Shakespeare slept here!

Read this blog ! Practice your English! Come on ( venga ya)!. No deadlines (fechas tope). No exams. It's just a fun way to learn the language. 

Reading and Writing

Wendy . Blog Shakespeare slept here! Published 28 January 2014

You've been studying English for years now, practically all your life. You're an expert at "fill in the blanks" and can look at a "right now" at the end of a sentence and KNOW you have to use a "present continuous" as in "I am reading this blog right now." You can change affirmative sentences to negative and even attack question formation without much mental input. You even read in English when you have to. However, you only have to when your English teacher insists, so you happily cruise through your courses with a minimum effort. A "C" student or "Necesita mejorar"

Does this sound familar? Has your experience with the English language been limited to controlled exercises, out of context, which will really be of limited use in your future?

When you are confronted with a newspaper article about a present world event, an application for the job of your life, an itinerary for a trip to far off places, will you be prepared to decipher it or will you be using those fill-in-the-blanks exercises as your field of reference and stop reading before you start?

It's time to go beyond. Start reading, reading for pleasure. READ something you're actually interested in. What a novel idea. And then READ some more. Anything and everything could be of interest. Look on-line or pick up a newspaper or magazine in English. Imagine you're applying for a job in a multinational. Read the application form, now, before you're even ready to apply. Interested in travel? Get some brochures and read about exotic places where you will go someday.

And what about writing? Do you write anything in English? Are you keeping a diary in English? You should. You'll enjoy READING what you WROTE some day. Look at all the mistakes! I know a lot more now than I did then! Hey, I've come a long way.

Think about this for a moment. You don't need to be perfect, not yet at least. You CAN make mistakes, but you won't even write badly if you don't try. You want to be a C2. You want to pass the Cambridge First Certificate Exam or the Advanced Exam or the Proficiency Exam. You might be planning to go to the States and need the TOEFL exam. Your international life is out there. Are you getting ready for it?

Think communication. You don't have to be perfect, but you have to try. You don't have to start with a thesis. You could just start writing notes "Back at 1:30." "Please make a salad for lunch" "Meet you in the coffee shop in 20 minutes." "Went for a walk." We're interested in communication here. The simpler, the better. You don't have to be perfect to communicate, but eventually you have to notice your errors so you don't make them forever.

So.... get started.

Reading: Look up the local newspaper from a place you've always wanted to go or one you've been to before. I'm from San Francisco so I like: http://www.sfgate.com/

You'll see a long list of tabs: NEWS, TRAVEL, JOBS, LIVING, SPORTS. Try any of them. Just a few minutes a day and before you know it, those verb tenses and phrasal verbs make sense. Word order? No problem. You'll find some formal writing and some slang. Learn as you go. Then when you get to San Francisco some day, you'll feel like you know your way around.

Writing: Write notes to your family and friends or send them emails in English. Work on your TOUCHSTONE or VIEWPOINT blog. Send a comment to me on www.uem.es/shakespeare Send a comment on this article.

Then, a year from now, or maybe years from now, look back at your earliest endeavors. What a long way you've come ! You're living abroad or you're working for a multinational or you're part of the tourism industry or working in International Relations in Spain. Get started !

I remember reading my first articles and books in Spanish when I was 15. And then the letters started, constant communication in English and Spanish, writing and receiving mail from my exchange families and friends, foreign colleagues and later students. It didn't matter how bad the writing was, someone was bound to understand it. Think "communication" rather than "perfection."

Check out the July 13, 2009 post on his blog, Shakespeare Slept Here, or put the link below in your browser. Teachers have always taken off points for spelling! Ha! Amazing, isn't it?
So, I'd advise you to write in English, read in English and as you gain your confidence speak in English. It may be very important for your future.



Fill in the blanks: Rellenar los blancos
Cruise through: sin hacer esfuerzo
application: solicitud
far off: lejano
stop reading: dejar de leer
pleasure: placer
applying for: solicitando
brochures: pamfletos
mistakes: errores
foreign colleagues: compañeros de trabajo extranjeros
is bound to: es probably que

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Comments (32)
Fátima CT (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy!! I've been reading your post and I think you're right. We should make an effort and try to read and write in English more, and speak too!! Not just for homework, it's for our professional future. I would like to know some book that you can recommend us. Thank you so much, F.

Pablo Martín M58 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, I just finish to read your entry and i´m totally accord with you. In fact, recently i´ve been trying to put in practice all the thing you´re talking about for. A few days ago, I bought two books written in english; One of them is "Dracula" of Bram Stoker and the other is "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with The Merry men and Other Stories", written by R.L. Stevenson. I´ve been waiting all week to the weekend to start reading one of them. To finish, i´m trying to watch all the TV series in english too, to get used to the language. I hope all that things help me to improve my English!!!

