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Saturday, April 18, 2020

Teach and Learn English with Enhanced E-Books from Oxford

Oxford Logo

One of the positive aspects of Covid-19 is that many companies are offering for free (with due date) resources which we would have traditionally needed to pay for.

We would like to mention today the wonderful e-books that Oxford’s University is offering to English teachers and students.

e-book example

The bookshelf is available (until 30 Jun 2020) and it offers a selection of hundreds of titles organized by level of English: A1, A2, B1 and B2. The e-books are very visual and contain activities for before and after reading. You can also take notes on each page, listen to the book and record your voice to practice your pronunciation.

Moreover, Oxford uses gamification for you to record you the books you’ve read, number of words or time spent reading. You can also download a reading certificate.

Don’t hesitate, take advantage of isolation to Learn English Online!

Go to Oxford Learner´s Bookshelf


Sunday, February 5, 2017

10 Differences between American and British English

Source: Flickr

There are far too many dialects of English language. We even have an Indian one (Heard someone say, “I’m from here only”). The American and British are the two most popular accents spoken around the world. That is the reason why most competitive examinations you appear for, emphasize primarily on these two dialects.

You study English as your second language, so it is easy to be frustrated with the subtle differences. You will discover, soon enough, that you can crack the code by choosing one of the two as your primary dialect. Subsequently, you can learn these differences to talk to both Americans, and Brits, with equal ease.

It is even easier to consider the differences when you separate their varied usages. Here is an easy way to do that.

1. Everyday words
Among all the differences between the two dialects, the difference in vocabulary is the easiest to pick. Both Americans and British have unique ways to refer to the same thing. The graphic below shows the different words that people in New York and London use to refer to the same thing.

Words are used interchangeably between the two contexts; there are words that are spelt differently too. Below are 3 examples:

2. To U or not to U
Americans tend to drop the U in words like colour and honour. Credits for these changes go to the American lexicographer, Noah Webster. Touted as the “Father of American Scholarship and Education”, you might remember him from the name of a dictionary that you are used to referring to. Yes, that is right, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

3. Do you end the word with -re or -er?
Another subtle difference is the way you would spell words like theatre and metre. While the British prefer ending such words with -re, the Americans use the alternative. The American version is most common across dialects. You are better off with the American version, unless, of course, you are in London baby!

4. Did you realize (OR “realise”) the differences, already?
All words ending with the suffixes -ise, or -ize, is yet another group of words that is definitely spelt differently in the two dialects.
We covered the three differences elicited above in this graphic:

Even when you are using the same words in both the dialects, and with the same spelling, there is still a difference in the way you pronounce those words.

5. Pronunciation
The difference primarily lies in using different vowel sounds, or by stressing the word in a different place. Let Hermione show us the way:

Source: Giphy

Well, you might not use Leviosa as regularly as Hermione did. But knowing how to say the following words differently in both the dialects, may come in handy:
  • Vase is pronounced as Vars, like cars, in British English. However, Americans call it vace, like face.
  • British call Route as root, like shoot, but Americans say it rout, as in shout.
  • British put the ar, in tomato, saying it tomarto, while the Americans find it convenient to say tomayto.

This section covers most of the differences between the two dialects. You might as well find them the most difficult ones too.

6. Collective nouns
A collective noun is one that is used to refer to a group. For example, team, flock, group, band. While these nouns are singular in America, British might use them in the singular as well as plural forms interchangeably. Do not be surprised in a London club when you hear “The team are playing tonight” and “The team is playing tonight” within a few minutes.

7. Auxiliary verbs
These verbs are used to help the main verb in a sentence. But the help is rather subjective. British are more likely to extend the help, that is, use an auxiliary verb in a sentence than their American counterparts. For people in New York, the group of words are archaic or too formal. Your friend from London may say, “I shall go home now”, but a person in New York will be more assertive saying, “I will go home now”.

8. Past tense of irregular verbs
If you were to mention it to your friends on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, that you spent time learning these differences, you will have to use different words. This is how you should say it.

To your friend to the east of Atlantic, in London, mention that you “learnt” the differences between American and British English. For your friend on the other side, however, you are better off saying that you “learned” the differences.

If you still mess up, tell them this is how you would summarize your learning. Have a little fun while they are both embarrassed of their Olympic contingents (wink):

Source: Imgur

9. Question Tags
You are mistaken if you think we are done. I will not keep you long; there are just a couple that remain.

First one among them, are the question tags. This is a question tag, “The differences among the British and American English are subtle, yet important, aren’t they?” They are not used as often in America, as they are in Britain.

10. How do you explain something that recently occurred?
Americans and British explain it differently. While the Americans prefer to use simple past tense to explain the phenomenon, British prefer the present perfect. This image will top it up for you.

Which ones did you find most difficult for your appetite? Do please share your thoughts in comments.

This is a guest article by Priyanka Misra who works as Managing Editor with EnglishEdge

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Use Everyday Habits for English Speaking Practice

English Speaking Practice

It doesn’t matter what profession you choose and where you live; you need to know English to become successful. A professor uses English when communicating with colleagues from all around the world. Business people also need English language when contacting international clients or partners. If you’re a student, you’ll need this language to locate learning material online. If you’re a traveler, English is the language you can use wherever you go.

It seems like English connects us globally. That’s why you can only benefit from making efforts to improve it. Learning the grammar and writing complete sentences in English may turn out to be easier than the speaking part.

Miles Miller, a language expert from Australianwritings, explains that phenomenon: “When you’re in a situation where you’re expected to use English, it seems like your knowledge of grammar disappears and you’re making mistakes you wouldn’t make in writing. Why does that happen? You don’t have enough practice; that’s why! The good news is that practicing is easy. We have access to many online tools that help us connect with natives and speak English every day.”

The Method: Immersion

There are many different ways of learning and practicing English. Some people prefer online lessons, while others opt for the traditional classroom instead. Some people like Skype sessions with their friends from foreign countries, but others like to travel and meet people in person. There isn’t a universal rule that would help us all master English speaking skills. It’s a rather individual process, which requires some experimenting.

Still, there is one technique that works for everyone: immersion. This is a method that teachers use: they make English the exclusive language of communication in the classroom. This doesn’t mean you should stop using your native language in your everyday life. However, it means you need to make English part of your lifestyle. You need to immerse yourself in it.

Tips: How to Make English Part of Your Daily Life

1. Learn vocabulary on specific topics
Are you interested in astronomy, science, make-up, sports, or anything else? Of course you have an interest! You can develop a daily habit of learning few words related to that interest. Pick a theme and start learning few words every single day.

You’ll benefit in two ways when you develop this habit:
  • You’ll improve your vocabulary, and…
  • You’ll learn a lot about the things you’re interested in, since you’ll be exploring online content in English.
2. Have an English breakfast
Have you seen recipe videos on YouTube? Well, you can practice a similar technique: speak while preparing your food. For example, a smoothie may contain bananas, strawberries, chokeberries, blueberries, honey, goji berries, coconut oil, and water. You can learn many words when preparing a simple smoothie.

Pretend you’re explaining the recipe in English. If you don’t know how a particular ingredient is called, look it up in the dictionary. Don’t forget to pay attention to the items you use to prepare the food. You have dishes, forks, spoons, a blender, and many other words you can learn. As usual, write down the new words.

3. Name the objects around you
Whenever you have free time on your hands, use it to look around. What do you see? Name the objects in English! It will be easy for you to name some of the items. A chair, table, TV. However, you’ll also notice a radiator, TV remote, curtains, candles, and some things you won’t be able to name. Use your dictionary to find those words. Don’t forget to speak up. Remember: this is a speaking practice.

4. Make sentences with the words you learn
All these habits help you learn new words. However, random words don’t mean anything if you don’t make them part of your vocabulary. That’s why you’ll need to use them in actual sentences. Form sentences related to your interests, the breakfast you’re making, or the objects you see around you. The candle is on the table. I will use a lighter to light the candle. The flame is bright. See? You can form many sentences around a single object, and all those sentences help you learn new words.

5. Learn English through your habits
Here’s the easiest way of making English a daily habit: don’t change your habits.
  • Are you listening to music every day? Well, you can listen to music with English lyrics and sing along.
  • Do you like reading? Start doing it in English.
  • You certainly read the news or celebrity gossip every day. Why don’t you bookmark some websites that provide news in English language?
  • You like watching documentaries or TV shows? Choose those with narrative in English.
  • Do you exercise in the morning? Find the names of each movement and keep telling them in English as you practice.
6. Use the right tools
The immersion technique can be even more useful when you combine it with the right apps and online tools. Here are few suggestions of tools that can become part of your daily routines:
  • Evernote – A tool for taking notes and making to-do list. Whenever you get an idea, write it down in English. If you’re heading out to the store, create a shopping list in English. You have a list for books you want to read or movies you want to see? Update it in English.
  • Quizlet – A collection of learning tools that enhance your memory through visual effects. You can create your own flashcards to study anything, and you can do that in English. You can write new words on the flashcards, and find images that grasp the concepts. There is a great collection of flashcards at the website, so you can use them when you don’t have time to create your own. For example, these Crime and Punishment flashcards can help you remember the characters from Dostoevsky’s book.
  • YouTube cooking videos – If you’re cooking every day, why don’t you try new recipes? You can watch different videos on YouTube and pick the favorite recipe of the day. These videos are very useful for language learners. You get clear, slow-paced explanations with visual presentation, so you don’t even need a dictionary to understand the new words. When you’re recreating the recipe, don’t forget to recreate the instructions, too.
  • Karaokegame – An online tool that gives you the background music of your favorite songs. All you need to do is sing! In English, of course.

