Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Reading: The 10 Smartest Animals

"Scientists may not agree on the best and fullest definition of intelligence — but they generally agree that humans are highly intelligent.

Other members of the animal kingdom exhibit signs of intelligence as well, and some scientists might say the definition of animal vs. human intelligence is merely a matter of degree..."

Do you agree?

Before you read the complete article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24628983/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/smartest-animals/#.ULUpv4foRrB , make a list of the ten animals -- other than humans -- that you consider the most intelligent.

After reading, look back at your list to see how many of the animals you named are the same as the animals discussed in the article.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Why You Need Good Punctuation and Grammar ;)

Image from Grammarly.com


to lower the odds (of) - to reduce the likelihood (of)

to be turned off (by) - to be caused to lose interest or attraction (by)

shoddy (adjective) - poor, careless

Video: The Future of Lying - Listening Exercise with Answers

Listen to the talk on “The Future of Lying” by Jeff Hancock at http://www.ted.com/talks/jeff_hancock_3_types_of_digital_lies.html and then answer the questions below.

You may need to listen more than once. The first time, you should listen to the whole talk to get the main ideas. Making some notes while you listen may help you focus. When you listen again, use the pause and transcript buttons to catch details if needed.


1. About how many times per day do people lie?

2. Is the internet making us more deceptive?

3. Why do we lie less when we write?



To lie/to tell a lie – to tell an untruth; a liar (n.) – a person who lies

A fib – a small lie

A white lie – a less serious lie, often told to protect another person from feeling bad

To tell the truth/to be truthful - to be honest; truth (n.), truthful (adj.)

To deceive – to be dishonest; deception (n.), deceit (n.), deceitful (adj.)


1. We all lie once or twice a day.

2. No. (New means of communication have only changed the ways in which we lie. We tell most lies on the phone. We’re more honest online than face to face).

3. With writing, we leave a record (unlike speaking, where there’s no record of what we say).

***On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult did you find this exercise? It's not an easy one -- this is a native speaker, speaking quickly on a complex topic. Hope you could catch some of his main points!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Dogs Learn Language Differently From Humans

Read the report on an interesting study with a border collie dog called Gable at:

http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/67658-dogs-learn-language-differently-from-humans .

"The study sheds further light on language abilities in other species and how they communicate with humans. The researchers believe that how word-knowledge is developed in dogs and how it works in reference to objects is fundamentally different to these processes in humans. The idea that dogs learn words in a very different way to us could advance our understanding of how languages first developed in humans."

Can you find the sentence in the text that shows in what way, exactly, dogs seem to learn language differently to humans? (Answer below).


Answer: "However, when dogs are learning the name of a new object, researchers found that they associate the word to the object based first on its size and secondly on its texture, rather than on its shape."

Monday, 19 November 2012

"Say Cheese"

"Say cheese" is what photographers sometimes say when they're taking a picture of you. Saying "cheese" makes you appear to be smiling.

Friday, 16 November 2012

How Sleep Makes Us Smarter and Healthier - Listening Exercise with Answers

PBS NEWSHOUR is a great source of clear, informative videos on a diversity of topics. You'll also find an option to "turn on captions" to help you understand if needed.

For a video you may enjoy on an activity we all love -- sleep!-- go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye2_2osVCJQ .

Watch the ten-minute video once or twice and answer these two questions:

1. What is the main benefit of sleep discussed in the video?

2. What are the main physical problems associated with lack of sleep?

Then compare with my answers below.

If you missed any key points, listen once again to check.


"to reboot" - to restart (like a computer)



Thinking over a problem (or "rebooting the brain") during sleep/dreaming makes us more effective at problem-solving.


Produce fewer antibodies
Process food less efficiently
Increased hunger
Increased signs of being pre-diabetic
Weight gain
Cardiovascular problems

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Ten Great Documentaries to Help You Improve Your English

Film of all kinds, from short YouTube videos to movies and even cartoons, are a fabulous way to provide yourself with authentic English input while having fun and keeping informed.

Here are ten great documentaries to enrich your knowledge of the world while you improve your English:


Particularly if you're preparing for a test such as IELTS, in which you need to speak and write about a range of subjects, you should follow the news and current affairs topics to make sure you not only have ideas and opinions to communicate but also the language you need to impart your thoughts.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

First Class of Texas Online University Graduates

The first-ever class of WGU Texas, the state's online university, have graduated.

Students commented: " "People have the perception that if it's online, it's easy," Stewardson said. "That's definitely not the case."

Milliron offered up another common misconception. "I think it's a myth to think that an online universities like ours is impersonal," he said. "

Read the complete story here: http://myhighplains.com/fulltext?utm_medium=referral&nxd_id=314672&utm_source=t.co

What are your perceptions or experiences of online learning?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Finding and Maintaining Motivation

Here's a terrific article on "grit" (strength and determination) which offers techniques to keep you going through the long process of learning English:


These tips aren't just helpful for language learning -- they can be applied in any areas of life in which you wish to achieve success.

Wishing you grit!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Using Online Resources to Improve Your English

If you followed the link in my previous blog entry and listened to Stephen Krashen speaking about how we learn foreign languages ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXJwGFpfCY8&feature=related ), you'll know that interesting, understandable input in the second language is key!

In other words, find interesting material to read, listen to, or watch in the second language. Video material is great because it helps make the "input" understandable.

Here's a link to 39 free video lectures on "The History of Western Architecture", taught by Jacqueline Gargus at Ohio State University (USA): http://www.openculture.com/2012/11/the_history_of_western_architecture_in_39_free_lectures_.html .

Not interested in architecture? No problem! There are countless excellent, free resources now available on the internet. Just search for material on your topics of interest. (YouTube can be a good place to start looking, if you can access it. If not, just search elsewhere -- searching online in English is great language practice, too.)

Happy learning!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

What Does and Doesn't Help You Improve Your English

Listen to language expert, Stephen Krashen, speaking on what really helps us improve our proficiency in English at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiTsduRreug (Please copy the website address into your browser if the link is not working!)

You may find the reality differs greatly from your beliefs! For instance, do you need to know how grammar works in English? Do you believe it's helpful for the teacher to correct all your grammatical errors?

Listen again and make a list of Krashen's most important points.

Then make a list of ways you can add 30 to 60 minutes' interesting and comprehensible English input to your life every day!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ways To Improve Your English

Ways To Improve Your English


• Follow TV and radio news in both your native language and in English. Understanding the ideas in your native language first will help you understand the English.
• Listen to songs in English.
• Watch films in English with English subtitles.
• Practice communicating with your friends in English.


• Learn the words to English songs and sing.
• Practice with English cassettes, CDs or internet sites.
• Read aloud (articles, stories, dialogues, film scripts).
• Watch English films and read the dialogue aloud from the subtitles.
• Talk to yourself in English.
• Talk to your friends in English.
• Make an “interest group” with friends/colleagues/classmates to speak in English while you do something you enjoy together (singing, eating, exercise, playing cards…).


• Read about topics that interest you in English (e.g. sports, fashion, business…) in newspapers, library books or on the internet.
• Follow the news in both your native language and in English. Understanding the ideas in your native language first will help you understand the English.
• Read simple, modern short stories and novels in English.
• Read letters and emails from your friends in English.


• Keep a diary in English. Just write freely about whatever you like. This helps you “think in English” more easily.
• Email or write notes to your friends in English.
• Write a song or a poem.
• Write the story of your life: past, present and future.
• Join an internet e-group and communicate with people who share your interests from all over the world.
• Chat in English on the internet with people from other countries.

Friday, 2 November 2012

"Too" or "enough"? - guide and exercise with answers

Too / Enough ...........

Too = a lot but not good

It is too warm! It's 40 degrees C and I'm very uncomfortable.

*********** too + warm

Enough = a lot but good (just right)

It's warm enough. It's 25 degrees C and perfect.

*********** warm + enough

Use too or enough :

1. It's ............ hot today ! It's 40 degrees C.

2. You are old ............. to go shopping by yourself.

3. You are .......... young to go on the bus without your mother.

4. The homework was ......... difficult. I could not finish it.

5. The teacher spoke .......... fast for me to understand.

6. The teacher spoke slowly ..................... for me to understand.

7. Is it quiet ....................... for you to study here ? No, it's .............. noisy !

8. Have you had .................. to eat ? Oh, yes ! Really, I have had ...... much.

Answers: 1. too 2. enough 3. too 4. too 5. too 6. enough 7. enough, too 8. enough, too