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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Podictionary - Podcasts about the Origin and History of Words

Podictionary

Tired of listening to the same old podcasts? What if the podcasts were about the origin and history of English words?

That is what Podictionary offers: a very valuable Web page in blog format for word lovers.

In Podictionary you’ll find a new podcast every day with the origin and history (etymology) of an English word. Every podcast is in English and is read in a clear accent so it’s not very difficult to understand. Moreover, you have access to the complete transcription for each podcast. They can be listened to online or downloaded for later listening on your favourite player.

The average length of the podcasts is between three and five minutes. If you prefer, you can listen to or download a weekly podcast (of longer average length) with the compilation of five words that are discussed during the week.

You can also look up the archive that contains every word mentioned in the blog.

Visit Podictionary.com

Note: Don’t hesitate to visit our podcast section in order to see other websites and online resources where you can listen to and download your favourite podcasts.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Just For Laughs - Taking Stock

It's incredible how things can change in almost 80 years. We present you another account about these times of crises. Look carefully at how "was said / were said" is used.

Back in the 1929 Financial Crash it was said that some Wall Street Stockbrokers and Bankers jumped from their office windows and committed suicide when confronted with the news of their firms and clients financial ruin. Many people were said to almost feel a little sorry for them...
In 2008 the attitude has changed somewhat:

Jump
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Improve Your Intermediate Level of English through Reading

Reading

In the blog we want to help everyone who may be learning English, whatever their level. That's why, after writing some guides for learning English from scratch, we present a guide for those people who have an intermediate level of English.

Do you have an intermediate English level? How do your English reading skills influence your English?

Are you able to understand the main idea when English is spoken clearly and when normal or daily issues are discussed? Do you understand texts written in English about daily issues or related to your job? Do you know how to get by in almost any situation when you travel to an English speaking country?

If you answered yes, then congratulations! you probably have an intermediate level of English.

In this guide we’d like to help you progress in your learning and your command of the English language by reading texts in English to improve your English reading skills.

How to improve your level of English by reading texts in English

One of the best ways to make progress with your English is to read. When your English reading skills are strong, you will notice a difference in your English as a whole. Also, reading is an easy, fun and very affordable way to improve many aspects of your English. You can improve your vocabulary, comprehension and grammar all by picking up a book, or visiting a website.

Reading texts in English can help you in many aspects of your learning. When you read in English you learn new words and grammar structures. If you repeatedly see that new vocabulary you’ll learn it by heart and then you’ll be able to use it when writing or speaking in English.

It’s important to get into the habit of reading texts in English: books, newspapers, magazines or websites. If you read a minimum of 20 or 30 minutes every day, you’ll notice improvements in your vocabulary, oral expression and your English reading skills.

When you read a text in English, it’s a good idea not to look words up in the dictionary every time you don't understand a word. On the contrary, it’s better to try and guess the meaning of the new words “by its context”. When you use context rather than a dictionary to learn words, you will be able to remember the words more easily. (Not to mention it is very frustrating to refer to a dictionary every 5th word, so you might find that your confidence improves as well).

In order to help you enjoy reading in English, you can pick up a writer that you like a lot (I love Roald Dahl, author of Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many others), you can also focus on a topic that interests you: football, Internet, fashion, education, news … (as you can see the topics are countless) and look for magazines, books or Web pages that discuss those topics. If you are interested in improving your health, why not study different ways to improve it in English? If you want to visit Canada, why not explore your city of choice in English. Languages are much easier to learn when you use them in an interesting and relevant way for yourself.

Another thing that you can try is reading the same book, magazine, article or Web page more than once. If you read something and then you read it again in a couple of days or weeks, you’ll notice that the second or successive time that you read it you’ll understand more and you’ll be consolidating the new vocabulary and grammar.

If you are trying to do all of this on the web but your vocabulary is a little low, try using WordChamp to help you along. Its Web Reader makes reading online articles simple and quick and it allows you to study the vocabulary that you didn’t know before with automatically created flashcards. To look up the meaning of a word, you can also use any of the free Online Dictionaries already compiled in the blog.