Learning English Is a Lifetime Commitment. Turn It Into a Habit!

It’s not that hard to improve your vocabulary when you practice every single day. The tips above show you how to include that practice in your lifestyle. Try some of the tips and tell us how they work for you.

Jessica Freeman has been a journalist and a freelance content writer for 6 years now. She is a professional in her niche and prefers using creative approach while focusing on the sphere of academic writing, education, and business. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How Edufind can help you perfect your English


For English learners, the Internet gives you access to an unlimited supply of native English writing, video, audio, and online interaction, but there’s so much English learning material online, and of such variable quality, it’s difficult to choose which site to use. One site I can recommend is Edufind, a non-profit site with a complete English grammar guide and a database of all the accredited English schools in 9 countries with reviews of most schools.

If you’re only studying English online, Edufind is a reference book for grammatical rules, verb conjugations, adverb placement, etc. The English grammar guide is available in Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese in addition to English. The Edufind Facebook page is also very active with posts in English on English idioms, quotes from famous people who have struggled with English, and other fun English learning tidbits.

If you’re considering taking an English course abroad, Edufind is a unique reference. No other site lets you see all the accredited schools in a city, state, or country on a map, read student reviews, and get in touch with the schools directly. As I mentioned before, Edufind is non-profit, so the schools don’t pay to be listed. That makes a big difference.

Most sites that let you compare English schools are agencies, so they are selling the courses at those schools and taking a commission. Those sites want all the schools to look good. You’ll see only positive student “reviews” on those sites, and only a partial list of schools, usually the larger schools and chain schools. For a complete list of schools of all sizes and unfiltered student reviews, you can’t beat Edufind.

Finally, if you’ve ever taken an English course abroad, go find your school on Edufind and leave a review! Your fellow students will thank you.

I look forward to hearing what you think of Edufind if you decide to have a look around. Edufind is a one-woman show, so whether you contact me via the site or on Facebook, you’re going to be talking to the same person. Best of luck with your continued English studies! As we say in English, practice makes perfect!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Euphemisms: What are they and why you should use them

There are some words that some people might find outright offensive or impolite or upsetting.

So how do you convey your message without offending someone?

The answer is just one word: Euphemisms. These are terms used in place of those ‘offensive’ words to make it sound tolerable, acceptable or polite. It’s like sugar-coating the message to make it seem less harsh than it actually is.

Here’s an example: Instead of saying “John was sent to a jail after that incident”, you could say “John was sent to a correctional facility after that incident”. In this case, “jail” and “correctional facility” both mean the same thing but the second sentence makes the situation more palatable.

In this article, we’ll explore euphemisms for some common topics.

+ Physical/ mental disability: Instead of saying “handicapped” or “disabled”, you could say “physical challenged” or “differently abled”. Instead of saying “retarded”, you could say “mentally challenged”. “Special needs” could be used for people that are physically and/or mentally challenged.

+ Death: Instead of saying “died”, you could say “passed away”, “deceased”, or “taken to Jesus”.

+ Euthanasia: “Put one to sleep” or “put one out of misery” could be used instead of “euthanasia” or “euthanized”. (You’ll mostly find it used in vet clinics)

+ Overweight: “Ample proportions”, “plus-sized”, or “stocky” could be used in place of “fat” or “obese”.

+ Lavatory: You might find it hard to believe but the words “bathroom”, “washroom”, and “restroom” all are euphemisms for “toilet”.

+ Flatulence: “Break wind”, “pass gas”, “cut the wind” could be used instead of the word “fart”.

+ Lying: Instead of saying “lying” or “lied”, you could say “color the truth”, “bending the truth”, or “misstatement”.

And there are euphemisms for almost all of the ‘taboo’ topics in English. It is understandable when some of you say English is a difficult language but using euphemisms in everyday conversation not only makes you appear sophisticated but also makes your message much more acceptable.

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