English is the language spoken in the most countries. I taught English as a second language for 7 and a half years in Taiwan.
I share some advice on how to teach and learn English. Join me, let's improve our English!


Amaze Kids | Crap | Confusing Phrases | 1-on-1 tutoring method | English phrases using body parts

10 Ways to amaze kids (4-10 years old)


          THESE SMALL THINGS HAVE WORKED ENDLESS TIMES OVER THE YEARS, EVERY TIME! but usually only the first few times :)

    1. Whistle.

    2. Beatbox.

    3. Do a simple magic trick.

    4. Speak a few words in another language.

    5. Draw a very good picture.

    6. Draw a very ugly picture.

    7. Pick up something heavy like a chair or a table.

    8. Snap your fingers.

    9. Make animals sounds.

   10. Speak in a different voice, like a cartoon character.

tutor method

1-on-1 tutoring method

    How to tutor a private English student at intermediate high level -
             Hein's method
                     Contact time: once a week for one hour

The choice

During my time in Taiwan I've had the joy of tutoring adults who want to improve their English. By the time they reach intermediate high level that have already spend a number of years using different textbooks memorizing vocabulary and grammar rules, but not much time practically using it. My method is to expose them to real-life English that is interesting and useful.  Everybody has their favorite sitcom or series, and everybody likes to watch their favorite episodes over and over. I let my student choose an English television series that they like or that is applicable to their line of work. A physical therapist, nurse or doctor can, for example,choose a series like Grey's Anatomy. I then let them choose a 10 minute segment for every week.

2 for the price of of 1

I emphasize to my students that "our" time should only count for less that 50% of their total learning time. As I have also found with my own language learning using private tutors, if you don't review what you learned at least a few times, you will waste a lot of time and money. They should spend at least one hour previewing, preparing, correcting and reviewing on their own for every hour "we" spend together. I understand how work and life can keep us busy, it's sometimes hard to find an hour during the week, that's why I suggest to split the time up in three or more 20-minute time slots. Much more effective and not so tiring. I make my little joke " you get two hours of English for the price of one! :)

The fantastic 4 method.


Language learning has four aspects. Listening, reading, speaking and writing. Here is how I incorporate all four when I tutor:

Listening. - Preview and review, private time. - 10 minutes
The first ten minutes the student spends watching the video clip of the week(without subtitles). Of course there will be words and phrases they won't understand. That is fine! The goal is to identify the  words and phrases that will be mastered in the week. They e-mail me the video clip or the name and timestamps. I also watch it.

Reading - Preview, private time. - 10 minutes.
Most series' subtitles can easily be downloaded at sites likes subscene.com.  It's great because you can use the timestamps to find the exact words in the video clip. After watching the video clip, the student should read the subtitles aloud and note the words and sentences they don't understand. It works best to print it out and use a pencil to circle all the new words and make notes.

Writing - Preparation , private time - 20+ minutes
I then ask them to write about what happened in the video clip. Describe the people, their emotions, sequence of events etc. As if they're writing to somebody that hasn't seen the clip. They can also watch the clip again with subtitles.

Speaking - Preview, private time - 10 minutes
Students then practice telling the story to themselves, a friend, a family member, a pet, anyone!

Speaking - Contact time - 20+ minutes
When we meet they tell me what happened in the clip, like a story! They can refer to their notes if necessary. I give them some feedback on their written work, they make notes to correct it later and them e-mail it to me during the week.

Reading - Contact time  -  10+ minutes
They read aloud the corrected writing assignment of the previous week. We make sure they understand everything.

Listening and speaking - Contact time - 10+ minutes
I choose about 10 words of phrases from the clip that I think they might not understand. I test them to see if they do. They should explain to me what it means, if they can not, I explain it to them.

Speaking and reading - Contact time - 20+ minutes
The student asks questions about the new clip. If they don't have any specific questions we go through the subtitles together and discuss. We also discuss the previous week's grammar and pronunciation corrections.

Writing - Correcting, private time 10 minutes
I send the student the corrected writing assignmet to be re-written.

Listening - Review,  private time - 10 minutes
The student watches the video clip again, but this time understanding more! (without subtitles)

Reading, speaking - Correcting, private time - 10 minutes
During our contact time I record the whole session. I then listen for any grammar or pronunciation mistakes at home and make a list of short sentences for the student to practice reading aloud. I send it to them via e-mail.


Total time: Listening 30 + Reading 40 + Speaking 50 + Writing 30 = 150 minutes
What I like most about using a Television series is that it's interesting and uses English in a way that people really talk. In Grey's anatomy, for example, students can learn a huge amount of medical terms. It's also great because within a series they are likely to use the same vocabulary and way of speaking again and again, so words and phrases from previous lessons are automatically reviewed. 

