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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wordnik - the Total English Dictionary

Wordnik

Are you looking for an innovative and complete online dictionary? You’re lucky, because in Wordnik you’ll surely find whatever you’ve dreamed in a good English dictionary.

The truth is that Wordnik is not the traditional dictionary where you look for a word and then get the definition. Wordnik is much more and that’s the reason we like it; it’s the perfect example of an online dictionary 2.0 that collaborates with other services (like Flickr or Twitter) and that also allows the user to contribute their own content.

When you’re looking for an English word in Wordnik you’re give the following information:
  • Definitions: several definitions for the word from different dictionaries like American Heritage Dictionary, Century Dictionary, Webster's Unabridged (1913) and WordNet.
  • Related words: synonyms, antonyms and other words that could be related in some way.
  • Pronunciations: it allows you to listen to the word with recordings from some other dictionaries or recordings by the users.
  • Examples: excellent sentences and text to see the word in context and better understand its meaning.
  • Twitter: it does a search on Twitter to see any tweet that contains the word you’re looking for.
  • Images: different images from Flickr that are labelled with the word you’re interested in.
  • Etymology: for anyone wanting to know about the origin and evolution of the word.
There is the possibility to see all this data in the Summary tab, where you can find all the above information plus some extra facts, like Statistics about the word.

If you’re also interested in collaboration with content you have several options, like adding a note about a word or recording its pronunciation.

Link | Wordnik
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blog Archive for Learn English Online

Archive

Do you need to find a particular post on Learn English Online? Here you can browse through the monthly archives and you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.


2010


December| November| October| September| August| July| June| May| April| March| February| January


2009


December| November| October| September| August| July| June| May| April| March| February| January

2008

December| November| October| September| August| July| June

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Something funny - I’m rich!

Rich

No, I haven’t won the lotto (or maybe yes). But in the last week I’ve received emails saying that I’ve won a million pounds, that I’ve won the google lotto, etc.

Some examples of these emails are:

From: British Telecom Office:

You have been awarded the sum of £1,000.000.00 GBP in our Telecom draw, get back to us asap

Contact email: contactmarcussteve@gmail.com

Names:............
Address:..............
Country:.................
Age:..........
Sex:..............
Phone/cellphone........

Mrs.Julia George


Subject: Tobacco … Winner:

You have been awarded the sum of £1,000.000.00 GBP in our tobacco draw, get back to us asap

Contact email: tobaccooffice1@gmail.com

Names:............
Address:..............
Country:.................
Age:..........
Sex:..............
Phone/cellphone........

Mrs.Julia George


NOTE: But I don’t smoke! And what’s more, Mrs. Julia George has several jobs; she works in the British Telecom and Tobacco offices, and we are told that there is a lot of unemployment out there?! Great! I’ve already won 2 million pounds!


Subject: 1,000,000.00 GBP:

You have just been awarded, 1,000,000.00 GBP in the 2009 Online British Lottery; send us your full details:
Full Name:
Full Address:
Status:
Occupation:
Country:


From: British Telecom Office:

You have just been awarded, £1,000.000.00 GBP in the British Online; send the following:
Name
Age
Sex
Country

Mrs. Caroline Bryan


NOTE: I’ve lost count; I think that I’ve already won 4 million, cool! And I also know that Mrs. Caroline Bryan and Mrs.Julia George work together in the British Telecom Office.


Subject: Urgent Information from Google ***Congratulations!!!***

Attention!!!
You have been picked as one of our lucky winners of £850,000 British Pounds in the on-going Google promotion.
For more info/ how to claim your prize, contact the processing agent (Mr.
Grahams Benfield) with the email addresses below with your Ticket
number: 00869575733664,CGPN:7-22-71-00-66-12,Serial
numbers: BTD/8070447706/06 & Lucky numbers:12-12-23-35-40-41(12).
E-mail(s):grahamsbenfield787@gmail.com, grahams.benfield @thedotmail.com.
Wishing you good luck!!


