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Category: Vocabulary

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Opening a can of worms

Worms are those little animals with no legs or arms, which I remember using as bait when my father took me fishing. I would not touch them, of course! They look disgusting! When we want to talk about a situation that brings out many other problems, we say it’s like opening a can of worms. […]

When furniture becomes verb

You probably have been through a situation where you had to “put the cards on the table”, or, “come clean about a situation”. A table is a good place to have a meeting and discuss serious issues, too. But did you know you can use “table” as a verb? Americans say you can “table” a proposal when […]

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

You may have heard one of these jokes in movies or series, they are a “call and response” type of joke. It starts when one person pretends to knock on a door and the other person (supposedly inside the fictional place) has to ask “who is there?” and the fun of it consists in having […]

Tongue twisters

Tongue twisters are challenging phrases that contain many hard to pronounce syllables or alternation of similar but distinct phonemes. They can be a used as a kind of word game because the speakers usually cannot articulate properly the words in a fast and clear manner, causing confusion and good laughs. They are also a good […]

When in Rome (part 2)

Latin is widely used in legal jargon all over the world. It’s not different in the USA. Some of the expressions have gone into mainstream culture. Latin expressions can be used to refer to academic life — when talking about former students, or Alumni; or the University you went to, your Alma Mater. It is […]

The die is cast

Suetonious warned Julius Caesar after he crossed the Rubicon, “The die is cast!” (alea iacta est!). The word “die” in this case means dice. These powerful events gave way to many expressions about dramatic decisions and facts that cannot be changed. There are other ways to say that, and some are very funny, like “The cat’s […]

When in Rome (part 1)

America loves Ancient Rome. You can see them in their country symbols — the eagle — and in the architecture of the nation’s capital. But there are other examples of the connections between Rome and the USA. One of my favorite examples comes from the expression “to cross the Delaware”. By Emanuel Leutze (American, Schwäbisch Gmünd 1816–1868 […]

Has the cat got your tongue?

After writing about “dog days”, I started thinking, are there “cat days”? Well, there aren’t, but there are many expressions involving “cats”. We have some which are similar to the ones we have in Portuguese, for example: “all cats are gray by night”, or “has the cat got your tongue?”. Others are just a little […]

Big Brother is watching you!

Cameras everywhere. People being monitored in every single action of their lives. Someone controlling everything everyone does. Does that sound familiar to you? No, this is not about that popular TV show. But it is somewhat related to it. Or should I say the other way around? The reality show got its name from the novel […]

Be prepared

Imagine you are visiting the US and someone offers you ‘a pop’. Would you know what that is? This situation happened to me when I first visited my husband’s host family in Nebraska. My first reaction was to smile. Then, I admitted that I really did not know what that was. A pop is what […]

Wedding Traditions – Part I

Wedding traditions vary all over the world. From Paris to Timbuktu, it is possible to learn a lot about some cultures just by knowing some of their wedding customs. Even though there are some common elements throughout the Western World, each country still preserves some specific customs. In the US, they don’t have “madrinhas” or […]

A grain of salt

Nowadays, salt has been made a villain by health specialists. Indeed, too much salt can be bad for your health, but the word has been part of our lives for millennia. For example, the origin of the word “salary” comes from the Latin word for “salt”. Roman soldiers were paid the equivalent of a certain […]

The dog days are over

The other day I was listening to  Florence + The Machine’s catchy “The Dog Days are over” again. It’s such a great song to listen to when trying to get my mood up! It’s a real energy boost. But what does it mean? As an English learner, it’s usual to get curious about the meaning […]


Imagine you call a friend and he can’t answer you at the moment. Then, he texts you: CMB L8R Would you understand his message? We are always in a hurry and abbreviations are here to help writing, specially in casual conversation contexts. They are easy to type and, most importantly, they save time. However, they […]

It’s Easter time!

