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Suggested Language Learning Resources

Over the years, teachers and students have asked my advice on good language-learning materials out there, as well as my suggestions on buying MP3 players and similar electronics, so here are some of my recommendations. Keep in mind that what works for one person might be different for someone else, so reading additional reviews might help you choose a product that fits your needs.

ProductReview
This is a GREAT USB microphone for your computer or your iPad. Personally, I have used it along with the iPad Camera Connection Kit (sold separately) to create some cool recordings and posting them easily to YouTube or my own Web site. It also offers your choice of three different recording patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional which you don't usually find in a single microphone.With such options, you can create podcasts with mutiple speakers with a single microphone.

ProductReview
This is one sweet, high-quality microphone that makes the process of recording your voice for language study, podcasts, or audio productions a breeze. I use this microphone to do almost all of my recordings now. A great tool for teachers, students, and any content developers.

ProductReview
One of the reasons why students often don't understand native speakers is because of the extensive use of phrasal verbs in everyday language. This book gives students practice with 400 common verbs that can be very valuable in all aspects of communication, including preparation for tests such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, and IELTS .

ProductReview
If you're serious about audio recording and you need a portable recording studio, the Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder might be what you need. I use this recorder with two MXL 990 Condenser Microphones, and the combination produces great recordings.

ProductReview
In my opinion, The Heinle Picture Dictionary is an absolute must-have book for improving vocabulary. Too often, students tend to slow down in the language development because of lack of vocabulary. In fact, most students have no systematic method or plan for building their vocabulary. This book can really help.

ProductReview
This one simple money set has certainly changed the way I teach shopping in the classroom. All too often, my students only use credit or debit cards when they shop, and when they are faced with dealing with real bills and coins, they are at a complete list. Stuents really enjoy learn about the money system, and they feel more confident with they have to buy at garage sales.

ProductReview
Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook was my by-far favorite dictionary for idioms until it wasn't returned to me. It's so clear, and the idioms are organized by themes, so you can make logical sense of how words are used. You can easily look up idioms by topic. Combing this book with a good picture dictionary can serve as an effective part of any study plan.

ProductReview
Although there are many portable tablet PCs and devices, the iPad 2 is a great educational and entertainment tool. I have been creating my own content in a way that it plays on portable devices such as the iPad 2, and other language-learning material is becoming more available in this device.
ProductReview
This is one of my all time favorite grammar books! The author has packed easy-to-understand grammar explanations with plenty of practice exercises, so students can master the concepts. This new version also includes new units on phrasal verbs, something students really enjoy, and need, to learn. Finally, this book contains a CD ROM with practice tests and recordings of the exercises so you can not only practice the grammar structures, but also learn how to pronounce them in context.

I always recommend my students to get this book along with any other textbook they use.

ProductReview
Speak American: A Survival Guide to the Language and Culture of the U.S.A. takes a unique approach to teaching culture and English together. It is easy to read and combines humor and useful expressions in one book.

ProductReview
Practical English Usage is by far one of the most complete language usage reference books on the market today. In its pages, it addresses some of the most common mistakes in English and provides clear examples to demonstrate and explain these errors. This book makes a great resource for teachers and language students.

ProductReview
American Idioms and Some Phrases Just for Fun is can provide another method of brushing up on vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.

ProductReview
The Slangman Guide to Street Speak 1 is one book that takes a fun and entertaining method of introducing students to everyday language. The text is divided into topics including going to the movies, shopping, attending school, and eating out. Each lessons contains a warm-up activity, dialogues, and tips on understanding natural, fast speech. The text also contains listening activities (audio CDs sold separately--see below). A worthwhile text for class or independent study.

ProductReview
These are the audio CDs for the book, The Slangman Guide to Street Speak. You can use the book without the audio CDs, but the audio recordings allow you to hear natural, fast speech in context.

ProductReview
Painless Grammar is an excellent grammar reference book that makes learning a pleasure. It combines clear examples with humor to help students review and learn points of grammar that they might have found confusing in other textbooks. It is easy to read and fun at the same time.

ProductReview
One of the main challenges students face in learning has little to do with language, and a lot to do with understanding other cultures. Many people often have preconceived ideas or attitudes about other cultures that are simply stereotypes. (I have a hard time convincing my students that there are North Americans who don't eat fast food.) American Ways: An Introduction to American Culture does a great job in introducing students to American traditional values through a variety of discussion, writing, vocabulary, and Internet activities. Learners are also encouraged to analyze and compare their own cultures to other value systems as a means of self-reflection and introspection.

ProductReview
If you only buy one book to help you sound more natural and understand fast conversation in English , this might be the one. Many ESL/EFL students often can't understand rapid speech in English because native speakers use relaxed language.

Furthermore, if a student does not learn to how use relaxed speech in their own conversations, but stresses every word instead, then the student sounds like he/she is shouting (I WANT TO GO TO THE PARTY instead of "I wanna go ta party tanight"). This book is organized by topic (personal introductions, work, shopping, restaurants, etc), and includes useful conversations and great listening and speaking activities. Read the reviews. This book is very highly rated, and I strongly recommend it, too.

ProductReview
Olympus creates fantastic digital voice recordings, and this one is particularly easy to use and very useful in recording voices. Let's say that you want to record a native speaker and then listen to the recording. With different playback speeds, you can really check and analyze a conversation. You can also use this device to record and keep a voice journal of your own voice to check your progress in learning to speak English. This recorder also plays and records in both MP3 and WMA.

