blogGapChat Archive

GapChat Archive

Our Gapfillers Forum discussion is held every Wednesday at 13.00 GMT in the Gapfillers Forum Chat room.

The topics are voted for in the days before the chat any member can vote and then come along and discuss the winning topic!

Don't worry if you are not ready to make a contribution straight away it is fine to come and observe, see what other people are saying and find out how the whole thing works.

After the forum we will archive the discussion here so you can re-read what was said or catch up if you missed it .

We would love you to make comments about your experience of the discussion or your opinions on the topics - do this in the comments box.

We hope you enjoy this new feature and that you will come along to our next Forum Discussion

To join in go to Member Home, choose Member Networks, Gapfillers Forum, chat

Would you like to hold your own chat? Send a message to the network and invite people to join you there!!

Entry for 21 Sep 2011

Gapfillers Forum

Welcome to live chat.

11:03 lama.amar: isn't this the room where we r supposed to chat?

12:30 ayman.mahmoud: Hi

12:39 Berni: Hi there yes you are right. We will begin in 30 minutes. I am just doing another chat on twitter for English teachers!

12:39 Berni: We will talk about improving English quickly and trying to do this online. See you soon :-)

12:53 Berni: OOh this is new, we can see everybody's time-zone how interesting!

13:01 ayman.mahmoud: Hi Berni, Everyone

13:02 ayman.mahmoud: it seems only me and you -Berni online

13:02 Berni: Hello ayman how are you?

13:02 Berni: Sometimes it's like this or people come later

13:02 ayman.mahmoud: I'm fine thank you, what about you

13:03 ayman.mahmoud: OK

13:03 Berni: Welcome to today's chat - How Can I improve my English quickly online?

13:03 ayman.mahmoud: I may have about 20 min. to chat here

13:03 Berni: Do you have any suggestions?

13:04 Berni: OK that's fine, people come in and out it's ok

13:04 ayman.mahmoud: From My side I would like to hear the answer from you Berni!

13:04 ayman.mahmoud: You have a very good and active website

13:04 ayman.mahmoud: Or portal we may say

13:05 Berni: OK in my experience, those who make the fastest progress are those who are very focused on the task and get lots of regular practice this can be offline or online

13:05 Berni: Thank you I am happy that you like it :-)

13:06 ayman.mahmoud: Of course the personal effort is the most important

13:06 ayman.mahmoud: yes , indeed I liked the site

13:06 Berni: When I say regular practice I don't mean you should spend hours and hours just 15 minutes regularly every day will help you to improve faster but it has to be regular

13:07 ayman.mahmoud: This is great, you are right

13:07 ayman.mahmoud: For me I use English on Daily bases

13:07 Berni: For example, if you did the exercises on Gapfillers Latest every day you would see an improvement in your skills - this is an easy way to get regular practice

13:08 Berni: Ayman do you have a specific reason for learning English?

13:08 ayman.mahmoud: Are there daily practices sent to e-mails or something

13:08 Berni: In your work?

13:09 ayman.mahmoud: Actually I have a lot of online meetings with people in English but I feel sometimes I miss some Jokes

13:09 lama.amar: hello every one

13:09 ayman.mahmoud: and I like to speak like native speakers

13:10 ayman.mahmoud: with the slang and so

13:10 ayman.mahmoud: I like to read faster and increase my usage of un-common words

13:10 ayman.mahmoud: Hello Lama

13:10 Berni: These are drawn from the site and we pull out 4 exercises every day as a unit of practice - word of the day (via email) a news video, a grammar exercise and then a writing, reading or listing exercise - it all takes about 30 to 40 mins maximum

13:11 Berni: Hello Lama and welcome we are talking about how it is important to have regular practice to improve English

13:11 ayman.mahmoud: OK, so these practices are different everyday

13:11 Berni: sorry - improve my English is fine but my typing is AWFUL!!

13:12 Berni: Yes they are (Mon to Fri) you can catch up at the weekend if you like

13:12 ayman.mahmoud: and everyday we can find them in specific URL

13:13 ayman.mahmoud: via e-mail

13:13 Berni: We have 7,000 pages of exercises on Gapfillers so if you are in a hurry as many people are then it is difficult to find what you want or need so we produce this bit of dedicated practice for you

13:13 Berni: Thay are on the site in a box on the left of the Home Page called Gapfillers Latest

13:13 ayman.mahmoud: This is very good

13:14 ayman.mahmoud: These under free or paid

13:14 ayman.mahmoud: Because I cannot find them here

13:15 Berni: They are under paid I'm afraid (but I can still offer the special subscription of ?50) if anybody missed this offer - we can speak about this later :-)

13:16 Berni: Another feature of the paid is an audio chat

13:16 ayman.mahmoud: OK

13:16 Berni: Lama are you still there? Tell us something about your English study

13:16 ayman.mahmoud: Sorry maybe I have to give some chance to Lama or others online

13:17 Berni: OK as well as getting regular practice, it is important to try and find opportunities to speak which is the hardest thing online

13:17 ayman.mahmoud: is there a specific time for that via the website

13:17 Edith.Occelli: Hi Berni, Hi Ayman, Lama.

13:18 ayman.mahmoud: or we can schedule it

13:18 ayman.mahmoud: Hi Edith

13:18 Berni: Hello Edith we are talking about how to improve English quickly any suggestions?

13:20 Berni: Yes at the moment it's today at 6.00 for an hour. It is for paid members but at the moment we have very small groups coming 3 or 4 so you get plenty of chances o speak

13:20 ayman.mahmoud: Can I ask a question in the meantime ? Can I get the correct accent through Gapfillers

13:20 Edith.Occelli: Well there are no hard and fast rules but I find listening to audiobooks in your free time verey helpful.

13:20 Edith.Occelli: very

13:20 Berni: That's a great suggestion!

13:20 Berni: I keep making typing mistakes too :-)

13:21 Edith.Occelli: there is a site called where you can buy some very cheaply.

13:21 Berni: Another good thing to listen too is music or rather songs

13:21 Berni: Thank you for that Edith

13:21 ayman.mahmoud: Yeah I don't understand most of it

13:21 ayman.mahmoud: :)

13:22 Berni: I believe that if you are studying things that you are interested in then you will improve faster because you get immersed in the content

13:22 ayman.mahmoud: I dont like song much , because they keep repeating in my head

13:22 Edith.Occelli: of course. Everything that is entertaining helps. As long as you're doing something fun. Music is great

13:23 Berni: You mean songs - choose ones that you like, then try and listen very carefully to just a few lines and see how much you can pick out

13:23 Edith.Occelli: watching things on youtube or using
13:23 ayman.mahmoud: I like funny episodes

13:23 Berni: That is a problem with songs Ayman! They won't get out of your head! But good for learning new words :-)

13:24 Berni: Do you mean like dramas Ayman?

13:24 ayman.mahmoud: Yeah, but I prefer songs with meaningful words

13:24 ayman.mahmoud: some songs are just loud music

13:25 ayman.mahmoud: no point is in there

13:25 Berni: That's fine just choose what you like I think online that is the biggest advantage, if you don't like it choose something else there is so much to choose from!

13:25 Edith.Occelli: lol I agree with that ayman.

13:25 ayman.mahmoud: What is the best way to get more vocabulary to use

13:25 Berni: I agree many are and so you probably can't get the words anyway!

13:26 ayman.mahmoud: I mean not just to know the meaning, but to really use them

13:26 Berni: By reading I think red and read and read but again choose things you like

13:26 Berni: read not red!!

13:26 Edith.Occelli: the best way to pick up new words is reading (at least that's what works for me).

13:26 Berni: Ayman what is your job?

13:26 ayman.mahmoud: I read a lot , but I keep use the same words which I'm used to

13:27 Berni: I agree Edith and when you read DON'T use a dictionary it kills the enjoyment

13:27 ayman.mahmoud: I'm an IT consultant

13:27 Edith.Occelli: Berni is right the reading has to be for meaning / content not for the sake of English. If you pick something that really interests you.. you're more likely to infer things

13:27 Berni: OK so maybe you need to read different things Ayman

13:28 Edith.Occelli: well, maybe you can read special magazines or business articles that interest you Ayman

13:28 ayman.mahmoud: I agree

13:28 Berni: OK, so there are hundreds of journals for IT read some in English. Do you like literature?

13:28 Edith.Occelli: those will give you knowledge and vocabulary for your purposes.

13:28 Berni: You got there before me Edith! Great minds think alike! Do you know this expression?

13:29 Edith.Occelli: No fist time I "heard2 it but there is a similar saying in Spanish

13:29 Berni: There is another similar one though not so good! 'Fools seldom differ'.

13:30 Edith.Occelli: So you guys like literature? because there are tons of free literature online. I love short stories and that's one of the things that I really liked about gapfillers

13:30 Berni: Are you Spanish? I thought you were Italian

13:30 eslam.medhat: Anybody there?

13:30 Edith.Occelli: I'm Italian

13:30 Edith.Occelli: But I live in Spain

13:30 Berni: Yes Edith that is true we really like to do that. Ayman do you enjoy literature?

13:31 Edith.Occelli: Hello eslam. Can you see us?

13:32 Berni: Hello Eslam we're here can you not see the chat?

13:32 Edith.Occelli: :(

13:32 eslam.medhat: Hi

13:32 Berni: I've sent him a Skype message maybe he has a problem

13:32 Edith.Occelli: Hi ^^

13:33 Berni: Hi Eslam welcome long time no see!

13:33 Edith.Occelli: there you are. Is nice to meet you!

13:33 Berni: How are you? How was your university result?

13:33 Edith.Occelli: *It's* nice....

13:34 Berni: Ayman are you still there?

13:34 eslam.medhat: sorry but r u getting my words??

13:34 Edith.Occelli: yes I can read you eslam

13:34 Edith.Occelli: go ahead

13:34 Berni: I know that Ayman was only able to stay for a short while so maybe he's gone already

13:35 Edith.Occelli: Probably. He appears as inactive.

13:35 Berni: I'm not sure that Eslam can see us - weird!

13:35 Berni: Edith where are you in Spain?

13:36 Edith.Occelli: In the Basque Country

13:36 Edith.Occelli: I live in a little city called San Sebastian

13:36 Edith.Occelli: Do you know it?

13:36 Berni: Ah I see we have another teacher on ELTMentor - Blanca she is in Madrid. What took you to Spain?

13:37 Berni: I have heard about it - a port I think?

13:37 Edith.Occelli: My Husband. He is Spanish.

13:37 Edith.Occelli: Yes a port.

13:38 Edith.Occelli: It's a beautiful coastal city. Maybe you can visit me? I'm sure you'd like it.

13:38 Edith.Occelli: ^^

13:38 Berni: Oh, I see:-) I think there is a ferry crossing to San Sebastien from the UK

13:38 Edith.Occelli: Oh I didn't know that

13:38 Berni: Would be lovely we could have an ELTMentor meeting :-)

13:39 Edith.Occelli: I know you can fly cheaply easyjet but it's the first time I hear about a ferry.

13:39 Edith.Occelli: That would be awesome.

13:39 Berni: I think we are invisible to Eslam and he isn't replying on Skype.

13:39 Berni: Have you started your CELTA yet?

13:40 Edith.Occelli: No way. My English isn't good enough (yet)

13:40 Edith.Occelli: But I have done the TKT tests. I've just got my results for all three modules and the CLIL one.

13:40 Berni: Oh really it seems very good. Are you studying there?

13:41 Edith.Occelli: Well, no I don't study English formally now. I find it difficult to attend any lessons. I just practice with the internet and watching T.V.

13:42 Berni: Oh yes, I don't know it very well I used to teach on a TESOL programme but now I do mostly IELTS and general English for advanced people

13:42 Edith.Occelli: I tutor some secondary students and help them with their English homework. But that's it.

13:42 Berni: So I hope that the material on Gapfillers will help as it is mostly authentic stuff

13:43 eslam.medhat: Hellooo

13:43 Edith.Occelli: Yes. the little I've done so far. I have found it very helpful.

13:43 Edith.Occelli: Hello!!

13:43 Edith.Occelli: Eslm can you see us??

13:43 Edith.Occelli: *Eslam*

13:43 Berni: That is a good place to start. Working with small groups is actually harder I think than large classes - you have to be 'on your toes! bigger groups need a lot of planning and can be great fun

13:44 Berni: Hi Eslam

13:44 Edith.Occelli: I guess he can't :s

13:45 Berni: Eslam try F5 and see if that helps :-)

13:45 Berni: No I think he may have a problem sometimes people don't have Java and it won't work for them. I've sent him a message so hopefully he will get it later

13:46 Edith.Occelli: oh ok. Technology is very useful but it isn't perfect.

13:46 Berni: I meant groups! classes but it's all great fun even with more serious students and I really feel that when people approach learning English with more of a fun attitude they do better

13:47 Edith.Occelli: I totally agree. Attitude is everything.

13:47 Berni: The speaking is the hardest and being in a group alone only works so far

13:49 Edith.Occelli: yes

13:50 Berni: I am trying to get more Gapfillers people involved in interactive things but I think some are afraid and think their English isn't good enough maybe

13:50 Berni: We have played some role-play games in the past and I'd like to try these again

13:51 Edith.Occelli: yes.. we're usually concentrated on what we think Can't do instead of recognizing how far we've come with our English. I know the feeling. But speaking doesn't get better unless you actually speak and practice.

13:52 Edith.Occelli: Yes I heard about the murder mystery game. I think that was a great idea and I hope I'd be able to join a similar role play in the future.

13:53 Edith.Occelli: *i'll* *join in* LOL my my typed English is even worst than my spoken xD

13:53 Berni: I want to run this again as we haven't done it for a while. I need to talk to our detective and see if she is willing. She is one of our authors and she wrote the game - Cee you might have seen her name.

13:54 Edith.Occelli: worse .. what's happening to me jaja

13:54 Berni: Actually Cecilia but she uses Cee

13:54 Edith.Occelli: Oh yes I have seen her

13:54 Berni: I'm the same it's these boxes they make it difficult to see your text I think - Skype is even worse

13:55 Edith.Occelli: well, at least in skype you can speak. The phone quality there is awesome.

13:55 ayman.mahmoud: Hi again

13:55 ayman.mahmoud: So it seems you tackled lot of subject while I'm absent

13:55 Berni: Are you free for the evening chat which is audio? I'll send the link this afternoon. Katia, another ELTMentor member sometimes comes she is Italian

13:55 Edith.Occelli: By the way, I was going to write you about that.. but.. I can't see any of the videos (ELT:Mentor workshops) you sent. I don't know why it says I don't have permission.

13:56 Edith.Occelli: Hi Ayman

13:56 Berni: Hello Ayman welcome again I think when you left us we were talking about literature

13:56 ayman.mahmoud: was that sentence correct ?

13:56 Edith.Occelli: Oh I'd be glad to.

13:56 ayman.mahmoud: :)

13:56 Berni: We are chatting more at the moment

13:57 mounia.touil: hello

13:57 Edith.Occelli: You need to use the past tense aymen (I WAS absent)

13:57 Edith.Occelli: but the rest was great. I love your use of "tackled"

13:57 Berni: Yes it was a good sentence Ayman true Edith has got the one mistake

13:57 Edith.Occelli: difficult word ^^

13:57 ayman.mahmoud: Yes you are right , I felt it is wrong

13:58 Berni: I will check Edith. Elena also told me I think I haven't put you on the list for these sessions I'll do it and let you know.

13:58 Edith.Occelli: you felt it was wrong? it's curious how we sometimes develop an "ear" that monitors our own mistakes, isn't it?

13:59 Berni: Again Ayman I feel it is wrong or I felt it was wrong keep them the same as far as possible

13:59 Berni: Ayman now you have two teachers! It might be worth doing some exercises on tenses

13:59 ayman.mahmoud: sorry I was reading an e-mail :)

14:00 Edith.Occelli: Thanks Berni. I'd appreciate that. All the topics seemed interesting.

14:00 ayman.mahmoud: yeah , you are right , I felt it was wrong

14:00 Edith.Occelli: No problem. We like multi-taskers LOL.

14:00 ayman.mahmoud: well, all topics seems to be interesting

14:01 mounia.touil: hello

14:01 mounia.touil: hello

14:01 mounia.touil: hello

14:01 Berni: So to summarise the topic: The best way to improve quickly is to practice regularly, choose things that interest you and try and surround yourself with English as much as possible (music, newspapers, news online etc...) Try doing what you normally do in your own language in English for a short time each day

14:01 Berni: Hello Mounia

14:02 mounia.touil: hello

14:02 Edith.Occelli: Hello Mounia.

14:02 Berni: We have been speaking about improving English quickly

14:03 Edith.Occelli: Great advise Berni. I think that summarizes it pretty well. You can add that it's important to have a support group of learners to share strategies with. I think trying different strategies and learning "how to learn" also speeds your English language learning.

14:04 Berni: Very true Edith. As with anything if you are looking forward to something it will be more successful

14:05 Berni: OK I need to go now . Please continue if you like. I look forward to seeing you all later, or next week. Thank you for coming :-)


21 Sep 2011 13:47

Entry for 7 Sep 2011

Welcome back to GapChat - we had a break over the summer and then tried out some audio chats for a few weeks.

The audio chats will now be on Wednesday evenings at 18.00 UK time for full Gapfillers members want to be a full member? We have a special offer for you - contact us


12:53 Berni: Welcome to GapChat. Our topic today is How can Gapfillers help me improve my English. We'll begin in 10 minutes :-)

12:57 ranjit: Hello

12:58 Berni: Hello ranjit, how are you?

12:58 Berni: We're just getting started

12:59 ranjit: I am physically alright but mentally unstable .

13:00 ranjit: How can I prepare for reading and writing.

13:02 Berni: I'm sorry to hear you are feeling like this. We can talk about this tomorrow (let me have the time) did you try the exs?

13:03 Berni: OK so how can Gapfillers help? It covers all the skills and uses ungraded authentic texts and listening content which should stretch your skills development.

13:03 ranjit: yes,I have the book from you sent materials to me.I was not knowing that book is so informative.

13:04 Berni: Oh really Sam's book on IELTS? It's an excellent training book for writing and reading in particular - you should go through the exercises - I use it a lot

13:05 Berni: I did not know (use knowing more for the future) this is a fact so we use present simple

13:06 ranjit: Yes I have that book with me but I was thinking its very hard to solve from that book.

13:07 ranjit: Thanks for pointing out my mistake.

13:07 Berni: I think this is just what you need, to go back over some of the basics with your approach to reading and writing - go systematically through the exercises.

13:07 Berni: If I had known that you had the book I would have got you to do this earlier.

13:08 ranjit: I will follow your instruction .The same think one of my friend advised .

13:08 Berni: Also send me another Task 2

13:09 ranjit: Please you send me the materials what are the useful for me in writing .

13:10 Berni: Yes, the book is not easy and most people jump straight to practice tests but doing these training exercises is actually better as they pick out the small areas where you need to focus

13:10 Berni: You can also do the writing exercises in the book and I have some more that I will send you - I'll do this when we're finished here.

13:11 Berni: I wonder if Edith is still here - hello Edith are you there?

13:12 ranjit: Getting 7 in IELTS is not easy task .I have been working here for a couple of months but my progress is really very slow.

13:12 Berni: Ranjit, you should also do the exercises on Gapfillers - choose the ones that you are interested in as these will develop your language skills generally and this is also necessary for Band 7

13:13 Berni: You need to be more systematic - do you set aside time every day and follow the programme I gave you?

13:14 Berni: You should also come to GapChat today at 18.00 this is the audio one. Then we will speak about all of this and do IELTS speaking practice tomorrow.

13:15 Berni: I think we need to build your confidence

13:15 ranjit: I do ,everyday I read your blog in the morning.Yesterday I finished conditional and get 100 percent correct and then other task.

13:16 Berni: This is great as it will keep developing your skills. With writing I think you need to prepare a plan first so that you have something to follow.

13:17 ranjit: Generally, I don't make any plan to write and speak so I lose confidence after some time of writing and speaking.

13:18 Berni: Right then this is what we must work on. I'll send you a task 2 and then you send me just the plan first

13:19 Berni: As regards speaking you should be fine but we need to practise part 2 and make sure that you can keep going.

13:19 ranjit: I'd appreciate if you comment on the content as well as the grammar..

13:20 kamaran.omer.ali: Hello Berni

13:20 ranjit: yesteray you adviced me to improve your structure .I couldn't understand what was you talking .

13:21 kamaran.omer.ali: I can't hear your voice

13:21 ranjit: Hello Ali ,I am Ranjit and trying to improve my English.

13:22 kamaran.omer.ali: Hello ranjit

13:22 Berni: Hello kamaran this is a text chat so no voice. Welcome we are talking about IELTS and how Gapfillers can improve practice for this

13:23 ranjit: Are you preparing IELTS ?

13:23 kamaran.omer.ali: NO just I am improving my English

13:24 Berni: Ranjit, what I mean by structure is the planning and how the ideas flow - so a plan will help with this. You must tell me if you don't understand what I say - this is important :-)

13:24 Berni: Kamaran tell us something about yourself and your English

13:25 kamaran.omer.ali: Thanks I am from Iraq and I want to improve my english in order to find well paid job .
13:26 ranjit: Berni , I am waiting for your email .Today I am on call duty.

13:26 Berni: On Gapfillers we try to cover a wide range of topics so that there is something interesting for everyone I also want to build the community so that you can have lots of opportunities to practise.

13:27 Berni: Ranjit let me know what time tomorrow I will be free most of the day but not always online so we need to fix a time today

13:28 Berni: Where are you in Iraq? Erbil?

13:29 kamaran.omer.ali: Berni I am from iraq the city called Erbil , Please if you can help me by send me online compact advanced compact english course .

13:30 kamaran.omer.ali: I want to revise it offline

13:31 kamaran.omer.ali: Berni did you understand me ????

13:31 Berni: Everything on Gapfillers in online I'm afraid. The programmes we run have offline work but they are not free.

13:32 Berni: Do you have problems with electricity still in Erbil?

13:33 ranjit: Nothing is free in the global village.

13:33 Berni: You mean like a CDRom?

13:33 kamaran.omer.ali: No we have not , it has become better than the previos time .

13:33 Berni: Do you visit other English language sites?

13:34 Berni: I see and can you get good connections to the internet?

13:34 kamaran.omer.ali: do you mean the humanity will be disappear

13:35 Berni: I don't think we have spoken on Skype yet? Do you have Skype?

13:35 Berni: I'm not sure what you mean with this sentence?

13:36 kamaran.omer.ali: No , because I connect to from caffe in the street that I have't IN

13:37 Berni: Ah, I see. Do you have other friends who are learning English?

13:38 kamaran.omer.ali: Please Berni help Iraqi people and deal with them specially as they living in bad condition s

13:38 Berni: Do you just study by yourself or go to a school as well?

13:39 Berni: Tell me how I can do this Kamaran?

13:39 kamaran.omer.ali: No just from time to time i check my E.mail from the net and download what i want .

13:40 Berni: How can we use the site to help you and your friends and colleagues?

13:42 kamaran.omer.ali: I study by my self because the standard of my family living is not good and iam trying to find job with UK agencies to help my family so the school and english learning center's cost me .

13:43 Berni: What are the challenges you face with your English?

13:43 Berni: Can we speak on Skype about this?

13:44 kamaran.omer.ali: Please you can kindly send me Mp3 of sounds and pdf compact of advanced english course .

13:45 kamaran.omer.ali: to my email

13:45 kamaran.omer.ali: My english level higher intermediate

13:46 kamaran.omer.ali: both in speaking and writing

13:46 Berni: I'll see what I can find for you but it would be good to speak to you and find out more about your English and what you are doing to improve it now and also where you need to get to for a job.

13:48 Berni: I am interested in finding out more about your dream for your English and what that looks like then I can see what would be the best way of reaching this.

13:50 kamaran.omer.ali: in erbil - iraq there is British consulate they need local staff to establish their office in erbil so they pay good salary that will manage me to participate in all your special tuitions

13:53 Berni: Do you need a test to apply for these jobs?

13:54 kamaran.omer.ali: so as I mentioned to you my level upper intermediate , if I managed to reach advanced level I will easily get any job that I apply for because I am also graduated from Law college in erbil

13:55 kamaran.omer.ali: I appreciate you if you can do any thing for me it a very kind of you Mam.

13:55 Berni: Your English seems already quite good from what I can see here - have you tried to apply yet?

13:56 Berni: Are you able to speak online (via Skype)?

13:56 kamaran.omer.ali: It was a very kind of you

13:56 kamaran.omer.ali: yes but they did not answered me

13:57 Berni: I see, was this by letter?

13:58 kamaran.omer.ali: yes but I have to register

13:59 kamaran.omer.ali: I have to register sorry

14:01 kamaran.omer.ali: please give me appointment at night according to iraq time zone , with your Skype adress

14:02 kamaran.omer.ali: your Skype address

14:03 Berni: OK I'll email this to you with my details and we can fix an appointment.

14:03 Berni: Hello Sylvia, welcome we are just finishing the chat

14:04 sylvia.datau: Hallo Berni?

14:04 Berni: Hi there, would you like to introduce yourself?

14:04 kamaran.omer.ali: Ok that is very kind of you

14:06 Berni: OK we will speak soon Kamaran

14:06 Berni: Hi Sylvia where are you from?

14:08 Berni: OK we'll wrap this up. Thank you for coming and taking part :-)


7 Sep 2011 13:29

Entry for 22 Jun 2011

14:08 Berni: Hello Welcome to GapCHat. Our topic today is I need a high level of English how can I do this online?

14:10 Berni: The online space has opened up new opportunities for people who want to improve their English language skills and with the right sort of approach it is possible to reach great heights

14:10 Berni: Hi Natalya how are you?

14:11 Natalya.Eydelman: Hi Berni! Thanks. OK And you?

14:12 Berni: Fine thank you. So how do you feel about this topic?

14:14 Natalya.Eydelman: I seem to have a problem identifying the chat times correctly even with the conversion table.The topic is very important and useful because this is where many learners are practising their English these days, so it'd be great to have some tips on how to make the most of this experience

14:15 Berni: Yes, it is 13.00 hours but now we have GMT 1 so it's 14.00 London time - time changes cause so much chaos

14:16 Berni: I have this morning been giving a seminar on getting higher bands at IELTS and which is, I think relevant to this topic.

14:17 rosamund: Do you have a record of this seminar, Berni? Hello, by the way!

14:17 Natalya.Eydelman: Yes, but i checked the conversion table and thought it was an hour before but

14:17 Berni: While at higher levels it is possible to study alone online and find plenty of good quality material - I have come round to thinking that the very best way of doing this is with a teacher to guide and perhaps a group to support too

14:18 Berni: Hi Ros, Yes, I recorded it and am just downloading now - when I've finished with it I'll let you have it.

14:19 Berni: I think that GMT just seems to equate with London time on many charts

14:20 rosamund: I also think that exchanging information or points of view on topics that interest learners is extremely useful too - because that's unlike studying a particular topic whose background and lexis you already know - you're taken into other areas of discussion, so you can see other ways of making points. i sometimes smile when I'm on GapChat when i see someone using an especially English idiom, for instance - and others can pick that up just by seeing it.

14:23 Natalya.Eydelman: Yes I agree because in a way it resembles spontaneous speech, only written in case of chats

14:24 Berni: These are good points - I agree and I don't see a great deal of difference with the actual physical setup to learning in a class - where the real advantage lies is in access to more content at the click of a mouse this is very powerful for teacher and student alike.

14:24 rosamund: Hello, Natalya! You're not alone in having made that mistake - I've done it myself. I'm assuming GMT1 means GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) plus 1 hour - so for us, that means we have to meet up one hour after the advertised time of 13.00

14:24 Berni: I am having a big headache with all these times this week I can tell you :-(

14:25 Natalya.Eydelman: Well it seems to be easy but it is sometimes very confusing even with the conversion table

14:26 rosamund: Yes, Natalya - it's not spontaneous in the same ways as talking to someone at a bus-stop, but if you're being asked something or want to check something out with someone else you're creating a conversation in the same way as you would in a 'normal' conversation - so it does equate to a spontaneous conversation.

14:26 Berni: The technology gets better day by day and this does take away a lot of the frustration which used to be a big problem with online learning - especially now with speaking practice.

14:27 rosamund: What doesn't help is that the time changes over here twice a year - so we can't leave a conversion chart up indefinitely!

14:29 Berni: The ability for regular practice using quality materials and exercises has increased tremendously and this should help people to reach really high levels

14:31 Berni: What hasn't changed is human nature and not many people are really self-motivated but it is MUCH easier for teachers to NUDGE students and remind them about things with email, instant messages and alerts - this is very powerful.

14:32 rosamund: Yes, i agree, Berni - and as long as people are a bit patient getting the set-up working it can pay off hugely after that. I find i have to be prepared to try and fail something different 2 or 3 times, but if I keep at (=keep trying) the problems can disappear. The other thing i make myself remember i how important it is not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good - that just because you've had a bit of a frustrating time, or have lost 10 minutes, it doesn't mean that the other 15 minutes can't be really useful, set up a good pattern of work, a decent conversation, establish a routine or a way of adjusting your equipment. It's tempting to expect techy things to work immediately

14:33 rosamund: sorry - I meant to type 'keep at it'

14:34 Berni: I still think that the reason more people don't engage in this learning is the fear of technology - what is the situation in Russia like about this tech-fear Natalya?

14:35 Berni: I hope Natalya hasn't encountered our GapChat Bermuda triangle!

14:36 Natalya.Eydelman: not quite sure but it seems i stopped getting your comments; see the screen blinking from time to time but no new comments appear in the thread

14:36 rosamund: We haven't established too many of these 'what do/did you think of this?' mechanisms, as it can be irritating to have to send feedback on every thing you do - but actually, people could contact us to comment on anything they do or find useful or interesting, couldn't they, Berni?

14:37 rosamund: Nataly, this is our very special initiation procedure - you're not a proper member until you've been through the GapChat Bermuda triangle experience! (joke!)

14:39 rosamund: It's possible Allami has had the same problem - it seems to hit newcomers to the Chat - after that life seems to settle down! I hope you've not got cut off, Natalya!

14:40 Berni: Lol Ros, it does seem to be like this! I know Natalya had this problem before but it was a long time ago so maybe this is a new beginning. We're trying to get to the bottom of it but still no joy!

14:42 Berni: Yes, Ros this is true people can send us messages from many parts of Gapfillers and we do respond. I have been getting a lot of emails recently especially from people who have been on the site for a few years - which is great as they are clearly still using it and happy here :-)

14:43 Berni: Natalya we can see your messages

14:43 Berni: Rick are you still here? It's happening again

14:46 rosamund: I can understand people's nervousness - in a way stuff on the Net can be overwhelming because so much of it appears on your screen. if you're in a library you're just selecting one thing - whereas suddenly, there can be all these links, and you can have no idea what's going to be good or useful. I remember spending hours sifting through poor sites a good 10 years ago - and boy, did it take time! I couldn't understand why one of my sisters wasn't finding stuff which was so easy to locate, until I went to stay with her and realised she wasn't using a decent search engine, and wasn't giving enough information, so she was just awash with poor links. (to be awash with sth = to be surrounded by / overwhelmed with). Natalya - the phrase 'no joy' means someone hasn't managed to succeed in doing something. We sometimes say 'no go', which is a bit more informal. A friend's husband had an interview yesterday and she sent me an email saying 'no go' - so i knew he had not got the job.

