A Song with Easy English

English students sometimes feel that they need a huge vocabulary range in order to express themselves clearly.

While students taking a Cambridge exam need to demonstrate an impressive vocabulary range, native English speakers in day-to-day conversations often communicate with between 1,000 and 2,000 words. English students have usually learnt about 2,000 words by Pre-intermediate / Intermediate Level. In other words, they have enough English in their heads to describe people and things, and to say what they want, and how they feel.

It takes time and perseverance to acquire an extensive vocabulary range. Meanwhile, focus on using the English that you know and check that you are using it correctly. Do this and you will find that people can understand you and you will feel encouraged. I tried my Intermediate level French when I was in France in 2017. I didn’t know what I sounded like to people I spoke to, but I was very relieved and pleased that they understood me. 

Today, I’m featuring a song, It Had To Be You, made famous by Frank Sinatra. The lyrics are easy to understand and most of the grammar is simple. The song is a fine example of sophisticated, yet uncomplicated English. The lyrics are under the video.

Song: IT HAD TO BE YOU

(It had to be you, it had to be you)

I wandered around and finally found somebody who
Could make me be true,
Could make me feel blue,
And even be glad just to be sad, thinking of you.

Some others I’ve seen

Might never be mean,
Might never be cross, or try to be boss
But they wouldn’t do.

For nobody else gave me a thrill. 

With all your faults, I love you still.
It had to be you, wonderful you. 
It had to be you.

         
Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Tagged | Leave a comment

Me, Myself, and I

Pronouns

Pronouns.jpg

I’ve noticed that it’s not only English students who have problems with pronouns. Native speakers don’t always know when to use Me, Myself, and I. Even people in the media, including radio presenters and politicians, make constant mistakes. So, let’s have a look at pronouns and when to use them.

Well, we need to start with sentences. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. We can replace the subjects with pronouns, which are called ‘subject pronouns’.

Babies cry. (Subject = Babies)   They cry.
This shark kills. (Subject = This shark)  It kills.
Dogs bite. (Subject = Dogs)  They bite.
John is singing. (Subject = John)  He is singing.

Some sentences have objects. We can replace the objects with pronouns, which are called ‘object pronouns’.

This shark killed a girl yesterday. It killed her yesterday.
John is singing that song too slowly. He is singing it too slowly.
Rena likes cats. She likes them.
That dog bit Pablo. It bit him.


Not all verbs show action but it is useful to think of it in this way: that the subject does the action, and the object receives the action. The dog did the action. Poor Pablo received the action of the dog.

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object are the same. They ‘reflect’ back on the subject. You cannot use reflexive pronouns if you have not used the subject they are referring to.

  • The dog bit himself/ itself. = The dog bit the dog. (‘Himself/itself’ refers back to the dog. They are the same.) 
  • The dog bit him.       =  The dog bit a male person or animal.
  • Taka bought the car for himself. = Taka bought the car for Taka. (‘Himself’ and Taka are the same.)
  • Taka bought the car for him.        = Taka bought the car for a male person.
Subject pronouns:  I                 you               he               she   it  we  they
Object pronouns: me you him   her it us them
Reflexive pronouns: myself yourself yourselves himself herself itself ourselves themselves
Lady Gaga

LADY GAGA thatgrapejuice.net

Look at the following conversation                                     

DIANA: Are you going to the Lady Gaga concert in Brisbane next month Sally?

SALLY: I‘d like to, but I don’t want to go by myself.

DIANA: That’s why I‘m asking you. Why don’t you go with me?

SALLY: Great idea! Thanks. We could check with Emma too. She loves Lady Gaga and she wouldn’t want to go to the concert by herselfShe could go with us. How are you getting there?

DIANA: We could drive or get a lift with Harry. He drives to Brisbane every weekend.

SALLY: I think that we should drive ourselves and not depend on him.  It will be more convenient.

**********************

Typical mistakes:

* Sally and me are going to the Lady Gaga concert.

Correction: Sally and I are going to the Lady Gaga concert. (Subject = Sally and I)

* Sally bought the ticket for myself.

Correction: Sally bought the ticket for me. (Object = me)

* The football game was very exciting for John and I.

Correction: The football game was very exciting for John and me. (Object = John and me)

 *  The children and myself are going to the next game.

Correction: The children and I are going to the next game. (Subject = The children and I)

* A: Who are these books for?  B: Myself.

Correction: A: Who are these books for?  B: Me. (Object = Me)

For more information on Pronouns, click here. For practice exercises, click here and here.

Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A song with Possessive Adjectives

When English students first learn Possessive Adjectives, they should feel encouraged. There are only seven forms: my, your, his, her, its, our, & their. That’s all! Many European languages have 14 – 20+ forms, depending on whether the noun is singular, plural, male or female. 

The rules are simple:

Possessive Adjectives always go before the noun; just like articles (the, a, an)  and like most adjectives.

Possessive Adjectives are never used alone.

