Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Help with Grammar

Dear all,

For those of you following a course, you may now be facing an end-of-course test. You will want to revise some essential grammar and vocabulary. Fortunately, the Internet has a lot to offer you.

Look at the right hand column of this Blog. You'll see a whole succession of links to various useful sites. The first one I can see is "English Grammar Secrets". Down the left-hand side of the page you will see a long list of lessons. Why don't you try to solve the classic problem of the Past Simple and Present Perfect? Read the rules and then do the four exercises.

However, when you have finished, don't forget to leave a comment or post a message on the Tag Board to say how useful you found the presentation and exercises. Then return to the list of grammar lessons.

Your next helper for grammar, vocabulary and also listening is the British Council's Learn English site. Have a look at another common problem: adjectives that end in "-ed" or in "-ing". Which form to use? Again, read the rules and do the exercise at the bottom of the page. And as before, post a message on the Tag Board or in a Comment to say whether you found the site useful, interesting, informative - or the opposite. You can also post a grammar question if there is something you have not understood.

Still on the British Council's Learn English site, why not try some listening or video comprehension? Here is a good one on the difference between American and British English. Watch the video and then do the vocabulary exercise at the bottom of the page. Did you get them all correct? Once more, leave a message on the Tag Board or send a Comment.

That's it for the moment. Coming up later this week: a listening comprehension from Six Minute English. There are some interesting topics right now: Blood Doping, Soldier Teachers, Swimming, the World Wide Web, Bird Superstitions and Ebooks, to mention a very few. Which one would you like to know more about? Tell me by leaving me a message on the Tag Board!

More later this week!
Yours,
Mike

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Shopping on 6 Minute English: The Answers

Hello everyone. As promised, here are the answers to last week's Six Minute English quiz:

This week's question:

The Bullring in Birmingham is the UK's busiest shopping centre, but how many people, on average, visit the Bullring each year? Is it:

a) 27 million
b) 37 million √
c) 47 million

Listen out for the answer at the end of the programme!

2. What kind of shopping does Rob like? “I like quick shopping: I like going in, finding what I want, and coming out again.”

He doesn’t like “hanging around and seeing the shopping centre”.

3. The High Street is the main shopping street in a town or area.

4. For the first speaker, the advantages of shopping centres are choice and a good deal, discount or sale.

However, a shopping centre cannot replace localised shopping, such as a nice boutique in a local high street.

5. The second speaker says the restaurants are either fast-food or slightly more upmarket.

6. The disadavantage of shopping centres is that they are often very crowded.

Very many thanks to Stefano, Annalisa and Giovanni for their Comments, and to Giulio and Manuela for their posts on the Tag Board.

Here is a vocabulary quiz for you. What do you understand by these expressions which you heard on Six Minute English?

(a) "hanging around"
(b) "upmarket"
(c) "crowded"

Post your answers on the Tag Board or in a Comment. Try to find an alternative English expression for wach one.

Next post: how to use the British Council's 'Learn English' site effectively.

Yours and more soon,
Mike

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Six Minute English: Shopping Centres

Do you just love shopping? Do you look forward to Saturday afternoon in Rome's Via del Corso? Or maybe you prefer the Roma Est shopping centre, just off the highway as you head east out of town.

Or maybe you hate shopping. Whichever the case, this week's Six Minute English, from the BBC's Learning English site, brings you some people's opinions. It also brings you some useful vocabulary.

Read the questions first, then listen.

1. Official question:

The Bullring in Birmingham is the UK's busiest shopping centre, but how many people, on average, visit the Bullring each year? Is it:
 a) 27 million
b) 37 million
c) 47 million
 Listen out for the answer at the end of the programme!

For questions 2 to 6, listen and insert the word that fits each space. One space = one word.

2. What kind of shopping does Rob like? “I like __________ shopping: I like __________ __________, __________ what I __________, and __________ __________ again.”
He doesn’t like “__________ around and __________ the shopping centre”.

3. The High Street is the __________ shopping street in a __________ or __________.

4. For the first speaker, the advantages of shopping centres are __________ and a good __________, __________ or __________.However, a shopping centre cannot replace __________ __________, such as a nice __________ in a __________ __________ __________.

5. The second speaker says the restaurants are either __________ or slightly more __________.

6. The disadavantage of shopping centres is that they are often very __________.


Now, listen to the programme. When you have finished, post your answers on the Tag Board on the right, or in a Comment.

Keep in touch with BBC Learning English by going to its Facebook page.

And you can do some further reading about an example of a successful shopping centre in the North-East of England. Make a note of any interesting new vocabulary. If you find any really difficult expressions, just post a comment or a message on the Tag Board. Someone is sure to answer.

In my next post, we will look at the British Council's Learn English site and how it can help you with your English. More soon!

Yours,
Mike

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Listening to English: 'From Our Own Correspondent' (BBC)

Hello everyone. It's 6 September and it is not long since I returned to Rome. So I haven't had time yet to devise a 'Six Minute English' listening comprehension exercise. But here is something equally interesting: From Our Own Correspondent.

Listen to the report from Tripoli, Libya. Here are two questions to help you concentrate on the information it contains:

1. Why did the correspondent find Colonel Gaddafi's Bab-el-Aziziya headquarters in Tripoli 'surreal'?

2. What are the Libyans' reactions when they visit Bab-el-Aziziya?

Post your answers on the Tag Board (limited to 22 characters) or in a Comment - just click the Comment link at the bottom of this post.

More soon!
Mike

Tag Board reactivated

Dear All,

Just back from the summer holidays, and I have now reactivated the Tag Board. You are welcome to post messages as long as they are useful, informative and relevant to this Blog.

A word of warning to spammers, however. There have been too many spam posts to the tag board in the past few months. Be aware that I shall check out the IP addresses of any spam messages, and will delete any messages that don't conform to Blog rules of utility and relevance. I will also report persistent offenders' IP addresses to the Cbox administrators, creators of the Tag Board.

That said, I will from now on post regular messages on how to use the Net to help practise and improve your English. These will include further listening exercises based on Six Minute English.

I hope all readers had an enjoyable summer holiday. Please continue to visit us!

Yours,
Mike Ivy