14:49 rosamund: It saves a huge amount of time using a specific site that's good - because so much of your work is already chosen for you. That's the real beauty of Gapfillers. (the real beauty of = the real advantage / benefit of)

14:51 Berni: Yes Ros this is true you have to have the best equipment you can manage but sites also have to be usable by every type of equipment - I think Gapfillers is and because a lot is text, pictures and not a lot of bells and whistles (fancy things) then it can work for most people.

14:52 Berni: I also think that when you study do you need a bit of quiet to absorb things - not all the time but there have to be moments of calm.

14:54 Berni: So, in conclusion, when improving English language skills to a high level it's best to choose your material with care, try and find other people to study with and check your progress and make sure that you are able to monitor your progress so that you won't lose heart (become disillusioned) and give up. Check out our programmes on Gapfillers where all of this is possible.

14:55 rosamund: I'm not surprised we've had some people on here for years - because the material is designed to have a lot of mileage in it (= to provide a lot of material for you). Yes, Berni - most of our learners must spend their time getting on with the work we set all on their own, in their own time and space - but then, they will also need to have some active conversation with people too - either by Skype, or by coming to the GapChat discussion.

14:56 Natalya.Eydelman: 1

14:56 Natalya.Eydelman: :)

14:57 rosamund: I find I need a lot of quiet if I'm to master new language stuff - but then, i must have some actual conversation. Good to see you back, Natalya! And with a nice smile, too! See you again?

14:59 Berni: Hi Natalya welcome back. I agree Ros and with language learning you have to have both. Thank you for the conversation - see you next time.

22 Jun 2011 15:24

Entry for 15 Jun 2011

Welcome to live chat.

13:18 Berni: Welcome to GapChat. To join in the discussion simply type your message in the box and send. Please feel free to watch teh conversation and post your message as soon as you feel comfortable.

13:19 Berni: Sometimes people have problems seeing the messages - if this happens try pressing F5 to refresh your screen

13:22 Berni: We will be starting at 14.00 London time - in about 45 minutes. Our topic today is an interesting one "I want to try my free Gapfillers Skype call but I'm afraid to speak. Can you help me? "As you all know we have been offering a free 20 minute Skype call to find out about your desires for your English and also to help you to make th most out of the Gapfillers site - some people are afraid to take this so we will explain how it works and hopefully encourage you to go ahead and have this conversation.

14:05 Manoj.Karki: Hello

14:08 Berni: Hello Manoj how are you?

14:09 Berni: I don't think that this topic is a problem for you :-)

14:09 Manoj.Karki: fine. thanks. and how are you ?

14:09 Berni: I'm fine it looks like it is just the two of us for the time-being

14:10 Berni: How did you feel when you first had your call with me?

14:10 Manoj.Karki: yeh, i think so. other will joining later

14:11 Manoj.Karki: well a bit worried about whether I understood you or not...

14:11 Manoj.Karki: I mean conversation

14:12 Manoj.Karki: a kind of nervous...this is the main problem of me

14:13 Berni: I think that is natural I also felt a little scared the first time. Not sure if people would be able to understand, or if I could use the technology - it's all a learning process.

14:13 Manoj.Karki: I want to understand clearly what they are saying

14:13 Berni: Why do you feel nervous?

14:16 Berni: I usually find that people gain confidence very quickly during a call. At first they seem nervous but after a few minutes then it seems fine and most people get better and better

14:16 Manoj.Karki: well, I would be able to communication with you or not

14:17 Berni: Actually fear is good it means we are stretching ourselves to do things. If we are a little fearful then we know we are alive!

14:17 Manoj.Karki: yeh I agree with you.

14:18 Berni: When I do a Skype call for the first time I like to begin with some text chat - like this and then I ask the people if they are ready to speak - this seems to break the ice :-)

14:18 Berni: break the ice means to become a little familiar i.e. no longer strangers

14:19 Manoj.Karki: yeh, good idea

14:19 Berni: A couple of times people didn't want to speak so they just used the chat but this is not such a good idea.

14:19 Manoj.Karki: I think it got this phrase from Gapfillers Word Alert

14:20 Berni: Yes, that's possible. But I'll ask your opinion - once we started on the Skype call then you were no longer afraid I think?

14:21 Manoj.Karki: Yes, I am totally with you ... chatting does not improve the spoken English...speak speak more speak

14:22 Manoj.Karki: Now I am comfortable with you. No afraid at all.

14:22 Berni: This is true it can help with sentence structure, writing skills and sometimes other things such as vocabulary

14:24 Berni: We now have a chatbox on Gapfillers where we can do video chats. I tried to use it once for the Saturday Club but you must have a headset with microphone and of course a webcam and not everybody had one so it was impossible.


14:30 Manoj.Karki: No Berni...

14:30 Manoj.Karki: Some reasons I can't see what I have submitted before

14:31 Berni: Oh no can you see what I am writing?

14:31 Manoj.Karki: refresh...

14:32 Berni: Try F5 it worked last week - don't know why this happens to some people?

14:33 Manoj.Karki: refresh...

14:33 Manoj.Karki: refresh...

14:33 Berni: We can continue on Skype if you like?

15 Jun 2011 14:28

Entry for 8 Jun 2011



Why am I not making progress with my English?

Welcome to live chat.

13:26 Berni: Hi there. Welome to GapChat. We will begin in about 30 minutes and our topic is: Why am I not making progress with my English?I hope you have lots of ideas an expereinces to bring to the discussion - see you all shortly :-)

14:03 Berni: Hello and welcome to today's GapChat

14:03 rosamund: Hello, Manoj - is that your name, and how I should address you?

14:03 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Hi Ro! Hi Berni,Hi Manoj!So sorry I won't be able to make it to the chat today. Will catch up later! ;) Have a great chat!!! Regards from sunny Brazil (and I gotta work!!!!)

14:04 Berni: This is something I hear a lot from students but often it's just a plateau, a consolidation before things start to move again

14:05 Berni: Hi Ros, Marcia, Manoj great to see you all here

14:05 Berni: Sorry you can't join us today Marcia see you later

14:06 Berni: So when we reach these points where we feel that we are not progressing what can we do?

14:08 rosamund: Berni, I'm not getting anywhere at tyhe moment - my messages haven't registered on screen.

14:08 rosamund: I meant the

14:09 rosamund: marcia, thanks for dropping in and sending your apologies (= letting us know you can't make an event.) Have a good afternnon at work.

14:10 Berni: I see they are only half there did you use any charaters like quotation marks or other symbols?

14:10 Berni: OK that one was ok certain characters don't seem to work and they stop the message.

14:11 Berni: Not sure what has happened to Manoj maybe he's just watching the discussion

14:12 Berni: What are your top tips for getting learning moving again after a plateau (when things seem to get stuck)?

14:12 Berni: Ros, if it's still not coming through try te F5 key

14:14 rosamund: Does that do the same as the 'refresh' button?

14:14 Berni: yes I think so

14:15 rosamund: It worked, anyway! The refresh button hadn't worked when I tried it two or three times.

14:17 rosamund: If my students reach a plateau i remind them that language learning isn't a steady upwards curve. It's more of a wavy pattern - sometimes you feel you're just treading water (= getting nowhere) and you just have to remain confident that you are assimilating material even if it doesn't show.

14:18 Berni: I agree and then suddenly you know things that you didn't realise you knew!

14:19 Berni: Hello Manoj I think you just came back please feel free to join us.

14:23 Berni: Oh dear is everybody stuck gain?

14:25 Manoj.Karki: Hi Berni...

14:25 Manoj.Karki: I know the topic...

14:26 rosamund: Sorry to go on about it, but is Manoj a first or second name? Or either. There is a wellknown Manoj Kumar, isn't there - is he an MP? No, perhaps he's in films. I'm assuming Kumar is the family name. To go on about something = informal, to keep returning to a subject over and over again, or to deep talking about it until people are fed up.

14:26 Manoj.Karki: 1st Name

14:27 Manoj.Karki: its my 1st Name...

14:28 Manoj.Karki: Its not refreshing on my screen what I posted here...

14:28 Berni: Oh hello I thought I was all alone. Hi Manoj how was your day today?

14:29 Berni: Manoj this sometimes happens try F5 and see if that helps.

14:29 Manoj.Karki: Anyway in my country Kumar is middle name

14:31 Berni: Ah good you seem to be ok now. I know that you are feeling a little as if you are not making progress at the moment - can you tell us something about that?

14:37 Berni: Oh, no, is anybody there?

14:40 Berni: OK we seem to have a problem here today so I'm going to sign off (leave) and get this looked at again by the technical people. Sorry about this - not sure what has happened. I hope to see you again next week.

8 Jun 2011 07:29

Entry for 1 Jun 2011



How can I find friends on Gapfillers to study with?

Welcome to live chat.

13:17 Berni: Hello everybody the poll has closed and our topic for today is How can I find friends on Gapfillers to study with?

13:18 Berni: We'll start the chat in 40 minutes - hope to see you there :-)

13:37 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: testing

13:38 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Good morning from Mexico City

13:39 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Be right back

13:56 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I am back :)

14:00 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Good morning from Brazil
14:03 Berni: Hello everyone fingers crossed we'll all be able to stay and chat today!

14:03 Berni: So, this is an interesting topic - do we learn better in a group?

14:04 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Hello Berni, glad to be here! ;)

14:04 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Hi BerniHi Beatriz

14:04 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Hi Ricardo! ;)

14:05 Berni: Most people say they like to learn alone as it's more dedicated to them and they learn faster what do you think?

14:05 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Yes, I think we learn better in a group, we can correct our mistakes.

14:06 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Some people can be more motivated in a group, especially kids and teens.

14:06 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: That was the old way, There are so much knowledge now, that we mist share experiences.

14:06 Berni: Yes this is true but is there a danger that you'll pick up other people's mistakes?

14:06 Berni: I agree with you Marcia these groups are very social

14:06 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Yes. Bur we should validate data

14:07 rosamund: Hello, everyone! Perhaps it's not a question of either / or but and / and? Sometimes it's great to crack on (informal, to move at a good pace) on your own, but other times you need people, you need to communicate with someone or it feels too isolated.

14:07 Berni: I also think that is a good point Ricardo there is a lot of knowledeg and we can't access it all so sharing will help here

14:08 Berni: Hi Ros welcome we've just got started and there are some great ideas coming out.

14:08 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Good point, Ros! ;)

14:08 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: We must try to deal with expert people in their fields to get more acurate information.

14:09 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Hi Ros

14:09 Berni: I think there is a lot of evidence that groups work but we also need some quiet individual study time too and perhaps some individual time with a teacher.

14:11 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: As a student myself, I'd rather learn individually with a teacher.

14:11 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I agree Berni, I think it is a natter of mood or aims. To study pronunciation as an example it is better to speak with a native English teachet to be corrected in a proper wauy

14:11 rosamund: Just sitting here thinking about your point about picking other people's mistakes up, Berni. I think that might be inevitable, sometimes, but on the other hand the actual communication with other people can be more genuine, so it can come out with more urgency. I'm doing that here, thinking and then typing away fast to get my point across.

14:11 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Focus would be on my individual needs and follow my own pace.

14:13 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I hope I am still connected.

14:13 Berni: What about language learning are groups better or is it a balance?

14:13 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: grrrrr

14:14 Berni: what is matter Ricardo?

14:14 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Well my pc is acting up again

14:14 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: The screen is not moving

14:14 Berni: Are you still in the chat? Can you see everything?

14:15 rosamund: Marcia, I'm sure many people far prefer some one-to-one focus on them - it's common for people who haven't found a group that works at their speed or level to get really frustrated, and not actually gain anything at all from working in a group.I think we need it all, don't we - time alone, time with a teacher, time maybe in a small group, time in a class or bigger group if possible. Sorry to read of your problem Ricardo - though your use of the verb to act up (= go wrong, not work properly) made me smile.

14:17 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: I think it is a balance, really. It depends on student's age. As I said before kids and teens can be more motivated with their peers. Adults tend to want one-to-one focus. They don't want to "waste" their time.

14:19 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: As a language student, I always found the pace of the lesson too slow. I wanted more! And I was only a "greedy" kid, so I think I'd have loved and benefited from 1-to-1 lessons. ;)

14:20 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I rebooted and I still cannot see the screen moving. I have bad luck. take care all, I will see you some other time.

14:20 Berni: Oh no Ricardo what a pity :-(

14:20 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Sorry to hear that, Ricardo. see you around! ;)

14:21 Berni: I think there is some benefit in the support of a group. You canshare your jorney and you are all in the same boat which is different from the teacher- student relationship.

14:23 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: The chat is working perfectly for me 2day. Last time I couldn't see what I wrote. Only other people's.

14:24 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: There certainly is, Berni. And time can pass more quickly when you are in a group, as you are more motivated! LOL

14:24 Berni: I think this has happened to Ricardo again - shame we've tested everything but can't see why.

14:25 rosamund: Marcia, it sometimes bothers me that people assume children always prefer working together, because i suspect many would be like you and find learning more satisfying working alone, but at speed. I agree with you, Berni, that the support of a group is important

14:25 Berni: I am working with a video chat screen on Gapfillers and will try and organise some group chats - maybe we can try this one in video soon?

14:25 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Tech glitches. :/ Video? That would be lovely!

14:26 Berni: I think a lot depends on what you are working towards. I have people who are taking IELTS and they have taken the exam many times but niow need to find out what is preventing them from getting the band they need. This is not easy in a group.

14:27 Berni: I also see many people here on Gapfillers who don't get a chance to interact at all in English and for them the group idea is very attractive.

14:28 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Certainly! Individual attention would work best in such a case (IELTS std)

14:28 rosamund: Yes, berni, the more specialised and advanced the actual goal the more one-to-one contact must be essential for progress, I'd have thought. I don't have a camera on my computerbut could ask about it!

14:30 rosamund: Yes again, Berni, many learners have no chance whatsoever to interact with anyone in English, and a virtual group is a godsend for them. I'm still surprised at how genuine the conversation still feels, even though people aren't actually in front of me. .

14:30 Berni: My video camera is a stand alone and it's ok.

14:30 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: And for some people the fact that the focus is not on them 100% of the time is an advantage. They can "lurk" and be less stressed in a group.

14:31 Berni: This is a very good point Marcia and very important with students online especially for the first time - some need to observe and absorb the situation first.

14:32 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: You get used to it, don't you Ros? Having genuine chats online! ;)

14:32 Berni: So, what are the possibilities for groups online - I think there are lots of places to go. Which sites do your students use Marcia?

14:32 rosamund: Yes, Marcia - we have to take personality into account - some people are more extrovert or talkative than others. There's nothing worse than being forced to have an opinion before you've got one! OK, thanks for telling me about the standalone video camera, Berni.

14:33 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Most people need time to feel "safe" no matter if f2f or online.

14:33 Berni: Mine's logitech and is quite stright forward.

14:33 Berni: Good point Marcia

14:35 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: I try to put links to English activities for kids/teens in my blog. Kids love it. Not sure about the teens,. They tend to use Facebook and Twitter a lot.

14:36 Berni: Twitter is not so popular here for younger people they don't really get it

14:36 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Really? Even my 10-year old daughter is addicted to Twitter! LOl Not my fault!

14:37 Berni: I think one of the problems here on Gapfillers is that we have a lot of students who are not very technically minded and they don't really understand what to do. This is my fault for not realising this before now.

14:37 Berni: None of my daughters (I have 4) are on there

14:38 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: IShe doesn't have lots of friends who use Twitter, but my 14-year-old son has looooads!

14:39 Berni: So many like my emails and newsletters but don't ever go on the site - it's taken me a long time to learn this so now I'm trying to get everyone more involved and I think speaking in groups is the thing that most people are asking for.

14:39 rosamund: Maybe your daughter's picked up the idea from her brother, Marcia!

14:40 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Yes, sometimes stds don't make use of great sites because they just don't know how to deal with technology. How can we help?

14:40 Berni: It's funny though how on twitter it is VERY easy to forge friendships yet it's an open forum


14:41 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: To tell the truth, they both picked from me, Ros. Hubby says I "play on the computer" all the time. But that's seriouds PD for me!

14:42 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: *serious

14:43 rosamund: When I have classes of students i actually set homework tasks that involve getting to grips with the technical side. It takes longer than you might imagine, doesn't it? My husband hasn't picked up my IT skills, Marcia! What do you mean by PD?

14:44 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Personal/Professional development! And work as well! As there are no typewriters anymore and I have to design worksheets/tests and stuff all the time!

14:45 rosamund: I love that side of the job.

14:45 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: So do I! ;)

14:46 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Some group of students respond well to "online" homework. Others either don't like it or don't have the necessary skills.

14:48 rosamund: Berni, and this covers your point too, Marcia, maybe it would be an idea to build in a 'comments' response on the video news, for instance - not quite a class or a chat, but as a halfway house to sending in an opinion - it could be as short or as long as people felt like - so anything from 'typical!' to a 4-page essay.

14:50 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Great idea, Ros. We could see how other ppl would respond!

14:51 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: I try to assign online activities to my stds once a week and the very young kids (4/5 year olds), who are the less tech skilled are the ones who do them most. I'm really impressed at how much and how fast they learn.

14:52 Berni: Sorry guys someone at the door. I need to go and deal with it. Carry on :-)

14:53 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Ros, are you on Twitter?

14:55 rosamund: Yes,

14:56 rosamund: No, marcia - I've no idea where 'yes' came from, I never typed it! I feel as if I'm already on every mailing list in the known universe

14:57 rosamund: It's breaking up now -I've typed 'and i don't need any more communication than i already have' twice

14:57 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: LOL In case you decide to check, you can find me @bamarcia.

14:59 rosamund: I'll sign off, Marcia, as my screen's starting to play up too! Bye! See you next week? Thanks for the Twitter ref!

14:59 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: It was really nice talking to you. I gotta go too. Must exercise a bit before I pick kids up at school. ;) See you!!! Have a great week!


1 Jun 2011 13:29

Entry for 25 May 2011



How can we make English language learning more enjoyable and fun

13:07 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Test

13:17 Berni: Hi there we'll begin GapChat at 14.00 London time (13.00 GMT) all these time zones are becoming confusing I think. Our topic today is How can we make English language learning more enjoyable and fun

13:17 Berni: HI Ricardo, Hi Manoj I hope you will be back at 14.00 :-)

13:37 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Hi Berni,

13:38 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I am a Benjamin,, I am trying to disentangle this

13:38 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I will be here for sure

13:44 Berni: Hi Benjamin great to see you here. I'll be back very shortly to begin the chat.

13:55 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Hello again

13:58 Berni: Welcome to GapChat what do you like and not like about learning English?

13:59 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Thank you

13:59 Berni: My belief/knowledge as a teacher is that if you are engaged in and enjoying what you are learning you will learn it much better.

13:59 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I do not like to learn words which are out of date

14:00 Berni: How do you know if they are out of date?

14:00 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I agree with that statement

14:00 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I like to learn pronunciation

14:01 Berni: Hello Ros we are just getting started.

14:01 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Hi Ros

14:01 Berni: I think if you use course books then they can quickly become out of date because of the time it takes to produce them

14:02 Berni: Tell me what sort of study you are doing now in English

14:02 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I am reading Jane Eyre

14:03 rosamund: Hello, Ricardo - just before I join in, thank you for reminding me about that Spanish and French word meaning a youngest son (or it could be a daughter, with the right ending in Spanish I expect). Does it also mean a complete novice, or beginner, or am I wrong? It seems to be the sense in which you use it here. We would have to say 'I'm completely new here or in this'. Sorry - will join in in a mo (=informal for a moment)!

14:04 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Benjamin is the very youngwet behind ears

14:05 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: youngest

14:05 Berni: Jane Eyre is a tough story!

14:06 Berni: Do you study English by yourself or are you at a school?

14:06 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I like Jane Eyre, though her English is not so modern

14:06 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: Those are mainly romantic plots

14:07 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I study by myself

14:07 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: On internet

14:09 Berni: OK so what do you enjoy using on Gapfillers?

14:09 rosamund: Certain words might have 'archaic' attached to them in a dictionary if they were no longer really in use, and 'dated' if they were old-fashioned. But quite a lot of popular, informal words have a short shelf life (idiom =do not survive long) and get replaced by others.

14:11 Berni: This is true Ros especially a lot of the 'cool' language

14:11 rosamund: Good for you, Ricardo, reading 'Jane Eyre' and studying on your own (= by yourself)! I'm impressed!

14:12 Berni: Students on Gapfillers have reported finding the news bulletins an enjoyable exercise. Also some of the listening and reading exercises are very interesting

14:12 Berni: Hi Marcia nice to see you here!

14:13 Berni: Benjamin have you tried the news bulletins?

14:14 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: I am starting with gapfillers, I like the format and articles. I just read the article about the Italian coach who says he can communicate with his players with only 100 words

14:14 Berni: Manoj are you still there? Manoj and I had a great conversation on Skype yesterday
14:15 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: test

14:15 Berni: Oh yes, he's the England football coach - his English is not very good I'm afraid and it causes him problems with the fans - they don't like it

14:15 Ricardo.E.Valenzuela: test

14:15 rosamund: Yes, hello, Marcia! Welcome to the conversation! To go back to Berni's point, our material on Gapfillers is particularly rich in modern, up-to-date materials, because we know the problem of reading literature from other eras - it brings its own delight and interest (I'm a huge Shakespeare and also Chekhov fan) but it doesn't exactly give you current language!

14:17 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: Hi everyone, my first time here. Took me some time to find the right path. Hope to be able to contribute, not only lurk. LOL

14:17 Berni: Hi Benjamin - have you lost the connection?

14:18 rosamund: Lurking fine, Marcia! I spend much of my lurking..... Well done for getting here, though.

14:19 Berni: Marcia we're talking about how to make learning a language more fun

14:19 rosamund: Sorry, berni - have you realised that Ricardo is not 'Benjamin' - it means the youngest son / daughter in French

14:19 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: So, how can we make language learning more fun and enjoyable?

14:19 rosamund: and Spanish - but also someone wet behind the ears, as R has explained so kindly to me! Thanks, Ricardo!

14:20 Berni: Personally I find it fun as I suspect both you and Ros do and now we seem to have lost Benjamin so can't get his take on this

14:20 Berni: Aha so that's what you were talking about ok

14:20 rosamund: I wonder it that's what 'test' meant? That he had lost his connection?

14:21 rosamund: Marcia - fun for you, or fun for others? Fun for you as an adult? Do you get bored - if so, when, exactly?

14:21 Berni: I think so. Richard is testing it now

14:21 Berni: OK how to make language learning fun - suggestions?

14:23 rosamund: Good old Richard! (When we add 'old' (informal) to a name like this we mean someone is reliable, appreciated. Good old John - he's fixed my computer!)

14:23 Marcia.Beatriz.Marti: I'm afraid I can't see any update after I logged in. Any thing wrong? I've sent 2 posts and none of them show in the timeline.

14:23 Rick: Hello

14:23 rosamund: one of mine cut off in the middle too, so you're not alone on this, Marcia.

14:24 Berni: We can see yours Marcia

14:25 Rick: Try using Ctrl-F5 to refresh the page. Does that make anything appear?

14:25 Berni: HI Rick this has happened to Marcia too now - she's also a first timer

14:26 Berni: I've sent them both emails to do this

14:27 rosamund: Sometimes I can make heavy weather of studying when I try to be too conscientious. I end up looking up every word I don't understand, and checking every reference. Sometimes i have to stop and allow myself to absorb material quickly, and not treat everything in the same depth. Does that ring a bell with Marcia? (= idiom, is that something you recognise as a similar habit/ vague memory)

14:27 Berni: It's odd as it does happen to many people but last week not at all

14:29 Berni: I do think that students today have less stamina for learning and they crave things which hit the spot immediately

14:30 ReZolve2033: Just checking...

14:33 Berni: What a pity to lose Ricardo and Marcia - very odd how some work and some don't?

14:34 rosamund: Yes, the word 'fun' can raise unrealistic expectations, particularly in languages. No-one expects learning chemistry to be 'fun'! I enjoy learning new words and expressions and finding out interesting cultural and social facts. I also love listening to interviews and picking up a lot of the detail - I suppose that's the delight of becoming more informed or knowledgeable. not sure I'd call it all 'fun' though.

14:37 rosamund: There is also the fun of working things out, the sort of fun people get out of doing puzzles, or quizzes.

14:38 Berni: I think maybe because there is so much more English around that people have a lot of choice

14:38 Berni: Yes and I also think they are referring to trad course books which can still be a bit dry

14:42 Berni: We really seem to have lost the other two.

14:43 rosamund: Almost anything can be interesting if you're interested. It's the areas you struggle with that can sometimes be boring, or if you feel you're not taking anything or enough in. Sometimes your motivation can carry you a long way, or giving yourself a deadline. Yes, and there another couple of people watching, too. Is Rick the same person as Ricardo?

14:43 Berni: Oh no have I lost Ros too :-((

14:44 rosamund: I meant to write 'there are', not just 'there'.

14:45 Berni: Ah you are there. This is true the problems are to a degree internal - no that is Richard the webmaster I asked him to come in a check. Maybe exams are at the root of this?

14:45 rosamund: I looked at another webpage and lost my connection here as a result, Berni - I wonder if anyone else has had that happen today?

14:48 Berni: I've been bussing backwards and forwards with a chat to Richard and another student onSkype and had no problems

14:48 Berni: buzzing - although by bus would be interesting

14:49 Berni: Do you use Firefox?

14:49 rosamund: Maybe the sheer speed of TV, advertising, computers, the internet with its games and almost instant access (if you're lucky and get it!), the pace of mobile communication and social networks all adds to the sense that speed is all (= highly important) and working steadily is somehow not good enough. Sometimes I have to work slowly, if the material I'm working on is hard.

14:50 rosamund: No, I used to use Firefox, but not now.

14:50 Berni: Yes me too I like to see the detail.

14:51 Berni: What do you use now?

14:51 rosamund: Something that sounds Russian - Kaplinsky or something like that.

14:54 Berni: OK interesting and normally we are fine. Last week I had two newbies

14:55 Berni: oops lost my sentence - did you see the transcript - Rukshnan told us about moen jo daro in Pakistan

14:55 Berni: was saying that neither of them had a problem

14:57 rosamund: No, Berni, I haven't read last wek's transcript yet - I was out on contracts and a bit too busy. I will do, though.

14:58 Berni: We found a reconstruction on Youtube and I linked it there - very nice

15:01 Berni: This activity brings out lots of 'new' vocabulary - never a dull moment at GapChat! Bye Ros

15:01 rosamund: Bye, Berni! See you next week!


25 May 2011 08:56

Entry for 18 May 2011



How can I improve speaking skills online?

13:07 rukshana.sarfaraz: hi

13:30 Berni: Hello Rukshana how are you?

13:32 Berni: We'll begin GapChat in 30 minutes. Today there is a tie for the topic between speaking skills and which skills to concentrate on. I think I will suggest speaking skills as there is a new feature that I want to tell everyone about with regard to speaking.

13:33 Berni: So, what you have to do is type your idea in the text box. If you want to watch first and see how things go please do and put in your comment when you are ready.

13:34 rukshana.sarfaraz: i am fineok

13:40 Berni: So nice to see you here :-)

13:41 Berni: I'm just going to get something I'll be back in a moment - I hope you will stay for the chat

13:59 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat. We're going to talk about speaking skills and how to practise these online - not such an easy thing.

14:01 Berni: I am very excited to tell you about Gapfillers study groups. The first has just started there are 6 people who have joined already and we have had 3 Skype chats.

14:01 Berni: These happen at 14.00 London time on Saturday for 1 hour. If you would like to join then we need your Skype name to add to the group.

14:04 rukshana.sarfaraz: okmy skype name sabsaf

14:06 Berni: Thanks Rukshana I'll add you to the list and you can come along on Saturday if you have time

14:06 Berni: Our group is small so we can manage on Skype

14:06 Berni: So, Rukshana how are you getting on with Gapfillers?

14:13 Berni: Another important thing that will help your speaking skills is listening. if you practice listening (and this is easier to do online) then you can pick up phrases, words and ways of syaing things that will help you when you speak.

14:20 rukshana.sarfaraz: hmm thats goodgapfillers is good for learning

14:20 rukshana.sarfaraz: where r others students

14:25 rukshana.sarfaraz: u there

14:26 Berni: Hi Rukshana I'm here - it seems to be just the two of us today.

14:27 Berni: Which exercises do you like to do on Gapfillers?

14:27 mohamed.ghanem: hi

14:28 mohamed.ghanem: sorry i am late trying to to discover this experience

14:29 Berni: Hi Mohamed and welocme we are a small group of 3 today. We're talking about speaking online and how it is not so easy - do you know any sites where you can do this?

14:30 mohamed.ghanem: i did nt try polygotbut i think it may be available on by exchanging languages with othrs

14:31 Berni: There are some like that Busu for example and LiveMocha

14:31 mohamed.ghanem: why do nt u introduce a forum for this on skype for persons interested in that

14:32 mohamed.ghanem: they r the sams as polygot

14:32 mohamed.ghanem: but have u tried them?

14:32 Berni: I think so. Somebody told me that Wiziq has some English lessons for speaking but I think the groups are very large

14:33 Berni: I tried Livemocha for German but just got people asking me for English. I did lessons om Myngle - Chinese but this isn't a free site - it is quite good

14:34 mohamed.ghanem: i think it is by credit

14:34 mohamed.ghanem: bec i tried but nearly failed to understand how to work through

14:34 Berni: Maybe you are right. I won the Myngle lesons in a competition I was lucky!

14:34 mohamed.ghanem: u know englishtown?

14:35 mohamed.ghanem: good really

14:35 mohamed.ghanem: but somewhat american

14:35 Berni: Yes but this is a paid site - it is run by the school EF

14:36 Berni: I am told that Englishtown is good but I haven't seen it except for a demo

14:36 mohamed.ghanem: no u can try 14 days trial and have friends then continue with them alone

14:37 rukshana.sarfaraz: thats good idea

14:37 mohamed.ghanem: even i log in other names an use my sister and friend credits

14:37 mohamed.ghanem: to go to lessons

14:37 Berni: Hi rukshana I wondered where you had gone!

14:37 Berni: Did you try this Mohamed?

14:38 mohamed.ghanem: and really it is not so expensive in total

14:38 mohamed.ghanem: yes

14:38 rukshana.sarfaraz: livemocha i also try this

14:38 Berni: Oh so tell us what happens when you go on to the site

14:39 mohamed.ghanem: but my real problem is the level,u may waste time to find someone who suits yr level,more they may takh about so general topic and as u know o want ielts

14:40 rukshana.sarfaraz: i dont remeber yet exactlyi didnt get any response that side except emails

14:40 Berni: I see that's true if you just want general speaking then it's fine but with something specialost it becomes a waste of time maybe

14:40 mohamed.ghanem: but tell now i have some on skype and and yahho

14:40 Berni: Rukshana have you tried any of these sites?

14:41 mohamed.ghanem: but not so bad as a start

14:41 mohamed.ghanem: better than talking to yr self

14:41 Berni: Wow Mohamed you are an expert about this!

14:41 rukshana.sarfaraz: yap its fine

14:42 Berni: Which did you try Rukshana?

14:42 mohamed.ghanem: in fact ,i believe they r useful but now i am short in time and just want to speak in exact topics

14:42 rukshana.sarfaraz: now days i search free learning sitew

14:43 Berni: Let me introduce you two Rukshana is in Pakistan and is a lawyer, Mohamed is a doctor from Egypt and you both know me :-)

14:43 mohamed.ghanem: sorry befor i go for a while,why do nt we introduce this service for yr site

14:44 Berni: Are there any specialised forums for doctors for example?

