Lesson 6

How to Test Your English

It is Monday again, and I go to my school. Our teachers asks us what we did during the weekend. I say that I was at work on Saturday. I say that I can already do my work quite 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 tried to do shadowing on Saturday evening after my work and for all of Sunday. I tried to speak like a native speaker. I know that it is still not perfect, but I also noticed a big change in my pronunciation.”

Our teacher asks if anybody else tried to practise shadowing. Three students raise their hands. 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 hurt a lot after 5 minutes of shadowing and she had to stop. She also says that she wasn’t always able to repeat everything. Sometimes it was hard for her to keep up with the speed of the recording.

Our teacher says, “Thank you for trying out this technique. If you do shadowing for the first time and your mouth hurts after 5 minutes, it means that you are doing it correctly. Your muscles need to be trained 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 your mouth’s muscles hurt, you can take a break after 5 minutes and continue a bit later. With every 5 minutes of practise, your pronunciation should be a little bit better.

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

I know that at the beginning, the recording can sometimes be too fast. 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 agree that it is true. On Saturday when I started with shadowing, it was quite difficult for me. Yet by Sunday evening, it was quite 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 in English.

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 find out 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 out your smart phones and you can go to that website and do the test.”

I want to know how many words I know. I do the test immediately. I see 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 1 and 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.