Category Archives: Language Learning

St. Patrick Day – Traditions

 

St. Patrick’s Day – St Patrick day traditions

Every 7th of March St. Patrick day is celebrated, this traditional festivity comes from an ancient story and has a lot of symbolic elements. Discover the history and the meaning of them:

  • The Shamrock

The shamrock, which was also called the “seamroy” by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism.

  • Irish Music

Music is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs.

  • The Snake

It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The “banishing of the snakes” was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

  • Corned Beef

Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick’s Day to share a “traditional” meal of corned beef and cabbage.

Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the century.

Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

  • The Leprechaun

The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.

 

FREE APPS TO LEARN ENGLISH

Some of the best and most enjoyable ways to practise your English are also completely free! All you need is a mobile phone and an internet connection, and you’ll have access to an amazing selection of apps that can help you to improve no matter where you are. Here are some of our favourites:

  1. Memrise – This app was designed by a Grand Master of Memory (Google it – it’s very impressive) and a neuroscientist to help people to learn languages more efficiently and to be able to remember more. You can choose from a set of vocabulary, or you can create your own!

www.memrise.com

  1. Quizlet – This also help you to learn vocabulary, but with flashcards. You can study the words first, and then test yourself in lots of different ways. If you have a list of words that you need to learn for class, or for an exam, then you can enter it into the app and learn in no time at all!

www.quizlet.com

  1. Wordreference – We all use Google Translate to help us understand new words, but this dictionary app is much better. It includes lots of different languages, like French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and more! It also helps you to understand more about the grammar of the word and gives you example sentences.

www.wordreference.com

  1. Macmillan Sounds – This is a great app for pronunciation, as it shows you all the different sounds we use in English. You can press on a sound and then repeat it until you are happy with your pronunciation.

http://www.macmillaneducationapps.com/soundspron/

Are there any other apps that you like? Tell us about them!

WHY ENGLISH CAN BE HARD

English can be difficult because sometimes words with the same spelling can have different meanings and / or pronunciations.

Here are some examples for you to try to figure out:

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was cultivated to produce produce.
  • The dump was so full that the workers had to refuse more refuse.
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • The soldier decided to desert his tasty dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present to his girlfriend.
  • A bass was painted on the bass drum.
  • I did not object to the object which he showed me.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid in his hospital bed.
  • There was a row among the oarsmen about who would row.
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer.
  • To help with planting, a farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail around the mast.
  • Upon seeing the tear in her painting, she shed a tear.
  • I has to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

IDIOMS – ANSWERS

Here are the meanings of the idioms featured in our last blog post:

to beat about the bush:

  • to avoid the main issue; to not speak directly about a topic
  • Stop beating about the bush and get to the point!

a bed of roses:

  • an easy, comfortable situation
  • Living with my ex-husband was no bed of roses.

to bite off more than you can chew:

  • to take on a task that is bigger than you can really manage
  • My wife certainly bit off more than she could chew when she decided to cook for a dinner party of sixteen people.

to call it a day:

  • to stop working on a task
  • We can continue working on this tomorrow, but let’s call it a day for now.

cat nap:

  • to go to sleep for a short time
  • I’m just going for a cat nap now. See you in about half an hour.

IDIOMS

Do you know the meaning of these frequently used English idioms? Have a think.

to beat about the bush

a bed of roses

to bite off more than you can chew

to call it a day

cat nap

The answers will be revealed in out next blog post.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

ENGAGING WRITING

When you write, it’s important you engage the reader so they’re interested in your writing and want to continue reading. So, here are some techniques you can use to achieve this…

One way is to address the reader directly. This means you need to use the word you a lot. You can see plenty of example of direct address to the reader in this blog – you can even see it in this sentence!

Another technique is to use questions. You can ask questions directly to the reader, for example, Have you ever thought about what you would do in this situation? Questions like this make the reader think about their own answer and they want to read on to find out what the writer’s answer is too. Alternatively, you could use a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a question where the answer is so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated, for example, Who would have thought it? These types of questions engage the reader because they’re persuasive – the reader already knows the answer, they agree with you and so they’re on your side.

A further technique is simply varying your vocabulary. Nobody wants to read something with the same words repeated over and over again – it’s boring! So, use lots of different words. You could do this by using synonyms – different words with the same meaning; another way is to use adverbs to make your writing more descriptive.

And finally, the reader will be much more engaged in your writing if you adopt an enthusiastic tone – if you don’t sound like you’re interested in the subject you’re writing about, how can you expect anyone else to be?