14:44 rukshana.sarfaraz: i like to go egypt

14:44 Berni: You mean the speaking?

14:44 mohamed.ghanem: nice to meet u rukshana

14:44 mohamed.ghanem: yes

14:44 Berni: Me too Rukshana so much history

14:45 mohamed.ghanem: u r welcomed in Egypt but do nt ask me about pyramids pls

14:45 Berni: We have just started some Skype groups on Saturday this is the first we meet at 13.00 GMT 3/4 people

14:45 rukshana.sarfaraz: same here mohamed

14:45 Berni: Pls tell us about the pyramids! Why not?

14:45 rukshana.sarfaraz: whyu dont like this

14:46 mohamed.ghanem: i think for only some registered doctors in official sotes which need payings

14:46 mohamed.ghanem: i think for only some registered doctors in official sotes which need payings

14:47 mohamed.ghanem: brc i am from Alexandria and have never ever in my life visited pyramids

14:47 mohamed.ghanem: really, i do nt know the cause till now

14:47 Berni: actually I am going to start an IELTS programme that will have group speaking (I'm thinking about doctors or at least band 7/8)

14:47 rukshana.sarfaraz: ok

14:47 Berni: How far away are they from your home?

14:48 mohamed.ghanem: but in any place they ask me about and ask about mummies

14:48 mohamed.ghanem: great to start

14:48 mohamed.ghanem: in cairo, so about 4 hours

14:48 Berni: But you have a very long and famous history

14:48 Berni: I'm sure that people are fascinated by mummies

14:49 mohamed.ghanem: but i believe Egypt has many wonderful places

14:49 mohamed.ghanem: i like nature more,i like to breath sea air

14:49 Berni: I'm sure, I have never been. Rukshana are there famous historical places near you?

14:49 mohamed.ghanem: i feel it inside my body

14:50 mohamed.ghanem: i will go and come back after a little bye

14:50 rukshana.sarfaraz: yap alot of moen jo daro

14:50 Berni: I do too. From my house all I can see are sheep and cows and the hills not many people - is your house hear the sea?

14:51 Berni: OK Mohamed. What is that Rukshana?

14:51 rukshana.sarfaraz: its a hostorical place 1000 of years old

14:52 Berni: Oh that's very old - is it a palace?

14:52 rukshana.sarfaraz: it is situted in larkana

14:53 rukshana.sarfaraz: its a old citypeople come to see this

14:54 Berni: I jut found something about it on Youtube I can see it's an ancient ruin

14:54 rukshana.sarfaraz: ok i have to go my light going to shutdown

14:55 Berni: OK nice to meet you here see you on Saturday 13.00 on Skype!

14:55 rukshana.sarfaraz: sorry what is ancient ruin

14:56 rukshana.sarfaraz: oki wil be there

14:56 Berni: moen jo daro

14:56 rukshana.sarfaraz: how u feel my writing power

14:56 Berni: It's a place from the past which is now empty and broken

14:56 rukshana.sarfaraz: yapu fount it

14:56 rukshana.sarfaraz: yes

14:57 Berni: Good it's difficult to write here I make mistakes too but everything can be understood and we have had a good chat I think - how about you?

14:57 rukshana.sarfaraz: our village near of that place

14:57 Berni: I found this on Youtube

14:58 Berni: Oh I see there must be a lot of tourists

14:59 rukshana.sarfaraz: yap

14:59 Berni: OK Rukshana I ned to go now too. See you on Saturday. Mohamed I might catch you later on Skype?

15:00 rukshana.sarfaraz: okbye take care

15:00 Berni: you too :-)


18 May 2011 08:59

Entry for 11 May 2011



What is the best way to study online to improve my English?

13:06 Berni: Hi today's chat will begin in 50 minutes and our topic, chosen via the poll, is: What is the best way to study online to improve my English? This is a topic I am sure everybody on Gapfillers wants to know about so come along at 13.00 GMT (14.00 London time) to give us your ideas!

14:00 Berni: Welcome to GapChat today. Don't worry if this is your first visit take your time. It's ok to watch what is going on before you feel ready to post a comment. Do this in the box below and then press send.

14:08 rosamund: Hello, Berni, and hello to those people watching today! By the time many of you get to this level of English you'll already have noticed a lot of ways to optimise your time when studying. For instance, it's useful to notice when you are at your most alert for the hardest work you tackle. I find a surprising number of learners study when they are tired, at the end of the day, for instance, which is not the best time to absorb new or difficult material. I'm sorry if that sounds naive, as many of you, we know, have to study when you are free to do so, and over lunchtimes by skipping lunch (to skip = informal - to miss) but if you can choose when to study, do so. You might be surprised at how much better you concentrate.

14:11 Berni: Hello Ros, this is very good advice and you don't need to set aside a huge amount of time if you are able to study regularly.

14:13 Berni: The other thing we mustn't forget (and this is Gapfillers motto) you can study 'on the go' so with an MP3 player or smart phone you can use any 'dead time' (time which is spent travelling for example) to learn.

14:13 Berni: This time might be a time when you are actually quite alert so imagine how it is being wasted by sitting on a bus or train and doing nothing! A great opportunity!

14:15 rosamund: In fact, having a deadline (because you have a set amount of time free) or setting yourself one can actually improve the quality of your concentration, because it's often easier to focus hard for 20 minutes than to concentrate well for an hour, and yet the amount you 'take on board' (= absorb) might be no different!

14:17 Berni: So we are agreed that the approach has to be organised and systematic to get the best reults? What other things do we need to consider when studying online?

14:26 rosamund: The weekly programme sorts out the matter of being organised and systematic - but the individual needs to be so, too. You need to check you're not going to be distracted more than is unavoidable.If you are going to be interrupted, you might choose a grammar exercise, or some vocabulary exercises, that don't suffer from your breaking off (= stopping). If you're in the middle of something longer, and more demanding, you must be disciplined enough to go back to the exercise and take up where you left off (= stopped) - and take that interruption into acocunt by going over the material again, if ncessary. Many learners abandon material before they've benefitted fully from it. We've tried to make that easy for you to do, by doing a lot of the work for you! I'm thinking in particular of transcriptions, answers, additional language notes. But we can't do that learning for you!

14:27 rosamund: oh dear - result

14:27 rosamund: and acocunt - both typos (= typing errors)

14:27 rosamund: account!!

14:32 Berni: This is great Ros. I also think it is helpful for people to have others to study with and this is also possible using this chat room. We also have fledgling study groups starting and joining one of these helps to keep learners motivated. They can come here to GapChat too.

14:39 rosamund: Yes - it's important not to do everything on your own, but to vary your learning environment. The point you made about mp3s and smartphones is really important, too Berni - that you must, somehow, ensure you listen to English as much as possible - actually, it's easier to do that than to speak it. I remember when I'd made an effort to learn some Polish that when I came out with my first few phrases my Polish friend looked completely blank - because I hadn't listened to the language enough to be able to pronounce it correctly. When i wrote it down he smiled and nodded - it was a great 'conversation'!!

14:43 Berni: Good point, we also need to know how it sounds. Listening is very accessible now. There are lots of podcasts on Gapfillers to download and you can always try the exercises later on. Or do the ex first online and then take the podcast to listen to later.

14:43 rosamund: You also have to be strict enough to be able to tackle your real problem areas - and only you know what they are. We sometimes know, don't we, Berni, which nationalities might have particular problems with writing because their language rules are so different from ours. You and I discussed the writing exercises in just that light (from that point of view), didn't we, Berni.

14:47 rosamund: Writing on the line rather than through it, and using capitals and punctuation correctly - such a headache for some. We find even advanced students often continue to trot out (= informal, produce) basic errors - it's really tough.

14:47 Berni: This is true there are certain things which are common to one group and not others but there are also 'personal' problems too - do you always get your past participles mixed up, or do you have probelms with tenses etc.. you will probably know what these areas are and you can choose exercises from Gapfillers to help you with them.

14:50 Berni: Things like the and a/an and also the 's' on the third person are also very common mistakes at Advanced level - these 'silly' mistakes that just don't want to go away! There are some excelllent spelling bees in the Writing Section and some punctuation exercises too - don't miss these.

14:53 rosamund: If you know your own language presents you with certain difficulties you can follow them up in all sorts of ways. If spelling is your bugbear (particular difficulty) you can use any of our exercises to reinforce correct spellings - there's plenty of it on the site! So you might be doing a reading exercises, but also, at the same time, be combing through it for your own individual purpose, by noticing the past participles, or the position of adverbs, spellings or punctuation.

14:55 rosamund: A reading exercise, I meant. It doesn't have to be a spelling or grammar exercise for you to home in on it!(to home in on sth - to focus on sth)

14:56 Berni: True. I think if you use the daily exercises (Gapfillers latest) as a starting point then these will lead you into the other areas that you need to work on.

14:58 rosamund: if you learn while you're travelling, or in a quick 5 minutes, these little details can be absorbed easily, as they're not too difficult, but they add up to a more accurate sense of correct English.I must away, Berni (oldfashioned, Shakespearean, in fact, meaning I must go). Germanic languages share that same structure.

14:58 Berni: Thanks Ros for more help and advice to Gapfillers members. I'll post this up on the archive later today. See you next week. :-)

15:02 Berni: We must both away! Thank you!


11 May 2011 08:54

Entry for 4 May 2011



What is the best way to improve my English quickly?

13:05 Berni: Welcome to GapChat - we will begin at 13.00 GMT (a bit later than before) 14.00 London time (in an hour)

13:06 Berni: You have voted for - What is the best way to improve my English quickly? This got 44% of the votes so I hope we will have a very interesting discussion.

13:07 Berni: Hi Ros I realised that as all the times on the pol were GMT we should have the chat at 13.00 GMT rather than 13.00 BST - it's all so confusing!

13:07 Berni: Hello Manoch and welcome. I hope you will be able to stay for the chat later.

14:03 Berni: Hi there our topic today is how to improve English skills quickly - learning a language is not something that really happens very fast but you can improve well if you practise very regularly, ideally every day.

14:13 rosamund: Sometimes learners have a particular skill area - such as grammar - that they find easier than others, and it can be a good idea to make the most of that talent, and do plenty of it, or do it at speed. After all, all of the skills overlap to some extent. It's a good idea to optimise your strengths by playing your best cards!! (= taking advatnage of your assets) I suppose, in general, I'd say it's best not to hone in (=focus on) your weak areas too much, even though they need attention. Keep your spirits up! (=keep your mood positive!)

14:13 rosamund: oops - advantage, I meant

14:16 Berni: Thanks Ros this is good advice. I was at another chat talking about hwy most students stop at intermediate level and this has a bearing on this chat too I think - maybe it's because the progress isn't as fast after that level?

14:23 rosamund: Absolutely, Berni. Sometimes I feel reluctant, as a language-trainer, to let people know how large the 'intermediate' stage is. At the same time, a good, solid intermediate level is very useful, and often more than enough to satisfy work requirements, etc. Sometimes 'perfect' can be the enemy of the good, if learners spend too much time too dissatisfied with what they can't do, rather than what they can. It's important to notice how much vocabulary you've learned just now, how fast your worked, how much you understood first time round etc.

14:24 rosamund: - how fast you worked, of course.....

14:28 Berni: Very true and once you move beyond this it is hard to know what to study as there is so much - we go outwards rather than along I think so people get disheartened.

14:29 Berni: Having said that we can still learn if we do a little often and as we choose things to do we find direction by discovering the things we struggle with and which need more practice.

14:29 rosamund: Berni, how common is it for learners to speak at length without stopping to be corrected, or for corrections? That's very important, too, because sometimes speed is more important than every tiny detail, and it's good to lose any concern that you're speaking incorrectly. So, conversations with other colleagues or learners, or with native-speakers can be a good opportunity to relax and absorb a language without too much pressure. Again, it's this conclusion we always keep coming to, that variety and regularity matter a lot.

14:34 rosamund: The week's 'set menu' of work that you get on Gapfillers, on the Home Page, is really helpful as a way of getting into automatic gear - it's amazing how much you can do when you haven't spent any time looking around - plenty of time for that later! As you say, Berni, you can pick up what you need to focus on, and go to it straight away, or later.

14:36 Berni: Yes, in a way it is better if learners choose their own material but that's not always realistic and often it's hard to choose what will be useful so the Gapfillers latest programme is a perfect way to get some practice every day.

14:43 rosamund: Learning a little, often, keeping it varied, and varying the approach and speed at which you work - is that about it? The reason I mention the issue of approach and speed, is that some learners love working fast and under pressure, whereas others clam up (=become tense) and absorb less than they should - so there's a temperamental question to bear in mind.

14:45 Berni: You are right to point this out Ros as personal learning style is important for self-study as well as classes. The beauty of self-study is that this isn't dictated by the teacher or other class members. I'm trying to get some srudy groups togethre on Gapfillers so people can meet up with other members in the chat room or on Skype or via email to support each other.

14:46 Berni: srudy = study together = together

14:46 rosamund: If you have a particular area you want to work on - such as work-related material - you fan cover a surprisring amount of ground quickly by just learning lists of vocabulary, phrases,

14:48 rosamund: (surprising!) - just limit your task and work hard. At the end of your time you know you know more than you did - because you can see the list of new work!

14:49 rosamund: can cover, I meant to key in

14:50 Berni: True so the golden rule is little and often - prefferably a little study every day and if you use 'Gapfillers latest' you have a ready-made study programme. Join a study group too and you will have the best of all worlds!

14:51 Berni: preferably - yikes!! OK I think we can knock this on the head (stop) for today. Thank you Ros for your helpful suggestions. See you next week.

14:54 rosamund: Yes, Berni - using language in a different context - because you have to - is always useful. You have to find new language to say what you want to, or to respond - so it's an authentic need. Often, of course, learning a language has to be an artificial activity, because you're trying to do sth less natural than learning in your own language.

14:55 rosamund: Yes - 'bye for now, Berni. Nice to see some others have been watching. See you next week!

14:59 Berni: True, just coming and watching is a good way to get started with the chat. Join in when you feel ready. See you all next week!




4 May 2011 22:40

Entry for 23 Mar 2011



My English is 'stuck' - I'm not improving.?'

13:00 rosamund: Today's topic is 'My English is 'stuck' - I'm not improving. Do you have any advice?'

13:18 rosamund: The first reaction I have is to reassure you if you're in this position. It's in the nature of a more advanced level of language that you don't feel you're making much headway because your grasp of the language might be broadening rather than progressing upwards. It can therefore feel rather insignificant as if your level is flattening out rather than gaining in breadth - and the latter automatically means assimilating different VB, a change of range, emphasis and contexts. Ask yourself whether you can actually respond to a wider range of situations and angles than before!

13:50 rosamund: Secondly, i would ask you if you are in a rut - a rut is a particular routine that is too fixed in one particular type of job, activity, method, etc. Could you change when, what, where or how you are studying? I'll post this up, as I wrote the equivalent of a 3-act Shakespeare play and it got mangled and disappeared when I pressed 'send' last time! Hence the long delay!

13:53 rosamund: Could you create a pairing or a group of English speakers to take your language 'out there' rather than just computer-based? Are you doing the same old routine without changing the order - or the pace - of your studying? Could you do 1 less session a week but work faster and harder at the others? Performance often dips when you're bored.

13:57 rosamund: It can help to collect new VB or material and print out a hard copy (= on paper) which you then take with you, and work on in the garden, or on public transport - using coloured pens to bring details to you in a colourful way. You might need to rummage in the listening bank resources to find something that appeals to you because it is different, or unusual, or unlike your normal topics.

14:02 rosamund: Sometimes it can help to book a series of speaking sessions with a friend, or colleague or some people find Gapfillers' Skyping is just the sort of thing that can come into its own (= be entirely suitable or appropriate). How about watching some English films or listening to some English songs (more than once, please!) and singing along? Try anything that alters your present pattern, and see if it works! We look forward to hearing if any of these ideas has hit the spot for you! (to hit the spot = to be exactly what you have found relevant or useful). 'Bye until next week!

23 Mar 2011 12:58

Entry for 16 Mar 2011



What are the advantages to becoming a full member on Gapfillers?

What is the most important English skill to concentrate on?


Welcome to live chat

12:57 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat. We have two topics - the advantages of becoming a full Gapfillers member and the most important English skill to concentrate on you get to choose again!

13:05 Berni: I can give some ideas about the first topic which is that we now have 6,500 langauge training exercises and you would be able to use all of these. We are also trying to add more chances for speaking and other games and activities where you can collaborate with others

13:10 rosamund: Hello, Berni - is it only the full members who can contact you, Berni - or can anyone send in a question? And can anyone come to Gapchat?

13:12 rosamund: Another thing I wanted to ask is - what is the difference between the free exercises you offer here on the site and the exercises for full members? Are they the same for both sets of people?

13:13 Berni: Anyone can send a question and anyone can come to GapChat

13:13 Berni: The free exercises are taken for the full archive but there are just a few every month as opposed to 4 every day for full members.

13:16 Berni: If we look at both topics together then I believe that it is a mistake in the long run to concentrate on any one area (say speaking) as eventually you will need the other skills to help with this. As Gapfillers has great archives in all the skills then you wouldn't be in danger of doing this.

13:16 rosamund: So do the 4 daily exercises change daily, whereas the exercises from the archive only change once a week? That makes a big difference in terms of quantity and also focus, doesn't it?

13:18 Berni: The daily exercises are different each day. The others only change monthly. Yes, there is a great deal of value in becoming a full member. The price is ?175 for the year but you can also pay monthly or 3-monthly.

13:18 rosamund: Yes, i agree - it's probably wise to avoid focussing first on the skill writing when you're a beginner but even there it can be justified if that's all you have access to - and as you say, here that's not an issue - and people here aren't beginners.

13:19 Berni: Funnily enough with the internet writing has become a very important skill!

13:20 Berni: Hi David - you joining us?

13:20 DavidBW: hi, just popping in for a few minutes

13:21 Berni: I was thinking that people might want to concentrate on just reading but that wouldn't help them communicate necessarily.

13:23 rosamund: sorry - skill of writing. Yes, that's right - and writing can often be crucial at work with emails being so prominent in communicating with people. I hadn't realised the free exercises changed monthly - I think they're really useful in themselves, though of course you need more if you're serious about making quicker progress. Hello, David! Good to see you! (in a manner of speaking!)(= that's only partly true - because of course i can't see David at all!)

13:23 Berni: There is a lot that is free on the internet and that is fine but to have a structured programme and some way of monitoring it you need to put some value on your learning.

13:24 DavidBW: Hi Ros, thanks for the welcome hope you are well. Just thinking how how Gapfillers could help people with their speaking skills?

13:24 rosamund: Reading is much underrated - it must be the most essential skill for anyone in research, either industrial, academic or medical etc.

13:26 Berni: You see we can't agree on any one skill which means that they are all important!

13:27 Berni: Speaking is the one thing that isn't addressed here overtly. I would like to offer webinars and Skype groups. I'm waiting for people to sign up but so far I don't have enough interest.

13:28 rosamund: Sorry,David, I'll answer that in a moment - I'm thinking about reading, and about how important it is to build your reading skills - just because you can glean enough information for you own purposes doesn't mean you wouldn't benefit from concentrating on widening your general vocabulary, grammar, on your levels of accuracy etc. Sometimes the reading exercises here pick out precisely those things that look as if they mean one thing, but actually mean something else.

13:28 rosamund: I suppose I meant build on your reading skills - although build makes sense too

13:33 DavidBW: Just looking at the menu on the left gives one a view of the enormous breadth of activities available on Gapfillers, definitely one big advantage of being a full member

13:34 rosamund: your own purposes I meantIs it also true that there is probably more woolly thinking about speaking than some of the other skills? I wonder whether, deep down, people expect it to be the most 'natural' of the skills to do - whereas of course, if it's someone else's language that's actually the last thing it is - and if you can make full use of other skills and materials you can bring what you've picked up to speaking work. Maybe advanced learners reallise that speaking is the hardes, and most unnatural thing to do, and therefore requires serious application and time to improve.

13:34 DavidBW: Have to go now, good to "see" you ladies.

13:35 Berni: YOu are right Ros, I think one of the strengths og Gapfillers exercises is that they are designed to deveop skills - reading skills not just comprehension and vocabulary and with listening too it's ear training and discrimination of sounds that is often being tested this helps to build competence

13:35 Berni: OK David Bye and thanks for coming

13:36 Berni: Some interesting words here of (og) develop (deveop)

13:41 rosamund: realise and hardest - I'm not doing very well today!With any skill it's sometimes enough to get the general idea of what you're doing and have done - but you do need to be encouraged and helped to push that learning further - so you pick up the new grammar points, vocabulary, useful phrases and idioms because you've had your mind directed towards them, or you've done a quiz checking you've understood what they mean. I think you need materials that take this stage well into account, because if you're busy it's easy to leave the work at an earlier stage because you've 'done' it - whereas we would say ' just a moment - do you realise / did you notice .... or we can also say x but y would mean something quite different'

13:43 rosamund: Bit late for me to say goodbye to David - sorry from the other lady here, David. Hope you have a good week.

13:49 rosamund: If learners' main skill and need for competence is reading or writing that's a good case for making sure they don't just leave the other skills trailing. It can be disheartening to realise you understand architectural plans and notes but are lost for words if you have to telephone someone to book a taxi. And yet you might only need a few phrases or a bit of experience to be able to cover that area with ease. Even if you don't have the chance to converse in English - and we have that possibility here, of course - you can practise your pronunciation and intonation by listening and repeating what you hear - it all adds up over time.

13:50 Berni: I agree and it is even more difficult when you are trying to study alone to make sure you 'push' yourself as much as you can - this is where the developer of the material has to help and on Gapfillers I feel that we do.

13:52 Berni: This is right Ros. With direction and imagination it is all possible and if people are willing to take the decision to join us then we can really help them to develop all their skills to the highest level they want (provided they commit to the study!)

13:52 Cee: Oh, so sorry I am Very Very late!! Unexpected delay.

13:52 Berni: Hi Cee we were just discussing why people should pay to be a full member on Gapfillers.

13:55 rosamund: Yes, we do push our learners, Berni. It's why the time taken to produce the materials has taken such commitment - because we haven't just left learners to look things up on their own, or deduce things - we've pointed them out to them. I've just been reflecting on the phrase 'out of necessity' and realising that I must also add 'of necessity' because it doesn't mean the same thing! You could be forgiven for not realising that if you were not a native speaker! Hello, Cee. Sorry, i was in full flow there, and couldn't stop!

13:56 Cee: Apart from the fact that they can help to build a language learning community with endless opportunities, and have access to superb teaching materials? Well, I have to say that having researched lots of sites I have to say Gapfillers is incredible value for money!!!

13:57 Cee: I do not believe that totally free sites have the same level of dedication that Gapfillers has, and certainly not the same high standards. They tend to lack 'flow' too

13:58 Berni: Maybe that should be our slogan for Gapfillers 'We push you to your limits'! or 'We won't give up on you even when you think you might!'

14:00 rosamund: It's hugely convenient having a site you can go onto for a few minutes or hourse - and not having to attend classes is a huge plus for most peole - because they can be very hit-and-miss affairs, especially for people of this level - they can be such a waste of time if you don't cover enough ground. Also, it makes your study very time-efficient if you don't have to set hours aside to get somewhere and back. No, I agree with everything you've said here, Cee - some sites are unable to remain updated, even and I can fully understand that - it requires time and commitment to maintain both the site and the materials - not to mention the communication with people.

14:01 rosamund: hours! people! (What is wrong with me today?!)

14:04 Berni: I think you have 'hit the nail on the head' (got right to the heart of something) Ros here - that is Gapfillers strength in a nutshell ( a precise yet short definition)

14:04 Cee: Some sites will heavily lean toward one aspect of learning, for example idioms, and have absolutely no work on grammar or other aspects of vocabulary. I find that bizarre! Surely you need assistance and learning to be balanced and cover everything. Gapfillers certainly does - and if you have everything under one roof then it is taking somebody(ies) long hours of wprk to produce it. That cannot be done for free

14:05 Cee: Whoops, not wprk (tho' it sound funny!) but work!

14:06 Berni: Good point Cee. Also I think people value what they pay for much more, it's human nature.OK I have to crack on (today's word of the day!) with things thank you for a gr8 chat some good ideas here.

14:08 Cee: Ok, see you next week. Note to self: set an alarm!!!!!!

14:09 rosamund: Yes, and sometimes what happens is a site becomes a 'useful' place to put materials that were useful in a particular situation or course - but that doesn't mean it's transferable. It's that old chestnut, of 'this is good stuff - shame to throw it away' - but it doesn't make it useful. That can be a problem of the Net, too - so much stuff out there! But not in a form that necessarily helps learners out there. Must go too - 'bye!

14:12 Berni: Another nail on the head Ros. True just because it's a good article or video doesn't mean it will help with English unless it's exploited by someone who has the skill to make it useful!!

16 Mar 2011 14:13

Entry for 9 Mar 2011



How long will it take me to improve my English?

Welcome to live chat

12:55 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat.

12:56 Berni: Your chosen topic is How long will it take me to improve my English? A tricky topic. We have a saying in English - How long is a piece of string? This applies here I think :-)

13:13 Berni: This means that there isn't an exact measure it depends on the piece of string. In this case on the student - where you are now, where you want to go and how much time you have to get there as well as eome other factors too.

13:22 rosamund: It is helpful to set yourself some specific goals which you can measure at least to some extent - or at least, you can be sure you have set time aside to concentrate on them. For instance, I sometimes decide I'll just concentrate on listening to a phrase in a foreign language - in my case it's not English as it's my native language! - and listen to the pronunciation of certain words or phrases. I then repeat them several times, after listening again and again, just practising some of sounds that I'm not sure I'm pronouncing exactly right. Sometimes you realise you're not taking long enough over a syllable, that you're rushing it, so it can help to slow down and hone your accent as well as you can. The helpful thing about this is that I feel convinced I've trained my ear to notice better than before - and noticing is part of the trick, as it's easy to get a bit lazy when your overall grasp of a language is already good.

13:23 Berni: Hi Ros just browsing didn't see you arrive.

13:25 Berni: You are right and it is important to remember that however good you are there is always room for more practice!

13:25 rosamund: I suppose I should have typed concentrate on listening to words and phrases in a foreign language - and later, I should have typed some of THE sounds! Hello, Berni!

13:25 Berni: But it is ok to make mistakes when chatting like this isn't it as we are more interested in our message.

13:26 rosamund: Glad to hear that!

13:28 Berni: I've been thinking about goal setting (I just wrote a post on SMART goals for English language learning) blog address is sadly I can't do a link here. We need overall goals (our dreams) and more defined goals for every month or every day.

13:28 rosamund: So at the end of a session such as the one I've described i really can tell myself my accent is better than it was when I started! It's the type of thing you can't always do as a beginner - when you need someone to point these things out. Later on, you can be your own mentor.

13:29 rosamund: Yes, Berni - I was going to type 'smart' when I began all this!

13:29 Berni: It seems that if you just say I want to improve nothing will happen as it's too vague. If you say I want to be able to go out to dinner with an English friend and do the whole evening in English that is more tangible and achieveable.

13:29 Berni: Lol! Great minds think alike.

13:31 Berni: I'm a little (on a different tack) bemused by the fact that people vote for the topic but don't come along to discuss - a broken link there maybe?

13:33 rosamund: If people are finding it hard to complete the week's work it can be smart of you (ho, ho, ho! = clever! not used here in the same sense as Berni was describing above!) to establish a decision to complete a longer exercise regularly - say a reading exercise, or something else on the 'menu'!

13:34 rosamund: Berni, It's useful for people to be able to see what sort of ideas others have, and follow that. We know some people are unable to join us for work reasons. And i can think of a few who must be in bed if they have any sense!

13:35 Berni: Agreed the work is only a suggestion and I think it helps to focus and have a programme when you haven't got time to make your own but it isn't set in stone. We also leave the weekend free for people to catch up

13:36 Berni: You are right Ros maybe we should consider different times or (??***) have two sessions.

13:37 Berni: What other tips have you got to give people to help them plan their learning and get a feel for how long they will need to reach their goal?

13:38 rosamund: I think 'smart' can be a little target, aiming at focussing on certain tiny points. It can also be a daily, weekly, or monthly one, but again with a defined plan -eg 'spend 10 minutes on .... twice a week'. It can also be a decision to seek out contacts with English media or people - reading matter, films, or some social events.

13:40 rosamund: Some - probably many - people just have to write the planning down and give themselves ticks when they achieve goals. As you say, berni - it's not enough to be vague - a little checklist helps a lot.

13:43 Berni: What about measuring progress? Any tips here. I think some things are clear - you know if you've learned any new words for example but something like pronunciation?

13:43 rosamund: I suppose I'm struggling with 'how long', Berni, because it might be that you notice you're working more quickly and accurately than you were - but if the goal is to pass an exam, well that might not be until when you sit it!

13:45 Berni: I also think it helps if you have 'study-buddies' or accountibilty partners to keep you focused. This is easy on Gapfillers if you find the right person you can use the chat room to communicate or send messages in Member Home via the messaging centre.

13:46 Berni: I suppose exams are a good check on progress but they are not all easy to prepare for by yourself.

13:51 rosamund: Pronunciation needs to be broken down into words, phrases, longer phrases and also intonation. So if people focus on where the stress lies, how long a native-speaker takes over a certain syllable, on enunciating clearly, imitating the language heard and repeating several times and more slowly, that exercise automatically feeds into a more conscious level of pronunciation.Learning by rote used to develop this sort of skill - and just because many people don't do that any more doesn't mean it isn't useful to do your own version of it, I think.

13:54 rosamund: It would be useful to know what the member who suggested the question meant by 'how long'. Yes, Berni, 2 people on the site whom I spoke to last week said they report back to each other how much they've done, and what they thought of it. One is better than the other, so they both look at what the other has managed and swap conclusions.

13:58 Berni: This is a very good way of keeping motivated. I have also been speaking to some members and they are interested in setting up a small group to meet and encourage each other. I think I probably need to get the ball rolling (begin) this but hopefully once it is up and running they will not need much help.

13:59 Berni: OK Ros, some good ideas here. I hope people will use them. I'll get the transcript posted later. Thank you for all your help :-)

14:00 rosamund: The other dilemma with the 'how long?' question is that of course, some people devote more time than others to mastering a language - and some people simply learn faster or slower than others. It you know more words than you did last week, have spent x amount of time on certain activities, have picked out what you need to spend more time on, that is good - and it means you have improved and are improving.

14:01 rosamund: Bye, Berni - I'll think further about the 'how long?' question!

14:02 Berni: These are good points. Yes, it is a topic I'm sure we will return to in the future.


9 Mar 2011 17:18

Entry for 3 Mar 2011



Is grammar important when learning English?

Welcome to live chat

13:01 Berni: Welcome to today's chat. We have two topics on the table (= to discuss). The importance of grammar and using the internet for listeing practice. Whish do we choose?

13:02 Blanca Morales: Hi you two. I am for grammar.

13:04 Berni: OK I really don't have a preference I've just been at #eltchat (on twitter where the topic was exams - great discussion)

13:04 Berni: Hi Cee where have you gone?

13:05 Berni: So let's get the ball rolling - is grammar important?

13:07 Cee: Hi I am back - may have to dip in and out today- have a sick child today :(

13:07 Blanca Morales: To start with I´d say it´s very important, it is the skeleton of the language, and it has some rules. On the other hand, it´s very neglected nowadays. I think it needs revision, perhaps a new appoach in teaching.

