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

♦ 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.

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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

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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

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

English Classes Online

In my last post,  I recommended my colleague Leonie Bywater 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: or by email: 

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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,


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?

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.

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

Artist Niki Daly talks about IMAGINATION

I have found a heart-warming video to cheer you up in these uncertain times. It features artist Niki Daly who says inspiring things like, ‘Children have an imagination that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary’. 

The video is a short film produced by Green Renaissance. Who is Green Renaissance? “We are a tiny collective of 4 passionate filmmakers (Warren, Jacky, Michael and Justine). We live off-grid and dedicate our time to making films that we hope will inspire and share ideas.”

The subtitles provide excellent English.

         

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

English Words that are often Confused #4

First, read English Words that are often Confused #1, #2, & #3.

Today, I’m continuing with English Words that are often Confused: words starting with ‘E’. If you would like to receive all my future posts explaining confusing words, just click on ‘Follow’.


Let’s have a look at some confusing words:

a) edible, eatable
     b) effect, affect
c) eminent, imminent
     d) endure, tolerate
e) enormity,  enormous
     f) especially, specially

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a) edible, eatable

♦ edible – adjective

♦ eatable – adjective

 Avocado are edible and this one will remain eatable for perhaps two more days.

I always thought that avocados were vegetables.  In Australia, they are served in salads, on toast, with seafood, and in dips like guacamole. I was surprised to hear my Brazilian students call them fruit! They eat them as a sweet and in drinks. They concluded that Australians were strange!

We all agree that avocados are edible: they can normally be eaten. (The stone in the centre is not edible. It is inedible.) However, that now decaying avocado you put in the fridge a month ago is not eatable! ‘Eatable’ refers to the condition of food.

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

Conversations with Aussies # 1

I talk with Christopher and Rachel about living at Bondi Beach, Australia.


How long have you lived in Bondi?

Rachel – I’ve lived here for about two years,

Christopher – And I’ve been here for five years, in a few different spots.

And what do you enjoy about living in Bondi?

R – I just feel like the relaxing lifestyle … so, get to go for a swim at the beach after work and we get to enjoy the beach on the weekends.

C – And we also like going out for food and drinks. There’s plenty of places within walking distance for all that.

R – And it’s really nice to be able to look out your window and see some whales and dolphins in the water. We’ve got a pair of binoculars and we get to have a close-up look at these animals in the water.

Continue reading

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Videos | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Give Your Vocabulary a Boost as You Prep for Your IELTS Exam

How to Give Your Vocabulary a Boost as You Prep for Your IELTS Exam
– A Guest Post by  Ofer Tirosh 

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is a standardized test of the English language used to measure the proficiency of non-native speakers. Recognized by employers and universities all over the world, it remains one of the most popular and trusted tests for determining one’s overall ability to communicate in English.

There are four components to the exam – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and each individual will find that the difficulty of each section depends on their own skills and strengths.

While it is often said that the IELTS is difficult, preparing well can make it seem much  less so. This article aims to offer you some fun and practical ideas to help you get ready for the exam. Because not everyone learns the same way, we have provided a variety of approaches to help you boost your vocabulary.

Post-It Blitz

It may look a little funny to visitors and guests, but one of the easiest ways to learn new words is through labeling everything within eyesight.  

Get yourself a pack of post-it notes and cover your entire house from top to bottom with the name of each object. Then, as you learn them, remove the ones you are sure you know and focus on the more difficult ones that you have left. 

Look at Lemmas

Lemmas are units of meaning or root words. Around 75% of daily conversation in English can be understood through the learning of approximately 800 root words. When you learn a new word, try to learn all of its inflections in just one go – e.g. swim, swam, swimming, swum.

Hum a Tune

Your kindergarten teacher was right all along: setting things to music helps you learn. Set tough words to the tune of simple nursery rhymes and hum them to yourself over and again to make them stick in your memory (I can personally attest to this working – I can still reel off which words in German take the dative, thanks to them being set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by my German teacher nearly 30 years ago!).

If you are a creative type, you can write your own lyrics and music. If not, why not choose your favorite rock and roll song to set the words to? As long as it is something memorable to you it should work very well. 

Flash Cards

Use flashcards with your own language on one side and the English translation on the other. Set yourself a target of 10 words per day (in addition to your other learning methods) then test yourself regularly throughout the day.

You can also customize your flashcards by cutting colorful pictures out of magazines and sticking them to one side. Some people find this visual approach makes learning easier.  Experiment with various methods to see what works best for you.

Record Yourself

Reel off a list of words you need to learn while videoing it on your phone, then play the video back whenever you’re doing a task like washing up where your hands are busy, but your brain isn’t fully occupied.

Download an App

If you find learning with apps to be helpful, the British Council has developed an IELTS practice app that may be useful to you. It contains free exercises, practice tests, quizzes, grammar tips, sample questions, and more to help you succeed.

Watch Films and Listen to Music

Why not immerse yourself in English films?  This can be especially helpful if you turn on closed-captioning. That way you are hearing and seeing the words all at once. Make a pact with yourself that you will only watch English films or listen to English music until you have passed your exam.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Many social media language groups and pages can be helpful. Finding a couple of online buddies for whom English is their first language can be an invaluable experience. Synergy happens during real conversation and connection and making friends with someone who you can converse with about ordinary topics is sure to improve your vocabulary.

Take Advantage of YouTube

There are many Youtube channels devoted to learning English. One channel in particular – Learn English With Mr. Duncan – is not only helpful, it is entertaining as well. The best part is that Mr. Duncan provides these vocabulary lessons free of charge.

There are so many more ways to prepare yourself for the IELTS exam than just studying pages in a book. This article should have provided you with some inspiration to get you started. As you put some of these methods into practice, you will probably come up with even more ways to improve your vocabulary as you go about your everyday life.

Remember that positive experiences tend to stick in the memory better than negative ones, so try to make learning as relaxed, fun and stress-free as possible. By following these tips, you will be well on your way to passing the IELTS exam with flying colors!

Ofer Tirosh is CEO of Tomedes, a translation agency providing language and interpretation services. Tomedes has been supporting clients around the world with their translation needs for more than a decade.


Posted in IELTS | 1 Comment