About Me

My name is Chris, and I’m originally from North Devon. This is in the South West of the UK, and it is one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

 

After graduating with a degree in Philosophy from Cardiff University and a Masters in Latin American Development from the University of London, I moved to Buenos Aires in Argentina with my girlfriend (now wife) Lucy. This was where I taught my first English class, and I have been teaching ever since.

 

After a few months in Buenos Aires, Lucy and I moved to Bogota in Colombia. We lived there for a year and a half, and absolutely fell in love with the place. 

 

Since returning to the UK seven years ago, we’ve been living in the beautiful city of Oxford.

 

In my spare time I love cooking, going for runs, watching Arsenal, going walking and camping, reading books, and listening to podcasts.

About microEnglish

microEnglish provides mini vocabulary and grammar dictations and intensive transcription exercises which will improve your English listening skills.

These are the kind of exercises I use in class to help my students improve their listening and understand native English speakers. I have seen how effective these exercises can be, and I started microEnglish with the aim of making them accessible to as many people as possible.

Why listening?

Understanding native speakers in English is one of the biggest challenges that students face when learning the language. Native speakers talk quickly, pronounce words strangely and squash words together. All these things can make it very difficult to understand what they are saying.

For example, look at this sentence:

What did you do at the weekend?

It’s a very simple sentence, and you have no problem understanding the meaning when you read it. But what about listening to it?

 

 

In your own language, you are very good at translating the sounds that you hear into words, phrases and sentences. You ‘decode’ the stream of sounds and understand what is being communicated. However, when you listen in English (or another language that you aren’t a native speaker of), you probably listen in a very different way.

Most people, even very advanced speakers, understand enough to survive. Maybe you can only understand 30% of a sentence, but that allows you to guess the meaning of what someone is saying. Perhaps you can use the context to ‘fill in the gaps’.

For example, when you hear the sentence “What did you do at the weekend?”, you might only understand the word ‘weekend’. That’s only one word, but it might be enough to understand what I am asking (if, for example, it is our first conversation on Monday morning). So you answer me by telling me what you got up towhat you did over the weekend – you have survived.

‘Survival listening’ is a very important skill, and it can be extremely useful in many situations. However, the ideal situation is not just to survive, but to be able to understand exactly what someone is saying, from the sounds to the words, from the words to the phrases, and from the phrases to the sentences. This website will help you to do this.