Jun 162018
i before e

English spelling is tricky because sometimes words look nothing like they sound. In this video lesson we look at an English spelling rule and change it a bit so it works better.
The rule is i before e except after c and we explore how it works with fewer exceptions in words with an eee sound.
So come and join us at a spelling competition, or spelling bee as Jay calls them in American English. You’ll learn when it’s useful to apply the rule and when it isn’t. You’ll also meet our friend Clare from English at home.

 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Jun 132018
8 words that are hard to pronounce

We’re back with another eight words that are hard to pronounce in British and American English. Watch some English learners pronounce them and learn how we say them in British and American English.

We look at how we say: fifth, basically, chaos, refrigerator, fridge, Tuesday, photograph, photography, height, weight and eight. We also have some pronunciation tips for how to pronounce long words and shifting words stress.

If you or your students have words that they find hard to pronounce, please tell us. We can make another video about them.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
Jun 092018

Back in the 1980s computer scientists were creating the world wide web and looking for ways to connect computers that spoke different languages. The Dutch scientist, Jon Postel, came up with a computer protocol that’s helpful and relevant for international and intercultural communication today.
Travel back in time with us and learn about our top tip for communicating internationally.

 Posted by at 12:21 am
May 182018
travel phrasal verbs

Our dear friend Kathy came round the other day and helped us make a video. It’s a story for teaching phrasal verbs and other expressions and it has the sort of plot line I love: Jay has something he wants to do. Vicki stops him and gets him into trouble with the boss.

Here are some of the phrasal verbs and expressions you’ll see in action: stop by, stop off, pick someone up, drop someone off, give someone a ride/lift, touch down, check in, set off, hurry up and take off.

 Posted by at 8:11 pm
May 112018
royal wedding meghan prince harry

I’m always surprised by how much news about the British royal family there is on US television. Are Americans really interested in things like the royal wedding with Meghan and Prince Harry? We decided to hit the streets and find out. In the process we collected lots of fast natural English for listening practice along with some great expressions.

Everyone we interviewed was American and I was suprised by how many differences between British and American English cropped up. Some were just frequency issues like the prefix super. We can say things like super excited and super cute in British English too, but we generally don’t say them as often.

There was a little preposition difference too, with Americans saying “excited for’ and “excited about”. That would be “excited about” in British English. And then there was my favourite: Duh! I love this word, or should I say sound? It’s the perfect thing to say when someone says something stupid and you want to joke around with them.

 Posted by at 8:04 pm
Apr 252018

I’ve written before about Mike Marzio’s videos for language learners. He pioneered the vox pop genre in English language teaching with real conversations with the man/woman on the street. The videos are a delight – utterly natural and engaging.

And he’s just launched a new website that’s fully mobile compatible. I know from experience that it’s really hard to find ways to display videos on web pages in the way you want. And these free videos are all for self study learners who won’t have access to a teacher to guide them. It’s a real challenge to show what’s available and show them a path through all the videos and exercises. But that’s exactly what Mike’s done. It’s terrific.
Go check it out. https://www.real-english.com/

 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Apr 202018
wish and hope

We had requests for a lesson about the verbs hope and wish. We set out to make one video and realized we couldn’t. We needed to make three videos!

Hope and wish often appear in exams like IELTS, Cambridge First Certificate and TOEFL because the grammar’s tricky. But watch our examples, see them in action and we’ll make it easy.

The first video is about how we use these verbs to say nice things to people and it looks at some other ways to give good wishes too.

The second video looks at seven structures we use with these verbs to talk about possibilities and regrets in the present.

And here’s a video about how we use the verbs to talk about past hopes and wishes.

Here’s hoping and wishing you find these videos useful! If you do, why not share them with a friend?

 Posted by at 9:03 pm
Apr 062018
NYFA ESL students

Our latest video is special!

It was a joint project with ESL students from the New York Film Academy, so students who are studying English as a second language and filmmaking at the same time. The students came up with the concept for a video and we shot it together at the YouTube Space in New York.

They were our cast and crew and they were a joy to work with. They arrived well prepared with props and costumes. The actors had learnt all their lines and prepared all their moves and we had plenty of willing hands to operate cameras, move lights, operate the clapper board and all the other things that need to get done. There are always technical hitches at video shoots and problems to solve, but their energy never flagged. We want to say a special thank you to their teacher, Meghan Killeen for all her hard work on the project. It really was a team effort and we couldn’t have done it with out her.

So here it is: Potato Chips by ESL students at the NYFA. See some slang and informal English expressions in action: stressed out, chill out and screw it.

 Posted by at 8:12 pm