Category Archives: The English language

The Spelling Challenge: are you up to it?

Is it definetely or definitely? Which is correct, possession or possesion?

Most students struggle with English spelling and no wonder, English spelling is difficult. Plain and simple. The best advice I can probably give you to improve your spelling is to read a lot and then if you keep misspelling a word, you might want to write it down  several times ( I’m sorry! I know it sounds like a very traditional thing to do, but it works and this is what is really important, isn’t it?). Doing spelling quizzes can also help, and it’s certainly more fun than writing the tricky word several times.

So, are you up to a little challenge? Then, try these three quizzes based on students’ common spelling mistakes found in Intermediate, Advanced and Proficiency exams. I have created them with the aim of helping my students get rid of these common spelling mistakes and I hope they are helpful to anybody visiting the blog!

 

This is how I suggest you work with the quizzes:

  • Start with the intermediate quiz even though you are an advanced or proficiency student. Life is full of surprises and it doesn’t hurt to double-check tricky words.
  • Once you have finished the quiz, try to remember which words were tested and write them down on a piece of paper. You don’t only need to be able to recognise them, but to remember its correct spelling.
  • Do the quiz once again and compare your written answers with the ones given in the quiz.

Good luck!

 

Easy? Good! Let’s take the advanced quiz now!

Piece of cake? Well done! Let’s try now the most difficult one!

I’d like to finish this post with an excellent piece of advice from Thomas Jefferson.

“Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well.”

(Thomas Jefferson, American president  1800-1809, in a letter to his daughter Martha)

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The quiz: 13 Modern Words Recently Added to the Dictionary in 2015

Three years ago, a colleague of mine wrote the word “selfie” on the board. She says none of her students knew what the word meant. Nowadays, even my great grandmother, should I have one, would most definitely know what a “selfie” is, and would probably have taken one or two to send her peers.

It is said that the English language has more words than any other language in the world and it seems it might be true. The Oxford Dictionary Online stores over 600,000 words. Despite this number, new words are coined, clipped and blended all the time and although some of them are very soon forgotten, others make their way into the dictionary.
But how do they choose the words they include in a dictionary? The answer is simple: people need to use them. Basically editors watch the word for several years to see how it is used in both spoken and written English. They check to see that the word is used to express an idea clearly, and that the idea is understood. Then, when the word is seen in writing and speech regularly, it can go in the dictionary.

New words are added every year, but also words that are no longer used are eliminated.

Every year, the Oxford Dictionary selects a Word of the Year. “Selfie” was chosen Word of the Year three years ago. This year, the award has been given to the emoji (plural emoji or emojis) Face with Tears of Joy. The decision to choose a pictogram as word of the year, when it is clearly not a word, has been publicly criticized by many. But despite the selection of this word being frowned upon in many circles, the question to consider is: if words are used to communicate, aren’t emojis also used to communicate feelings and emotions in this new digital era?

So, as stated above, lots of new words enter the dictionaries every year. In this little quiz below you will find some of the most recent additions to the dictionaries

Are you up to the challenge?

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Confusing Words: Finally,In the End, Eventually, Lastly and At Last

Yes, I know, these connectors can be quite confusing; that’s why I have created this beautiful presentation to help you clarify them . I just hope the explanation doesn’t mix you up more. And it’s also, with this mind, the reason why a quiz follows the explanation. Beautifully presented as well. 🙂

To create these two interactive activities I have used Riddle.com, which helps you create interactive content in a few minutes.

Steps to create a Riddle
• Click on the Create Button
• Choose the type of Riddle you want to make. For this post , I have created a List and a Pop Quiz, but you can also create opinion polls and surveys.
• In a Riddle you can use images, animated gifts, articles, youtube videos…etc
• You can share on facebook and twitter or get an embed code for your blog
• The best feauture? It’s free!
I highly recommend Riddle to create beautiful interactive content for your classes.

CONFUSING WORDS: LASTLY, FINALLY, EVENTUALLY, IN THE END, AT LAST

Lastly and Finally

Use LASTLY or FINALLY to introduce the last point you want to make, the last action in a series of actions, or the last item in a list
  • Lastly, I would like to remind you that speaking Spanish is not allowed in this class.
  •  Load the paper, select the number of copies, and lastly press ‘Print’
  • You add flour, salt, and finally milk.

FINALLY and EVENTUALLY

 Use FINALLY  or EVENTUALLY to say that something happens after a long time
  • Finally we managed to get the car to start.
  • When she eventually turned up, the food was cold.

EVENTUALLY and IN THE END

Use EVENTUALLY or IN THE END  to say what the result or outcome of something was
  • They eventually got bored and went home.
  •  In the end we decided to cancel the trip.

AT LAST

Use AT LAST to say that something happens after a long period of waiting or trying, when you are glad about this
  •  It’s good to be home at last.
  •  At last, the pizza’s here!

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Ready for a small quiz?

