Vicki

Teacher of professional and technical English, writer and teacher trainer.

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
Mar 222018
 
a an the pronunciation

Jay and I had a request from a viewer asking us how we pronounced a an and the, and also, whether we pronounced them differently.

We could only think of one case where we said them differently in British and American, but it reminded us that the schwa sound can be hard to spot and pronounce, and of course the schwa is involved in all three words.

Here’s our video about it:

 Posted by at 12:35 pm
Mar 092018
 

We write ‘it’s’ with an apostrophe when it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. We don’t use an apostrophe when ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun.

Native speakers sometimes get this wrong and of course it’s tricky for English language learners too. I think people muddle them up because they confuse possessive nouns with possessive pronouns. We explain the difference in this video and also show you how not to rob a bank.

 Posted by at 9:50 pm
Mar 042018
 
speak English challenge

We love getting messages from our viewers of our videos and would love to get to know everyone better. So this week we issued an invitation.

We’re inviting everyone to make a video of themselves speaking in English and to tell us:
*who they are
*where they are from
*what they do.

We will compile all the videos we receive into one video that we’ll post on our Simple English Videos channel on YouTube. We’ve never tried anything like this before and we’re really looking forward to seeing the videos people make. If you would like to rise to the challenge, or if you know an English learner who would like to try this, we’ll be delighted. The deadline is Monday March 12th, 2018 and here’s a video with all the instructions.

Hoping to hear from you!

 Posted by at 3:37 pm