Category Archives: Language Learning

Improving Your Listening by Having Conversations

Why are you learning English? For most people, the answer is to be able to speak to others. But when you speak, you also need to listen. Therefore, a great way to practise listening is to have conversations with people in English.There are a number of steps you can take to do this successfully.

  1. First, consider the situation where the conversation will happen. What kind of vocabulary are you likely to hear in that situation? If there are words that you don’t already know, try to learn them beforehand so you can recognise them when somebody says them.
  2. Next, when you’re having the conversation, don’t worry about trying to understand every single word – you will not be able to do this and it’s also not necessary! What’s more important is to listen for the specific information that you need to continue the conversation. So just listen for this.
  3. But what if I still don’t understand enough? That’s okay too because you can ask people to repeat themselves and you can even sound like a native speaker by using some of these expressions:
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch that.
  • Huh?
  • Come again?
  • What was that?

So, go out, speak and listen to people. Try to implement these three steps and when you have conversations in English, you may well find that listening is easier.

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:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

IDIOMS & ANSWERS

Do you know the meaning of these frequently used English idioms?

Let’s see!

  1. Idiom: See eye to eye
  • Meaning: to agree
  • Example: My finacé and I really saw eye to eye on the wedding arrangements.

2. Idiom: Once in a blue moon

  • Meaning: something that happens very rarely.
  • Example: I don’t really like fish so I only go to seafood restaurants once in a blue moon.

3. Idiom: When pigs fly

  • Meaning: something that is very unlikely to happen or will never happen.
  • Example:  I’ll get a pay rise when pigs fly.

4. Idiom: To cost an arm and a leg

  • Meaning: to be very expensive.
  • Example: Houses cost an arm and a leg these days.

5. Idiom: A Piece of Cake

  • Meaning: something that is very easy.
  • Example: Speaking English is a piece of cake 😉

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:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

 

BEGINNING & ENDING AN INFORMAL EMAIL OR LETTER

When you write an email or a letter to a friend or family member, it is usually appropriate to write informally. Here are some informal words and expressions that can help you to begin and end your emails or letters in an informal way.

Formal email / letters start with Dear, but when you’re writing to a friend, you can be much more, well, friendly. You could try these ways of saying hello:

  • Hi, Hiya, Hey, Heeeeellllllllloooooo,

You may want to follow any of the above with your friend’s name, but always use a comma at the end.

Next, move down two lines and start with a capital letter, but what can you write here? Here are some suggestions:

  • This is just a quick email / letter to say…

It was great to hear from you.

Thanks for your email / letter.

Sorry I’ve taken so long to write back.

Of course, you then need to write the main body of your email / letter. When you get to the end, you could try finishing with one of these expressions:

  • Well, that’s all for now.

Give my love to everyone.

Don’t forget to write soon.   

followed by:

  • See you soon,

See ya soon, (ya is a very informal way of writing you)

All the best,

Lots of love,

and your name – don’t forget your own name – that’s very important!

So, the next time you’re writing an email or a letter to a friend, try using some of these expressions to set an informal tone.

STRUCTURING PARAGRAPHS IN THE MAIN BODY OF AN ESSAY

You probably know that essays need an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Here, we focus on the main body and how you can structure paragraphs within it.

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence – this is a sentence that introduces what the paragraph is about. Within this sentence or as a separate one following it, state the point that you want to make or the opinion you want to give. Next, you need some evidence or an example that supports that point or opinion you have just given. Then you need to analyse the evidence, which means you need to explain how the evidence supports your point or explain the consequences of the evidence. Here is an example broken down into these different steps:

  • Topic Sentence: In my opinion, if people used transport in different ways, environmental damage would be reduced.
  • Evidence: One option could be travelling to work by bike rather than in a car.
  • Analysis: As a result of this, there would be fewer car fumes and the air would be cleaner, which would mean pollution would be reduced.

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:

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Reading Strategies For Dealing With Unfamiliar Vocabulary

Vocabulary acquisition is key

One of the biggest hurdles students encounter are words they have never heard before. In order to effectively learn new words, there is a whole other set of strategies specifically aimed at understanding new vocabulary.

  • Look at the image for clues: Say they don’t understand a word in the title. Does the photo shed some light onto what it might mean?
  • Look for familiar words within a word: They may not know the meaning of “misinformation”, but they may see it contains the word “information” and try to figure out how the prefix “mis” changes its meaning.
  • Look for context: Some of the other words in the sentence might provide clues as to the meaning of a strange word.
  • Read beyond the sentence: Students should not remain stuck in a single sentence they don’t understand. Quite often clarification and context clues appear further in the reading.
  • Re-read the sentence: Once they’ve figured out the meaning of a new word (or looked it up in the dictionary if all else fails), they should re-read it and see if it makes sense.

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

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636 494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589 599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Academic or General IELTS?

Academic and General IELTS – What’s the difference?

There are two versions of the IELTS exam: Academic and General. Here’s a quick guide to the differences (and similarities) between them.