Confusing Words: Finally,In the End, Eventually, Lastly and At Last

Read the sentences and decide which of the options best fits the gap.
Source: Longman Dictionary of Common Errors

Although she had been ​ill for a ​long ​time, it still came as a ​shock when she ___ ​died

Eventually

At last

__, I’d like to ​thank everyone for coming this ​evening

Eventually

Finally

Thank goodness! I’ve ​finished my ​essay ____!

at last

in the end

___ the baby stopped crying and we managed to get some sleep

Finally/eventually

lastly

Do you really mean that you’ve stopped smoking ___?

at last

finally

___ Spain won by two goals to one.

in the end

at last

___, as soon as you hear a beep, press the start button

Finally

eventually

It seems more and more likely that the human race will ___ destroy itself

eventually

lastly

She showed us the new dress, then the blouse and ___ the shoes

lastly

in the end

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You didn’t score as well as the experts but this means you can only get better! Practise makes perfect so just get stuck in and give it a go. You’ve got to be in it to win it!
[You can use this space to write some funny content to encourage people to share their result. You can also add in links like the one below or choose (in the Customise menu) to show a form that collects user information so you can build an email list etc.]

Viral content expert!

You know everything there is know about creating viral content! Well, almost. Great start – now it’s time to get creating fun viral content. Then you can sit back and watch people share it around the world.
[You can use this space to write some funny content to encourage people to share their result. You can also add in links like the one below or choose (in the Customise menu) to show a form that collects user information so you can build an email list etc.]

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Did you Know…. hung or hanged?

I can almost see my students smiling with a hint of irony painted on their faces when they hear me saying the words” English is very easy”. And yes, you  might disagree with me here but  it all depends on what language you compare it with and, in their case, Spanish grammar is a far cry from English grammar, being the first much more complicated to understand. I am also well aware of the difficulties they have when learning English but we need to focus on the positive things. I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I don’t motivate my students!

But… sometimes… only sometimes, English could be a bit confusing, and the use of  hung and hanged is a little quirk of the English language.

This is what one of my students wrote . “He said that  nobody  lived in that house  because the man who lived there had killed all his family and then he hung himself.”

I crossed it off and wrote “hanged” instead. The verb “hang” can be regular or irregular. You study:

                 hang- hung/hanged-hung/hanged

So far, easy.But when do you use “hung” and when “hanged”? The explanation can be either short or long. I think I’ll go for the short one as you can always check meanings and use in a good dictionary.

  • Hanged is used  when the meaning is
  1. to kill somebody  by tying a rope attached from  above around their neck and removing the support from beneath them .

                              The prisoner  was ​found guilty of the crime  and hanged ​.

       2.  (slang) to damn or be damned: used in mild curses or interjections. 

                               I’ll be hanged before I ask her out again

  • Hung is preferred in all other senses of the word.

Once clarified, it isn’t that difficult, is it?

Do you have time for a little test?

Some pictures ___ on the walls of his house

hung

[collapse]
His arms __ down limply, over the edge of the couch.

hung

[collapse]
Red meat is __ for at least 28 days, making for a memorable steak

hung

[collapse]
He was __ for murder

hanged

[collapse]
I am __if I know

hanged

[collapse]
A heavy gold necklace __ around her neck.

hung

[collapse]
He _____ himself from a beam in the attic

hanged

[collapse]

Did you Know….Aged?

Did you know that the word “aged” has two different pronunciations?

 

1.It’s pronounced /eidʒd/ when it means “years old” or when it is the verb in its past or past participle form

♥a woman aged 40

♥she has a son aged eleven

2. It’s pronounced /ˈeɪdʒɪd/ when it is the adjective (formal)

♥an aged professor

♥ my aged computer is very slow

Also : The aged in this country need more services. /ˈeɪdʒɪd/ = very old people

Hope it helps! Keep posted!

Did you Know…… Near?

Look at these two sentences. Are both sentences correct?

  • I live near the school
  • I live near to the school

The answer is yes.

Near can be used as a preposition .When near is a prepostion , near to is less common but also possible .

  • Go and sit nearer (to) the fire
  • We came near (to) being killed.

Source : Practical English Usage (Michael Swan/Oxford) and Oxford Dictionaries

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Confusing Words

Can you tell the difference between  farther and further or especially and specially? Do you know for certain when to use arrive in or arrive at?  Which one is American English at the weekend or on the weekend, math or maths? Is it think of, about, in or on?? Do you have problems using and/or pronouncing weigh, weighed and weight? You are pretty certain you know how to use boring and bored, but  does it work the same for stressed and stressing?  If these questions have raised serious doubts, then this post is for you. 🙂

Click on the picture if you want to go straight to the section

I sometimes have to remind my students  I’m not a walking dictionary !!  I honestly believe what makes a good teacher is not how many words  he knows in the dictionary or whether he knows a  given idiomatic expression. I don’t  think knowing what “stuck in a rut” means makes you a good  or a bad teacher. I firmly believe a good teacher is the one who loves his work and is able to transmit his love for what he does to  his students  and  is able to keep them motivated  whenever  they want to give up. I  have learned that being a good teacher is not teaching to those who want but to those who don’t.