Let's improve our English!  

Usages of "crap" in Englishcrap

I realized that the word "crap" is used in many different ways, especially in movies and sitcoms.
To non-native speakers these usages can be very confusing.
    Let's look at a few examples:

crap = feces (poo poo)

Don't treat me like crap.
    Don't treat me with so much disrespect. Don't treat me so impolitely.

Don't pull that crap on me.
    Don't try to fool me. Don't try to trick me. Don't lie to me.

The crap you pull every day.
    Every day you do things wrong but you are not caught out.
    Every day you do things that are dishonest.

You make me feel like crap.
    You make me feel very bad about myself. You make me feel as if I'm worth nothing.

Oh crap!
    O no! Wow! O gosh! (  used when a mistake is realized that will have bad consequences)

Stop talking crap.
    Stop talking nonsense. Stop lying to me.

I'll beat the crap out of you.
    I will hit you very hard repeatedly.

I'll shoot the crap out of you.
    I will shoot you many so times you will surely be dead.  

He scared the crap out of me.
    He gave me a very big fright. He almost scared me to death.

Holy Crap!
    Wow! Amazing! ( Used when you see something that is bigger or more that you expected )

That's a crap joke.
    That is a very bad joke. That joke is not funny at all.

That's a crap excuse.
    That is a very bad excuse. I do not accept your excuse.

I'm tired of eating his crap.
    1. I'm tired of doing things that he tells me to do.
    2. I'm tired of listening to his lies and excuses.

Confusing English Phrases


Non-native English speakers often find phrases and words that do not make sense: It may be because some phrases have different meanings in different situations or..
It may be because the phrase has an indirect meaning. 

Let's look at a few examples:

Let's move.                      
1. Let's change the place we live in, let's move to another place.
2. Let's start doing what we planned to do.

Hold on.
1. Put your hand over something and close it.
2. Wait a moment.

Let's go, people.
1. Let's move in a direction.
2. Let's leave this place and go somewhere else.
3. Let's starting doing something immediately.

You have no idea.
1. You don't know of my experiences, so you I don't think  you understand how I feel.
2. You cannot be certain of something unless you prove it.

Your ass is on the line.
1. You are responsible and if you make a mistake you will get in big trouble.

You got called before the chief.
1. You have to go to the chief to explain something or report on something.

Did you clear this with her?
1. Did you tell her all the details and get her permission?

Nothing I couldn't handle.
1. Although it seemed hard to do, I had enough skill and experience to succeed easily.

Don't hang this on her.
1. Don't put this thing on her body.
2. Don't blame her for what happened, don't make her responsible for the outcome.

We're thought talking
1. We have talked enough, we are not going to talk anymore.

Any luck yet?
1. Have you found what you are looking for ?
2. Have you accomplished what you planned to do ?

You gonna make it?
1. Are you going to be successful?
2. Are you able to finish the job?
She had an errand to run.
1. She had something to do.

1. Nothing

See if you can spot these  phrases: Greys Anatomy Season 1 episode 5, 15:00 - 25:00.

English Phrases using body parts english body part expressions

He's got his head in the clouds.
- He thinks he is better than others. He is too proud.
He is arrogant.

Don't be so nosy!
-Don't ask so many questions!

I'll keep an ear on the ground.
- I'll tell you if I hear of any useful information regarding your problem.

I'll keep an eye on him.
- I'll watch him. I'll take care of him.

He is a real pain in the neck.
- He is very irritating. He bothers me a lot.

A weight has been lifted of my shoulders.
- A problem that caused me stress was resolved. Something that has troubled me is resolved.

I caught him red handed.
- I caught him while he was doing something wrong.

Do you need a hand?
- Do you need any help?

Give me a hand please.
- Help me please.

My heart goes out to her.
- I feel very sorry for her.

My hands are tied, sorry.
- There is nothing I can do to help you, sorry. Because of some rules I cannot help you any further.

I've got a gut feeling.
- I think I know what is going to happen but I can't prove it.

We need to get a foot in the door.
- We need to find an opportunity to get started with a process.

I stood there with my foot in my mouth.
- During a conversation I said something wrong that worsened the situation.

I need to find my feet.
- I need to get used to my new environment. I need to get stable.

It's gonna cost me an arm and a leg.
- It's gonna cost me a lot of money.

Break a leg!
- Do you best! Win!

I'm pulling your leg.
- I'm only joking with you. I not telling the truth, I'm lying to be funny.

Stop pulling my leg, be serious!
-Stop joking with me, be serious!

Let's shake a leg.
- Let's get moving! Let's start! Let's do it quickly!

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments. |    2014 HeinsUniverse.com