Easter is considered one of Christianity’s most important holidays. Eggs are possibly one of the most popular symbols associated with Easter. But why? First of all, eggs are said to symbolize fertility and renewal. For many years, eggs have been used to represent rebirth and new life. Another correlation made is that eating eggs – […]

Carnival & Stereotypes

February! Time for Brazilian people put on their shiniest carnival costumes and dance samba all week long, right? Right. For some of us. Stereotype is the result of believing that everybody in a particular group share the same characteristic/habit. This is such common practice that we do it without even noticing. Stereotypes have become a […]

Make your own verbs by “conjugating” any word

When I teach my students a new noun, they often have trouble pronouncing them. It’s hard to know where the strongest sound is – is it at the beginning or at the end of a word? Do you say “REcord” or “reCORD”? Well, in this case, you can say it both ways, but you will […]

Which is Which: Connotation vs Denotation

Novice English learners usually try to relate the meaning of new words to their equivalent in Portuguese, but sometimes the definition of some words are confusing even in their own native language.  Connotation and denotation are examples of such problem. They are similar words used to describe related topics. Connotation is the meaning of a word which depends […]

Weddings, Marriage and Anniversaries

There is an important event coming up for me, my anniversary. Anniversary isn’t to commemorate the day I was born. That word is ‘birthday’. My anniversary is celebrating the day I got married. Many years ago, I met a woman. We started to date. While we were dating, we were boyfriend and girlfriend and in […]

Make your own word using portmanteaus

Do you know anyone who is just ‘adorkable’? The word has just been included in the Collins English Dictionary. A combination of “adorable” and “dork”, this word is a good example of the rise of the portmanteau.  Portmanteau is “a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (as smog from smoke and fog)” (according […]

Person, Persons, People, Peoples?

Did you know that the word person has two different plural forms? The most common plural form is people, but did you know that persons is also correct? Persons; however, is a very formal word, more frequently used in legal contexts. Take a look at this example, taken from English Grammar Today, Cambridge:      Any person or persons found in possession […]

When an ‘a-‘ is not an opposite

It was a winding path that led me to teaching the English language, which started with an interest in the development of language. I think you can appreciate language more when you have an idea of where it comes from, what has influenced it and how it has changed over its history. There is an […]

Learn English through songs!

Is it possible to improve your English skills through songs? Are songs effective language learning tools? The answer is YES! There is considerable scientific evidence that demonstrates how music can help learners improve grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Also, if you are constantly listening to music, this is going to be a win-win situation. Through songs, […]

Improve your Listening Skills and Have Fun

Everyone loves music, everyone has a favorite song or artist. Lyrics Training is  a website  where you can improve you language skills in a fun and enjoyable way:  by listening to your  favorite songs! The website offers not only the song and its music clip, but also the lyrics with  gaps to be  filled in. You can choose […]

Vocabulary Practice: Security or safety? Argument or discussion?

What’s the difference between security and safety, and argument and discussion? My students asked me these questions the other day. And it was at the beginning of class, right on the spot. I told them what it was and stole their idea for this post. Security is the state of being protected or safe from […]

Vocabulary & Pronunciation: Political Terms

In times of political campaign, let’s see some confusable words related to politics. To start off, politics is the art or science of government or influencing governmental policy. Politics is the job of politicians. Right now, because we’re in the middle of an electoral process, they come up with plans to guide their future terms. […]

Colorful Words – Housing

There’s a natural tendency in all of us to keep things the way they are. However, when it comes to writing, vocabulary is a valuable tool to make your piece stand out. We tend to stick to common words, such as house, and not pay attention to the several types of housing there are.Instead of […]

Non-Gradable Adjectives – Very excellent?!