Possessive Adjectives are adjectives which shows ownership. They give information about the noun in the same way as other adjectives

Unlike with many languages, you don’t have to work out if the noun is singular, plural, male, or female. Have a look at the following examples describing the picture:

♦ I took this photo with my camera.  (the camera; new camera, red camera.)

♦ She is my daughter, her name is Olivia and she had just finished her lunch. 

♦ My husband Anthony and I had also finished our lunch

♦ Anthony really enjoyed his meal.

♦ The waiter is looking at a bird which is trying to eat food from a nearby table. The customers are not happy! The bird thinks that their food is its food

♦The waiter cleared the/our table after asking us, “Have you finished your meal? Shall I take your plates?”

As with all new vocabulary, don’t expect to remember it after seeing or hearing it once or twice. You need to practise, practise, practise! The best way to practise is to sing songs. Just listening to songs is not enough. It’s important to read the lyrics while you listen and it’s even better if you sing with the singer.

Learning a language is all about Input and Output. Input is what goes into your brain via listening and reading. Output is what you can produce from what you have learned. It comes out of your mouth via speaking or singing,  or what you write. 

Photo by Bruce Mars

∗  Listening is one approach to improving input.

∗   Reading is a second approach.

∗ Speaking or singing is a third approach. 

By singing along with a singer for 3-4 minutes, your English input is multiplied by three, and you improve three skills! This is the most valuable way you can spend a few minutes to learn a new language. Don’t you agree?

Do you have time for a 4 minute English lesson now?  … Yes? Excellent! I have a perfect song for you! It’s by Ed Sheeran and the name of the song is “Perfect”. Click here for the official video. Click here for the video with lyrics.

Here are the lyrics with the Possessive Adjectives highlighted in bold green, nouns in pink

Song: Perfect  by Ed Sheeran

I found a love for me.
Darling, just dive right in
And follow my lead.
Well, I found a girl, beautiful and sweet.
I never knew you were the someone waiting for me.

Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Vocabulary | 2 Comments

3 Minute English #7 – English Pubs

 Here’s another video that I hope you’ll enjoy. It has accurate subtitles and the narrator speaks with a clear British accent.

 Listening to videos like this is easy English practice. I know that studying a language can be hard work so you need to find a way to enjoy it whenever possible. That’s why I recommend songs and short videos so much. How hard is it to listen to and watch a 3-minute video? If you enjoy this one, have a look at their other videos. As the name suggests, “Vocabulary in Chunks” focuses on teaching groups of English words together. This is the best way to learn new vocabulary. 

 If you don’t understand some of the ‘chunks’, don’t translate single words. Translate the whole chunk and you will get a better explanation. First, try to work out the meanings from the context and the visuals. Enjoy! 

Vocabulary in Chunks

[Loescher Editore Video]

Vocabulary chunks to learn from video :

  • One of the oldest pubs in the UK.
  • Over a thousand years ago
  • The word pub is short for a public house.
  • In other words a house open to everybody to meet
  • Pubs need a license to sell alcoholic drinks
  • To young people under 18
  • UNIT 2
  • Full of ornaments and curios objects.
  • Pubs, sell wine, soft drinks and naturally different types of beer
  • The beer is served in half pints or pints
  • An ideal place to relax and chat
  • Whether you stand or sit at a table and read
  • Traditional British dishes such as fish and chips

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Posted in IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos, Vocabulary | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Russell Crowe Teaches You Australian & New Zealand Slang – Vanity Fair

Russell Crowe recently made a video for Vanity Fair explaining Australian & New Zealand Slang. I thought that you might enjoy it. I do not recommend the subtitles. They are misleading!

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Write an Opinion Essay

https://unsplash.com/photos/y-mB90P-6DY

♦ Opinion & Fact:

It is essential when writing an opinion essay to clearly separate opinion and fact

When teaching essay writing and critical reading skills to students (adults),  I have often been dismayed to discover that they accept written opinions as facts. Alas, such is the power of the written word! 

What’s real? What is your interpretation?

How can we develop informed opinions if we unthinkingly accept the opinions of others as facts? Present the same facts on a particular issue to ten people and you could end up with ten different opinions which can be influenced by personal experience, interpretation, and understanding of the issues to name just a few. What happens to the facts? What’s real? Do we just listen to the loudest, most opinionated voices?

When you write an opinion essay, it is necessary to state your opinion/s very clearly. Everyone should have the freedom to state his or her opinion, however disagreeable it may be to others. An opinion is neither right nor wrong. A fact can be checked for accuracy and truth.

Importantly, you need to support your opinions with facts and examples, otherwise why should anyone accept what you say? How can you expect a top exam result if your essay is unconvincing?

♦ Essay Structure:

◊ Introduction
What is your topic and what is your opinion? State them clearly in the first paragraph. Use everyday language but not slang. 

19th-century author Oscar Wilde

◊ Main Body of the Essay
You need to use facts and examples to support your opinion. The length of the main body depends on why you are writing. If you are writing for an exam, your time and word count will be limited and perhaps one or two paragraphs will be sufficient. If you are a journalist, this section could be several paragraphs.