So, the next time you’re writing, try out some of these techniques to make the reader more interested and engaged in what you’ve got to say. Good luck!

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

3 ways to motivate yourself to study English

  1. Never compare your English skills to “others”!

One reason that many English language learners have a low opinion of their skills is that they’re comparing themselves to native English speakers or other learners who have reached fluency. You should also avoid comparing yourself to other English learners. The fact is that everyone is different – some people naturally learn faster, some people naturally learn more slowly. Some people have invested more time in studying, other people have studied “on and off.” Some learners have had excellent teachers, other learners have had trouble finding a good teacher or a good method. Just focus on your individual progress!

  1. When you feel lazy just take a “baby step”!

A baby step is a very small action.  Sometimes you just feel discouraged and lazy – you simply don’t want to study that day. Tell yourself you’ll just do one TINY thing.

  • I’ll read an article or a book in English for 5 minutes
  • I’ll watch a video on Youtube in English for 5 minutes
  • I’ll listen one song in English
  • I’ll learn 5 new words and 2 Idioms

 

The hardest part is often starting! However, if you take a “baby step,” you’ll definitely learn something – and you will probably regain your motivation in the process.

  1. Be encouraged! Your English is probably better than you think it is!

Unfortunately, a lot of English learners have a very negative view of their English skills. Yes, of course there is room to improve. But you already have good English skills. If someone can understand your speaking and writing, it is a really big accomplishment.

So if you tend to have a low opinion of your English, try to eliminate those negative thoughts by focusing on what you CAN do, and not in what you can’t do yet.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

 

 

5 IMPORTANT REASONS WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE BREAKS

5 important reasons why you need to take breaks

  1. Increased Productivity

A small diversion once an hour or so can actually help your brain perform better. Working for long periods without a breather can cause our brains to perceive the task as less important and we lose concentration.

  1. Personal development time

Short breaks are a great way to switch tasks and do something for your personal growth. This can make you more valuable to your workplace over time.

  1. Better retention rates

Breaking from focus mode helps our brains integrate the information working with and learning. This helps up to retain more information for later use.

  1. Better stress Management

Taking breaks helps you manage stress. Bonus points if you spend the time power napping. Studies have shown that taking a 20-minute nap in the afternoon actually provides more rest than sleeping an extra 20 minutes in the morning.

  1. Team Building

Taking Group breaks can help your team collaborates & bond while building stronger relationships and boosting morale. This helps teams problem-solve better

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

8 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STUDYING IN THE UK

  1. There are more than 395 universities and colleges, offering 50.000 undergraduate-level higher education courses across the UK
  2. UK higher education applications are made through UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service which is a UK-based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for British universities.)
  3. There are different deadlines for applying for different courses, and to different universities ( you should visit the University website to learn more about deadlines)
  4. You will need to pay tuition fees – these vary depending on the uni or college and course you choose. You may be able to get financial help with your tuition fees, or a scholarship. However, EU students are not subject to tuition fees in Scotland.
  5. The amount of money you will need to cover living costs will vary based on where you study. London and other large cities tend to be more expensive.
  6. Many international students need to apply for a visa to study in the UK, and there are work permit restrictions and some English language qualifications you may need.
  7. Universities advise all applicants what standard of English is required for their courses. Most course providers will ask you to demonstrate proficiency in English, or to take an approved English language test if English is not your first language.
  8. First year students tend to live in university halls of residence (university accommodation) – but there are more accommodation options.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on:

TIPS TO HELP YOU REMEMBER VOCABULARY

    1. First of all, keep an organised vocabulary notebook, write down every unknown word.
    2. Look at the words again after 24 hours, after one week and after one month to ensure that you have learned them.
    3. Read, read, read. It’s easier to remember a word if you see it and especially if you read it loudly.
    4. Use the new words! You need to use a new word about ten times before you remember it! So try to make sentences with the new words.
    5. Try word games like anagrams, quizzes, crosswords.
    6. Find playful ways to practice your vocabulary and new words, write colourful cards with the most difficult words for you, take them with you and read them whenever you have time.
    7. Learn words with a friend! It can be more fun & easier to learn with someone else, make sentences with the new words and try to use them in your conversation 😉
    8. Try to learn 5-8 new words per day. A small number of words is easier to remember.

For more information about studying General English, Cambridge Exam Preparation or IELTS Exam Preparation courses with Europeak Southampton or Eurospeak Reading, please contact us on: