Sunday, February 24, 2019


About time I started blogging again. This time it might be a little bit different. I think what I'll do is write about some interesting stuff that comes to mind I think might interest other people.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Learn English Through Song or Movie Scenes

A generous man called Teacher Frank (not me! A different one…) has created lots and lots of fun lessons which involve listening to songs and watching slide shows or movies on You Tube. He even has free exercises to go with them.
I find the songs and movie scenes are very well chosen and because the level is fairly easy for most of you, it is a nice relaxing way to work on your English. Nevertheless, I am rather confident that in each song or scene there will be a few idioms or phrases that may not yet be in your active, productive English. 
I suggest you try to use these new phrases in sentences of your own. And let others know about the site if you like it. Maybe it's worth a blogging about in your own blog.
Here is an example using a song I like very much, especially on a cloudy day :) I just love the singer's clear mellifluous voice
You can also study the lyrics and respond to your favorite lines. Have a look at the two-page Word handout that goes with it.
Here is the whole list of songs Frank has chosen for you. There are PLENTY of great songs to choose from and the slide shows are often quite amusing. 

Learn English Through Movie Scenes

Also very entertaining. Scroll down to see the script and do the exercise. Use the new words and phrases you learn so you remember them better!

Finally, here is a long playlist at youtube will a lot of the free lessons that Teacher Frank has prepared for your learning pleasure.
Have fun! (and who cares if you start singing along :) )

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Alex Rawlings, Oxford University Student, Speaks 11 Languages

Alex Rawlings and other Polyglots

Meet Alex Rawlings. He is a student of foreign languages, but he's not really like you or me...
  1. Watch the video and decide what the secret to his success is.You can find the video at the BBC site...
  2. What does it really mean to be "fluent" in a language?
  3. Read some of the comments people have made. Whose opinion do you agree with most?
  4. Alex can currently speak 11 languages:  English, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Afrikaans, French, Hebrew, Catalan and Italian.  Group them according to how similar they are.
  5. Cover up the language in the top left and try to guess which language he is speaking. How can you tell? What are the distinctive features of  Dutch, compared to Afrikaans, for example.
Here are some interesting polyglots. Who do find most impressive? Tim, Benny, or Alex?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Make a C-Test or a Cloze Test

A)    What is a C-test? 

Answer and example

  1. Read the explanation and the instructions, then try to actually do a C-Test online, first in German and then in English.
    1. Here is a German one you can do online. When you have guessed all the missing information, click "Test auswerten". How did you do?  If you are a native speaker of German, you probably got everything correct, or nearly.
    2. Now here is an online one in English.  When you have guessed all the missing information, click "Test auswerten". How did you do? 

B)  Now make a C-test using a text you choose. C-Tests are a great way to test your level in any language.

  1. Go to C-test
    1. Just paste in a text of several paragraphs from an article you want to read or even one you have read and want to work with more intensively. 
    2. After you click "Submit" your text will come back with every other word missing half its letters. The idea is for you to reconstruct the text using your knowledge of the language and the inherent redundancy in the the language. Sound weird? Just give it a try. The first sentence, numbers,  and certain short words are kept intact, so it is not really as hard as it sounds. 
    3. How were you even able to reconstruct the text? What strategies did you use?
    4. What did you learn about your level in this language? Try it with another language you know. If possible, use parallel texts.

C)    A similar kind of test:     Cloze tests

  1. Again, paste in a text of your choice. You can decide what you remove and even add hints if you wish. I haven't figured out how you can save the tests you make, but there must be a way. If anyone knows, please comment below! Thanks.
  2. Here is a cloze test with every 4th word missing. How difficult is it to reconstruct?
As part of ___ trend towards cloud-computing ___ the advantages such __ platform-independence that come ____ it, this new _______ offers tools for ________ up exercise preparation ____ by automating repetitive _____. Each tool that ________ here will be _________ in two flavours: ____ only (for copying ___ pasting into documents), ___ interactive exercises you ___ save as an ____ page.
The _____ are free to ___, all I ask __ that you leave ___ small copyright text __ place. The list ____ be enriched as ____ allows, and requests ___ more than welcome ___ 

Merci beaucoup Lucy Georges in France!

TASK: Sum up what you found out about these kinds of tests. What's the difference? How can they help you and other language learners?
More about C-tests (auf deutsch)  here.
Joe Blum in Florida seems to be an interesting guy. He is also into Esperanto, as was I many years ago. If you really get into C-Tests, there is more to discover here at Joe's site.

