La formation langues à l’abri de la crise

De toute évidence, le secteur de formation professionnelle continue, et notamment la formation langues, se porte plutôt bien malgré le climat économique maussade.   Selon la 5e édition du baromètre de la formation professionnelle, réalisé par Place de la formation et publié en février, l’anglais demeure le numéro un des demandes de formation professionnelle.  Avec une augmentation de 11% de demande de formation en langues étrangères par rapport à 2011, dont un quart concernant l’anglais,  les professionnels français ne sont peut être pas aussi mauvaises élèves en langues que l’on peut croire.  Plus que 50% des demandes de DIF (droit individuel à la formation) concernent l’apprentissage de langues.

Le fait que crise économique rime avec croissance dans le secteur de la formation professionnelle suit un certain logique.  Quand la pérennité de l’emploi est incertaine, pour mettre toutes les chances de leur côté, les actifs cherchent à se former.  Et quand il y a moins de commandes dans l’entreprise, on peut rentabiliser le temps qui se libère pour acquérir de nouvelles compétences.

Les formateurs en langues constatent que tous les stagiaires ne se servent pas forcément de langues étrangères dans le cadre de leur travail.  D’ailleurs, un grand nombre de stagiaires en DIF s’inscrivent pour des formations en langues pour des raisons personnelles.  Ce n’est pas uniquement pour des raisons d’ordre purement pratique que l’on poursuit des études de langues.  L’apprentissage d’une langue, mise à part son utilité évidente dans la communication au delà des frontières, est un entraînement intellectuel qui peut être bénéfique à plusieurs niveaux.

Les chercheurs ont découvert que les étudiants de langues présentent une croissance cérébrale nettement plus perceptible relative aux étudiants d’autres matières telle que la médecine.  Selon une étude publiée dans le journal Neuroimage, plus l’apprenant développe ses compétences en langues, plus il y a de croissance dans les domaines du cortex cérébral qui traitent le langage.  Il reste à découvrir les raisons exactes de cette corrélation, mais on peut en déduire qu’il n’existe pas de meilleur programme de fitness cérébral que l’apprentissage d’une langue.

Et si on apprenait une langue pour se faire plaisir?  Nous sommes motivés par les choses dans la vie qui nous font plaisir, et si on ne prend pas plaisir à communiquer dans une langue étrangère, il est difficile d’avancer.  La pression occasionnée par l’obligation de passer un test en anglais pour satisfaire aux exigences d’un employeur, ou de faire une présentation d’un produit en allemand lors d’une réunion avec des clients, n’est pas forcément la carotte dont nous avons besoin pour nous inciter à aller plus loin dans nos exploits linguistiques.  Par contre, le sentiment de satisfaction que l’on peut éprouver après un échange efficace avec un locuteur natif de la langue que nous sommes en train d’apprendre est une motivation extraordinaire.  Apprendre une langue est, avant tout, drôlement enrichissant.

N’hésitez pas à prendre contact avec nous pour que nous puissions échanger concernant vos objectifs en apprentissage de langue, afin de mettre en place un programme de formation qui vous correspond.

photo credit: Kaplan International Colleges, cc

Make your CV more dynamic with action verbs

When a prospective employer is working his way through a huge stack of CVs on his desk, for the sake of time he has no choice but to find a quick way of singling out the three or four best candidates.  It seems quite arbitrary, but there are certain phrases that make CVs likely candidates for the bin, such as:

I worked with…

I was responsible for…

An employer doesn’t want to know what you were responsible for.  They want to know exactly what you did and what those actions produced.  A good CV expresses work experience in a dynamic, interesting way, and as briefly as possible.  A varied vocabulary might also be more effective in convincing an employer of your English skills than a TOEIC or IELTS score.

This is where action verbs come in.  Some examples of work experience, and verbs you might consider using:

 Imagine you developed a campaign for saving energy at your university.  Instead of developed…

Launched / Designed / Implemented / Championed / Pioneered / Masterminded a campaign for campus energy saving.

 Let’s say you organised classes in computer skills for a voluntary organisation.  Instead of organised…

Managed / Introduced / Directed / Orchestrated / Spearheaded a programme to train job-seekers in basic computer skills.

 Or perhaps you were involved in a new procedure for dealing with complaints the tourism industry.  Instead of I was responsible for…

Established / Streamlined / Formulated / Generated / Structured a new procedure for logging complaints for hotel receptionists.

You’ll notice that in each of the above examples there is no subject in the sentence.  It is common in CVs to omit the subject, and start the sentence with a past simple verb – indicating that you are referring to a past experience with a past time reference (usually because the CV is organised chronologically).

There is a wealth of other action verbs you could use to spice up your CV:

exceeded

generated

leveraged

maximised

mentored

optimised

engineered

rejuvenated

designed

prepared

chaired

drew up

researched

analysed

etc.

A few tools that may help

Thesaurus.com

Visual Thesaurus

Just the word (useful for checking collocations or word partnerships, with examples of how different nouns and verbs are associated).

Europass CV template  (this won’t help you with vocabulary, but is a useful template for getting started in CV writing).

Action verbs will definitely make your CV stand out.  Have you found any other similar tools to help you expand your vocabulary?  Let us know about them in the comments.

Photo credit: the Italian voice, cc

Stages d’anglais accéléré

Vous sentez-vous bloqué en anglais?

Avez-vous constaté qu’un enfant a peu de difficultés à intégrer une deuxième langue, et encore moins sa langue maternelle?  En règle générale un enfant écoute la langue de ses parents pour un à deux ans avant de commencer à parler cette langue (et six à sept ans avant de l’écrire).

Par la suite, les difficultés de l’apprentissage peuvent  se situer au niveau de l’oreille.  Dans la plupart des cursus scolaires nous sommes contraints de produire la langue cible bien avant que notre oreille soit affutée aux fréquences spécifiques de la nouvelle langue.

Pour cette raison nous travaillons en partenariat avec le Centre Tomatis de Nantes, spécialistes de la méthode Tomatis: une pédagogie de l’écoute par l’entrainement des muscles de l’oreille moyenne.   Ensemble nous proposons des stages intensifs d’anglais accéléré, combinant exercises d’entraînement de l’oreille avec une pédagogie de langues intéractive et adapté au monde de travail.  Les résultats d’une étude Européenne (Audio-Lingua), dans le cadre du programme européen SOCRATES, menée sur 3 ans (1993-1996) auprès de différentes universités, montrent que la méthode Tomatis permet un gain de 50% sur le temps d’intégration, comparé aux autres méthodes d’enseignement.

Dates: 11 – 15 février, 2013

            8 – 12 avril, 2013

Lieu: Au Centre Tomatis de Nantes, 44 rue de Gigant, 44100 NANTES (parking privé)

Nombre de stagiaires: 6 maximum

Programme journalier type:

    • 9:30 – Entraînement à l’écoute
    • 11:00 – Cours d’anglais
    • 12:30 – Déjeuner anglophone (avec le formateur)
    • 13:30 – Cours d’anglais
    • 15:00 – Entraînement à l’écoute, intégration

Le stage de 30 heures de formation peut être pris en charge par un OPCA, sous réserve d’acceptation du dossier.

Programme détaillé des stages d’anglais en partenariat avec le Centre Tomatis.

Informations supplémentaires sur l’application de la méthode Tomatis à l’apprentissage des langues.


Pour plus d’information, servez-vous de notre formulaire contact, et nous prendrons contact avec vous rapidement.

L’atelier d’anglais

1h30 par semaine de pratique de la langue sous forme d’exploration, de discussion, d’échanges culturels…

Dans les ateliers d’anglais, nous vous invitons à l’exploration d’une autre culture, certes, mais aussi celle de vos connaissances et de vos compétences – mais si, vous en avez ! Combien d’années avez-vous étudiez l’anglais ? Je vous garantis qu’il vous en reste quelque chose!

Nous allons donc jouer en anglais, « tatasser » en anglais, chanter en anglais, faire des projets en anglais… nous allons nous immerger dans la langue, sans jugement.

