Friday, May 26, 2017

How to ask questions

A very important skill to learn. We can't communicate in any language without asking questions. 

Today we go back to the BBC's "Learning English" and turn to the "Lower-Intermediate" section. We're going to meet three new friends: Alice, Amith and Sophie.

Watch the video, and then do the activities. I'm very interested in your answers to the 7-question quiz: What do you know about our presenters?

Please post your answers on the Tag Board opposite, or in a comment. An aperitivo for the first reader to get all the questions correct!

Stay tuned! and I look forward to your answers.
Yours,
Mike

Exercise and the brain: the answers:

Hello everyone! After rather a long time, here are the answers to our previous quiz:

1. How does Neil regard the quality of his own mind? He doesn't think he's very sharp.

Extra question: What's the opposite of "sharp" when you are talking about someone's mind?

2. Which two countries did he do a "stint" in? Japan and the Czech Republic


3. And what do you imagine he was doing there? Teaching? Journalism? He doesn't actually say.

And the correct verb?

There's a verb we use to mean 'start doing exercise'. Is it…
a) take up is correct.
b) take on
c) take over

Note that these verbs form part of that vast collection of "phrasal verbs", also called "multi-word" verbs. By changing the word coming after the verb, known as the "particle", you can completely change the meaning of the verb.

And now for our next activity. This is aimed at 'Lower Intermediate'. Come in and take part!

More soon,
Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Listening: exercise and the brain

Hello everyone. What follows is a somewhat advanced listening exercise, probably at least Council of Europe B2 level and above.

But don't let this put you off. You'll learn some useful vocabulary here, as well as some valuable advice.

It's on the BBC "Learning English" site, in the News review section. It's about some recent research which shows that regular exercise not only develops your body, but also your mind.

Among other expressions, you'll learn the meaning of "sharp", "keep (something) at bay" and "stint".

So now surf over to the BBC's "Learning English - News review", watch the interview and do the activities.

Here are two extra questions:

1. How does Neil regard the quality of his own mind?
2. Which two countries did he do a "stint" in?
3. And what do you imagine he was doing there?

Post your answers in a Comment or on the Tag Board. Also, say how easy or difficult you found this listening. 

Come in, all you readers!

Follow-up later this week.

All the best,
Mike

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your Learner's Questions Answered...

... by the BBC's "Learning English",  This week they're answering a question that many Italian students of English have a problem with. How do you use "In fact", "Actually" or "Well..."?

What I always say: "infatti" in Italian does not mean "in fact" in English. And "attualmaente" does not mean "actually".

Help is at hand, however. Simply surf to the BBC's Learning English site for advice on how to use these expressions.

Watch the presenter's explanation. Then, at the bottom of the page, do the Learners' Questions Quiz.

When you have finished, write your reactions on the Tag Board to the right of this post. Or use a Comment.

Say whether the exercise was useful. Do you now understand how to use "In fact", "Actually" and "Well"?

Keep exploring this Blog and the links in the right-hand column.

And enjoy your Easter vacation!
Kind regards to everyone,
Mike

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Top Tips to Improve Your Memory: The Answers

Hello everyone. Here are the official answers to the Memory Top Tips:

1. Make notes in class on things that are [useful] and [important] to you. Then [revisit] your notes immediately afterwards.

2. Use mind [maps] which can be drawn on paper or a laptop.

3. Write condensed cards of your notes, and stick them where you can [see] them, such as on a [kitchen] wall.

4. Or, write your notes on your mobile phone and set up a [reminder] to read them regularly.

5. It's a good idea to say things out [loud] . This will help you remember better.

6. One student has a vision of a long white [tunnel] with all the key [topics/vocabulary] written on the side of it.

7. 'Mnemonics' uses [association] to remember facts. Create an [image] in your mind to help you remember a word or phrase.

8. Get a good night's [sleep]. Your memory won't work if you're [tired].

Many, many thanks to these participants: Margaret, Giovanna, Tandis and Serena!

Look out for the next Listening Quiz, coming soon.

All the best,
Michael

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How To Train Your Memory: Some Top Tips.

Most of us have problems remembering things: facts, faces, names, numbers. While this is normal, it becomes particularly problematic at exam time.

However, help is at hand. I have been watching a video on the BBC's Learning English site and have picked up some highly useful tips.

Tips? In this context a tip is a small piece of advice. There are many other meanings to this word - you can look them up in an online dictionary such as Wordreference.

Here are some comprehension questions to focus your attention on the video. Complete the sentences with one word for each space.

1. Make notes in class on things that are [____] and [____] to you. Then [____] your notes immediately afterwards.

2. Use mind [____] which can be drawn on paper or a laptop.

3. Write condensed cards of your notes, and stick them where you can [____] them, such as on a [____] wall.

4. Or, write your notes on your mobile phone and set up a [____] to read them regularly.

5. It's a good idea to say things out [____] . This will help you remember better.

6. One student has a vision of a long white [____] with all the key [____] written on the side of it.

7. 'Mnemonics' uses [____] to remember facts. Create an [____] in your mind to help you remember a word or phrase.

8. Get a good night's [____]. Your memory won't work if you're [____].

Now watch the video. Write the missing word on the Tag Board on the right, or in a Comment. I look forward to seeing you all here!

All the best,
Michael

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Why Are People in Cities Rude? The Answers!

Hello everyone. I have been absent recently but now I am back with the answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz.

I'm disappointed that no one took part this time, but hopefully the next Quiz will be more successful.

So here are the answers to the quiz on why people in cities are rude. Or are they? New York City used to be notorious for its rude, grouchy inhabitants. But the couple of times I have been there, people have been unfailingly polite and helpful. It just goes to show that you shouldn't trust stereotypes.

1. (This week's official question): When we have a positive interaction with somebody, our body releases a chemical. What's the name of this chemical? Is it…

a) melatonin? b) oxytocin? c) thyroxin?
The correct answer: b) oxytocin

This chemical is also known as the "love drug"

2. If you wear a "Tube Chat Badge" it means you are ... happy to talk to a stranger!

3. People in big cities are often scared to talk to a stranger.

4. According to Dr. Elle Boag of Birmingham City University, "our brain becomes hypervigilant to the perception of threats around us."

5. "This leads to behaviours that are insular and defensive."

6. "It's a protective mechanism by which we can survive our journey."

7. You just don't know who might be dangerous.

8. We avoid making eye contact with other people.

9. According to Catherine, if you grow up in a small town it can feel claustrophobic.

10.  According to Neil, a nosey person is one who shows too much interest in other people's business.

11. According to Tom Farley, we just don't have time for idle chit-chat (two words separated by a hyphen.)

12. "Success quotient " means ... your ability to be successful at work, relative to ordinary or average people.

What can you do? Keep listening - a little every day. Use the sites listed in the right-hand column of this blog. Write to us to report your progress.

More very soon - another quiz is upcoming!

Best regards from,
Mike