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EASILY CONFUSED WORDS

English has a lot of words that can be easily confused not only by those of you learning English, but also by those of us studying English, and by ‘native’ speakers. English is a rich mix of different influences; very little survives of the original Celtic language from the original inhabitants of the British Isles apart from place names such as York; Church Latin brought by the Roman’s persisted until the sixteenth century; the Germanic Anglo-Saxon ‘settlers’ colonised the eastern and southern part of Britain by the 5th century. Then came the Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries; they brought the influence of Old Norse. In 1066, the Norman conquest of England began bringing a heavy Norman French influence. Then with Britain’s expanding trade and eventually Empire new words entered the language brought not only by the British but the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch empires thought trade.

There are also many inconsistencies in spellings; there are homographs (wind and wind), homophones (capital and capitol) and homonyms (produce the verb and produce the noun).

Confusion can come about when the meaning is misunderstood by the listener. When we learn a new language, or study our own language, enter a new job or read a new book we are confronted by new words that can confuse us in the form of faddy neologisms or jargon.

It took me a few days to stop using the Spanish word coger in South America; I could no longer coger el colectivo I had to tomar el colectivo (take the bus) in South America. In English there are a number of ways we can confuse ourselves; the first are the superficial differences between the ‘Englishes’ usually to do with spelling or semantics – the meaning of a word. For example, there were two computer programmers; one from America and one from England. When the English programmer and finished writing his program, he sat down to watch a TV programme; then, when the American finished her program she sat down to what her TV program. Which program or program you use depends on where you are and what you are doing. In the next two examples the meaning of each sentence is different; In England it is quite acceptable to say “I’ve never seen such a gorgeous ass”; you would be complimenting someone on their donkey, but using the exact same words in the United States could land you in gaol or is it jail? I get easily confused by these two words. There are also confusions brought about by time, for example, until the early twentieth century, it wasn’t unusual for people of a certain education to say, “I’m feeling rather gay today.” This meant “I’m feeling rather happy.” During this time people sometimes said they felt rather ‘queer’ or strange; both gay and queer have different meanings today – in the early twenty-first century; these are prime examples of the semantic shift in words. England also has a fantastic culinary tradition; one such culinary delight is the faggot; I love faggots and regularly eat them – faggots in England are large meatballs by the way. However, I am sure this is still an arrestable offence in some parts of the United States and the wider world.

Time has also changed the meaning of wicked and cool; in the late 1990s they meant something like fantastic or really good. In today’s news media the words snowflake and gammon have taken on a new meaning. These words are often used as terms of abuse in the news media it is debatable how much they are used outside the confines of newspapers and troll or water armies. Confusion can also occur through pronunciation; in the American ABC comedy TV series Modern Family the character Gloria Delgado-Pritchett played by the American-Columbian actor Sofía Vergara is asked by her husband to get some baby cheeses and she orders lots of baby Jesuses. But there is also confusion brought about by homophones; for example, which of the following means to be still or not moving? In her Grammarly blog Top 30 Commonly Confused Words in English, Brittney Ross mentions two confusing words: Complement and Compliment; both words are spelt differently; they both have different meanings but the same pronunciation both for the verb and noun forms. So, what happens when we hear these words, how do we learn how to spell them? Stationary or stationery? Confused? It’s common to confuse these two words even among so-called ‘native’ speakers, so look at the two words in context: The train was stationary, so I popped into the stationery store and got these envelopes and pens. How do I get around the problem? In my head I tend to stress the final vowel in both words and remember the context; that helps me remember the spelling. And there are the principles and principals: There are fundamental principles we all live by; one of them is that we shall not steal. Many school principals have at least a master’s degree is the headmaster of a school. How do you remember which is which? Well you could use spelling mnemonics; for example, my pal is a school principal. The other way of confusing you is the non-transparent spelling system; we don’t always mean or say what is written; in English vowels aren’t pronounced or used. Take, for example, the word chocolate; in Spanish all the vowels are pronounced, in English we are lazier and drop the second ‘o’ vowel sound, so it’s pronounced as choclate.

So, knowing how a word is pronounced and practicing can often help our spelling, but there is also the problem of the spell check; how many of us have used the spell check and this marvellous device has sent the wrong word making us look completely illiterate? Embarrassing isn’t it! As Brittney Ross says in her Grammarly blog Top 30 Commonly Confused Words in English ‘your word might be spelled right, but it may be the wrong word.’ We also have the double entendre is a figure of speech that has two meanings or interpretations; this form of ambiguity can cause confusion in meaning, for instance, newspaper headlines are notorious for this; take for example this headline, ‘Strikes to Paralyse Travellers’; does it mean that travellers will be physically paralysed or does it mean that the infrastructure will be paralysed and travellers won’t be able to travel? Anther confusing example is that 21 taxes choke tourism operators – Parliament cries; a parliament crying because tourism operators were choked by twenty-one taxes!

Chris Scott February 2020

Reference List

Brittney Ross [n.d.], Top 30 Commonly Confused Words in English, Grammarly blog, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.grammarly.com/blog/commonly-confused-words/ >.

Mirror.co.uk 17 August 2016, Strikes to Paralyse Travellers, Mirror, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/strikes-to-paralyse-travellers-638297 >

Richard Annerquaye Abbey January 24, 2019, 21 taxes choke tourism operators – Parliament cries, viewed 30 December 2019, https://thebftonline.com/2019/editors-pick/21-taxes-choke-tourism-operators-parliament-cries/

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Critical Thinking

Ever since I went to college many years ago, I’ve been hearing the term critical thinking; it keeps popping up from time to time, but do we as teachers and students sit down and think about what this means, and do we use critical thinking outside the confines of academic study? Do we use this in our everyday lives?

For me, critical thinking is challenging the assumptions we have about the way we think, what we believe, what we read in the newspaper, what we are told, see on TV or the internet and hear in the world around us and not just in the classrooms; it’s about challenging dogma; it’s about looking at the preconceptions we and others have of the world around us; it is about challenging what we believe and how we behave.

Levels of Critical Thinking

For Chia Suan Chong (2019) it is about promoting meaningful and positive relationships and building empathy as well as developing one’s academic potential. But how can we use this in the classroom and in our everyday lives? What benefit does it give our students or us as learners?

Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom cited in Pineda-Báez) is most often cited when attempting to define critical thinking. According to Benjamin Bloom, there are six levels of critical thinking.

The first level is Remember; it is the ability to recall dates, people’s names, places, quotations and formula.

Level two is Understand; this is to comprehend what you are reading; it is to understand newly acquired information, to describe, classify and explain it, e.g. what is the difference between a cat and a lion.

The next level, level three, is called Apply; this is where we use this new information, solve problems, demonstrate, and interpret information.

Level four is Analyse; it looks at materials and decides what the overall purpose is; what is its relationship with other parts in society and the world in general. It is to differentiate, organize, and to relate information to the wider world, and compare or contrast.

The fifth level is Evaluate; this is to form an opinion or judgement based on standards and criteria; it seeks to appraise, argue and defend a point of view or opinion; it judges, selects, support, and critiques information.

The final level is Create; it is to use conjecture, formulate new ideas, and to investigate; it is to put all the information you have and create something innovative.

Critical Thinking Based on Reason

Another simpler definition of critical thinking is which I like is from Tim Moore (cited in Schmidt); According to research conducted by Moore, critical thinking is based on reason; in today’s world basing an argument on reason as opposed to reactionary opinions that are so prevalent in the news media and politics today is a good thing; it allows us to decide if something is good or bad, true or false, it allows us to consider the validity of something; it is thinking sceptically; critical thinking involves thinking productively, challenging ideas and producing new ideas; it involves coming to a conclusion about an issue or issues; importantly for me and something I feel strongly about; it is about looking beyond a reading or listening text’s literal meaning.

Critical Thinking in the EFL classroom

When we look at these levels, we see that we as students use most of them in the EFL classroom; those of you preparing for the IELTS and Cambridge English exam use them all the time; it is a valuable skill that students use when they enter institutes of higher education.

Regardless of your background we use critical thinking skills when deciding what to what, buy in the supermarket or believe in the newspaper.

How can they be used more in the EFL classroom or our own language learning? In her article Ten ways to consider different perspectives, Chong suggests a number of activities where critical thinking can be applied to classroom activities; one activity is ‘What would their day look like? Where the students select a photo of a person, animal or inanimate object, do a little research and give a little presentation to the rest of the class; another activity is the classic debate where you could divide the class into opposing teams; Chong suggest having students argue for or against something they would normally oppose or disagree with. This is a good way for students to try to understand something from another’s perspective.

Most of the activities involve trying to see life through someone’s else’s eyes. I saw a similar activity in Buenos Aries a few years ago when students used shoes to imagine the shoes lives.

by Chris Scott, January 2020

Reference List

Chia Suan Chong 17 July 2019, Ten ways to consider different perspectives, English Teaching Professional, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.etprofessional.com/ten-ways-to-consider-different-perspectives>.

Clelia Pineda-Báez December 2009, Critical Thinking in the EFL Classroom: The Search for a Pedagogical Alternative to Improve English Learning, ResearchGate, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.researchgate.net/publication/277834572_Critical_Thinking_in_the_EFL_Classroom_The_Search_for_a_Pedagogical_Alternative_to_Improve_English_Learning >.

Anthony Schmidt [n.d.], CRITICAL THINKING AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING PT. 1, EFL magazine, viewed 30 December 2019, < https://www.eflmagazine.com/critical-thinking-english-language-teaching/ >

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SeaCity Museum, Southampton

Last week was amazing; I visited the SeaCity museum in Southampton with my friend Hassan.  I learned a lot about Southampton’s history and the Titanic.  Actually, I got very excited watching the Titanic film. 

While we were at the museum, we talked about what happened, and we visualised the lack of safety boats on the Titanic and how this changed for future ships.  In my opinion, there is no person to blame, but this was the result of a sequence of mistakes and wrong decisions.  

The important thing is that we get the benefits of what happened and maybe try to avoid such events again. 

Mustafa A.

October, 2019 

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Consejos para el examen de redacción B2

Escribir puede ser aterrador, especialmente cuando tienes que hacerlo en una segunda lengua en un examen. 

Utiliza estos consejos que te ayudarán a tener éxito. 

 

Gestión del tiempo: 

Tienes 1 hora y 20 minutos para el examen escrito y cada una de las dos partes vale el mismo número de puntos. Por lo tanto, deberás dedicar 40 minutos a cada parte. Si pasas demasiado tiempo en una parte, no tendrás suficiente tiempo para la otra parte y tu nota se verán afectadas. 

 

¿Cuántas preguntas debo responder? 

La respuesta es dos preguntas. Hay dos partes en el examen B2 First Writing. En la Parte 1, sólo hay una pregunta, así que debe contestarla. En la Parte 2, hay tres preguntas, pero sólo tienes que responder a una de ellas. Tú eliges la pregunta que desea responder en la Parte 2. 

 

¿Sobre qué escribo? 

Las preguntas incluyen puntos que usted debe incluir en su respuesta. Tienes que ser capaz de identificar los puntos sobre los que las preguntas te piden que escribas y luego asegurarte de que escribes sobre ellos en tu respuesta. Si no incluyes todos los puntos, perderás puntos. 

 

Estilo y registro: 

Es importante que escribas con un estilo apropiado. La primera parte siempre le pide un ensayo; en la segunda parte, puedes escribir una carta / correo electrónico, revisión, artículo o informe. La forma en la que escribes un informe es diferente a la forma en que escribes una carta, así que si estás escribiendo un informe, ¡asegúrate de que esté en el estilo de un informe, no en el estilo de una carta! 

 

El registro también es importante. Las preguntas te dirán para quién estás escribiendo. Utiliza esta información para ayudarte a decidir si necesitas escribir de manera formal, semiformal o informal. 

