Learn English with Jennifer

Jennifer Lebedev, materials writer, Pearson blogger, and teacher extraordinaire, has several series of instructional videos on YouTube. All of them are thoughtfully constructed, carefully done, and interesting to watch. Jennifer’s latest series (which she is still adding to), “Learn English with Jennifer,” shows Jennifer teaching her friend Natasha English from the very beginning. (Natasha lives in the United State,s but she had never studied English formally; she and Jennifer always communicated in Russian.) These lessons include both vocabulary and grammar, and they focus on the spoken language.  They teach and/or reinforce the basics. They are great for beginning students!

The first 52 lessons are listed and linked below:

Lesson 1 Greetings

Lesson 2 More Greetings

Lesson 3 Greetings Throughout the Day

Lesson 4 Useful Expressions

Lesson 5 More Useful Expressions

Lesson 6 Introducing Yourself

Lesson 7 The Alphabet

Lesson 8 Writing the Alphabet

Lesson 9 Spelling

Lesson 10 Let’s and Don’t

Lesson 11 Do and Don’t

Lesson 12 Counting from 0 to 10

Lesson 13 How many?

Lesson 14 Counting from 10 to 20

Lesson 15 Counting from 10 to 100

Lesson 16 Hundred, Thousand, and Million

Lesson 17 Present Forms of BE

Lesson 18 Subject Pronouns

Lesson 19 Forming Sentences with BE

Lesson 20 Negative Forms of BE and Questions

Lesson 21 Review of BE and Saying Goodbye

Lesson 22 The Weather

Lesson 23 Fruits

Lesson 24 What’s this?

Lesson 25 Articles: aanthe

Lesson 26 What are these?

Lesson 27 That and those

Lesson 28 Colors

Lesson 29 Do you have…?

Lesson 30 Plural Nouns

Lesson 31 Irregular Plural Nouns

Lesson 32 Forms of HAVE (have, has)

Lesson 33 Negative Forms of HAVE

Lesson 34 Family (How many…?)

Lesson 35 How old are you?

Lesson 36 Months and Birthdays

Lesson 37 Seasons

Lesson 38 Leap Year

Lesson 39 Ordinal Numbers

Lesson 40 Dates

Lesson 41 Days of the week

Lesson 42 Weekday and weekend

Lesson 43 Questions about the calendar

Lesson 44 Whose? (myyour…)

Lesson 45 Past Forms of BE (was, were)

Lesson 46 Questions with was/were

Lesson 47 Possessive Nouns

Lesson 48 Rooms in the House

Lesson 49 Verbs in the Simple Present

Lesson 50 Yes-No Questions in the Simple Present

Lesson 51 Question Words

Lesson 52 Information (Wh-) Questions

To find lessons beyond 52, go to YouTube and search for Learn English with Jennifer and the number of the lesson that you want.

Reading Aloud on Voxopop

Chinswing has now become Voxopop!  “Perspective,” a Japanese user who has started several different conversations, has now begun several threads for reading aloud which are wonderful for improving your listening, speaking, and reading skills!  The first one I found is devoted to short stories by O. HenryO. Henry, whose real name was William Sidney Porter, lived at the turn of the 20th century and wrote many wonderful stories about people in New York City.  The first story in the thread is one of my favorites, “The Last Leaf.”  It is about two young artists, Sue and Johnsy, who live together in New York.  Johnsy is dying of pneumonia, and she has decided that when the last ivy leaf on the wall outside her window falls, she will die.  The story of how Johnsy survives will bring tears to your eyes.

At the beginning of each short story in the thread, there is a link to the story on the web.  Each participant in the thread reads a few paragraphs of the story.  You can read along as you listen to English learners from many different countries read aloud.  O. Henry’s vocabulary is challenging, so this thread is best for advanced learners, who will find plenty of challenging new words in the stories.

Perspective has another thread dedicated to the short stories of Oscar Wilde, Angl0-Irish author and playwright of the Victorian age. Wilde’s language is easier than O. Henry’s, so intermediate learners may prefer this thread.

The most recent read-aloud thread begun by Perspective is English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs.  These stories also feature easier language than the O. Henry stories, but many of the words are archaic (old and no longer used in modern English), and there is non-standard grammar in the speech of the characters.

Reading and listening to literature is a great way to expand your vocabulary and hone your listening skills.  You can also contribute to the threads by reading a part of a story.  If you are an English learner, I’d recommend that you look up any unfamiliar vocabulary first to get the correct pronunciation.  Then practice reading the passage you have chosen a few times before you record it.  Speak clearly and with feeling!  Reading aloud is wonderful speaking practice.


Chinswing is a global voiceboard–a site where registered members can post comments to threaded discussions and a variety of topics.  You can listen to the discussions without registering, but if you want to contribute to a discussion, you must register.  (Registration is free and is very easy to do.)  Most discussions are in English, but there are some in other languages, like Japanese and Spanish.  The discussions are sorted into categories (“channels”) such as “Health and Wellbeing” and “Society and Culture.”  Within each category you will find sub-categories.  For example, under “Society and Culture,” you can choose “Current Events and News,” “Education,” “Global Issues,” “Language,” etc.  The main page tells you how many threads exist for a given category; for instance, there are 24 threads under “Books and Literature” but only two under “Theater” (category: “Entertainment & Arts”).

I started a couple of threads for my beginning Listening Speaking class at the Maryland English Institute, and I was pleased to find that English language learners from several countries found my threads and posted contributions.  One of them is “What’s your favorite…?” and the other is “I have a cell phone.”   For more advanced students, there are plenty of interesting-looking threads to choose from.  Many of these have been inactive for months, but as soon as someone posts on them, they will appear on the start page under “Listen to the Latest,” and those who contributed to them earlier will get an email informing them that there is a new post (unless they have disabled this).

What is nice about Chinswing is that you can think about your post for as long as you want before you record it.  You can even write it out and read it, if you want to.  You can preview it before approving it, so if you made a mistake and want to correct it, you can re-record it.  When you are satisfied, you can approve it and it will be posted immediately on the thread.

You can also upload a small photo of yourself from your computer to your Chinswing profile so that when people listen to your contribution, they can see what you look like.  This is optional.  You can also use your real name or a pseudonym.

Reading for Pleasure

Reading is the best way to improve many things: reading comprehension and speed, certainly, but also grammar and vocabulary. If you read modern novels with a lot of dialog, it also helps you improve your speaking. If you “read” audio books, you can even improve your listening by reading! (If you live in the U.S., it is best to borrow audio books from the public library; the ones that you can buy in a bookstore are usually abridged, or shortened, versions of the paper books, so if you are reading as you listen, you may get confused when the audio book skips something.)

You can read anything that interests you: newspapers, magazines, novels, short stories, graphic novels, children’s and young adult books, biographies, history and other nonfiction, and websites are all good! If you start something but find it too difficult or boring, stop and choose something else. Remember, this is reading for pleasure. If it isn’t pleasant, don’t do it.

Your reading material should not have so much new vocabulary that you need a dictionary to understand every sentence or paragraph or page. If you have to look up too many words, reading will not be a pleasure, and you will not want to continue doing it. Choose materials that are easy enough for you to understand the main ideas without your dictionary, but which have some words that you don’t know. You will begin to learn these new words naturally, even if you don’t look them up in the dictionary, as you encounter them in different contexts. It’s okay to use your dictionary occasionally, but it’s not necessary. You are not going to take a test on what you read, so if you don’t understand every detail, it doesn’t matter. Remember: this is reading for pleasure.