Graphical dictionaries 🙂
How to avoid guessing at vocabulary and save your time:
Use English websites (Wikipedia) to find out the exact expressions you need. You can always search for the Czech article about the topic (e.g. “Pálení čarodějnic“) and then switch to English to find out the exact expression used in English. (“Walpurgis Night” is much better than “Burning of the Witches”). You can also find out how an article is used with a certain word.
If you are not sure whether they use some connection of words in English – then Google the phrase. You will have to write it in inverted commas.
- “on Monday“ → Přibližný počet výsledků: 268 000 000
- “in Monday“ → Přibližný počet výsledků: 8 650 000
- notice the advice like: Měli jste na mysli: “on monday”
- To be 99% sure, you can Google your phrase just on bbc.co.uk (or any other site with supposedly reliable English: nytimes.com, nasa.gov, etc. according to your topic).
- “exploration of deep space” site:nasa.gov →Přibližný počet výsledků: 19 600
- “exploration of the deep space” site:nasa.gov → 1 výsledek
You should always think about the context and note, that a discussion bellow an article isn’t the most reliable source at all.)
But try not to memorize a Wikipedia article for your presentation, you have to understand yourself and be understood by the others. If you use a new piece of vocabulary, you should explain it to your colleagues (in English, if possible).
Immerse yourself in English – Keep your ears open!
Set English wherever it is possible to change language settings: a cell phone, a camera, computer software; use Facebook in English.
Watch movies, TV series, documentaries… on YouTube
Notice, that there are movies, documentaries (BBC, History Channel) and full episodes (usually in shorter parts) of TV series on YouTube. You don’t have to crawl through dubious sites and download potentially dangerous files onto your computer to be able to watch something in English. (The legality of uploading movies and full episodes to YouTube, that’s another story.) Try typing e.g. History Channel documentary or BBC Documentary and I’m sure you’ll find something to watch and the English of a documentary should not be so challenging.
If you are interested, the Star Trek series can provide you with understandable standard English (but it might not be your cup of tea). You can have fun while immersing yourself in English – so find something YOU are interested in. And I’m sure that you know your way around searching for movies and TV series…
Just don’t panic when you don’t understand Dr. House right away.
Audiobooks on http://librivox.org (mp3 recordings) are all in the public domain = completely legal do download and share. Audiobooks on YouTube – that’s another possibility, some of them are based on Librivox recordings. Search for “audiobook” or try http://www.youtube.com/user/CCPoems or http://www.youtube.com/user/CCProse. There are “subtitles” there.
Books in English
If you feel like reading books in English, try Wikisource, Project Gutenberg and GoogleBooks. It’s legal, it’s for free. The best way to find the book you want is to find the Wikipedia article about the book and to go to “External links”. An alternative is to type a phrase from the book (in inverted commas) and Google it. “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. ” If it’s there, you’ll find it.
To amaze the teacher who assigned you an essay, search for the topic on Wikiquote. Get inspired, use a quotation in your essays and be sure to cite your sources.