Welcome to Making Sense of English (aka Apoven)!
Brief Video Introduction
*Click on CC (closed captioning) if you want to see the subtitles. I’ve edited them for accuracy. In addition to a brief introduction, you’ll learn the meaning of the following phrases and hear them used in context:
- make sense
- to stick with something
If you are ready to improve your English and want to learn things they don’t teach in most English language classrooms, you have come to the right place! From fast-speaking native speakers to cultural differences that influence language, I spend my free time sharing all I know to help you become fluent in English. If you are a native Korean speaker, this site is especially for you! If not, don’t worry! There is plenty here for you too! I started this site to provide both basic and more advanced conversation and listening skills for all English language learners.
Are you afraid to speak English?
Are you worried about making mistakes?
Do you lack confidence?
Are you worried about being judged?
If not, fantastic! You are more than 50% of the way to becoming a fluent English speaker!
Coming soon: An Off the Cuff video about Mistakes
The Importance of Mistakes and Practice
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you probably have very little English speaking practice. Am I right?
People who are afraid of making mistakes usually prefer to listen. That’s fine! For now. However, at some point, if you really want to improve your English speaking ability, you are going to have to be brave and start speaking. I will teach you how to get speaking practice to improve your speaking ability even without anyone to talk to.
Anyone who plays a sport or a musical instrument can easily understand that learning a new skill takes lots of practice. Your ability to use your instrument well, whether it is your body, your violin, or your voice, will only improve by practice, practice, and more practice. There is nothing to be afraid of. Mistakes are natural.
You will absolutely, 100% make mistakes. That is guaranteed.
Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Embrace them. It is also guaranteed that you will not become a better speaker if you don’t embrace the learning process and start speaking, little by little.
If followed, the methods I teach are effective and you will build your English fluency little by little.
You have my support on your English language journey. You are not alone!
I’m here to help you:
- Gain confidence
- Improve your English fluency and communication skills
- Increase your vocabulary and knowledge of “real English“
- Improve your listening and communication skills
- Learn practical English and natural expressions that aren’t usually taught in school
- Find the best online English resources based on years of classroom experience and research
- Understand the connection between language and culture and why it’s important (Korean vs. English examples)
- Learn about overseas travel through photos and stories of the 49 countries I’ve explored
Making Sense of English was created as a resource for both students and teachers. My goal is to give students the tools they need to become better communicators. These tools include insights into cultural differences, language tips, sample conversations, and much more! Everyone is welcome here. Beginners, try out the listening resources and be sure to watch Emma’s video. Intermediate and Advanced students will find lots of material to suit their level. While the Virtual Online Textbook page and posts are written for the university courses I teach, everyone is welcome to read them (unless password protected).
Ready to get started but have no one to speak to?
Check out this video on learning how to think in English. Follow Emma’s advice to stop translating (“buffering”) and start thinking in English. By practicing a little each day, you’ll increase both your vocabulary recall and your ability to speak more fluently. You can also practice speaking English with Siri.
While I am not currently taking new students, if you think you’d like to work with me in the future, sign-up for my mailing list via the pop-up form to be first to hear about course offerings.
Who’s behind this website?
This site is completely written and published by one person, dedicated to helping English language learners gain confidence and improve their English.
- English teacher to students from all over the world since 2006
- M.Ed. in Education and Teaching English as a Second Language
- B.A. in English and Education focusing on English Literature and English language learners
- Massachusetts Educator’s License in English Secondary Education
- TEFL Certified
I began my career teaching in the United States. The last place I worked in the U.S. was The New England School of English, a highly respected award-winning school located in Harvard Square.
For the past 8 and a half years, I have been teaching university students in Seoul, South Korea. Every semester, I enjoy helping students become comfortable speaking English by giving them the tools they need to understand English and start speaking English more confidently. The very first tool is learning and using practical English. By using just 3 or 4 practical English questions, students can communicate in English right from the start!
Things I’m Passionate About Include:
- Teaching, learning, and education (I believe in lifelong education.)
