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SEE! WATCH! LOOK!

Watch

With the verb watch, we are much more active. Watch is like look, but requires more effort from us. We watch things that are going to move, or change in some way. And we watch the movements and changes.

  • The police decided to watch the suspected murderer rather than arrest him immediately. They hoped he would lead them to the body.
  • I like watching motor racing on TV.
  • If you watch that egg for long enough you’ll see it hatch.

See

We use see to mean simply that an image comes into our eyes. It may not be deliberate. As soon as we open our eyes, we see things.

  • I can see a cloud in the sky.
  • I suddenly saw a bird fly in front of me.
  • Didn’t you see Ram? He was waving at you.

Look (at)

When we look, we try to see. We make a special effort. We concentrate our eyes on something.

  • Look! It’s snowing!
  • Look at this photo! Isn’t it beautiful?
  • I’m looking but I don’t see it.

QUIZ!!!

All of this lovely material is courtesy of English Club

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Memory Retention | Remembering Vocabulary Words

Do you have a good memory?  Do you have issues with remembering vocabulary words?

 memory ˈmɛm(ə)ri/  noun

1) the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information  “I have a great memory for faces”  2) something remembered from the past “My favorite childhood memory is visiting my Grandmother”

Memory plays a HUGE role in language learning.  It is all about remembering vocabulary, grammar rules, idioms, phrasal verbs, the list goes on and on…

In this info graphic from Online Colleges  we can see  Hermann Ebbinghaus’ ‘forgetting curve’

Memory Retention | Remembering Vocabulary Words

As you can see, REVIEWING information is very important for retaining the things that you learn.  If you do not review, you will quickly forget the things you have just learned.

Reviewing and using the language are a very important part of the learning process.  Some people focus on learning new words everyday, but never actually practice using them in a real-life setting.  When you actively use a word (with speaking or writing), you are reviewing it.  Listening and reading also are forms of reviewing as they are reinforcing the words in your memory, but they are a passive form of review.

Anyone can read a page in the dictionary, but to truly ‘know’ the words, you have to be able to use them.

Get involved!  Make it fun!  Sign up for speaking sessions, practice daily by commenting on twitter and facebook  posts.  I’m always happy to respond.  Learning new words is very important, but remembering them is even more important.

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Get moving into MODALS

Some of my students have a particularly hard time understanding modal verbs. Since I teach a lot of Italians I have become familiar with some language work for Italian students of English, specifically that of John Peter Sloan. However, he explains his ‘methods’ in Italian, obviously! So for the purpose of all other students, who don’t speak Italian, here is the translation. It’s not my idea, it’s his. I want to make that clear, but it’s a very good idea indeed and works wonders for making modals easier to understand and use.

The idea is that you think of modal verbs with percentages that show to what degree the action is likely, possible or probable. Then you simply use the relevant modal according to the result.

For example:

could                    35%
may / might        50%
have to                 75%
must                     90%

should = the only exception, no percentage here as it is a matter of advice… think of someone with a wagging finger, tutting at you when you use this… ‘You SHOULD stop smoking!’

So… the process:

  1. Choose your subject pronoun
  2. Choose your verb, always in the infinitive (without ‘to’) after a modal verb.
  3. Choose the possibility factor and insert the appropriate modal between the subject pronoun and the verb.
I COULD go to the party (35% possibility factor… probably won’t go as I can’t borrow the car that night!)
I MAY go to the party (50% possibility factor… probably depends on whether their best friend goes too!)
I HAVE TO go to the party (75% possibility factor… as it’s my parents’ anniversary!)
I MUST go to the party (90% possibility factor… because it has been organised especially for me to celebrate my 40th birthday!)
I SHOULD go the party (because my girlfriend will be upset if I don’t!)

Try it… it works!

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Contact Rachel today > http://www.italki.com/teacher/1394345

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There, They’re, and Their

There, They’re, and Their

There are some words that are just hard to remember how to spell, and if they sound the same as each other, it simply compounds the problem. I’m all for using images to help myself remember stuff, so let’s be kind and do the same for our kids! Here are a few of the tricks I used with my students when teaching these three words.

