タグ別アーカイブ: TOEFL

To all my ‘listening’ students: How to improve your listening

So, you’re studying Eiken, TOEIC, TOEFL or even just general English, but you still can’t fully understand what you hear. Read this, and let me know if you find it useful.

Then check out our lessons at NELS here.

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The easy way to understand tenses in English

Strictly speaking there are actually only 2 tenses in the English language: present tense, and past tense. However, there are 16 different aspects of tense which makes it difficult for English learners to work out if they should be using the past perfect simple, the present perfect continuous, or any of the 14 others!

But don’t worry! Look at these easy to understand tense charts which show you simply  the situation in which we use each of the tense aspects. Study the image, read about it below, then click the arrow on the right to study the next.

Then, why not write your own sentences for each of the 19 situations presented in the charts! Good luck!

Being able to use tenses well in English will help you get a good TOEIC score. It will also help you in 英検 and TOEFL tests in understanding written texts.

Which sport are you made for?

I found this fun and interesting quiz today about which sport your body is best suited to. You just have to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in 13 categories.

It has some great expressions and idiomatic phrases in, so why not kill two birds with one stone and take the quiz? You’ll not only find out which sport you are best suited for, but you’ll also be studying English at the same time!

I got squash, weightlifting and judo. What about you? Do the think the results are accurate?

Take the quiz here.

Click here to find out more about NELS classes.

Collocations with the word ‘goal’

To commemorate the end of the World Cup, let me share with you a page where you can learn some great collocations using the word ‘goal’.

As I’m sure you know, goal has two meanings: one in sport and the other with a more general meaning.

Learn 20 collocations with ‘goal’ here.

To find out more about NELS courses, please visit our homepage here.

A, an, the or nothing?

These tiny little words are not only quite important in English, but also quite confusing for many English language learners, right?

You will learn about them in our A2 General English course. To find out more about our 英会話 courses, click on the link.

For a guide in how and when to use  a, an, the or nothing, check out this video.

 

‘t’ and ‘d’ pronunciation class homework sentences

This month my pronunciation lesson was about ‘t’ and ‘d’. Students learnt about strong ‘t’s at the start of words (e.g. to, top), and in clusters (e.g. st- stop, -tch watch); about silent ‘t’s and ‘d’s (e.g. Christmas, Wednesday); and about held ‘t’s and ‘d’s when the full sound of the letter is not pronounced. ‘t’s and ‘d’s can be held at the end of words (e.g. ‘what’ becomes whaʔ, ‘good’ becomes gooʔ), in /tli/ words (e.g. ‘recently’ becomes ‘recenʔly’, ‘lately’ becomes ‘laʔely’), and in the pattern t + vowel + n (e.g. ‘written’ becomes /rɪʔən/, ‘certain’ – /sɜːʔən/). They also learnt about how, in -nd words (e.g. ‘and’), the ‘d’ is cut which is why we write rock ‘n’ roll, and fish ‘n’ chips.

At the end of the lesson, I gave some homework to review some of the rules and patterns that we’d covered.

‘t’ and ‘d’ sentence practice

How do you pronounce the ‘t’s and ‘d’s in these sentences?

1. What time tomorrow?       2. How about meeting at eight?       3. I was sent home.

4. I slept well last night.       5. Don’t do that.         6. He doesn’t want it.                  7. I wanted to know.

 

Answers

– = words linked

1. Whaʔ time tomorrow?       2. How abouʔ meeʔing aʔ eighʔ / at-eighʔ / ad eighʔ?       3. I was senʔ home.

4. I slept well last nighʔ.       5. Don’ʔ do thaʔ.         6. He doesn’ʔ wanʔ it / want-it / waniʔ.                  7. I wanted to know.

Actual pronunciation will depend on the speaker, and as you can see, there are a number of alternatives. Native English speakers may use a lot of ‘held’ sounds, but sometimes this does not mean that their English is good! For example, in British English, saying ‘waniʔ’ instead of ‘want it’, or ‘wanid’ instead of ‘wanted’ is not considered ‘nice’ English!

