Tag Archives: CAE Berkshire

Cambridge vs IELTS – Which one to choose?

Some of the most common questions we are asked by students are ‘What is the difference between Cambridge exams and IELTS?’ or ‘Which exam should I take?’ They’re the 2 biggest exams in the UK, so have a look at our handy table below to decide which one is best for you.

  Cambridge IELTS
Types of exam Different exams for different levels – KET (A2), PET (B1), FCE (B2), CAE (C1) and CPE (C2) The same exam for all levels, but you choose the Academic English or the General English exam
Grading Pass A-C grade, or fail, although a ‘high’ fail gets a certificate from the level below You receive a band score between 1-9
Papers 4 papers – Speaking, Listening, Writing, Reading and Use of English (this is focused on grammar and vocabulary). 4 papers – Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Reading
Certificate You have a certificate which is valid forever Your certificate is normally only accepted at institutions for 2 years after you take the exam
Purpose To prove a general level of English; accepted by some university courses To go to university in the UK; for some types of visa; to work in the NHS

If you’re not sure, think about why you’re taking an exam – is it to show your general level, or to take a course? To get a job or to get a visa? Check on the website of the specific organisation to find out what they need – often they will accept either type of exam.

At Eurospeak we have extensive experience with both types of exam, so why not come in and have a chat with one of our friendly staff and let us help you find the exam and course which is best for you!

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:

What’s going on with British weather?

If you’ve been living in the UK for even a short time, you’ll know that the weather is very changeable – sometimes we get four seasons in one day! Whether it’s chucking it down, or we’re having a heat wave, you should be prepared – never leave the house without an umbrella and sunglasses!

But why is the weather so unpredictable? Well, geographically, the UK sits between warm air coming from the topics and cold air from the polar regions. When the two types of air meet, the atmosphere can change very quickly, from mild to freezing in just one day.

This is one of the reasons that we love to talk about the weather so much – there’s always something new to say!

Four seasons in one day – when we experience many different types of weather in a short period of time

It’s chucking it down – it’s raining a lot (informal)

A heat wave – a short period of surprisingly hot weather

Mild ­– not cold (especially after a period when it’s been very cold)

Freezing – very cold

If you want to find out more, watch this fascinating video from the BBC:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-17223307/why-is-british-weather-so-unpredictable

 

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:

What is Pancake Day?

The time has come for one of the best days of spring – Pancake Day! But why on earth do we have a day to celebrate pancakes?

Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday, as it is also called) is celebrated 40 days before Easter Sunday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar.

On Pancake Day we use all of the nice foods in the house, like eggs, butter and sugar, to make pancakes and then we eat very plain food for the next 40 days. One of the most popular pancake toppings in the UK is lemon with sugar, but you can have jam, Nutella, or even cheese!

An important tradition on Pancake Day is flipping the pancakes – you have to throw them up in the air and then try to catch them in the pan! It takes a bit of practice, but it’s good fun. Some towns even have a pancake race, where people have to run and flip pancakes at the same time!

You can see one of these races on Broad Street in Reading, from 12.30pm on Tuesday 5th March.

Come and join us for the Eurospeak Pancake parties this week –

Southampton – Tuesday 5th March, 1pm

Reading – Thursday 7th March, 4pm

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:

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.

THE EASIEST LANGUAGES TO LEARN

Mastered English? Then these languages should be a breeze. Here are the six easiest languages for English-speakers to learn:

Dutch

The sixth easiest language for English-speakers to learn is Dutch. Many Dutch words are written the same as English ones – but be careful as the pronunciation can be different.

Portuguese

Portuguese also shares many words with English but watch out for false friends!

Indonesian

Indonesian is one of the few Asian language that shares the same alphabet as English. A lot of the pronunciation matches the written form too.

Italian

Some Italian words are similar to English. English has also stolen a lot of Italian food words, so if you know these words in English, you know them in Italian too.

French

There are a lot of shared words in English and French as the languages have influenced each other throughout history.

Swahili

The easiest language for English-speakers to learn is Swahili. Swahili has very straightforward pronunciation and grammar, and it has also borrowed some words from English.

So, now you know English, which language will you learn next?

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:

THE MOST DIFFICULT LANGUAGES TO LEARN

You might have thought English was hard, but, apparently, these are the six most difficult languages to learn.

Mandarin

Mandarin had thousands of special characters and four tones.

Arabic

Arabic has 28 script letters and sounds that do not exist in some other languages.

Polish

Polish spelling uses a lot of consonants, which makes writing and pronunciation hard.

Russian

Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet. If your language uses the Roman alphabet (like English), this can be difficult because some of the letters look the same, but the pronunciation is different.

Turkish

In Turkish prefixes and suffixes are added to words in order to change their meaning or show direction.

Danish

Written Danish is often very different to its pronunciation.

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:

LEARNING GRAMMAR FOR REAL COMMUNICATION

We mostly use a kind of knowledge that is unconscious to speak our first language. We don’t think very much about how to say what we are thinking, we just say it.

When we learn a second language, we often develop a very different kind of knowledge, one that is conscious and requires mental effort. For example, we may know that verbs in the present simple are followed by -s in the third person singular. It is very difficult to use this kind of knowledge while speaking because accessing this knowledge in real time isn’t easy and because we need to pay attention to many other aspects of the conversation. As a result, we can end up having correct knowledge of the language but not being able to use it during fluent communication.

Most experts in this area of second language acquisition today agree that to overcome this difficulty we need large amounts of practice. According to this view, practice at using our conscious knowledge can help us gradually build an unconscious knowledge system which can eventually allow us to speak our second language the way we speak our first language: fluently, spontaneously, and effortlessly.

Practice can include a range of activities, from the more traditional exercises typical of a grammar book through more communicative classroom activities to conversations outside the classroom. All these kinds of practice are beneficial if not necessary, but, importantly, their effectiveness depends on whether or not we are making use of our conscious knowledge. So, if we are trying to learn to use a grammar rule, say adding -s to present simple verbs in the third person singular, we need to try to use this rule correctly during practice. This will require considerable effort at the initial stages, but the effort will gradually decrease as we continue practising.

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:

READING GRADED READERS

What are graded readers?

Graded readers are books written for language learners. This means that the language is kept very simple – only common words and simple grammar are used. These books also include pictures to help you understand the story.

How can graded readers help me improve my English?

Reading graded readers is a good way to increase the amount of time you spend using English, which can help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to use English. Reading graded readers can help you:

  1. Develop your reading skills. You will become a faster reader and understand texts better.
  2. Learn vocabulary incidentally. You will consolidate vocabulary you already know and learn new vocabulary while your focus is on reading. This is, in part, because the same vocabulary is often used repeatedly throughout a story.
  3. Consolidate grammatical knowledge. You will find grammatical structures you have learnt in class in context, which can help you develop a better understanding of these structures. You may also learn new grammar.
  4. Improve your writing skills. You will be better prepared to write in English, as reading is closely linked to writing.

Which level should I read?

You should be able to read fast and without a dictionary. This means that the books you read should be easy to understand. The objective is not to learn new vocabulary, but rather to read quickly for general understanding and pleasure.

How much should I read?

For graded readers to be most effective, you need to read regularly. It is generally recommended that learners read about one book a week. Note that graded readers are very short and can often be read in about two hours or so.

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