The Contraction “They’re”

Here’s a visual that you could show your students. Point out that the two guys on the left are drawing attention to the two short people on the right. The sentence under the stylized word shows the relationship between “we’re” and “they’re,” both derived from a word combined with what used to be “are.” I shared the story in another blog about how contractions came to be. Maybe a quick brush-up of that story will suffice to drive this concept deep into memory! Notice that in the sentence, the “’re” and the “are” are both light blue to tie the two together.

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The Location Word “There”

Location words “here,” “where,” and “there” all have the word HERE in them. You can do a goofy sort of “who’s on first” using these words. Mom says “Come here and get your sandwich!” Child says, “Where?” Mom replies “There!” Note that in the picture, each here in the location words is light blue to tie them together in memory.

there

 

In order to help young children remember the -ere spelling, I would say that the location words all end with a sandwich. The e’s are the slices of bread and the r is the baloney in between the bread. You could teach this by drawing a simple crust around the e’s like this:

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The Possessive Word “Their”

For some reason my students always had a really tough time remembering how to spell “their” and remembering when to use that word versus “there” or “they’re.” When teaching “their,” I used a little sentence and the following mini story and drew the action on a white board. Worked like acharm! Here’s how the story goes…There were two kids, who one day discovered that there were little evergreens growing up all over their backyard. When they asked their father about it, he explained to them that the pinecones that fell from the trees made new little trees. The thing is, they’d not noticed before because the mower always got to the little trees before they’d had a chance to grow big. This time, however, the mower was broken and the grass hadn’t been mowed for a while. So of course the kids didn’t want Dad to mow down the cute little trees! But after a bit of discussion, a compromise was reached: kids would choose the nicest tree they could find and plant it in a safe spot in the yard. Then Dad would mow the lawn. And that is what they did. The kids watched over their fir tree carefully and after a while it grew to be much taller than they were! How proud they were! When other kids came over to play, they made sure everyone knew the fir was theirs. I pointed out to my students that “their” and “fir” both end the same way. As a matter of fact, if you take the words “the” and “fir” and put them side by side, then erase the ‘f’ at the beginning of “fir” you will have the word “their”! Try it! I promise it will work!

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http://child-1st.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/tips-for-teaching-there-theyre-and-their.html

 

RIHAM’S PROFILE

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In/into and on/onto

English prepositions cause a great deal of confusion for non-native speakers. This article is about some of the most common preposition pairs which are easily confused.

In / into

What exactly is the difference between in and into? At least in a few cases, they are both possible. However, there are some differences, too.

Both ‘in’ and ‘into’ refer to three dimensional spaces. In is used to talk about position. Into is used to talk about directions and destinations.

He is not in his office. (NOT He is not into his office.)

She walked into the room. (NOT She walked in the room.)

Into is often used to suggest that people or things move from an outdoor space into an indoor space.

Compare:

She was walking in the garden. (Here in shows position inside the garden.)

Then she walked into her house. (Here into shows movement from the garden to the house.)

She is in her room reading a book.

She ran into the room carrying a paper.

On / onto

The difference between on and onto is similar to the difference between in and into.

On shows position. Onto shows movement or direction.

There is a book on the table. (Position)

He threw the book onto the bed.

The cat is on the roof.

How does it get onto the roof?

Can you get onto the roof without a ladder?

See if you can throw your hat onto the roof.

Into and onto are normally written as single words. On to is also possible in British English.

After some verbs (e.g. throw, jump, push, put) both in and into or on and onto are possible with similar meanings.

Read more at http://www.englishpractice.com/improve/ininto-ononto/#rydrAoed93KSsToX.99

LINDA’S PROFILE

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Reduce reduce reduce!

What am I talking about? – Reductions!

What are reductions? – These are shortened, combined, or ‘reduced’ forms of English words. For example gonna (going to), wanna (want to) and hafta (have to). There aren’t ‘real’ words in English and are not used in writing however they are frequently used in spoken and informal English, especially in movies and music, so it’s a good idea to know about reductions in order to understand these and to sound more natural when you are speaking with native English speakers.

So let’s have a look at some:

gonna – going to
gotta – got to
hafta – have to
hasta – has to
wanna – want to
whaddaya – what do you
howdya – how do you

Have a look to see if you can hear these the next time you listen to some English pop music. 