Le vocabulaire, les structures, les points de langues dont vous aurez besoin seront amenés dans un contexte précis et répondront à la tâche que vous êtes en train d’accomplir (approche actionnelle).  Cette approche permet, non pas d’accumuler des connaissances (l’Education Nationale se charge de cela) mais de vous affirmer en tant que locuteur angliciste !

L’atelier est ouvert:

tous les jeudi (hors vacances de la toussaint)

du 27 septembre au 13 décembre

de 19h00 à 20h30

au Centre Tomatis de Nantes, 44 rue du Gigant, 44100 NANTES

(Action de formation proposée en partenariat avec le Centre Tomatis de Nantes.  Demandez les tarifs et inscrivez-vous en utilisant notre fiche de contact.)

Offre spéciale: cours d’anglais commercial et remise à niveau

 

TARIF SPÉCIAL:

 

17€ l’heure de cours

 

Cours de langue par webcamPour la rentrée, vous pouvez rafraîchir votre anglais avec des cours  » live online » – en ligne par webcam, pour le tarif concurrentiel de 17€ l’heure (pour 10 à 60 heures de formation).

Dates: 29/08/12 – 12/10/12

Horaires: 2 heures par jour; programme disponible sur demande.

Au programme: remise à niveau en anglais général (niveau A2 – B1 – pré-intermédiaire) + perfectionnement spécifique en anglais commercial (programme disponible sur demande).  Les cours se déroulent sur une plate-forme de visio-conférence par webcam, en petit groupes de 2 à 6 stagiaires.

  • Entrée et sortie en mi-parcours possible.  Vous pouvez choisir les dates qui vous conviennent, avec un accès en ligne au matériel des cours manqués en option (forfait d’auto-formation applicable).
  • Possibilité de prise en charge par un OPCA, sous réserve d’acceptation de dossier.

Pour tout renseignement concernant cette formation, où d’autres formules de formation (anglais général, anglais professionnel, allemand, français langue étrangère…), laissez-nous un message en utilisant notre formulaire de contact, et nous répondrons rapidement.

 

How to avoid errors with adverbs #1

targetWhat do the following sentences have in common?

*She speaks very well English.
*I go often to the theatre
*We’re tomorrow leaving for Belgium
*I think we should go early to bed.

Each of the sentences contains an adverb. An adverb is a word that usually answers questions like ‘how?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’ or ‘why?’.

In each of the sentences above, although the sentences are quite understandable, the word order is incorrect.  The position of adverbs can be quite a confusing area of English grammar, for a variety of reasons.  Many English teachers are influenced by a false idea about adverbs that they probably learnt at school, namely that adverbs are ‘words that modify verbs’. This is only a small part of what the versatile adverb can do. It can also modify adjectives, numbers, clauses, whole sentences and other adverbs. The only thing that an adverb can’t modify, in fact, is a noun. This makes the adverb a kind of ‘catch-all’ category of words that don’t fit in any other category.

Another false idea that you might have learnt: ‘adverbs are words that end in -ly’. It is true that many adverbs do end in -ly, but friendly, lovely, lonely, likely, ugly, deadly, cowardly and silly are all adjectives, and cannot be used as adverbs.

There are also some adjectives in -ly that can be used as adverbs, such as daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, early. For example:

I have to wake up early to catch the early train.

The other confusing thing is that there are three possible positions for an adverb in a sentence:

1. initial position – before subject and verb (Frankly, I think she’s lying.)
2. mid position – between subject and verb (John definitely saw a lion behind that tree.)
3. end position – after subject and verb (As a child I used to be punished daily)

Some kinds of adverbs can only go in one position:

I have to say Fortunately Peter sold his house before the prices went down. It would be unusual to say *Peter fortunately sold… and impossible to say *Peter sold fortunately…

Other kinds of adverbs can go in two of the positions:

Yesterday we took the children to the zoo and We took the children to the zoo yesterday are both possible, but not *We yesterday took…

And still other adverbs can go in all three positions:

Occasionally we go to the cinema, We occasionally go… and We go occasionally are all possible.

