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

Pronunciation: The ə sound in British English

Pronunciation: the ə sound
Elementary to advanced level (A2-C1)

The ə sound is everywhere in English. It’s almost impossible to speak British English for more than a few seconds and not use ə! It is not a letter but many vowels can be pronounced /ə/. Continue reading

Grammar: List of irregular verbs

Grammar: a list of irregular verbs in groups
All levels

Most irregular verbs are used a lot in English so they are important verbs to learn. In this list they are grouped, for example, by spelling or pronunciation. This should make them easier to remember. 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. There is also a great free app  Continue reading

Pronunciation: Silent ‘e’

Pronunciation: silent ‘e’
Elementary to Intermediate (A1-B1)

English pronunciation has changed over hundreds of years. Today you will often see a silent letter ‘e’ at the end of words. This ‘e’ often shows that the vowel sound in the syllable before it is long. 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

Reading: British weather

Elementary to Intermediate (A2-B2)

Britain doesn’t have the best reputation for weather. In some ways this is unfair because people sometimes think London is frequently foggy when in fact London is very rarely like this. Of course 70 years ago people burned a lot of coal to keep themselves warm and this produced some terrible smogs in the big cities. Continue reading

Vocabulary: A sporting week full of adverbs

Lower level (A1/A2)

You use the words in bold to talk about how often you do something:

Every Sunday morning I play golf with my friends. After the 18th hole we always have a large lunch and then go home. On Mondays I often play tennis with my cousin Susan at her sports club. If I don’t play tennis I watch horse racing on TV. 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