Don’t let grammar be a big problem

Grammar: don’t let it be a big problem
Lower intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1) 

Learning English outside the UK, the US, Australia etc can often be about learning ‘grammar’. This makes people think you need to know ‘rules’ before you can speak or write. However, in my experience, a heavy focus on a grammar problem can stop people learning and communicating. Continue reading

IELTS Life Skills by Skype

IELTS: Life Skills by Skype exam preparation 
New English test at A1 and B1 level

Since April 2015 there have been two new IELTS tests. The A1 IELTS Life Skills test is designed for people who need a ‘Family of a Settled Person’ visa. The B1 test is suitable for people applying for ‘indefinite leave to remain (to settle) or citizenship’. You can prepare for IELTS Life Skills by Skype. Continue reading

Listening: Good website for podcasts

Listening: Good website for English podcasts
All levels

 

Here is a link to nearly 300 English podcasts from a teacher called Luke: 
These ones have full transcripts:  http://teacherluke.co.uk/episodes-with-transcripts/

Continue reading

Updated Cambridge English First and Advanced exams

Updated FCE and CAE for 2015
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1)

Cambridge English have made some changes to their First and Advanced exams. The biggest change is that now there will only be 4 papers instead of 5 because the Reading and Use of English are being put together in the same paper. Continue reading

Writing: Keeping essays simple and clear

Writing: keeping it simple and clear
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C2)

Have you ever read a piece of writing and then asked yourself ‘What did that mean?’? I certainly have. I’m not talking about short emails from friends but rather longer, more complicated essays or reports. Continue reading

Pronunciation: English sounds

Pronunciation: English sounds
All levels

If you want to hear the individual sounds of English, you can use Adrian Underhill’s interactive phonemic chart. Just click on the symbol to hear the sound and an example word.  http://www.macmillanenglish.com/phonemic-chart/. There is also a great free app http://www.soundspronapp.com/  Continue reading

Reading: choosing the right book to read

Reading: book level test (graded readers)
All levels

Reading is very important if you want to improve your English quickly. It shows you hundreds of examples of good grammar. It also teaches you a lot of vocabulary and expressions. Seeing the same words again and again will help you remember the words you learnt in the past. However, you need to find reading of the right level for you.   Continue reading

Useful websites: Dictionaries, exams (IELTS & Cambridge), business

Your dictionaryHere are some useful websites if you are looking for a dictionary. There is also a really useful website for seeing how words are used in a sentence and an interesting website which helps you understand phrases. There are also websites about English exams, business articles in English and a link to a reading level test. Continue reading

Pronunciation: Stressing and unstressing

Pronunciation: not stressing syllables
All levels

Effective English pronunciation is often about deciding which part of a word is important and which part or parts are not important. If a syllable is not important, we often change the standard vowel sound to something more relaxed. You should try to learn how to do this.  Continue reading

Vocabulary: Words that go together

Vocabulary
Upper intermediate to advanced level (B2/C1/C2)

In English many words have a special relationship with other words. For example verbs and nouns:

suggest an alternative
realise an ambition
make a change
pay one’s way
resolve a situation
live one’s dream Continue reading

Pronunciation: Which sound is different?

Pronunciation: vowel sounds
Elementary to intermediate level English (A2/B2)

English pronunciation is not very phonetic so it is useful to remember groups of words that have similar sounds. On each line 3 words have the same vowel sound but 1 is different. Which one is it? Continue reading

Writing: Organisation is key

Writing: organising 
Intermediate to higher level (B1-C1)

What is most important when you write? Is it grammar or vocabulary? In my opinion it is the organisation of sentences and paragraphs. Without a logical organisation, a piece of writing is often very difficult to read and understand.  Continue reading