13:07 Berni: Oh dear tell her/him to get well soon :-)

13:08 Berni: There seems to be a reaction against grammar in ELT so that's probably why it isn't there so much

13:09 Blanca Morales: I´m sorry to hear that. I´ll also dip in and out today if you don´t mind, I´m making the usual late Spanish lunch!

13:09 Cee: I agree with you Blanca - grammar has been neglected in the UK too! Most British children learn very little grammar, and yet it is very important

13:09 Berni: I agree with you Blanca I think it is a tool box for language learning with it you can construct and build without it you depend on someone else

13:10 Berni: I wish we could have lunch with you Blanca! Can you send some through the chat box?

13:10 Cee: How great would that be? We could take it in turns to prepare lunch!!

13:11 Berni: I believe that the demise in grammar is possibly due to that fact that a lot of teachers nowadays don't really have a lot of knowledge too.

13:11 Berni: Just you wait Cee - it might be a new technology just around the corner!

13:12 Blanca Morales: Would a virtual lunch do ?

13:13 Berni: You could describe it and we could imagine it but that might be cruel!

13:14 Berni: Hi Ros and welcome we got distracted by Blanca's Spanish lunch but are talking about whether grammar is important or not.

13:14 Cee: Hey, you could send the scent of it thro the computer to aid imagination!!

13:14 Berni: That would be even more cruel!

13:15 Cee: Berni, if we have teachers with little knowledge of grammar, is it really essential?

13:15 Berni: All this talk if lunch is making me hungry better get back to grammar!

13:15 Blanca Morales: Not today, believe me... forget it anyway!

13:15 Berni: Great question Cee so how would we approach the teaching?

13:16 rosamund: Putting some time into understanding grammar actually accelerates progress and broadens a language faster than anything else. I think the pty is that we come across a strnage 'either... or' mentality concerning language-learning, whereas actually, it's an 'and...and' approach we need - of course do plenty of speaking / listening etc but don't neglect grammar. Blanca - just my usual large salad, please, with local goat's cheese - and a vitamine drink.

13:17 Berni: Many people put vocabulary as the driver for language learning but how do they glue it together?

13:18 rosamund: pity and strange I meant to type - oh, and hello, everyone! Sorry to hear your child's unwell, Cee. Hope he / she gets well soon.

13:18 Blanca Morales: Textbooks are contributing to forget grammar in favour of communication.

13:18 Berni: Lol Ros - agreed and in my experience students want grammar they ask me for it if I don't include it in their course.

13:18 Cee: I personally think grammar IS essential - it is the glue in the model - without it, the parts are just balanced, not cemented

13:19 Berni: How does that work Blanca? Do they have the same base as with grammar?

13:19 Berni: Nice picture Cee and we know what happens when a wind comes along!

13:20 Cee: Thanks everyone - I feel very guilty that she's ill, because I think she caught it from me :-(( (again!!)

13:21 rosamund: Also, the part of the brain used while mastering grammar is entirely different from the part used in conversation - so both parts need training and exercise.

13:21 Berni: Very interesting point Ros.

13:22 Cee: I think I'm right in saying, Berni, that the grammar sections of Gapfillers are they most heavily used aren't they? So that means that people do buy into the need for it

13:23 Berni: I agree Cee but with the caveat that they are also the 'easiest' to do so that could also be a factor

13:23 Blanca Morales: Perhaps grammar methodology is very clear at low levels but when you star going up the steps to higher levels, grammar rules are not useful any more. really since there are more exceptions than rules.

13:24 Cee: That's a very good point, Blanca, and ties in with Berni's last point. So, do we need more when we start, and less as we progress?

13:24 Berni: That's a good point so the need for grammar may be less important. I feel this at aroind Upper Intermediate but then I think it changes as you get more advanced

13:26 Berni: I find a lot of pople get stuck at post FCE and don't really move further. Partly because they don't study any more but partly because you need another grammar input to really make a difference

13:28 rosamund: I'm interested to read that point, Blanca and Berni - I'd always assumed that as you get more advanced you learn how to distinguish the groundrules from the exception. So, for instance, you notice that the conditional with 'would' can often mean repeated actions in the past , and not the conditional tense at all. Yes, Berni, I agree entirely with your last point - just because you can 'manage' doesn't mean you can make your own progress without input.

13:29 Blanca Morales: There´s another important problem, nowadays we´re very permisive and tolerant with any kind of spoken English and it´s regarded as the one, the most useful, it´s the important one, we tend to look at it as the model to copy and imitate.I think the rules are often broken in speech as we lose control when speaking.

13:30 Blanca Morales: I can´t see what you are saying or my saying, it´s the usaul problem.

13:33 rosamund: I wonder if it comes down partly to the fact that it's quite a difficult and inhibiting thing to do, to correct people as they speak - it's almost as if we're preventing people from speaking, isn't it? Maybe when we were less concerned about letting people 'have their say' and have their own opinion it was easier to correct them and not feel that was inhibiting for them or that we shouldn't do it.

13:34 Cee: Very good point. Ros

13:34 Berni: Oh no Blanca you always seem to get so far and then it disappears. We can''t find a reason.

13:36 rosamund: There have to be times when we just let people speak at speed and without interruptions, and then other times when we concentrate on accuracy - i don't think we have to do everything at once. You do notice that people get to a point where they correct themselves if they've absorbed new grammar points. But you can't just leave it to them to get to that point, it has to part of the interest of the language - oh, they don't spell it the same way as us etc.....

13:36 Berni: I agree with both of you here. International English works very well outside of the UK, US and other Eglish speaking countrise. But is not truly effective here I find. Also there is a tendency to not correct which just helps to in-grain errors

13:37 rosamund: it has to be, I meant to type

13:38 Berni: I'm sure all this will contribute to the next development of English (which is becoming more and more American even in the UK - watch TV to see this in action.

13:41 Blanca Morales: Yes, I refreshed it a couple of times, no way! it must be the Mozilla.

13:41 Berni: This is true and the initial reason for starting to learn in the first place is important if it's to pass an exam then there won't be much motivation after that until someone hits another road block!

13:41 Cee: Oh that is very true, Berni. The same applies with American spellings - do we adopt, or resist??

13:42 rosamund: I didn't know the grammar is the most used area of Gapfillers - it may be not because they're the easiest but because learners gets a clear ' yes, this is right', 'no, that's wrong'. In some ways it's hard if people fudge it (fudge it = to be indistinct about sth) so you get the idea sth's not quite right, but no-one actually says so.

13:43 Berni: I don't know that we can do anything it's like Japanese knotweed over here and here to stay a pest that will suffocate us all!

13:43 rosamund: Oh dear - the easiest exercises and also learners get, not gets

13:44 Berni: The most used is word of the day, the test and the jokes I think Then grammar.

13:45 Cee: Yeyyy, the jokes!!! Laugh and learn, hey?

13:45 Berni: What I was trying to say is that you need quite a bit of study stamina for the reading and listening exercises and even more for stories and poems

13:45 Berni: Great soundbite Cee laugh and learn let's use it!

13:46 rosamund: I notice Americans say different to, different from (CORRECT!) and different than - I associate it with the fact that they're often basing their acquired English on other mother tongues where the preposition is different, but gets adopted as a sort of habit.

13:47 Berni: This is true listen in shops

13:48 Berni: oops went away had written

13:48 rosamund: Yes, Berni, you're right. You'd have to be a very special person to be able to stand extended exposure to grammar work, though, wouldn't you. Yes, you need longer for other areas, and extended concentration, too.

13:48 Berni: again! when people say Can I get instead of Could I have

13:49 Berni: Eureka (it doesn't like symbols). Also we have laundry on soap powder ads instead of washing

13:50 Berni: But I think they would be ultimately more satisfying especially when you are dealing with real, authentic language

13:50 Cee: Oh yes, you are right Berni, and do you know what? I found myself doing that not so long ago in a shop - "Can I get" - instead of "could I have" - and I almost screamed! Where did that come from, i wondered

13:51 rosamund: That 'get' is a non-native speaker sturggling with the verb to have - and not mastering it. Then the use becomes entrenched as the new normal.

13:51 rosamund: struggling!

13:51 Berni: I get a sharp pain in my head every tie I travel with Transpennine and the y say 'we are now arriving AT Thirsk!!

13:52 Berni: I think it should be IN Thirsk or AT Thirsk station - prepositions!!

13:52 rosamund: I always ask for cake, not gateau or Torte in cafes. Yes, Berni - where did arrive IN go to?

13:53 Cee: And I want to clobber people who insist on saying "would of" instead of "would have" AAAAghhh

13:53 Berni: The problem with have is that it wears so many hats and this can be confusing whereas get is a bit of a catch all and you can get away with it

13:54 Berni: Is it an age thing I wonder! Are we not hip enough we were groovy once weren't we guys?

13:54 rosamund: I avoid using 'guys' - American and Australian. Where i come from (Suffolk) we always used the word folks - or even 'people'. I've lost that little battle I notice, though I still use folks. Perfectly good English word.

13:55 Cee: Aha, now all our bugbears are coming to the surface......we are unmasked as English language warriors!!!

13:55 Berni: And lads and lasses too nice old English words!

13:56 rosamund: would of creates problems when you get to learn 'would have' in a foreign language. i can think of at least 6 languages where the pattern is exactly the same as in English - as long as you know your own language!!

13:56 Berni: Wow another great epithet we could use it too methinks!

13:57 Cee: Take up your pen and join the cause!! And yes, I use 'hi' instead of 'hello'......

13:57 rosamund: Pity about Blanca - I keep getting info about her arriving and leaving, so maybe she's following even though she can't join in as much as she'd like to.

13:57 Berni: This is key Ros and I also feel that other Europeans ( a shame Blanca has gone) are equally abandoning grammar - is this your experience?

13:59 Berni: She keeps having tis problem of only being able to manage half the chat. I've asked Richard but he can't find a reason. Others have had the same isue we think it might be the browser - firefox what do you two use? I have IE

14:01 Cee: I have no idea - I may be an English language warrior, but Iam also a technology mouse :-))

14:02 Berni: I see some great oneliners emerging Cee!

14:02 rosamund: Yes, Berni - grammar is not the flavour of the month across Europe either, though they still do a lot more of it than we do. Glad you wrote that, Cee - I've no idea either what my browser is now - though it was Firefox.

14:03 rosamund: Off to put an engineer through some grammar exercises - he loves them! Yipppee!

14:03 Berni: OK time to wrap up. Thank you all for a great discussion grammar, lunch, and browsers!!

14:03 Cee: Thanks for the mental image Ros!! Have a good time. Thanks Berni

3 Mar 2011 16:27

Entry for 23 Feb 2011



What are your Top 10 Tips for studying English online?'

Welcome to live chat.

12:15 Berni: Welcome to GapChat

12:18 Berni: The topic you chose for today is 'Top 10 tips for studying English online'

12:19 Berni: David will be your moderator today. I am trying from my iPhone but the signal comes & goes.

12:21 Berni: My first tip is do a bit every day! Learn a word read or listen to something.

12:57 Berni: Hope you all have lots of great tips to share!

13:06 DavidBW: Good afternoon! Another tip is to plan your approach to online study

13:09 DavidBW: Joining online forums and chats are also a great way to help you study online. You'd be interacting with like-minded people and also gain valuable tips from other participants

13:17 rosamund: Hello, David - sorry I'm a bit late - I had someone phone me just as I was signing in. David, what exactly do you mean by 'planning your approach to online study'? Do you mean plan when you're going to do session online, and make a note of it, so it helps you to stick to your decision and be disciplined about it?

13:17 rosamund: sorry, I meant to type 'sessions' there

13:20 DavidBW: Hi Ros, I meant have an idea of what you are going to do rather than adopting a random approach

13:22 rosamund: Yes, you're right, D. It can be a help to prioritise your session, if that is practical and possible. That means you write down what you're going to do, when, and give yourself a time limit - and then also, if possible you make sure you complete your 'assignment' early in the day if you can, so it doesn't always get left as something you haven't quite got round to. (Not to get round to sth = not to have managed to find the time or commitment to do sth)

13:24 rosamund: I'm a big believer in setting a time limit - it's amazing how much you can do in 15 minutes if you set that as a deadline. It's also easier to work quickly for 20 minutes than for an open-ended couple of hours, when you often run out of steam (= energy)

13:26 DavidBW: Thank you for that Ros. It's also surprising how quickly time gets frittered away if you're online without a specific plan of action!

13:30 rosamund: I agree. I do like the suggested week's work that Berni puts onto Gapfillers - it gets over that problem of 'where do I start?' Once you've done some work it can be easier to give something else a try because you've got into the rhythm of studying.

13:33 DavidBW: Another tip would be to do something that is interesting, e.g. listening to a poem or short story. Also, where possible, do something that gives immediate feedback, like the interactive grammar exercises on Gapfillers.

13:35 rosamund: What Berni said on her way out about 'little and often' is important too. When you do a grammar exercise you're not just learning or consolidating a new point. You're also getting your brain into the language-learning frame of mind - hearing an accent, or noticing sth different, remembering a word you've come across before in a different context.

13:37 Berni: Been trying to join in but keep losing Y signal

13:37 rosamund: Yes, David, doing sth you find interesting is very important - you mustn't turn the task into a chore.

13:38 DavidBW: Hope Berni gets her signal back!

13:40 rosamund: Yes, so do I. Berni's always ahead of the game! It could be really useful for people to be able to join us via iPhone. All those poeple in the world who commute - they could all be on Gapfillers, learning English, or watching the news as they do so!

13:41 rosamund: people, I meant

13:44 DavidBW: Despite the array and advance of technology the mobile signals can still be a barrier to effective on-the-move online communications. I tried to access this chat via my Blackberry but it was too slow (though that's likely to be down my phone being 2G rather than 3G!) so I had to revert to a desktop PC.

13:46 DavidBW: I think we need a couple more tips - so far we've had:1 - Little

13:49 DavidBW: hmm, I think most of my last msg got truncated. I'll try the list again without using next line key! 1) Little

13:51 DavidBW: I think the msg box does not like the ampersand sign!

13:51 rosamund: I think i would suggest that people allow themselves to go over the work they've done even when they've finished it. it can be at that point that you see the particular use of a preposition, or a spelling or idiom you'd missed.

13:51 DavidBW: 1) Little and often2) Plan3) Choose sth interesting

13:52 rosamund: 4) Consolidate

13:53 DavidBW: 4) Choose sth that gives immediate feedback5) Set a time limit6) Follow tips given online at the host website (e.g. GapTip)7) Join a forum or chat room

13:53 DavidBW: 8) Consolidate!

13:53 DavidBW: 9) Revisit, repeat

13:54 rosamund: Vary what you do, if that suits you. If you're the opposite type, keep to the order of activities or routine that works for you! Oops - jumped ahead of you there, David. Sorry

13:54 DavidBW: One more!

13:54 rosamund: Smile! You know more now than you did 10 minutes ago.

13:56 DavidBW: A great one to finish on, Ros! Yes, smile and remind yourself of the benefits of learning another language!

So our Top 10 Tips for online language learning success are:


  1. Do a bit every day
  2. Plan - an approach or strategy for your learning
  3. Choose something interesting
  4. Consolidate
  5. Choose something with (immediate) feedback
  6. Set a time limit
  7. Follow the tips and advice given on the web-site
  8. Join a forum or chat room and USE IT
  9. Re-visit, repeat and recycle
  10. Smile :-) you know more than you did 10 minutes ago!

23 Feb 2011 09:07

Entry for 16 Feb 2011



How do I know what to study to improve my English language?'

Welcome to live chat.

12:51 Berni: Hello it's Wednesday so it's GapChat day!! Our topic today is 'How do I know what to study to improve my English language?' See you all shortly :-)

13:05 Berni: With so much now available on the internet it is difficult to be selective. I would start by setting yourself a goal which is focused and achievable and time-related (a week or a month) and then choose things that will help you reach that goal.

13:18 Berni: So, for example, if you short-term goal was to improve listening skills, you could concentrate on listening exercises for a week. If you choose the ones from Gapfillers then you will get other help too like vocabulary, grammar and some reading.

13:19 Berni: One very key aspect is make sure that what you choose will help you to improve which means it should give you support (like a teacher) or you will simply go round in circles.So jsut listening to the news channel is fine but it won't necessarily help you to develop your skills.

13:20 Cee: Hi Berni. I'm a bit late this week!

13:20 rosamund: Hi, Berni - it took me a while to get onto the Gapchat page today - the restricted list on the LH side of the Home Page doesn't include 'Member Home' or other links for Gapchat. Yes, just because the listening exercise is what you do doesn't mean other work gets left out - as you say, often the vocabulary is broken down for you, and there are language points too, such as grammar or explanations about what something actually means, or might mean. Hello, Cee!

13:22 Berni: Hi Cee, Hi Ros not sure what's happening. I went out and came back in but it didn't make a difference!

13:23 Cee: I had a problem trying to get onto Gapchat earlier - we have gremlin today I think!

13:24 Berni: Really I didn't but there seems to be something going on to the right :-(

13:25 Berni: Maybe other people are having the same problem (ever the optimist!)

13:25 rosamund: To check your own improvement you could copy information such as vocabulary and then test yourself on it, or make a bi-lingual list, if that helps you get the new words fixed in your mind. Some people just like to say the new words out loud, and not write them down at all. It's useless my writing new foreidn words down - I have to say them as I do so - it's the hearing that helps me absorb new language far more than reading.

13:26 rosamund: for 'foreidn' please read 'foreign'!

13:29 rosamund: Would you believe it!! (= It's just incredible.) I've just gone onto the Gapfillers Home Page so i could tell you about the short list I saw and it's the same length as usual!! You'll think I'm making it up! (To make sth up - to invent sth.)

13:29 Berni: We just had a teacher chat on #eltchat (twitter) about vocabulary and the concensus was that the words have to be used in some way to retain them - I agree with this and it echoes what you are saying Ros.

13:30 Berni: Not sure about the shortlist Ros - where was it?

13:34 rosamund: On the left, Berni, there were only about 6 or 7 actual headings, including the Home Page at the top, and then a few others including Word of the Day and Fun Stuff, also Have a Go, Events Calendar and Contact Us - but it was a short list, not the usual one that we have here on the left, and no blue panel with member Home and Unsubscribe on it.

13:36 Berni: Online does not mean completely alone - I don't believe you can improve much without the proper support (some people can but they're exceptional). This deosn't have to be a teacher but a sight where a tecaher has thought about what the student will need to use the material and have some sort of learning outcome. Don't you think Ros, Cee?

13:37 Cee: Berni, do you think it would be a good idea to have Gaptips - a programme, if you like, of how to use the use, improve, progress etc, so that people can log on and know how to get the best from the site in order to tailor your studies online?

13:37 Berni: I think you were in the general Home Page for non-members - sometimes it does that but once you're in you won't see it again.

13:37 Berni: Yes, Ros I think members need more direction.

13:38 rosamund: Yes, and one way of using the words is by going back to an exercise if it has vocbaulary in the form of a quiz - it often comes before the reading or listening exercise, but could also be useful afterwards as a reinforcmenet exercise - so you could read the definitions at the bottom of a matching exercise and give the word it defines.

13:38 Cee: Oh fooey - sb 'to use the site' not 'use the use' ;-{

13:39 Cee: We all have butter fingers today!!

13:41 Berni: Speak for yourself! (= don't accuse me)! :-)

13:41 rosamund: Cee, strictly between you and me, do you think Berni's had one too many today? (= is drunk). I'm reading 'sight' for site' and 'tecaher' - is that 'teacher' do you think? My vocabulary and reinforcement aren't too good either, mind!

13:42 rosamund: Between you and me - oh dear, I'm proving your point, Cee!

13:43 Cee: Ha. I have seen your typos, Berni. Yes, Ros, I think we are all suffering from the same ailment today, tho!

13:44 Berni: hehehe, how NOT to write good English is today's lesson!!

12:51 Berni: Hello it's Wednesday so it's GapChat day!!Our topic today is 'How do I know what to study to improve my

13:45 Cee: A 'How to use the site' page would be jolly useful, as you come onto the site and there is such a marvellous wealth of work, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start, let alone progress

13:45 Cee: New page - Gapspell!! LOL

13:46 rosamund: Some of our members may have to give themselves permission to do some work quickly, if they are anything like me. Sometimes you need to be able to read or listen to something quickly and not get too bogged down (delayed, sidetracked, obsessed with) with following up every word. I know I am guilty of that - you have to do some activities fast, just to get a bit of speed up, and not turn everything into a massive piece of linguistic research.

13:47 rosamund: You could decide to do 10 minutes' worth of grammar and then stop. It's amazing how much you can do when you have a deadline!

13:48 Berni: This is a good idea Ros. If everyone did the work from Gapfillers latest (

13:48 Cee: Ooh, I foresee a new task - batching sections into short, long or v long study periods..... That way people know where to go depending on the time they have available to study in

13:49 Berni: oops lost my text! (and subscribed to the RSS so that everything comes to your as soon as it is posted) then they could do one thing at speed - the news bulletin would be good as it is short.

13:49 Berni: Some of Ros's exercises are in two parts a quick version and a more in depth look - which is a good idea.

13:50 rosamund: Or you could decide that you'll watch the news every day, but be quick about it, so you get good at getting the gist (= the general idea) but don't spend so long on all the ins and outs that you lose the will to live and the motivation to do a couple of other things - whihc you might do in more detail.

13:51 rosamund: Sorry, Berni - we must have had the same idea re the news bulletins at the same time! Great minds think alike! And by the way - i meant 'which'.

13:51 Cee: Oh Ros, you so nearly made that without an error.....which, not whihc!! LOL

13:52 rosamund: It's with my touchtyping, Cee, i just press 'send' without re-reading it and then regret it!

13:53 rosamund: To touchtype is to type without looking at the keyboard.

13:54 Berni: These are all great ideas about how to use things online. How do we go about assessing how well we have done if there are no answer keys?

13:54 rosamund: Yes, I'm warming to my idea now - vary the speed. (Motto - if no-one else believes in you, believe in yourself! Joke!!)

13:56 Berni: Motto - we here at Gapfillers believe in you and your ability to progress even when you don't believe it yourself!!

13:57 Cee: I like that motto Berni.

13:58 Berni: We should bandy (= distribute) it around the Gapfillers site!

13:58 rosamund: Berni, is it enough for some of your work to be assessed, but not all of it? Do you think we must be able to increase our speed or cover several pieces of work without getting too obsessed with how much or whether all of it has gone in? it's difficult to trust that new information has gone in (= has been absorbed / digested) passively, and will re-emerge at a later date, or become more active when a member comes across it again.

14:00 rosamund: Cee, just you wait 'til you next make a typo.I'm rubbing my hands already........ You'll really hear it from me!

14:01 rosamund: I'm off before Cee sends a brickbat my way. (A brickbat - some criticism). 'Bye, folks!

14:02 Berni: Good point Ros - you'll know how much you understood and how easily you were able to do the work so that in itself is assessment - maybe what's missing then is abrobation (praise, encouragement)?

14:03 Berni: er aprobation - sorry - but the personal satisfaction might be enough.Ok Bye and thank you for your input on this very important topic. See you next week.

14:04 Berni: OMG - wrong again!! APPROBATION!!

16 Feb 2011 14:07

Entry for 9 Feb 2011



How can I get my English to a really high level?

Welcome to live chat.

09:02 Berni: Don't forget GapChat at 13.00 GMT today! See you then :-)

12:51 Berni: Hello and welcome to today's GapChat. How can I get my English to a really high level? I'm very excited about this topic as I think Gapfillers is a perfect way to start!

12:59 Berni: Add your comments in the box and press send. Don't worry about just watching what others

are doing. Add your comments when you feel ready.

13:00 Berni: Hi Blanca I hope you manage to stay with us today!

13:00 Blanca Morales: Hi Berni, I´m sure you have the clue to get my English to a really high level?

13:01 Berni: I was hoping you would give us your advice as your English is at a very high level already!

13:01 Blanca Morales: It seems to be working at the moment.

13:02 Berni: I think one point about you Blanca is that you keep going and always look for areas of your English to work on - this is very important!

13:03 Berni: Three words that I think are very important (and they all begin with P) are Patience, Perseverance and Performance

13:04 Berni: HI Cee welcome - any nuggets for today's chat?

13:04 Cee: Hi. Just getting my brain into gear!!

13:05 Blanca Morales: It is but it´s true my commitment to keep it going is high, that´s part of my life but when you´re just a learner is more difficult.

13:05 Cee: Would you add a further p - practise

13:05 Berni: Great idiom Cee! It means to get ready for action.

13:06 jay: Hi Friends..

13:06 Blanca Morales: I agree with these 4 P principles you two have just mentioned.

13:07 Berni: I agree Cee practice and performance go hand in hand you need to take opportunities to perform and then depending on the outcome go back and practise (note 2 spellings pof practice/practise noun/verb).

13:07 Berni: pof obviously? = of Lol!

13:08 rosamund: Hi, everyone! I'll butt in when I have an idea - you seem to have got off to a flying start!

13:09 Berni: HI Jay welcome we are exploring what you should do to get your English to a high level and have come up the the 4P process! Pretty cool!

13:09 rosamund: butt in = interrupt, cut in. i suppose it's a bit informal

13:09 Berni: Wow we're producing great idioms today! Hello Ros welcome.

13:10 Berni: By the way cut in was our word of the day earlier in the week.

13:11 jay: This is first time chattting with you guys am new..Could you tell me about this use of chat..

13:11 Berni: So, how can we really use this process of patience, perseverence, practice and performance to push our skills?

13:12 Cee: Do you think getting your English to a high level is a staged process? - read, listen, speak. So that, in stages your confidence builds along with your ability?

13:12 rosamund: Hello, Jay - nice to meet you! What are your ideas about getting your English up to a high level? I think it's important not to overlook the little opportunities that crop up (= occur) in your everyday routine. A friend of mine learned Polish while he was travelling to work on the metro eveyr day. It was the only free time he had, but he made use of it with a notebook, a list of vocabulary and sometimes headphones!

13:13 Berni: Jay we meet and chat each Wednesday about a topic on online English language learning

13:13 rosamund: Oops! typoe = I meant every

13:13 rosamund: typo - oh dear

13:14 Berni: The topic is voted for by Gapfillers members and then we discuss and look at ways we can use Gapfillers (and other things) to improve English skills

13:14 Cee: Great idea Ros. I have heard of people learning a language by listening to the radio - song lyrics as well as conversation.

13:15 Berni: We are looking at how to really make a difference to English language skills. I think to do something every day (even 5 or 10 minutes) will help.

13:16 Berni: The important things you have in thes example Cee is that this is authentic, real English and so is a good model.

13:17 Berni: The negative side of just listening to songs or radio is that in some way you need to convert this into an active skill - speaking or writing

13:17 Blanca Morales: Once you have reached an advanced level if you want to overcome that plateau level you feel at, you really need a professional to make your English progress. There I come to sth o learnt from Berni, which is brilliant: language auditing -is the spelling right?-

13:18 Berni: Yes, Blanca I agree you have to have someone chack that you are correct and that you don't keep making the same mistakes - language auditing is a way of assessing your own language for the mistakes you make over and over

13:19 rosamund: Yes, Berni, i agree - what's ideal is to be able to make the most of the time you have - the word of the day doesn't take long for people to absorb - and the grammar exercises here on Gapfillers are also short. Some people like to make their own notes on reading or listening exercises to reinforce what they've covered - it depends on how your brain works, really. This can be a way of making the learning more active, to take your point, Berni. it's not active active, but it's not just passive - you're taking sth and doing sth with it.

13:19 rosamund: did you mean 'check' Berni? My dictionary doesn't have 'chack'. (ho, ho!)

13:19 Berni: Jay what is your opinion on getting your English to a really good level?

13:20 Berni: Oh Ros Lol!

13:20 Blanca Morales: Can you see what I´m saying?

13:21 Berni: Yes Blanca - have you faded again?

13:23 jay: Berni..Actually i have a habit to improve my english skills.i used to find new word from dictonary and write it a pice of paper..i will read number of times whenever getting time on whole traving ,roaming and somtimes while do bathing..!!!!

13:23 Berni: If you really want to improve your skills then you have to kep an eye on what 'real' speakers do - I find some students get to a reasonable level and then just go round in circles.

13:24 Blanca Morales: In fact, practice and awareness are important to boost the learning process.

13:24 jay: 'real' speakers means....native speakers?

13:24 Berni: This is a great idea Jay if you keep looking at the word and using it you will remember it! Make sure you look, listen, speak or write even a little every day.

13:25 Berni: Yes that's right or very good speakers (they may not be native) I think having a good model is important that way you don't 'learn' mistakes

13:25 rosamund: Yes, Jay - that's a good idea. Do you ever put the word on a post-it? They're little bits of sticky paper that you can stick on the fridge, or the bathroom mirror, so you look at them regularly. I have different colours, as i find even that can help words to stick (= sink in = become absorbed / learned).

13:26 jay: but whenever iam trying to speak in english ..iam always used to form sentence in my monther lang..then iam transalate it...some times i cant trsnalate what am thinking..

13:27 Berni: So to summmarise - we need to be patient and persevere, we need to practise and perform as much as possible, we need to have good language models and finally we need to expose ourselves to some English every day

13:27 Cee: Ha ha - some of the English used in the media is really quite poor!

13:28 Berni: Aha Jay now this is important - try not to do this as it rarely comes out right - use what you already know in English and start with simple sentences - what do you think Blanca?

13:28 Berni: I agree Cee it can be awful but there is still enough that is good to use I feel.

13:28 jay: Yes...Rosamund..used to stick papers on my walls,TV and bike!!!

13:29 Berni: Jay, you sound as though you are already doing everything you need to do to improve your English! Now try and 'think' in English!

13:30 Berni: Right so how can Gapfillers help?

13:30 Cee: Jay , my friend had a rule when learning French - If I wish to speak in French I must think it French too! She said it was very useful.

13:31 Cee: Whoops, 'Think IN French', not it -another typo

13:31 rosamund: It's a much better idea to simplify what you're thinking in your own language and base what you say on sth you know is right. It's always interesting wondering how you would actually say sth in your own language - often it would be really difficult, so better not to translate too much of the time, just occasionally. It's essential to vary your different types of learning, too. You can get bored and stop taking things in.

13:32 jay: sth means?

13:33 Berni: it means something (an abbreviation often used by teachers!)

13:33 Cee: Sth is an abbreviation of the word- something

13:33 jay: Fine

13:33 rosamund: sth = something - sorry, Jay. sb = somebody so = someone. You're talking to someone who has spent too much of her life in different dictionaries.

13:34 rosamund: That's why i know how much time you save doing work on this site and not having to look things up! I've been there and done that! (= That has been my own experience.)

13:34 Berni: I love the picture of you living in a dictionary Ros! I am sure this would improve language skills a lot!!

13:35 Berni: Jay, where are you joining us from today?

13:35 jay: From India

13:36 Berni: I'm in cold wet UK!

13:36 Berni: How often do you use English actively?

13:36 rosamund: Wow! Do your friends and family all call you Jay - or is that short for another name?

13:37 jay: Actually we used to speak in english in office hours..

13:37 Berni: Is that a rule or just your habit in your office?

13:37 rosamund: Was that for fun, or because you had to, for work purposes?

13:38 jay: because in india more than 500 native language is English is gobal language for Indians.

13:38 rosamund: The idea of 500 native languages makes my head spin!

13:39 Berni: I think English has been a common language in India for a very long time - how do you feel it compares with English in the UK?

13:39 Cee: Wow, 500 native languages!