On my previous post, I described a list as extremely long. There are some adjectives that we can give them “super powers”, for instance, very cold. For cold is a gradable adjective, it accepts such modifications. But try saying very freezing, and you’ll be making a rather basic mistake. Why? Because you can intensify cold […]

Music: Follow Through With Every Word you Say

In our last post on how to improve your English with smaller bites of English, there was a Marie Forleo video about following through, persisting and succeeding. How about an extra practice about the topic and a reminder we should persist with what we set ourselves to do? Here´s the song Follow Through by Gavin […]

Peppa Pig Can Help your English

This is a suggestion from a student of mine, and I think it’s great. If you have a young kid, you know that they love Peppa pig. They can watch it non-stop, and it never gets old to them. They just love it! Maybe you are not so fond of Peppa pig as your kids […]

Musical Instruments

One of my passions is music, especially classical music, and so I thought, “Why not share a bit of that with my readers, and at the same time introduce them to new vocabulary?” I would then like to introduce you to the world of musical instruments, specifically those that are used by a symphonic orchestra. […]

Learning English At Home

Our Executive Director Lúcia Santos learned about this site to practice English through videos at a conference for educators. The “Connect With English” series is fantastic for those students who are eager and motivated to practice English. On the platform, there are videos with stories that last an average of ten minutes. After you watch […]

How do you say that here?

How do you say that here?   In English, as in other global languages, there is more than one word to describe the same action, object, feeling, etc. Let’s look at the word bucket. The dictionary defines bucket as a “deep , cylindrical vessel, usually of metal, plastic, or wood, with a flat bottom and […]

Are you notorious? I hope not.

It has come to my attention that English students often misuse the word notorious. I often hear a sentence that goes like, “Albert Einstein was a notorious physicist.” However, the proper definition of the word denigrates Mr. Einstein’s contribution to society. According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, notorious means well-known or famous especially for something bad. […]

Happy Valentine’s Day

Normally, everything starts with a little crush on somebody (when you like a person and sometimes he/she doesn’t know). If you have the courage and invite the person you like to go out with you, you ask the girl/boy out. And then, anything can happen during this date, which is usually at a restaurant, or it is […]

“Homework” or “Homeworks”?

Unlike its Portuguese equivalent, “homework” is always uncontable in English. I know that you don’t feel like it’s uncountable, considering the amount of activities your teacher may assign to you! But, seriously, the word “homework” should always be used in the singular. Look at these examples: 1) My teacher always assigns too much homework over […]

“Advice” or “Advices”

Another very common mistake among students is to say “*advices” instead of “advice“. In English, “advice” is an uncountable word, so it is always used in the singular form. But how to quantify it? You can do this: 1) Let me just give you a little piece of advice: study hard! 2) My mom has […]

Are you rich or wealthy?

When we say that a person is rich, we mean that he/she has material possessions and money. “Wealthy” means the same thing, but the word is less common than rich. So, we can say “My uncle is rich” or “My uncle is wealthy” with no change in meaning. Now, “a rich meal”, for example, implies […]

Expressions with the word “finger”

Hello, dear reader, Some time ago I posted an entry to our blog about the names of the fingers in one’s  hand in English. Today I’d like to show you how the word “finger” is used idiomatically. There are, obviously, many idiomatic expressions that use the word finger, but I’ll show you the ones I think […]

Vocabulary practice: “Until” and “Till”

“Until” and “till” are the same thing. They mean “up to a time; before a specific time; to the point that”. Normally, ’till’ is more common in spoken English. “Until” is common both in spoken and written English. Let’s take a look at some examples: 1) Oh, only two days until/till Justin Bieber’s show in […]

Uses of ‘still’

“Be still my heart, my heart be still” “To remind you how I still love you, I still love you” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 18: Foes step forward in preview and stills”   As you may have noticed, the links above all contain the word ‘still’ in some form. You have probably guessed that […]

Education – How to Use this Word?

The word “educação” in Portuguese can refer to a person’s formal instruction, as in “educação básica; educação superior; sistema de educação”, etc. It can also refer to good manners, etiquette and social rules related to behavior. For example, ‘ele é bem educado'; ‘isto é uma questão de educação’, etc. In English, the corresponding words would […]

Some Troublesome Adverbs

Adverbs have a rule, but some of them are unique, like the adverbs fast, hard and well. Learn how to use these adverbs and never get them wrong again.

Confusing Words in English – Especially & Specially

Students are generally in doubt how they should use the words especially and specially. In this post, learn once and for all which word is the correct one depending on the context of the sentence.

