Nov 022018
 
positive and negative politeness

When I moved to the US from the UK, I had to adjust some of the vocabulary I was using and learn some new expressions, but it was fun. And of course the grammar was much the same, so that was easy. The tricky thing for me was learning a new style of politeness. Really! The US and UK have rather different styles of politeness.

In American English it’s often important to show warmth and friendliness. That’s true in British English too, but in the UK we sometimes place more emphasis on not intruding or interfering.

It’s not that one style of politeness is better than the other, but it can lead to some funny differences when it comes to when we give compliments and how we receive them.

There’s a branch of linguistics called pragmatics which studies the hidden or secret meanings behind the words we choose. It looks at the intentions behind the things we say, and as a result, it has prompted a lot of research and discussion about linguistic politeness.

In this video we look at some ways that face issues impact politeness when it comes to compliments.

We haven’t tried to go into the technicalities of positive and negative politeness, but we show some issues in action that we think will be useful for English learners.

If you’ve enjoyed this video, here are two more we’ve made on some pragmatic features of English.
Why it’s hard to understand English speakers: https://youtu.be/HeDyRUkQA5Q
3 ways to get what you want in English: https://youtu.be/4jJ5zvfxRgc

 Posted by at 8:22 pm
Aug 182018
 
B2 First Speaking test FCE

B2 First is often known by its former name, FCE or Cambridge First Certificate.

When we ask our students what makes them most nervous about the exam, they often say the FCE speaking test so we’ve made a series of videos about it.

In this first video we provide an overview of the B2 First speaking exam, showing how it works and explaining the marking criteria.

In our later videos we’ll go through the four parts of the exam in detail, demonstrating what to do and what NOT to do and providing tips and practice activities for each part.

 Posted by at 6:52 am  Tagged with:
Jul 162018
 

R sounds are a constant challenge to me in the US. I’m British so I speak with a non-rhotic accent, but most people around me speak with a rhotic accent. This means they are expecting strong clear R sounds which, unfortunately, I often fail to provide.

Unless I’m in mission critical circumstances…

Learn more in our video on how to pronounce R sounds in British and American:

 Posted by at 9:22 am
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