13:40 rosamund: In a typical secondary school in the UK we might have 12 - 15 different native languages - only in some would there be more than that - but I can't imagine there being 500!Top of Form

13:41 jay: Berni..We used to follow UK English only

13:41 Cee: Jay, do you have to speak some English before you start employment, or do you learn it whilst you are working?

13:43 rosamund: What sort of English do you usually need - presumably social English, and also some sort of work-type English, vocabulary and phrases to do with meetings, correspondence, pay and conditions?

13:43 jay: from working environment only...Actually here lot of pepole good in English...

13:44 Berni: Good question Ros - it does depend also on what you need/want to learn - you can plan your programme to reach this goal.

13:45 rosamund: We have a lot of material on the site which should be useful in a work context, Jay.

13:45 jay: I want both !!!! Social as well as Work-type

13:45 Berni: Jay, this is the best answer - everything! can I ask you how you use the Gapfillers site to help youo improve your English skills

13:45 rosamund: Yes, we always laught when people who haven't learned a language say they want 'telephone English'. i mean, what do you want to say on the telephone?!!

13:46 jay: Because its makes bore if you speaks only work-type english with friends..Am i right?

13:46 rosamund: laugh - sorry!

13:46 rosamund: I agree, it is boring - and you can be a bit of a bore, too.

13:47 Berni: I think you are right Jay the more widely you use English the better it will become - is there a P word for this?

13:47 Berni: Also, doing things that are not work-related will keep you interested and often you learn more because you are enjoying the topic!

13:48 Berni: Lol Ros, especially if people can only talk about their jobs!!

13:49 rosamund: Shall we invent a term for using Englihs as widely as you can, over as many areas and fields as possible - what about calling it 'parachuting'?! Jay, Blanca, I'm being silly here, just ignore me.

13:50 rosamund: English - I meant to type

13:50 Berni: Actually parachuting could just work!

13:50 Berni: So, Jay how did you find out about Gapfillers?

13:50 Cee: I can see Potential for some typing lessons here, people!! We are all making lots of typos!

13:51 rosamund: Folks, I'm sorry, but I have to go. Good to chat - thanks for your ideas - I'm going to go and have another think about some of this. have a good week, everyone.

13:52 Cee: I like the term 'parachuting', Ros.

13:52 Berni: Bye Ros and thank you for your ideas and thoughts - see you next time!

13:52 Cee: Bye Ros.

13:53 jay: Its really good!

13:53 jay: Got some new word from here

13:54 Berni: I think you are doing the right thing with your practice Jay - maybe you can formalise it a bit more so that you have an idea about the progress you are making. Do you get the word of the day?

13:55 Cee: That's the good thing about coming onto Gapchat - you see people using everyday, 'real' English including idioms, slang and abbraviations. It's all very useful!

13:55 jay: yes..

13:55 Berni: Which area of your language do you think you need to improve the most?

13:55 Cee: AAghh, abbrEviations! Sorry

13:56 Berni: Lol Cee!

13:57 jay: Simple sentence format and vacabulary

13:57 Berni: In speaking or writing?

13:58 jay: both

13:59 Cee: I have to leave, now. Nice to 'see' here today Jay. Thanks again Berni. See you all next week.

13:59 Berni: I see - how much listening practice do you do?

13:59 jay: Bye Cee....

13:59 Berni: Bye Cee thank you for all your input it was very helpful. See you soon :-)

14:00 jay: i have no extra listening proctice! just i will intract with my co-workers and friends ..nothing else

14:02 Berni: I think this is something you can do to improve - try to find some listening exercises on Gapfillers (or another site you use) make sure there are some exercises so you can test yourself but this will help you to get exposed to good English models in different topics.

14:03 Berni: As you hear more of these examples you can use them in your own speaking and writing and this shoudl help you with your word order and grammar - but be patient it won't happen overnight.

14:03 jay: where can i find listing exercises from Gapfillers?

14:04 Berni: er should -typing is not my strength!!

14:04 Berni: Are you a full member?

14:05 jay: Full member means...paid member?

14:06 Berni: Yes

14:07 jay: No Dear!!!1

14:09 Berni: If it isn't possible for you to be a paid member then you can check out Have a Go which has a few listening exercises or Free Exercises which will have one AND enter the GapSkill challenge and you can win a free membership!! ( you should have got an email today about the challenge - if not I'll send it to you).

14:10 jay: Thanks buddy! Please send me

14:11 Berni: OK I will - find the answer and enter and you have a good chance of winning! Then you will see the Listening and news sections which have lots of practice!!

14:13 jay: Fine...

14:13 Berni: OK Jay I have to go now it was great talking to you and I hope to see you win the challenge!! See you again in another chat.

14:13 jay: Thank you so much for your support..

14:14 jay: Have a great time..Bye

14:16 Berni: It is my pleasure - see you soon! Bye :-)


9 Feb 2011 14:18

Entry for 19 Jan 2011



How can we meet other people on Gapfillers and work together to improve English skills

12:54 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat and thank you to all those who voted on our first ever GapChat poll!

12:57 Berni: We had a tie for the topic between using Gapfillers and collaboration so we can combine these and talk about both the Gapfillers material and also working with other people on the site.

12:58 Berni: To join in the chat just type your comment in the box below and press send. If you're not sure what to say just follow the chat and see what other people do and add your comment when you feel ready

13:09 rosamund: Hello, Berni! I was thinking that members can collaborate with us on the site by writing comments and sending them to us. Berni, would people normally go to 'Messages' and then choose an individual - for example 'Berni'? I haven't done it myself as I'm on a different circuit!

13:12 Berni: Hi Ros, yes they would - it's a very long list (I'm working on changing this to make it easier). They can also send out a message to the whole network (say Gapfillers Forum) and could use this function to set up a chat or another collaboration

13:14 rosamund: There are also 'comments' boxes on some pages on the righthand side where anyone can send a comment, too. Sometimes people just write in 'I liked this' or ask for more work on the same sort of lines. You don't have to write a Shakespeare play!

13:15 rosamund: So to send a message to the Gapfillers Forum they would go to 'Networks' at the top of the Member Home page and choose 'Gapfillers Forum'. That would reach everybody, pretty well, wouldn't it.

13:19 Berni: You are right about the messages many pages have these where you can comment about the topic or the exercise. Yes most people would be in Gapfillers Forum and this is the best place to meet other learners

13:20 Berni: On the subject of using Gapfillers to improve skills then the best advice I can give is actually use it! If you don't try and practise regularly then you won't improve.

13:22 Berni: It's a good idea to try and do the daily practice unit in Gapfillers latest as a start then why not set up a small study group and use chat to share ideas etc..

13:23 Blanca Morales: Hello, happy new year you two. I´m sorry I´m a bit late. I know what the topic is but I don´t know what ideas you´re discussing.

13:23 rosamund: One thing that learners often really love is songs, but it can be hard choosing suitable ones whose language is fairly standard, or at least useful enough linguistically. People could exchange links with each other by sending out a request to Gapfillers Forum. This can be especially true for teachers with an age-range to cater for.

13:24 Blanca Morales: What do you mean by a study group Berni?

13:25 Berni: Hi Blanca just sent you an email. I mean if you find others on Gapfillers who want to work together as a group then you can support each other in your study using the chat room to met and discuss progress etc..

13:26 Berni: YOu could invite them via a network message - in your case - Hi I'm an English language teacher

13:27 Blanca Morales: You mean a general message specifying the topic, for instance?

13:27 Berni: oops lost the message - is anybody interested in forming a small study group to support our learning? When you get replies then you can meet here in the chat room and work out a study strategy

13:28 Berni: Yes, Blanca you could do that - anybody want to look at listening skills for example

13:29 Blanca Morales: Interesting! Are there many subscriber teachers?

13:29 Berni: On songs Ros you are absolutely,right

13:30 Berni: keep losing my text today! I was saying that we should have a special search for songs like we have for Youtube

13:30 rosamund: Sometimes other learners even find it useful to know how long other people took to complete an exercise, Blanca. it can help to know that grammar exercise 1 in the week's work only took 5 minutes whereas the listening took someone 35 mins. It can help people to choose what they have time for. Even though people's workrate varies it can be useful to know a particular piece of work will take only a few minutes.

13:30 Berni: Yes, there are a lot - I am thinking about expanding the teacher area and making it into a mentor group

13:31 Blanca Morales: I don´t know what the matter is, it looks like this has got stuck:

13:32 Berni: It keeps happening to me too I get just the first line - or are you only seeing your own messages?

13:36 rosamund: Another way in which we could help each other and you might be in specialist areas. It can be helpful to ask others for recommendations for material for medics (=doctors). It's another area that can take non-natives ages to investigate alone as the research takes so long to trawl through. I think some people actually lose the will to live by about page 103 on some book websites. To lose the will to live is a humorous way of saying something has become very monotonous. Of course it can be used when someone dies, too.

13:38 Berni: I agree

13:39 rosamund: Sorry - not just medics - I gave them as an example! Tour-guides or office-workers might also have their own agendas they'd appreciate help with. I used to find tracking down virtual visits time-consuming too, but great to watch. You can just sit there looking around a famous place and it's just as if you're there!

13:39 Blanca Morales: I´ve just refreshed the page

13:40 Berni: Keep losing my text! Hi BLanca!

13:41 Berni: I was trying to say that people could recommend exercises that they have found useful

13:42 Berni: Is everything ok now Blanca?

13:45 Berni: Not sure why that happens sometimes people are fine and then just lose the text - seems to happen the first time they come here or in Blanca's case after a long absence

13:45 Blanca Morales: Well, I´m sorry I can´t see any messages! Hope to meet you again.

13:45 Berni: Oh Blanca what a bore! I'll get Richard to check this out!

13:46 rosamund: Oh no, Blanca! What a nuisance!

13:49 rosamund: Berni it occurs to me we could put the Favorites link on some more pages. It's a quick way for people to rate the page. Of course, there will be individual differences, because something you found too easy might be rather challenging for someone else. But it's useful for us to get that feedback. Perhaps we could have another vote on a topic some time in the future? Liked the idea.

13:51 Berni: I want to continue with the poll it's another way to involve people. The favourutes idea is good too as that involves - p'haps we can get a leader-board want one for GapSkill too

13:51 rosamund: Just off! People know we're here and can be contacted, don't they. Some people communicate often, others don't.

13:52 Berni: I get messages via 'contactus' which come as emails - there are lots of ways regustrations are still going string so now I need to find out more from all these people - will do a survey

13:53 Berni: opps lots of typos! This year will be the year!

13:53 Berni: Bye Ros and thank you

13:56 Berni: Bye Blanca nice to see you here again!

19 Jan 2011 16:15

Entry for 12 Jan 2011



New Year's resolutions - what do you need to improve in your English?

12:51 Berni: Welcome to the first GapChat of 2011. Here's to a great year of learning!

12:52 Berni: Our topic today is New Year's resolutions - what do you need to improve in your English? Share your resolutions with us and we'll explore ways of making them happen using Gapfillers!

13:05 Berni: To participate simple type your ideas into the box and press send. If you want to watch the discussion first and get a 'feel' for it that's fine. Jump in when you are ready!

13:12 Berni: Hi Gill welcome any thoughts on new year resolutions and English development? Most people seem to cite speaking.

13:49 rosamund: I think it might be useful to decide to make it 'little and often'. It's easy to feel it's only worth doing anything if you can have a good run at something (to spend a serious amount of time or effort on sth) but in reality, most of us are juggling various commitments and it's more feasible to be happy with 20 minutes here and 15 minutes there. What do you think, Berni?

13:55 Berni: HI Ros Happy New Year - I was just about to leave it!

13:56 Berni: I agree little and often in best and we make it easy on Gapfillers with Gapfillers latest which gives a suggested programme for the week

13:57 Berni: Of courses people can create their own daily/weekly programme from the material we have

14:00 rosamund: Yes, I think I'd always opt for following the programme, just for the sake of using my time well - but people can work in dribs and drabs (informal = little chunks) towards completing the week's programmes. Happy New Year to all! Bye

14:03 Berni: Thank you Ros for these useful comments Happy New Year everyone see you all soon!

12 Jan 2011 16:02

Entry for 22 Dec 2010



Open forum - your ideas for the site

12:58 Berni: Welcome to today's chat - another open forum where we want to get your ideas for the site and the training material!

12:59 Berni: Type your messages in the box below and press send. Don't worry if you are not sure what to do just watch the others first and begin when you are ready. Ask me if you need any help.

13:15 Berni: This will be our last chat before the New Year. We will start the chats again on January 12th

13:31 rosamund: Hello, Berni!Berni, if i wanted to send a comment or a message, how would i go about it? Sometimes I see a message on Gapfillers on the 'word of the day' page - they don't always come through the message box - or so it seems to me. Any explanations would be gratefully received!

13:33 Berni: Not sure how they gt there if not via the comments box - tho I have sometimes searched for them and not found the right place. If a reply via the comments box doesn't work then I think the only thing to do is to send via messages in Member Home

13:33 rosamund: Yes, I've just seen some on the 'free exercises' page. What do people do that means their messages end up on certain pages, rather than in the message networks?

13:34 rosamund: Sorry, I was obviously busy typing just as you were answering!

13:37 Berni: Just had a look - I think these messages were via the message box (do you have this displayed?) and in response to the Challenge which is via email or through a link on the home page

13:46 Cee: Hi. Sorry I'm late. At least I get to wish you Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

13:46 rosamund: Thanks, Berni - I've just noticed that there is a 'comments' box on som p[ages, but not all. By 'message box' do you mean the bars you see above this page, now - so, messages or network inbox etc? I just love the page on Christmas carols, Berni - with the supposed health and safety, and politically correct comments on them by London Fire Brigade! They must have some good wits among them!I don't have the actual words 'message box' thought I do have 'messages' in a box, as you do, above this page. Is that it?

13:47 rosamund: Corrections: some pages / though, not thought

13:56 rosamund: The 'details' box i above is useful for when people change anything such as their email addresses, or mobile numbers etc. Think I've got the hang of it now, Berni - but no, I don't have 'message box' displayed anywhere. Mystery.

13:57 Berni: sorry phone call. Hi Cee, Thanks Ros for the Fire Brigade piece I added the video but didn't get round to the questions - planned to do some on vocab

14:00 rosamund: Hello, Cee - all the very best to you and your family! It is snowing very heavily here now - will you have a white Christmas too? Happy Christmas and my very best wishes to you too, Berni and family, for 2011. Liked the Gapfillers greeting card! Smart. We'll work on doing some vocab, Berni - coming up to Christmas it's always busy, isn't it, and we've had such disruptions because of the heavy snowfall. Our central heating broke down because of sever frost yesterday. Glad you didn't see Dave or me up a ladder thawing pipes..... Took us 2 hours!

14:01 rosamund: for sever (= cut) please read severe!

14:01 Berni: The comments boxes are the one on the right of the page not all pages have them - it's difficult to track them sometimes so I didn't add too many (Cee you should put one on your Diary pages) We put them where ppl might want to comment

14:02 rosamund: Off now to answer the door - hope that's the postman with some parcels! See you next year!

14:03 Berni: We missed tis lot of snow but it's been really COLD! I've been unfreezing pipes as well! Have lovely Christmas Ros and Cee

14:06 Berni: Yikes a lot of spelling errors there! The other thing we keep forgetting is the favourites option. We can get members to favourite pages - haven't used it for ages - need to decide what feedback we want.

14:06 Berni: Time for all this in the New Year. Ok off now See you both in 2011!!


22 Dec 2010 00:00

Entry for 15 Dec 2010



What would you like to see on Gapfillers that isn't there?

13:11 Rick: Hello

13:12 rosamund: Hello, Rick. I had just left a message, but it hasn't registered on the Gapboard!

13:14 rosamund: I had written that people seem to like the topicality of Gapfillers material - that the topics themselves and their sources seem up--to-date. Do you have anything you wanted to say, in particular?

13:15 Berni: Welcome to today's GatChat session. Today it's over to you. What would you like to see on Gapfillers that isn't there?

13:16 rosamund: Sorry, Berni, I had sent something in earlier, but am on my way out now.

13:16 Berni: Hi sorry about the glitch all ok now. Hi Ros. I sent aout a message to say we had visiting gremlins so maybe one to two will pop along!

13:16 Berni: See you later Ros!

13:26 Berni: I'm afraid we have visiting gremlins today which delayed the start of GapChat and maybe it's progress too! Thise darned things! A gremlin is an imaginary creature that causes problems with things technology related. So if you have a computer 'glitch' you can blame the gremlins!!

13:31 DavidBW: hello Berni, seems to working ok at this end now

13:33 DavidBW: I think there's a gremlin my grammar! make that "seems to be working ok..."

13:34 Berni: Hi David - yes we managed to fix it

13:34 Berni: Our topic is about suggestions and ideas for content - do you have any?

13:36 DavidBW: There's such a wide variety of topics already available on Gapfillers

13:41 Berni: I know we cober most of the grammar and a wide range of listening and reading material. And we now have this amazing offer in December of a 99 year subscription!

13:42 Berni: I mean cover

13:43 DavidBW: Specialist areas are a good idea but one would need the volume or demand to justify this approach. Although this has been touched on before perhaps some research could be carried out in specific areas to determine demand e.g aeronautical engineeering, architecture, sports, theatre etc

13:43 Berni: We do have the business modules which are not available generally

13:45 DavidBW: Most people want to learn how to speak the language more fluently and this has been an area that Gapfillers struggled to address in the past. With the introduction of Gap Skype this helps to meet that need but should be highlighted to potential customers.

13:49 DavidBW: Must go now, see you next week?

13:50 Berni: We cover some of those topics in the themed weeks although not in any technical detail. In my experience students with specialist areas usually have a lot of the technical language but need to practise using this.

13:50 Berni: OK David - me too I think the gremlins have snookered (spoilt) this chat! See you again!


15 Dec 2010 13:11

Entry for 8 Dec 2010



How to use Gapfillers to improve English language skills?

16:22 flora: hi

12:50 Berni: Hi everyone and welcome to this week's GapChat. We're going to talk about how we can use this space more to help develop English skills.

12:51 Berni: Hi Flora sorry you were alone here! This is what we are trying to do to make this chat room a whole lot busier!

12:52 Berni: To join in the discussion today just type your comment in the box at the bottom and press send. It;s quite ok to watch the conversation before you decide to add a comment - do it in your own time.

13:00 Cee: Good day everybody!

13:00 Berni: HI Cee, hi Ros welcome

13:03 Berni: I don't think members really realise that they can invite other members here using Network messages and the form small study groups that work together.

13:06 Berni: They could meet regularly to go over their exercises and support each other in their progress.

13:08 Cee: I didn't realise that!! Perhaps we need to get that message across to them in a BIG way?

13:08 rosamund: Hello, everyone! Berni, do you mean people would go into Network Home, then go to Messages - I don't recognise many people's names there, if I try that., but I'm being dim (= unintelligent)... I'll just go and try it again

13:11 Berni: I think the first step for them would be to send a metwork message say to this forum inviting people to join a study group. Once they have the names who are interested then they could invite them to a chat session here and it would then grow from there.

13:13 Berni: I suppose we could initiate it - it would be better from members themselves though.

13:16 Cee: They need to know they can do it, and how. I think a lack of confidence can really prevent people from taking the initiative, dont you?

13:17 Berni: Yes this is true but how to help with that confidence?

13:18 rosamund: Thanks, Berni. i agree it would be better from members - I wonder what sort of study groups people would like. Maybe some members would like to contact people doing the Business Modules and ask them how long the work takes, and what they've found useful. Perhaps people would like a poetry and short stories group where they could voice their preferences and opinions - a sort of online book group! I don't know if people outside the UK realise how very popular book groups are in Britain! orry, the conversation has moved on, and I'm writing in a parallel monologue here.....

13:19 rosamund: for ..orry, please read 'sorry'!

13:19 Cee: No, Ros, I think you are right - we could 'advertise' exectly that sort of thing- poetry forum etc

13:20 Cee: Oh pants! I meant exActly!

13:21 Berni: Wow some fantastic ideas - I really love the idea of the book group! It could be just a place to ask about certain exercises that they may be struggling with or not sure about.

13:21 Berni: Cee do you fancy getting a book group together?

13:22 Cee: Aagh - curse you Ros for having such good ideas!!!

13:22 rosamund: Do you think the book group should be something very specific, Berni - I like Cee's idea of a poetry forum.

13:22 Cee: Yes, I would do that.

13:22 Berni: The great thing about the Gapfillers setup is that you can study alone but don't have to study in isolation!

13:23 Berni: Yes I think the wider it is the more it may get lost - they could write stuff too using the wiki

13:24 Cee: Yep, Berni, I like that - it should be our strap-line! 'Study alone, but not in isolation. Join the Gapfillers community and see your language skills grow'

13:24 rosamund: I would like to see some reactions to the News Bulletin - we always have a message board on the right, where people could leave their responses. It could be something as simple as 'I liked this!' or 'you would never see this sort of article in our press, it's too trivial' or whatever.

13:26 Berni: There is a favourites tab but it's not on many pages perhaps we can add it more.What about a current affairs group which could lead to writing short articles - the possibilties are endless really!

13:27 rosamund: O bet there are some fantastic photographers out there who could add their photos to our Virtual Weekends site, putting their favourite photos of places near where they live, or where they go on holiday. Wouldn't it be lovely to have shots (=photos) from all over the world? No reason why not!

13:28 Cee: The Gaptask has prompted more messages around the site, but I'm with you Ros - it would be great if people just popped their thoughts on the site.

13:29 Cee: It would be fabulous to see what some people are seeing as they study.

13:29 Cee: Apart from the computer screen of course!

13:30 Berni: Communication has increased a lot and we are building a core group who are sharing but mostly with us - we need to get them sharing with each other and that way the site will develop and become busier

13:31 Cee: I think a shared interest could generate that interaction - that's why the book or poetry club is such a nice idea.

13:32 Berni: Lol Cee. There is so much to do collaboratively but I'm not sure that members really see what is there. The virtual tours should help with this bit they'll need to find these in the first place!

13:33 Berni: It is possible to create endless network groups for all of this

13:33 Cee: We need a "what's in/on" front page. I think some people dive straight in and dont really know what they can do here, dont you think?

13:34 Berni: Oops lost the end - I was saying membership of groups can be very powerful at creating interest

13:35 Cee: The book/poetry groups are a valuable tool for teachers too - get the students involved

13:36 rosamund: Sorry - I just got barred from the chatroom there, think it was Cee trying to stop me talking too much! (Not really) I'd just added for 'o bet' please read 'I bet' and everything went blank...

13:37 Cee: Yeah, that'd be me ;-))

13:37 Cee: But it didnt work - because your full message came through.

13:39 Berni: what message did you get when you were barred Ros?

13:41 rosamund: Actually, it did work, because I sat here wondering if the interruption on all the radio channels up here at the moment was starting to spread. We're assuming it's the heavy snow that's playing havoc with the power lines. Minus 16 degrees where some of my friends live! Berni - I just got the message 'initialising' and signs that the page was just not loading again - the green bars at the bottom of my screen stopped at about 3, and didn't spread across.

13:48 rosamund: I recently came across some new links for Youtube material - wonder if people would like a 'Video Club' sort of site where they could go for links - again, with the chance to comment on what they liked. It's essential we hear whether people like what we've seen and chosen so we can be responsive.

13:50 Berni: Some great ideas here we could disseminate these to members and get some feedback!

13:51 rosamund: Yes, above all we don't want to bombard people with things they don't find useful. We could start one initiative and add others as people ask us to.

13:55 rosamund: Berni, when you wrote 'lol' to Cee above, what did you mean? I use it to mean 'lots of love' but often it means 'I'm laughing out loud' or 'you/ this made me laugh out loud' - was that how you meant it?

14:00 Cee: I use 'lol' when someone makes a funny comment, as a means of saying 'laughing out loud' ie 'that has made me laugh'.

14:01 rosamund: Thanks, Cee! Lol (= lots of love)!

14:03 Cee: Well, I think that's probably it for this week. Berni seems to have disappeared - she's so busy. Thanks everyone, and have a good week. See you next Wednesday

14:04 Berni: Sorry sorry, had to take a call. Lol or :-) is used to react to a joke or to signal that something shouldn't be taken too seriously

14:05 Berni: I have been watching as things came through and there are some great ideas here. Let's think about how to get some feed back and which ones might be popular! See you next week. Thanks! :0)


8 Dec 2010 13:07

Entry for 1 Dec 2010



13.00 GMT

Open forum - bring your own questions

(repeated from last week)


10:04 rosamund: Am sending my apologies for missing today's Gapchat, Berni. I should be able to make it next week however! Here's hoping! (= let's hope that continues to be the case)

10:04 rosamund: Love the virtual tours, i forget to say just now. Smart

12:51 Berni: Thanks Ros, are you snowed in? It's up to my knees almost here!!

12:51 Erdal.Isik: See you later

12:52 Berni: Hi everybody and welcome to our GapChat today - we're going to try and answer any questions

you have about Gapfillers in this session

12:52 Erdal.Isik: hello

12:53 Berni: Hi Erdal are you leaving? Thank you for popping by and I hope to see you again

12:53 Berni: Erdal, do you have any questions you would like to ask about Gapfillers?

12:54 Erdal.Isik: I want to answer this week' Gapskill task:See you later

12:55 Berni: Good idea Erdal you can post the answer in Member Home or on the Free exercises page - Good luck! Where are you from?

12:59 Erdal.Isik: I am from Turkey.You?

13:00 Berni: I'm in the UK

13:01 Cee: Hi everyone

13:01 Berni: Hi Cee just getting started

13:01 Erdal.Isik: I have difficulty in practicing English.What can I do?

13:04 Berni: What do you do at the moment to practise?

13:06 Erdal.Isik: nothing.Can you give some mail address? I want to improve my English.How can I profit you?

13:08 Berni: Have you used the exercises on Gapfillers? If you try the weekly exercises that will give youo some practice every day.

13:09 Berni: You can find this under Gapfillers Latest on the Home Page

13:10 Berni: Also join in these activities like the GapChat and the Murder Mystery game - we have more things planned for January!

13:10 Berni: Cee do you have any other suggestions?

13:10 Cee: Hi Erdal, do you have friends or family who are also learning english? Perhaps you could tell them about Gapfillers and then you could practise together

13:11 Erdal.Isik: Thanks for your suggestions

13:12 Cee: The Free Exercises page will give you new exercises every month, and there is always a grammar exercise to do.

13:13 Berni: The key is to get exposure to English as often as possible - with the internet this is not difficult. Do a lot of listening and try and mix with other learners like here.

13:14 Berni: Look out for a special email from Gapfillers later today it will tell you about some new features and a very special offer!

13:16 Cee: I think it's great that you have come to the Forum today and asked for assistance, because that shows confidence, and that is the key to learning something new - being confident about taking part. Your English seems good.

13:18 Erdal.Isik: I am keen on learning.I intend to solve this problem.But I need your help.

13:19 Berni: What do you think you need most? Listening, speaking,reading etc..

13:20 Erdal.Isik: speaking and listening

13:20 Berni: OK and why do you need English? Study, work just interest?

13:21 Erdal.Isik: teach and interest

13:22 Berni: Are you an English teacher?

13:22 Erdal.Isik: yes

13:24 Berni: Great, so you already have very good skills! Gapfillers will be perfect for you as it is at advanced level. You need to get exposure to lots of authentic material and test your skills against this - we have a lot of teachers on Gapfillers and we should get you all together!

13:25 Erdal.Isik: How can I reach?

13:28 Berni: I think that is my job now to get all the teachers together and start something to help you all - mentoring on language and teaching techniques. Would you be interested?

13:28 Cee: I think it would be great to get a teachers forum together, if we can synchronise times!

13:29 Berni: I also have a space on my free teacher course in January (it's in the UK) I'll send you some details.

13:29 Erdal.Isik: I am ready

13:30 Berni: That's a great idea Cee I'm seeing more and more that there are teachers who need something to keep their language up to speed and get some help with their work !

13:31 Erdal.Isik: Do you have my e-mail address?

13:32 Cee: What about something along the lines of the free exercises area to draw teachers to it initially??

13:33 Berni: This sounds good Erdal - now see if you can complete the GapSkill and you might win this week's free upgrade to the full site? Thank youo for giving me some great ideas about how I can help teachers to develop their English and their work!! I have your address in the site. It is my site and I create all the material along with Cee here and a couple of other teachers.

13:35 Erdal.Isik: How can I reach Gapskill

13:36 Berni: Where are you in Turkey? I've just had a student from Ankara.

13:36 Erdal.Isik: Elaz??

13:37 Berni: Have you got the email? If so follow the link that say's Don't delay and you should find a clue to the answer - then put your answer into the message box in Member Home or Free exercises (or reply to the email)

13:37 Cee: I have to go now, everyone. Thank you Erdal, for joining in today, and for the good ideas you have come up with.

13:38 Berni: Where abouts in Turkey is this? Are you cold or hot at the moment? Lol!

13:38 Berni: Bye Cee thanks :-))

13:40 Erdal.Isik: warm

13:40 Berni: Nice we have about 2 feet of snow here it's beautiful but very cold!

13:40 Berni: Where do you teach?

13:41 Erdal.Isik: Elazig

13:42 Erdal.Isik: The Eastern Anatolia Region

13:42 Berni: Lovely that's the Mediterranian isn't it? In a school or College?

13:43 Erdal.Isik: primary school

13:45 Berni: I mostly teach adults now but I did teach primary for 6 years I loved it!

13:45 Erdal.Isik: How long have been teaching?

13:46 Erdal.Isik: Would you like me to be your student?

13:46 Berni: I hate to tell you! 32 years! I still enjoy it and I love helping other teachers too.

13:47 Berni: I would love you to be my student - I'm sure I can help you via Gapfillers and a mentoring group.

13:48 Erdal.Isik: thanks a lot.

13:48 Erdal.Isik: I would be glad to

13:49 Erdal.Isik: After that you will be my teacher

13:50 Berni: Can I ask you a favour? One of our players has dropped out of the murder mystery game - would you be willing to join the game instead? It isn't difficult and I can email all the details and instructions. We have only just started.

13:51 Berni: Yes, you have given me a good idea to set up a group - go and try the GapSkill task!!

13:51 Erdal.Isik: ok see you later

13:53 Berni: Lovely to chat with you Erdal will you join the game?

13:54 Erdal.Isik: you too.I hope see you tomorrow

13:55 Berni: I'll email you about the course and will keep you posted about a group.

13:59 Erdal.Isik: I am looking forward to it.Take care of you

13:59 Berni: You too:-) See you soon!



1 Dec 2010 14:03

Entry for 24 Nov 2010



13.00 GMT

Open forum - bring your own questions

13:03 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat David is going to start this off today

13:03 Berni: Just type your message in the box and send

13:04 Berni: It's ok to watch and see what other people say before you join in!

13:04 Berni: I will try and join again later.

13:13 DavidBW: Hello everybody, if you have any questions to ask or topics you would like to discuss then please fell free to post a message here

13:19 DavidBW: Did you know that Gapfillers has about 6,000 pages of material to help improve your English.

13:23 DavidBW: You can post a blog, messages or questions about English language (indeed about anything you like

13:23 DavidBW: hmm truncated message there!

13:23 Berni: Hi David a bit tricky for me today but it seems that it is just us!

13:25 Berni: I think, given that we are both a bit tied up, if no one else comes by 1.30 we can abandon the chat. Just been working with 'if' sentences so here is a real example!!

13:25 DavidBW: I know but I'll post some messages so that if anyone wants to view the archive then perhaps they might get some tips on Gapfillers

13:25 DavidBW: snap!

13:26 Berni: The murder mystery game is beginning to 'hot up' now with more people leaving information for the players - that's good! I hope it will be a good game!

