AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on Wordmaster, English teacher Lida Baker suggests five resolutions for people who want
to improve their English in the New Year.
LIDA BAKER: My first resolution that I would recommend people make is
to spend a certain amount of time listening to English
– and it can be
five minutes a day or it can be 10 minutes a week or it can be whatever
suits a person's work schedule, life schedule or whatever. But it's
really important to set goals and to stick to them. And it would be very
helpful if people had Internet access to do this, because what I'm going
to recommend is listening to sites that have scripts included.
RS: What do you do if you don't have access to a computer, how can you
LIDA BAKER: Well, almost everyone all over the world has access to pop
music. And one of my resolutions would be to spend time listening to
English music. The advantage of listening to music is that it's a really
wonderful way to work on your pronunciation, because you get a feeling
for the stress and the rhythm of the language when you're singing. And
also music is full of idioms, so it's a terrific way to learn colloquial
vocabulary and to work on your pronunciation. And a third advantage of
listening to music is that it's really easy to remember.
So for people who have access only to a radio, even they can do
something to improve their English just by listening to pop music. And I
might add, if you do have access to the Internet, there are lots of
Internet sites that will give you the lyrics to pop songs. Do a search,
type 'music' or 'songs' plus 'lyrics,' and you'll find sites where you
can type in the name of the song and it will give you the lyrics to the
RS: So spend a little bit more time listening, or have a goal for
listening. Listen to English music. What else?
LIDA BAKER: Something else I tell my students, and they're always
surprised when I tell them this, is read children's books.
AA: That makes sense, though.
LIDA BAKER: Yeah. Why do you say that?
RS: Well, few words.
AA: It's simpler.
RS: Direct, simple. Lots of pictures.
LIDA BAKER: There you go.
RS: That puts it in a context.
LIDA BAKER: There you go. And the other thing is, you can find
children's books at all levels. If you were a total beginner in English,
you start with books that have just a few words on the page and lots of
pictures, and you can work your way up to books that have relatively
speaking more text and fewer illustrations. But again, children's books
are very motivating. To this day I enjoy reading the books that I read
to my daughter when she was a little girl.
AA: So now we've got the listening to the radio, listening to music,
going online and looking for scripts of programs to go with the audio,
reading children's books. What's your next resolution?
LIDA BAKER: Learn a new word every day. And if you don't have time to
do it every day, do it every other day. Again, pick a realistic goal.
Choose your word, look up the meaning, but then don't stop there. Look
at the examples in the dictionary for how the word is used. Is it used
as a noun? Is it a verb? Is it used to talk about people? If it's an
adjective, does it have a positive meaning or a negative meaning? So
look for what's called the connotation of the word. And then, when
you're sitting in your car, or you're walking to the bus stop or sitting
on the bus, practice. Put the word into your own sentences. Think of
ways that you could use that word.
And so now we come to our last resolution, which in a way is the most
difficult one, because my last resolution would be, even if it's only
very occasionally, talk to native speakers every chance you get.
RS: Lida Baker teaches English and writes textbooks in Los Angeles,
AA: That's all for Wordmaster this week.
RS: With Avi Arditti, I'm Rosanne Skirble.