Lesson 6

How to Test Your English

It is Monday again, and I go to my school. Our teacher asks us what we did at the weekend. I say that I was at work on Saturday. I say that I can already do my work well. I say that I am happy when I can speak to our customers.

When I speak, one of the girls in the class asks me, “What happened to your voice? You sound very different from what we heard last week. Your pronunciation is very good.”

I smile and I say, “Thank you, I used shadowing on Saturday evening after my work and the whole Sunday. I tried to speak like a native speaker. I know that it is not perfect, but I also see a big change in my pronunciation.”

Our teacher asks if other students tried to practise shadowing. Three students say yes. One of them is the student from South Korea. He also likes this technique. One student says that she tried the technique but her mouth was in pain after 5 minutes of shadowing and she stopped. She also says that she wasn’t always able to repeat everything because the recording was very fast for her.

Our teacher says, “Thank you for trying out this technique. If you do shadowing for the first time and your mouth is in pain after 5 minutes, you do it correctly. Your need to train your muscles to this new way of speaking. It is like going to the gym for the first time. Your muscles can hurt if they are not trained.

If the muscles in our mouth hurt, you can take a break after 5 minutes of shadowing and you can continue a bit later. With every 5 minutes of practise, your pronunciation is better.

Shadowing has also other advantages. You practice the correct pronunciation in English, and you also practice other things, for example intonation, rhythm and connecting words in whole sentences.

I know that at the beginning, the recording can sometimes be very fast for you. If this happens, you can repeat only the first or the last word in the sentence. With practise you will be able to repeat more.”

I say that it is true. On Saturday when I started with shadowing, it was difficult for me. But on Sunday evening, it was easy to repeat what I heard.

Then I have a question for our teacher. I tell her that I looked at www.grammarinlevels.com. The website is interesting, but I don’t know what level is for me because I don’t know how many words I know.

Our teacher asks other students if they know how many words they know in English. It is interesting to see that nobody knows. We know that we are intermediate students but we don’t know how many words we know.

Our teacher says, “There is a website for people who study foreign languages. You can do a test there. You can know how many words you know. The test has only two steps and it is really simple. The name of the website is www.testlanguages.com. You can do the test every month and you can see how much you improved during that month. If you want, you can now take your smart phones and go to that website and do the test.”

I am really interested in knowing how many words I know. I do the test immediately. I find out that I know 2100 words in English. Most of the students know between 2000 and 2200 words. Only Monica and the boy from South Korea know 2500 words.

Our teacher says, “So, you can see that when you go to www.grammarinlevels.com, you should already know grammar from Level 2. You can start using grammar from Level 3 because Level 3 is for students who know between 2000 and 3000 words.”

Test your progress every month.