ACEIA 2016, Seville: a resounding success!

Over 700 enthusiastic teachers from all over Europe attended the ACEIA 2016 conference in Seville on Saturday 12 November.

Antonia plenary

Under the banner ‘Creative Minds Inspire,’ the event was headlined by Pearson’s Antonia Clare, one of the award-winning authors of Speakout 2nd edition, with her inspirational plenary session ‘Language, Learning and the Creative Mind.’ Antonia examined the ways in which learning a language is in itself such an inherently creative task and looked at how to engender creativity, both on the part of the learner but also on the part of the teacher.

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Using connectors in English to improve your writing skills

Using connectors in English to improve your writing skills - Illustration by Lucy Vigrass (2)When you’re writing in English, especially when you’re writing for exams, it’s not enough to choose the correct words and put them in the right order. You also have to link sentences together to show how your ideas are organised and to guide the reader through your text. For this, you need a good command of connectors, or linkers, those little words and phrases like but, however, in spite of, because of and in order to. In this article we look at using connectors in English to improve your writing skills.

The most common connectors, and the ones used most frequently in speech, are and, but, or, because, so and then, and with them you can express most ideas quite well. However, in order to demonstrate a more sophisticated knowledge of the language and to express more nuanced ideas, especially in formal writing, there are many other connectors that you need in your repertoire. Let’s have a look at some of them. Continue reading

35 common English proverbs

English languageIf vocabulary and grammar are the meat and bones of a language, then proverbs are its blood. Not only are these short, pithy, well-known expressions great for giving warnings and advice or for expressing simple truths about life, they also tell you a lot about the cultural context of the language. Each and every language has hundreds of such sayings, but as English is the language at hand, here are 35 common English proverbs for you to enjoy, learn – and hopefully use. Next time you get the chance to throw one into conversation, make sure you strike while the iron is hot!  Continue reading

10 English words that are difficult to pronounce

When you learn a foreign language, there are always certain sounds that are a challenge to get right and certain words that you must struggle to get your tongue around. With English, the erratic spelling system means that even if you have no trouble with the sounds themselves, you may often mispronounce words anyway.

To help you out with some of the trickier and more readily-confused ones, here are 10 English words that are difficult to pronounce for learners and some tips for getting them right. Continue reading

Why is English spelling so weird?

English spellingWhy does cough rhyme with toff but plough rhyme with now? Why does debt have a silent b? If ewe can be you, how comes eye can be I? Who on earth put the k into knight? Why is read read as red when it’s said in the past, but reads like its reed in the present? Indeed, why is English spelling so weird? In today’s post we look at the history of English spelling to find out some of the reasons that underlie its many orthographic idiosyncrasies.

Why is English spelling so weird?

Too few letters for too many sounds

Modern English has a phoneme inventory of 44 sounds (with some variation according to dialect) but only 26 letters with which to write them. Since its very earliest days, this mismatch has been a key obstacle to spelling the language in a regular manner. The monks who were among the first to write down Old English tried to solve the problem by adding new letters to represent sounds absent in Latin, such as a ligature of a and e, namely æ (ash), and several runic characters – þ (thorn), ð (eth), and ȝ (yogh). Æ can still occasionally be found (for example, in the official name of the Encyclopædia Britannica), but the runic symbols were eventually replaced by digraphs – combinations of two letters to represent one sound – th for þ and ð and gh for ȝ. Diacritics – those little marks above and beneath letters that you find in so many other languages (á, è, ü, ç, ñ and so on) – being absent in Latin, were never used by the early writers of English and so never really became a part of the orthography, except to write certain foreign loanwords. Continue reading

20 words and phrases English owes to Shakespeare

William Shakespeare‘To be or not to be’ – that’s the one line from Shakespeare that everybody knows. But the question is, do you know just how many other words, phrases and idioms he gave to the English language, either by coining them himself or by popularising them through his poetry and plays? This year marks 400 years since the Bard of Avon’s death, and yet even those who don’t know his work probably quote him on a daily basis. Today we’re looking at 20 words and phrases English owes to Shakespeare.

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Interview of JJ Wilson, Speakout 2nd edition author, at ACEIA 2015

More than 700 English teachers attended the ‪#‎AceiaConference15‬ by Asociación de Centros de Enseñanzas de Andalucía (ACEIA) in Seville, Spain. We would like to thank all the teachers that attended our talks; thanks to JJ Wilson for his great sessions and thanks to the Pearson Team for your fantastic work. It was great to see everyone there!

Below you can see an interview of JJ Wilson, Speakout 2nd edition author, at the 2015 ACEIA Conference we would love to share with you!

More info about Speakout 2nd edition at http://product.pearsonelt.com/speakout2e

20 English words with surprising origins

20 English words with surprising originsLanguages adopt and adapt words from one another all the time, but English is especially voracious when it comes to borrowing; there are thousands of loanwords in the language. Many of them have fairly clear origins – piano from Italian, kindergarten from German, algebra from Arabic – but others have less obvious backgrounds.

Today we look at 20 English words with surprising origins:

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10 unusual expressions in English and where they come from

expressions in English - Pearson ELTPart of the fun of learning a language is getting to know its idioms and expressions, but there are many whose meaning is far from clear and whose origins are obscure. Today we look at 10 unusual expressions in English and where they come from.

Unusual sayings in English:
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5 poems for the English language classroom

all the world's a stageFrom puking babies to philosophical pigs, today we take a look at 5 poems for the English language classroom. Poems can be a great resource for both the teacher and the learner. Not only are they an ideal way to practise the stress and intonation patterns of the language, they also lend themselves to a whole range of accompanying activities, from predicting the content to discussing how they make the reader feel, or even, with younger learners, illustrating different scenes.

5 poems for the English language classroom:

With higher levels, you might want to introduce your learners to some lines by the most celebrated poet of all, William Shakespeare. Although his 400 year-old English can often be intimidating, especially as it was never written to be read on the page but rather heard in the theatre, there are still many accessible passages, even for English learners. Continue reading