Ten Words About… Difficult Feelings

Vocabulary is a huge topic!

There are many word lists that can help. The Top 1000 Words in English is very useful, and so is the academic word list by Dr. Coxhead.

I thought I would make some short, themed, useful word lists for my students and blog readers.

Today’s list:

Feelings – Facing Difficulties

  1. frustrated
  2. stuck
  3. hopeless
  4. listless
  5. depressed
  6. overwhelmed
  7. devastated
  8. trapped
  9. discouraged
  10. terrified

Do you know all these words?

If you want to see definitions, related pictures, and get some practice, I made flashcards at Quizlet.com that you can use for free. Try it – it’s a great program.


Bonus: phrases about difficulty

  1. I’m having a hard time
    things aren’t going well; I’m discouraged
  2. I’m just spinning my wheels
    I’m stuck
  3. I’m in over my head
    I’m overwhelmed


This post appeared first at English with Emily.


Is English Tutoring Right for You?

5063530520_ca4c569efbPeople learn languages in many different ways. Some prefer to study alone with books or software like Duolingo. Some take classes. Others learn informally just by listening.

Tutoring is another option. Tutoring is working with a teacher, just the two of you.

Reasons to Work With A Tutor

  • pronunciation work
  • student is shy
  • to help with homework
  • student knows what s/he wants to learn, doesn’t want a curriculum
  • schedule flexibility

Misunderstandings About Tutoring

Tutoring means working one on one with a teacher. It’s like a class with only one student and no grades.

FALSE: My tutor will fix my writing for me!

TRUE: When I tutor, my goal is building your skills. When you bring in a written report or email draft and ask for help with it, I will read it and note what your three biggest types of errors are. We will review those skills together. Then you will fix those in your paper, with guidance from me as needed.

FALSE: I’m getting a tutor! Showing up for one hour every week will make me fluent in English!

TRUE: Tutoring is not magical. Sitting at the same table as your tutor is not going to make you fluent. This will take time and continued effort. A tutor can help you make the most of your time and effort.


Tutoring is not perfect. Here are the main problems I see with tutoring:

  1. it’s very personal… so the student and tutor must like each other
  2. it’s very intensive… you can’t hide in the back of the classroom if you’re tired!
  3. it’s possibly disorganized… sessions are based on student needs and questions, not a methodical curriculum.
  4. it’s expensive

I try to minimize these drawbacks when I tutor:

  1. (personal) With me, the first lesson is always free. You do not have to hire me! If you don’t like my teaching or personality, I will not be a good tutor for you. Find someone else! 
  2. (intensive) During lessons, we work toward your goals with different activities. For example, in pronunciation work, we don’t just repeat sounds for an hour. I use several methods so that you don’t get bored.
  3. (disorganized) I take notes every session. I record what we’re working on, what’s giving you trouble, what’s going well, and what we might do next time. You and I also refer back to your goals frequently so we stay focused as the months go by.
  4. (expensive) If you can get what you need for free from the county, an app, your college, or your friends, you should do that! An experienced private tutor costs money. Is it worth it? You get to decide!

Good luck achieving your goals!

Listen to Emily read this article here. (A new window will open.)

Photo Credit: San Jose Library on Flickr

Resource: Everyday Conversations

I came across a great resource!

It’s called Everyday Conversations. Here is a screenshot:


The intended audience seems to be older children – maybe 11 years old. They are posting short audio (with written transcripts) of a family visiting all 50 states in the USA. I think some of the stories are reasonably interesting for adults, too.

For example, here is a link to their story about visiting the Great Lakes in  Michigan.

This is part of a bigger website at share.america.gov – a program by the US State Department. It has a lot of interesting articles, including videos, about culture, geography, politics, environment, etc.

Here is a screenshot:



Resource: duolingo

23136012321_1a498a4e9aOne great free resource for learning a language is duolingo.

It is an app and a website.

Duolingo feels like a game. It helps your grammar, reading, listening, and vocabulary.

I recommend duolingo practice to everybody. Maybe it is not enough alone, but it is very helpful.

My Experience

I am using duolingo for Intermediate Russian and Beginning French.

I studied Russian in college for all eight semesters. For one semester, I studied in Russia. I learned a lot but it was very difficult for me. My level was maybe high-intermediate. After college, I quit Russian.

When I began studying Russian with duolingo on my smartphone, it gave me a placement test. Then, in each smaller section, there is the opportunity to take a quiz. If you pass the quiz, you can skip those lessons. This way, you only spend time on what you need.

Duolingo teaches differently than they taught in college. I think duolingo is better. Duolingo’s lessons are more conversational. They are more focused. They are more useful. Duolingo does not ask me to memorize charts. It does not give me a long list of vocabulary words. It does not confuse me.

I started French at the very beginning with duolingo. The basics have been great: clear and focused and useful.

In both Intermediate Russian and Beginner French, I am very happy with duolingo. The lessons are fun and short. They feel like playing a game. They are smart about using vocabulary and grammar. There is always review. They do not give you too many new words or grammar forms at once.

In my opinion, the weakness of duolingo is with speaking. My Russian pronunciation is OK, but I had a lot of practice with real people in college. My French pronunciation is probably a disaster. Duolingo can’t really test my pronunciation (though it tries sometimes). I will need to study with real people to help my French pronunciation.

Overall, I am very impressed with duolingo! I hope you will try it!

(Click here to listen.)


Photo Credit: Tony Alter on Flickr