Monday, June 30, 2008

More Listening Practice

Here's another place you should visit, this time from the British Council's Learn English site.

You'll find a collection of Podcasts, from Elementary through Themes, Stories and Poems, Professionals and Science. At the end of the list there's a link to thousands of podcasts worlwide. However I could not access it today; I'll try again soon.

Please do try as many of these podcasts as possible. Start with Elementary, then work your way through the other categories.

Remember, you can either listen to the Podcast on your computer, or save it to any device that plays MP3 files so that you can listen wherever you are - train, boat, car, possibly even plane.

Please tell us what you think of these podcasts by using the Tag Board or the Comments area.

- MIke

Friday, June 27, 2008

"On the top of" + further searches

On top of:

I found one occurrence of "on the top of" in the Corpus Concordancer. I searched the BNC Written (1,007,000 words) and it produced this:

"The night-light glowed softly ON THE TOP OF the chest of drawers."

This refers to a very specific place: a particular location on the top of a piece of furniture. Much more often, we have "on top of" as an adverbial or prepositional phrase. See these examples:

"This at a time when our much valued and valuable oil revenues are at their height and on top of this our currency continually drops in value abroad."

"The VAT on fuel (...) came on top of the expected rise in road tax duty, tobacco and alcohol duty (...)"

Try some more searches:

"see"/"watch"/"look at"
"hear"/"listen to"

Tell us what you have found in a comment, of, for a brief message, use the Tag Board.
- Mike

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Word Search Exercises; English Online; Friday Blog

A. Word search:

Do a concordancer search for:

1. "Just" - how many meanings can you find?
2. "On top of" or "on the top of"? Do they mean exactly the same thing?

B. English Online:

Here is a British Council site from China, where the British Council has a large teaching operation to satisfy rising demand in China. As a result, this site is rich in listening, reading and grammar exercises.
Click here to continue.

Try the "Big City Small World Audio Soap". How much can you understand?
Look at "Word of the day" for new vocabulary. What is today's word, and what does it mean?

C. The Friday Blog was inaccessible today so I have not been able to solve the problems that some of you have had. I am on the case, however.

More soon!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Tips for Level Two

Tips? That means 'little pieces of advice'. You could also say 'little pearls of advice' - consigli preziosi!

I've indicated Listening and the New English File Pre-Intermediate site. Now see something else.

It's called Concordancing. A concordance is a list of all the occurrences of a chosen word in a text. You choose the word. The computer then searches a very large body of text, called a 'corpus', for your chosen word. Then it displays the word down the centre of the computer screen, with the context sentence showing on either side.

Here's an example, based on a search for "don't have to", followed by "didn't have to":

001. people of your own kind", a girl remarked. "You DON'T HAVE TO watch what you say. Of course, I w
002. hink Penny's an awful nice girl, Russ"- "You DON'T HAVE TO tell me", flashed Cobb. Giving the
003. me today. A fellow came up to me, a Senator, I DON'T HAVE TO tell you his name, and he told me,
004. start them successfully in cold frames. Pansies DON'T HAVE TO be coddled; they'd rather have thi
005. dox Jews: "It's the twentieth century, and they DON'T HAVE TO wear beards". The reason offere
006. ut Evadna Mae Evans". "Well now, Maggie, you DON'T HAVE TO snap at me", Eugenia said. "I'm ju
001. ll your guys not to block the plate". "You DIDN'T HAVE TO ram him". "That's what you say
002. ing baby to a candidate for Hanford College. He DIDN'T HAVE TO be told his son looked like him.
003. e in the morning. It was an awkward hour, but I DIDN'T HAVE TO punch any time clock, and it only
004. ted his request. He took her hand. "I wish I DIDN'T HAVE TO go back to school", she said, and
005. h into it as he could. He left a few things. It DIDN'T HAVE TO be perfect. Roberts was a wastrel
006. mad as she was at his going away when he really DIDN'T HAVE TO, mad at their both having got old

Here's another example based on a search of the preposition "into", sorted left so that you can see what verbs are associated with this preposition:

011. out the land. They say it helps them bring back INTO schools the spiritual and moral values on w
012. , and John Nichols, sophomore guard, moved back INTO action after a week's idleness with an ankl
049. light"! And there is light! In fact, He came INTO this world Himself, in the person of His So
050. ading marks my 15th anniversary. When I came INTO being, 15 years ago, I had one primary purp
051. ead. I was full of hope as Fidel Castro came INTO Havana. Within a week, however, I began to
087. e in administration. They had divided the Congo INTO six provinces- Leopoldville, Kasai, Kivu, K
088. stortion of President Eisenhower's conversation INTO a denunciation of President Kennedy as too
089. extremely competent men who have been converted INTO very incompetent managers or submerged in p
090. uditorium and at least one hotel were converted INTO makeshift jails. More than 1,000 were said

You can click on the key expressions in order to expand the context.

Why use a concordancer? So that you can easily discover how words are used in authentic English. Do not worry whether you can undrestand the words you don't know. Look instead at the keyword and how it is used.

Here are a few ideas for searches:

1. Verbs ending in "ing". Observe what verb comes before the "ing" verb or, in this case, the "gerund".

nhower Republicanism, but the heart stopped beatING and the lifeblood congealed after Eisenhower
oes not drive during that time. He was caught drivING the day after the sentence was pronounced an

What other kinds of words precede "-ing"?

2. "may" and "might" - can you find any differences?

3. Examples and meanings of "get".

Here is the Corpus Concordance English (v.5) - click on the link.

Give us your impressions by using the Tag Board or posting a Comment. This is very important.
More soon - Mike

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome to class 2B

A warm welcome to you all and I hope you will find this Blog useful.

Here are two top sites for you, before I go any further:

New English File Pre-Intermediate Online.

This is where you can practise grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Listen to those sounds!

News English from the BBC's Learning English site.

An absolute must for listening practice. Choose from 'Words In The News - latest' or 'Words In The News - archive', or 'News About Britain'. There are also Pronunciation Tips under the heading 'New In Learning English'.

Whenever you visit a site, tell us about it. You can do this by clicking on the three small windows below the Tag Board. Click on 'Name' and write your name, then on 'Message' to write your message. You can ignore the 'Mail/URL' window.

Your message will appear immediately at the top of the Tag Board. Of course, you can also leave a message in the Comments section at the end of this post.

It's very important to leave a message on the Tag Board to let everyone else know what you are doing and your opinion of the sites I have recommended.

More soon, and see you tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Listenings and Blogs

Here is the latest listening from the BBC Learning English web site:

The Truck Drivers' Strike

And here you can listen to an older piece about Boris Johnson becoming Mayor of London. Note that with this piece, you can download the MP3 file and save it to your i-Pod. That way, you can listen as many times as you like, wherever you like.

Just right-click on the download icon and choose "Save Target As.." to save the MP3 file to wherever you like on your computer.

Finally, for the moment, there's Six Minute English. Today's discussion is on 'dieting'. Is dieting helpful if you want to lose weight? And what is a 'low-carb diet'?

As always, let us all know how you enjoyed these listenings by posting a comment in the comments section or on the Tag Board.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

School's Out..... !

... but the Blog is still here. Although our courses are now over, that hopefully doesn't mean the end of all contact between us.

So from time to time I will add further messages with recommendations on how to make the most of the Web so that you can continue to practise your English. That way, when you next come to us, whether next week, next month or in September or October, you will have kept up your contact with the language.

First on the list will be recommended Listening sites. Many people have said they would like more listening. So I will be giving you new materials to try. Please also, however, use the existing links down the right-hand column of this Blog.

It's very important for you to give your own contribution. If you discover a useful Web site, whether practising Listening or another skill, do please tell us about it. Either leave a comment, or write on our Tag Board.

More very soon!