Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FCE Blog in Argentina

To FCE students: see the comment on December 1's posting by Claudia Ceraso. She is an English teacher in Buenos Aires and has created a special blog for FCE students.

Click to see her page on
Phrasal Verbs. Read her advice. It's quite a long posting and is full of useful advice, with plenty of links.

Here's a good example: the Phrasal Verb Demon. It tells you almost everything you need to know about this large subject.

As always, please leave a comment on the Blog after visiting a site.

More soon.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Level 5 Site of the Week: Flo-Joe

Calling Level Five students. Here is a very brief look at a few web sites for you:

Point your browsers to Flo-Joe for FCE students.

Click on The Word Bank. Then choose Phrasal Verb and do the exercise: choose the best collocation for "meet".
Then try Word Formation and do the exercise. This week you are tested on the various forms of the word "protect".

The Word Bank changes every week. So keep visiting regularly for practice and build up your knowledge of vocabulary.

Other things in Flo-Joe: Look at the list of links in the left-hand column, in dark green. Click on 'About FCE' and find out more about the exam.

Then click on 'Spotlight Paper 3' and try some of the exercises. I suggest 'Key Word Transformation' which students often find difficult.

Another thing: remember last lesson we looked at Learn English Professionals? Try out some of the FCE listening exercises on the site.

As always, report back by leaving a comment. Those Commenters so far include:

Adolfo, Filiberto, José, Elisabetta, Federica, David, Giacomo, Riccardo (three times!), Alessandro, Adriana (twice), Laura and Jacopo. and Veronica.

This is great, but we need more of you!

About joining Mark Appleby's 'British Council Hub': I will be sending you individual instructions.

Next posting is for level Three. Watch this space!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Your Comments; A Site for Level Two

I am very pleased that the following people have left comments on the Blog:
David, Giacomo, Riccardo, Adriana, Veronica, Laura (DoubleL) and Jacopo.


But, when I last counted, I had 87 students! The above list contains just ... seven students!
That's fewer than ten per cent.

Come on, cybernauts! Visit the Blog, try the sites - and send in your comments. Remember, your ideas and suggestions are as valuable as mine.

Here's something for Level Two (Pre-Intermediate) students:
The English File site: http://www.oup.com/elt/global/products/englishfile/
This is the site for your course book.

Click on the new Pre-Intermediate book.
Then click Grammar.Then click File 2. Now, try Lesson A, past simple regular and irregular, 1 and 2.
Alternatively, go straight here!

Then try Lesson B, past continuous.
When you have finished, send a comment to all of us (click on the comment link)

Tell us what the site was like. Answer these questions:

Did you learn anything new?
Did you get any help with the exercises?
Was it easy to navigate round the site?

More soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Calling All Level 3 Students (Intermediate)

This is not just for my classes S3WF18, S3 SAT 10 and S3 SAT 14. It is for any students at Intermediate level.

Here is a great site for you: the English File Intermediate site.

What can it do for you?

OK, why not start with some Grammar? Click on Try This: Intermediate Grammar, then File 1 then Lesson B: Past Tenses: Simple, Continuous, Perfect (1).

Do the exercise and see how well you did.

Then, please do post a comment!.

I will be collecting the names of those who leave comments. A small prize goes to the first person to leave a comment!

Watch this space! More soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Web Sites for You

Ongoing work: I am making changes and additions to the list of sites in the right-hand column of this page. The latest: a list of sites which you should visit if you are thinking of taking an exam such as IELTS, FCE, PET, KET, CPE and the like.

Meanwhile, have a listen to the latest 'Words In The News' exercise on the BBC.

Watch this space - and please do leave a comment.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

October 2006: New Students in Rome

Welcome to all new students in my classes at the British Council Rome!

This Blog, with the
MetroZine, will be a space for you to regard as your home on the Net!

The idea of the Blog is to communicate with you between lessons and help you use Internet to your best advantage.

There are hundreds of websites specifically aimed at helping students of English. I've listed a very few of them in the Permanent Collection of pages in the right-hand column. I promise to add more soon.

This Blog is interactive. You are strongly encouraged to leave a comment each time you visit a web site. That way, we can form a community of students.

