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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 […]

Review: Second Conditional

The second conditional is used to talk about hypothetical situations in the present. Suppose I think I’m too short to play basketball. I would probably say: “If I were taller, I would play basketball.” What I mean is that I don’t think I can play basketball because I’m not tall enough. I use the verb in the […]

A vitória do “Basic English”

Quando a gente começa a aprender inglês, às vezes vêm aqueles sentimentos conflitantes – de animação e de frustração. De animação por que subitamente você começa a se comunicar em outra língua; onde antes não havia nada, agora há muito. De repente você começa a reconhecer palavras, entende uma fala aqui e ali nos filmes, […]

Free English Resources to Boost Your Language Learning

 The British Council is an organization in the United Kigdom that builds on implementing cultural relationships and provides myriad educational opportunities. They have developed a website exclusively dedicated to learning the English language, which is divided into sections according to the student age: kids, teens and adults. Each section features a huge variety of resources, including games, […]

Feed your Curiosity and Improve your Language Skills

BBC is not only the world’s oldest national broadcasting organization, but also a provider of great materials to learners around the world. It gives learners access to free audios, video, text and multimedia that can enrich students’ learning process. BBC has recently launched a new factual educational site, an online learning guide – BBC iWonder. There you can […]

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 […]

Expressions with “Finger”

There are, obviously, many idiomatic expressions that use the word finger, but I’ll show you the ones I think are most commonly used. Here’s my Top 10 list. 01) To have a finger in every pie: this one is used to talk about someone who’s very influential because he’s involved or has influence in many different […]

Review: Present Perfect vs Simple Past

Hello, dear reader, Here is the second part in our review series. There’s great confusion among language learners when they have to differentiate between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past. Most of these problems originate from the need a student might have to translate these tenses into his/her own language to better understand how […]

Review: Past Perfect

Here’s my third piece of review, and it’s a good one. The Past Perfect is an interesting verb tense. It does not happen alone. It comes together with the Simple Past. As the saying goes, they go together like a horse and carriage Look at this sentence: “When I got home, my wife left for work.” In this sentence […]

Review: Zero Conditional

Conditional sentences are sometimes confusing, so I am going to try to make them as clear as possible to you, reader. Let’s start with the first one. It’s called zero conditional. You only use the present tense in this time of sentence. “If you don’t eat, you get sick.” “If you eat a lot, you put on weight.”  As you can probably […]

What kind of movies do you like?

Hello, dear reader, In this post, I propose we talk about vocabulary that is commonly used in English to talk about movies. Many are the words used to describe how we feel about a movie, how it was made, the kind of movie it is, etc. Without further ado, let me jump right in and […]

Numbers vs Periods & Hyphens

Hi, dear reader, The title of this post might sound puzzledly mathematical, but its content does not require prior knowledge of advanced calculations. In English, periods and hyphens are frequently used when numbers need to be set to paper: Periods:  Periods are used to separate the number from its decimal ($ 3.35) . This period […]

Perfecting your Writing: In the end…

In the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s classic, you read: “all in all you’re just another brick in the wall.” All in all is one example of expressions we can use to start a conclusion, be it in a paragraph or in an essay. Some other are the basic finally and in conclusion. Last but not […]

Confusing verbs: Been or Gone?

Hi, dear reader, Two verb forms that are often confused is been and gone. They are the past participle of the verbs be and go.  I ask you, what’s the difference between,  he’s gone to Africa and he’s been to Africa? Well, use gone when someone visits a place but has not come home yet. “Michael can’t come […]

Confusing words: all together vs altogether / aid vs aide

Hello, dear reader, Here are two pairs of words that are often confused. What is the difference between altogether X all together and aid X aide ? Well, they are really different: Altogether  is an adverb that means completely, totally. “His latest business plan for the second trimester is an altogether new approach to our deficit problem. All together means […]


Hello, dear reader, Yes, I know that this blog post title may seem confusing. After all, we have different words which are, according to the tile of this post, the same? Don’t fret over it. Let me explain what I mean. Obviously, really, pretty, and very  are different words. For example, “That test was very difficult!” “Sophia […]

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 […]

ANA Students

Our wonderful team of teachers have prepared a special Newsletter for our blended course students from Agência Nacional de Águas. It is all related to the practice of English with a focus on natural resources. You can check the Newsletter here. If you have any questions or would like to discuss any issues in the […]

“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 […]

Learning from Movies 1 – Now You See Me

Are you a movie lover? Many of my students love learning from movies, and I love preparing movie activities  because motivation level is high and we learn more when this happens! Have you seen ‘Now You See It’? Yes? It’s great, right? No? Maybe you should give it a try! The plot is very interesting […]

Pronunciation in English – The Web Can Help You

As you, dear reader, have realized by now, pronunciation in English is always a challenge. You never really know how a word should be pronounced unless you either check it in a dictionary or hear someone say it correctly. In English, the spelling and the pronunciation of a word are so at odds with each […]

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 […]

It ain’t that, ain’t it?

You probably have across ain’t either while reading, listening to a song, or even watching a movie. Ain’t is not really what you could call proper English, so it should never be used for academic writing; however, it is commonly used either in American or British English. But what is ain’t exactly and how is […]

Saying Dates in English

It is surprising when an advanced student still hesitates when saying dates in English. We assume that dates are learnt/taught in the basic level, so it is strange to notice this difficulty in an advanced student.   Here are some of the difficulties I have observed among my students:   1) Wrong pronunciation.   We […]

Are you a curious person?

Are you a curious person? For example, would you like to learn more about the history of beer? Or maybe you are into science and want to know about the Big Bang? Or maybe you like design and architecture and would be interested in knowing more about the history of Bauhaus? As a language teacher […]

Never Fail a Test Again!