Another thing to realise is that sometimes errors of adverb position are serious enough to cause misunderstanding:

Naturally, she gave birth and She gave birth naturally do not mean the same thing.

But in other situations errors are not serious, just a bit odd.

The problem with lumping all of these very diverse words into one category is that it can make learning the rules about how to use them seem complicated. This post is the first in a series where we will look at some of the different kinds of adverbs and how they behave.

Did you manage to correct the problems in the sentences at the beginning of the post?

She speaks English very well.

I often go to the theatre.

We’re leaving for Belgium tomorrow.

I think we should go to bed early.

photo credit: quinn.anya via photopin cc

Could live online language learning be right for you?

internet-at-homeThere has been a lot of ‘buzz’ in recent years concerning virtual learning environments (VLEs), and the many forms of online learning have moved from the fringes to the centre of discussions about the advancement of technology in education.  So much has been written about it that one can’t help but wonder whether there are more people writing about VLEs (virtual learning environments) than those who are actually using them.

Even the term is ambiguous: sceptics will ask whether it the environment that is virtual, or the learning.  As a fairly new practitioner in the use of VLEs for language learning, I am cautiously optimistic about the genuine learning potential afforded by online environments.

6 reasons to learn a language live online.

1.  Study in the comfort of your own home.

There is no question that environment influences learning.  An environment that you’re familiar with, that has positive connotations, and that has a relaxed feel will be more conducive to productive learning than a sterile, windowless classroom – it’s a no brainer.  It’s great to be able to turn up to « class » in your pyjamas if you so desire.

2. Enjoy the flexibility of being able to select hours that suit you.

Live online language learning can take place early in the morning, during work hours, late at night, even in the middle of the night if you’re one of those fortunate people who don’t need much sleep.  You can find language trainers in virtually any time zone so there are no restrictions, and there are free online tools available to help you « arrive » on time for your class no matter where in the world your trainer may be working from.

3. Benefit from a huge variety of language learning tools and opportunities on the Internet with a trainer who is able to help you navigate through them.

I just googled « learn english online » and turned up 186,000,000 results.  One of the big problems is knowing where to start.  Out of the top ten ranking sites, most are either directories, or sites with a multitude of links for self-study activities that you can access online.  How do you know which activites are adapted to your level and to your specific learning style and language needs?  Too much choice can be demotivating.  Part of the role of a live online trainer is to point you in the direction of resources that are uniquely suited to you.

4. Enjoy personal contact with a personal language trainer or coach who can help you practice using your language in a variety of contexts.

Live online cannot replace real face to face communication, but can be surprisingly close to the real thing.    Back to my « learning english online » search, only two of the top 10 are offering live online learning, but in pre-packaged units that may or may not correspond to your needs.  Some of the courses on offer have the feel of talking to a machine.   This is where personalised live online training can fill in the gaps in classroom language learning as it makes individual tuition or micro-group learning accessible to anyone with a broadband Internet connection.

5. Practice your language in simulated ‘real life’ situations in virtual worlds.

second-lifeThis is the topic for another article, but the realism of virtual worlds like Second Life affords a level of simulation that is far beyond what you could experience in a traditional classroom role play situation.  Language teaching in virtual worlds is still a very new and experimental field, and technically quite complex.  But for those hardy teachers and learners willing to give it a go, the sky really is the limit.

6. Take control of your learning.

The best language-learners are self-motivated, and know how to leverage their particular passions and interests to help them make progress.  I was reminded of this during a brief end-of-semester chat with a student whose mastery of English is quite remarkable compared with many of his peers.  My assumption that he had lived in an English-speaking country was unfounded.  Instead, he told me of his passion for rap and American movies: he has been able to achieve an exceptional level of English just doing what he enjoys.  This is applicable to any kind of learning, not just live online.  But the application to live online is the potential for the ‘teacher’ to become more of a ‘personal trainer’ – helping you source materials on subjects you are passionate about and exploiting them for improving your language skills.  This is a good recipe for keeping motivation levels high.