To express yourself online, and read other students' creative writing, the
MetroZine is your place. Go there now, and send your comment. You'll find that it isn't only texts of people's homework - there is much more.

Come back here soon for the next message.

Happy English learning!

Mike

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hong Kong Poly Concordancer: Advanced Features

Today I'd like to present you with a powerful way of researching into the use of English on the Hong Kong Poly Concordancer site.

You want to find all the phrasal verbs with "put". Naturally, you want the concordancer to give you all occurrences of 'put', including 'puts', 'putting', etc.

Here's how to do it:
On the concordancer, choose 'Simple Search':

Choose 'Search string starts with:' = put

Choose your corpus.

Leave the default sort option to 'Sort right'. This will show words after 'put---' in alphabetic order.

And here's a sample result:

25 nnovative scheme is Kidlink, which puts British teenagers in touch with
26 uarterly trends survey last week puts capacity utilisation at its highes
27 26 January 1995 Shephard puts curb on lenient exam marks By J
28 today. Dr Ruddiman says: "Tibet puts deserts and rainforests where they
29 00 or 36, 000 miles. The purchaser puts down a deposit, usually 30 per c
30 17 January 1995 Dimbleby puts down organic roots Rachel Kelly

112 to allay such suspicions, Boulez puts on a fine display of modesty. "For
113 rtant birthday. Richard Morrison puts on a party hat The Viennese
114 y. When a West End producer puts on a play he first has to rent a t
115 eaning bills. A continental puts on a tie and it is a statement. It
116 hardly knows where to begin as she puts on her half-moon spectacles and
117 n 60 days and the public hearing puts on the record what the investigato
118 , is Harford's domain. "Ray puts on the sessions, Ray is the coach,
119 January 1995 Lottery syndicate puts out a contract Liz Dolan Fea
208 conservative, because the risk of putting on new work is prohibitive. F
209 e most successful of the rivals at putting on sales. The Observer

479 ce for dead comics? Why are they putting up blue plaques on the houses o
480 be seen homehunting for fear of putting up prices and attracting unwelc
481 ature film funding, with Channel 4 putting up the lion's share of the bu
482 ated the uncomplaining British for putting up with ugliness, petty restr


How many different phrasal verbs with 'put' can you find in the list above?

You will see that if you had used the 'Search String Equal To 'put' option, you would have had far fewer useful results.

Of course, you will have to eleiminate a lot of irrelevant words such as 'putative', 'putt' - a golfing expression meaning to hit a golf ball gently, or 'Putnam' and 'Putney', which are proper nouns.

That's all I have time for today! Try it yourself now - with 'put', 'get', 'let' and ... any more??

P.S. Notice at the top of the right-hand column: Latest Links of Interest. Check it out. There will be more to come.
Mike

Monday, September 25, 2006

To my Current Class, Sept 5A 18 - but all are welcome to read this:

Dear all,

Today I'd like to introduce you to a Grammar site:
The English Page, which is also listed in The Permanent Collection of sites in the right-hand column of this Blog.

At the beginning of our course, we were investigating Past Tenses: how to use the Past Simple and Present Perfect tenses correctly.

So, visit The English Page and in particular The Past Simple, and The Present Perfect.
When you have finished, try these exercises on the simple past and present perfect simple:
exercise 5 and exercise 6.

When you do these exercises, you can get a 'hint' - a little help - for each question. Or you can check your progress. For each question, or space, do not worry if the computer says 'Sorry - try again', especially if you have not finished the entire exercise. Instead, watch to see if your percentage score increases. If it does, you are giving the right answers. If you give a wrong answer, your score won't increase, and whatever you wrote in the gap will be deleted.

As usual, after trying this site, please do leave a comment. You now know how to do this since I demonstrated Comments some lessons ago.

Next post: how to use the associated keyword feature in the Hong Kong Poly Concordancer. Try it yourself first: use it to research the different meanings of phrasal verbs.


For instance, how many meanings can you find for 'give up'?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Learn English Professionals

This site is a must for any students of English at upper-intermediate level or above. There is a wealth of reading and listening materials. There are also plenty of reading and listening comprehension exercises. These will give you instant feedback, so they are very useful for checking your progress.

