I Speak

Hi Learners,

Speaking. Do it ... daily.
Small talk is very important.

How do you start a conversation with a stranger ?
How do you keep a conversation going ?
How do you end a conversation ?

Keep a little notebook with prepared questions, compliments and ideas on how to start a "small talk" conversation with a stranger. Practice ways to "stretch" a conversation and how to "close" a conversation.

Be curious and use your 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How).
Share your positive and negative English Language Learning Experiences with us on our "Journal" page.

Check out the speech bubbles for assignments to add to the "Discussion Box".

- Kinetic 2/16

English is Stupid, Students are Not

By Judy Thompson

Link to the textbook:

Kate Mavin Pronunciation Tips /p/ vs /b/

Here is a short video on communication and culture ...

Conversation Circles:

151 City Centre Drive, 6th Floor
6-8 PM Mondays and Wednesday (>> Potluck)

Also Conversation Circle at the Mississauga Central Library (Check it out !)


OK. Back to topics. Here are a few categories of topics to start off:

  • description

  • compare/contrast
  • recounting - telling a story/event
  • introduction (person, product, company, country)
  • plays/skits
  • procedures and processes (how to…)
  • informative (telling about something as a concept)
  • change

This is just a list of generic types of presentations students can do. Students can focus in on a particular theme, question, task, or whatever you'd like to cover.
While it isn't about presentations directly, Discussions that Work: Task-centred Fluency Practice
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this is a great source of ideas for discussions and presentation topics.
Check out 'TEDtalks' for some examples on short, concise presentations. Review a presentation that you saw. Do a presentation of your own idea.

- Kinetic 09/15



Voice Threads is a learning tool. It is good for practicing your four skills; Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing
Ever have a burning question ? A question that you must ask and you need an answer ?
Check out the "Vocie Threads" link and tutorial.
Ask your big QUESTION.
Invite others to collaborate on your "Voice Thread".
Attach the link to your voice thread here.
  • See a samples of what voice thread can do below.

GYPSY (Voice Thread)

Mind Map - Brainstorming

Check out the PREZI program to organize and expand your ideas for writing a presentation or essay.

Conversation Resources for warming up

Pronunciation Resources

Fun Pronunciation videos– laugh and talk about the importance of pronunciation and of learning in a country where English is the native language:

Vocabulary resources
Level 2 - Vocab and Grammar – Describing People -

Youtube on "Giving Your Opinion". You can also subscribe the channel, they have many topics that may help you to be better speaker.

Trillium Toastmasters

Our class has been the guests of the Trillium Toastmasters, and I would like to visit them again.
Toastmasters International includes more than 270,000 men and women in more than 13,000 clubs in more than 116 countries.
Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.
By learning to effectively formulate, organize and express your ideas to others, you can achieve all kinds of success. You'll be more capable and confident when giving presentations. You'll be more persuasive when pitching prospective clients. Want to be better at negotiating your salary with your boss? Networking at business or social functions? Motivating co-workers - or your kids?

I encourage you to check their website out as we study this unit on "Presentations".


I'll let you know when our class can visit the Trillium Toastmasters.

- Kinetic 09/15

How to Make a Great First Impression
From time to time, we all have to meet new people, during those moments, you may not consciously think about the importance of making a good first impression. However, conscious or not, you always make an impression.
Sometimes, because of the person you’re meeting or the situation you’re in, you may want to make more than just an impression you’ll want to make it a great impression.
Now let’s look at how to make a lasting and good first impression:
1- Relax: You want the new client, you want the job, you want the date – whatever the situation is, take the pressure off of yourself! Relax and just be yourself. You should remember that people you meet most often want tolike you. They simply need to feel comfortable knowing that you’re comfortable too. So relax.
2- Smile!: Few things are more attractive than a real smile – it doesn’t matter if you are young or old, smiles make a difference. Let people know you are happy to meet them before a word is said. The best way to do that is with a smile. The old line, “smiles increase your face value,”.
3- Use a good handshake: A good handshake says things about you that words never can. Learn to give a great handshake. Practice it. Make it your habit.
4- Make eye contact: In most parts of the world, this is incredibly important because when you domake eye contact consistently, you will stand out.
5- Be genuine and real: Be yourself. Be natural. After all, you want people’s impression to be of who you really are, not of some mask you have created.
6- Be interested, not interesting: This turn of words is powerful. Most think about impressing people as being about showing what we know, who we know or what we’ve done. You will make a more powerful and lasting impression when you don’t try so hard.
7- Ask more, say less: You will show your interest in the other person by asking more questions and talking less. Asking helps you learn about the other person
8- Be confident: Being confident coupled with being relaxed leads to a projected self-assurance that is both interesting and attractive.
9- Remember, it isn’t about you: Make the encounter as much about the other person as possible, and you will make great first impressions most of the time because it will come easiest when you focus not on yourself, but on the other person.
Fantastic 30/1/2013

