www.merriam-webster.com This handy ONLINE DICTIONARY defines more English words than you can use in a lifetime. It doesn't have any Chinese, so you'll have to get used to reading English definitions. But, that's a great way to get used to English.
http://www.mandarintools.com/worddict.html Here is an easy to use online Chinese-English dictionary. For learning to speak English more naturally, it's best not to spend a lot of time looking at a dictionary. But, for your must-learn words, this dictionary is useful.
www.engworld.org This is one of the best all around sites for practicing English. It is packed full of reading, listening and watching material with a huge variety sure to help anyone improve their English. Whether you want to brush up your writing skills, enjoy interesting English articles or listen to some beautiful English songs, this site is a must.
One of my students recently recommended I add some English movies to this site. Great idea! But, unfortunately I had to tell her I can't do it because technically it would be illegal to attach a movie made by someone else without their permission. But, being a diligent student who doesn't easily give up, she quickly advised me, "You can just recommend some good movies we can get them ourselves. Another great idea, and this one we can do! So, below, I have listed a few of my favorites.
Before I give you the list, let me say just two things: (1) I recommend you read the short article on the right about Hollywood movies, language and culture before you start using English movies as learning tools. (2) Everybody has their own taste in movies, so somebody else may have a totally different list. Most of these are older films, but I think these are the ones that will help your English the most. For new films you can just go to your local cinema. OK, here are some movies you can try:
The Life of Pi: This is a relatively new movie on the list. Many Chinese people saw it at the cinema. If you haven't already seen it, I think you'll enjoy it.
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: A great story about a British lady who lived in China during the time of the invasion of Japan.
Iron Will: A thrilling tale of a boy in a dogsled race from Canada to North Dakota, USA, and an excellent film to encourage people to never give up no matter how difficult the task. Not only is a great language tool, this movies is filled with breathtakingly beautiful scenery.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: Based on the famous C. S. Lewis fantasy novel by the same title. This novel is part of a series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. I highly recommend everyone read these books.
Fireproof: A film every married couple must see. It is also useful for singles to help prepare for future marriage. The movie begins with a couple that just can't stop quarreling. You'll have to watch the movie to see what finally happens. This is definitely one of my favorite movies. I've watched it many times, and can hardly wait to see it again.
Air Bud: A family movie about a boy and a very special dog. Air Bud is the first of a series of several films staring adorable Golden Retrievers. I also recommend two others in the series: Air Buddies and Snow Buddies. But first, let me warn you - When you watch these movies there is a very high risk that you will love these dogs so much you'll miss them when the movie is over.
The Joy Luck Club: The story of a Chinese girl with a western boyfriend. This movie should be required watching for anyone engaged in cross-cultural studies. The movie is based on a best selling novel by the same title, about four Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.
Soul Surfer: Based on the true story of an American girl was a competitive surfer, but while surfing her arm was bitten off by a shark. The film takes viewers through the journey of her recovery and determination not to give up, even in the face of discouragement and difficulty.
Facing the Giants: This movie has the most challenging English of all films on this list because it is about American Football. But, if you think your English is at higher than average level, or you are ready to push your level up, I highly recommend this movie. You may want to buy a good Sports English-Chinese dictionary before watching this one.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: This is a timeless classic children's film, enjoyed by people of all ages. While you watch Snoopy and the kids celebrate Christmas, you may be surprised how much everyday English you still need to learn. As you watch and listen, keep in mind that native English speaking Children can easily understand this film. So, if you feel your English level is already high enough, this should also be easy for you to understand.
Super Man: Man of Steel: All of the Super Man (超人) movies are great, but this one is my favorite.
Here's a great cross-cultural book, put out by ZDL Publications, Beijing. The American author writes about using Chinese wisdom for modern business strategies. And, it's bilingual!
To find this, and other excellent ZDL books, click: ZDL website. Most of ZDL's books are Chinese translations of books originally written in English.
Teaching English teachers in Shenzhen, China
One of the most obvious ways to improve English is to read articles. The internet is virtually unlimited in its variety of articles in the English language. With today's easy internet access, there is not excuse for not spending more time reading English
Here are a few sample articles for you to read. Just click the blue words for a free read!