4 possible disadvantages of live online

1.  Not everyone finds it easy to learn the technology.

Live online learning does require a certain level of digital literacy, and it is not necessarily the best option for people who are easily frustrated by technology.  A good trainer will patiently spend the necessary time to ensure the learner is up to speed technically, and will give support throughout the training sessions.

2.  The inevitable bugs and crashes, and the time lag which can hinder natural communication when the quality of the Internet connection varies.

Although the technology is improving all the time, these are common problems which need to be faced.  But a good live online trainer will always have a contingency plan to fall back on, and technical hiccups can even be turned into good learning opportunities if handled correctly.

3. Absence of body language and other visual cues.

All right, this is where I have to agree with the sceptics.  There is no question that this is a drawback in live online learning.  In natural communication, and particularly when speaking a foreign language, interpreting visual cues and even lip-reading are important communication aids.   Communication via webcam is obviously a great improvement on audio-only telephone communication, but perfect resolution and lagless video are still a way off.

But is this enough of a drawback to discourage learning live online?  No, for the simple reason that face to face communication is only one of many mediums where we need to use our second, third or fourth language.  These days in the course of our daily work we are just as likely to communicate over the telephone, voice or text chat or video conference.  This means that learning to communicate well without relying on the usual visual cues is vital.

4. A lot of educators are excited about live online learning, but the quality of training varies considerably.

One common failing of live online training is the tendency to try and simply recreate the old familiar classroom situation in a virtual environment.  Unfortunately this results in having to put up with all the disadvantages of both worlds, while missing out on the advantages.   Some excellent teacher training for virtual environments now exists, and things are only going to improve.  But in the meantime it can be difficult to know whether you are getting value for money.

When all is said and done, live online language learning is here and happening.  It is too early to consider it ‘mainstream’ but it is being adopted in all kinds of learning contexts.

Find out more about live online language learning opportunities with englishonthe.net.

photo credit: rosipaw via photopin cc

Improve pronunciation through shadow reading

pronunciationIn the world of online language learning, have you come across the field of « accent reduction » and « accent reduction trainers »?  When I see this I’m concerned about false advertising on the one  hand and false hopes on the other.  The notion of « accent » is extremely subjective.  Most of the English learners I spend time with have what many might consider a « French » accent, but although there are some common features in the sounds of their speech, there are as many « French » accents as there are students.  Which « French » accent are we referring to?  Furthermore, is it necessarily a « bad » thing to have French-sounding English (or German, Chinese, Hispanic…)?  A French accent may grate on the ears of another French English-speaker, but to native English speakers it can sound exotic and sophisticated.

Rather than talking about « accent » it is more helpful to distinguish between clear and unclear pronunciation.   Often it is not « accent reduction » that is required, but rather training in how to produce sounds that do not occur in the learner’s L1 (native language) and how to speak with English-sounding intonation.  The latter is certainly more difficult to achieve.

Taking the example of French learners (the example I know best), it is not usually mistakes in pronunciation that hinders communication, but rather unusual intonation.  French and English intonation are very different, and I find this one of the hardest areas in which to help learners.  French speech is timed by its syllables – every syllable has the same value (think machine gun).  English, rather, is timed by stress: the rhythm of words is determined by the stressed syllable, and the rhythm of a sentence by the words that are emphasised (think Morse code).  Native English speakers are good at adapting to non-standard pronunciation because of the huge variety in world English.  But we are not so good at adapting to differences in intonation.  Try saying an English sentence giving every syllable the same value and not stressing any particular words.  The result is likely to be unintelligible.

This is where shadow-reading comes in as a useful technique for intonation and pronunciation training.  Not every learner catches on to the value of this immediately as it seems counter-intuitive, but once you « get » it, it’s almost guaranteed to improve your speaking if it is done regularly.

Prerequisite: learners need to be good at sourcing audio material on the Internet on subjects that interest them, downloading podcasts, and need to have regular listening integrated into their language-learning programme.  This is a must for students anyway, and the possibilities are endless.  To get you started:

Listening and Reading Comprehension with Online Books

A fun way to Develop Listening Comprehension

Langolab

ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Talk About English (BBC Learning English)

ELLLO

Audio material with transcripts works best, and monologues (talks, reports etc.) work better than dialogues (conversations, interviews etc.).  The speech should be somewhat slower than normal conversational speed, but not unnaturally slow.

