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I am looking for a some kind of TV series, TV show, games, or any other kind of media that could help my sister improve her English.

She is 14 and goes to school. But our education system teach students only how to read English and at end they are really have troubles in writing, listening, and of course speaking in English.

I am looking for a fun and interesting educational media that she would have tendency to follow it, not a boring educational stuff. A good example that she really liked was a comedy named Extr@. The show was really fun and they speak clear which helps her to keep up with it (Although the pace of dialogs was a little bit fast for her).

So:

  1. Do you know any other program like Extr@? The script must be simple and the pace of dialogs must be slow enough for a beginner. The genre should be preferably comedy or something else that teenager girls are into it (something like slow motion version of Twilight!)

  2. Do you know any better way to teach her English? By the way, none of family members have enough time/knowledge to teach her English.

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7 Answers 7

Hopefully someone else can chime in with TV suggestions... I wanted to recommend that having a pen-pal who is a fluent native English speaker can do worlds of good. My 8yo son has a pen-pal about his age in Germany whose English has improved since they began to write one another.

I'd be happy to write to her (use my blog's contact form to swap addresses) or you can post to the snail-mail thread on Fountain Pen Network to help her find someone closer to her age and interests.

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Great idea! I hope I can convince her to start this although she may hesitate and show low self-esteem. Thank you :) –  Isaac Jun 15 '11 at 16:50

Try getting her a selection of books in English. It won't help her pronunciation but will do wonders for her vocabulary. Books are particularly useful since the child can pace herself, stop to check a dictionary, review different sentence structures and expressions. My 9yo is learning Turkish by reading books for a 3~6 year old plus attending classes - the combination works well.

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I agree that books are very helpful, but as I said she goes to school and already has some books for learning English (learning words, grammar, etc). Moreover, most of the books are boring. I am looking for a fun way to improve her speaking/listening/writing skills –  Isaac Jun 15 '11 at 16:52
    
Sorry, I was referring to novels. You could start looking at "Captain Underpants" or "The Hardy Boys" to work out what level she is at. Amazon often lets you read the first few pages of a book online so you can gauge its appropriateness. My 9yo is an avid reader, so for her there is nothing more fun that a new book. –  dave Jun 15 '11 at 18:32
    
Additionally, she can read the books out loud, which can help improve speaking. –  Shauna Mar 26 '12 at 16:11
    
Or audiobooks could be helpful too –  Christine Gordon Nov 29 '12 at 22:52
    
@ChristineGordon - IMHO, less so. Audio books tend to be read at the rate of a native speaker. When learning a language, it is handy to be able to stop and examine each word, possible out of order. If you don't understand a sentence, you can examine each word and guess the ones you don't know given the greater context. This is something you can not really do with an audio book. –  dave Dec 3 '12 at 3:17

One of the best ways would be to not allow her to use her native language crutch at home (If you can help it). Don't acknowledge requests in her native tongue. Only deal with her requests in English. Only speak English to her. Of course if the household is primary non-English speakers this would be hard to make happen. It doesn't matter if her requests are in poor English or not, just getting her out of that comfort zone will allow learning to happen.

Take away non-English TV. Get her to hang out with Native speakers. When all her friends speak English she will pick it up quickly. Being able to withdraw into the cushion of familiar makes it hard to put the effort into it.

I know when I have traveled to foreign countries, I picked up the tongue pretty quickly by not doing anything in English. I don't go in and try to see if they speak English, I force myself to look it up, and then have to get by with my crappy French, or German, or Russian, and gestures. If

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-1: The problem is that in your example, it's something you're imposing on yourself. "Changing the world" around a 14-year old is less likely to encourage growth, and more likely to provoke insecurity and tension. –  deworde Mar 25 '12 at 23:32
    
The questioner already said the family doesn't have the background to help her much. They would ALL have to commit to learning English and using it with each-other for this plan to work, and even then it isn't likely to help with proper pronunciation. –  balanced mama Oct 29 '12 at 23:57
    
When children move to a foreign country, are immersed at school and in social settings in the native language, they learn it very quickly. When the adults that accompany them work in their old tongue, hang out with people that don't speak the native language and fall back on their primary language, they fail to pick it up. If she won't immerse herself in the local language, she won't ever get it, and she will stay insecure and off balance in perpetuity. My answer may not be what you want to hear, but it is what she needs to do, and the discomfort won't last that long. –  Mark0978 Oct 31 '12 at 2:57

When I was teaching high school, the ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher used my classroom during my planning period. Several of her students learned to speak English by listening to American music (for one Russian student, this was specifically rap music which I would not recommend since the first words he learned to use well were curse words, but by the time he graduated he had a strong grasp of English). Watching movies also helped many of her students learn English (I think one student watched lots of Disney movies). It also helped that they were essentially immersed in English between the hours of 8:00 am and 3:00 pm, so the more she can be encouraged to use the language, the more comfortable she'll be with it.

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Language learners need:

• A reason for speaking (Friendship? Shared love of a hobby?)

• A good role model (Live internet radio? Films?)

• No apparent pressure (Intrinsic motivation)

So, you could, for example encourage her to:

• Join an online English forum for her hobby or passion, and get her to take part in discussions relevant to her her interests

• Help her find English language podcasts and YouTube videos of interest to her, and perhaps to create similar 'answer videos' to help her practise talking and speaking

• Find her a pen friend, to increase her exposure to authentic English texts

Good luck!

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In addition to Edd Turner's GREAT list: find some native English speaking "friends" willing to have skype chats with her over the computer. I'm not sure how to connect up with this - we did this with a German Family I knew and had worked for, but I'm sure there has got to be a resource. –  balanced mama Oct 29 '12 at 23:56

And here are four more tried and tested methods that anyone learning any language can use:

  1. Change the default language on her mobile phone/cellphone/Handy to English - every time its used she'll be confronted by English!

  2. Change the default language on her Computer OS/Login account to English

  3. Change her profile on Facebook (operating language - see bottom of screen on FB) to English

  4. Encourage her to 'play teacher' - if she's learnt something new in class, how is it going to be asked in a test? Can she explain the rule of grammar in English? Can she translate and explain the vocal from and to her native language? Can she see connections between the lessons from 2 weeks and ago and the stuff she larnt this week?

(Added as a new answer as too long for a comment…)

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Try kids shows. In kids shows the actors usually speak slowly and clearly and use simple language. Good examples are Adventure Time, SpongeBob Squarepants.

Movies may help also and actually may be better, for longer story content. Anything with a +80% Tomato meter is most probably worth watching, and look for G-rated movies (to ensure simple language). Things like Disney films -- I'd start at the bottom of the list (most recent films) and work backwards.

Don't let her watch the films in her native language! Make sure she watches in English. One thing she might try is her native language subtitles, so she can suss out the meaning of what is being said, but is forced to listen to English.

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The local library might have some movie DVD's, too. If you're lucky, those DVD's contain English language + subtitles in your own language. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 1 '12 at 18:06

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