Eating Breakfast With Giraffes In Africa

A great way to improve your vocabulary and listening skills is with short videos. Watch the following fascinating video about giraffes and follow the link below it to learn the ‘vocabulary in chunks’. You will be impressed by how much you can learn in 3½ minutes. 

    Vocabulary in Chunks

Vocabulary chunks to learn after watching the video :

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Posted in Children, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos, Vocabulary | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

120 Grammar and Vocabulary Mistakes to Avoid

The 2018 Grammar Guide has produced an excellent Grammar Guide for English students. Also excellent is the fact that it is free!

Grammar and Vocabulary points are listed alphabetically. Examples show incorrect and correct usage and short, clear explanations.

I highly recommend The 2018 Grammar Guide by The quality of your English will improve as soon as you start using it. Download it now by clicking here. On the right side of the page, you will see:

+ Download Grammar Guide:

120 Grammar and Vocabulary
Mistakes to Avoid (FREE)

Just enter your email address and first name and you will be able to download this fabulous book. Happy reading! has a huge range of resources to help you with your English studies. Click here to go to the Home Page.

          

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


Hello everyone! 

I’ve been having fun with a News in Slow French website for my French studies. I read a news script while listening to the audio. It takes on average just two minutes, so it’s very easy to fit into a busy schedule. I realized that a similar English  website would be helpful for you so I’ve been trying to find one which provides news with videos and tapescripts to help you with your English studies.

Well,  I’ve found an excellent English News website for you!

News in Levels

This website is designed for levels 1, 2, & 3 but it is also very useful for level 4 (Intermediate) students who need to improve basic grammar and word order. 

The videos are between approximately one and two minutes. Just read and listen. Do this once or twice a day and your English skills can improve fast. 

Click on the above picture to see the video about Mark Zuckerberg at Congress.

Mark Zuckerberg provides more than just  news. You can arrange to skype with other English students. It even supplies lists of questions for skype conversations. You can listen to and read jokes. This site provides a lot of advice and gives step by step instructions. 

For instructions on how to improve your English with News in Levels, click here.


Posted in Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Reading | Leave a comment

English Inversion #1: Why? When? How?

Only by swimming with sharks will we overcome our fear of them.
Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash

One of the first things you learn when you start learning English is the word order in sentences. The subject comes before the verb

SUBJECT                           VERB

you                                        learn
you                                        start
The subject                          comes


Then, you learn that question word order is different.  Usually, the auxiliary verb comes before the subject. This is called INVERSION because we invert the subject and auxiliary verb.  

Question word order:
Have you ever swum with sharks? Why are people afraid of them? What do you think? Will we ever overcome our fear of sharks?

                                        VERB                                  SUBJECT

  have                                     you           ?
  are                                        people      ?
  do                                          you           ?
  will                                        we             ?

We can use Inversion in sentences which are not questions:

Only by swimming with sharks will we overcome our fear of them.

Rarely have I seen such a weird lipstick advertisement!

You can continue with your English studies and never use Inversion in sentences. That’s perfectly okay. However, if you are preparing for a Cambridge or IELTS exam or other exams or situations where you need to demonstrate an extensive use of English, you will be expected to know about Inversion.

Let’s start with why and when. After all, if you don’t know why we use Inversion, you won’t know when to use it.


Inversion is mainly used for EMPHASIS. The expressions used (never, rarely, no sooner, only then, etc.) have much more impact when used at the beginning of a sentence than the more common pronoun subject, especially as most of  them are negative.

Negatives are more dramatic. Consider negative contractions: don’t, won’t, can’t, haven’t, etc. They usually have strong stress in English whilst positive contractions: I’m, he’ll, she’s, we’ve, I’d, etc. usually have weak stress.

Rarely have I seen such a weird lipstick advertisement!
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

INVERSION is used 

1. to emphasize the uniqueness of an event,

2. to stress how quickly something happened after something else had been completed, 

3. to clarify a situation, and

4. to sound more formal.

INVERSION is also used:

5. after clauses beginning with ‘nor’.


                     

Compare the Inversion examples below with the standard sentence examples. Try to imagine how much easier it would be for the speaker to stress words like: NeverRarelyNot until … (than: I … We … People … When)

1. to emphasize the uniqueness of an event

Never have I been so relieved to see anyone in my life!

Standard sentence:
I have never been so relieved to see anyone in my life.

Rarely does someone simply return to “business as usual” after seeing a Matt Church presentation’.

Standard sentence:
People rarely return to “business as usual” after seeing a Matt Church presentation.

