Monday, May 30, 2005

Before Doing The Test: Revision and Practice

We are having our test soon. Here is a short list of recommended exercises and activities. This one is from the main British Council 'Learn English' site:

Level 2: using 'like'

And here are some other recommendations on Internet for some revision and practice, using the Go4English site.

The 'Go4English' site is a British Council site aimed at learners of English in Middle Eastern countries. However, 'Go4English' has a lot of material which you will find very useful, and fun as well.

Although the 'overview language on 'Go4English' is Arabic, you definitely do not need to know Arabic in order to use this site successfully.

Levels 2 and 3: Listening Practice

Listen to a business man reporting a robbery to the police. Complete the police report of the incident.

Level 3 Compound Nouns Quiz

This is a fun card matching game. Don't forget to download the explanation about how compound nouns are formed.

And here's something special for Level 3. Last lesson we were talking about music and some of you have written some homework about your favourite Italian groups and singers.

Now surf over to the Chinese British Council 'Learn English' web site, 'In2english'. Note that, while the overview language is Chinese, you do not need to know Chinese to use this site.

Click on this link:

to listen to an interview with a Chinese rock group. Can you answer the questions? Note that the musicians speak with a Chinese accent but you should be able to understand.

For more on music, click here:

and then click on one of the audio control panel buttons for more exercise on music styles.

Post comments to let us all know how you found the exercises.

Check the MetroZine to see the corrected versions of your homework.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Level 3: 'Prefer' + 'to' or 'Prefer' = '-ing' ?

That is the question....
... that you asked me last lesson. Here is a method of discovering some answers.

In the
Virtual Language Centre, click ‘Associated Words’

1. To find occurrences of ‘prefer to’, in the Keyword window, choose the option ‘begins with’ and type ‘prefer’. This will get you ‘prefers’, ‘preferring’, ‘preferred’ and more.

2. In the ‘associated word’ window, type ‘to’.
3. Set the associated word to appear to the right of the keyword – click the correct button.
4. Choose a corpus; click ‘Search for concordances’.
5. Copy and paste the resulting list into a word processing document.

To find occurrences of ‘prefer –ing’ you need a slightly different approach.

6. In the Keyword Window, choose option ‘ends with’ and type ‘ing’.
7. In the ‘associated word’ window, type ‘prefer’.
8. Set the associated word to appear to the left of the keyword – click the correct button.
9. Choose a corpus; click ‘Search for concordances’.
10. Copy and paste the resulting list into a word processing document.
11. Repeat these steps 6 to 11 and in step 7 enter variants of ‘prefer’ –‘prefers’, ‘preferred’ and the like.

Try steps 1 to 11 with ‘like’ and any other verbs you can think of.

Send your resulting word lists to me. We can check them together in class.

Can you write an explanation of the difference and post it in a comment?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Phrasal Verbs - More Ideas

You are all very interested in Phrasal Verbs - so here is another link, in the BBC's 'Learning English' site:

More About Phrasal Verbs

Listen to the Audio, then try the Quiz. I hope you get all the questions correct - you should have no problem with this one!

Then, try this with the Virtual Language Centre:

1. In the 'word search' window, enter some verbs you typically find in phrasal verbs: get, set, look, put, make. Can you think of any others?

2. For each verb, tell the concordancer to 'sort right'. This will make it easy for you to see what prepositions come after your chosen verb.

3. Make a selection of verbs that you think are typical phrasal verbs. Copy and paste this selection to a 'Word' document.

4. Decide from the context what the phrasal verb means. Decide what 'standard' verb could be used to substitute each phrasal verb. Confirm (or otherwise) that your answer was correct by using your dictionary.

5. Send your document to me via e-mail, and we can present your ideas in class.

And as usual, do please post a comment.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Using Concordancer to discover English

Which verbs are followed by gerunds? Which verbs are followed by the infinitive with or without "to"? What is the correct position of an adverb in a sentence? What is the correct word order in a phrasal verb structure?

You can all these questions and many others by using a 'concordancer' on the Web. As we have seen in class, the concordancer is a tool that allows you to search for a word in a huge body of text, and see it displayed in a list as long as the number of times the word is found.

Go to The Virtual Language Centre, as we did in class. Once you are in the site, try this exercise with the phrasal verb put on:

1. Click 'Web Concordancer'
2. Click 'English: Associated Words'
3. In the 'keyword string' box, enter put
4. In the menu to the left of the keyword string box, choose 'starts with' - so you will find puts as well as put.
5. In the 'Associated word' box, type on.
6. In 'Find', select 'Right of the keyword only'.
7. Select Corpus: I choose 'The Times March 95'. You can experiment with different corpora.
8. 'Sort type': select 'Sort right'
9. Click 'Search for concordances'
10. Here is a very small sample of the results:

45 h, credit is due to both sides for putting on a rip-roaring Cup tie whic
46 "But surely," said the Sab, "putting on a scarlet coat to chase a
47 energy has been committed towards putting on cross country's annual sho
48 and are used to meeting people and putting on dinner parties, though not
49 ag that this rate of exchange is putting on Japan's recovery, the Bank
11 ell it works. The average person puts on just 10 per cent of their body
12 urnt-out East End flats and even puts on the transforming white of the s

You need to find the examples where 'on' is an integral part of the verb expression rather than a preposition taking an object. Thus the example 'Fear of divorce puts marriage on the rocks in France' is not a true example of a phrasal verb, while 'walking down mountains and of putting on weight' is a good example.

Note that you can select, copy and paste a concordance list from the Virtual Language Centre window to a Word or Notepad document for future reference.

Tell me what discoveries you have made in a comment.

Have a nice weekend.

All About Phrasal Verbs

Level Three students

Last lesson, you were asking about Phrasal Verbs.

So try this phrasal verbs site:
The Phrasal Verb Demon

Please, as always, post a comment to let everyone know whether you found this site useful or not.

Coming next: how to use the Web Concordancer at the Virtual Language Centre in order to deepen your understanding of how English works.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The British Elections: Memorable Moments

Would you like to witness the stranger aspects of the recent Election campaign in Britain? And at the same time do some listening and video comprehension practice from the BBC site.

This link takes you to the
most memorable moments of the 2005 Election campaign.

Repeat as often as you like in order to try to understand as much as you can.

As you listen and watch, you can do two things:

1. Write down the 'gist' - the basic content - of the video.

2. Write down as many individual words as you understood.

As always, do please write a comment to say if this exercise helped you.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Your Grammar Questions Answered

Level 3
Serena and Mariangela of Level 3 have asked for more information on directions - giving and receiving them. There appears (as they observed) to be nothing on the LearnEnglish Central site. So I have been looking around the Web to see if any other sites can help...

A Google Search on "Giving Directions" turned up these sites:

English Grammar 4 U Online - a German site:

This site seems much the best. But see these as well:

The Focus In English site (needs RealPlayer):


Both of these sites are American.

Now, how about Indirect Questions? Last lesson some people had trouble understanding these. Fortunately, "" comes to the rescue here:

Use your mouse to drag each word to its correct position in the question.

Ignore the Arabic writing. You do not need to understand Arabic to use this site. "Go4English" was developed for learners of English living in Middle Eastern countries, but you will yourselves find it very useful indeed. (And who knows, you might even learn some Arabic.)

Level 2:

Verb + "---ing" or "to"? That was the question we studied in unit 5B of our book, page 69. The "Learn English" site offers you some extra information:

And try this German site (you do not need to know German) for further help on Infinitives, with or without "to":

And gerunds:

Try the exercises towards the bottom of the page.

As always, please do leave a comment saying why you thought an exercise was or was not useful. And do use the comments - as Serena and Mariangela have done - to send requests.