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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




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

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


ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Talk About English (BBC Learning English)


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.


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)
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?

To learn a language, listen to it first.

The headline « New study may revolutionize language learning » caught my eye the other day.

Blue pill red pillIf I was hoping for a kind of miracle pill, or some means of downloading a language to my brain the way Neo learns Kung Fu in The Matrix, I would have been disappointed – the title of the article is a little optimistic.  It don’t think this « discovery » is exactly revolutionary.

Nevertheless, it brings to the fore some « old knowledge » (as one of the commentators on the article puts it) that is worth revisiting for the language classroom.

The report suggests that the best way to learn a language is through frequent exposure to its sound patterns, even if you haven’t a clue what it all means.  Nothing new, perhaps, but how has this knowledge influenced teaching methodology, particularly when it comes to teaching beginners?  Not much, it would appear.  Beginner-level language courses still tend to launch into grammar from day one, and introduce vocabulary first in written form, before the learner ever has the chance to hear the language.

Without going into all the findings of the research, it rings true in the sense that this is surely the natural progression in first language acquisition: toddlers learn to speak by first listening, then imitating the sounds, and only then beginning gradually to formulate words in isolation.  Not long after we moved to France I observed my 5-year old daughter begin to learn French from her school friends.  I was fascinated one day to come across her babbling to herself unintelligibly much as you would expect a 2-year old to do.  I realised that the sounds and intonation were not at all English-sounding, and it dawned on me that this « franco-babble » was an essential milestone for her in learning French.

Some feedback from a very brief Twitter conversation on the topic stipulated that that adults and children do not learn languages in the same way.  This is undoubtedly true – it took my then-5 year-old  only 7 months to reach the same level of French as her classmates – there are not many adults who could do that.  As adults the way we learn a second (third, fourth etc.) language may differ significantly from the way we learnt our native language.

Nevertheless I wonder if the differences haven’t been overstated.  This « new » research suggests that simply listening to a new language sets up the necessary structures in the brain required to learn the vocabulary.

One interesting line of enquiry which motivated the research was what makes it so difficult to learn foreign words when we are constantly learning new ones in our native language.  It was found that even as adults each time we hear new combinations of sounds our brain develops new corresponding neural structures.  The more exposure to the sounds, the better prepared we are to learn and retain  the language.

The practical application of all this relates to how we can better harness the power of the Internet so that every hour in the language classroom is matched as much as possible with an hour of aural exposure to the language outside.  In years gone by this kind of immersion was impossible – today we can surround ourselves with the sounds of a language through songs, movies, mp3s…  according to this study language-learning is more about exercising brain tissue than learning facts, and an iPod may just be one of the best tools available for making those necessary neural connections when preparing to learn a language.

So what does that all mean for language teachers – should we not adopt the model of « trainer » or « coach » rather than « teacher », if our role is to help learners exercise their linguistic neurons, rather than simply offload language facts.  How should beginners’ classes look different?  What if teaching « hello, good-bye, my name is , please and thank you » was replaced by a programme of listening to language spoken at a natural speed with activities designed to help learners identify and begin to practice the sounds of the language.  How then should we help learners keep motivation levels high when swimming in long passages of spoken language before they have any « hooks » to hang recogniseable vocabulary on?

If you have any thoughts on this I would love to hear about it in the comments.

New study may revolutionize language learning,

For more discussion on these findings, E/FL 2.0 has an interesting post.

photo credit: B Rosen cc

How to learn academic vocabulary in context

How many words do I need to get the score I need in the TOEFL or the TOEIC?

This is a question often asked, and a difficult one to answer exactly.   The Linguist , Steve Kaufmann recommends that to achieve a score of 750 or higher in the TOEIC the optimum time to sit the test is when a learner has reached a vocabulary of 7 – 8,000 words.  An increase of 100 points in the TOEIC could represent an increase of about 2,000 words in your vocabulary.

Which words do I need?

Although estimating the total number of words in English is a nearly impossible task, the 600,000 definitions in the Oxford English dictionary give an indication that English vocabulary is indeed vast.  Some estimate that 25,000 new words are added to the language each year.

So, where should I start?

There are a number of tools to help with this and one is the Academic Word List.  It was compiled from a corpus of over 400 written academic texts in 28 different subject areas.  The result is a list of 570 academic words grouped according to frequency.

Some ideas for using the AWL.

Just memorising lists of vocabulary is not only boring but also an ineffective way of adding new words to your vocabulary.  The words are much more likely to stick if you learn them in the context , by reading material that you are interested in.
The AWL provides an easy way of finding academic vocabulary in articles on subjects that interest you.  For example lets take a recent article out of The New Scientist, Time to shrink the atomic clock.  Copy the text of the article and paste it into the AWL Highlighter, choose the level of words you would like to study (1 is the most frequent, 10 includes all the words in the list including the least frequent), and click submit.  This will produce a copy of the article with all the words highlighted so you can learn them in context.

To test yourself further, you can come back to the same text a week later, and create a gap-fill exercise based on the words that you learnt.  Paste the text into the AWL Gapmaker, decide whether you would like the list of words to appear as a list at the bottom of the document or not, and click submit.  A free online gapfill exercise will open, testing the exact words you have been working on.

Academic vocabulary in this blog post: academic, achieve, areas, compiled, context, create, definitions, document, estimate, highlighted, indication, submit, task, text.

How well do you know these words?  You can test yourself with a gapfill created using the AWL based on this post.

Academic Word List (AWL)

photo credit: Raul P cc

Grammarman Comic – activities for young learners


I just came across Grammarman, the world’s first and only grammar superhero.

Grammarman is the invention of « creative guy », Brian Boyd, an English teacher in Thailand. What started out as a conversation between teachers wondering how to stop students reading mangas in class became the brilliant idea of Grammarman, a superhero defending « Verbo City » from the enemies of grammar, with help from sidekicks Alpha-bot and Syntax. Boyd’s comic strips are now published in newspapers and magazines in Malaysia, Argentina, Thailand and China.

grammarman-2How to use Grammarman

As a learner: click on the « Free Stuff » link for a number of self-study activities designed for young learners (mostly for lower levels).

As a teacher: I’m always hunting for ideas to meaningfully use a spare ten minutes at the end of a class. Each of the comic strips contain built-in error correction exercises – great for reinforcement.

Grammarman Comic.