K9 Vocabulary

If you’ve read the first two letters of the title in English, you already know that this post is about words that relate to the canine world. As a dog lover, I thought it’d be interesting to bring some canine-related words and expressions commonly used by native speakers. Let’s start with the word dog. OK, […]

Expressions with “Face”

Nowadays it’s very common to hear Brazilian people saying “face” to designate Facebook. However, this post has nothing to do with that “face”!

Here are some common expressions with the word “face” that might interest you.

What’s eating you?

The first time I came across this expression I was really curious as to what it could possibly mean. It appeared in the title of a movie featuring Leonardo di Caprio when he was only 19. The name of the movie is ‘What’s eating Gilbert Grape‘, and Johnny Depp plays the Gilbert from the title. […]

What’s ‘feat’?

“What’s ‘feat’? It’s in so many songs!” Have you noticed that now almost any song contains the name of a singer and then ‘feat.’ and then another name? If you haven’t, pay close attention to the top hit songs in any music chart and you’ll see. Take a look at these examples from iTunes this […]

In time x on time x by the time

This is another very common doubt among students: when to use in time, on time and by the time.

In time:

It means something like ‘a bit before something happens’.

Expressions with “figure”

Have you ever heard the expression “go figure”? And what about “it figures”? Well, here’s a quick explanation of these and other expressions with the word “figure”.   1) Go figure we usually say this when we mean something like “who knows /who can explain? / I don’t believe it / it’s strange”. Examples: a) […]

Animal sounds

Do you know what an animal sounds like in English? No, I am not suggesting that animals can talk. What I’m saying is that the sound an animal makes in English is most likely different from the sound the same animal makes in your language. Take Portuguese, for example. In Brazil, a dog says au, […]

Is ‘favour’ wrong?

Sometimes we have some students in our classes that have come from different English backgrounds.

Sport Metaphors III

How are you guys doing? Great I hope. So, going back to our topic of sports metaphors, I’m going to talk about some that are connect to another of American’s greatest passion: Baseball.

Syndicate x Trade Union

These two words have the same meaning in Portuguese (sindicato), but there is a difference in usage between them in English.

Expressions with “Pay”

At the beginning of every year, we Brazilians are overwhelmed by things to pay, right?

Which Word? Some time x Sometimes

This is a very simple topic: when to use ‘some time‘ and ‘sometimes’. Some time means ‘one day’, ‘one occasion’ that is not very clear when it’s going to happen in the future. There in no idea of repetition involved. Examples: 1) Let’s have dinner together some time next week. 2) We could travel some time […]

Children’s Games – From the Past?

With the weekend approaching, it seemed a good idea to write about some games or activities children like to play or do (when they’re not hooked to their iPads or iPhones!) Maybe some of these activities were more common when you were younger, so here’s a chance to go back in time for a while. […]

Eat Your Way to Learning English: Pesto

Learning a language can be a daunting task, but it can also be a lot of fun! On this post, I invite you to learn English and learn how to make two delicious recipes to wow your family and friends.

Sport Metaphors I

Just the other day I was talking to a couple of friends when I realized how many sport metaphors we use during conversation. Actually, to be more accurate we use a lot of soccer analogies. And then it dawned on me to talk about that. You see, contrary to Brazil where the world of sports […]

What are the names of the fingers?

I bet you have never thought of that. In Portuguese we have names for the fingers of a hand (mindinho, seu vizinho, pai de todos, etc). Likewise, fingers also have specific names in English. From your thumb (the one we put up to signal OK) to your smallest finger, they are: Thumb / Index finger […]

Letter x Lyrics x Handwriting

Here we go again with some more confusable words! These words are confusing because they all mean ‘letra’ in Portuguese. Let’s take a look at each one in context. 1) Letter – it can be the letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, etc.) Ex.: He was wearing a white T-shirt with a big red […]

The Oscar: How do You Say It?