NOTE: More money! Great! And this time none other than a promotion from google, also called google lotto in the email. Well, well, it seems that google has already invented all the Web services, even an online lotto.

I’m going to answer all those emails right now so they can send me the money. I think that I’m going to give them more personal data and even bank account details just to make sure that the money is sent correctly… What? Is that SPAM? Oh no! Well, now that you mention it, it does look like a big amount of money.

Well, jokes apart, I think that gmail needs to improve the spam filter. I also hope that you have seen a reason why it’s important to have certain knowledge of English so you’re able to understand these emails and detect that they’re absolutely RUBBISH.

Do you usually get SPAM?
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Have you already joined the Campaign against Hunger?

The goal of the Campaign against Hunger is to get rice that will help reduce the 24.000 deaths that happen every day because of hunger.

In order to participate you just need:
  1. A computer with connection to the Internet.
  2. Visit the website freerice.com.
  3. Start answering the different questions (10 grains of rice will be donated for every right answer).
In freerice.com there are different subjects whereby you can practice your knowledge of English, art, chemistry, math, and geography. You can even learn other languages like Italian, French or German.

If you join the campaign please don’t forget to send an e-mail to learnenglishfromhome@gmail.com with your name, Web or alias and the quantity of grains that you have donated so we can add it to the total and keep it growing.

Several people, blogs and even high school classes have already joined the Campaign against Hunger. Many thanks to everyone who has joined:

Clase de 3º de ESO B del instituto de Jinámar en Telde, Las Palmas de G. C.
Clase de 1º de ESO B del instituto de Jinámar en Telde, Las Palmas de G. C.
Nomad for Life
Carol
Tatiana
Being More Through Having Less
Sharing Learning
Eyleen
Aprender Inglés Online

Altogether, we have already obtained more than 20,000 grains of rice.

You can see the complete list of participants and the number of granules donated in the following document.

Join today and contribute with your grains; you can obtain more than 100 in just 5 minutes.

And for that, teachers who don’t know what to do in the very last days of the summer term, why not follow Yolanda’s example and go with your students to the computer room and get started? Visit freerice.com and then tell me how it went!

More information about the Campaign against Hunger in the following post.

Thanks to all.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Job Interview - Positivity is the answer

Are you getting ready for a job interview in English? Would you like to know some questions that you might be asked and suggested possible appropriate answers?

We show you below a series of questions and answers (in English) where it is argued that the solution for a satisfactory interview is positivity.

Job Interview

In today’s candidate strong market when you’re up against some fierce competition saying the right thing can mean winning or losing that dream job. Louise Campbell from Robert Walters gives tips on how to give great answers to tough questions.

Q: Why do you want this job?
Be honest with yourself: Are you interested in what the position entails? Or is it just an impressive increase in salary? You should know exactly what will be expected of you. Have you seen a job description? Have you researched the company’s website? A recommended answer could be: ‘I am convinced that the role would very much suit my career aspirations and current skill set’.

Q: Why should I hire you?
This question is all about selling yourself. Try pointing out your strengths by using examples of work you have previously done in relation to the requirements for this role. You could say something like: ‘I believe that the job specification listed many skills I could bring to the organization’.

Q: What is your biggest weakness?
This is known as a negative question, one that interviewers use to test your ability to keep your cool. Let’s face it: we all have weaknesses. But you should try to spin your weaknesses into something positive. A possible answer could be: ‘I think time management is something I could work on, but I am getting better at prioritizing’. Avoid being a ‘perfectionist’ or saying things like, ‘I have no weaknesses that I know of’. This makes you come across as arrogant and overconfident.

Q: Why are you leaving your current role?
Always remain positive when discussing your reasons for leaving. You should have a structured response to this question before your attend an interview. Simply stating that you would like a ‘new challenge’ or ‘change of environment’ can sometimes also send out warning signals to employers, as they may be concerned about hiring a job hopper who is constantly on the look out for something more challenging. Be honest but professional. No employer will want to hire if you are negative about previous employers and you will immediately be seen as unprofessional.

