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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ziggity Zoom - Wonderful Kids Website

Ziggity Zoom

Are you looking for a Website from which your children can learn English while they have a very enjoyable time? If your answer is affirmative, keep reading, and even if it’s negative you might still be curious, so don’t stop reading because Ziggity Zoom is a charming online resource.

Ziggity Zoom is a surprising Web page that offers a wide range of resources from which children can learn English while playing and enjoying themselves.

Among the resources provided by Ziggity Zoom we would highlight:

Resources

  • Games: a collection of witty games including helping a baby elephant find his mummy or feed a monster. There are also printable games.
  • Colour Pictures: hundreds of pictures that can be painted online or printed off.
  • Interactive stories: hilarious stories in English with nice illustrations and a very attractive font style for the children. Some of the stories also include sounds that tell the story while moving the pages forward.
  • Activities: give a boost to the creativity of the children using different printables with which they’ll be able to do amazing arts and crafts.
  • Explore your World: printable material with different objects and the name of the object (in English) besides it. This is recommended for the learning of new vocabulary.
  • and much more!
This is a Web page that we like a lot; it contains a big quantity of material to learn English and is excellent for children to improve their English.

Visit Ziggity Zoom
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Warning! Virus .Work

.Work Virus

A funny and true email that I got from one of my friends:

**WARNING**

A rampant and malicious virus is going around known as “.Work”. The main source of this virus has many aliases some of the common ones are “.Boss, .Manager, .Colleague”. If you receive work from your boss or anyone else please do not touch it. The virus is known to initiate a clean wipe and format your entire life.

If however, you do come into contact with “.Work” go straight to the nearest place where you can take it easy and receive the only known anti-dote known as “.Relax”.

Please forward this warning to at least 6 of your friends immediately!!

If you realize that you do not have 6 friends I’m afraid you have already been infected!!!!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

English for Advanced Learners - Practise with Videos

Have you hit a wall and don’t know how to improve your English as an advanced student? How does watching videos in English and answering questions about them sound? This exercise will definitely help you and give your English a good push to the next level.

One of the best ways to learn English (or any language) is listening to it. A lot! When you listen to a language you learn new vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar simultaneously. Moreover, if you pair listening with an image (video) the results are impressive because videos allow viewers to understand more through association.

Watching videos in English is an excellent exercise for improving your English skills. In the blog we have already recommended different websites and channels in Youtube where you can watch great videos in English on any subject. But Diana (helping-you-learn-english) and I wanted to help even more, so we decided to select interesting videos from various topics and write a series of related questions. The combination of watching, listening and answering the questions will help you practice and improve your English.

The first video we selected, focuses on a new system (ESTA) that travellers need to apply for in order to travel to the US. We found the video from CNN’s video library and it is read at a normal pace, perfectly suited for learners at an advanced English level. Although if you have a lower English level and still want to try, go right ahead!


ESTA US security application

Warm up questions before you watch the video:
  1. Have you ever travelled to the US before?
  2. What was your experience like with security?
  3. What changes would you make to security to make things safer? More comfortable?

The video:




Watch the video and while you watch the video try to answer the following questions:
  1. What does the new US system ESTA stand for?
  2. This is a big change to the US travel system. When did the last big change like this occur?
  3. The US is the only country introducing ESTA. True or False
  4. How long can you stay in the US once your application has been approved?
  5. Does ESTA replace your need for a passport?
  6. What are authorities encouraging travellers to do in order to make the process easier?
  7. Can you travel in the case of an Emergency or last minute booking with the ESTA system?
  8. What is the typical waiting period for ESTA application approval?
  9. If I told you I paid $100 for my ESTA application, would you congratulate me on getting it for less than $300? Why or why not?
  10. What is the cheapest way to apply for ESTA approval?

Final questions:
  1. Describe the four steps of the ESTA process.
  2. Do you think that ESTA will make travelling safer?
  3. Why would the US introduce this form of security?


Answers to the questions, PA stands for possible answer:

ESTA US security application

Warm up questions before you watch the video.
  1. Have you ever travelled to the US before? PA: Yes I have. I went to Florida, Disney World about 10 Years ago.
  2. What was your experience like with security? PA: I remember the security and passport control people were very serious. I felt nervous like I had done something wrong and they were going to find out...even though I KNEW I hadn't done anything wrong.
  3. What changes would you make to security to make things safer? More comfortable? PA: Um, maybe if they had eye scans in addition to passports...or a finger print scanner. Something that makes it next to impossible to impersonate someone. That sounds really futureistic though.

Watch the video and while you watch the video try to answer the following questions.