The Oscar nominations have always generated quite a buzz in the media; however, the 2014 list of nominees has caught my attention for something other than the great performances given by the actors. The name of one of the nominees is so different that frankly I didn’t even know how to try to pronounce it! I am talking about British actor, […]

What is ‘flat lined’?

If you watch the American TV series ‘Beauty and the Beast‘, you’ve probably heard the expression ‘to flat line’. If you don’t, this is your chance to know what the expression means. Well, ‘to flat line’ simply means ‘to die’. When a person is in hospital and is monitored by equipment, there is a monitor […]

It’s Christmas Time

Is it too soon to talk about Christmas? I hope not! Christmas time (or Christmastime) refers to the holiday season that goes from Christmas Day (December 25) until January 6th. So, to get into the mood of Christmas time, how about getting to know some vocabulary related to it? Árvore de Natal: Christmas tree (remember […]

Time is money! Expressions about money

  Today’s post is about a topic everyone is interested in: money! Since money is such an important part of everyday life, it is no wonder there are several words in English that refer to it. For example, Americans usually use the informal word bucks to refer to dollars. The British, in turn, use quid to refer to pounds. Americans have […]

Which word is correct: soda, pop, or coke?

What’s the general term that Americans use for a carbonated drink such as Coca Cola? Is it soda, pop, or coke? What do Americans call a rubber sole shoe worn in a gym class? Sneakers, gym shoes, or tennis shoes? The answer would really depend on geographic location: all of these words are widely used […]

How Do You Spell It?

Many words are  misspelled in English, but why do English learners make these mistakes, and how to avoid them? First, many words do not follow familiar spelling rules, and they can`t be spelled phonetically. The most commonly misspelled words can trouble even experienced writers, and the best thing is to learn from the mistakes we make […]

What is “TGIF”??

The most celebrated day of the week is probably Friday: it is the end of the working week, when people are finally free to catch a movie, go out with their friends, or get some well-deserved rest. The popularity of this weekday gave rise to an interesting expression: TGIF, which stands for “Thank God it’s […]

“ill” and “sick”

This is another pair of words that cause confusion. Both of them mean “bad health”, but there’s a difference in usage. 1) Sick – meaning ‘vomit’. Examples: I feel sick. Where’s the bathroom? I don’t like traveling by boat because I feel sea-sick. He was sick three times in the night. 2) Sick – meaning […]

“comic” or “comical”?

There are some adjectives in English that have different meanings when they end in ‘-ic’ and in ‘-ical’. Let’s look at some of them. Comic x comical ‘comic’ means ‘artistic comedy’. Examples: comic verse; comic opera ‘comical’ means ‘funny’ (though it’s not a very modern word). Examples: a comical expression; his attempt to beat that […]

Policy and politics

In Portuguese, we just have one word to mean “política”, but it English there are two, and their meanings are different. Policy (plural: policies) is a set of rules of behavior or practices, or an approach concerning a subject. For example, if you work at a company, this company has a set of rules that […]

Remember and Remind

The words “remember” and “remind” are a bit similar in meaning: they imply “not forgetting”. The difference lies in the usage of each one. So, let’s take a look at some examples. 1) Remember: transitive verb; you remember something or somebody. a) Do you remember John? He used to be my neighbor when I was […]

Do you speak English or American?

It is often said that the United States and England are two countries divided by a common language. Although for the most part the two varieties are mutually intelligible, there are a lot of differences between the two, especially as regards to pronunciation. In this video, you can explore some of these pronunciation differences.   […]

malapropism. Mala…what?

Have you ever heard of malapropism? This strange word defines what happens when somebody uses a certain word instead of another. The words in question usually sound similar, but have different meanings. This lapse can be intentional, especially in humorous contexts (TV shows or in jokes), or they can be unintentional. When it’s unintentional, the […]

What does “breaking bad” mean?