My favourite is ‘dunno’, which means ‘I don’t know’!

 

Contact Rachel today > http://www.italki.com/teacher/1394345

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Do you know your colloquial pairs?

Many of my IELTS students make a point of studying their idioms and phrasal verbs, mostly as it’s a clear cut way to show fluency and develop a more natural and advanced way of speaking English. However, there is something else which can also help here. This is the use of colloquial pairs. You will surely all now about ‘pros and cons’  from learning how to speak about advantages and disadvantages, and this is indeed a colloquial pair, however what about others? 

What is a colloquial pair? Well these are pairs of words that have a special significance, such as idioms or slang. You must take care not to put them in the wrong order however, as while these pairs may be understood in a reversed order, they will sound incorrect to a native speaker.

  • prim and proper
  • to and fro
  • odds and ends
  • hard and fast
  • tooth and nail
  • pros and cons
  • by and large
  • down and out
  • length and breadth
  • safe and sound

So, can I give you some examples? Well, I’m very ‘prim and proper’ about my colloquial pairs so I must make sure I use them correctly! I believe that ‘by and large’ these are phrases which are essential to add to your vocabulary if you want to speak like a native, and there is nothing we can do to change that! I’m afraid these rules are set ‘hard and fast’ and we can’t make any exceptions. 

Why not look the other pairs up online and see if you can use them?

 

RACHEL’S PROFILE

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IELTS

I have a lot of students who are studying for the IELTS exams, both Academic and General. A lot of them come to me after they have already taken it once and only scored 5.5 when they really want 6.5 or 7 for visa requirements to go to other countries.

They don’t understand why they only got 5.5 last time.

So we talk, and I listen, and we discuss the last exam, I test them on their grammar and vocabulary and then confirm to them that they speak very good English. However what most them don’t realise is that the IELTS is so much more than a normal English test when it comes to the speaking. There are extra marks that you can pick up quite easily, and if you browse thoroughly through all the online IELTS advice they will confirm what I am telling you here. It is not the quality of the grammar, but the fluency and cohesion of your response, the style and essence of your argument, the ability to hold a discourse at a deeper level. Ok, you say. So what do I need to do? Easy, I reply. Show them that you know how to use 4 things;

  • Phrasal verbs – often seen as the poor relative of the posher and more intellectual Latin derived verbs in English, they are nonetheless essential to show true levels of fluency in English.
  • Idioms – an absolute must to be able to converse like a native.
  • Paraphrasing – to show the examiner that you not only understand but can explain in another way
  • Give examples in 3s – 3 adjectives, 3 verbs, 3 nouns, 3 anything… as long as you always talk in three. It shows that you can not only give an example, but in fact have lots of ideas.

IELTS candidates can also score highly by…

  •  Getting straight to the point
  • Using a range of tenses – past simple, present simple and present perfect – with great accuracy
  • Using a wide range of grammatical forms such as a conditional sentence (If I…) and a cleft sentence (All I need now is…)
  • Answering all parts of the question
  • Avoiding over-formality and using expressions such as actually and pretty that are appropriate to conversational style
  • Providing a summarising sentence to wrap up the response
Finally, what does it take to achieve this? Practice! Just practice!
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Common Mistakes in Speaking and Writing 

Here are three errors that I regularly encounter inside and outside the classroom. Do you make these mistakes? Listen to yourself, and check your writing. These are some errors that are not deadly or fatal because native speakers usually understand what you mean. Because of that, they will rarely correct you. Nevertheless, these mistakes mark you as not quite as advanced or proficient in English as you may think you are.

Common Mistake 1

At lunchtime, I often hear students asking each other if they want to go outside and eat together.

INCORRECT:
A: “Do you like to eat lunch with us today?”
B: “Yeah, sure. Where do you go?

What’s wrong with this dialog? To ask someone to join you for lunch, we would say,

CORRECT: 
A: ” Would you like to eat lunch with us today?” OR “Do you want to eat lunch with us today?” (more informal)
B: “Yeah, sure. Where are you going/are you going to go?