The lower the level, the more assistance the learner will need to source appropriate materials.  It is not essential that the learner master all the vocabulary in the material, however, the more they understand, the more motivating the activity.

There are two ways of approaching shadow-reading.

With script.

1. Listen to the material once or twice to understand the gist of the article.

2. Listen again and this time try to highlight or underline the stressed words in each sentence, and any pronunciation that is unexpected.

3. Play again and this time read along with the speaker, trying as much as possible to mimic their intonation.

4. Finally, practice reading the text aloud without the audio.  Ask a trainer for comments if you have one available.

5. (Optional)  Record your reading of the text using Audacity.  As a follow up activity you can then listen to your own voice, and then the original audio, and note any differences you hear.

Without script (for more advanced learners).

1. Listen to the material once or twice to understand the gist of the article.

2. Replay the audio and this time, speaking aloud, try to « shadow » the speech by repeating what is said immediately after you hear it, trying to mimic the speaker’s intonation.

3.  Repeat the activity until you can shadow the whole article without missing words (you may need to check the script for any unknown words).

4. (Optional).  You can easily turn this into a writing or speaking activity.  After you have listened a few times, rewrite the speech in your own words according to what you remember, OR practice giving the speech in your own words without any support from the text.  This can be recorded using Audacity, and played back to your teacher/trainer or a native speaker for comments.

These activities don’t have to be done with a trainer (doing myself out of a job here!)  However, one disadvantage of doing it alone is that we don’t always notice our own pronunciation or intonation errors, especially if they are bad habits that we have developed over time.  Live online language training gives you this opportunity, in your own time, and without having to leave your home.  Contact us for more details.

photo credit: waving at you via photopin cc

5 news sites for authentic language-learning

There is no end to language-learning possibilities that are available to us through the Internet news media.  Things might be getting dire for newspaper companies, but the general appetite for current affairs continues to encourage the launching of news sites of every flavour.  Here are five you might like to try, as a teacher or a learner, each with a practical suggestion for a learning activity.  The focus is on learning English, but the same ideas can be applied to other languages.

google-news-timeline2

1. Google News Timeline is still fairly new and has loads of potential for language learning to be discovered.  It’s very configurable.  You can set it up for whatever newspapers, magazines, blogs etc. you prefer to focus on.  Specific search queries are also possible.  Type in the query « Ford » for example, and you can trace back articles and events related to the carmaker for as many years as you care to go.

Idea. For a  self-access activity, have learners research the main headlines on the day of their birth, the day of their parents’ birth, their grandparents’ etc. (if they know it).  Interesting conversations ensue about what was happening in the world the day they arrived, leading into how things have changed since. (Level: Pre-intermediate and above)

We have also looked at how to set up Google News for language-learning.

2. BBC Learning English has a bbc-words-in-the-news1vast range of English-learning tools that are so well known that they hardly need mentioning here.  Although have you come across the BBC World Service « Words in the News »?  It’s primarily set up for listening and vocabulary activities, but each report contains a link to a corresponding print article that is different to the audio report.  This provides a wealth of possibilities for integrating reading and listening: predictive activities, gap fills, writing summaries.  They put the prescribed vocabulary to be studied in bold – not ideal as it doesn’t allow much latitude for tailoring to your learners’ particular needs.  Some adaptation is usually required.

Idea. Use the prescribed vocabulary list as a predictive lead-in activity. (Level: Pre-intermediate and above)

3. Breaking News English
is a language-learning site, not a news site.  It has been a great standby for teachers on those days where all the best intentions of preparing a super lesson go out the window and you need something ready-made.   Breaking News English takes interesting news articles from a variety of sources and subjects, adds language points, discussion ideas and other activities, and puts them all together in an easily downloadable and copiable format.  Just what you were looking for, right?