13:27 Berni: OK David I have to go now - that's a good idea - post them in case people come later it stays for a while (can you copy and paste?)

13:28 DavidBW: Excellent, an example of a unique way in which Gapfillers can help students to get involved and learn whilst enjoying themselves!

13:30 DavidBW: I'll have to pop out for a few minutes now so I will be offline - meanwhile if anyone comes along then do look at the menu on the lefty and have a look at Gapfillers

13:58 rosamund: Hello, sorry I'm so late - I got held up by traffic! I expect subscribers have sometimes suggested topics they'd like us to cover, because I can see that there are some themes in the archives - for instance a medical theme, and an arts theme, with information people who work in the theatre or music industries.Enjoyed reading up on last week's discussion - and I'll go back to it and see if there's anything we ought to take on board from all that! Bye!


24 Nov 2010 16:23

Entry for 10 Nov 2010



How collaborating with other learners online can help your language development

09:40 rosamund: I just want to send in my apologies for missing Gapchat today due to a prior arrangement which clashes. Sorry! I should be available next Wednesday, the 17th Nov. Have a good chat. Enjoyed catching up on last week's conversation.

12:59 Berni: Thank you Ros, we will miss you today! It's good to have the transcript on the site so people can catch up when they don't make the chat!

13:01 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat session - How collaborating with other learners online can help your language development.

13:02 Berni: To join in just type your ideas in the chat box below and press send.Don't worry if you can't think of anything to write it's ok to watch the discussion first and comment when you are ready.

13:13 Berni: Hello Farideh have you any experience of learning online in this way?

13:14 faridehb.jenak: Hi every one iam new,could you tell me how i bigin

13:14 Berni: The important thing about effective learning is that it should be interesting and fun

13:14 Berni: You are doing the right thing just type any ideas and questions here in the box

13:15 Berni: I know that you are going to play the Murder Mystery game which will begins this week this is a good example of a collaborative activity online

13:16 faridehb.jenak: Hi Berni,i dont have any experince in this way

13:16 Berni: How are you finding Gapfillers?

13:17 faridehb.jenak: from surffing internet

13:18 Berni: Have you tried any of the exercises yet?

13:18 faridehb.jenak: no

13:20 Berni: So the Murder game will be your first activity?

13:21 faridehb.jenak: do u have play that game too?yes its my first activity.

13:22 Berni: Yes I will play also. I hope it will be fun. You will meet some other peope from Gapfillers too!

13:22 faridehb.jenak: How long do u join this grope?

13:22 Berni: Where do you live?

13:24 faridehb.jenak: i live in Kuala Lumpor Malaysia,and you?

13:24 bgardner: hello everyone, i am joining a little late - may i join?

13:24 bgardner: My name is Barbara and I'm an english teacher and trainer living in the UK

13:25 faridehb.jenak: Hi bgardner

13:25 Berni: Hello bgardner welcome, yes please join us. We are talking about the Murder Mysery game which will begin this week.

13:26 Aline.Rodrigues: Hi

13:26 Berni: I am also in the UK and a teacher too. I used to live in Indonesia and visited Kuala Lumpur several times. I lived in Medan.

13:26 faridehb.jenak: hi,Aline welcom

13:26 Berni: Hello Aline Welcome!

13:27 Berni: er Murder Mystery not Misery Lol!!

13:27 Berni: We are talking about how collaborating online can help with learning using sites such as Gapfillers.

13:28 Berni: What things do you enjoy most online?

13:28 faridehb.jenak: can i ask you why did you join this grope ?i want to improve my english whats your reasen?

13:29 Berni: this is a great question Farideh.

13:29 bgardner: I would like to know how this type of site helps you learn

13:29 Berni: I started the group but it would be nice to find out other people's ideas.

13:29 bgardner: I think you must be a very motivated student Farideh

13:30 faridehb.jenak: i would like to know how

13:30 Berni: Yes, Barbara I think you need to be motivated to study by yourself, so being able to share discussions and games with others all helps I think.

13:31 bgardner: Yes, helps you realise you're not alone, I understand

13:31 Berni: Aline what made you join?

13:31 bgardner: Aline, are you studying English?

13:32 faridehb.jenak: English is necessery for doing every things todays and defenaitly its the most motive

13:32 Berni: We have done the Murder Mystery game twice before and it was good fun and people reported that they felt they had improved their language skills - some aspects of grammar and vocabulary

13:33 Berni: Farideh do you learn English in Malaysia?

13:34 bgardner: Farideh, how do you use gapfillers? Do you get the daily word?

13:34 faridehb.jenak: you know i went several months to english class but my progress was very slowly then i decided learn it by my self.

13:36 Berni: How are you doing that Farideh, do you use books or just online sites?

13:36 faridehb.jenak: i listened effortless english lessons

13:37 Berni: Where do you listen to these lessons?

13:38 faridehb.jenak: i love reading so i try to read books

13:38 faridehb.jenak: i bought those and downloded them

13:39 Berni: Ah I see. What do you like to read?

13:40 bgardner: I love reading too. Films help me learn languages too. Have you tried that?

13:40 Berni: Barbara do you use online learning with your students?

13:41 bgardner: Yes, we use Moodle

13:41 Berni: Yes films are a good source and songs too.

13:41 Berni: Where are you based in the UK?

13:41 bgardner: I want to understand more about mobile learning, like Gapfillers

13:41 bgardner: I live and work in Cambridge, UK

13:42 faridehb.jenak: novel,last week i finished Pride and Prejudice

13:42 Berni: At the moment we only send out the sms but have more stuff in development

13:42 bgardner: oh wow! A lovely book! Did you enjoy it?

13:42 Berni: Wow, Pride

13:43 Berni: OOPs lost my sentence - what was your favourite part?

13:43 bgardner: I'd be very interested to knw what else you are going to do on a phone. Can you keep in touch with me?

13:43 bgardner: Mine is when Lizzie sees Darcy's big house!

13:44 bgardner: What about you, Farideh?

13:44 Berni: Certainly, I will. What age/level students do you teach?

13:44 faridehb.jenak: by the way,i think this metod cant help me in pronunsation. yes barbara i enjoied so much

13:44 Berni: Yes, and the bit where she meets the sister.

13:45 bgardner: Good point about pronunciation - what can you learn, do you think?

13:45 bgardner: I teach pre-university students

13:46 faridehb.jenak: now iam reading jane eyre

13:46 Berni: Pronunciation is something you need to keep practising to improve.

13:47 faridehb.jenak: i think ,i have to listen more ,do u agree with me

13:47 Berni: I just read Jane Eyre again in the summer. I was shocked at how dark the Bronte books are. I had forgotten that.

13:47 bgardner: Listening, so audio books with print, helps pronunciation too. Jane Eyre is very good!

13:48 bgardner: Yes I agree!

13:48 faridehb.jenak: thanks for your advice.

13:48 bgardner: I have to go now as I'm going to meet some teachers. Thank you for chatting. Good luck Farideh!

13:49 Berni: Do you like mystery stories Farideh?

13:49 Berni: Thank you Barbara. I'll email you.

13:49 bgardner: Thanks Berni, bye Berni and Farideh!

13:50 faridehb.jenak: why did you think their books were dark Berni?

13:50 faridehb.jenak: yes such as sherlok holmez

13:51 Berni: Because they deal with difficult subjects like cruelty to children, violence against women etc.. which is unusual for the period

13:52 Berni: Oh, I love Sherlock Holmes too. I think you will enjoy the Murder Mystery game!

13:52 faridehb.jenak: in this period maybe but in Viktoian age ,i think no

13:53 Berni: Oh yes it happened but people didn't write so much about it. Also after Jane Austin it comes as a shock I think.

13:54 faridehb.jenak: Berni i really engied to chat with you,thanks and bye

13:56 Berni: Me too Farideh. We will meet in the game and I hope to meet you again here too!. Thank you.



10 Nov 2010 22:48

Entry for 3 Nov 2010



Is learning grammar important?

10:35 rosamund: Sorry, I'm afraid I can't make the Gapchat either this Wednesday or next! Have a good chat!

12:54 Berni: Thanks Ros, sorry about that as I think you would enjoy the grammar topic! You can comment later on the transcript page if you have time :-)

12:55 Berni: Welcome to today's Gapchat session - Is learning grammar important?

12:56 Berni: You'll need javascript enabled to take part. Write your ideas and comments in the comments box at the bottom of the page and press send.

12:57 Berni: Don't worry if you're not sure what to say - it's ok to watch the discussion and join in when you feel ready.

13:07 Waseem.Ahmad: hello every body hows it going?

13:12 Berni: Hi Waseem lovely to see you here how are you?

13:13 Waseem.Ahmad: hello berni, i am fine how r u?

13:15 Berni: Fine. Where are you chatting from?

13:15 Berni: What do you think about learning grammar - is it important?

13:16 Waseem.Ahmad: i am from South Asia city of Islamabad i think you must be well aware of this place :)

13:17 Berni: Yes, though sadly I've never been there :-(

13:17 Waseem.Ahmad: yes it is pretty important to learn grammar in order to improve language

13:18 Berni: How long have you been learning English?

13:18 Waseem.Ahmad: lol... so you wish to visit there?

13:18 Berni: It would be lovely - one day maybe!

13:19 Waseem.Ahmad: its a long time but still i am not perfect because i am not learning it on daily basis

13:19 Waseem.Ahmad: oh sure you are most welcome

13:20 Berni: Personally, as a teacher I use a grammar base for my teaching but I think now people are moving away from this - I think without grammar there is less flexibility for the learner to develop their own language.

13:20 Waseem.Ahmad: in 2004 i joined an English language institute for ESL certificate

13:22 Berni: Have you finished that now?

13:22 Waseem.Ahmad: yes i am totally agree with you because without a grammar one can not learn any language and without grammar one can not convey his message to others and also can't understand what others are saying or trying to tell him

13:23 Waseem.Ahmad: yeah i went there for four months

13:23 Berni: You are right! Which exercises in Gapfillers do you think help you with your English?

13:24 Waseem.Ahmad: i havent taken part in any exercise yet but i love to if u have one

13:25 Waseem.Ahmad: i recently attended IELTS exam and secure 6.5 bands but still i feel the need of learning more

13:26 Berni: Congratulations on the band score - that's good - do you need this for further study?

13:28 Waseem.Ahmad: thanks, yeah i need this for further

13:28 Waseem.Ahmad: studies

13:29 Waseem.Ahmad: how do u access the level of english

13:30 Berni: The site is at Upper Intermediate/advanced level so it will be ok for you. You need to look at Gapfillers Latest which gives a suggested weekly programme of grammar, vocabulary listening, writing and reading exercises.

13:31 Berni: We will be running the Murder Mystery game soon on the site why not sign up? There are still places.

13:33 Waseem.Ahmad: i am already a member of gapfillers

13:35 Waseem.Ahmad: and yes i am looking forward to take part in Murder Mystery game :)

13:35 Berni: I mean sign up for the Murder Mystery game - we play it in Member Home on the Gapfillers site

13:35 Berni: Good then I'll put you on the list.

13:36 Waseem.Ahmad: thanks :)

13:36 Berni: What are you planning to study?

13:37 Waseem.Ahmad: i am interested in law but my friend suggested to get admission in accounts

13:37 Berni: why?

13:38 Waseem.Ahmad: i don't know she said it will be good for me to study accounts as there will be lots of opportunities for me to get job in multinational forums or companies

13:39 Waseem.Ahmad: whats do u think whats better? i mean law or accounts

13:39 Berni: I'm sure the same is true with law but you probably need International Law. Where do you plan to study?

13:40 Waseem.Ahmad: i am planing to uk or australia

13:40 Berni: My own personal feeling is that you should study what you love - you will study it well as you have a real desire to know more.

13:42 Waseem.Ahmad: yes you are right lets see which way the wind blows :)

13:43 Waseem.Ahmad: one of my friend took law education from uk and now he is dealing with domestic, crime and property cases

13:43 Berni: Great expression!

13:44 Berni: In the UK?

13:44 Waseem.Ahmad: thanks

13:44 Waseem.Ahmad: no he came back to Pak

13:46 Berni: I see I imagine there are many similarities between UK and Pakistani systems?

13:47 Waseem.Ahmad: most of his family member are profession lawyers

13:47 Waseem.Ahmad: yes there are many similarities between pakistani and uk system

13:48 Berni: Aha so you would be following in family footsteps - they could help you.

13:48 Waseem.Ahmad: because UK governed this land for more than 300 years

13:49 Berni: This is true and I think you can still study university courses in English in Pakistan or has this changed now?

13:50 Waseem.Ahmad: no not my family hehe if i follow my family footsteps i should be a professional agricultural

13:51 Berni: Lol! Sorry I misread your comment - people always need to eat!!

13:51 Waseem.Ahmad: English has become official language in pakistan and there are many colleges and universities where they teach in english but educational system isnt that good

13:51 Berni: A farmer! Here being a farmer is quite good too!! :-))

13:53 Waseem.Ahmad: there is quiet difference between a farmer and field worker if u say farmer here in pakistan they will consider it as a field worker who works in agriculter lands


13:55 Waseem.Ahmad: so the better word for a land owner is landlord or feudal lord :D

13:55 Berni: Hehe - you beat me to it I was writing something similar! sic: Here too we have agricultural workers and also farmers who have very large farms.

13:56 Berni: So, we haven't talked much about grammar but that's ok - can I ask you what things you like to do on Gapfillers?

13:56 Waseem.Ahmad: hahah its ok

13:57 Waseem.Ahmad: well i would like to read blogs and learn advance vocabulary

13:59 Berni: You get word of the day? Have you thought of writing your own blog on Gapfillers?

14:00 Waseem.Ahmad: yes i get word of the day and i love to write my own blog on gapfillers when i get a time

14:01 Berni: Ok mayeb we should do a chat session showing people how to do this. You could also try our weekly challenge and get your subscription upgraded so you can try out all the grammar activities in the archive and the vocabulary section too.

14:02 Waseem.Ahmad: i have a friend who often write blogs i will suggest her your site as she is curious about professional writing

14:03 Berni: Thank you that would be nice!It was lovely talking to you. I'll send out information about the Murder Mystery Game at the end of the week I look forward to seeing you in the game or at the next GapChat! :-))

14:03 Waseem.Ahmad: oh sure i would love to take part in weekly challenges i am sure it will help improving my writing and speaking skills :)

14:04 Berni: Bye until next time!!

14:04 Waseem.Ahmad: thanks and i am really grateful to you for such a nice conversation:)

14:05 Berni: My pleasure! :-)

14:05 Waseem.Ahmad: ok bye!take good care have a nice day :)

14:05 Waseem.Ahmad: no its my pleasure :)

3 Nov 2010 19:09

Entry for 27 Oct 2010



How to use online resources to develop your English at upper intermediate and advanced level

13:02 Berni: Hi David thank you for moderating GapChat today, Have fun!

13:09 DavidBW: Welcome to Gapchat. Today's topic is "How to use online resources to develop your English at upper intermediate and advanced level"

13:19 DavidBW: Advanced learners of course have the advantage of being able to understand all sorts of materials whether on an English language learning site or a general site

13:23 DavidBW: They would be able to use any site to enhance their understanding of English however the use of language sites, such as Gapfillers, could help to target areas which they feel could be improved. For example specific areas of grammar.

13:24 rosamund: Hello, David!That's right, so they can select what appeals to them, or what they need in particular. I notice some of our users really like the news bulletins, and that can be a really good place to start if you need up-to-date topics on typical topical issues (hope you enjoyed that bit of alliteration).Of course, some students dislike current affairs, and they can start with the set programme or on a skill they need or enjoy.

13:26 DavidBW: Hello Ros, thanks for looking in!

13:27 rosamund: Interesting what you say about grammar, David - it's such an efficient way of improving your general grasp of a language long term as well as short - and so much quicker to do it when you're not having to write everything down. You can just click answers and get feedback fast.You can't get quicker than that!

13:28 DavidBW: Agreed, in fact I think the grammar section could be be very useful for native English language speakers, some of the exercises are certainly challenging enough!

13:31 DavidBW: You could also supplement your learning experience by having a few Skype lessons which would be tailored to your needs

13:32 rosamund: Yes, i spend more of my life than I'd like to admit correcting English that my students have come across at work (I work with subsea engineers a lot, but not actually underwater, you'll be glad to hear) which is incorrect - find me an English person who actually knows the difference between less

13:33 DavidBW: and fewer!

13:33 rosamund: .... and fewer (as i was saying.... ) and I'll post you a fiver. (Note a fiver is five pounds, ?5).

13:34 rosamund: Note: I meant to write! And I didn't realise my pound sterling wouldn't get recognised!

13:35 DavidBW: you're too kind! Note the correct use of the apostrophe, I've seen many examples of "your" being used when "you're"

13:35 DavidBW: is the correct usage

13:37 rosamund: One of our users has just started on the words of the day - that seemed to be what actually attracted her on the site first. I definitely think I would go for the 'set menu' that gets posted on the right of the homepage every week - it's good to know it's been put together with a theme or topics in mind. Then I'd always, always go for listening work - but then, I love videos, too.

13:38 rosamund: Yes, I went to a college open day once and saw a poster inviting people to the 'parent's evening'. So, just the one parent coming along, then! Shouldn't be too busy!

13:41 DavidBW: That's good to hear. The WOTD (word of the day) is definitely the main attraction for new users. They should remember to use the full site during the 7 day trial and appreciate the benefits of having such a breadth and wealth of material from the 6,000 pages. It's definitely good value!

13:42 rosamund: Yes, and you can pick up such a lot of words when someone else has done the hard work for you - especially at the upper-intermediate stage - it doesn't take as long for the words to sink in as when you're a beginner. Some French Erasmus students I got to know last year loved stories - they all of them went for the short story section!

13:44 DavidBW: Of course, one of the best ways to be actively involved and to get some instantaneous advice and feedback is to join the weekly Gapchat!

13:50 DavidBW: Research has shown that there is a dearth of good quality learning material online for upper-intermediate and advanced students. Whilst it is understood that the bulk of the market is at the elementary and lower intermediate levels we must not forget the higher level students and should encourage them to continue improving their language in a structured and targeted way.

13:50 rosamund: Yes, if your time permits it's useful even just to sit and observe, as some listeners do - it's yet another learning environment and experience following a discussion. The Skype work is very exciting - one-to-one and of course, 'natural' in that nothing is predicted, so students can ask from their own perspective and also about anything they don't understand.

13:56 DavidBW: For those students who are brave enough another way of using the internet is to subscribe to Twitter and follow the many subscribers engaged in the ELT industry. These subscribers could be other learners, teachers, linguists indeed anyone involved in any aspect of EFL, ESL, ESOL, ELT etc. Gapfillers has a Twitter account called @Gapfillers (believe it or not!). Another very highly respected subscriber is @rliberni who normally hosts these sessions.

13:57 rosamund: Yes, David, and of course the chances are that students at higher levels may well also already have other onerous responsibilities, so work pressures, long hours or family responsibilities might make it very hard for them to make time for language-learning even if they actually need it. And there are many places where people are reluctant for all sorts of reasons to go out to a class in the evenings. Many people drop out of evening classes because the standard is not high enough, or the pace is too slow - and as you say, there is a dire shortage of higher level material around - and I've never come across any sort of a programme suggested on websites, either. You see quite a lot of materials you just have to do what you think with, and sort yourself out on your own even on lower level English sites.not sure if my grammar's gone awry there or not.

14:00 rosamund: Yes, Berni is great, very experienced - I sometimes read some of the blogs she gets from followers.

14:02 DavidBW: Indeed because students of a higher level are quite often in highly demanding work situations they do have little time to attend formal classes yet they are likely to have the resources (laptop, smartphones etc) to practice a little every day hence the beauty and practicality of gapfillers!

14:06 DavidBW: Thank you very much for your contributions, Ros!

14:07 rosamund: You're welcome, David - my pleasure. Yes,to answer your point, and high-fliers and the rest of us don't have to do everything they'd like to to make really good progress, learning what they can often, but capitalising on the work other people have put together for them. I'll sign off for now, David - thanks for the chat - I've appreciated it. See you next week!

27 Oct 2010 19:26

Entry for 20 Oct 2010



Can I learn by studying alone?


13:02 Berni: Welcome to today's GapChat our topic is on getting the most out of studying alone

13:03 Berni: Just type your ideas into the chat box and press send. If you want to watch the conversation before putting your ideas forward that's fine too.

13:03 Berni: Ok so how much can we learn studying alone?

13:05 Berni: Hi Cee are you staying today?

13:07 Cee: Hi. I think self study is fine, but it has some serious limitations. How can you tell how far you have progressed? Are your conversational skills up to scratch etc.

13:08 Berni: Speaking is difficult but using Skype can solve this and also I thik it won't be long before there is a way to practice online like this with real chat instead of typing.

13:09 Berni: As far as other things are concerned I think it is possible and you don't have to be isolated either

13:10 Cee: I think a site like Gapfillers gives the very best of all worlds - you can work alone on exercises, use the site in a group teaching environment, listen to improve your skills, and with the new Skype system people can at last converse online too

13:10 Berni: Joining in things like this chat each week will help you to build your own learning community ad then you can use Member Home to collaborate and work together.

13:12 Berni: This is true Cee but you can also do things together within the site like the Murder Mystery game - don't forget to sign up for this it is a fun and interesting way to learn and collaborate. We hope to start it soon but still need more players.

13:15 Cee: It's nice to think, when developing a learning community, that you all have the same goal -to improve your language skills.In such a community you can help as well as being helped. The Murder Mystery is a good way to get to know people as well as being fun. I learnt some Christmas traditions from overseas students that I had not heard before- and that was thanks to communicating through the Murder Mystery game.

13:19 Berni: Yes, Cee it is a great thing to be involved in and amazing fun! I hope that on Gapfillers we provide enough links to satisfy people's interest and every time you follwo a link you are being exposed to more language as well as finding out interesting things.

13:20 Berni: Studying alone requires a lot of discipline as well as a lot of curiosity - the more curious you are the more you will learn.

13:21 Berni: You can also pick and choose - if something isn't interesting then choose something else with almost 6,000 pages of exercises there should be plenty to choose from!

13:22 Cee: It is important, though, to be bold and try and join in. However poor you may think your language skills are, there is always someone struggling more - and most people love to help others progress. Sharing tips and ideas to aid improvement it something most people like to do

13:23 Berni: Yes, Cee, this is very important 'nothing ventured, nothing gained!' a good phrase of the week!

13:26 Cee: Put plainly, its like this - I wanted to learn to ride a horse and I watched and watched lots of people with varying degrees of ability ride, and thought 'how nice it would be to do that and it looks achievable'. However, until you get in the saddle, you are not going to become a rider, you will just be an enthusiastic observer!!

13:28 Cee: Most things are never as hard as you really think if you apply yourself......and it's far more fun in the saddle than it is just watching - believe me!!

13:30 Berni: Absolutely! A really good analogy you have to jump in and get going and then work backwards from there. See what you already know (you'll be surprised how much that actually is!!) and then learn what you don't - work and improve. Collaborate with others but do your own stuff too.

13:31 Cee: The good thing about self study with Gapfillers is that you can concentrate your efforts in the areas where you most need to eg grammar, vocabulary - and with a wide range of exercises available in each category the study shouldnt become stale.

13:31 Berni: Hello Raul and welcome to our chat. We are discussing how best to study online.

13:32 Cee: Hi Raul, nice to see you here.

13:33 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Hello Berni, good morning. In Colombia the hour is 7:32 am. About the topic "Can I learn by studying alone" I consider it's possible and with the help we found in your Gapfillers it's is definetively important and efficient.

13:33 Berni: It is also possible to send a message via contact or Member home if you are having problems and then we can help you or answer your questions. So you need never feel isolated.

13:34 Berni: Thank you Raul I'm happy that you are finding it useful. Will you join in our Murder Mystery game?

13:35 Berni: I am teaching a student here in the UK at the moment from Colombia! She lives in Bogota.

13:35 Cee: Good morning Raul, and you are very dedicated to your study to be joining us so early in the morning! The wonderful thing about Gapfillers is that you really can fit in your studies with your lifestyle and your time zone.

13:36 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Hello Berni: I will try to participate in Murder Mystery game, but in this moment I don't know nothing about that event.

13:37 Berni: OK my fault we sent out a message but I haven't followed up I will send you more information today! It is a fun game and you can do it at your leisure.

13:37 Berni: Which exercises do you like the best Raul?

13:38 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Berni: where can I see your message about Murder Mistery game?
13:39 Raul.Torres.Suarez: All exercises you propose are very interesting and very instructive. I have problems to understand conversations in English.

13:39 Berni: I'll send you the information to your email address with a link - it was in an email and also on the Birthday gifts page.

13:39 Berni: Do you mean in the listening exercises or in real life?

13:42 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Well I don't have the opportunity of practice English conversation because anybody around me speaks or study English. I only practice this by watching your excercises that are very interesting.

13:43 Berni: This is interesting - do you speak with those around you who are learning?

13:44 Raul.Torres.Suarez: The people around me only speaks Spanish.

13:44 Berni: You know if there was a small group on Gapfillers who wanted to speak together they could set up a group Skype (4 to 6 people is possible)

13:46 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Itr will be very interesting for me to have the opportunity of practice listening conversation with native people, but I consider this is too difficult about our hour system in America.

13:47 Cee: Raul, can I just say I think it is great that you have decided to learn English when those around you are not. This is just the boldness we were chatting about earlier.

13:48 Berni: Yes Cee, hear hear! Thinking about the time, I think it would be possible you are 5/6 hours behind and we could find a time that is not too early or too late for those who are interested - where there's a will there's a way!

13:50 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Where can I found the group Skype you indicate me for practice listening English conversation? What hour can I tun them?

13:55 Raul.Torres.Suarez: sorry I wrote tun instead of tune or syntonise.

13:55 Berni: It was just an idea - we have over 2,000 members on Gapfillers and I'm sure some of them would be able to do this and you can arrange the time between yourselves. If you want to run this then send a message to the Gapfillers Forum network in member home and see who is interested. Let me know if you need any help with this.

13:55 Berni: We all have lots of typos here so don't worry chat is too quick to check everything.

13:58 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Thanks a lot for your comment and your offer to help me to obtain contact with people to practice conversation on Gapfillers. I will try to do it.

13:58 Berni: Great! Let's make it work and this will solve the speaking problem!

14:01 Berni: OK Raul this has been a very interesting chat today - thank you very much! Thanks also to Cee for her coments. I'll send out the information about the Murder Mystery and Raul, if you send a message about the Skype group we'll see what happens! Bye everyone and thank you. See you next week.

14:01 Cee: I have to go, people - thank you for the chat today, and I hope something can be organised with Skype to assist you in your conversational English, Raul

14:02 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Bye Berni thanks very much for this chat opportunity. Good luck and many exit in your daily activities. Bye.

20 Oct 2010 16:29

Entry for 13 Oct 2010



Why is GapFillers not free?

09:49 halala.ali.hamid: Hello,thank you i think Gapfillers is a good site which helps us to learn the same time it is free.

Thank you Hamid for your comment here

13:29 DavidBW: Good afternoon, I'm your host today. Sorry for the late arrival, problems with my computer!
13:29 DavidBW: The topic today is "Why isn't Gapfillers free?"
13:31 DavidBW: There is some material available to everyone however this is only a tiny part of the material available in the paid area.
13:32 DavidBW: Gapfillers is not free primarily because we do not wish to clutter up the site with many adverts

13:36 Blanca Morales: Hello David and halala.ali.hamid, nice to meet you both today.
13:39 Blanca Morales: In my opinion, Gapfillers can´t be free as there´s a lot of work behind to renew the materials the contents very often and to add something new everyday.

13:40 DavidBW: Hello Blanca, I hope you are well

13:40 Blanca Morales: Sorry, I meant the contents.
13:40 Blanca Morales: I´m fine thank you.

13:41 DavidBW: Yes you are quite right, the depth of the material makes Gapfillers much more comprehensive than other sites that do not charge
13:43 DavidBW: All the material is authentic and up-to-date. Because the site is aimed at upper-intermediate / advanced level students then there is more effort required to choose content that is pitched at the right level.

13:44 Blanca Morales: There´s also something which is very unique, as fas as I know ,and that is the listening comprehension exercise on current affairs posted everyday.
13:45 Blanca Morales: That´s true, it´s very difficult to find meaningful contents for advanced students on other sites different from gapfillers.

13:47 DavidBW: Indeed it is the current affairs listening exercise which helps makes Gapfillers unique
13:47 DavidBW: sorry make not makes
13:50 DavidBW: Also there is the opportunity for institutions (educational or commercial) to use Gapfillers as a value-added tool for their English training needs. Having no adverts is particularly important for these users.

13:52 Blanca Morales: Also Gapfillers offers Literature in the Short stories and poetry sections.

13:53 DavidBW: Absolutely right. Just by looking at the menu options on the left of the screen one can see the wealth of different ways of using the site to enhance your language learning experience.

13:53 Blanca Morales: Indeed educational institutions can profit a lot from the site.

13:54 DavidBW: Yes, but we have to get past the gatekeepers!
13:56 DavidBW: Later this month we will be making a special birthday offer to all subscribers of Gapfillers (free and paid-up members). So watch this space!

13:56 Blanca Morales: In fact, the variety of contents can satisfy a great variety of learners´ needs.

13:59 DavidBW: That's a very good point, Blanca, as students have different preferences in their learning methodology. Another reason why Gapfillers cannot be free as we cater for the diverse demands of the students.

14:02 Blanca Morales: As a user, I encourage everybody to try and take advantages of the birthday offers.

14:02 DavidBW: I hope that those members that read the text of this conversation in future appreciate the reasons why we think Gapfillers cannot be given away!
14:02 DavidBW: Thank you for your contribution, Blanca, good to talk to you.

14:03 Blanca Morales: It´s been a pleasure David, till next Wed.

14:04 DavidBW: Adios!

13 Oct 2010 23:13

Entry for 5 Oct 2010



What is the point of GapChat?

13:03 rosamund: Hello ? and welcome to Gapchat!Two questions have been sent in by our members ? thank you ? just what we appreciate! A newcomer has asked if people have to come to the Gapchat every week and what the point of it is.

13:16 rosamund: No - you don't have to come regularly - although we'd love you to if you can! We realise some people won't have access to their PCs, or the internet at this particular time, and also, of course, some of our subscribers might actually be in bed, asleep, if their clocks are ahead or behind ours by several hours. Nevertheless, the time was chosen as one which could suit a lot of different time zones, and that was important to us. You can just come once, watch and leave without saying a word - in fact, some people do just that, but find it useful to be in on the chat. (To be in on something is to be involved with something, or part of something). That's fine by us!

13:46 rosamund: As for the point of Gapchat - well it's up to you, really. Our main purpose is to have somewhere where people can come and exchange ideas, or ask for advice. It can be lonely, doing things online, working by yourself, perhaps. Some people are using us in class, so have real contact with people, but we are aware that for others it can be good to have a 'social' event even if it is a virtual one! Also, it gives users a chance to put their own questions or suggestions to us, to ask for advice, send in ideas or requests, or answer other people's queries.All about sharing, really, and trying other ways of working, using language in a different environment. My internet connection is slow today!

14:00 rosamund: Thanks for the birthday greetings, by the way! It was lovely to hear from you on Gapfillers! I'll pass on the other question to Berni! Bye for today - and have a good week!