EXPLANATION:
In English, the present simple using ‘do you like to…’ is not a request form. Also, B’s response asking for more information using the simple present sounds odd because the speakers are talking about ‘right now.’ Thus, the appropriate question asking for more information about the plan for lunch would be “Where are you going/are you going to go?” (present continuous/future plan)

Common Mistake 2

Another common error especially in speaking for the Cambridge or for the iBT (TOEFL) test is

INCORRECT:
”I would prefer to study by my own rather than study with others.”

CORRECT:
”I would prefer to study on my own/by myself rather than study with others.”

EXPLANATION:
Prepositions are such a pain in the you-know-what, aren’t they? I always tell advanced level students that prepositions are the last thing to master in English. These little words (in, on, at, by, for, to, and so on) quickly mark people – even those who have lived in the U.S. for decades – as foreign-born  (including British English speakers, e.g., ‘on the weekend’ vs. ‘at the weekend’). 😉

Common Mistake 3

Students need to be able to express their opinions. Of course, the easiest way to start off your sentence is to say, “In my opinion, …..” However, there are other ways to begin a discourse about your personal views.

INCORRECT:
”In my point of view, we should raise taxes on gasoline.”

CORRECT:
”From my point of view, we should raise taxes on gasoline.”
”In my view, we should raise taxes on gasoline.”

To try to give a visual image of how to use these last two expressions correctly, I often draw a mountain peak with a little person standing on top. From that point, the person can see a lot, but (s)he is not in that point.

I hope this helps you to improve your speech so that you sound more native.

Confusing WordsVocabulary

LINDA’S PROFILE

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Connected Speech

What is connected speech?

Simply put, connected speech is when a speaker puts words or sounds together in a sentence such as “gonna” (going to) or “wanna” (want to). Usually, this is not understood at all by the English learner!!

Have you ever heard something like “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?” What does this mean??
When the native English speaker says things like this ^, it is usually just to make their speech easier and more efficient. In fact, the main goal of a native speaker is usually not to be correct, but to be efficient. So, when you are trying to speak perfectly, remember that even native speakers don’t always sound perfect! Elemental English discusses this topic here. 

So, let me explain the sentence “I’m gonna go ta tha store, do ya wanna come?”

Correctly written, it is “I am going to the store, do you want to come?”

“Going to” changes to “gonna,” “to the” changes to “ta tha,” “you” changes to “ya,” and “want to” changes to wanna.” Of course, this is not correct English and should never be in writing… However, if you want to better understand native speakers, I would recommend practicing listening for these connected words.

Below is a great example of connected speech in a scene from the classic movie “Remember the Titans.” Watch the video and see if you can understand what they’re saying. If it is difficult, try reading the text below and notice the connected speech. Does it make sense this time? Great!

Bertier: Aight man. Listen, I’m Gerry, you’re Julius. Let’s just get some particulars and get this over with, alright?

Big Ju: Particulars? Man, no matter what I tell you, you ain’t never gonna know nothin about me.

Bertier: Hey- Listen, I ain’t running any more of these three-a- days, okay?

Big Ju: Well, what I’ve got to say, you really don’t wanna hear ‘cuz honesty ain’t too high upon your people’s priorities list, right?

Bertier: Honesty? You want honesty? Alright, honestly, I think you’re nothing. Nothing but a pure waste of God-given talent. You don’t listen to nobody, man! Not even Doc or Boone! Shiver push on the line everytime and you blow right past ‘em! Push ‘em, pull ‘em, do something! You run over everybody in this league, and everytime you do you leave one of your teammates hanging out to dry, me in particular!

Big Ju: Why should I give a hoot about you, huh? Or anybody else out there? You wanna talk about the ways you’re the captain?

Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: Captains supposed to be the leader, right? Bertier: Right.

Big Ju: You got a job?

Bertier: I have a job.

Big Ju: You been doing your job?

Bertier: I’ve been doing my job.

Big Ju: Then why don’t you tell your white buddies to block for Rev better? ‘Cause they have not blocked for him worth a blood nickel, and you know it! Nobody plays. Yourself included. I’m supposed to wear myself out for the team? What team? No, no, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna look out for myself and I’m gonn get mine.

Bertier: See man, that’s the worst attitude I ever heard. Big Ju: Attitude reflects leadership, captain.