Idea. Running out of time to prepare lessons is hard to predict, but if you can see ahead of time that you’re going to be running, E-mail the article you choose to your learners before the session.  It avoids the problem of extended reading in class feeling like « down time », and encourages learners to read in their own time for pleasure.  This saves time, gives the learners confidence and allows you to get more juice out of the article during the session. (Level: Pre-intermediate and above)
disinformation
4. Disinformation. Claims to have access to « hidden information that seldom slips through the cracks of the corporate-owned media conglomerates. »  You’ll find the fringe, the bizarre, the extreme and the intriguing mixed with more mainstream articles sourced from all over the Internet news.  Suited for more advanced students.

Idea. For an extensive reading activity, to practice fast-reading for gist, choose a provocative article.  It works best with stories that are not too obscure, and that give a new slant on a known news headline.  Set the learners the task of  searching the Internet for two other articles, preferably originating in different countries, which give alternative views or explanations of the stories.  As a follow-up speaking activity the learner could present the different points of view in the article and then discuss which arguments seem the most plausible.  A good lead in for a debate activity, as long as it’s a subject learners have opinions about. (Level: Upper Int., Advanced)

5. Euronews. One of the unique features of Euronews is that it is a truly multilingual newspaper, with the same headline articles in 7 European languages (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian) and Arabic.  It almost seems to be designed with learners in mind, with it’s very succint articles supported with video footage.  If you’re looking for in-depth reporting, this isn’t your site.  However, it opens up a number  of possibilities for activities where comparing L1 and L2 can be advantageous.

Idea. For learners needing to improve translation skills into their L1,  select 4-5 articles (they are generally short, 120 words or so) which deal with a particular lexical area needing work (there’s a good tabbed menu enabling easy navigation of the different categories of article so not too much hunting involved).  Compare the articles in the L1 and L2 and study how the key words in the chosen field are translated.   The discussion the follows could include which words were translated differently in different articles, which was the most unexpected translation, which words could have been translated alternatively, why did the translator choose a particular word etc. (Level: Intermediate )

How to get to grips with the verb « get »

swiss-knifeI seem to have had a lot of questions lately about the very versatile verb get.  It is one of the 100 commonest words in the English language, and one of the top 20 verbs.  It has very diverse meanings, and is used in a variety of ways.  Specialists will say that it is not usually good form to use get in writing, but it’s so useful that it is difficult to avoid.

Here is a summary of the main ways we use get.

1. Get + noun/pronoun

When get is followed by a noun or pronoun, it usually means something like receive, fetch, obtain, or catch…

I got a postcard from Darren yesterday.

Did you get some flour when you went to the supermarket?

Wrap up warmly so you don’t get a cold.

2. Get + adjective

When get is followed by an adjective, it usually means become…

I can’t climb those stairs so quickly these days – I must be getting old.

Turn that radiator on so you can get warm .

3. Get + preposition

When get is followed by a preposition, usually some kind of change or movement is implied…

What time do you usually get up in the morning?

Why don’t you get out of the house and get some fresh air?

4. Get + past participle

A. Get is often used for expressions where other European languages use reflexive verbs.  We use this to talk about something we do to ourselves:

get dressed
get lost
get engaged
get married
get divorced
get confused

B. Get can also replace be in passive structures such as…

The thief got caught when he used a stolen credit card (= was caught).

I got invited to Terry’s wedding (= was invited).

C. When there is an object before the past participle it can mean to finish doing something…

It has been so humid lately that it takes days to get the washing dried.

Get your room tidied and we’ll go to the park.

D. We can use the same structure (get + object + past participle) to talk about arranging for something to be done by somebody else.

I must get my hair cut – it’s looking terrible.

Peter has gone to the garage to ask about getting the car fixed.

5. Other uses:

get + -ing usually has the meaning to start doing something:

You should get going otherwise you’ll miss your train. ( = you should leave now)

get + to + infinitive often has the meaning to persuade:

I can’t get my husband to agree on the colour of the carpet.

This little list doesn’t cover every use of get, but it’s enough to get you started.  If you get stuck you could always get yourself a dictionary.  Don’t get frustrated if you find it difficult to understand all the uses of get.  It gets easier as you get used to the language.  So, why don’t you get on with it?