Missing Breaking Bad, the TV series about a high school chemistry teacher who turns to producing and selling illegal drugs in order to secure his family’s financial future because of his inoperable lung cancer?  The series won the top Primetime Emmy award for the first time, which is a big achievement. Sadly, however, I have been […]

All about Soccer – A bit about Cheering

This one is for those who like soccer (for the Americans) or ‘football‘ (for the rest of the world). Here are some expressions related to cheering. When you have a favorite team, you cheer for (or root for) them. You are their supporter. Examples: “What team do you cheer for?” = “What team do you root […]

Confusable Words – “Leave” or “Let”?

Here’s another pair of confusable words: leave and let. They have the same meaning in Portuguese (deixar), so this is basically one source of confusion. “Leave” means “to go out of a place; to abandon/forget; to remove yourself from a society/association”, among other things. Let’s take a look at some examples: 1) She left the […]

Animated Idioms Challenge – Part 2

This is a follow-up to an earlier post about idioms. If you haven’t read the original post yet, you can read it here. So, how many idioms were you able to identify in the following video?   The Idioms Challenge from Flavor on Vimeo. The idioms are listed in bold below in the order in […]

Actual x actually

Here’s another very confusable pair of words, especially for us, Brazilian speakers. The word “actually” is a false cognate, that is, it looks like “atualmente” in Portuguese, but it isn’t. “Actually” means “in fact; really” and it’s used like this: 1) When we want to correct a misunderstanding/wrong piece of information: Examples: A: Hi, Anna, […]

Animated Idioms Challenge – Part 1

An “idiom,” also known as an “idiomatic expression,” is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as “a group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words.” To give you one example, just think of the Portuguese expression “lavar roupa suja,” which has nothing to do with either washing or […]

Expressions – Looking good

  This is a continuation of the post “what do you look like“. You can use “look + adjective” to describe yourself, especially when it is something temporary. Examples: “After working such long hours, I looked awful.”“Doesn’t Joanne look different? I mean, maybe she has got a new haircut or something?” “I don’t know what […]

Vocabulary Practice – Expressions with “Blue”

There are many idiomatic expressions with colors in English. As blue is my favorite color, I decided this would be a good start. So, here they are: 1) into the blue: to disappear/depart suddenly, you don’t know where to. And then the white rabbit just vanished into the blue, as quickly as it had appeared. […]

“Other”, “others” or “another”?

Have you ever had a doubt when choosing between “other”, “others” and “another”? This is a common doubt, but the good news is that it is simple to learn the difference between these words. Examples with “other”: 1) John has two brothers. One is very calm and sweet, but the other (brother) is really hectic […]

English Expressions with Nerve

Who generally gets on your nerves? Expressions are an important part of any language. Learners need to be aware of them, learn and keep practicing their use in context. We´ve prepared this poster to help you with expressions related to nerve. Watch out because some expressions use nerve and others take nerves.

Improve your Vocabulary – “Bear” Expressions

You probably know the word “bear“, right? That cute big animal that most people love! Well, did you know that are some expressions with the word bear with lots of different meanings? Let’s take a look at some of them. 1) Bear in mind This means “to remember”, “to think about”. Examples: Don’t lose your […]

Confusable words

Who has never, ever, made confusion with “beside x besides”, “recipe x receipt”, “quiet x quite” and “meeting x reunion”? These words are easily confusable, so let’s take a look at each one of them. 1) beside x besides “beside” means “near; close to”. Examples: a) I usually sit beside the window in class. b) […]

Brazil News — in English!

Everyone knows that exposure plays a central role in the learning of a foreign language. And thanks to the Internet, access to authentic materials and resources in English is at the click of a mouse. However, the seemingly unlimited number of resources can be very intimidating at times! Besides, it can be difficult to know […]

Cognates – When Looks Are Not Deceiving

There are words in English that look like words in our mother tongue, but mean something totally different. If we take the word actually  as an example, we notice that it looks like the word “atualmente” in Portuguese, but in English it does not have this meaning; These words are called false cognates and we […]

English Practice – Idioms with Body Parts II

I know this was supposed to be an idiom post with a topic other than body parts, but I kind of left some pretty common ones out from the last post. Therefore I am adding them here if you guys don’t mind.So, let’s start with hand full. It seems quite self-explanatory, doesn’t it?! And it […]

How do you say “concurso” in English?