Much of the site is available to anyone, but some areas require a user name and password. I can help you obtain these if you are studying at a British Council centre.

Visit Learn English Professionals

E-Mail me if you are a student at a British Council centre and would like a user name and password.

After visiting the Learn English Professionals site, give us your opinions by sending us a comment.

More very soon.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

In With The New

It's New (Academic) Year at the British Council Rome.

So I'd like to remind new and returning students what this Blog can do for you.

The Blog gives you advice and ideas on how to use Internet as a resource for learning English. The Net has exploded in recent years not just in terms of numbers of sites, but quality of facilities available to you.

Among the top facilities are surely listening sites. Students complain that they do not get enough listening practice. However, it's now possible to listen to almost any radio station in the world. Here's one of the best:
The BBC News Site. Here's a picture of the main page:

Explore the page and click on video and audio links to try out your listening skills.

Another immensely useful web site is the Virtual Language Centre in Hong Kong. This has grammar games, a Net Dictionary and the immensely useful Concordancer. This shows you how words are used. Type in a search word and the Concordancer will show you all the occurrences of that word in context. Here's a picture of the front page:


And here is what the Concordancer screen looks like:


Try it yourself. How many meanings can you find for "would"?

Answers, please, in a comment.

Coming soon: the revised list of Net links in The Permanent Collection (see right-hand column.)

Ciao4now,

Mike

Monday, September 11, 2006

First Message of the Year

Dear Readers of the Rome EFL Blog,

Welcome back to a new academic year at the British Council Rome.

I hope you have all had a good summer holiday.

Now is the time for me to re-organise this Blog slightly. And the first task is to update the Permanent Collection of links. I plan to add some links I have found useful or even exceptional, and maybe delete less useful sites.

This will take a few days. Meanwhile, please do use the comments facility to contact me with your suggestions. Then, towards the end of this week, I hope to have something new for you.

More very soon!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

World Cup And Other Things

Hello! As a result of Italy's fantastic win on Tuesday night, the BBC has posted an analysis of the game. Read it and post your comment here.

Who will win the World Cup? Read some student predictions on the
Sports Pages of the MetroZine.

And now for something rather different. I have been looking at a video blog created by Sarah, an Australian teacher of English in Tokyo, Japan. Sarah's video blogs teach you how to speak English naturally, and is full of useful ideas and advice. View her blog
here.

Have a good look and let everybody know what you think in a comment.

More soon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup

Something for everybody: follow the World Cup on the BBC Sport website.

While you are in the site, have a look at these:

Live: see a text commentary on a match happening right now, and you may also be able to listen to the commentary.

Extras: The World Cup Blog. Written by BBC reporters in Germany.


Try opening 'Audio and Video' - top right-hand of page. I could not get it to work from my office computer, but you may have better luck. It is very good for listening and viewing practice.

Don't forget, pleeeaaase, to leave your comment on this Blog!

And would you like to edit the Sports Section on the MetroZine? Just e-mail me.

More soon!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Something for Everybody

Levels 1 and 2

What's the difference between the verbs 'Say' and 'tell'? Which do you use, when?

Try this exercise on 'Go4English': say or tell


Although the instructions are in Arabic, you do not need to know Arabic in order to do this exercise.

Levels 3 +

Football is part of the British culture. As a result, many footballing expressions are commonly used in situations which have nothing to do with the game.

Test your knowledge of footballing English in this exercise in the 'Go4English' site. Click on GO to start.

As always, leave a comment after trying 'Go4English. It is very important to let others know whether the site helped you with your English.

Good luck and more very soon!
Mike



Thursday, May 11, 2006

Levels 1 and 2: Grammar For You

Recent posts have concentrated on advanced students, so here is something for Levels 1 and 2.

What's the difference between have been and have gone?
Examples: 'He's gone to Paris.' / 'He's been to Paris.'

Find out by doing this exercise from the British Council's 'Go4English' site.