Make sure that the reader can follow your ideas and examples easily. Sequence your facts logically. Chronological sequence is often the simplest. You may prefer numerical order.

Do not introduce irrelevant information. Use facts and examples that are directly related to your ideas in the introduction. 

◊ Conclusion
This is a repetition of the ideas in your introduction, using different words of course! This final paragraph lets the reader know that you have finished and acts as a summary of your ideas.

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼ 

I recommend that you read an excellent example of an opinion piece which I have included below. It was written by Jacinta Price, Councillor for Alice Springs (Northern Territory, Australia) on Facebook a few days ago, a wonderful example of evidence-based writing.

Note that Jacinta Price:
◊ states her feelings plainly and strongly in the first paragraph
◊ provides a wealth of facts and examples to support her opinions, and
◊ in conclusion, reinforces the views outlined in the introduction.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

June 11 at 11:00 PM

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼  ∼ ∼ 

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Bilingual and Even Multilingual Does Not Always Equate to Professional Translation or Proofreading Services

https://unsplash.com/photos/MK4QKBqG_lA– A Guest Post by  Ofer Tirosh 

The new business is up and running, the website is up and running, and now it is time to expand and move into a more diverse market with a larger potential customer base. Should you find a professional translation company to hire certified and professional proofreaders or is someone who grew up in a bilingual or multilingual environment going to be sufficient to meet all of your translation and proofreading requirements? It may even be possible that you yourself would like to learn how to become a proofreader.

The new shop is finally open, and the neighborhood you have invested in has a large Hispanic population. This is a very common occurrence as Spanish is prevalent in many parts of the United States and is one of the most common languages globally. Advertising and marketing materials need to be adjusted accordingly so you want to find someone to translate into Spanish, all of the requisite materials. That kid from Spain working in the store can probably do all that right?

That new financial business is finally up and running online, advertising heavily in the Hong Kong markets, and that programmer from China speaks Chinese right? What could it possibly hurt to have friends, neighbors or others whose “extensive qualifications” extend no further than having grown up in a bilingual household, to provide cheap translating and proofreading services?

Some people will not trust translators with no work experience to translate such documents. Oddly however, these are also the people who will sometimes use basic machine translations and hire these unqualified translators and proofreaders to proofread all of the document translations. What could possibly go wrong? Besides everything?

Continue reading

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | 1 Comment

English Classes Online

In my last post,  I recommended my colleague Leonie Bywater https://www.facebook.com/ProficiencyExamExpert for those of you who were enquiring about learning English online, particularly for learners wanting private lessons and /or tutoring for English exams.

For Elementary and Pre-intermediate level students who are interested in being part of an Online English Class,  I’m excited to announce that the school at which I teach, Langports International English College, will be starting a New Online Course – Survival English next month. Check out the flyer below and click on the links for more information.

Click to access langports-online-courses-1.pdf

Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Speaking & Pronunciation | 1 Comment

Online English Lessons

Hello Everyone! I’ve received enquiries recently about online lessons. Evidently, many of you have decided to pursue online lessons while you are spending more time at home.

Leonie Bywater

Online interactive lessons suit many language learners and if this style of learning suits you, you will benefit a great deal. 

Alas, I cannot provide online lessons at the moment as I am working full-time at my school teaching, you guessed it – English online!

However, I can highly recommend Leonie Bywater, a colleague of mine. I worked with Leonie for over ten years. She is a fantastic English teacher and her students love her. She is highly qualified and experienced at teaching all levels from Elementary to TOEIC and IELTS to Cambridge.  You can contact Leonie on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProficiencyExamExpert or by email: leonie_b57@hotmail.com 


Ω α
Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω α Ω 

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), TOEIC, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Keep Fit in Isolation & Improve your English!

Dua Lipa has a new song called PHYSICAL and she has made a Let’s Get Physical Work Out Video which is the perfect workout class for all of you who are stuck at home feeling bored. While you watch and follow the instructions, your English will improve. Here’s a challenge for you:

How long will it take you to sing along with Dua Lipa while doing the workout? One week? One month?

Click on the picture below to watch the YouTube video (and start your new fitness class!) The lyrics are listed under the video,

LYRICS:

Physical by Dua Lipa

Common love isn’t for us.
We created something phenomenal.
Don’t you agree?
Don’t you agree?
You got me feeling diamond rich.
Nothing on this planet compares to it.
Don’t you agree?
Don’t you agree?

Who needs to go to sleep, when I got you next to me?

Chorus
All night, I’ll riot with you.

I know you got my back and you know I got you.
So come on, come on, come on.
Let’s get physical.
Lights out and follow the noise.
Baby keep on dancing like you *ain’t got a choice. (*ain’t = don’t have)
So come on, come on, come on.
Let’s get physical.

Continue reading

Posted in Dua Lipa, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged | 1 Comment