Q: Tell me about yourself?
This is not the opportunity to tell the interviewer your life story. When interviewers ask this question, they are actually more interested to know what you enjoy in your career and as a person and how well you would fit in with the culture of the company. A good answer to this could be something like: ‘I like meeting new people and enjoy being involved with administration for projects and events’ .

Q: Where do you want to be in five years?
Unfortunately, many people are usually not prepared for it, and few actually know where they want to be in five years’ time. A suggested answer could be: ‘I’d like to think I will be working for a successful organization such as this but in a role with increased responsibility’, or, ‘Whatever I do, I want to be doing it to the best of my ability’. It is the way you answer rather than what you say that’s the most important here.
Finally, always remember that the interview is a two-way process, so it is important to have a list of questions you can ask your interviewer at the end. These could include asking the interviewer what motivated them to join the organization, or if they have any reservations about your skill set/experience at this point.
Remember that an interview does not have to be a grueling process if you are well-prepared and know exactly why you are going for the role. The key to a successful interview is to be positive.

Have you done any job interviews in English? How did you find it?

Original article in Metro Ireland
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Quick Way to Improve Your Vocabulary - Subtitled Videos

Learning Guide

One of the problems that we usually face when learning English is how to learn new vocabulary. At school we are usually taught new vocabulary by learning by heart big lists of words in English with their corresponding translation.

I personally think that this method is of limited value for several reasons:
  • It’s not a natural way of teaching but a “brute force” method.
  • It’s not useful to memorize a word and then never use it again; you’ll surely forget it in less than a week.
  • When you learn a word from a list you only learn how to write it but not how to pronounce or how to use it in context (in a sentence).
However, there is no doubt that the process of learning new vocabulary is a process of repetition where memory has vital importance. The better your memory, the fewer the number of times you’ll have to repeat a word in order to learn it.

I believe that you learn a word in English when you know how to pronounce it properly, write it and use it (in a sentence).

I’m going to describe below a method that I’ve used to learn new vocabulary. The idea is to use subtitled videos in English (in this case videos from TED mentioned in this post). You choose a video that you like and then through watching it several times you see the evolution in its understanding and learning of new words.

Subtitled videos are an excellent tool because they allow you to see the word (you learn how to write it), listen to it (how to pronounce it) and you see in which situations it’s used (its context).

Videos from TED are made by people that speak fluent English therefore they are recommended for people with an upper-intermediate or advanced level. Nevertheless, if you wish don’t hesitate to use this technique. You can also use it with other videos that are more appropriate for your level of English.

What does this method to learn new vocabulary consist of?

First thing you have to do is choose a video. In my case I chose the video which talks about the mathematics of war.

Video example

Link to the video

Then try to watch the video without subtitles and estimate how much you understood. In my case I understood 80%.

Watch the video a second time (without subtitles) and estimate your understanding again. In my case 85%.

Now a third time but turn on the subtitles in English. I understood 90%.

A fourth time with the subtitles again. I understood 90%.

In my case the improvement between the third and the fourth time is zero. This is because I wasn’t able to understand more words on account of the context; plus the words that I didn’t know I needed to look up in a dictionary.

I got down to work and I created the following table with four columns (Word, Meaning, Form and Example of use).

I watched the video again, stopping at those words that I didn’t know and filling in the following table:

Note: You might have to adapt the Meaning column to your native language.

Table 1: New Vocabulary from the Video
WordMeaningFormExample of use
NaiveIngenuoAdjectiveAs a naive New Zealander I thought, well, I’ll go to thePentagon.
StreamCanalNounIf we can get enough of these streams of information together.
RawSin tratar, sin filtrarAdjectiveWe brought this raw data in and we filtered it
Pull outSacar, extraerVerbIt’s all in the streams of information we consume daily; we just have to know how to pull it out.
PlotTrazar, marcarVerbWe plot data for sample on this (in a graph window).
Blew my mindMe rompió los esquemas, me dejó “flipando”Verb… of theway attacks are ordered in this conflict, and this blew our minds.
ClusteredApiñarse, agruparseVerbThe slope of these lines clustered around this value of Alpha equals 2.5.
SlopePendiente (término matemático)NounNegative Alpha is the slope of that line I showed you before.
CoalescenceCoalescencia – propiedad de las cosas de unirse o fundirse.NounSo we look at a process of group dynamics coalescence and fragmentation.
SeeminglyAparentementeAdverbWhy should these different, seemingly different conflicts have the same patterns?
SurgeLevantamientoNounThe system gets perturbed, it moves upwards to a fragmented state and this is when the surge happens.