Although initially English is not such a difficult  language to learn, it cannot be argued that for some students it is easier than for others. Take for example , a native speaker of Dutch or German  and a native speaker of Japanese or Russian. Obviously, German and Russian are closely related to English whereas  Japanese or Russian are completely unrelated so I’m sure   you can draw your  own conclusions in this matter.

Very often students tend to systematically makes mistakes with a given word either in its pronunciation or in the way it collocates with certain prepositions, adjectives …etc and we cannot forget here the issue of false friends which causes so many problems and, trust me,  sometimes funny misunderstandings, like in Spanish, the false friend “embarrassed ” and “pregnant”.

To help my students and readers of this blog overcome  these difficulties, I have created a new section in this bog called CONFUSING WORDS. I hope it’s helpful!

What is a “veggie”?

Well, I don’t know what I am, that’s why I have dedicated some time to finding an answer to what I am or rather to what I eat or don’t eat. For me,one of the most tiring things about not eating what everybody around me eats is having to hide the fact that I just eat differently and having everybody around me worried about what they might offer me; so, when my friends and I go to a party or birthday or whatever occasion where food is involved I ask them not to attract attention to my eating habits. I can tell you it’s not fun struggling to make people understand that I won’t eat anything cooked with meat and what is worst, trying to explain that even though they remove the chicken or the meat I still won’t eat it.
The word “vegetarian” is a blanket term used to describe somebody who does not eat meat, poultry, fish or seafood. But then, within this term there exist different sub-groups.
VEGAN . This person doesn’t eat any animal products or by products and this includes cheese, milk… some of them don’t even wear leather or wool.
LACTO-VEGETARIAN : The same as vegans but they eat dairy products
OVO- VEGETARIAN : The same as vegans but they eat eggs
OVOLACTO VEGETARIANS are by far the largest group of vegetarians
SEMI-VEGETARIAN are not vegetarians strictly-speaking as they may eat fish but not meat or the other way round.

Silly things people say to vegetarians ….. when given the chance. I no longer do.
•So what do you eat? A lot of salad?
•Can’t you just pick out the bits of meat in (insert name of dish here) and eat the rest of it?
•You should feel bad about the pain and suffering you’re causing all those plants you’re eating.
•What did you say gelatin was made of? You’re joking.

Some common mistakes : cook and cereal

Well,well , the first unit in the book I am teaching this year to Intermediate students is about food and if I didn’t know any better I would think it was intentionally placed in the first unit to remind me that I need to seriously consider going on a diet to try to lose the ??? pounds  gained after stuffing myself with tons of ice cream.  Haven’t I read somewhere that Uma Thurman, the actress, lost 25 pounds in six weeks by eating ice cream , chocolate and pudding??? Just joking !! But wouldn’t it be just great if  celebrities kept their strange fad diets to themselves ? Or rather not??? That way I can always put the blame on  Uma Thurman ! 😉

Anyway, talking about food , I feel I need to remind my students not to make two of the most common mistakes we, Spaniards, make when talking about food.

Mistake 1. When I grow up I want to be a cooker.  If a person who teaches is a teacher and  a person who runs is a runner  , why is a person who cooks called  a cook and not a cooker?

♥A cook= a person who cooks

My mother is a very good cook

♥A cooker= an apparatus where food is cooked  (also called stove in AmE)

Do you have an electric or a gas cooker?


Mistake 2. I like cereals for breakfast.

Cereal is an uncountable noun, so you  should say I like cereal for breakfast or a bowl of cereal.

Cereals can also be a plural countable noun. In that case, you are referring to the different kinds of cereals  such as oat, barley ,  wheat or brands like corn flakes , rice krispies or choco crispies.

There are so many different kinds of cereals in this shop that I never know which one to buy.

Hope it is helpful! Keep posted!

 

Guess What! Some cool things about the English language

Would you like to know some cool things about the English language?

♥Guess what! The English language as we now know it began to emerge in the 14th century from a variety of dialects including Old Norse and Late West Saxon.

♥Guess what! Mandarin Chinese is the only language spoken by more people around the world than English. There seems to be , at  least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the Oxford English Dictionary.

♥Guess what! The English language grows at a rate of about one new word every two hours

♥Guess what! The oldest word in the English language is ‘town” followed by ” I” and “two”

♥Guess what! The longest one syllable word in the English language is ‘screeched‘ .

♥ Guess what! The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

♥Guess what! The word “queue” is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

 

♥Guess what! “Rhythm” is the longest English word without a vowel

♥Guess what! The word “set” has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

♥Guess what! “Go” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language

♥Guess what!  The sentence “He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas” has seven spellings of the sound [ i ].

♥Guess what! The “sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.Give a try!!!

I hope you have enjoyed reading these facts about the English language?

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