How to Follow a Process / Instructions

Here in Australia, it will soon be summer. On the Gold Coast, where I live, it’s like summer most of the year! However, for many of you, winter is fast approaching so I thought you might enjoy a short video by Vocabulary in Chunks about Hygge and learn some English at the same time.  

As the name suggests, Vocabulary in Chunks is a website that focuses on learning English in chunks: in groups of words rather than learning new words one at a time. The focus this time is on Describing a Process; for example, how to make a warm, cozy blanket, how to prepare warm, soothing drinks, and a few more suggestions for making your life more comfortable and cozy. 

Take note of the sentence structure. Giving instructions usually involves starting sentences with ImperativesWarm up 2 cups of …, Measure the height of …, Use a large piece of …, Cut the board … etc.  While you read the instructions, you will learn new vocabulary in context. 

I hope you enjoy this lovely little video. I’m looking forward to making the Chunky Wool Blanket. However, I don’t recommend lit candles on the bed!

Vocabulary chunks to learn from video :
∗ being comforted and cozy
∗ decorationg style
∗ sweet treats
∗ warm soothing drinks
∗ part of the lifestyle
∗ how to make

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Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading, Vocabulary | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

What is a Comma Splice?! 📝

Comma Splices are a common mistake I see in my students’ writing. 

I understand why they make them: they are not a mistake in their languages!

Rachel Schultz has written a very easy-to-follow guide on how to fix this error. Read on!

English with Rachel

Comma splices -what are they ? They sound like a good thing (the name reminds me of a delicious ice-cream🍦I loved as a kid) but they aren’t .They are punctuation mistakes often made by English native speakers and non native speakers alike. Yes, native speakers make this mistake too!

Let’s have a look at an example of one :

I love studying English, my teacher is amazing.

You may think this sentence looks correct and you have probably seen similar sentences. However, this is a comma splice and if you want to write correctly (you may have an IELTS or Cambridge exam coming up) , then please make sure you avoid this mistake.

So what exactly are comma splices and how can we avoid them?

They are two independent clauses (parts of sentences which can stand alone) joined together by a comma.

I love studying English, my teacher is amazing

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Leave a comment

Freedom of Speech

 Free speech is the whole thing,
the whole ball game.
Free speech is life itself.
                         SALMAN RUSHDIE

Language is communication. Language is so vital to the human condition that those who cannot physically speak or hear have found other effective ways to communicate.

Photo by Daniel Fazio

Sign language is a true language with the grammar, vocabulary, and subtleties of meaning found in the most complex spoken languages.   To be able to communicate and be ‘heard’ is a basic human need.

Freedom to voice one’s opinion, to argue, to debate, to challenge popular and sacred beliefs with impunity ∼ these are the hallmarks of civilisation.

We have taken this freedom for granted for so long that many of us are unaware that it is being steadily eroded.

Universities used to be institutions that welcomed independent thinking and debate. Everyone, no matter his or her views or political opinions could speak and be heard. 

This is no longer the case. Independent thinking is not welcome in universities or society in general in the current political climate with its sinister cancel culture. Diversity of thought can result in being ‘cancelled’: being deleted on social media, being ridiculed and targeted on mass media, losing one’s job,  livelihood, even losing one’s home and worse.

     Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.
………………………………………………………………………………………………….GEORGE ORWELL

Joy Villa was invited to speak at Congress (USA) recently. She referred to “… laws protecting race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, sexuality and disability …” and implored Congress to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include political affiliation as a protected class. Her very real concern is that “political bigotry is silencing the voices of Americans”. Joy Villa is an excellent speaker: articulate, well-informed, and passionate about her country and its traditional ideals.

Click on the picture for her presentation:

Recommended reading:
Animal Farm (1946) by George Orwell
1984 (1949) by George Orwell 

First they ignore you;

then they ridicule you;
then they fight you;
then you win.


蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿 蘿

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Listening, Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Describe an Experience … in 4 Easy Steps

How would you describe an experience? How would you start? Which experience would you like to recount: a new job, a meal at a restaurant, a party you went to?

Imagine that you want to describe a recent holiday; where would you start?


♠ Step #1
What do you want to say? Start by asking
Wh …‘ questions:

Who … ? Where … ? What … ? When … ? Why … ? Which … ? How … ?

The answers to theWh … ?’ questions will provide you with a description:

Question Answer
1. Where did you go?
    Where did you stay?
Mexico City
El Gran Hotel, 5 nights
2. When did you go? Last month
3. Who did you go with? My girlfriend/boyfriend/family
4. Why did you go there? To see museums and a UNESCO site

UNESCO site -The ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan – situated some 50 km north-east of Mexico City.

Question Answer
5. What did you do there? We visited:
* The ancient pyramids at the         ..UNESCO site
* El Museo Frida Kahlo
* El Museo del Tequila y Mezcal
* El Palacio de Bellas Artes
6. What was the best part of your holiday? El Museo Frida Kahlo
7. Why? She’s my favourite Mexican artist. 

♠ Step #2
Use the information above to write some sentences:

Last summer, I went to Mexico City with my girlfriend Josefina. 

We stayed at El Gran Hotel for five nights.

We wanted to see some museums and a UNESCO site.

We visited ancient pyramids,  El Museo Frida Kahlo, El Museo del Tequila y Mezcal, and El Palacio de Bellas Artes. 

I enjoyed El Museo Frida Kahlo the most.

Frida Kahlo is my favourite Mexican artist.

The museum used to be her home. She was born there and died there.

We saw some of her most famous paintings in the museum.


♠ Step #3:
Improve the sentences:

To do this, add information that will engage the reader. Was there anything unusual, impressive, or amusing about your holiday? Make notes* next to your sentences. For example:

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Posted in IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Conversations with Aussies # 2

Today, I’m talking with Rachel about life on The Gold Coast, her overseas travels, and how she feels about teaching English. 

For more information about learning English with Rachel, visit her website:


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Elementary (Level 2), ESL Teachers, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), TOEFL, TOEIC, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

When do we use ‘Unless’ and ‘If not’?

PURLANDTRAINING.COM has just published a wonderful guide to using ‘Unless‘ and ‘If not‘ which I highly recommend. It comes with free, downloadable worksheets. Just click on the links under the picture.

When do we Use ‘Unless’ and ‘If not’? - FREE Printables

Direct download:

Direct download:


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

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:

     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



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


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 show 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