The device has an extremely easy-to-use USB plug that goes right into the computer for easy transfer, so you can have to worry about carrying around or using a cable. I highly recommend this voice recorder for teachers and students.

ProductReview
English students often are looking for books on phrasal verbs and idioms that will help them sound more natural and understand everyday speech. This book, Idioms for Everyday Use, is one book that can really help in this process. Rather than just give you a dictionary list of expressions, the author has arranged idioms by topic, as well as provide you with a reading that introduces the expressions in context. The book also contains activities for you to practice using the idioms in writing, reading, and speaking practice.

ProductReview
One thing I like most about vocabulary books is when they present words by theme rather than throwing vocabulary at students in a very unorganized and random way. English Vocabulary for Beginning ESL Learners does a good job of introducing and helping students practice vocabulary at a basic level.

ProductReview
If you look at the reviews, you will quickly see that Tuesdays with Morrie is an amazing story about a student and his former teacher and the relationship they develop in the face of death. This book spent a very long time on the bestseller list because of its great message. In fact, many English teachers, including those where I teach English, have used this book in their reading classes with great success.

ProductReview
The Oxford Picture Dictionary is by far one of the most popular picture dictionaries around. A great addition to any student's learning library.

ProductReview
The Side by Side books have been around for many years, and they are comprehensive language learning textbooks that integrate speaking, listening, reading, vocabulary, and writing in one package. Each chapter has a vocabulary preview section as well as cultural notes, pronunciation tips and colorful and easy-to-understand pictures.

The one think I like most about these books is that they are well-designed from a pedagogical perspective. Too often, many other new textbooks try to use fancy designs and layouts to get you to buy their books. All flash and little substance. Side by Side, however, keeps things simple. The grammar explanations have been well though out. Furthermore, these books can easily be used for self-study.

ProductReview
A Conversation Book provides topics and vocabulary activities specifically for everyday conversation. A great resource for helping students improve their daily language skills. Activities range from role plays to surveys, providing sound interactive learning that stimulate real communication.
ProductReview
Learning conversational English is one of the challenges facing many language students, and there are few books that teach everyday expressions in a very easy, systematic way. However, in this textbook, the readers follow the life of a student as he experiences living and surviving in another culture. Easy-to-use expressions based on topic are presented in such a way that this book can be used as a classroom textbook or as a self-study guide.

ProductReview
Common American Phrases is a real effective and useful book to help ESL and EFL students speak more naturally instead of sounding like a dry dictionary. This book isn't meant to be a classroom textbook, but it is perfect for students wanting a good reference guide, especially when you have heard an expression, but you don't know what it means.

ProductReview
If you're looking for a self-study grammar book, this is one of the best for intermediate students. It teaches learners not only how to use the grammar in writing, but it also helps students learn how to apply these skills in speaking and listening situations. Another feature that I like about this book is that it helps students understand the difference between formal and informal grammar use, so students can choose the right language for any situation.

ProductReview
Many students and teachers have a MP3 player like an iPod to listen to music or even language-learning material. Personally, I have a Logitech speaker system that I connect to my iPod, digital voice recorder, and even my classroom TV set to broadcast the sound. In fact, I seldom use a CD player because I prefer to use a voice recorder/MP3 player and a Logitech speaker system instead. In fact, these systems are so portable, with rechargeable batteries, that you can take them anywhere.

ProductReview
Many ESL/EFL students tend to rely on their electronic dictionaries to look up words. However, I have found that the Longman Basic Dictionary of American English is one of the best because it provides great sample sentences and easy-to-understand definitions that make it the ideal reference book for any teacher or student.

ProductReview
Many ESL/EFL students are preparing to take the TOEFL test so they can enter a university in North America. However, too often, students think that studying for the TOEFL is simply a matter of learning more grammar. However, this book helps students learn test-taking strategies that help a reader stayed focused on the skills they really need. The computer CD ROM is excellent as well because it contains practice tests and exercises so students can feel more confident in taking the test.

ProductReview
One of the main challenges facing ESL/EFL students is being able to understand "street" English, that is, everyday language. This is a relatively cheap self-study guide that can give students the idioms and expressions they need to learn how to communicate more fluently and sound more natural. I had a similar book when I learned Japanese, and the results can be amazing if you apply what you learn.

ProductReview
This Olympus voice recorder is just amazing! So many people talk about buying iPods, but an iPod was never really created for language learning. This device is both an MP3 player, AND a voice recorder with 8 different speed settings. In other words, you can slow down MP3 files so you can listen to them more carefully. You have the ability transfer audio CDs to this device for personal or classroom use. The recording quality is excellent, and this is a device all teachers and students should have. As a teacher, I use it constantly to record and evaluate my students, and learners can record their own voices for language practice. And you can do podcasting with it.

ProductReview
Ann Cook has done an excellent job in creating a teacher-directed or self-study pronunciation course that comes with the textbook and audio CDs. I have used her materials in the past with students, and students have always enjoyed learning to talk more naturally in English. And although it is really difficult to eliminate your accent (which isn't the goal of language learning in most cases), these materials really can make a difference in your speech.

ProductReview
Many ESL/EFL students struggle to learn English because they don't have enough vocabulary and don't have a regular way to learn it. Most students simply use an electronic dictionary with limited improvement. However, I always suggest students buy a picture dictionary to build their vocabulary around specific themes, and this one is superb for beginning and intermediate students.


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