 This week I was watching TV when I saw an ad for a new Brazilian movie that has just come out: “O Concurso.” I haven’t watched this movie (not yet, anyway!), so this is not a review. I’m just mentioning the movie because it got me thinking about a very common mistake Brazilian students make […]

Idioms – Colors

When learning a new language, I believe one of the goals is to get as close as one can to a native speaker. Therefore, we try to minimize our accent and practice as much as we can to improve our fluency. However, there is a much bigger challenge: first language interference. I say this because […]

What is “AIN´T”?

Casa Thomas Jefferson´s Teacher Magda, in her post about the contraction “ain´t”, mentions that the contraction is not generally found in any textbook. “Ain´t” is very informal and typically spoken on the streets. So, here´s Magda´s tips about it: Ain´t can mean “doesn’t” in the following case:  She ain’t no brothers or sisters. = She doesn’t have […]

Mispelled Words in English

According to our teacher Magda, there are some words that seem easy to spell, but they are easily spelled incorrectly by English students. Do you have any idea what the champions of mispelling in English are? Check out what Magda had to say about it  in her blog Dicas de Inglês, based on her students´ […]

Moving Beyond the Intermediate Plateau

I started learning English really young. When I finished my English course, my dad decided to send me to Australia for a year so that I could become more independent and responsible. Little did we know that I was far from being a competent speaker of the English language. The first months were challenging, but […]

Communication Strategy – Circumlocution

Circumlocution?  What does it mean? Well, if you are not a language teacher,  my guess is that you have never heard this word before in your life! But if you have been to an English speaking country and do not master the language completely, you must have used this communication strategy many times. You know […]

Acronyms for Text Messages

Do you know… what acronyms are? No?! Well, they are terms formed by the initial letters of the words present in a larger sentence. A very famous one would be FBI which stands for Federal Bureau of Investigation. Though interesting, I bet you’re wondering why on Earth I am  talking about acronyms. And the answer […]

Yes, You Can Write!

Whenever I ask  my students to write a paragraph, an essay or even a research paper, they come to me and say, “I can’t write. It’s too difficult!” Well, after all these years I have noticed that the majority of them could write really well. It was just a matter of giving them the right […]

Pronunciation Tip #3

I kept thinking about pronunciation difficulties since our last pronunciation tip. Then, I started to notice how some of my students mispronounce the following past participle forms: Caught Bought Thought Sought Brought Many of them do not pronounce the /ɔː/ sound as they should. Instead, they pronounce them as if they had the following diphthongs […]

False Cognates – When Looks Are Deceiving

Do you know that even though some words in English sound like familiar ones in Portuguese, they mean something totally different? That`s right! They are called false cognates, or false friends. Unlike our beloved friends, they are not trustworthy and many of them can lead us to misunderstandings. As a teacher, I can remember some […]

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Look
My English class is over. What do I do now?

Some English students think they will learn English just by attending their two classes a week and that will be it. Well, not so much. According to research, we learn languages through the same processes every child around the world does. We first listen to a “gazillion” words for almost a year, then we start […]

The Phrasal Verb Machine

What is a phrasal verb?  It is a combination of verb and one or more adverbial or prepositional particles functioning as a single semantic unit and often having an idiomatic meaning that could not be predicted from the meaning of the individual parts. And that’s what you’ll find if you look it up on the […]

TED Talks

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a global set of conferences put together to show “ideas worth spreading.”  TED talks are available online and they offer  the chance to listen to short talks delivered by inspiring speakers about many different topics. It’s a weekend ritual: I sit on my couch and watch a TED talk , […]

Vocabulary Learning Strategies

Learning how to sound natural in a second language is very important and here goes a few tips that might help you learn words, expressions and idioms to enrich your vocabulary range. 1. Notice, be curious when you are listening to music, people or movies. 2. Try to make the piece of vocabulary come alive. […]