15:26 Raul.Torres.Suarez: Hello friends, good morning.I was very interested in to participate in your invitation to the Gapchat Forum for today. But unfortunatelly I run my PC at 9:18 am. and the time for this action was finished. I suppose in this moment the time in your country is about 5:OO pm. Meanwhile, please accept again my better wishes for your Birthday and many exit in your daily activities. Bye from Medellin - Colombia


8 Oct 2010 07:48

Entry for 29 Sep 2010



What do you need most help with in English?

11:47 halala.ali.hamid: thank you for your helping mostly i need to improve my conversation if you can help me. iam a student in the english department.

12:56 Berni: Hello!halala.ali.hamid,You got here before me! Welcome to today's Gapchat about what students need most in English - I think speaking is one of the areas people cite often as well as vocabulary and speaking is a difficult thing online!How much English do you manage to soeak during your time at university?

12:57 Berni: aarrgh spelling - to speak!!

13:06 Berni: Speaking can be done using Skype (which is offered on Gapfillers) but if you don't have chances to use spoken English then you need to create these yourself. See if your fellow students, lecturers or colleagues will have an English only day. Try and join a conversation group or start one yourself! You could invite guest speakers now and again some of whom might be native speakers. Any other ideas?

13:07 rosamund: Hello, Halala Ali Hamid - I have only just arrived - it's just after 13.00 GMT - is that right, Berni? The time was an hour ahead in Italy where I was last week.

13:08 Berni: Hello Ros yes 13.00 but I think Halala Ali Hamid came early to post his comment which has given us a good place to begin!

13:11 rosamund: Great - yes, it's very useful to hear from people - thank you, Hamid . Some people find they can find a native speaker who is trying to learn their own language, and swap a ?-hr's conversation for half an hour of English. It's a cheap and easy way to make progress - as long as you can find someone who does it well.

13:11 rosamund: Oh dear the symbol for a half did not get recognised - a half-hour's conversation, I meant.

13:16 Berni: I agree Ros you do have to be creative and find ways around the problem. There is a company called 'Meet UP' who do this internationally

13:18 Berni: Skype is an amazing invention and I am also looking at ways in which we may be able to integrate something into the forum using this

13:21 rosamund: I think it's important too to approach speaking in different ways. It's always useful to have a teacher to work with - as people do not always correct you as you need, and sometimes actually teach you something wrong. You have to be aware of that possibility. I think you need a teaching session, and then top-up conversation opportunities, but to try different partners to see if it works better with one person than another.

13:22 rosamund: I'm amazed Skype is so cheap! I haven't set up a camera yet, 'tho. But I find the sound just brilliant. So exciting.

13:25 Berni: I agree with you that there is a danger of learning mistakes without correction and having a teacher onhand is the ideal but I think in small way self-help groups can be better than nothing and if you have English teachers at the university they could perhaps advise?

13:27 rosamund: You have to be prepared to insist that you share the time fairly, too. Sometimes you can find that one partner misses out in sessions - because his / her partner takes more time than they should.

13:32 Berni: Yes, Ros this is true - it has to be balanced often one is stronger than the other (like when you do an exchange!)I wrote a blog post about practising speaking skills - just silly things to do alone to improve pronunciation and fluency - I'll put a link into the transcript later

13:36 rosamund: Sometimes you can find that a person can be really good at general conversation, but a different person might be better on a specialised topic or better at pointing out mistakes.

13:40 Berni: This is often the case with professional students they can present, take metings and use English well in the office but find it very difficult in social situations!

13:41 Berni: Halala.Ali.Hamid is this advice useful to you?

13:46 rosamund: It's great that he left us this message, Berni, isn't it, even if he has had to leave. It's just one of the many ways students can consult us. He can write to us later, via the message centre, too. If people are prepared to do silly things they can improve a huge amount by listening and repeating phrases they hear. It's a good idea to exaggerate the pronuncation - I used to lead classes in a ridiculous exercise called 'elastic lips' when we all exaggerated the sounds we made by moving our mouth far more than usual. We used to fall about laughing - but it was amazing how much accents and clarity had improved when we settled down and then spoke normally. We used to do it just before a speaking exam.

13:47 rosamund: Oops pronunciation and 'mouths'. Typing too fast again!

13:50 Berni: Sounds like fun - my class used to do something similar with intonation - really exaggerating it but they hardly got near the way we can sometimes do this naturally!!

13:57 Berni: OK Ros, thank you for your ideas and thank you Hamid for the question! See you next week at GapChat!

13:58 rosamund: It's important to tackle different elements at a time, isn't it. Sometimes it's great to have someone correct your every little mistake - but on other occasions you need to feel able to speak at length, and have your errors picked up at a later stage, at the end of a Skype session, for instance. You develop confidence with practice and must avoid getting inhibited. It's awful if you feel as if every time you say a word someone will stop you. As if you literally can't open yoyur mouth without making a mistake, when in fact it might be just a little intonation that could be improved - not a big mistake at all. See you next week! Good to have that query.

13:59 rosamund: Oops - 'your mouth'!

14:01 Berni: This is really important as students don't want to be 'put off' from speaking by worrying about mistakes sometimes it's more important to just speak and get the ideas over. At other times then correction is important it depends on the task I think.

14:02 Berni: Thank you for a good discussion!


29 Sep 2010 23:44

Entry for 22 Sep 2010



Some tips for learning English online

12:57 Berni: Welcome to today's Gapchat - our topic today - Some tips for learning English online - we'll share our ideas and hope you have some to share too.

12:59 Berni: Make sure that you have javascript switched on to participate. Let us know if you have any problems. If you just want to observe the chat that's fine add your comment when you are ready.

13:08 Berni: Hi Blanca can you manage to send your messages today?

13:08 Blanca Morales: Hi Berni, well, I don´t know what to say about tips for learning. In fact, the general tips such as being constant -often and little-and taking advantages of the interaction with other learners.

13:09 Blanca Morales: I think I can, let´s see.

13:12 Berni: Some tips for effective e-learning. Firstly you have to be prepared to manage your own learning

13:14 Berni: We feel that with Gapfillers there are clear answers to the exercises and explanations to help you plus links to extra information

13:15 Berni: I agree Blanca, little and often is very key and progress will be steady and faster than doing a lot of work now and again. An important thing with languages is that you need to recycle the learning for it to be remembered.

13:16 Berni: Also true Blanca - other learners -where you can interact with others online you build up learning relationships and this is a very powerful way of learning.

13:17 Blanca Morales: That´s right, but there are also some methods in which your learning pace is gradual and you can´t start the following activity until you´ve completed successfully the previous one.

13:20 Berni: This is I feel the second most important thing about learning online and that is being honest with yourself - there is no teacher to tell you so you have to assess yourself and do things again and get more practice until you are satisfied

13:25 Blanca Morales: It´s also important to get some kind of teaching support, otherwise learning can be stressful. For some reason, on-line learning make people anxious sometimes and they need to know there´s somebody somewhere.

13:28 Berni: One problem with elearning sites is where to begin. You can test yourself and find out which areas you need to improve (grammar, listening etc..) you can download a personal profile where you can record your progress or you can keep a learner blog in Member Home. If you haven't much time then we have a weekly suggestion of work in Gapfillers Latest

13:29 Berni: I think this is a very good point Blanca and it is a feature that should be more visible on Gapfillers - you can use the 'contact us' form to ask questions or advice.

13:34 Blanca Morales: What I miss on other sites is a sort of website tour to get students orientated around the website and to show and make users aware of the facilities offered for them to learn and to manage their learning.

13:34 Berni: I also think, my third most important tip, that it is important to enjoy what you are learning

13:35 Berni: Actually Blanca we have several video tours for Gapfillers which are on our Youtube channel but need to come into the Gapfillers site! Thank you for reminding me!

13:37 Blanca Morales: I couldn´t agree more enjoying while learning is vital.

13:37 Berni: oops my last comment lost some text - about enjoying what you learn - there is a wide range of topics on Gapfillers so you can choose what you like

13:37 Berni: and in this way get much more out of the exercises!

13:38 Berni: I seem to be losing bits of text today!!

13:39 Berni: Can you give us some tips of your use of Gapfillers and what you find helpful and/or enjoyable Blanca?

13:40 Blanca Morales: Sorry, I can´t see what you´re saying.

13:42 Berni: I wanted your experience about Gapfillers what you like and enjoy.

13:43 Berni: or are useful exercises.

13:47 Blanca Morales: I also find Gapfillers very participative, you, as a student, can ¨have your say` and suggest contents, approaches, in other words, you can be sure your contribution (feedback) will be listened.

13:48 Berni: Lol! I can't see what you're saying - this is technology!! see not hear!! :-))

13:48 Berni: Thanks Blanca I'm happy that you see/experience that! This is our aim.

13:49 Berni: From the participation of online members we can develop the site better so that it meets everyone's needs

13:50 Blanca Morales: Sorry about my typos and lack of punctuation, I promise to pay more attention to punctuation next time.

13:51 Berni: That's my fourth tip - participation. The more you participate the better your options for learning and influencing the content of the site.

13:56 Blanca Morales: Nice to have talked to you, it´s been a pleasure.

13:56 Berni: No worries Blanca look at mine!! Gr8 chat thanks - until next time.

22 Sep 2010 17:12

Entry for 15 Sep 2010



Do online games help with English?

13:00 Berni: HI and Welcome to today's Gapchat session. Don't forget to make sure you have javascript turned on on your computer and then simply type your comments into the box and 'send'

13:01 Berni: Our topic today is about online games and whether these can be helpful to your English language development - I think it depends on the type of games we are talking about.

13:06 rosamund: Hello, Berni! Call me sad, but I consider the multiple choice exercises as a form of game - in that the choice of correct answers is done at the click of a button, and you don't have to write everything down. It feels like a game to me to be clicking on matching cards, too - again, it's to do with the speed of the response and the feeling that there's an element of chance that you might guess correctly. A huge amount of learning can be done through games - even plain old grammar rules.

13:09 Berni: This is true ! So how do we define games in ELT? Are they fun things?

13:12 Blanca Morales: Hello, this is Blanca. How are you today?

13:12 Berni: I love to use puzzles in my teaching especially the lateral thinking type puzzle where you have to explore the evidence, ask questions and discover the solution - it would be great to find a way to do this on Gapfillers!

13:12 Berni: Hi Blanca how are you today?

13:15 rosamund: Hi, Bianca!I suppose a game could be fun, or amusing - or competitive. Or all three? Do we have any sense of competition in Gapfillers games? I think getting a socre feels somewhat like a game, even though, of course, it's soemthing we expect at work, as well. What do you think? Any thoughts?

13:16 DavidBW: hello Blanca

13:16 Berni: The Murder Mystery Game which we run twice a year on Gapfillers is a more prolonged and intensive game (next one will be in a few weeks) but really gets people using the language to communicate with each other. Collaborative games bring people together and work very well in a community such as Gapfillers to bring members together and have fun too - not to mention improving skills!

13:17 rosamund: Oh dear, score and something got mis-spelt. I'll also have another go at spelling your name, Blanca.

13:17 Berni: Last year one teacher told me that her student joined in the Murder Mystery game and her use of conditional sentences improved a lot!

13:18 Blanca Morales: Fine, thanks. I can´t stay for very long today, just a few minutes. Well, I think games are useful as long as you can manipulate the language you´re learning in such a way you use it freely and creatively. Some games have those features and they reinforce what you´re learning.

13:18 Berni: I did wonder what a socre was - I thought it might be a special prize!! Lol!

13:18 DavidBW: something went astray with my last message, only the first two words got posted! I also said hello to Ros

13:18 rosamund: Could you give a simple example, Blanca?

13:19 Berni: Can anybody share their experiences of playing games online which were helpful to language learning?
13:19 Berni: Hi David - sometimes that happens!
13:20 Berni: I agree Blanca there has to be language there to use in an active way or it won't have any effect.

13:22 Blanca Morales: It can just be a crossword or a wordsearch, I can´t think of more original games now.

13:22 DavidBW: Apart from the usual word searches

13:23 rosamund: Hello, David! Yes, Berni - for me, any quick exercise that enables me to absorb vocabulary or grammar at a bit of speed feels a light way for me to be learning - so I love interactive online exercises which analyse exactly what and why I've got wrong or right. At the same time, i wonder if adults are in a better position than children sometimes to pick up whether they're actively learning, as opposed to pressing buttons. But perhaps I'm being unfair on younger learners. Maybe they need more supervision to check online play?

13:23 DavidBW: done it again! Apart from word searches and crosswords I have played a game called Word Mole.

13:24 rosamund: What on earth is Word Mole David - are you sure you haven't invented this idea, David (just joking!)?

13:24 DavidBW: Word Mole is a game where you have to create words from a grid of random letters. The longer and more complex the word the higher the score. Once you have reached the target score you move to the next level.

13:25 Berni: Yes, Blanca crosswords and wordsearches are a good example they are fun and can be used to re-inforce or practise vocabulary learned.

13:25 Blanca Morales: My last message went astray, oh this technology!!!!

13:25 Berni: Must check out Word Mole!

13:25 rosamund: Thank you, Blanca, I had forgotten crosswords and wordsearches - and some people just love them.

13:26 Berni: What was it Blanca?

13:26 DavidBW: I'm posting my messages in short bursts in case I lose a lot of text!

13:27 rosamund: I'm obviously doing everything right, because I haven't lost anything yet. But i've lost a link or two in the past.

13:28 Berni: Me too!

13:28 Berni: I like treasure hunts (these are often used online) and web quests these are also collaborative

13:29 Berni: Are games with prizes or leaderboards more attractive to students do you think?

13:29 rosamund: How does a treasure hunt work, Berni? (in short bursts = in sudden, short amounts?)

13:30 DavidBW: Have to go now. Happy gaming! (btw Word Mole is available on some shareware sites - I have it on my Blackberry, useful when waiting for children to finish pianio lessons!)

13:30 Blanca Morales: I´m sorry, I´ve got to leave. I´ll see the transcript when it´s ready. This is inactive. Bye everybody.

13:31 rosamund: Bye! Thanks for your messages - interesting how you always learn something from other people.

13:31 DavidBW: hmm pianio must be a new instrument, let's make that piano (perhaps we could a spellcheck installed?!) Bye everyone

13:32 Berni: It would probably be following a trail set through a site to find certain pieces of information and in the end tis would led to te 'treasure' which could be a prize or might be something else language -related. You can make it more fun by adding challenges along the way these would in our case be language challenges.

13:32 rosamund: Yes, we could have a spellcheck installed just for you and me, David.

13:32 DavidBW: and a grammar check as well! doh!

13:32 Berni: Bye Blanca good to see you here!

13:33 Berni: I think I need a spellchecker too Lol!

13:35 rosamund: i just love treasure hunts. I imagine they are common to a lot of cultures? I love the feeling of discovering clues. I also love working against the clock - competing with myself to improve my speed. Some people prefer competing against others - and some Gapfillers activities combine these, really don't they?

13:36 Berni: Back to your point about learning from others - I really think this is the value of an online community such as this and whether you are playing games together or 'chatting' there are things to learn!

13:37 Berni: Can you give some examples Ros?

13:41 rosamund: Well the games which are running at the moment which have a deadline and offer a prize are examples of competing against others, and if people do any of the language activities in groups they would be likely to compare how they did, and what they found easy or helpful - even if they had no teacher to ask them. i find learners find it easier to make mistakes when it's a game, and easier if they can do the activity without being seen by a teacher - it allows them to try something without being marked out of 10.

13:43 Berni: You are right and it helps people to really develop as self-managed learners which is the great value of learning online - youo decide, you monitor yourself and then you share with others - the teacher becomes a facilitator not an authority which is a more comfortable (

13:44 rosamund: Maybe I'm stretching things a bit here, but i feel even a reading exercises can feel like a form of amusement if people can complete it in their own time - so the opposite of playing or working against the clock.

13:44 rosamund: sorry - a reading exercise or reading exercises, but not in the combination above

13:45 Berni: lost something too - I meant you choose what you want/need to do and this facilitator role is also an ancient role (cf the early teachers - monks who learned together not top down) for teachers

13:49 Berni: What is really ket though is that when people are really engaged in what they are doing they learn! With language, if the language is the vehicle and not the main task it helps with fluency and development!

13:50 Berni: aarrgghh!! key!

13:52 rosamund: Anything that reduces the feeling of work being work can feel entertaining. When i see some of the pages of vocabulary and notes attached to Gapfillers materials i think 'oh good, someone's done the hard work for me here!' And that feels light and speedy, as if I'm zooming along learning fast without maximum effort. I sound as if I don't like hard work, but that's not the case - I just think we can speed things up. I've had students go off to university with excellent grades who would do anything - anything - to avoid the sheer effort of the hard way of learning, or living in a dictionary.

13:53 rosamund: Yes, Berni - and I think people pick language up subconsciously and incidentally in the scenario you describe.

13:56 Berni: So I think we are agreed here that games are a good thing for English language learning! To bend an old slogan - Language games refresh the parts that worksheets can't reach!!

14:00 rosamund: I got a job once from a national advert in a department where people loathed everything techy. Just loathed it. When they saw what I produced online they said 'we want that!'. It hadn't occurred to them that you could be deadly serious but learn playfully and accurately. I'll be trying my Italian out next week, Berni, so won't be at the forum. I know yes, no and pizza. Can only improve from there! Thanks for the chat.

14:03 Berni: Probably need wine or beer too! Have a great time and see you soon! Thanks everybody for another interesting and engaging GapChat!!

15 Sep 2010 16:39

Entry for 8 Sep 2010



Which activities work best online

13:00 Berni: Welcome to today's Gapchat. Our topic is Which activities work best online. Just type your comments in the box and post. Remember you will need javascript turned on on your computer to participate.

13:00 Berni: Don't worry of you are not sure what to do or say - you can watch what is going on and join in when you are ready.

13:12 rosamund: Hi, Berni! I rate the grammar quizzes highly - I like the way learners don't have to write every word down but can just concentrate on supplying a crucial bit of information - the one that they often or usually fall down on, such as the prepositions after adjectives or structures. It's useful to cover a lot of ground fairly fast, but just pausing over the tricky bits.

13:17 Berni: Hello Ros, I agree they are immediate. I've been reading a lot about e-learning recently and one inportant point is that exercises should be short as optimumum learning time is 20 minutes - so this fits in!

13:21 Berni: Exercises with variety are also good. So reading/listening exercises which have a bit of video or audio and a link to extra information work very well for learning - the beauty of a site like Gapfillers is that you can come back later to complete or do more work on any one exercise.

13:27 rosamund: Interesting about the 20-minute concentration span - i suppose that means for active, focussed concentration? There are some skills and exercises which don't necessarily require the same level of focus. Did your e-learning reading give any sort of breakdown on where that span is at its limit and where it might be irrelevant? I imagine picking up vocabulary in a reading exercises would be very straighforward for many Gapfillers users. Or do you think that varies, according to language backgrounds? Must be harder to pick up English words if your first language is Mandarin!

13:28 rosamund: oops! straightforward with a 't'!

13:29 Berni: Another key point about successful e-learning is that it doesn't have a prescribed path - it's not an online coursebook. Learners need to choose their own route through the material.

13:30 rosamund: How do they choose, Berni? According to what they think they need? Combined with what experienced teachers and speakers know is the appropriate level?

13:35 Berni: I think the 20 minutes is for focussed learning. However, a change of pace and activity means that it could be a longer session

13:47 rosamund: Yes, i agree with you on the point you make about variety - it's such a relief to change an activity and watch or listen after reading - or combine two activities. It's crucial to build up stamina in studying, isn't it? And that doesn't necessarily mean spending hours

13:52 rosamund: oops! over the same page or activity, but approaching it for different reasons or with a different aim. It's easy to assume that unless you're doing exercises in full detail all the time you're being superficial or casual in your studying, but actually, sometimes key points or the general gist of a report really are the only things that are useful or relevant. I got cut off last time - strange!

13:56 Berni: I agree with all of this. Firstly the learner has to be prepared to self-manage their study, using all the support provided around the exercises and then they can move around as they like (or follow our suggested weekly programme). Joining in things like GapChat, wiki, murder mystery just adds variety and gives another opportunity for learning

13:57 Berni: Sometimes the chat box seems to decide by itself what it wants to accept from our comments! Lol!

13:59 rosamund: I'll think about this some more, Berni. It's useful to concentrate on different topics. 'Bye for now, 'tho!

14:00 Berni: Thank you again Ros an interesting chat. We need to get more people along here to give input!! Bye


8 Sep 2010 15:59

Entry for 1 Sep 2010



Checking progress online

12:59 Berni: Welcome to today's Gapchat - Checking progress online. - just enter your comments in the box below and send. Don't worry of you are not sure what to say, simply watch what others are doing and contribute when you are ready

12:59 Berni: You'll need to have javascript running on your computer to join in

13:01 Berni: One of the perceived problems of learning English online is how work will be checked. The fear is that if work isn't checked then we won't make progress.

13:03 Berni: In fact not everything needs to be checked by a teacher and good progress can still be made through participation. Checking your own work or even working with friends to check each others work are very valid ways of making progress too!

13:16 rosamund: Hello! I think the fact that the materials are drawn up by experienced teachers of English means they can pre-empt problems that will arise. I especially like the materials that have vocabulary or structures highlighted, because although some of those might be known already, the notes often explain a difficulty or confusion which might not have occurred to the learner, and that fact enables him / her to progress. I was reading some notes on people 'on benefits' the other day and wondered how obvious it would be to a foreigner that that meant 'state financial support'. Even good dictionaries are not always up to date enough, and do not always give the significant prepositions needed.

13:25 Berni: Hi Ros, this is true and as all Gapfillers exercises carry both the answers and explanations you can really check your results very well. Also now that the results of interactive quizzes are collected in member home you can keep a record of progress and try these again to improve your score

13:26 DavidBW: Well put, I was just trying to say exactly that!

13:28 Berni: Hi David welcome. Another 'trend' in education now is for peer correction this can work where people want to make their work public - such as on blogs or wikis where you get peer comments and correction whether you want it or not! Within Gapfillers this is a gentler and more supportive process!! And you will get teachers commenting to help you as well - so a win,win I think!!

13:33 rosamund: I think i did my usual trick of typing faster than I should have there. I mean that the word 'benefit' so often means profit or advantage in other languages that the secondary meaning of a payment made by the state or an insurance scheme might not have occurred to a learner until it's pointed out. I wonder if it's true to say that to make progress the learner has to become very committed to why the answers are or are not correct - and be assiduous about analysing his / her mistakes. Think you get used to becoming your own teacher in higher study and training. Often, although people think they want a teacher peering over their shoulder, in fact many learners feel less pressure and more engaged when they take part in peer to peer work or if they correct themselves. Sorry, David, I forgot to say 'hi'!Didn't mean to be rude!

13:37 Berni: I agree wholeheartedly Ros! To study online you really have to be honest with yourself and being your own teacher is a lot easier now with everything available on the internet. It is also more difficult to assess what will be useful and what won't. I think where all the tools are given to help you become your own teacher (which I hope we do here) then it can be a very rewarding and successful experience in learning.

13:38 DavidBW: Hi Ros - re Berni's earlier point I think it still takes a lot of guts to post a blog or wiki in a foreign language however advanced one might be in that language. However in Gapfillers, because you are already in a closed learning environment rather than being open to all and sundry, perhaps one feels less threatened and therefore more willing to post one's own material.

13:40 Berni: Yes, David, that is the idea - to be public in a 'controlled' public space so that there is support and advice on hand. This doesn't take away the freedom to express and experiment too!

13:47 rosamund: Also, you're in a space in which everyone knows we all make mistakes. As a linguist it's inevitable. I think temperament comes into progress - an attitude of oh, right, that was wrong - why? A friend's just done an intensive course in french and he said the best person in the class learned very little because it mattered too much to her never to be anything other than top of the class - whereas he himself, at the bottom of the group of 6, (he told me, I'm assuming that was true) learned a huge amount because it doesn't worry him to find he's made a mistake.
13:49 rosamund: And yes, David, i think you're right about it taking courage to post a blog in someone else's language. Not to mention the fact that for some people the technology is newish too.

13:51 Berni: It is important in language learning to experiment and thus to make mistakes - no mistakes - no learning - no progress. Hurrah for mistakes it means you are making progress!!

13:55 rosamund: I think regular exposure to English of a certain standard all adds up, too, so that sometimes people will pick up a lot, and on other occasions much less, but that might be a tricky point or something far more subtle.

13:56 rosamund: I'll sign off for now, as i have a Skype call to take! See you next week, I hope.

13:56 Berni: This true and there are periods when things plateau too. This can be frustrating but it is often just a period of consolidation. Soon things move forwards again.

13:57 Berni: OK let's call it a day!! Thanks Ros and David for your insights - Great Gapchatters!!


1 Sep 2010 16:04

Entry for 25 Aug 2010



What do we find most difficult in English?

11:15 Berni: Hi David welcome to the chat room!

11:15 DavidBW: hello

11:16 Berni: Thank you for agreeing to host today's gapchat - should be an interesting discussion

12:59 DavidBW: Welcome everyone to today?s Gapchat. Our topic is What do we find most difficult in English? Just type your questions or ideas into the chat box below. It?s ok just to watch the discussion and contribute when you feel ready (or not at all!). Don?t forget to switch on javascript to join in.

13:18 rosamund: What I find hard is deciding when to go with a new way of using language and when to give up. For example - we used to use the conjunction 'as if' b4 a verb and 'like' b4 other parts of speech. Examples coming up! He looks as if he needs a hot drink.' He looks like me / his uncle / death warmed up.' I notice 'like' is now replacing 'as if' all over the place, including on TV, on the news, to the point that I wonder if British people even know there is a difference.

13:23 DavidBW: Indeed 'like' seems to be a generic word used for many different scenarios even to the extent that it is used to end a sentence with no particular meaning, like!

13:32 rosamund: Yes, and I can't bring myself to share that particular habit either. yesterday I heard a young girl telling her friend 'I'm like, "what did you say?' ' when she clearly meant something like 'so I said to him / her or so I then asked him/her, 'what did you say?' Think it's complicated for people who aren't native speakers to have to invent a whole verbal structure, even to the point of having to decide which verb might be appropriate! it would also be incorrect in a formal situation, such as at work, to use this sort of informal register, like (= wouldn't it?!).

13:43 DavidBW: I wonder if this is something that could be covered in a formal training session insofar should the teacher advise the student of expressions that contain "incorrect" grammar which could be used in informal situations?

13:50 rosamund: Think that's a good idea - a session advising learners on what to avoid or be wary of. The use of 'of' that learners often find hard is one of those - in fact, foreign students are often better at this one that native speakers - I would have enjoyed another piece of cake as the correct version (sometimes do you find the hurried 'have' turns into 'of' (i.e. would of enjoyed), especially when it's written down. it's exactly the same structure in many European languages, but I can't speak for non-European ones - I'd love to ask people on Gapfillers about that some time.

13:52 rosamund: sorry, a typo - I meant to type better at this one than native speakers - typing too fast, that's my trouble!

13:58 DavidBW: I'm sure that Gapfillers members would have plenty of input to this discussion. I hope that it can be used again at a later date when everyone has come back from their holidays! I am going to close the chat for today in a couple of minutes. Ros, thank you for taking part.

14:01 rosamund: Yes, and it's useful for people to be able to follow different discussion on topics online, David. It's good to have a different angle on a topic. Thanks for chatting, David! See you again some time.


30 Aug 2010 18:46

Entry for 11 Aug 2010



The best way to use Gapfillers

12:53 Berni: Welcome to today's Gapchat discussion -The best way to use Gapfillers. Remember you need javascript turned on to participate.Just type your comments in the box. Don't worry of you just want to observe at first just enter your comments as soon as you are ready!
13:05 Berni: Just noticed it says August 4th??

13:14 rosamund: Yes, I noticed once before that the date was out by a week, Berni. But your message re Gapchat arrived, so members will have been informed, won't they? I wonder how many of them are actually on holiday, and what they're doing?

13:24 Berni: Hi Ros, this is true - it is generally a quiet month. We can always re-visit these topics at a later date.
13:24 Berni: What is your opinion about the best way to utilise Gapfillers for good English language progress?

13:32 rosamund: Yes, it's an ongoing forum, isn't it? The people who are about to come online in September for the new academic year here may have a very definite idea about how they plan to use the site. People I know who use Gapfillers tend to go to the listening exercises and concentrate most of their study time on that skill, because of the vocab support they find there, which speeds up their pace. I'm not surprised many people are reluctant to spend their lives in dictionaries. I had an experiment once where I gave a class of students 5 terms to check in their dictionaries and they took an average time of 10 minutes to find them even without writing them down. So any study material that has broken the back of that need to check
13:34 Berni: I feel if students used the weekly plan of exercises and follow these they would get all-round practice of their English. This regular practice will keep their language developing and progress will surely follow. Anybody can contact us via the contact page for help or advice. You can subscribe to the RSS feed so that you can be alerted as soon as each exercise arrives.This way you won't miss anything. If you don't have time on a given day you can still access everything via the sections and catch up later.
13:34 rosamund: I'd not realised there's a word or space limit! It makes my last essay a bit of a nonsense!

13:35 Berni: I didn't either but sometimes text does cut off!

13:36 rosamund: Sorry, as I was saying .... will save them huge amounts of time and energy. But then again, others really do work through the exercises systematically and then just try anything they fancy at the end of their time. It must work for them, because they have kept up that approach and habit.

13:44 Berni: I agree with you and the exercises here are very rigorous and well-designed. Listening does seem to be the favourite of most although grammar maybe comes a close second!
13:48 Berni: One of the strengths of Gapfillers is that we make it as easy as possible for poeple to practice and learn - everything is laid out and organised. The site has a lot of material but following the weekly programme will ensure that all skills are covered. We also offer Skype now too for speaking practice. Then you can join in the forum, look at the jokes, poems etc.. at your leisure!
13:49 Berni: Er, that would be people!!

13:50 rosamund: Though I often find myself defending people who concentrate on reading as their main skill. It's easy just to assume that we all want to speak a language, really, so anything that helps in that direction is great, but many learners need the become skilful at the written word - scanning, skimming, gist-reading, plenty of subtlety, lots of structures they recognise easily. Anyone doing research work, or who needs to check current thinking in their professional fields may well home in on reading. Don't knock it, I say - if it works for you, and is what you need, be our guest!
13:51 rosamund: The Skype facility will be exciting!

13:53 Berni: I agree that one of the best ways to use Gapfillers is to do what it is you need to do or want to do. There is no set programme. The weekly work is a guide for those with little time or who are not sure where to begin, but really - on Gapfillers anything goes!!

13:56 rosamund: It's also very useful to get onto the site and just start working straight away on the pre-set programme for that week, and not have to make any choices, necessarily. It can be a useful way to warm up, too. I think getting into the mindset of setting a small amount of time aside on a regular, maybe even daily, basis is very helpful.

13:58 Berni: This is so true - little and often, as with most things - not so easy in the modern world!

13:59 rosamund: Am just wondering if people will realise 'be my guest' means 'go ahead'.

14:02 Berni: Thank you for this! Some useful idioms here anything goes (no right way of going something), don't knock it (don't criticise something) , at your leisure (when you are free to do it) this is a problem with English littered with idioms! Also its richness!!

14:03 rosamund: We'd better not start chatting about the material Gapfillers has on idioms - we'd be here for months!

14:05 Berni: You are right - an idiom a minute almost!!OK time to wind this up! Thank you Rosamund some good tips and ideas for using Gapfillers. I think the forum will hot up after the holidays!!

14:05 rosamund: My translating work went well - I was pleased. I'm off to complete a work contract,t berni, so must go. Thanks for the chat - it's good to think about these approaches afresh. Have a good week! 'Bye!
14:06 rosamund: Sorry about the typoes - hope you understood 'contract' and Berni!