  1. What does the new US system ESTA stand for? PA: It stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization
  2. This is a big change to the US travel system. When did the last big change like this occur? PA: This is the biggest change to occur in the last 25 years.
  3. The US is the only country introducing ESTA. True or False A: False. It is also being introduced in much of the European Union, Japan and Australia
  4. How long can you stay in the US once your application has been approved? PA: You can stay in the US for up to Two Years or when your passport expires. Whichever happens sooner.
  5. Does ESTA replace your need for a passport? PA: No it does not. You still need a passport to travel in the US.
  6. What are authorities encouraging travellers to do in order to make the process easier? PA: Authorities recommend applying as soon as travel plans are made and to apply no later than 72 hours before travelling.
  7. Can you travel in the case of an Emergency or last minute booking with the ESTA system? PA: Yes you can. You can make the application last minute but for your peace of mind it is better to do it as soon as possible.
  8. What is the typical waiting period for ESTA application approval? PA: Typically ESTA applications are approved within 6 seconds (99% of applicants will experience this quick approval).
  9. If I told you I paid $100 for my ESTA application, would you congratulate me on getting it for less than $300? Why or why not? PA: No I wouldn't. I would have told you that you had been ripped off because anyone and do the application for FREE online.
  10. What is the cheapest way to apply for ESTA approval? PA: The cheapest way to apply is online because it is FREE.

Final questions:
  1. Describe the four steps of the ESTA process. PA: Step 1, complete your application. Step 2 Submit your application. Step 3 Recieve and record your application number. Step 4Recieve confirmation of your application.
  2. Do you think that ESTA will make travelling safer? PA: I am not sure if ESTA will make travelling safter but it will provide authorities with more information about each traveller.
  3. Why would the US introduce this form of security? PA: I believe that it is trying to increase security and reduce the risk of terrist attacks on the country. Being more informed about who is travelling within the US might prove useful in future situations.

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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Saturday, January 17, 2009

50+ Sentences and Exercises for Public Speaking in English

English Public Speaking

Do you need to prepare a presentation in English? Have you any idea how to do it or where to start? If not, don’t worry – we have the ideal Web page for you!

Effective Public Speaking is a website with sentences, tips and very entertaining exercises that will allow you to prepare and practise your forthcoming presentation in English.

This Web page is organized into several very useful sections:
  • Starting a Presentation: sentences and exercises to show you how to get people’s attention, welcome them, introduce yourself, state the purpose of your presentation and state how you want to deal with questions.
  • Signposting: sentences and exercises to use when you want to change to a completely different topic, when you want to give more details about a topic and when you want to refer to an earlier point, etc.
  • A Friendly Face: when doing a presentation it’s very common to feel nervous. Give yourself some support from the audience by looking for people that will encourage you (showing attention or with a friendly demeanour) when you need a boost.
And like the above, there are other very interesting sections on the Web page, each one containing more useful sentences and exercises.

Remember: there’s no need to feel embarrassed when talking in English and doing your presentation; we are all learning. Successful people in the world of business and politicians make a valiant effort when they have to talk in English.

Watch the following video with the presentation of Emilio Botín (president of Banco Santander):



And the next one with Sarkozy (president of France):



There is no doubt that a great contemporary speaker is Obama, the new president of the United States:



Visit Effective Public Speaking and start working on your next presentations!
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Friday, January 9, 2009

Try the Visual Dictionary Online

Visual Dictionary Online

It is said that an image is worth more that a thousand words. With a visual dictionary we join both ideas: the image and the word, and the outcome is really surprising.

"Visual Dictionary Online" is a marvellous visual dictionary that contains more than 6000 images divided in 15 interesting themes: Astronomy, The Earth, The Animal Kingdom, The Human Being, Communications, Energy, and so on.

In order to look for a word in English you can surf the themes and their sections or use the website's browser. After browsing a word you'll see a list of images where the word appears. Once you've selected your chosen image you can see it in a bigger size along with the definition of the related word and even listen to the pronunciation in English.

You can see a sample of what you get when looking for and selecting the word "supermarket" (a great description with the most important areas of a supermarket):

Supermarket

A really valuable resource to practise English, look up and learn new words. Don't hesitate and visit Visual Dictionary Online now!

Note: For other online dictionaries (slang English, multilingual, with synonyms, etc.,) please visit our section about dictionaries.
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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Audio Books and Stories in English for Free

Voices in the Dark

"Voices in the Dark" is a website that allows you to listen for free to audio books and stories in English read aloud by real people who care about the language.

If you are a lover of the classics from the Grimm Brothers (or Brothers Grimm, as they are often called), Charles Dickens or Oscar Wilde, to name just a few, you'll like this Web page because you'll find transcriptions and audio files (in mp3 format) for some of their most important works.

Currently, the number of audio books and stories is greater than 100 (and keeps growing), so you'll find some that you like and with which to practise your English. The transcriptions can be visualized in the Web page. The audio files (in mp3 format) can be downloaded or listened to directly from the Web browser.

"Voices in the Dark" is looking for more collaborators: authors, storytellers or people who like reading aloud, so go on and take part in this attractive project.

Visit Voices in the Dark

Note: You can have a look at our sections dedicated to reading and audio files (podcasts) for more free resources of this type. You can also avail yourself of the learning guide on how to improve your level of English by reading books and texts in the language.
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