A week later I reviewed the learned vocabulary and I watched the video one more time (without subtitles). I understood 98% - 99%.

Is it that simple?

Well, the way of learning depends a lot on everyone. If you want to optimize this particular method you’ll have to adapt to the way you learn and have regard to your own personal qualities. In my case I have a normal memory and thus it’s necessary for me to REPEAT things several times. If you have a good memory (which is really good to learn languages) you’ll probably be ok if you watch the video a couple of times.

Visit TED’s website and put this method into practise! :)
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Friday, June 5, 2009

Let’s fight against 24000 daily deaths - campaign against hunger

Did you know that every 7 seconds a child starves to death?And that the total of people who die every day because of hunger is greater than 24000? These figures are terrifying but unfortunately they don’t have much impact on the media.

If we compare these figures with the number of deaths due to Swine or H1N1 flu, the contrast could not be more stark. Hunger causes more than 24000 deaths every day and Swine flu has killed 125 people (up to today) since it was known about some months ago.

This is not a criticism but something that I think we all should consider.

And what can we do to reduce hunger in the World? That’s something that politicians should do, shouldn’t they? No, that’s a matter of EVERYONE and there are hundreds of things that can be done to help, from taking part into some organization, donating money, going as a volunteer to a country in need … to visiting a website (freerice.com) and answering different questions in a way that for every right answer 10 grains of rice, that will help to reduce hunger in the World, will be donated.

With freerice.com you’ll help reduce hunger in the World and also, as the questions are in English, you’ll improve your level while you play. There are also questions related to other subjects (Art, Chemistry, Geography, Language Learning and Math). If you have played the “Brain Training “game you’ll surely like freerice.com. Try to reach the maximum level in all the subjects!

You can see below the official video about freerice.com in YouTube. Please notice that in the video it is mentioned that 20 grains of rice are donated with each right answer. However, currently it is 10 grains of rice for each right answer:



Link to the video

I like the idea, can I participate?
Sure, everyone is welcome. The more the better.

What do I need?
A computer, a connection to the Internet and then visit the website freerice.com.

But this is a campaign, isn’t?
Yes, that’s why we are asking you that if you have a Web page, blog, radio, TV channel or any other media stream talk about this campaign to fight the hunger. If not, you can also make the campaign known by mentioning it to your friends.

Ok, do you have a banner that I can use?
Yes, we have made some of different sizes and languages (in English and Spanish) that you can use.








And how are you going to check the participants and the total of rice donated?
Every person or organization who participates can send an e-mail to aprenderinglesonline@gmail.com or learnenglishfromhome@gmail.com with their name, alias, Web page, Blog name or any other identification and the total amount of grains of rice that they have donated. Everybody will be responsible for keeping track of their own total of grains donated and can be informed anytime they wish.

Participants will be added in this document.

When is it the campaign going to finish?
Well, the World Food Day is the 16th of October but it is a bit far ahead in time so we are going to say one month so the 6th of July the campaign will close and the total amount of rice donated will be counted.

Is there any goal in the number of grains to donate?
Yes, what about 100 millions? It takes approximately 5 minutes to donate 200 grains if all the answers are right so go on, we can make it.

Is there a prize for the person or organizations that donate more grains?
No, there are no prizes; the idea is to be generous and spend 5 minutes or more of our day to alleviate this truly human hunger pandemic in the World. We all win and especially those people that don’t even have a small dish to eat – they’ll be able to enjoy for once of something that should be a right and not a privilege.

Are you joining us?
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