Improve Your English Level With Podcasts!

By: Youngsin Choi

Do you think we are living in a new normal? Things that we used to do without any difficulty became quite challenging, such as meeting friends or going to a restaurant for a casual dining. Learning English has also become more difficult. Because of the lockdown and social distancing, it is becoming harder to interact with people, let alone native English speakers. In this post, I introduce an English learning method that will help you in our “new normal”. I used this same method to improve my English skills. I call this method “podcast learning”. Learning English this way has many benefits. You can do it by yourself. You will feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s not expensive. It is fun to do. Best of all, it actually works! Here’s how you can do it.

Choose a Podcast

Podcasts are useful sources that you can improve your listening skills. A podcast is an audio program, like a radio talk show. Podcasts can discuss a wide range of topics, but a specific podcast will usually be dedicated to one topic. Podcasts will help you learn English quickly, by using your listening skills.

Some podcasts also have transcripts, so that you can read along. You can listen to podcasts with your computer or smartphone. Some phones, like the iPhone come with a Podcast app, where you can browse and subscribe to different podcasts.

To start, choose a podcast. When I was learning English, I started with “ESL Pod”. I recommend starting with this one. I listened to this podcast because it covers various topics, provides clear explanations, and has a speaking exercise with a normal speech rate. There are many other ESL podcasts out there. You can also choose other podcasts with topics that interest you.

Listen to a Podcast Episode


Choose any episode of the podcast to begin. Each ESL pod episode begins with a dialogue at a slow speed, then an explanation about each sentence, and then the speakers repeat the dialogue in a normal speed. Repeat listening to the episode until you can understand the content well. By doing this, your listening skills will improve greatly. As an added bonus, I listened to episodes while taking a walk, which also helped me improve my health. Continue reading

Summer 2020 Program Message – Congratulations Graduates!


Dear Summer 2020 Students,

Thank you for joining us for another semester of the IEC. We’re proud of the work you have done and what you’ve accomplished. Congratulations and best wishes as you move on to the next part of your journey!

– IEC Teachers & Staff


Music: :::::::::::::::::::: Music: Dreams – Bensound Support by RFM – NCM:

How to Succeed in Online Classes

By: Rachid Ouedraogo

Many schools have gone online since Coronavirus/Covid-19 began. Although this was the best response to ensure students’ health and safety, online classes can be more difficult for some students. In this article, we give you some tips to help you be successful in your online classes.

Time Management

Time management is key when taking online classes. Unlike face-to-face classes, you do not have scheduled class times where you can listen to lectures or learn material. You will need to put time aside to learn the material and study. It helps to make a to-do list or a schedule book for study times, readings, and assignments. This will be the easiest way to prioritize your work and classes. This will help you submit homework on time and be ready for exams. Do not forget to limit any distractions while working on your classwork to maximize your time.

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10 Common Idioms for School

In today’s post, we share 10 common idioms about school. An idiom is an expression or phrase that has a meaning other than its literal one. This might sound confusing, so let us break it down.

There is literal language and figurative language. Literal language means that you mean exactly what you say. You use the usual meanings of the words you chose. Figurative language is the opposite. In figurative language, you use words in a different way from the usual meaning. Idioms are a part of figurative language. They are a figure of speech. Idioms are a creative way to be more descriptive and get your point across. Here is an example:

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10 TV Shows & Movies to Help You Learn English

By: Paripa Michelle Ganou

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a major change in how we study. This situation has created a lot of uncertainty. The IEC, like many schools around the world, has switched from face-to-face classes to online delivery. Students are spending most of their days in their dorm or homes to practice social distancing. For English as a second language students, this situation can make learning English difficult. However, most of our classes continue to meet virtually, which allows us to continue improving our English. Still, being at home reduces the opportunities to practice conversational English with native speakers. Interaction with the local community is important to mastering the language. Although we can still call or FaceTime friends and family, we may need to find other creative ways to continue practicing our English skills.