Seldom am I impressed with
Hollywood celebrities.

Standard sentence:
I am seldom impressed with
Hollywood celebrities.

Hollywood celebrities seldom impress me.


2. to stress how quickly something happened after something else had been completed

Scarcely had I finished cooking when the guests arrived.

Standard sentence:
I had scarcely finished cooking when the guests arrived.

No sooner had we started the meal than someone knocked at the door.

Standard sentence:
We started the meal and immediately someone knocked at the door.
As soon as we started the meal, someone knocked at the door.

Barely had I served dessert when everyone started checking their phones!

Standard sentence:
When I served dessert, everyone started checking their phones.
As soon as I served dessert, everyone started checking their phones.

Can you detect the sense of exasperation that the speakers in the Inversion examples feel? The emphasis is on the timing more than the subject.

Barely had I served dessert when everyone started checking their phones!
Photo by jwlez on Unsplash

3. to clarify a situation 

Note how the sentences with Inversion have a sense of urgency whilst the standard sentences are more casual.

Only then did we realise what was possible!
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Only after she won the gold medal in the 400-metre dash did Cathy realise the enormous pressure she’d been under.

Standard sentence:
It was only after she  won the 400-metre dash that Cathy realised the enormous pressure she’d been under.

On our trip to Milan, Italy we saw fantastic Green Buildings. Only then did we realise that cities could be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient!

Standard sentence:
It was only when we saw the Green Buildings in Milan that we realised that  cities could be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient!

Little was Henry aware of the damage caused by his thoughtless actions.

Standard sentence:
Henry was not aware of the damage caused by his thoughtless actions.

4. to sound more formal

Had I known you were in town, I would have invited you! Photo by Lanty on Unsplash

Had I known you were in town, I would have invited you!

     Standard sentence:
     If  I had known you  were  in  town,  I        would have invited you! 

Had they understood your situation, they might have helped you.

     Standard sentence:
     If they had understood your situation,       they might have helped you.


5. after clauses beginning with ‘nor’

I don’t believe in scarcity, nor do I believe that the grass is greener on the other side.

Standard sentence:
I don’t believe in scarcity and I don’t believe that the grass is greener on the other side.

I haven’t been to Japan, nor do I expect to visit there in the near future.

Standard sentence:
I haven’t been to Japan and I don’t expect to visit there in the near future.

✳✳✳  ✳✳✳   ✳✳✳

HOW do we use INVERSION?

…… to be continued.

This post is quite long enough! I will continue in a future post. Meanwhile, you can try to get used to the Inversion examples I’ve given above before I explain the rules and structures. 

I have found a song Never Ever by ‘All Saints’ which features the lines:

Never ever have I ever felt so low …
Never ever have I ever felt so sad …
Never ever have I had to find …

I suggest that you listen to the song until these clauses are locked into your long-term memory! It won’t take long. There is a lot of repetition. Click here for the YouTube video.

Subscribe above to receive an email when I post my next Inversion lesson.

✳✳✳  ✳✳✳   ✳✳✳

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

English Idioms in Pictures #6

Click on the picture below to find out the meaning of the idiom HANGING BY A THREAD. Once on the site,  you can click on Follow at the bottom of the page to receive more pictures and explanations of idioms FREE.



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

Snack — Vocabulary in Chunks

Vocabulary in Chunks

[DW English]

Vocabulary to learn after watching the video :

  • Edible delicacies
  • The sea decides what’s on the menu
  • Right on the beach among the palm trees
  • They are making a curry with fresh vegetables and fish
  • Spice Island
  • Fillet the fish
  • Oriental influence on Zanzibar’s cuisine
  • Hungry diners
  • Regular customers here for years
  • It’s typical of the area
  • Culinary delight


Visit Zanzibar

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Videos, Vocabulary | Leave a comment

English Songs for Easy Listening & Learning English

I would like to introduce you to a brilliant musician and a wonderful human being:

Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez

I usually use songs on this website to explain grammar, but today, I’m encouraging you to just listen to and enjoy a superb song-writer with a remarkable voice. You can hear every word he sings clearly.

Listening to music you like while reading the lyrics is surely the easiest way to improve your English! Sing along with Rodriguez as you listen. Your listening will improve. Your pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar will also improve. Maybe your mood will improve too?

I have picked out my favourite Rodriguez songs and linked to the YouTube videos with lyrics. Just click on the song titles. There are plenty more for you to discover if you enjoy his music. Keep in mind that punctuation and spelling in YouTube videos are not always correct.

