Listen to the origin of English (and many other languages)

Listening: the origin of English (PIE)
Lower intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1) 

Studies suggest that the origin or roots of English, German, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and about 400 other languages come from what is called ‘Proto-Indo-European’ or ‘PIE’. Listen to what it might have sounded like here:

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Vocabulary: ‘Post-truth’ – word of the year

Vocabulary: ‘Post-truth’ – word of the year
Intermediate to advanced level (B2-A2)

Oxford Dictionaries word of the year is ‘post-truth’. You can see it used in the phrases ‘post-truth politics’ and ‘post-truth world’. It refers to situations where public opinion is shaped less by ‘objective truth’ than by beliefs and opinions.  Continue reading

Reading: Getting close to the EU referendum

Reading: the EU referendum
Intermediate to lower advanced level (B1-C1)

On 23 June this year, a referendum will take place in the UK. The question to be voted on is: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Continue reading

Adverbs for Cambridge English Advanced and IELTS interviews

Exam tips: the Cambridge English Advanced and IELTS interview
Upper intermediate to advanced levels (B2-C1)

You only have a short time to show how good your English is in the Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) or IELTS interview. How can you do it? Continue reading

Listening: A wide range of science podcasts

Listening: a wide range of science podcasts
Lower intermediate to advanced level (B1/C2)

If you are interested in science, technology or medicine, you can stream or download a very large number of podcasts from the Naked Scientists, a team of scientists, doctors and communicators based at Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education (ICE). Science podcasts

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Vocabulary: ‘Among’ or ‘between’

Vocabulary: ‘among’ or ‘between’
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-A2)

Many learners wonder how to use these words correctly. Some people give the simple rule that you should use ‘between’ with two things/people and ‘among’ when you have more than two. However, in practice, it is a little different. 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/

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FCE writing tips

Cambridge First (FCE) writing tips
Upper intermediate level (B2)

Many people will be taking the Cambridge First exam this summer. To get ready you will probably need to write a lot of essays. An important tip is to keep a list of your most common FCE writing mistakes and check this list before you write. Continue reading

Reading: The General Election

Reading: the General Election
Intermediate Level (B1/B2)

On Thursday May 7th there will be a General (national) Election in the UK. Nowadays this takes place every five years. The electorate can vote for one candidate in their constituency (local parliamentary area). The winner in each constituency will become the local MP (Member of Parliament). Continue reading

Vocabulary: Mention – a great verb to know

Vocabulary: Mention – a great verb to know
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1)

The verb ‘mention’ is one of the verbs we can use to talk about what someone has said or is going to say. It’s really useful because using ‘tell’ or ‘say’ is not always appropriate. Let’s look at some examples: Continue reading

Vocabulary: Approximate numbers

Vocabulary: approximate numbers
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1)

When we communicate, we often want to use words or expressions that are approximate. This is common when we have to talk about numbers. This might be because we don’t know the exact numbers or amounts or because we don’t want to give them. Here are some of these words and expressions: Continue reading

Vocabulary: Adjective, verb and noun combinations

Vocabulary: adjective, verb and noun collocations and website
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C2)

Many English words are commonly used with certain other words and these become like mini-expressions. For example, if someone has a serious problem or is in serious difficulty, you can say ‘He is in deep trouble‘. However you can’t say ‘he is in heavy trouble‘. Only some combinations are used. Your language probably has similar combinations or collocations. Continue reading

Reading: Margaret Thatcher

Reading
Very advanced level (C2)

Yesterday Margaret Thatcher died. Some people were sad but others celebrated her death by opening bottles of Champagne and dancing in the street. However most would probably agree that she was one of the most formidable politicians of the 20th century who changed the economic and political face of Britain. Continue reading

Speaking: Congratulating a business colleague

Speaking: Business dialogue
Intermediate to advanced (B2-C2)

Imagine you have just come out of a business meeting where a close colleague (Harry) was very impressive. You decide to tell him what you think. Here is a possible English dialogue: Continue reading

Reading: 10 miles south of Oxford

It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Oxford to a village called Little Wittenham. It’s a popular place for walking because you get great views from the top of the nearby hills (Round Hill and Castle Hill). The hills, which are usually known as the Clumps, have wild flowers on their slopes and beech trees at their tops. You can see birds such as skylarks, buzzards and red kites.

From the top of Round Hill you can see the river Thames as it meanders by the pretty village of Dorchester (you can see Dorchester Abbey in the photo). If you have time, it’s a good place to have a picnic before walking down the hills and exploring the woods below.

In Little Wittenham there is an organisation called Earth Trust which seeks to encourage sustainable living. At the moment Earth Trust has 1,200 acres of woodland, research plantation, meadow, wetland and farmland.

Vocabulary and speaking: It’s hot but how hot?

Vocabulary and speaking
Pre-intermediate to upper intermediate level (A2-B2)

This week summer arrived. Now the temperature around Oxford is about 28 C. Of course you might not think that this is very hot but for most people here it’s hot enough. The maximum ever temperature in Oxford was 35 C. 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