Both versions of the IELTS exam have four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same in both versions, but the Reading and Writing sections are different.

For both versions, in the Listening section, you listen to a total of four monologues and conversations, and answer a variety of different questions on them. You only listen once and the test is approximately thirty minutes.

For both versions, in the Speaking section, you answer questions on familiar topics, speak continuously for one to two minutes on a topic, and answer questions on more abstract topics. You do the speaking exam individually with one examiner. It’s eleven to fourteen minutes long.

For Academic Reading, you read three longer texts and answer a variety of questions about them. The texts are more academic in nature. You have one hour to complete the test.

For General Reading, you also read three texts and answer a variety of questions on them, but these texts are more related to work and general interests. This test is also thirty minutes.

For Academic Writing, you write two pieces of writing. The first is a summary of information. You might be asked to summarise information from a chart or graph, a table, or a diagram showing a process, objects or maps or plans. The second piece of writing is an essay. You have one hour in total for both Writing tasks.

For General Writing, you also write two pieces of writing. The first task is a letter and the second task is an essay. The length of the exam is also one hour in total for both Writing tasks.

Now you know a little more about the difference and similarities between Academic and General IELTS.

At Eurospeak Language School we offer our IELTS exam students real IELTS practice material and for homework and in class.

We also have additional resources, practice IELTS exams and sample IELTS material for you to use in your own time, at home, or to study in the students’ area.

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

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

 

Effective Reading Techniques

We all know that reading in a second language can be tricky. Why is this and what can you do about it so that you can become an effective reader?

Let’s first consider obstacles to effective reading. Are you reading something you enjoy? If you wouldn’t read it in your first language, then you certainly won’t want to read it in your second language! So choose something that you actually want to read to motivate yourself to do it more.

Another obstacle is feeling that you need to understand every single word. Well, you do NOT need to understand every word to read effectively. Effective reading is possibly as long as you can understand the important words in a text.

So, how can you be an effective reader? The answer to this depends on why you are reading. You might be reading just to get the gist of a text, in other words, to understand in general what the text is about. If you are reading for this reason, try skimming, which involves reading a text quickly to understand its main ideas, but not to grasp all the details. If you are reading for details, then you should try scanning. When you scan, you take a closer look at the text to find out more information about particular points of interest.

Another key to effective reading is the ability to read at a good speed. If you think you’re reading too slowly, give yourself a time limit when you read – and stick to it! If you don’t finish within your time limit the first time, don’t give up – with practice, you will improve!

It’s also a good idea to practice reading using shorter texts. Taking on a very long text can be daunting, and you might find that you give up reading it. So, read something shorter and more manageable – you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something when you’ve finished it, which will make you feel good and encourage you to read more.

Finally, to be an effective reader you, of course, need to understand what you read. A great way to check your understanding of what you’ve read is to write a summary of it after you’ve read it. If you can do this, then you have understood; if some parts are difficult to write, you can go back to your reading text again for clarification.

So, find something that you want to read, implement these ideas and you’ll be on the road to becoming an effective reader.

At Eurospeak we offer our Cambridge exam students real Cambridge reading material and authentic exam practice material for homework and in class.

We also have a class library scheme for General English classes, so that you can choose the book of your choice, at the correct CEFR Level, and return it once you have finished!

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

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

The Benefits of Language Learning

THE BENEFITS OF LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE

Ever wanted to learn another language but found there was always something stopping you? Well, here are six great reasons to just get on with it!

Career Prospects:

More and more these days employers are looking for people who can speak more than one language. Learning another language can boost your chances of being offered your dream job, but that’s not the only benefit – think of all the exciting foreign travel you might experience through your work!

Cognitive Development:

Learning another language improves your cognition in a number of ways: better memory, increased attention span and reduced risk of mental decline as you grow older. Different words and expressions in your new language can also help you to see the world in different ways.

Other Cultures:

When you learn another language, you also learn about the countries and cultures where people speak that language. This is beneficial in itself, but it also helps to broaden your mind and makes your more open to new people and experiences.

Don’t Get Lost in Translation:

Ever watched something translated into your language and thought, I just don’t get the joke? That’s because so much is lost in translation. If you learn another language, you can watch TV and films, and read books in their original language and experience them in the way they were meant to be experienced, in other words, you will get the joke!

Your Own Language:

Learning another language helps to improve your knowledge of your own language. By learning about the grammar of another language, you will become more familiar with how your own language is structured.

Even More Languages:

Once you’ve learnt one second language, the good news is that it is then so much easier to learn additional languages. You will learn your third, fourth and even fifth language a lot more quickly than your second language because of the cognitive effects learning a language has on your brain and also because you will have developed study skills that you can apply more rapidly to additional language learning.

So, no more excuses! Start learning another language today!

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

Eurospeak Southampton
10 Cumberland Place
Southampton
Hampshire
SO15 2BH
+44 (0) 2380 636494
hello@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk

Eurospeak Reading
29a Chain Street
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 2HX
+44 (0) 1189 589599
info@eurospeak.org.uk
www.eurospeak.org.uk