CAE Practice Tests

Cambridge Advanced should be a challenging enough level that no one will get bored

Paper 1 Reading (See below for Use of English)

Test 1
Get a printed version of each test for a record of your work.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | 

Paper 3 Use of English

Test 1 (of 3)
Get a printed version of each test for a record of your work.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | 

Paper 3 Use of English

Test 2 (of 3)
Get a printed version of each test for a record of your work.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | 

Paper 3 Use of English

Test 3 (of 3)
Get a printed version of each test for a record of your work.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | 
Do you like testing your English?
Then try these CAE Practice Tests. The level is pretty challenging, but what fun is it doing a test that's too easy?
You can blog about the experience and discuss what these tests have taught you about your current level of English.
Go to flo-joe to try more tests at different levels.
(PET) Cambridge English: Preliminary
(FCE) Cambridge English: First
(CAE) Cambridge English: Advanced
(CPE) Cambridge English: Proficiency
The CAE Writing Class is also worth a closer look. Good exercises!

St Patrick's Day Food and Beverage

St Patrick's Day Food and Beverage

A food site called The Daily Meal has quite a lot of information about how this famous "alcoholiday" (if ever there was one! :) ) is celebrated in the good ol' USA.

Read this text to get answers to these questions:

1) What is a  re-used "Fat Tuesday" float?
2) What river in which major American city is dyed kelly green?
3)  Which New England city is considered America's most Irish city?

Myths about Bilingual Children

Have you ever wished you had grown up speaking two (or more) languages? What are the advantages and disadvantages of a bilingual upbringing?
Listen carefully to Brenda explain the 4 main myths and what experts like her feel is really the truth when it comes to raising kids bilingually.
I have two kids myself and I must say they turned out just fine :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Food for Thought Crossword

Food for Thought Crossword Puzzle

Do you like crossword puzzles as much as I do?
I doubt it! :)
Print it out and give it a try!
For more such puzzles, visit (requires Java)
These are much easier than the ones made for students at the New York Times.
Let me know if you get stuck!

As you can see, there are quite a few food-related puzzles, so make a snack and atart solving :) ! 
Airport: At the Airport
Animals: A World of Animals
Cars: Cars and Car Parts
Computer: Computer Terms
Dairy: Down at the Dairy
Entertainment: Words are Entertaining
Factory: Working at the Factory
Food: Food for Thought
Flowers: The Flower Show
Fruit: Fruit Salad
Garden: Working in the Garden
Geography: Know Your Geography
Home: Home Sweet Home
Jobs: A Job Well Done
Office: Around the Office
Personal Hygiene: Good Personal Hygiene
Plants: A Whole Crop of Plants
Preparing Food: Preparing Food
School: School's in Session
Science: Science Experiment
Seafood: Under the Sea
Space: Outer Space
Sports: Sports Fan
Tools: Tools of the Trade
Transportation: Transportation Terms
Trees: Swinging from the Trees
Utility Room: The Useful Utility Room
Vegetable: Garden Vegetables
Weather: Wild Weather

Common Errors in English Usage

Paul Brians' fantastic award-winning website by an English professor in Washington state  is THE place to go to learn the finer points of English, which, as we all know, is the easiest language on Earth. (or should I say, "on the Earth"? Or simply, "on earth"?)

He has short but very useful explanations of  usage questions like LOSE/LOOSE and many many more. Definatelydefinitlydefinetly ??? worth bookmarking!

The Lion Eating Poet; a Quick Background: 
 Chinese is a tonal language. Which means that each sound can be pronounced in a number of different ways depending upon the inflection the speaker places on the syllable. A upward, downward, peaked or even inflection can change the word entirely. Unlike English where homonyms (words pronounced the same but spelled differently) like “flower” and “flour” are about as creative as it gets, Chinese is also very contextual, the word’s can change meaning depending on what precedes and follows them, so much more variation can be derived from the same base sounds.

Using some creative linguistic flexibility Yuen Ren Chao wrote this fantastic poem that describes the bizarre tale of a lion-eating poet, reportedly to spoof the idea of converting Chinese characters into a phonetic Latin alphabet equivalent. The 93 word essay is composed of the same repeated sound only varying in tone (so it is unreadable in other dialects like Cantonese). Remarkable from a linguistic standing, the poem shows just how difficult it can be to translate from one language to another.

I must say I am impressed as the only English equivalent I have come across is the sentence “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” which means “Bison from Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison in their community, also happen to intimidate other bison in their community”. Not quite the same flare as the Lion eating poet, but i’ll chalk that up to a limitation of our language.

Frank says: This is really amazing for a language buff like me. I would really like to find a Chinese speaking person who would read this for me. It's kind of hard to believe really but then again language is a pretty incredible thing, isn't it?
Wait! I live in the 21st century... I will see if a machine can convince me that the story really is all SHE's cracked up to be ! 
I found the characters in copyable form here:
and then pasted them into and clicked the little speaker to have the text pronounced for me. Try it!!
I will paste the characters here too if I can...

Here's another strange language puzzle, in English. If done correctly, the same word appears 11 times in a row. Not as cool as Chinese, but English is cool in other ways, isn't it?
Can you punctuate this sentence so it makes sense?
"James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher".