Languages 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.
From 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
From the proverbial raining cats and dogs to Shakespeare’s many signatures, today we look at some lesser known facts about the English language.
12 surprising facts about the English language:
1. Although the official language of 56 countries around the world, English is not the official language of the United Kingdom; that is, it has no legal official status, although it is, of course, the de facto official language. The same is true of the United States, New Zealand and Australia. The languages with legally official status in the UK are Cornish, Welsh, Irish, Ulster Scots, Scots and Scottish Gaelic. Continue reading
How well do you know your FAQs from your BPMs? Would you know when to RSVP? Don’t worry if these strings of letters seem baffling to you. Today we’re taking a look at 50 of the most useful English abbreviations and acronyms to help you navigate everything from official documents and friendly invitations to casual conversations in a nightclub.
English abbreviations and acronyms:
BYOB – Don’t turn up to a party empty-handed when you’ve been told to BYOB, else the hosts and the other guests will be dry and unhappy indeed. BYOB stands for bring your own beer/bottle/booze. ‘Bottle’, of course, means a bottle of wine or spirits, and ‘booze’ is a slang term for alcohol. Continue reading
Following on from our previous article, here are another 10 common errors Spanish speakers make in English.
Common errors Spanish speakers make in English:
1. Switching he/she and his/her
One of the most common errors Spanish speakers make in English is to mix up he and she. This can really confuse the listener, especially if someone is telling a story involving a man and a woman! The same is true with his and her. In English, which doesn’t have masculine/feminine grammatical gender, the pronoun agrees with the possessor. Here’s a little story for your students to work through to help them get the hang of it. Continue reading
Would you Adam and Eve it? The trouble and strife’s on the custard and jelly!
To the uninitiated, and almost certainly to most Americans, such a phrase sounds like gibberish, but your average Brit would understand the expression of disbelief (Adam and Eve: believe) that his wife (trouble and strife) was on the telly (custard and jelly), slang in itself for TV. Welcome to the world of Cockney Rhyming Slang!
Where is Cockney Rhyming Slang from and how does it work? Continue reading
Like any language, English is full of idioms and phrases that give it life and colour. Understanding them will help you follow conversations in all sorts of settings and situations, while being able to use them – appropriately – will impress your native-speaker friends and make your own conversation sound that much more natural and fluent. There are far too many to list in one article, but here we look at 30 useful English idioms and phrases in various contexts. A literal definition (in italics) precedes each one.
It has often been said that the UK and the USA are ‘two nations separated by a common language’. It’s certainly true that sharing English often disguises the cultural differences between the two societies, but what about actual differences between British and American English? Although there are very few differences, aside from differences in pronunciation, that would leave a Brit and an American in a state of mutual unintelligibility, there are significant differences between British and American English that are worth being aware of. Here we look at some of them.
In today’s globalised world, it is increasingly important not only to be proficient in English but also to be able to prove your level of proficiency. Companies with international business often require job applicants to present a certificate that shows how fluent they are in English, while for non-natives applying to universities in English-speaking countries, demonstrating you have a high enough level of the language to study your chosen subject is a basic entry requirement. With so many options available, the first question has to be, ‘Which English exams should I choose?’ Here we look at what’s on offer. For some top tips on how to prepare, click here.