Available resources in the blog and on the Internet

In the blog we have a collection of resources with interesting material to read in English. The resource topics that we have already mentioned are:

News

Euronews: contains the latest international news, the news is in different languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic).

List of American online Newspapers: a total of 33 free online newspapers with interesting material.

Education

Lecturefox: free lectures in English from the top universities all over the world. Boost your English reading skills while learning something new.

On the Internet there are many Web pages and resources to read things you are interested in. You can use your favorite Internet browser to look for any of them. Diana recommends the Gutenberg project which has a large archive of free books (mostly the classics) that you can download or print.

This document has been written in collaboration with Diana Tower, an English teacher with 3 years teaching experience. She is also the author of the free Web page Helping you learn English.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Improve Your Grammar with Learning English Central Grammar

Learning English Central Grammar

Would you like to increment your level of grammar of the English language? Although studying grammar is not the most exciting thing in the world, it is necessary to understand the structures of any language, English in this case.

We have a Web page for you that will help you to improve your grammar in a more pleasant way. Learning English Central Grammar provides brief explanations about the most common grammatical structures of English, as well as giving answers to your questions, and providing games to play while learning.

The page navigation is quite simple and the following resources deserve to be highlighted:
  • Grammar definitions’ archive: you’ll find useful explanations about articles, the conditional tenses, conjunctions, determiners, modals, prepositions, the present perfect, relative clauses and other important aspects of English grammar.
  • An archive of answers to previous questions sent by users: alphabetically sorted and with very valuable information. (The bullet points about common errors attracted a lot my attention).
  • Grammar games’ archive: the games also are alphabetically sorted and are ideal complements to consolidate the grammar concepts. There are more than 50 games and activities, so there is a big variety to choose from.
To conclude, just to mention that if you don’t know the meaning of a word, you can double-click on it and a new window will be opened with its definition, courtesy of Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

Visit Learning English Central Grammar

Note: If you are looking for more free online resources to practice your grammar, don’t hesitate and check out our websites’ archive.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

100 Most Common English Words

100 Most Common English Words

Do you know what the 100 most common words in English are? Tough question, isn't it? We present you today an amusing online game where you can practice and learn the 100 most used words of the language.

This list of words was compiled using the Oxford English Corpus. A corpus is a collection of texts of written (or spoken) language presented in electronic form. These texts are used by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains over 2 billion English words.

The way to play the online game is very simple: you have to press the “Start” button and then you have 5 minutes in which to type the words contained in the 100 most used words in English. If you are right, the word will appear in green and then you'll be able to type a new word. If you are wrong, the word won't appear and what you have written will stay until you modify it and write a valid word.

It's very hard to get them all right, but once you see the solution you realize that they truly are words used in almost every (but not all) sentence in English.

Try this game; we hope that you have a great time!

Note: If you are looking for more games for learning English while you have fun, you can have a look at our collection of websites with free online games.
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Euronews - Read news in Various Languages

Euronews

Would you like to keep up-to-date while reading the news in English? Euronews is a free Web page that will help you because it contains the latest international news from a European perspective.

Euronews has recently updated its appearance and now it presents a more attractive, clear and intuitive interface. The news is organized in different categories and the information is easily accessible.

But, what’s the difference between euronews and the other websites for reading news in English, such as the BBC, VOA or the list of US online newspapers as presented in the blog? Well, in euronews the same news is in different languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic. So you can see the translation from one language to another (maybe to your native language).

There is also an official euronews channel in YouTube. There you’ll find videos about news in various languages.

Visit euronews

Visit its channel in YouTube

Note: The translation of the news between the different languages is not one hundred percent accurate. However, it’s really helpful to get the general idea. If you are missing the meaning of a word, you can use some of the online dictionaries that we have already mentioned in the blog. You can also use the wonderful tool provided by WordChamp to read Web pages in other languages and see the translation and pronunciation of the words.
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