The art of conversation takes practice, and is not as hard as you might think. It will take some knowledge, practice, and patience, and you can learn to relax and enjoy a great conversation.
With these tips you will be well on your way to having a good, meaningful and entertaining conversation with anyone!
  1. Make a good first impression.Smile, ask questions that require more than a yes/no answer, and really listen. Maintain eye contact and keep as friendly and polite as possible.
  2. Listen.This is the most important part of any conversation. You might think a conversation is all about talking, but it will not go anywhere if the listener is too busy thinking of something to say next. Pay attention to what is being said. When you talk to the other person, injecting a thought or two, they will often not realize that it was they who did most of the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist – which of course, you are!
  3. Find out what the other person is interested in.You can even do some research in advance when you know you will have an opportunity to talk with a specific person. Complimenting them is a great place to start. Everyone likes sincere compliments, and that can be a great ice-breaker.
  4. Ask questions.What do they like to do? What sort of things have they done in their life? What is happening to them now? What did they do today or last weekend? Identify things about them that you might be interested in hearing about, and politely ask questions. Remember, there was a reason that you wanted to talk to them, so obviously there was something about them that you found interesting.
  5. Forget yourself.Dale Carnegie once said, “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.” If you are too busy thinking about yourself, what you look like, or what the other person might be thinking, you will never be able to relax. Introduce yourself, shake hands, then forget yourself and focus on them instead.
  6. Practice active listening skills.Part of listening is letting the other person know that you are listening. Make eye contact. Nod. Say “Yes,” “I see,” “That’s interesting,” or something similar to give them clues that you are paying attention and not thinking about something else – such as what you are going to say next.
  7. Ask clarifying questions.If the topic seems to be one they are interested in, ask them to clarify what they think or feel about it. If they are talking about an occupation or activity you do not understand, take the opportunity to learn from them. Everyone loves having a chance to teach another willing and interested person about their hobby or subject of expertise.
  8. Paraphrase back what you have heard, using your own words.This seems like an easy skill to learn, but takes some practice to master. Conversation happens in turns, each person taking a turn to listen and a turn to speak or to respond. It shows respect for the other person when you use your “speaking turn” to show you have been listening and not just to say something new. They then have a chance to correct your understanding, affirm it, or embellish on it.
  9. Consider your response before disagreeing.If the point was not important, ignore it rather than risk appearing argumentative. If you consider it important then politely point out your difference of opinion. Do not disagree merely to set yourself apart, but remember these points:
    • It is the differences in people–and their conversation–that make them interesting.
    • Agreeing with everything can kill a conversation just as easily as disagreeing with everything.
    • A person is interesting when they are different from you; a person is obnoxious when they can not agree with anything you say, or if they use the point to make themselves appear superior.
    • Try to omit the word “but” from your conversation when disagreeing as this word often puts people on the defensive. Instead, try substituting the word “and”, it has less of an antagonistic effect.

  1. Consider playing devil’s advocate – which requires care.If your conversation partner makes a point, you can keep the conversation going by bringing up the opposite point of view (introduce it with something like “I agree, and…”). If you overuse this technique, however, you could end up appearing disagreeable or even hostile.
  2. Do not panic over lulls.This is a point where you could easily inject your thoughts into the discussion. If the topic seems to have run out, use the pause to think for a moment and identify another conversation topic or question to ask them. Did something they said remind you of something else you have heard, something that happened to you, or bring up a question or topic in your mind? Mention it and you’ll transition smoothly into further conversation!
  3. Know when the conversation is over. Even the best conversations will eventually run out of steam or be ended by an interruption. Shake hands with the other person and be sure to tell them you enjoyed talking with them. Ending on a positive note will leave a good impression and likely bring them back later for more!
  • Choose carefully when asking personal questions. You do not want to venture into overly personal issues. Even if the other person might be willing to talk about it, you may end up learning things that you really do not want to know. You certainly do not want the other person to think afterward that you coerced them into revealing personal information.
  • Be sincere! Compliments are great, but too much flattery is obvious and will reveal you as being insincere.
  • Beware of topics that can be inflammatory – such as religion and politics – and don’t venture into them unless you know the person has roughly the same convictions as you, or the circumstances otherwise allow for pleasant discussion. Again, it’s fine to disagree and can be nice to talk about differences, but it can also be a quick step toward an argument.
  • Try not to argue! You do not have to agree with everything someone says, but you do not have to tell them all about how you disagree. If you feel the need to explain an opposing viewpoint, express it simply and without putting the other person on the defensive. It is better to simply change the subject in a casual conversation than to get involved in an argument.
  • Try not to nod or respond with “Yes” and “I see” so much. It might make the person think you are bored and sometimes it may seem like you are rushing them along. Never say anything hurtful or offensive to the other person, this may project a bad feeling between you.
  • If it is a planned conversation, try listening to the news in case you run out of thing to say, it is always a good solution.
  • Also try not to cut the person off mid-sentence. It seems disrespectful and it makes it seem like what you have to say is more important than what the other person has to say. Let the person finish their thoughts and then continue on with thoughts of your own.

Genius, Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Learn a Foreign Language
Written by Steve Kaufmann

Note: These guidelines should be rigorously followed, even if you are taking a language course.
Learn a Foreign Language
1) Spend the time!
By far the most important factor is how much time you are immersed in the language. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This does not mean sitting in class looking out the window, nor listening to other students who do not speak well, nor getting explanations in your own language about how the language works. This means spending time enjoyably connected to the language you are learning.

2) Listen and read every day!
Listen wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language. One hour of listening or reading is more effective than many hours of class time.

3) Focus on words and phrases!
Build up your vocabulary, you’ll need lots. Start to notice words and how they come together as phrases. Learn these words and phrases through your listening and reading. Read online, using online dictionaries, and make your own vocabulary lists for review. Soon you will run into your new words and phrases elsewhere. Gradually you will be able to use them. Do not worry about how accurately you speak until you have accumulated a plenty of words through listening and reading.

4) Take responsibility for your own learning!
If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.
5) Relax and enjoy yourself!
Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

Steve Kaufmann is a former Canadian diplomat, who has had his own company in the international trade of forest products for over 20 years. Steve founded The Linguist Institute Ltd. in 2002 to develop a new approach to language learning using the web. The new LingQsystem for learning multiple languages is now available in Beta. Steve speaks nine languages fluently and is currently learning Russian using LingQ. Steve maintains a blog on language learning.