 

Coherencia y cohesión: 

Para que tredacción sea coherente, necesitas escribir algo que tenga sentido y para que sea cohesiva, necesitas vincular las partes entre sí – el uso de palabras y expresiones de enlace te ayudará a hacerlo. 

 

Gramática y Vocabulario: 

¡Los examinadores no buscan la perfección! Ellos saben que usted estás aprendiendo inglés y que tu idioma se desarrollará con el tiempo. Por lo tanto, es mejor usar gramática y vocabulario más complejos y cometer algunos errores que usar un lenguaje más simple perfectamente. 

 

¡Pon estos consejos en práctica en tu examen de B2 First Writing y tendrás éxito! ¡Buena suerte con tu examen! 
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Wichtige Tipps für die B2 First Writing Prüfung

Schreiben kann beängstigend sein – besonders wenn man es in einer Fremdsprache und in einer Prüfung tun muss. 
Nutzen Sie deswegen diese Top-Tipps, um sich gut vorzubereiten und sich so den Erfolg zu sichern: 

Zeitmanagement: 

Du hast 1 Stunde 20 Minuten für die Schreibprüfung und jeder der beiden Teile ist die gleiche Punktzahl wert. Daher sollten Sie jeweils 40 Minuten für beide Teile einplanen. Wenn Sie zu viel Zeit mit dem einen Teil verbringen, haben Sie nicht genug Zeit für den anderen Teil und Ihre Noten würden darunter leiden. 

 

Wie viele Fragen muss ich beantworten? 

Die kurze Antwort: Zwei Fragen. Die B2 FCE Schreibprüfung besteht aus zwei Teilen: 

In Teil 1 gibt es nur eine Frage, also können Sie auch nur diese beantworten. 

In Teil 2 gibt es drei Fragen, aber Sie beantworten nur eine davon. Sie können selbst auswählen, welche von den drei Fragen Sie in Teil 2 beantworten möchten. 

 

Worüber schreibe ich? 

Die Fragen enthalten bestimmte Abschnitte, die Sie in Ihre Antwort aufnehmen müssen. Sie müssen in der Lage sein, diese zu identifizieren und sie in ihre Antwort einbeziehen. Wenn Sie nicht alle erforderlichen Abschnitte einbeziehenleidet Ihre Note darunter. 

 

Stil& Register: 

Es ist wichtig, dass Sie in einem angemessenen Stil schreiben. In Teil eins sollen Sie immer einen Aufsatz schreiben; in Teil 2 können Sie einen Brief/ eine E-Mail schreiben, eine Rezension, einen Artikel oder einen Bericht. Die Art und Weise, wie Sie einen Bericht schreiben, unterscheidet sich von der Art und Weise, wie Sie einen Brief schreiben. Wenn Sie also einen Bericht schreiben, stellen Sie sicher, dass er im Stil eines Berichts und nicht im Stil eines Briefes ist! 

Auch das Register ist wichtig. Die Fragen sagen Ihnen, für wen Sie schreiben. Verwenden Sie diese Informationen, um zu entscheiden, ob Sie formell, halbformal oder informell schreiben müssen. 

 

Kohärenz & Kohäsion: 

Um kohärente Texte zu verfassensollten Sie grundsätzlich etwas Sinnvolles schreiben; um Zusammenhänge in Ihrem Text herzustellen, sollten Sie diesen möglichst fließend verfassen – die Verwendung von Konnektoren kann Ihnen dabei helfen. 

 

Grammatik & Wortschatz: 

Die Prüfer sind nicht auf der Suche nach Perfektion! Sie wissen, dass Sie eine neue Sprache lernen und dass sich Ihr Englisch mit der Zeit verbessern wird. Daher ist es besser, komplexere Grammatik und Vokabeln zu verwenden und einige Fehler zu machen, als eine einfachere Sprache, perfekt zu verwenden. 

 

Setzen Sie diese Top-Tipps in Ihrer B2 First Writing Prüfung in die Praxis um und Sie sind auf dem Weg zum Erfolg! 

Viel Glück mit Ihrer Prüfung! 

English Version:

Top Tips For The B2 First Writing Exam!