Note that the instructions are in Arabic because the British Council created this site for students in the Middle East. But you do not need to know Arabic in order to use this site. And there is a lot of very interesting and useful material for you.

Try some more grammar exercises from the 'Go4English' Grammar List.

And as always, please leave a comment telling everybody what you think of the site and the exercises. For prblems leaving a comment, e-mail me.

Free movement in the European Union?

Myth or reality? How free are EU citizens to move around the European Union and work or vote? Read this discussion on the BBC site, started by BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell in his weekly Diary.

You can join in the debate yourself by filling in the comments form at the very bottom of the BBC web page. There is no guarantee that your comment will be published, but it could easily be – and it is an excellent opportunity for you to practise writing English.

This is suitable for levels 3 and above.

My advice to you is: keep your writing simple, don’t be ambitious in your expressions, but also, never be afraid of making mistakes. Nobody will ridicule you for this.

Do not forget to leave your comment on our Blog!

Are you finding it difficult to leave a comment? E-mail me.

Advanced Listening Practice

Here’s something for all level 5 students: Learn English Professionals. This is your site for advanced reading and listening. With a wealth of information about the world of work, this site will become your number 1 resource – along with this Blog and the MetroZine.

On the top menu bar, click on 'Listening Downloads. From ‘Improving Your Memory’ to ‘Business Ethics’ to ‘Chaos Theory’ there will be something for you.

You may want to read the script as you listen, or copy it to your computer for later reference. Click on script in order to do this. The script comes as an Adobe portable file which you can save to your computer.

There are full instructions in the left-hand column of the 'Listening Downloads page.

Happy listening! – and please as always leave your comment on this Blog.

To go deeper into the site, you’ll need a user name and password. This is for members of the British Council only, so I cannot publish it on the Blog. If you’re a member of the Council and want a Learn English Professionals log-in profile, just e-mail me and ask for it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Treasure Hunt: Adventure Game on the Web

Anna Naumova of the British Council Sofia, Bulgaria, brings us this richly illustrated Treasure Hunt site.

Click
here to start this southeastern European Treasure Hunt. Earn points by discovering cultural jewels in such places as Sofia (Bulgaria), Mostar, Sarajevo (both in Bosnia), Bucharest, Istanbul, Ocnele Mari (Romania), Sisak (Croatia) - and many other places big and small.

It's all in English - though there is a Bulgarian version if you want. It is fantastically informative, so a must if you are thinking of travelling through southeastern Europe.


Suitable for intermediate levels and above - though lower level students should try it.
Please do not forget to leave your comment after visiting this site.
Having difficulty leaving a comment? E-mail me.
Thanks Fabio for your comment!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Greetings from Turkey

Hi everyone! I am having a great holiday here in Turkey. It is a fantastic country and everyone should come here.

Only problem is that the keyboards are so different here. For example I keep typiıng the letter "ı" when I should type "i". A typical mistake.

Here's an exercise for Level 3: Shopping, on the "Go4English" site. Try it and as usual, leave a comment. Tamam?

See you next week. - Mike

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Italian Election Special - 2

To level 4 and above: See the latest BBC report on the Italian election campaign. Click on the video link and watch BBC correspondent Christian Fraser. What are his conclusions? Put your answers in a comment.

Also, look at the features and analysis. Click on Italian voters' views. Do any of them surprise you?

Level 5 (Wed/Fri 18h-21h; Sat 14h30-17h30): For this week's class listening exercise we will do something else, probably Domestic News. Let's get away from politics!

kind regards,

Mike :-)

Monday, March 27, 2006

On the BBC: Italy Election Diary

Attention all Level 5 / FCE students.

You remember that last week we listened to BBC reporter Mark Mardell on the election campaign - the sound quality was rather poor.

Well, you can now follow BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell's observations and experiences of the Italian elections by reading his
Italy Diary. (opens in a new window)

Below his diary, you will see dozens of other people's comments as well. They are from Italians living in England or Argentina, English or other foreigners living in Italy - and even from ... Italians living in Italy!

And you can add your own opinion or comment. Do have a go - it is excellent practice in writing English. Do not worry about mistakes - no one will make fun of you. And although you'll be asked for your e-mail address, rest assured that it will not be published on the BBC site.

