Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
First question this week comes from Ali Alharbi. Hi, Ali. Ali says, "Hi, Alisha. I saw your channel on YouTube and I like your videos, but I don't know which playlist I should start from and what playlist I should watch second. Thanks for helping." Sure. So, depending on your level, I would recommend different video series. If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with The English in Three Minutes series. These are short videos about three minutes long and they teach you basic phrases that you can use like, "Hi. How are you? Where are you from?" and so on, like talking about your hobbies. So, if you're a beginner, I recommend starting with this playlist, The English in Three Minutes playlist.
Then after you finished that playlist, I recommend checking some of the whiteboard videos that are on the channel. Some of these have really good basic grammar introductions. So, to start with, I would suggest the simple present tense, simple past tense, the present perfect tense video. I would also recommend you start looking at some of the other grammar-related videos on the channel. Some of the whiteboard videos are kind of vocabulary points, or maybe they're about specific situations. I would suggest you focus on the grammar-related videos first because they can give you a base to build the rest of your studies on. So, focus in on your grammar videos first.
After that, I would suggest you move to maybe some Top Words videos. The Top Words series is vocabulary-based. In every video, we introduce 10 different vocabulary words about one theme. So, you can pull those vocabulary words out and study them in the example sentences in the video, but you can also use those keywords to make your own sentences. So, I think it would be maybe a fun way to study, to use those new vocabulary words with the grammar you learned from the whiteboard videos. So, you can start making really simple sentences this way. So, keep focusing in on those grammar lessons and build your vocabulary with some of the Top Words lesson.
Maybe a good place to start with the Top Words lessons is to choose a video that's related to something you're interested in. So, if you have a hobby or if there's something about your work or your studies that you're interested in, you want to know more about, you could choose a Top Words video about that topic. That might help you get some example sentences and new vocabulary words. If you feel comfortable with the Top Words videos and they're pretty easy or you feel ready to challenge yourself, then you could try to check out the English Topics videos. Those are slower-paced everyday conversations that Michael and I, or Davey and I had, and we usually talk about a culture point or a learning point, or every once in a while, we just enjoy a typical conversation, too. So, that can be a really nice introduction to more natural styles of conversation.
Other things you could do, of course you can check out the stuff that we have on the website, too. So, there's other stuff there to help you train your grammar, to help you build your vocabulary, to help with memorization, and so on. That would be kind of my course. Again, I started from beginner level. So, if you're a little past beginner maybe, you can start with some whiteboard lessons and some Top Words lessons. If you're very comfortable with that, maybe you can look at the English topic series, and of course this series, Ask Alisha. This is a little bit more high level. So, I hope that this helps you and good luck using our videos to study. Thank you very much for watching.
Okay. Let's move on to your next question. Next question this week comes from Jamorana Snal. Hi, Jamorana. Jamorana says, "Hi, Alisha. How do I improve my English grammar?" Okay. To improve your grammar, make sure first you actually use the grammar. So, an issue that I see with many students is they use the textbook or they use their textbook as their only method of practice. I've seen lots of students who can complete textbook exercises perfectly. They're really, really good at filling in the blank or maybe changing a sentence to make a specific grammar point. But when they try to create using that grammar, they create a new sentence or create a new question. It's really difficult for them. So, try to separate yourself from using only your textbook or from just those fill-in-the-blank exercises and try to build your own sentences on your own. It'll seem challenging at first but you'll have to progress by making something new, that's uniquely yours. So, that's one.
The second point here is when you learn a new grammar point, just start by making a very simple sentence with that grammar point. That's fine. So, if you learn to make a simple past tense statement, for example, you can begin with very simple past tense statements to start. So, if you know this word, like "work," the verb "work," and you just practice changing that to past tense, like "worked," you've made a simple past tense verb. So, then add that with some other information, like "He worked." Choose a different verb. "Walk" turns into "walked." So, she walked. Then practice making irregular conjugations, like "he eats" becomes "he ate," for example.
So, start with these very small points. So, if you learn a more advanced grammar point, you can do the same thing. Just continue to try to use that grammar point to create something on your own. Also, don't forget to create questions. I noticed lots of students focus on giving statements, like they're always replying to a question, replying to the teacher's question or replying to something that they've read on the internet. Try to make your own questions as well. So, that's key for conversation, asking other people questions. So, don't forget to practice your question making skills, too.
When you feel comfortable then, you can start making simple sentences about your day. For example, "I ate breakfast. I worked. I studied." Then as you learn more complex grammar, you can add more information, like "where, with whom, what time," for example. "I ate breakfast at home with my family at 8:00 a.m." So, it's just one sentence but that one sentence includes a lot of information. So, think about how to do this as you study grammar and as you see more and more example sentences that use more and more complex ways of speaking. Okay. So, those are three tips that I hope help you as you try to improve your grammar. Thanks very much for this question.