Practice saying the sentences above using ‘holds’ and ‘cuts’ so your ears will more easily recognise these patterns when you hear them. It is probably not such a good idea to try and speak ‘bad’ English!

Remember your goals: To speak so that others understand you; to be able to understand what others are saying.

Why not record yourself and then listen to how you sound? You may be surprised how native like you have become!

Have fun cutting and holding those ‘t’s and ‘d’s!

 

later and in

I often see errors in the use of ‘later’ and ‘in’ when talking about the future.

Use ‘later’ to mean ‘after that time’.

Use ‘in’ to mean ‘ after now’.

e.g. She got married in January. Six months LATER she got divorced.

Tess is coming on the 1st, and Eug will arrive 2 days LATER.

I’ll see you IN a few days.

Be careful! If you don’t use a time expression (e.g. a few days, tomorrow), use LATER.

I’ll see you LATER.

 

Now try writing your own examples using ‘in’ and ‘later’.

I hope to see them LATER, IN a short while!

 

You may be tested on this for TOEIC part 5 or 6 reading. Check out NELS’ website for more information about our course.

 

Why learning English is good for your brain

So if your first language is not English and you are reading this, then I have good news for you – your brain may be ageing slower than if you were reading this in your mother tongue. Why? Well, take a look at this report from the BBC which claims that those people who learn a foreign language may be more intelligent and also better readers than those who only speak one language.

If you can read and understand the article, well done – your English is not only very good, but you are actual proof that you are both intelligent and good at reading!

Being able to understand texts like this is necessary for Eiken and TOEFL. Click on the links to find out more about NELS courses.

Hardly, scarcely, barely, seldom, rarely and hardly ever: What’s the difference?

I was recently asked the difference between

hardly, scarcely, barely, seldom, rarely and hardly ever

so let me explain:

Hardly, scarcely and barely refer to how easily something happens. However, as all the words have a negative nuance, it means that the event is/was or will be difficult, and is/was or will be only just achieved

Hardly emphasizes the difficulty. e.g. I could hardly endure the pain.

Scarcely suggests a very narrow success margin which is unsatisfactory. e.g. He can scarcely read.

Barely stresses the narrowness of the success margin. e.g. We barely succeeded.

They are quite synonymous (i.e. they have very similar meanings, so can therefore be used interchangeably for the most part).

 

Seldom, rarely and hardly ever refer to how often something happens, although again, as they have a negative nuance they all mean the event doesn’t happen very often at all.

 

So what’s the difference between hardly and hardly ever?

Try these questions to see if you know:

1A: How much did you learn?

B: I _______ learned anything.

 

2A: How often do you go there?

B:  ________.

 

3A: I’m so fat.

B: No, you’re not! You _______ eat!

 

Let me know you’re answers and I’ll post the correct answers next time.

Then write me your own examples using each of the words.

You may be tested on this in TOEIC Reading Part 5, or Eiken but just knowing how to use the words correctly for general conversation will really help you sound more like a natural English speaker.

 

References:

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090503230920AA82VuL

http://www.englishforums.com/English/HardlyScarcelyRarelySeldom/gpnrm/post.htm

 

In or on? In time or on time?

You might think that two little words with only two letters would be quite easy to use, right? But I know that actually, ‘in’ and ‘on’ can be a bit confusing, so I’d like to share with you some helpful rules.

You may be tested on this in TOEIC Reading Part 5, or Eiken but just knowing how to use the words correctly for general conversation will really help you sound more like a natural English speaker.

Find out about ‘on’ and ‘in’ here.

And once you’ve mastered that, maybe you’d like to understand a little better about the difference between ‘in time’ and ‘on time’. Find out more here.

Then, why not write your own example sentences using the rules you’ve just learnt?