Idioms can be a really fun part of language learning with their colourful imagery and quirky cultural connections. However, they can also be a real challenge for learners. There are such a variety of idioms in English and many are impossible to decode on first meeting.
There is no doubt that independent learning is a tricky topic for EFL teachers. This approachof independent learning, where students take control of their own work and organise and manage their studies, is promoted widely in UK universities as a way to enable students to unlock valuable skills such as self-awareness, self-motivation, anddecision-making abilities. Skills which are undoubtedly valued in the workplace, especially in high-level jobs where autonomy, evaluation and quick incisive decision-making are great assets.
Recently, I‘ve been looking at ways to support young learner engagement through the use of readers online. Readers can help you to reach out, motivate, connect with and stimulate your young learners and help them continue on their English language learning journeys. They can provide a fun, energetic and multi-skilled learning environment. And there are many free software tools out there that can help.
It seems to me that we often fall into the trap of viewing readers as an added extra in English language teaching, when in fact readers can offer so much more and be an integral part of a young learner’s English learning journey. Readers make learning English a positive and fun experience. Readers anchor vocabulary and language in varied and meaningful contexts. They support all of the classroom and coursework learning, and extend that learning by presenting the vocabulary and language in multiple scenarios.
When we think of language change, it tends to be new coinages that spring to mind (rewilding, deepfake, zoombombing), but in fact, a lot of new language is created by putting existing words together in new combinations, that’s especially true of phrasal verbs and idioms.
In the second of our blog posts about the new edition ofCOBUILD English Usage, Penny Hands details some of the findings that came out of the team’s research into the ways in which new words and uses are created.
In the first of our blog posts about the new edition of COBUILD English Usage, Penny Hands details some of the changes she made to the examples to ensure they reflect changes in society, and ponders on how future-proof these changes are likely to be.
Changing an accent is not an overnight task and many people try and fail because they don’t know the best way to approach accent modification and become overwhelmed. The trouble is we talk all the time without even thinking about it, so when we try and think ‘how do I say that?’ we can’t answer.
Accents are muscular habits. As such, learning a new accent is like learning a gymnastic move, and any teacher should aim to balance the teaching need for muscular repetition with the learner’s need to feel they are making progress.
One of the most challenging sounds for non-native speakers of English is actually the most common sound in the English language! That sound isThe Schwa. The schwa is a very subtle, quiet sound – you may barely have noticed it, but without it, you can never hope to capture the rhythm of English. Any written vowel can be replaced by the schwa if it’s in an unstressed syllable.
Size matters when it comes to corpora. At 220 million words of text, the corpus used to create the second edition of the COBUILD dictionary in 1995 was over ten times the size of the one used for the first edition, and 220 times bigger than the first electronic corpora developed in the 1960s and early 1970s. Yet it was tiny compared to those we use today, some of which amount to billions, not millions of words.