Please also leave your comment on this Blog: this is your homework! :-)
See you this week.
Mike

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Listening: Italy's Election Campaign

To all students at level 4 and above: (but level 3 could also try it)

Listen to and watch a commentary on the latest developments in Italy's election campaign.

Go to
BBC News (opens in a new window), then click 'Latest News in Audio and Video', then 'News Bulletins', then 'Italy's Election campaign.

You will see and hear the TV debate, a rally in Genoa, the encounter in Bologna with the Confindustria and Romano Prodi speaking English.

Please do leave your Comment and say how easy or difficult you found this news bulletin.

Hurry before the BBC site is updated!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Level 5 Students (Wed/Fri and Sat classes)

Vocabulary and Grammar Research: How To Get The Best From The Virtual Language Centre

In the past few lessons I have demonstrated the VLC and how it can demonstrate such things as verb patterns, collocations, position of adverbs and typical prefixes and suffixes.

Let's have a look at how you can adjust searches on the VLC so that the site gives you exactly what you want.

Go to the
VLC now. It will open in a separate window.
Click Web Concordancer and, under English of course, choose 'Simple'.
Your search options are: Entire keyword, Begins With, Ends With, Contains.

Sample exercise: find all the adjectives that end in -ly. Examples: lively, friendly, silly.
Type ly in the keyword search window.
Choose the search option 'Ends with'.
Choose your corpus.
Click 'Search for concordances'.
You will get a long list! Identify all the adjectives. Copy the lines containing the adjectives, then paste them into a Word document or text file. Send the file to me at
Michael.Ivy@britishcouncil.it.
We will look at your lists together next lesson.

And do leave a comment telling everybody what you did.

What other searches can you do? Again, tell us all in a comment.
That's all from me today this gloomy Sunday morning! Ciao4now!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Some Sites For You

1. Listening: try this latest from the BBC Learning English site, 'Artworks stolen during Rio Carnival'. Suitable for levels 3 +

2. Level 1: look at
'English File [Elementary] Online' and try some Grammar or Vocabulary exercises.

Please do leave your comment after trying these sites. Your experiences are useful to everybody.

Ciao4now

Mike :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Web Site For You: LearnEnglish Sport

For All Sports Enthusiasts: here is a newcomer to the British Council LearnEnglish suite. It's called LearnEnglish Sport. The main focus right now is on football in the run-up to this year's World Cup in Germany.

Your first stop is at the Poll: who do you think will win the Cup? Cast your vote and see how many people think it will be Italy.

LearnEnglish Sport offers practice in various skills. There's Reading: read all about Football Strips, their history and significance. There's Listening: listen to some football poetry, or to Manchester United fan Stuart describing what it is like to follow his team round Europe.

With Listening, you can download an MP3 file and save it on your computer for listening later; or you can listen to it right now by double-left-clicking on the link.

You can also download the tape script so that you can listen and read.

And try a language activity - be patient as it may take a minute or so to download.

Please try downloading a listening file - and post your comment to say how easy or difficult it was. Indeed, post your comment anyway and tell everyone what you think of LearnEnglish Sport.


Next posting: How to listen better on the BBC site; sites for level one students. Watch this space.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wed 8 February: BBC/Radio Città Futura: The Inauguration

The British Ambassador hosted the official start to the partnership between the BBC World Service and Radio Città Futura. I went along to the press conference. Many thanks to colleague Catherine Carpenter for passing her invitation on to me. :-)

At the conference I learned these facts:

Frequency: 97.7 FM

Coverage: Rome and the province of Rome, extending some way into north Lazio.

Programmes: 22:00 to 23:00 - Newshour. In-depth coverage of major news topics. Last night British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was being interviewed about the referral of Iran to the United Nations Security Council over her nuclear policies. At least four or five topics are covered during this hour-long programme.

03:00 to 07:00: other current events programmes. As someone at the party observed, it is a good radio station for insomniacs.

The service is to be extended to Radio Città Futura in Bari, and possibly also to Naples. Watch this space.

Listen to the radio and as always, send your comment. Say how much you understood, what the topic was, and what new words or expressions you learned. Your feedback is vital!

Ciao4now,
Mike

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Listen to English Radio in Rome!

New Service Starting This Week. As I mentioned on Friday 27 January, Radio Città Futura is broadcasting programmes on the BBC World Service. So you can now listen to high-quality radio in English with minimal effort.

Just tune your radio, whether at home or in your car, to 97.7 Mhz, which is Radio Città's frequency. The BBC is on air from 22.00 to 23.00 and from 01.00 to about 05.oo every day.

22.00 to 23.00 is the famous 'Newshour' programme. Then in the middle of last night I heard an interview with the Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who speaks near-perfect English. How many British politicians speak Arabic?

Please do try listening to the BBC World service in English. It will be hard at first, but it is excellent practice. Try writing down words and phrases you recognise, then try to guess the topic of the broadcast.

And as always, please leave your comment!

Ciao4now,

Mike
:-)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Icons of Great Britain

An opportunity for you to learn more about Britain. 'Icons of Britain' is a site which lists Britain's Icons, or most characteristic phenomena. This excellently-designed site invites visitors to nominate an Icon of Britain.

Twelve Icons have already been accepted and you can explore them. They include Stonehenge, 'Alice In Wonderland', a cup of tea (!) and The FA (Football Association) Cup. There is a lot of information about these.

Icons waiting to be accepted include The Greenwich Meridian Line, the bowler hat, the River Thames and Rolls-Royce.

You too can nominate an icon - especially if you have visited and enjoyed Britain. Scroll to the bottom of the Icons Home Page to see the procedure. Then click on 'Nominate' to start.

Best for levels 3 and above, but I would encourage anyone to explore this site.

Have fun - and, as always, please do leave a comment!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Watch English TV on the Net!

Good news! You can practise watching and listening to people speaking English by connecting your Internet browser to ITV Local.

This takes you to a wide selection of local British television stations. Watch the local news, weather reports or current affairs programmes.

For best results you will need a broadband or ADSL connection.

When you enter the site, one of the TV stations will automatically show in the top left-hand window. To change (or switch) stations, just click the "Switch" button, then click your desired station from one of the screens you will see scrolling along the bottom of your computer screen.

Many thanks to Steve Evans of the British Council Madrid for this link.

And more good news for listeners to ordinary radio. The BBC World Service and Radio Città Futura in Rome plan to start broadcasting in English in the near future. Stay tuned - I hope to have more news for you very soon.

Remember, listening practice is very important if you want to make progress in English. Students complain that there is not enough listening during our courses. Here's your chance to make dramatic improvements!

Ciao4now,
Mike
:-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

English File Online

Thanks very much indeed to Fabio, Martina and Silvia (Saturday Level 3) for leaving your Comments. You see how easy it is!

Now, I have something for level 3 students:
English File Online. Click on the 'Intermediate' book cover and you will find Grammar Checks, Active Word Lists, and a guide to Pronunciation. For this, you will need Flash Player which is easy to download.

The Grammar explanations and Active Word Lists come in the form of Acrobat PDF files. I was unable to download them here on my office computer, but you may have better luck. Please, if you try to download a file, tell everybody about it in a Comment.

Right now, 15.43 on Thursday afternoon, I am in Dave's ESL Café
Chat! There are 8 other people in there: from Turin, China and Canada, among other places. Have you registered yet?

As always, please do leave a Comment to describe your experience in Dave's Café.

Have a very nice end-of-afternoon.
Ciao4now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How To Leave A Comment

Thank you very much Fabio for leaving your comment in last week's posting - see below.

However, several students have told me that they are not sure how to leave a comment. In particular, they were worried that they had to log in to Blogger and enter a user name and password, which they did not have.

Worry no more. The procedure is elementary - in fact, it's a piece of cake! Here's how:

First, write your comment in the window provided.
Second, choose an identity. Most of you will choose the second or third options - "Other" or "anonymous".

If you choose 'Other', you are asked to write your name, and the URL (address) of your Web site, if you have one. If you don't, then you need not write anything. Your name will appear next to your comment.