José Manuel Cam... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Good morning Wendy! I agree with you in all points of the post. Actually, in 2009 I travelled to London to study English for one month. One month it's not enough to learn English, but at least I got a certificate on Upper-Intermediate English. In that month I made lot of friends from all around the world and once in a while I speak with them by Facebook and try to know a little bit more of their lives. I watch TV series in English. Some examples: Fringe, Dexter, Big Bang Theory (much more hilarious than Spanish version), etc. Last year I started to read an english version of 'The Hobbit'. A friend of mine told me that was an 'easy to read' book. I'm always trying to improve my english because that will open me too many doors in the future.

Cristina de Manuel (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy! I think that it is a good way to force yourself to write a little more to try and master the language a little more. My biggest problem with of English is I´m very embarrassing and thense I speak very little in class. I try to practice more, any advise? Thanks. Regards!

Gemma Martínez M58 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy, I would like to speak English better than I speak right now, so, I will try to READ everything I can. I will start to watch subtitled foreign movies and then, I will buy a book. I would like to speak English better because I think it is important for the future, although you will not work abroad, you will probably face a situation in which you need to speak English or, at least , understand it. Thank you Wendy for the tips.

Adriana M58 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

I´m totally accord with you Wemdy because english is essencial in pur lives and we should speak and write perfectly and we don´t do. I will tried to read even a little article, a newspaper or see TV series to improve my english! See you soon!

Javier (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Wendy, you are absolutely right. The only way to learn English is to practice a lot. Reading, writing and speaking are necessary if we want to improve our English. But we are often lazy and do not take the time necessary to learn English. I try to do but I get distracted with everyday tasks. However, with the English classes I notice that my English improved gradually.

Tania Flores B2... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy! I totally agree with your post. I think we are taught English in Spain since the school is not sufficient for learning a language. We need to do extra work on our own to learn it well. I think reading books, articles and even write your own diary is an easy way to get it. From now on I will try to do well.

Sergio Recatero... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

First of all, I really enjoyed this posts because now I feel so motivated to star reading and writing in English. The problem is, how long this motivation will last me? For sure that it would improve our English but sometimes, and I repit, just sometimes... spanish people are so lazy. I try to see at least one film every week in english with subtitles, do you think that it helps? Can you recommend me one sport newspaper?

MARIA SUAREZ M58 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy, I had a great tima reading your blog, I really feel like an expert as a English student all what have you mentioned it's true. In my opinion you have make the point that English is so important in our proffesional live , also going abroad and to discover new cultures.

Enrique Sancho ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, It is true that we need to practice more in order to improve our english. We only have one class per week and that is not sufficient to reach the level C2. It would be good for us to work on our own, specially skills as reading and writing because i think that are the less practiced in class. From now i will try to read the news and take notes in english. I'm sure it will work!

Jose Francisco ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Good night Wendy! I think that since I was small, I have received English classes with very repetitive and very little practical methods . I agree with you, that's a good way to practice and improve our English level. We have to live in English: Watch movies and TV shows in English, write and read articles in English and practice conversations with our friends in English. It's the best way to get to know a language.

Jesús Santiago ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello wendy! I find this comment interesting because I think the English is very important in today's society. We have to improve the system of learning English at school and show the importance of this language today. As you point out in the comments, we have activities for others to learn in a more complete way, group communication, the realization of newspapers and viewing of movies are what I consider more enjoyable and more fun to learn English.

Cristina Agustí... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Good morning Wendy, I think reading and writing in English and in Spanish are very important skills. I love reading and I prefer to read crime novels for example Donna León. She is a fantastic author. At the moment I'm reading "Justicia uniforme", which is an intriging novel. Writing is more difficult for me and I need more practics. My mother likes to receive emails from me. I try! Cristina.

Jesús Oliván (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, I´ve been reading your post. I agree with you, we should read more books, newspapers, magazines in English, and for sure we should watch more movies, serials or any kind of contests in English. I love traveling, so English can help you communicate, because is an universal language spoken all around the World. So, I will watch more movies, and read more books in English.

Miguel Angel Pe... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, It is a very interesting article. It makes you realize the importance of small steps and that mistakes help them learn.

