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Your English Questions Answered from HelloTalk Language App

I asked my HelloTalk audience to ask questions about language learning and learning English. Here are the answers. Maybe you have the same questions?

Hello, I’m Camille. Welcome to my Youtube channel where I teach English in a fun and authentic way. 

Recently I asked my friends on Hellotalk if they had questions when it comes to learning English, and they had a lot, and I thought, I’m gonna do a video. I won’t be able to answer all of the questions, but some of them I’m going to create a whole separate video with the answer, so before we get started, don’t forget to activate the subtitles below, and let us get started. 

The first question, when starting to learn English, should you choose American or British English? There’s no correct answer here, what accent do you prefer? There are enough resources to be able to choose either accent, and you’ll be able to understand both with a bit of practice. In the beginning, I would say stick to one just to avoid confusion, and after you have a good foundation say in American English, I wouldn’t recommend that you change your accent, but I would say that you could start listening or watching British series or listening to podcasts, or things like that to just increase your listening skills.

And just also be aware there’s different expressions and vocabulary between the two, but go with the one that you want to learn, the one that’s most interesting to you.

Diego from Brazil asked how many words do you need to know in English to be able to have conversations without a problem? So I found this on the internet, and I think it’s accurate. So people who know between 250 to 500 words are considered beginners, those who know between 1 thousand to three thousand, they can carry on everyday conversations. Then this is a big gap, I know, but between four to ten thousand words makes people advanced in the language, while knowing more than 10,000 puts them at a fluent or native speaker level. That was a great question.

So a few of you asked what are the best resources to improve my writing skills? So I myself am a huge fan of, I actually reference it a lot in my research, and when I’m answering questions, and then reading. So reading will help you to improve your writing because you’ll see sentence structure, learn new vocabulary, and see how natives actually write. I also always recommend to write every day, even if it’s just for five minutes! Practice, practice, practice! Okay

Daniel from Mexico asked me to explain the idiom “hard to swallow” If something is hard to swallow it means it is difficult to accept or believe. Let’s look at these examples, losing my job has been really hard to swallow, but I hope I find a new one soon. My boyfriend dumping me has been hard to swallow, I’ve been so depressed.

Zara from Iran asked why do natives say “I am done” instead of “I have done” this is definitely a grammar question, but I’ll do my best to explain. So I-the subject, am- the verb, and done is the adjective. I am done, it’s a simple present tense statement. I have done however, I- the subject, have is our helping verb, and done which is the verb in the past participle form, so this is a present perfect tense sentence. Hang in here with me! I am done, a present tense sentence means, I am in the state, or I am in the condition of being finished with something. So we use this expression after say for example, eating breakfast, like I’m done with my breakfast, or I’m done eating. We also say this after a task, like maybe you just finished cleaning the house, and you say I’m done, when you finish, so that means in this moment my task is finished. Now let’s take a look at I have done, so that would be the beginning part to a longer statement. So because this is a present perfect sentence, it means we’re talking about something that happened in the past, like a non-specific point. So for example- I’ve done my chores, or I have done the baking for the school bake sale, so that means these activities are finished, they’re done yes, we did them at some point in the past, but when doesn’t really matter. So I have done just means that this thing happened in the past. I am done refers to my condition now. I hope that helps you.

Next, next we have Starlin who asked to hear the pronunciation of some words that sound the same but are spelled different. So we actually call this a homophone. So I have a list of examples for you. So these words will mean different things, but the pronunciation is the same. I know it’s crazy, so listen to these words air, heir, I’ll, aisle, meet, meat, morning, mourning, nun, none, oar, or one, won, pair, pear, peace, piece, plane, plain. So even though the meaning is different, the pronunciation is the same. So, the key to this is having the context in your conversations, to know what they’re talking about, which brings me to the next question, which I’ve been asked a lot.

I’ve been learning English for a long time, I still can’t understand natives speak, how can I better understand natives. So there’s hope, I recommend to listen, listen, listen as much as possible- YouTube videos, series, podcasts, the radio, put in subtitles so you can see and understand the rhythm of how they speak, and how the words flow together. I also really recommend doing dictation, where you listen to a book or video that has the matching subtitles, but before you put those subs on, you listen, and you write down what you hear, so then you listen again with the subtitles, and see how much you actually understood. It really helps to train your ear, and to be able to improve and sharpen your listening skills.

Raul from Mexico asked how to use “whom” in English, whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition, a simple trick if you can replace whom with him or her somewhere in the sentence, and it makes sense, you should use it for example, Whom should I talk to about signing this form? To whom was the letter addressed? Whom do you believe? I do not know with whom I will go to the prom. So in all of these, you can replace whom with him or her, so you know it works. So let me show you if you’re still confused let’s replace whom. Should I talk to her about signing this form? Whom can be replaced with him or her. Was this letter addressed to her? Again, the same thing, we replaced whom, so it works. Do you believe him? I don’t know if I will go to the prom with him. It is worth noting whom is formal, and many natives never use it. You will hear, who do you believe? I don’t know who I’ll go to the prom with? Who should I talk to about signing this form? Technically it’s not grammatically correct, but it is widely used. So I just wanted you to know that, but I hope you now understand when to use whom.

SRJ from India wants to know when to use raise versus rise. They both mean the same thing, which is going up, but raise is an action verb, and needs a direct object. And rise does not. So in a sentence, remember the direct object is the noun that receives the action of the verb. Let’s take a look at some examples to help. Remember- something raises something, something rises. Also, raise is a regular verb, raised, raised, raised. Rise, it’s irregular- rise, rose, risen. I know, it’s a lot. So don’t worry, you can always re-watch this video or pause it to take notes and then it’ll help you remember it better. So if you raise something that means you elevate it, you move it up, or you lift it to a higher level. If you have a question, please raise your hand. Ann raises her voice when she’s upset. Jen raised her eyebrows as if she didn’t believe me. Here are some examples with rise. Hot air rises. Peter rose from his desk when the teacher walked in. Jude has risen in his company very quickly and is now the manager. Gas prices are rising all the time. Okay, I hope that helps.

We have wad from Saudi Arabia and she wanted to know when to use the phrase, that being said, so we use this when we bring up some key points, and then we want to transition with a contrary thing. For example, eating sugar can lead to diabetes, weight gain, and low energy, that being said, I still have a sweet tooth. If you have a sweet tooth that means you like sugar. It’s supposed to rain on Saturday, my kids have a cold, and we wouldn’t be able to stay very long, with that being said, if you still want us to come to the party, we will. Okay so I hope that helps you out, and brings more clarity.

Okay you guys there were even more questions, but this video is getting to be a little long, and I want to hold your attention span throughout the whole thing. So be sure to check out my other videos on my channel, especially about improving your speaking, and if you haven’t already don’t forget to subscribe to my video, and give this video a thumbs up, I always love to have your guys support, and I look forward to next week.

Thank you so much for watching! Tchau, ciao. 


~ Camille



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Camille Hanson

Hi friends! I'm Camille. I create engaging American English content for ESL people around the world. When I am not creating videos, books or blogs, you will probably find me in a cafe somewhere around the world, studying my next target language or at home cooking up food for my family of five. Stick around, read some posts and learn some English with me :) Tchau, ciao! ~Camille
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