If you choose 'Anonymous', then the word 'Anonymous' will appear next to your comment. But I would love you to leave your name at the end of the comment.

Third, you'll be asked to complete the word verification procedure. This ensures that only huamn beings post comments, and this saves us from Spammers or mass mail artists.

Finally, click on 'Publish Your Comment'. However you can preview it first if you like - good for correcting any mistakes.

And that's it! As I said, it is a 'piece of cake'! If you are still having problems, let me know.

Ciao4now,

Mike

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This Week's Site Updates

Thanks Fabio for your comment! See below.

It's 16.15 on Thursday afternoon in a brilliantly sunny Rome. Instead of sitting on the Spanish Steps enjoying the Eternal City, I am reviewing a few web sites to help you with your English.

1. BBC World Service: Learning English - Words in the News - Prime Minister's son 'kidnap plot'. Click here to read more, and listen, about details of this fantastical plot.

2. Level 4: on the BBC Learning English site, discover more about the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous

3. Chat: there are seven people chatting right now in Dave's ESL Café Chat. If I have a moment when I finish this Blog, I may join them. Several students have now registered. Dave's Café is a fun, serious place for chatters. Chat gives you a chance to practise your English including the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous (for example)

4. Level 1B: On the British Council 'Go4English' site, listen to this business telephone conversation and do the exercise. It's extra practice for last lesson, File 8 page 97, 'On The Phone'.

Ignore the Arabic writing - you do not need to know Arabic in order to use this site.

5. Levels 4 and 5: read all about Egypt's Siwa Oasis in the British Council's central Learn English site.

6. Level 3: On the subject of school, see these funny exam answers from the British Council's Learn English Central. Did you find them funny? Write a comment.

In fact, could everyone please write a comment on today's suggested sites? Your feedback is vital.

There are still three people in Dave's Chat, so I will now go in there on a five-minute visit.

Ciao4now!
:-)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Chats, Messages and Forums

Welcome back to an icy Rome after the holidays. Let's start with a subject dear to some people: using computers as a communications tool. It could be said that communications form one of the prime functions of a networked computer.

Internet can provide you with fantastic opportunities to practise your English. Let's examine a few examples.

Right now I am chatting with five other people on Dave's ESL Café. See a previous posting about this. Dave's Café Chat is a friendly and safe chat environment, where people 'talk' simply and logically. Many of the chatters are teachers or students of English. You will nedd to register first. It's a simple process: invent a name for yourself, a password, and give them your e-mail address. You'll quickly receive an e-mail giving you further instructions.

Here's a recommendation from one of the chatters I am talking to right now:

"firstly you do not need Java enabled browsers, so everybody can come in and secondly it has people in it most of the time. Also you can't swear"

So come on, let's chat!

Now, about messages and groups. Last year at the British Council, we had a system called Global Village. This has now closed, but former Global Villages have migrated to a Yahoo Group called All English Students. You need to be a member of Yahoo to enter this group. Joining Yahoo costs nothing.

Some Villagers have formed an MSN group, 'Global Village Forever'. Again, you need to be a member of MSN to visit this group. You are already a member if you have a Hotmail account.

Both Groups allow you to exchange messages and take part in discussion forums, and even post pictures. You can also chat to people, especially if you have Yahoo or MSN instant messager.

All of the above are excellent for practising your English. This is essential if you want to make progress.

Enough for now! My time is definitely up.

Over to you to join Dave's Cafe Chat, join Yahoo or MSN, and tell us about your experiences in a comment!

Ciao4now,

Mike

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Last Day in North-East England

Hello all. I hope you have been enjoying the Christmas break. This is my last day in Durham, northeastern England. Find out all about Durham by clicking on the tourism link. Click on 'Attractions' to find places of interest.

Levels 3, 4 and 5, check out the BBC 'Learning English' and listen-and-read to this week's story, about how Russia threatened to cut off its supply of gas to the Ukraine.

That's all for now. Tomorrow I am off to Paris, then Lyon, so there will be no more postings until next week, after 10 January.

As always, whenever you visit a site recommended in this Blog, do leave your comments.

See you next week!

Mike