14:06 Berni: Glad it was a success. You have a good week too! Until next time

11 Aug 2010 14:07

Entry for 28 Jul 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


Can online communities help with English?


12:53 Berni: Welcome to today's discussion Can online communities help with English? - don't forget to make sure you have javascript turned on on your computer. Join in the discussion when you can but it's ok just to watch and see what others say!

12:55 Berni: This is an important topic for us here as we are trying to help people improve their language skills online.It would be great to find out what you all think!

13:05 rosamund: What exactly is an online community, Berni? Would you call a newspaper blog an online community?

13:09 rosamund: Where do we find the javascript to switch on, anyone?

13:22 Berni: javascript should be on your computer you may have turned it off to stop adverts flashing at you on internet pages
13:22 Berni: An online community is like a group or club which meets online rather than in a physical place

13:23 rosamund: So a newspaper blog would qualify as one?

13:25 Berni: If a community grew around it which then exchanged comments ideas etc..
13:26 Berni: I suppose facebook is an online community (or rather an online nation!) within it are smaller groups who interact regularly and they would be online communities. There are several for English like English club which is very popular - there has to be interaction.

13:27 rosamund: So Gapfillers could have several points on its site where members could exchange ideas, or would it just have the one, namely this live chat forum?

14:02 rosamund: Thanks for explaining the terms above, Berni - I wondered how many people are conversant with the idea and the techy stuff?

15:15 Berni: Sorry my connection has not been too good today. It is a good question. Maybe we need to explore this further!


30 Jul 2010 07:53

Entry for 21 Jul 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


Ideas for improving speaking skills?

12:48 Berni: Welcome to today's forum - 'The best way to learn English' You will need javascript turned on to participate if you 'freeze' just refresh the page
12:49 Berni: Don't worrry if you're not sure what to say you can see what other people do and join in when you are reday
12:49 Berni: sorry I meant ready!!

13:12 Blanca Morales: Hi, it´s Blanca, sorry I´m a bit late.

13:16 Berni: Hi Blanca, no prblem I was just sending an email. So what do you recommend for the best way of studying English?

13:17 Blanca Morales: I think the best way to learn English, it depends on when you start learning tle language, It depends very much on your age and situation according to that.

13:20 Berni: This is true - coming to the UK/USA is good but it's probably better to come when you have already got a good level of English so you get maximum benefit

13:22 Blanca Morales: Basically you need formal teaching, being inmersed in an English speaking country is not enough to guarantee your learning of the language. Inmersion alone is useful when you are somewhat an independent user of the language.

13:26 Berni: Yes, I agree unless you come for a long period of time. It is best to get a good grounding in the language. Nowadays there is a move away from formal grammar - what do you think about this?

13:32 Blanca Morales: It´s true, I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that English is taught everywhere and children are exposed to the language from a very early age and also communication, though poor, is the target nowadays, no matter how it is conveyed.

13:35 Berni: I personally think that with a good grammatical base we have a tool-box with which to build the language independently of teachers - I fear that if we teach purely via communicative methods we will have limited scope to develop the language by ourselves

13:41 Blanca Morales: I agree with you but I´ve got the impression that communication comes first, then some people/students with a wider interest in the culture try to go further and deeper in the language, but very few.

13:48 Berni: But do you learn/teach from a grammar base or a communicative base?

13:53 Blanca Morales: Yes, I use grammar to teach/learn but as tool, as you said before, to cover communicative needs.

13:56 Berni: I think it is important but so are all the skills. My greatest sadness as a teacher is that many people get to Upper Intermediate level and then decide that they are good enough and stop - it isn't difficult to improve from here it just needs a little work and dedication!

13:58 Blanca Morales: By that time students are grown up with many other responsabilities. Anyway, to recap, in my opinion, first a strong motivation and then being inmersed or surrounded by native speakers you identify with their values, their lifestyle...ideally being involved in community life ...and hard work. Learning somrthing -even languages- is a time invesment, something many people can´t accept.

14:01 Berni: You are right it does take time, learning languages is not that easy without some effort. It is easier to get close to native speakers with the internet now and students should take advantage of this - join communities etc..

14:02 Blanca Morales: Sorry for my typos.
14:02 Blanca Morales: ...typos.

14:03 Berni: Me too. Ok we have some good ideas here! Thank you for your input. See you very soon! Bye

14:05 Blanca Morales: I´ve enjoyed the forum very much, tt´s been a pleasure. Thanks.


21 Jul 2010 16:36

Entry for 14 Jul 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


Ideas for improving speaking skills?

10:14 rosamund: Sorry I can't join you today - I'm in France at a conference. I wonder what nature of speaking skills are the most important to everyone? It's not just one skill, is it, it's pronunciation, clarity, good use of the voice in terms of intonation and an appropriate, attractive tone, good audibility (it's as well you can't get me started on that little hobby horse....), not to mention register and content. I am surprised by how often people who haven't learned a foreign language, or not much of one, seem to think people can just open their mouths and speak, regardless of the topic or context. I've often had to memorise and then practise saying medical terms over and over again in a foreign language so that key information is very clear the moment it's needed. But I'd better go, my session is starting. Sorry if I've rambled all over the place and set too many hares racing..... What do people need and want most? Rosamund

13:12 Blanca Morales: Hello, is anyone there? This is Blanca.

13:14 Cee: Hi Blanca, it's Cee. I'm still absorbing the points that Ros has made in her message to us. What do you think?

13:17 Blanca Morales: Hi Cee, I agree with her that speaking is a very complex activity and summarizes many and absorbs many of the other skills and abilities, though there are gifted people who are better at speaking than at other productive skills such as writing.

13:17 Berni: Hi all, sorry late

13:19 Blanca Morales: HI Berni, I can see you´ve survived the heat wave, haven´t you?

13:19 Berni: I agree Blanca, some people are better at speaking than others and sometimes it is a personality trait rather than a language ability I think

3:20 Cee: This is true, and for most people the most fearful point of learning a language is putting into practise verbally. I have stood in front of my mirror at home and practised until I've felt confident, but then still crumbled when it's come to it! Hi Berni.
13:20 Blanca Morales: But the point is how this can be developed and learnt, so are your ideas?
13:21 Blanca Morales: Sorry, what are your ideas about it?
13:23 Cee: Ha ha - someone explain to me why I switch off my music when I join the Forum?? It's not as if you can hear it - is it? LOL

13:23 Berni: You're right but today is not too bad! I am not the bravest when it comes to speaking in another language - which is very odd as a teacher! But I think for most people confidence is the main thing (which is probably best done with a teacher) after the first hurdle then you can begin to build
13:25 Berni: Visiting the country is great as you have the language around you if you can't the there are some options like SKYPE (we can offer this on Gapfillers) or platforms like Myngle
13:25 Berni: Lol Cee - what is it?

13:27 Cee: As with most situations, your confidence builds as you do something more and more. Using your speaking skills in a variety of different situations, I think, helps to increase confidence. Most importantly - it is OK to make a mistake! It was Vampire Weekend, but now it's Bruch (I think!)

13:28 Berni: Cee, I think the mirror thing is great but more eventually you have to jump in - this kind of practice can build confidence though
13:31 Berni: I wrote a blog post called 10 Goofy ways to practise speaking - here is the link

13:32 Blanca Morales: What is very helpful at the beginning is to learn short phrases by heart and also to record yourself speaking and to listen to you with a positive but critical attitude.
13:32 Cee: The other problem with practising alone is that you create the whole conversation, whereas when you speak to someone, you cannot be certain of what their reply is going to be, so if they say something you had not 'rehearsed', it can leave you high and dry! The most effective way to improve is to get on and do it!

3:33 Berni: Sorry you'll have to copy and paste - these were some of the things I've done when trying to improve my own oral skills - they work ok but even so you do have to build with real speakers eventually

13:34 Cee: Blanca, I think that's a great idea! But it reminds of when I decided to video myself riding so that I could see posture etc and improve it.....Oh dear! The vision I had had in my head bore no resemblance to the' horror on a horse' I saw on the video! So, maybe proceed with caution?

13:34 Berni: I agree Blanca its like taking a phrase book on holiday - learn a few phrases to get you started, record yourself, look in the mirror, speak to the dog, cat fish!!
13:35 Berni: Video is a good idea! Hadn't thought about that.

13:36 Blanca Morales: Yes Berni, I read what you said and the advice was very useful.

13:37 Berni: If you really can't take a course or be in a country where the language is spoken then I think you should look for clubs to join (there are language exchanges all over, book clubs,etc..) If you can't find one then why not start your own!

13:38 Blanca Morales: What about the link between listening and speaking, I presume they feedback each other.

13:38 Berni: Blanca, how do your students manage their speaking outside of the classroom?
13:40 Berni: Yes I think listening feed speaking in the same way that reading feeds writing. The more you listen the more you can expand your knowledge of phrases, idioms etc.. then you have to use them. I think the sooner you use them the more you will remember them.

13:44 Cee: We had a teacher who insisted that, before we left the classroom, we told her what we had learnt in that lesson - in the language being taught! It was great, because however hard you may have tried to escape speaking during the lesson, you knew you would have to say something before you left - it meant most of us used the lesson to practise in!

13:45 Berni: That's a good idea and simple and not too threatening too - must remember it!
13:50 Berni: Hi Blanca, Cee - still here?

13:51 Cee: I'm here - just got 'kicked out' for some reason!! (technology issues here)
13:53 Cee: Having gained confidence in speaking then, how would you recommend further progression?
13:56 Cee: Join a drama group, or a debating society? Try public speaking? Become a spokesperson at work, or a trainer? All are ways of expanding your language and developing speaking skills

13:56 Berni: I think the ideal is to go to the country where the language is spoken but if this isn't easy then it's best to join a class or group to keep practising. Skype groups are good if you do them regularly (we will offer these very soon on Gapfillers)
13:58 Berni: Yes, Cee all of these are good ideas - a lot depends on why you want to learn; for pleasure, work or study (with the latter you will eventually get the exposure you need with the former you need to be more creative in finding options and social/hobby groups are great.

13:59 Cee: How nice would it be for Gapfillers to have students reading the poetry or short stories we spoke about last week? They could do just a line or two, or a paragraph if more confident. I think that would be great!

14:00 Berni: There are lots of really good ideas here for people to use to improve speaking skills even if you can't simply go out into the street and speak to people.
14:02 Berni: Good idea we could include this as a Member Home activity - a sound wiki!! Let's try it and see (check out voicethread - I think you can do just that there and we might be able to embed it)
14:04 Berni: OK thank you for all the good ideas next week same time same place 'The best way to learn English' come with experiences and ideas!!' Thank you to everybody who contributed today!! Bye

14:04 Cee: Bye

14 Jul 2010 14:10

Entry for 7 Jul 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


How can I improve listening skills?

12:59 Berni: Welcome to today's forum discussion - How can I improve my listening skills.Type your comment in the box

12:59 Cee: Well, I remembered!

12:59 Berni: You'll need javascript turned on on your computer to join in - if the comments freeze then refresh your screen
13:00 Berni: I've been in and out! Trying to teach also!!
13:00 Berni: Don't worry of you simply want to watch and see how it works.
13:01 Berni: OK Cee what do you think are good ways to improve listening?

13:04 Cee: I like the subject, but would ask this - how many of us really listen? We hear, but we don't always listen. When the language you are hearing is not your first one, I think you really do listen because you have to!

13:06 Berni: This is true but it can often be superficial. It's important to dig into the substance a bit more to get nuance and exact meaning

13:07 Cee: Isn't that difficult unless someone tests you on what you have heard tho?
13:08 Cee: You could leave a conversation having believed you have understand what was said, and unless you discuss it further you could have the wrong end of the stick entirely
13:17 Cee: I'm feeling a bit lonely here!!

13:18 Berni: Hi again, yes Cee you do have to have some checks to make sure it is correct this could be someone not understanding or it could be a training exercise
13:20 Berni: I think good training exercises (and I hope that there are many of these on Gapfillers) help to train your skills and not just your superficial understanding of what you are hearing

13:27 Cee: But, don't you also feel that it is important to listen to as many accents as possible in the language you are learning? Regional dialects can differ enormously, and by listening to a variety of these you put your listening skills to the test. There are some great examples of these dialects on the Gapfillers site, and I'm sure they are a great aid to listening and learning

13:29 Berni: Yes, this is an obstacle at the beginning of learning listening skills and a necessity when you get further down the path especially of you are working or studying in English
13:30 Berni: I think really, like all language skills the more you do the better you will get and if you train properly (ie with good exercises) then the results will be better (
13:31 Berni: missing phrase (
13:31 Berni: still missing (
13:31 Berni: OMG what is going on? (
13:32 Berni: Doesn't like brackets - quicker too!!! :-((

13:32 Cee: We have a glut of open brackets!

13:33 Berni: text disappears!!
13:34 Berni: Don't you think that listening skills in the wider population are a problem too everybody wants to be heard and most people don't really listen

13:36 Cee: Do you think the radio is a better tool for listening practise rather than the tv? I think that because the tv relies on visual the speech is more 'flabby', whereas the radio does not have that advantage and thus the speech is more clear, descriptive and concise.
13:36 Cee: And, oh yes! do I agree that most people do not really listen.

13:39 Berni: with tv a huge % is visual so you are not really developing listening skills that much - radio is much better -with video (especially on Gapfillers you can minimise it to just get the sound or maximise to get the visual help
13:40 Berni: I think the daily new bulletins give good exposure to listening and provide a good short dose of daily practice they are short, snappy and look at word level rather than overall impression
13:41 Berni: that should be news bulletins!! Lol

13:43 Cee: That's true, and you really do have to listen carefully in the short space of time that they are on. The 'People in conversation' range is very useful too.
13:44 Cee: What about listening to the lyrics in music? Now there's a challenge!

13:45 Berni: Yes, these are very tough sometimes because of the speed but repeating is also very good and gets the ear tuned in - they are also fun and it's great to sing along afterwards!

13:49 Cee: Of course,listening on the telephone can be difficult too, especially if you are required to take down messages for other people. That requires careful listening. There have been some very amusing mistakes made during that task!!

13:52 Berni: I think formal telephoning is one of the most difficult thing in a foreign language it is difficult in one's own language and in a real situation much can go wrong it is important to practice before you begin, make notes and prepare well.
13:55 Berni: OK, thank you for coming and also for some great input. I'll post up the transcript later on.Bye :-))

13:55 Cee: Here's a thought - what about having the occasional short story done as an audio piece? I think that would be rather nice! What do you think?
13:56 Cee: Bye

13:57 Berni: Do you know, we did that when Gapfillers started there are some stories and poems recorded - maybe we should do it again? Let's see what people think!

7 Jul 2010 23:35

Entry for 30 Jun 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


Why isn't Gapfillers a free site?

13:00 Berni: Welcome to today's discussion - "Gapfillers should be a free site" This was actually a message sent to me on Gapfillers and I thought it would make a good discussion topic.
13:01 Berni: Just type your ideas in the box
13:03 Berni: don't make replies too long - we need time to read
13:03 Berni: and reply. it's ok to just observe

13:04 rosamund: Some of Gapfillers is free, isn't it?

13:04 Berni: Hi Ros, welcome only half my messages are coming out :(
13:04 Berni: Yes, there is a free space which includes some free material

13:04 rosamund: Maybe they're just the free ones?!

13:05 Berni: Lol!
13:06 Berni: There are already a lot of free sites about some good some not so good
13:08 Berni: To make it free we would have to carry advertising

13:09 rosamund: I suppose it's difficult to know how sites are produced - I mean, if someone is working in a college somewhere, salaried by the institution, say, then if (s)he decides to make some material available to the world and his wife, then that's not actually taken any more time or commitment than his / her ordinary work. But for people actually to spend huge amounts of time - and some real expense - setting up a site, vetting it, paying for copyrights etc - it must be a really huge outlay (expense) and for no financial gain - well, most people just aren't that free, are they?

13:11 Berni: This is a problem for many sites like Gapfillers which are very dedicated to providing a method of studying and not just creating banks of material

13:12 rosamund: Oh, I hadn't thought of advertising funding it. But that could well involve people getting signed up for newsletters they don't want. I used to hate foreign students coming into class thinking they'd actually won a holiday, only to realise it was one of these misleading adverts.

13:14 Berni: The adverts appear on the site so room for exercises etc is more limited

13:15 rosamund: I find a lot of sites are terribly cluttered, with things flashing at you that have nothing to do with the task you've given yourself.

13:17 Berni: You can block the ads, but you block the interactive content too
13:17 Berni: This means no grammar, no video, no audio etc.. so for Gapfillers that would remove a large part of the content
13:19 Berni: Also, as we have (and want to have more) schools and universities using Gapfillers adverts would not be appropriate

13:20 rosamund: I think there's a lot of really useful and appropriate material on the Gapfillers site, and it's an asset that there's nothing extra to distract you. I wonder if I'd want a site in a foreign language to have anything other than the essentials.

13:21 Blanca Morales: Hi there, I´ve just entered.

13:22 Berni: Good point! Part of the 'free materials' is down to the culture of the internet at present - it will change I think
13:22 Berni: Hi Blanca, welcome how are you?
13:22 Berni: We're talking about free sites for learning English what's your opinion?

13:23 Blanca Morales: Fine and excited to take part in the forum for the first time.

13:23 Berni: Great to see you we're only 3 so far but it's a start!!
13:25 Berni: I do wonder if there are two factors - do people not want to pay for things online or is it difficult to pay for things online in some countries

13:25 rosamund: I've spent years of my life 'vetting' language sites. Some of them look really cool, but when I look at them I just freak out - some are grossly incorrect, and the faults just get replicated by people who don't realise that.

13:26 Blanca Morales: According to my experience I think free sites for learning aren´t useful for learning as the materials are not often renewed and there is no progress in learning the language.

13:26 Berni: That's interesting Blanca
13:27 Berni: I think some sites provide a random selection of material for teachers to use but are not aimed at learners perse

13:29 rosamund: I agree - hello, Blanca! Nice to meet you! - they're storage depots, basically, where there's all sorts there, but it's not linked in any graded way. As you say, Berni, a random selection, a sort of pick-and-mix.

13:32 Berni: Gapfillers has a bit of that but I hope that the archives help people to find what they need and the weekly programme helps them to structure their study somewhat.

13:34 rosamund: I suppose I've always been in favour of being efficient when learning languages - I've learned 3 to an advanced level, and then 2 or 3 at survival level. There's no way I'd pay for any old site with no guide to what to do when.

13:35 Berni: You two keep going in and out like yoyos :-)
13:35 Berni: What are the barriers to paying do you think?

13:35 rosamund: By 'you two' do you mean Blanca and me? I can't see any message from Blanca yet.

13:36 Berni: Hello Blanca what do you think?

13:37 rosamund: Well it's always tempting to want something for nothing

13:37 Blanca Morales: I can´t follow, the convesation stopped at 13:22.

13:38 Berni: It keeps jumping a bit can you see now? You could try refreshing your page

13:39 rosamund: How do you refresh a page, Berni?

13:41 Berni: Go to the top of your screen
13:41 Berni: you'll see 2 arrows (green facing in opposite directions (to the right of the box for entering web addresses
13:42 Berni: Clikc on that little 'arrow' box

13:43 rosamund: Maybe there's always been some reluctance to pay for skills that are soft rather than hard? I know people who've resisted paying a decent price for musicians, or music lessons, whereas if you look at the price of a law course it's exorbitant, as if the skills are superior, or will automatically lead to soemthing paid, which of course they don't, necessarily.

13:44 Berni: You could be right Rosamund but people do pay for English classes all the time.

13:44 rosamund: Oops. I'm so refreshed I'm mistyping.

13:45 Berni: Reaching the parts....

13:49 rosamund: Yes, and for that matter all hobbies involve expense, even if people don't need the skills for professional reasons. I once quoted a high price to discourage a person who wanted to learn French from taking lessons with me. She was very weak. Do you know, she accepted, and she was so determined to get her money's worth she turned out phenomenal results! I was really happy - it took me a huge amount of commitment to achieve that.So sometimes paying for something can be a spur to beng more committed, as illustrated in my anecdote.

13:51 Berni: Yes, I've also had that experience. This is another interesting point, that if you are prepared to pay for something you will make sure you get full value from it

13:52 rosamund: Is it difficult to pay for Gapfillers, Berni? Where is it hard - I presume the eurozone's easy?

13:54 Berni: For europe it should be ok and we also have a paypal option not everyone has credit cards. For some it will be hard I know but perhapos they can persuade their school to take a licence which would be very cheap per head.
13:55 Berni: Or their company - we have a lot of business english exercises
13:57 Berni: I did hope this topic might get more here I would like to ask members how much they might be prepared to pay and also what about a life-time one-off payment?

13:58 rosamund: Yes, when you take out a site licence you get really good value for money - and people benefit in different ways. I notice you have a lot of materials related to the world of medicine - not medical study per se (to quote you, Berni) but in that general area, so of general interest, almost in the category of current affairs.
13:59 rosamund: I wonder why Blanca had problems, and whether she's not alone in that respect.
14:01 rosamund: Of course, if people's lunch hour doesn't coincide with the forum it might be difficult to join in during office hours.

14:01 Berni: I've just had an email from Blanca she froze - I'll check it out. Yes, we have medical stuff and also things about university. My belief is that anything will help you improve skills but it is nice to have dedicated material - if everything is dedicated though you may not get transferabloe skills - what do you think?
14:02 Berni: Timings are very difficult I picked this time as I thought it would be possible just about for all parts of the world

14:04 rosamund: Yes, exactly - the knack is to cover a variety of areas that provide good general material, that uses transferable language skills. Nobody just does 'telephone' or 'academic' English - there's always some overlap.

14:05 Berni: Ok it's been an interesting chat. I will post the archive of comments. People can comment on the transcript page too. Thank you Ros and Blanca, sorry you had problems Blanca
14:06 Berni: You are right Ros it's important to have a balance but I think people like to specialise too much nowadays

14:06 rosamund: Berni, I'm sorry to say I'll be missing the next 3 weeks - I'm doing some translating in France after a week's hol in Dorset. I've enjoyed these chats.

14:08 Berni: OOh, have a lovely time and see you in 3 weeks. I will be chatting from Spain in a couple of weeks! Fingers crossed I have better luck than Blanca

14:08 rosamund: If you can gain a good level of competence in a language you can adapt for specialist fields. But if you only have specialist vocabulary you can be lost the moment you do outside that field.
14:09 rosamund: sorry I typed 'do' - I meant go outside that field

14:09 Berni: This is very true and now we have International English/Globish which I think does just that!!
14:10 Berni: OK off for lunch - have a gr8 holiday and enjoy France. Bye :-))

14:10 rosamund: I met some students who could talk about Jane Austen til the cows came home - but they were totally at sea when they went to the bus-stop to travel home!
14:11 rosamund: Bye! Enjoy Spain!

14:11 Berni: My first real trip to France was like that could debate on Baudelaire and Rimbaud but didn't know how to find the right station in Paris!! Bye!!

30 Jun 2010 17:23

Entry for 23 Jun 2010

Gapfillers Forum Discussion


I don't have much time or money, how can I learn English?


12:42 Berni: Looking forward to today's discussion on making the most of online learning.
12:48 Berni: How can you improve skills when money and time are both tight?
12:49 Berni: Hi Nemyatov - welcome!
12:49 Berni: Just type your question or ideas in the box and send them

12:49 nemyatov: Hi, are you alone here :)?

12:50 Berni: Looks like it - Petra was here but left there may be some confusion over the time perhaps?
12:50 Berni: Where are you joining from?
12:52 Berni: We still have 10 mins before the official start
12:54 Berni: hi nemyatov you still here?
13:09 Berni: Hi Ros, welcome just waiting for others to come

13:13 rosamund: It can be useful to meet a person who wants to learn your language and divide the time up between you, so spend 30 minutes talking in one language and then another 30 in the other. I think this question of expense is always there for linguists, because we can't keep popping off to the foreign country all the time - quite apart from which, you don't always get the practice you need even if you do. How did you manage to learn Indonesian, Berni? If that was what it was? Rosamund

13:15 Berni: I did some lessons when I arrived but then most of it was just lving there and having to function - this is in some respects the best way but you need some confidence to get started and you need to get out and meet people!

13:18 Berni: I think learning online is a wonderful way of getting started. It is easy and there is a lot around to help but you still need to have a plan and a study programme which you stick to.

13:21 rosamund: I had a time when I had to learn a lot of Spanish and found a local language lab really useful - but that was before online learning came along. For convenience I just don't think you can beat it - and although I say the language lab was really good, now I think about it, the hours were fixed - it had to be outside the academic timetable, wedged in between afternoon and evening sessions - but not always, closed at the weekend, and of course, with the travel there and back adding to the time involved. I was so relieved not to be in a class - they can be so slow, sometimes, and not always at the level you want. Ros

13:22 Cee: Hi everyone. A bit late because I've been riding!

13:24 Berni: OOh sounds nice! Lol!

13:26 Cee: I set an hour or so aside a week to improve my skills - a bit like language learning I suppose!

13:26 Berni: There is a problem with fixed hours for a lot of ppl now in the 24 hour society. Online helps with this but it's easy to do a bit here

13:27 rosamund: When you say a plan, Berni, you mean set aside a certain time every day, or follow work set, the way you do at Gapfillers? I think it's really useful to have work fed to you to some extent. Why have you been riding, Cee - is there a bus strike? We haven't got any transport trouble up here. Ros

13:27 Berni: oops went too soon I asked How can we make sure that there is progression?

13:28 Cee: IHa ha ,Ros! No, I ride a beautiful chestnut horse named Welly, and mostly in an arena tho I have been known to take him out on the roads too, bus or no bus!!

13:29 Berni: Yes, Ros. I see lots of excellent stuff coming online that teachers have written and it is very good but in isolation it can't really help progress. With Gapfillers you have a short weekly programme to follow and then you can find extra exercises on the same topics in the archives if you are still not sure

13:30 rosamund: Oh, sorry, I thought maybe you lived out in the sticks somewhere and hadn't progressed to vehicles yet. Mind you, they're a mixed blessing - I suppose it costs a lot less to fill a horse than a car. Ros

13:32 Berni: Lol! Any other tips for learning online?

13:34 Cee: I do think that the concept of online learning is good, but it can be very hard to gauge progress - that's why its so important to build a community where people can exchange ideas, help one another etc?

13:35 Berni: I agree! That's why going to classes is so great it's the social side - this needs to happen online too - hence this forum but we need to get more ppl involved in this!

13:36 rosamund: You don't always need your progress checked that much - just from time to time. I sometimes think English schools spend more time checking progress has been made than actually concentrating on the learning. For instance, i think actually listening to a lot of a foreign language is just essential - and not just once or twice, but several times, and then with and without the transcript so you can check words you didn't quite catch. once adults have got to intermediate stage they can often correct themselves, or pick up that they didn't know or grasp something and act accordingly. I seem to be writing more than anyone else. And yet I'm a quiet little soul. Ros

13:36 Cee: Put it on the Home page in big bold letters??

13:38 rosamund: I think I'd remembered the time as being 12.00 and then got side-tracked. If you do these live chats, is there any record of the chat afterwards? Ros

13:38 Berni: Good point Ros we are very target driven but often the targets get in the way of the learning! I think we can also judge ourselves if we are progressing can we say more, do we understand more do we know new words etc.. Big bold letters - good idea Cee :-))
13:39 Berni: Ros, it's 12.00 GMT (I think some thought 12.00 UK) - these time zones can be confusing! I am collecting the comments as we go.

13:39 ahigashi: :-?

13:40 Cee: It's a confidence thing with joining an online community - ie Am I good enough? Will I be understood and understand? It's a matter of encouraging people whatever their skills because oe thing is for sure - you will only improve as you do more of it!!

13:40 Berni: Hello ahigashi and welcome! We are talking about the best way of improving English online - any thoughts?

13:41 rosamund: Also, when people communicate they are using the language in a much more active way than they often do - because ideas are coming up and they want to respond, just as you would in any conversation. Hello, ahigashi - just out of interest, what time is it now, where you are, and where are you? I'm in the north of England. Ros

13:44 Berni: Yes, Cee it is not easy to jump into a forum like this and give your ideas. Sometimes you need to observe at first. This is fine - in time you will see how it works and then be brave enough to join in

13:44 rosamund: It's true what you say about confidence, Cee - and also, to my surprise, I'm finding it feels entirely natural to be chatting like this - it doesn't feel too techny or 'virtual'. hadn't really expected it. Ros

13:45 Cee: Perhaps it would be good to let people know that they can do that - listen, observe, and maybe have a go once confidence is increased?

13:46 ahigashi: Is there anyone here?

13:46 Berni: yes, it is fine you can learn things even if you simply observe

13:46 Cee: I must add that I am such a technophobe, and expected it to be very difficult to log on etc, but it was extremely simple!

13:47 Berni: ahigashi - can you see the conversation?

13:47 ahigashi: I don't seem to get my posts through...I just see the same phrases...

13:47 Cee: Hi ahigash, there are a few of us here chatting about learning English online. Where are you? I'm in Yorkshire, England

13:49 rosamund: Yes, I agree. It's OK just to watch. There are quite a few things to consider, too - where you start in these messages. Yes, ahigashi. I can see your comments. Have you got into the Gapfillers Forum and then the Chat area? It's my first time here today, too. Ros

13:49 Berni: Ahigashi we can see your posts can't you see ours?
13:52 Berni: Not sure what is happening with your posts ahigashi, we can see them.

13:53 Cee: Just keep posting your comments ahigashi, because we can all see them. Can you see ours?

13:53 Berni: What we feel is that online learning can be as effective as face to face if we make sure that we get a lot of exposure and try to practise regularly - does this sum it up?
13:55 Berni: I can see that ppl keep going in and out so maybe there is a glitch I'll get it checked out.

13:55 Cee: Would sending an alert be a possible idea -to remind people when the Forum is on? Busy as we all are, we tend to remember it too late!!

13:56 Berni: Did this Cee today 15 mins before but it's a good idea.

13:56 rosamund: Yes, Berni - actually, I think it's sometimes more effective than face-to-face - i think people who've studied to some level can often work very quickly and efficiently, which is where this online material is so useful - they can work at their own pace for at least some of their learning time. Ros

13:58 Berni: Yes Ros agreed! And with something systematic to work with which also stretches you it should be perfect! How would you address speaking (Skype aside)?

13:58 Cee: I agree with Ros - I do think it probably is more effective, especially for people who are at a higher standard. Sorry for missing the alert, I must have been cantering without reins at the time, so missed it!!

13:59 Berni: apology accepted! Lol!

14:02 rosamund: I hadn't quite registered the difference between 12.00 and 12.00 GMT -and of course, it's summer time now, so it adds an hour on. I found it really useful to receive the prompt. Maybe 2 prompts - I suppose it's eay for me, as i spend a lot of time on a computer, so i check my emails all the time. For speaking listening is probably the closest training, do you think? And some grammar - if you're saying it in your head, or repeating phrases or examples. You have to have understanding flatmates, of course, who realise you talk to yourself a lot, and don't send for the men in white coats. Ros

14:03 Berni: OK I'm going to wrap this up now. Thanks you for contributions. I hope some of the comments were useful. Next week same time same place.

14:03 rosamund: Byeeee! Ros

14:03 Cee: Cheerio.

14:04 Berni: Yes Ros Listening feeds speaking like reading feeds writing. There are some exciting things happening which will address speaking in time.Good bye everyone and thank you! :-))


24 Jun 2010 17:36


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