Many college students use Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or other streaming services to pass the time. They actually can be helpful tools for students learning English. TV shows and movies can help you sharpen your listening skills, grow your vocabulary, improve conversation, and even develop your note-taking skills. Watch shows with subtitles on or off to practice your listening skills. If you want to challenge yourself more, you can write down some new words or phrases and try using them in conversations with friends or family. Another activity could be taking notes on the story. For this, you could write out your favorite dialogue in the show and check your work with the subtitles for that part. You could also write a movie review and ask your teacher for advice on your writing sample. Another great idea is to find a movie based on a book. You could read then book then watch the movie or vice versa.

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Update: Spring Break Extended to 3/30

‼️ Update: Classes have now been suspended through March 29. Classes will resume on March 30. ‼️

Due to concerns related to the Covid-19/Corona virus, spring break has been extended. Your IEC instructors are preparing for online instruction during this time. We are doing everything we can to continue delivery of English instruction, while protecting the health of our students, instructors, and staff. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at

Culture Shock

Many international students can have a difficult time adjusting to life in the US. If you are experiencing this, you may be going through culture shock.

Culture shock is a phenomenon that travelers experience when moving from a familiar culture to an unfamiliar culture. Culture shock can be about any or all elements of a culture: the food, new language, climate, etiquette, traditions, or clothing to name a few. It is a complex and emotional experience that involves several stages. It is important to understand each stage so that you can recognize them and minimize the effects. This will make it easier to adjust to college life in the US. In today’s post, we’ll discuss each stage, the feelings you may experience, and helpful tips for dealing with adjustment.

It’s important to know that everyone experiences culture shock differently.Some students may go through the process quickly, while others may take longer. Some people may go through stages multiple times before adjusting. Some people may skip steps altogether. The entire process may take weeks or it could take months. When experiencing culture shock, you may feel lonely, angry, frustrated, depressed, or homesick.

We strongly encourage any students having difficulty to reach out to school staff or friends. Many universities offer mental health services and have international support staff available to help.

There are 4 to 5 stages to culture shock:

  1. Honeymoon
  2. Frustration
  3. Adjustment
  4. Acceptance
  5. Re-entry (when you return home)

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IEC Trip: Tri-County Humane Society

The IEC students took a trip to the Tri-County Humane Society (TCHS) in St. Cloud. A humane society may also be called an “animal shelter”. This place takes care of abandoned or stray animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, and other small animals. TCHS finds homes for 3,000 animals a year! While on the tour, we learned about the work they do. We also had a chance to hang out with some of the adoptable animals.

This was a great trip because humane societies or animal shelters are not common in all countries. The students also had an opportunity to practice their English by asking questions. Plus, who doesn’t like cute animals?

Check out the photos from our trip:

PS: Our office manager adopted the puppy. 🙂

Spring Break in the US

By: Michelle Ganou

Have you ever heard of “spring break”? Spring break is a popular tradition in American universities. You may have something similar in your country. Most American schools divide the school year into two semesters. The fall semester usually begins near September and ends in December. There is a short winter break until the spring semester. Spring semester then starts again in January and ends in May. Halfway through the spring semester, usually after midterms, there is typically a one-week break given to students. This is “spring break”. The break is a time for students to relax and de-stress. Many students travel for vacation or celebrate the break with parties.

When I was younger, I was fascinated with the concept of an American spring break. I wanted to experience it one day. Before coming to the US, I would recreate the American spring break experience with my friends by going to the beach. I am from West Africa, where I get to enjoy my country’s beautiful beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. We are lucky to have such amazing places in the Ivory Coast. By studying in the US, I now have an American spring break. However, Minnesota is very different from home. I would have to travel a lot farther to see the ocean and find a warm beach during spring break. This year, Saint Cloud State University’s spring break is March 9 to March 13. In Minnesota, this time of year is still cold (about 34°F or 1.1°C).

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