 Sugar Man              Sugar Man Remix  


 Street Boy              I wonder  


 I think of You              Forget It  


 I’ll Slip Away      Spanish and English subtitles


In 2012, a fascinating documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, was made about the life and music of this extraordinary man. On February 24, 2013, Searching for Sugar Man won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards. It won a total of 40 awards worldwide.

To watch the trailer, click on the picture below. Click on  to go to the official Rodriguez website. Enjoy!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

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

How Can I Improve My English Speaking?

I recently received an email asking for advice from an English learner in India. I receive a lot of similar requests from students in various countries so I decided to post my reply here. I hope my advice can help you in your English-learning journey.

Firstly, the email from Sainath:

 Hi Madam,

Greetings of the day………..

My self sainath from India… Thanks for helping us.
I have started learning English but vocabulary is not at all good.
Can you help me. 
And my friends are suggesting that, if we speak with some native speaker only then we will get the English is it true? If is like that then please suggest me any on line course are there where i can interact with people directly.

Next, my reply:

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Speaking & Pronunciation | Leave a comment

MODAL VERBS – What are they? How do we use Modal Verbs?

1. There are only ten Modal Verbs.

2. Modal Verbs are easy to use.

3. Modal Verbs are very useful.

“You should only eat eggs laid by free-range chickens. Chickens should not have to spend their lives in cages.”
Photo by Erol Ahmed on

1. There are only ten Modal Verbs:

*will,  *shall,  *might,  *may,  must,  can, could, would,  *should,  *ought to
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Some of these Modal Verbs have similar meanings:

Shall is similar to will. Shall can only be used with subjects ‘I’ and ‘We’.
Shall is more formal and not as common.
♦ I’m afraid that I shall not be able to attend the wedding.
Shall we dance?

Might and may have the same meaning when talking about possibility.
♦ We might need to buy more beer for the party.
 ♦ We may need to buy more beer for the party.   

In the past, may was used for permission,
♦ May I leave the room, please?
but this is unusual now. We usually ask,
Can I leave the room, please?

Should and ought to have the same meaning.
♦ You ought to have known better!
♦ You should  have known better!
You never need to use ought to but it’s good to know what it means if you hear or see it.

2. Modal Verbs are easy to use. The rules are simple.

Modal verbs are always followed by a Base Infinitive (except when they are used for a short answer – Yes, I can. No, I shouldn’t. etc)  For example:

Infinitives with TO Base Infinitives  
To be

To go

To make

To take

To try

To learn

To buy








I should be more careful about what I eat.

I might go to the cinema this weekend.

John could make more money if he worked harder.

I would take a holiday if I needed one.

You must try a little harder if you want to impress me.

Will Maria ever learn all this grammar?

People can buy eggs laid by free-range chickens in most supermarkets.

To make a negative statement, simply put ‘not’ or ‘never’ after the Modal Verb.

Modal verb not, never Base Infinitive
He should

I might

I could

I would


You must









eat so much fast food.

go to the party.

surf like Mick Fanning!

be able to punch a shark like Mick Fanning did!

swim outside the flags.Image result for surf lifesaving flag ≈≈≈  Image result for surf lifesaving flag

forget what I have told you!

have to spend their lives in cages.

I would never take such a risk!…… Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

3. Modal Verbs are very useful.

∗ Modals tell us about the speaker’s  mood  or opinions. (mood = modal)

(∗ The twelve tenses tell us about facts, or actions – now, in the past, or what we think will happen, in the future.)

Have a look at the photo above of a tight-rope walker and then at the following use of modals. See how they provide information about the speaker’s opinions and feelings, not facts or actions.

♦  He might have fallen!  / He could have fallen!

♦ He must have been scared.

♦ He must be an idiot or a hero, or both!

♦ No-one should take such risks.

♦ His family would be furious if they knew.

♦ He will have an accident one day!

None of the above sentences are about facts or real time. We don’t know that those things are actually happening, have happened or will happen.

Only the last sentence ∼ He will have an accident one day! ∼ uses one of the twelve tenses: Future Simple – will have. When you think about it, the future is not real, is it? We know the past happened, we have the present, but the future is about predictions, promises, spontaneous decisions, and schedules, all of which may or may not result in action or fact.

However, we all need a way to talk about the future and we know it’s not real yet. In English, we use WILL for future predictions, promises and spontaneous decisions.