Okay. Let's move along to your next question. Next question comes from Saddat. Hi, Saddat. Saddat says, "Hello. I need some advice to master phrasal verbs in English idiomatic expressions." Yeah, this is a tough question. For phrasal verbs, let's begin there. I would suggest you choose a verb, choose a verb to focus on, like the verb "buy," for example. And study in small groups the phrasal verbs that use the verb "buy." If you try to study all the phrasal verbs in one study session, it can be really overwhelming and tough. And because the meanings often seem similar, you can get confused. So, I would recommend you try just a group of 5, maybe 10 max. Start with something like that and then study those until you feel comfortable with them.
Some verbs have a lot of phrasal verbs, like "run," for example. I think that's the verb that has the most additional meanings associated with it. But choose 5, maybe 10 phrasal verbs to start with. Get comfortable with those and then try to study more. When you feel comfortable with that verb and all the phrasal verbs associated with it, then maybe consider moving on to another verb. So, if you use the study method and you find some other verb, some other phrasal verb that you don't know, you might be able to guess what it means. So, for example, if you study some phrasal verbs that use "buy" and you know "buy into," "buy out," and "buy up," then maybe you have at least a little bit of an idea what "buy back" means if you see it in text. So, it can help you make a guess even if you don't know exactly what that means.
The other part of your question is about idioms, idiomatic expressions. These can be tough because sometimes we don't identify an expression as an idiom. I would say to begin with, you can start by studying a couple lists of common idioms that we have in English. We have some videos on the channel about common English idioms so you can start there. Other things you can do are just Google lists of idioms. That way you can find things that people use a lot, and it can be really helpful. Once you've studied these lists, you can think of using Google as a phrase search engine. This is something that I do actually with Japanese expressions, too.
What you can do is if you find a new phrase that you try to search for the individual words in your dictionary and it doesn't quite make sense, try using quotation marks around that phrase in Google and you might find that it's actually an English idiom. So, if you add like "English idiom" to your search keywords, you might find a new idiom this way. So, think about these kinds of existing lists and existing tools that you can use that will help you study. Idioms and phrasal verbs, these are both things that take time and practice to master, but I hope that these tips help you in your studies a little bit. Thanks very much for the question.
Let's move on to your next question. Next question comes from Natalia. Hi, Natalia. Natalia says, "How do I start reading books in English? I've done it before but it's very hard." Okay. First, I would say choose a book that's correct for your level. In my case, I aim for books that are about 70% understandable. So, that means if I'm trying to read the book and I have to stop to find a new word like 10 times a page, the book is too difficult for me. If I have to stop maybe three or four times a page max, then that seems to be about right for me. After I choose a book that I think is pretty good for my level, I first just try to read through the book without using a dictionary. So, I do this for a couple of reasons. One, I'm trying to find the themes of the book, what are the key words, what are the themes, what's the way that the author writes. So, I'm looking for those things. Two, I'm looking for the things that are difficult for me to understand. Am I having a hard time with grammar? Am I having a hard time with vocabulary? Am I missing some history or cultural points? So, what is difficult for me?
So, I read through the book that one time. If I don't get everything, that's okay. I don't use the dictionary. Then what I do is I go back to the beginning of the book and very slowly, like page by page, or maybe section by section, chapter by chapter, then I start to identify the points that I couldn't understand and that I can't understand the second time around. In my case, I'm super detailed about it so I'll highlight the word in the book, write it down in a notebook, look it up in my dictionary, write that down as well.
I'll spend my time covering a couple of pages in my study session. And when I know all the words that I didn't know, then I'll go back at the end of my study session and reread the page that I couldn't read before. I couldn't read it completely at the beginning of my study session, but at the end of my study session, I can read it completely. So, it takes time for sure. But then I'll review that maybe a couple of days later and try to remember and refresh those words in my head.
So, that's a really slow process for me, but in my case, that really helps me when I'm reading. It helps me to remember the words as well, refreshing this way. But again, I think it's really, really important to choose a book that's appropriate for your level. If you choose a book that's too difficult, you're going to feel discouraged and you won't want to continue. So, I would recommend you choose a book that's interesting to you, the topic is interesting to you, and also something that's just a little bit challenging. So, this has really helped me. Maybe it will help you.
All right. That's everything that I have for this week. Thank you as always for sending your questions. Remember, you can send them to me at englishclass101.com/ask-alisha. Thanks very much for watching this week's episode of Ask Alisha and I will see you again next week. Bye-bye.

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