A2 JUAN ALGAR (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, I´ve being reading your post and i think read books isn´t the problem. The problem is...Have I time for read books? Unfortunately, We live in a society that runs very fast. It´s a great problem due to have to conciliate profesional and family life. That´s the cuestion. Actually, life demands us a lot of workload. Crisis, unemployment are aspects of our life We must coexist with. I would love to have time, not only for read; playing with my kids, walk with my wife or simply talk with her or go to a restaurant too. Help!!!!!!!!!! I need slow down!!!!!!! Best regards, Juan

Felipe Hoyo (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

I think the article content is very appropiatte. Since we are children we learn to fill in the blanks, do that for 12 years of school, and when you really need the English you realize you know very little English. We work hard to improve, and follow the advice set out in the text, correcting our mistakes with practice.

María Concepcio... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello, I read economics papers, at least once a week. Papers are very difficult, but I try to understand them. I have to read a lot and learn vocabulary. Then I´ll probably understand and speak better than previously. Regards

Carmen Martín M... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

I agree with your post. I think that we have to make an effort and try to listen a speak in English more. If a read a text I understand more or less everything, but if I see a movie, it is difficult for my understanding, to get used to the language. Vocabulary is very important to understand the context of the sentence you're listening to. I'm always trying to improve my English because that will open me too many doors in the future.I would like to speak better than I speak right now, so, I´m trying to read everything I can, articles, lyrics songs, books… Also I will try to meet with someone to talk English. With the English classes I think that my English is improving gradually, it is important to motivate me. Best regards C.Martín

Judit T53 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy! Yes, I've been stuying english since I was a child, I went to a bilingual school, but when I changed my school I lost all my english because I didn't practice so much. It is so good to read english magazines or articles, or instead of view a film in spanish version, try to view it in original version, then you get used to your ear. Best.

Andrea Racz (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy! As other people had said, we should make a big effort to read more in english to try to learn new vocabulary which cannot be taugh in class. I try to watch movies in english with subtitles to catch up vocabulary I would not understand by listen to it.

Daniela Méndez ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy! Yes, I've been stuying english since I was a child, but i didn't practise a lot. I try to read and see films and magazine in English, because i Tthink that is the best way to understand the meaning of words. bye

Alicia Buades B... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

In my personal opinion, the best way to learn English is speaking. Of course, in first place, it must be learned grammar. But when you are speaking is when you are really learning the language, because you just think in English, you don’t translate words.

Maria del Mar (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

If I have to be honest, one of the hardest things for me is to write on a blank sheet. I do not like when I am forced to reach a limit of words, I find it stressful. However, it seems that few students, like me, stress benefits them and smart phrases that duty arise. So thanks for your patience my dear teachers!

Ángel Cardiel M58 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

The only way to learn English is to practice a lot. Reading, writing and speaking is soo much important if you want to improve our English, as a friend fo mine that practice martial arts says, the only way of reaching perfection is to practice, practice, practice and never give up.

Juan Luis Carra... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hi Wendy, Usually, when i go in my car, i listen vaughan radio. Sometimes i watch movies in english. I think that do that help me to improve my listening. But for me, the problem is talk in english with other people. How can I progress in this way? Thanks Wendy.

Jesus Santiago ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello wendy! I think that is absolutely right, we need to learn and improve English using reading books and watching movies in English. It is a way to learn from home and even interesting. The problem is that in Spain people read little Spanish, so imagine having to read in English! hahaha!

MEscorial (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, Finally I´ve remembered to visit your blog. I´ve found a source where I can practise my english. I would like to improve my speaking, sometimes when I'm teaching I feel unsatisfied with my explanations. I need to go over my knowledge in English and I'm totally agree with the idea of introduce the learning in my daily life. Kind regards, M.Escorial Blended. 2.1 thursday afternoon

Carla Barreiro ... (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

As all my classmates that have posted comments before than me, I agree with them as well as with you, because I think that to improve our english levels is essential such as read as write. I love the idea that you have recommended us about read something that we like or that we are get use to read actually. This will make our english study much more easy, or even funny! Also to enhance the Academic english is very important to write. I currently try to watch movies and series in original version, or with subtitles, and I have the idea to start to write a Diary in English to practice my writing, and improve my english level overall.

Julian (M37) (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

I´m totally agree with you Wendy because in our lives we need to know speak and write english even though nearly nobody do it. Now I will try to watch TV and series in english and I will try to read english and american newspapers as much as I can.

Kety Buiza F.I.A2 (not verified)
5 February 2016 12:29 pm Reply

Hello Wendy, I agree with you. Your article is fantastic!!, but now we should get it started. I admit that I don't practice much English and I'm sad. However I try that my daughter practice much english, speaking and writing. She's going to bilingue school and then, three days ago, she's going to particular class of english. She likes study english!!, Sometimes when I study she correct me. :( I will try speak and write more. Regards

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