Monday, 12 August 2013

Pronunciation problems? Try these apps!

Do you want to improve your English pronunciation? And you need help? Mobile phone apps for improving English pronunciation are an easier way to do it!

-     Hello, Can you help me?
-     Hello, Yes, of course.
-     I am looking for a buffet /ˈbʌfɪt/.
-     What? Buffet /ˈbʌfɪt/? You want to fight? Or you are looking for a buffet /ˈbʊfeɪ/?
-     I am looking for a place where I can eat.
-     Yes, you are looking for a buffet /ˈbʊfeɪ/ or not for buffet /ˈbʌfɪt/.

Has a similar misunderstanding happened to you? If so, you probably need to practise your English pronunciation some more!

We are going to review some mobile phone apps which could help you to improve your English pronunciation. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Confused by -ing and -ed adjectives? You won't be.

Two students are sitting in a lesson, trying hard to stay awake.  Student A turns to Student B and whispers "I'm boring."  Student B replies "I'm bored too."

Which one of them is right?  Do you get confused with -ing and -ed adjectives too?

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Signs of Spring (a cheerful post for people who are sick of winter)

Several students have asked me recently when spring will arrive.  The official first day of spring this year is the 20th of March, but there are plenty of other ways to measure it: the flowers you see in parks and gardens are just one of them.  Often they can be the first signs of spring to emerge.

The first flowers to appear are the small and delicate snowdrops - and sometimes they really do grow up through the snow.  These usually appear in January or February.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Because it's Valentine's Day...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

Versions of this rhyme are absolutely everywhere today - so have a look at these examples and practise your rhythm and pronunciation!  Typically, every line of the poem has two 'beats' (stressed syllables), while the number of unstressed syllables between will vary.  The second line usually rhymes with the fourth, and there may be additional rhymes, but it's far from compulsory.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

No Job for a Woman? Mind your Language!

Question:  Is there anything wrong with the following sentences?
  1. It's important for a doctor to be good at listening to his patients.
  2. Sometimes a manager needs to make decisions that will be unpopular with his staff.
  3. A nurse knows that she has a lot of responsibility for her patients' welfare.
  4. If someone wants to become a scientist, he needs to study hard at school.

Answer:  It depends what you mean by 'wrong'.  Grammatically, they're all fine.  However, to many English-speakers, there's something just a bit... uncomfortable... about them.

Simply put: why are the doctor, the manager and the scientist automatically men, while the nurse is a woman?  Aren't women doctors too?  And men nurses?  In English it's now customary to include both genders in statements like these - it's polite, even!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year's Resolution: improve my English

Did you make any New Year's Resolutions last week, as the clock ticked towards 12, the fireworks started and people everywhere tried to remember the words to Auld Lang Syne?  If your resolution was to get better at English, what are you going to do next?

Actually, it doesn't really matter what your first step is, just as long as you do something.  You could...

  • look up language classes in your local area
  • find out whether studying in an English-speaking country is a possibility
  • set up a new social networking account that you'll only use in English
  • download a language learning app for your phone
  • beg, buy or borrow a book in English to practise your reading
  • start a blog
  • try to meet English speakers socially to practise conversation
  • do what you love - look for English videos, groups and sites relating to your hobbies and interests
And whatever you do, practise, practise, practise.  Time, effort, and repetition will all help you to improve.

Congratulations!  By taking that first step and finding a way to incorporate some more English into your daily life, you are already doing better at keeping your New Year's Resolution than most of the population!  Now for the second step, and the third...

Photo taken from by @eltpics, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,