The following sentences provide information about real facts and describe actions by using some of the twelve tenses. Unlike with Modal Verbs, we have no idea how the speaker feels or what his/her opinion is. These are simply the facts.


♦  He didn’t fall.                                  

♦ He wasn’t scared.

♦ He is never scared.

♦ He has often taken risks.

♦ He is always taking risks.

♦ His family don’t approve of his lifestyle.

♦ He loves his life.

Features of Modal Verbs

♥ They never change their form (spelling). How good is that!
NO subject  + verb agreement.        NO 3rd person ‘S’.        NO ‘ed’.        NO ‘ing’. 

♥ They are always followed by a Base Infinitive. See above notes. 

♥ They express the speaker’s opinion or feelings about:

possibility We might go the party.
obligation I must not forget to renew my passport! 

You must obey the speed limit.
(Government rules often omit ‘must’. They simply have a picture of an infringement to show a rule or law that ‘must’ be obeyed.)

prohibition You cannot smoke here.  
necessity While on holiday, they must take malaria pills every day.
ability He’s only three but he can swim really well!

He has been training for years for the Olympic Games. He must  be determined.

You can‘t possibly be tired! You’ve just been on a month-long cruise! You would have had plenty of rest!

At work: Oh no! Where’s my lunch? It’s not in my bag. I prepared it last night. I must have left it at home! I could have left it on the kitchen bench or my husband might have taken it by mistake.

The Modal ‘must’ is quite interesting in that English students often think that ‘must’ is only used for prohibition and obligation. However, native speakers rarely say ‘ You must … ‘ Instead, we say ‘You need to … ‘ and ‘You should …’ For example, I don’t say to my students, “You must watch the news tonight, or, You must do your homework.” I say something like, ” You really need to do revision if you want to remember what you’ve learnt today. If you want to improve your listening skills, you should watch the news.”

The most common way we use the Modal Verb ‘must’ is for speculating: saying what we believe is or was or has been true, as in the examples above.

I’m pretty sure it must have rained the day before you came.

There is a song by ABBA which perfectly demonstrates how we use ‘must’ for speculation. The song, ‘The Day Before You Came’, is entirely about how the singer remembers her past. In particular, she thinks about how boring and predictable her life was before she met her lover. She knows that she followed the same routines every day, so she sings:


I must have left my house at eight because I always do.

I must have read the morning paper going into town (on the train).

I’m pretty sure it must have rained the day before you came.

She believes that she is reporting facts about her life. However, perhaps one day she fell asleep in the train and didn’t read the morning paper. Perhaps one day her watch was wrong and she left her house at five minutes past eight.

When we are reporting past facts, we use past Tenses which are real. Of course, we can’t remember every little detail about our pasts, so we say what we believe must have happened, or what would have happened, or what might have happened, or what could  have happened. We use Modal Verbs!

Click on the video below to watch and listen to this very helpful song! I hope you enjoy it enough to listen a few times so that you will remember the structure: 

Modal + have + past participle

For more information and practice exercises on Modals for Speculation click here and here.

For the song lyrics with the Modal Verbs of deduction highlighted:

Continue reading

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

Learn English Speaking FREE with

I have found a great website for all of you who are learning English and want to speak fluently!  provides material for conversations in levels from Basic to Advanced in the following categories:


Regular Daily EnglishRegular Daily English Regular English LessonsLearn what to say and how to say things in daily conversations.

Business English Business English LessonsImprove your English fluency in a business and office setting.

English Listening English Listening Lessons: Improve your listening skills with fun questions and answers. Basic, Intermediate, & Advanced Listening Lessons

English Basics English Speaking BasicsBasics of English Speaking for beginners using common expressions. 

This section is created for English beginners who need help to understand the basics of speaking English.  We will use very simple phrases and expressions to help you with your English speaking.

There are currently 90 lessons with over 900 audio files in the English Speaking Basics Section.  Once you are familiar with the basics of English speaking, you can move to other categories such as Regular English Lessons.

English Grammar Basics of English Grammar: Build basic grammar skills pertaining to English speaking.

English Vocabulary Idioms and PhrasesLearn idioms and phrases that are hard to translate.

English Speaking Interview Interview English LessonsPrepare for any kind of interview conducted in English and gain confidence.


There are hundreds of lessons at, with audio files, which are structured to give you practice in all three areas of reading, listening, and speaking  at the same time.

I hope that you find this website helpful and user-friendly.



Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Beginner (Level 1), Elementary (Level 2), ESL Teachers, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), TOEFL, Upper Intermediate (Level 5) | Leave a comment