Public Speaking, Grammar Lead Top Education Stories

22 December, 2015

For English learners, the top education topics of the year are tips, tests and, of course, everyday grammar.

In 2015, the VOA Learning English Education article with more shares on Facebook and the most page views is “Five Tips for Planning a Presentation.”

This collection of tips is part of a public speaking series drawn from interviews with Professor Charles Lebeau. He helps Japanese university students and professionals improve their public speaking and debating skills. The five tips help presenters with titles, topics, transitions, images, the audience’s point of view, and rehearsing.

Two other stories in the series are also among our top stories: Three Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking Skills tells how to avoid the common fear of public speaking by carefully planning. Improve Your Public Speaking With Body Language gives advice on three things speakers should remember: posture, eye contact and gestures.

Using your hands to demonstrate the topic you are delivering is seen as good public speaking. This screenshot is from
Using your hands to demonstrate the topic you are delivering is seen as good public speaking. This screenshot is from "Speaking of Speech" by David Harrington and Charles LeBeau.

How well do you speak English?

The Learning English audience also has a strong interest in test results of their own English ability.

How Well Does Your Country Speak English? features the results of an online test. And it seems everyone wanted to know the average results of their country’s English tests.

A comparison of the big English tests is among the top stories for 2015. TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC? Comparing the Tests tells the differences between the tests and gives a student’s point of view on how to prepare for them.

Finally, learning to write well is always a popular subject. Tips for Writing: ‘They Say, I Say’ tells students that writing an academic paper is not as difficult as they think.

Everyday Grammar is a hot topic

VOA started a new Education series in 2015: Everyday Grammar. Our goal in this series is to give simple explanations and show examples of English structures in everyday conversation, popular songs, and movies. We often add infographics and videos to summarize the explanations. We thought that you, our audience, would like this, and you have told us it really helps in comments and by returning to read it every week. The daily list of the top five stories on our website often includes Everyday Grammar.

The top Everyday Grammar stories are about prepositions, pronouns, and verb tenses. Are You In, On or At? Prepositions that Tell of Time and Place reveals the secret of how these prepositions move from general to specific topics. We updated the article with an animated video earlier this month.

Betty Azar and Michael Swan, grammar teaching experts
Betty Azar and Michael Swan, grammar teaching experts

Betty Azar, author of many books on English grammar, is the topic of another popular story: Betty Azar, 'Rock Star' of English Grammar. She also wrote an article for Everyday Grammar, which we will tell you about a little later. Another big hit is Students Love Grammar! So Why Do Teachers Hate It? Betty Azar tells us why it is important for English learners to study grammar at the same time they are practicing communication skills.

Can You Correct Her and I? tells readers that even native speakers of English make mistakes with pronouns, and has a simple test to check your pronouns. Simple Past and Present Perfect includes a song and quotes from a Batman movie to explain the two tenses.

Facebook shares put The Sounds of Grammar with Betty Azar into the top list. Our guest author tells why it is often hard for English learners to hear the important sounds in sentences when native speakers talk. She gives useful advice on how to improve your listening ability.

We hope that in 2016 you will find many more useful Education stories here. Please let us know which story you liked the most by leaving a comment below or on 51VOA.COM!

I'm Rick Hindman. And I’m Jill Robbins.
Happy New Year!

Dr. Jill Robbins reported and wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

transitions - n. words that connect between parts of a composition or speech, such as first, second, third, in addition, furthermore, and so on.

posture - n. the way in which your body is positioned when you are sitting or standing

eye contact - n. a situation in which two people are looking directly into each other's eyes

gesture - n. a movement of your body (especially of your hands and arms) that shows or emphasizes an idea or a feeling

structuren. the way that something is built, arranged, or organized

summarizev. to tell (information) again using fewer words

revealv. to make (something that was hidden) able to be seen

general - adj. relating to the main or major parts of something rather than the details

specific - adj. clearly and exactly presented or stated