- Tidying (My dream retirement job is to be a Marie Kondo consultant!)
- Healthy living
- Self-improvement (see lifelong learning above!)
- Nature (My name suits me well!)
Re-branding in Progress
Apoven becomes Making Sense of English
From the very beginning, Making Sense of English was always one of my choices for a website name. If you go to www.makingsenseofenglish.com, it will take you to www.apoven.com. I own both domain names and had a difficult time deciding which one to choose. I’m still undecided! I like Apoven because it is short and brandable. I like Making Sense of English because it really tells you what the site is about without explanation. I don’t like the idea of completely changing domain names for many reasons that I won’t bore you with. For now, re-branding will occur using the same domain: www.apoven.com. We’ll see what happens in the future.
So what does Apoven mean?
Apoven stands for Applied Overseas English. However, until I tell you that, you wouldn’t know. I’ll keep the explanation below for the time being, but as my website evolves, you might see less of Apoven and more of Making Sense of English. In the meantime, I apologize for any confusion or cases where I refer to this site as Apoven.
Why these three words?
Studying English without applying it is ineffective. Languages are alive. They are meant to be used for communication.
Like learning to play a musical instrument, only reading or learning about English, without actually using it, will only take you so far.
While communication includes speaking, listening, reading, and writing, not all forms of these are communication. For example, reading about grammar and completing grammar exercises is not communication. Talking about grammar with another person is communication. It is more effective to learn to communicate by actually communicating than by studying grammar. Sure, you might pass a test after many hours of studying, but tests such as the TOEIC are not always accurate measures of real speaking ability. A high TOEIC score does not guarantee that you are a fluent speaker. A high TOEIC score may just show that you have hacked the TOEIC.
I know many students who have taken the TOEIC and gotten a score of around 800 but still can’t communicate fluently or accurately in English.
Learning a language is about much more than memorizing a list of words and taking tests.
Tests are an external form of motivation that do not guarantee long-term learning or acquisition.
Real success takes internal motivation and the application of the vocabulary and skills you learn. It takes practice.
Through practical application of what has been learned, you can become more fluent and accurate.
This site combines my love of travel and my love of teaching English to provide learners all around the globe with English tips, tools, and input. English has been my main source of communication both while teaching in Korea and in the 49 countries I have traveled to. As a global language, English is very valuable when traveling overseas.
Whether working or traveling overseas, English is a great tool to have in your pocket. Overseas travel also exposes us to different cultures. Language is more than just grammar and vocabulary. Language is culture. It’s important to learn not only the language of a place, but also the communication style and norms. I write about Korea and the United States (my two cultural influences) and how cultural differences affect language and create different styles of communication.
I have also participated in the WordPress weekly photo challenges where I was posting and writing about one photo from my travels each week. The first two are Seoul (Lines) and Florence (Unlikely). Sadly, this weekly photo challenge no longer exists.
This website is all about English!
If you’ve studied mostly grammar and vocabulary up until now, you may not have a lot of practice having conversations in English.
The most important thing to try to overcome is your fear and worry about being judged or making a mistake.
If you cannot be brave, you will not improve your English speaking skills. Like anything, improving your English speaking skills takes A LOT of practice and a lot of motivation.
I’ll give you all the insider secrets of the language and tips to help you, but if you don’t practice, you won’t improve.
It’s important to start practicing thinking in English if you want to be better at speaking in English. Don’t forget to check out Emma’s video about how to think in English on the Resources page. She’ll guide you step-by-step.
For 3 tips about how to enjoy English, check out 3 Tips to Jump-Start Your English and Add More Fun to Learning.
Remember: Communication is the most important thing. Mistakes are not important, understanding is. Mistakes are great learning opportunities!
Let me know if you have any questions or would like to request a post. If there is any way I can help you on your English journey, feel free to leave a comment!
Welcome to Making Sense of English!
Continue your journey now by understanding 3 ways to start making sense of English.
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Thanks for stopping by!