Do you have a test coming up and need to study some concepts, words, or ideas? Are you traveling and need to learn some expressions to get by? Nowadays, we can use our gadgets to help us learn on the go. Organize a set of flashcard on your device and get ready to learn in […]

“So” and “neither”

The usage of “so” and “neither” is not that hard, but it’s a bit tricky because we need to know the auxiliaries well and it involves inversion of words. Let’s take a look at each example – I guess it’s easier to understand this way. Examples with “so”: 1) A: I think U2 is still […]

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 […]

MailVU – Unleash the Power of Videos

  I sometimes need to answer many mails, and I found an easy way to do it more meaningfully in no time. Have you heard of mailVU? This simple site lets you record messages really easily and send them via email. It can be used to improve your English too. You can just record a […]

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 […]

If x whether

“If” and “whether” have the same meaning (which is “se”, in Portuguese). However, they can be used in different situations. Use “whether” when there is an option/choice: 1) I don’t know whether his eyes are green or blue. 2) I’ll take this new course anyway, whether you take it with me or not. 3) The […]

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, […]

Curious about Science?

If you are the kind of person who is interested in astrophysics, climate change, biology, geology, marine science, zoology, paleontology, or even just curious about the first steps of a baby cub, the Smithsonian Science site is a perfect fit for you. While browsing around, you´ll find book reviews, videos, curious facts, simulations, and many […]

Ender’s game

Have you ever heard of Orson Scott Card?He is the American author who wrote Ender’s Game. One out of a saga of 16 books. But don’t get scared of reading it yet  because the novel is actually quite complete in this one book. Not quite sure of what I mean?! Well, what I am trying […]

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 […]

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 […]

Pronunciation Tip – “ss” pronounced as “z”?

Don’t feel embarrassed if you have also mispronounced words like ‘possessive’ or ‘possess’ at least once in your life. I believe everyone has done that! The fact is that the words ‘possessive‘ and ‘possess‘ are pronounced like ‘pozessive’ and ‘pozess’. Click on the words to listen to their pronunciation. But, we, Brazilians, tend to think […]

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 […]

English Practice – Idioms with Body Parts

As you guys can see this is a follow up post to the ‘color idioms’ one. And this time I thought it would be interesting to talk about body idioms. Specially because some of them can be quite common. For instance, you can be talking about some polemic topic with a friend and the both […]

Forget “have”!

One of the most recurring mistakes among Brazilian learners of English is to use “have” when they want to express the idea of “exist”. And, believe me, it’s a mistake that can kill your English! So, let’s just remember: we use “there +be” for this. Let’s take a look at these sentences. The first ones […]

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 […]

The Difference between Do and Make

Many students have a hard time using make and do correctly , and it`s not  complicated if we understand the basic difference and also understand a little about collocation.Many of my Brazilian English students get confused because in Portuguese, both verbs can be translated as “fazer”. In Brazil, we usually say “fazer um favor”. So, […]

Learn Words about Soccer

Even though there has been many protests on the streets in Brazil, they are not necessarily  against our beloved national sport. We love soccer, and this post is meant to help learners talk about our most popular sport. In English, there are many specific words one should learn to be able to talk about soccer […]

Pronunciation Tip #5

What do the words “numb,” “thumb” and “debt” have in common? Well, they each have a silent “b.” Yes, we do not pronounce the “b” in these words, and that has been another pronunciation challenge for us Brazilian speakers of English. So, in order to help you identify more words in which the “b” is […]

There to Be X Have – The Difference

I usually hear the question “Have homework today?” many, many times. All teachers do, and it sounds really bad because it is incorrect, but what`s wrong with it? Why do English learners make this mistake over and over? In English, we do not start a sentence with the verb have when we mean exist. We have […]

Present Perfect

The present perfect is the verb tense that puzzles us Portuguese speakers the most, due to the fact that we have no equivalency in our language. It is usually at this point that I tell my students that we have reached the point where the languages divorce each other; and that they have to forsaken […]

Multitasking to Boost Learning

Are you a busy person who has to work a lot and does not find time to practice your English? Are you? Well, I happen to understand what you are going through. I have been trying to learn Hebrew, but I just cannot find the time to devote to studying. I am motivated, but I […]

What Do Good English Learners Do?

What do successful language learners do? Well, some years of experience in the classroom have taught me that there are some characteristics and habits that do help a person acquire a language. But what are they? Can you name a few? I am sure you must have thought about studying a little on regular basis […]

Studying Abroad #1

People choose to study English for many reasons, in my case, I chose to study it for the love of the language. However, as years passed me by I got a bit frustrated with my fluency and listening ability. And what I have noticed as a teacher is that most students get to this point […]

Learn Phrasal Verbs with Look
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. […]

Getting a Good Free Dictionary App for Learning

There are many different dictionary apps that you can download and use to become a more independent English learner. With a good app in our hands, you can look for definitions of some words, check pronunciation, and see how the words collocate with others to form sentences. However, there are so many options in the stores that […]

90-Second English Video Lessons with Vicky Hollett

  Vicky Hollett´s short videos are a wonderful way for you to practice your English in key areas of the language that might be confusing or challenging for English learners. Besides Vicky´s nice videos, she also offers their transcript for you to follow along. Check this one about the difference between interested and interesting: And, […]

Practicing English With CTJ Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual bookmarking platform. You can check your favorite links and resources on the move, from your work computer to your cellphone (it has app for both iOS and Android). Though it has become really popular due to its visual appeal and its usefulness, not many people are aware of its potential for […]