually back from university.

I can focus best in the mornings and in the late evening. The best time to study is very subjective as different people have different preferences.

Keep a To-Do List

Having a to-do list means that you won’t be thinking about what you have to do while learning English, which can be a big distraction. So instead of thinking about all the things you have to do later or tomorrow, you can fully concentrate on what you are doing now.

Start With a Song

Singing can really get yourself in the mood to learn English. It increases energy levels and gets you using English straight away. We have some songs here, and there are lots of Youtube with lyrics.

Discussion

Are you good at focusing?

Where is the best place for you to work?

What time of day is best for you to work?

Do you have any other tips to help you focus?