Learn English with AusEphrase

The aim of AusEphrase is to help newcomers to Australia to learn English, with a big focus on learning to understand Australians when they speak English. 

The creator, Keturah de Klerk, comes from a background of teaching English, as a qualified and experienced ESL Lecturer to adult migrants at Adelaide TAFE. She has extensive experience analysing and breaking down the English language for students from lower primary school level through to International students at Secondary school level and adult migrants. Her qualifications include Bachelor of Arts from Adelaide University, Post-graduate diploma in Primary Education from Northern Territory University (now CharlesDarwin) and Post-graduate Certificate in Applied Linguistics from Adelaide University.

Why I created AusEphrase to help people to learn English:

I wanted to provide an opportunity for migrants and International Students to learn English in an everyday context and be able to understand every Australian person who might speak English to them (not just their teachers) as well as, if they wanted to, use the colloquial language themselves and help them feel confident to speak English anywhere, not just in their 'safe' classrooms.

Hence I decided to research and collate my research, for the most commonly used English expressions this year. I focused my research on Australian locals between the ages of 18 and 55, both socially and in the workplace.

The Research

The research was conducted through several means; by audio recording of Australian locals as they speak English naturally to each other at social gatherings, these recordings were then analysed for word and phrase repetition. Also analysis of television and radio interviews of Australians speaking English, where the natural language of the interviewee was analyzed for word and phrase repetition. I also would simply carry a notebook and make notes as I listened to people speak English in their day to day lives, such as on the bus or at work.

The English expressions identified were compiled, and made into a survey for Australians to nominate how often they believed they used them whenever they would speak English.  The surveys were then collated to give the most commonly used expressions (by opinion) and this data was combined with the frequency data collected from the recorded conversations, interviews and note-takings, to give a final order of the most commonly used English expressions. This was just the starting point to how I hoped to help students learn English!

Collation, how to put this together so that it helps people to learn English

Once the research stage was completed, the collection of English expressions was separated into more manageable chunks of 50, (you don't want to overwhelm people trying to learn English by giving them too much at once) in descending order from the most common. 

Each expression was given a ‘User’s guide’, similar to the traffic light system, to indicate whether it was wise to use the expression in public or not. I certainly didn't want to be encouraging people to speak English by teaching them expressions to say in public that might get them into trouble!

Each expression was given an English meaning or explanation, with either a definition or an alternative expression, to assist their understanding and help them learn.  In many cases more than one meaning was required.

I then decided to give context to each expression by providing conversation examples, again to help understanding and to show how the expressions could be used when speaking.  The context comes in the form of dialogues which are almost all authentic, coming from the recorded conversations (with adaptations of course) and remembered scenarios.  Again, many expressions required several English conversation examples, to match their various meanings.

Translations, do they help people to learn English or do they hinder?

Although we know that colloquial English can be difficult to translate into other languages, we also know that trying it and getting close can help and be quite interesting, as long as the student is aware that the translation may not be a direct match.  So I decided to think about which languages might benefit the most from a translation.

Visiting the Tourism Australia website was most interesting to help with this decision.  They have a section on Tourism Research Australia where I could discover which nationalities were visiting which Australian cities and which nationalities overall, were currently visiting Australia the most.  Definitely visitors from America and England were the most common, and indeed I hope AusEphrase to be useful and fun for them.  From the foreign language countries it seemed people from China, Japan and Korea were coming to Australia the most, followed closely by Germany.

So I chosen some foreign languages to have translations of the Top 50 English expressions, on the AusEphrase website, to see if these translations help people to learn English. They are Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and I have since added some Pashto and Hindi.

Go on, learn English, have a crack!

So there it is, the way the AusEphrase website was created to help you to learn English, in particular to help you understand Australians when they speak English to you and to speak colloquial English back to them if you want to. For specific instructions on how to use this website to learn English, visit the home page here. It's based on the idea of listen and repeat. Give it a go, listen to the English expression, then try to imitate it, practice repeating it with the same accent, record your voice and see if it sounds the same. This is not to make you sound the same (it will if you want it to), it is mostly to help you become familiar with the Australian English accent. Then to further help you learn English, there are English exercises to help you consolidate your learning and practice!

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