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
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