Word games are an engaging way not only to practice vocabulary and spelling in class but also to hone important language skills such as defining and describing. They’re fun, too, make ideal warmers and fillers, and generally don’t require much preparation – especially if you get the students involved in setting them up. Plus, many work well as competitions and can easily be adapted to suit different ages and levels. Here are 6 easy word games for the English language classroom. Why not give them a try?
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.
Today we look at 20 English words with surprising origins:
While most learners want to focus on improving their spoken English, the other skills should not be ignored if you want to become a fluent all-round user of the language. Today we look at some of the many benefits of reading in English and offer some ideas to help you become a better reader yourself.
The benefits of reading in English
First and foremost, reading is one of the best ways to increase vocabulary and to consolidate your understanding of grammar. Not only will you come across many new words and phrases in context, you’ll also see grammatical structures laid out on the page that you may have heard in conversation but not quite yet worked out. With repeated exposure to the same vocabulary and language patterns, you’ll find they begin to make their way into your spoken English as well. In this way, reading helps speed up the normal language learning process that sees passive comprehension become active knowledge. In short, provided you’re also practicing conversation, the more you read, the more quickly your spoken English will improve. 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.
Everyone loves to play, and any teacher knows that games and quizzes are a great way to engage the language learner. For the student who wants to improve their English at home online – or even on the move with their smartphone – there are lots of great sites with free games for practising English. We’ve picked out ten to get you going. Enjoy!
Free games for practising English:
With such an abundance of authentic English online these days, from videos to articles, podcasts to blogs, there’s no excuse not to use the internet to help you improve. However, you might also want something targeted especially at the learner. Here, alphabetically, are 10 great websites for learning English that we think you’ll enjoy. Continue reading
For the last ten years or so, delicate birds in English-speaking countries the world over have been complaining about social networking – or to be more precise, about one site in particular. It’s not Facebook that has upset them, or LinkedIn, nor is it Instagram or Tumblr. It’s Twitter that has ruffled their feathers. The reason is simple; they can no longer do one of the things that delicate birds in English-speaking countries most like to do, at least not without everyone expecting them to keep it short and simple and add a couple of hashtags to the message. They can no longer twitter or tweet.
‘Why they had to go with our particular sound is beyond me,’ tweeted Warner Bros. veteran Tweety Bird, in an exclusive interview for Pearson ELT Learning Journeys. ‘Why couldn’t they have called it Oinker or Mooster? The pigs and the cows wouldn’t have minded. They could’ve done with the publicity.’ Meanwhile, groups of birds from other countries have expressed their relief that the site chose to go with English onomatopoeia rather than sound-words from their own languages. ‘Chu-u chu-u!’ chirped a Japanese spokes-bird, visibly relieved, while a Spanish owl in Madrid hooted in to say, ‘It’s bad enough that the pedestrian lights here go pío pío. Frankly, I’m relieved you’re not all pío-ing.’ Continue reading
On 27th March 1977, in very foggy conditions at Los Rodeos airport in Tenerife, and after numerous unexpected incidents and delays, KLM Flight 4805, laden with fuel – and before it was safe to do so – began to hurtle down the runway. Miscommunication in English between the crew and the tower had resulted in the captain starting the take-off before the clearance to do so had actually been given. Ahead of Flight 4805 on the very same runway, taxiing directly towards them, was another Boeing 747, Pan Am Flight 1736, lost in the thickening fog and unsure whether the Spanish air traffic controllers had told them to take the ‘first’ or the ‘third’ exit. The poor visibility meant that the impending disaster was completely hidden from view at the tower, and that accurate and unambiguous oral communication was therefore paramount; the ear had to do what the eye could not. Seconds later the two aircraft finally saw one another. The KLM tried to lift off, the Pan Am to turn, but by then it was too late. The resulting collision and ensuing fireball killed all 248 people aboard the KLM plane as well as 335 of the 396 aboard the Pan American, making it the deadliest ever disaster in aviation history. The few Pan Am survivors, lucky alone by the fluke of their seating, crawled out to safety through holes in the disintegrating fuselage and along the one remaining wing. Continue reading