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Have something done

It is common to hear things such as “I cut my hair / I washed my car / I repaired my car”. Brazilians might understand what you mean, but probably a native speaker of English would be surprised. Let me tell you why: we only say these things when we actually did them. So, did […]

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 […]

April is poetry month

This year, Americans and Canadians are celebrating their 20th and 18th anniversary of National Poetry Month, respectively. It is a initiative from the Academy of American Poets and the League of Canadian poets to increase awareness and nurture appreciation of poetry in their countries, but everyone is invited. It involves poets, publishers, booksellers, libraries and […]

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 […]

Games as a powerful language learning tool

Have you ever thought of playing online games to help you learn English? Games can be a powerful language learning tool. They are also seen as a fun way to expand learner’s knowledge of English in meaningful ways, which might lead to a better long-term retention of the target language. ABCya is a free educational website that […]

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 […]

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: First Conditional

Hello again, dear reader, The first conditional is one of the most common in the English language. We use the simple present after if and the simple future in the next clause. “If I get home early, I will do my homework today.” As you can see, the first conditional is used to express a future action that depends on another […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.

Review: Will vs Going to

Hi, dear reader, As the year is coming to an end, I think it’s high time we reviewed some of the basics about English grammar. First, I would like to talk a little about the differences between using will and going to when talking about the future. Basically, what you should know is: Use will when you want […]

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 […]

Grammar Tip: “me and my friend”

I always come across sentences like “me and my friend went out yesterday”, “me and my family traveled to the USA last year” and so on. So, just for clarity, this way of phrasing is OK if you’re in an informal context, like in spoken English. But, in a formal environment, like in a composition or test, […]

“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 […]

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 […]

Music – Electric Guitars

Do you know when the electric guitar was invented? Can you identify the different types of electric guitars? If you are a rock´n´roll aficionado or simply an appreciator of curiousities in the music world, access right now and delve into the world of guitars!  

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 […]

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 […]

English Practice – What do you Look Like?

A simple question, right? “What do you look like?” The problem is that many people give answers like: “I’m like tall.”  “I like watching TV.”  “I look like tall and thin.” And all the answers are incorrect! When asked “what do you look like?”, you simply have to describe yourself. Look at some possible answers: […]

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.

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

Where Can You Find Audiobooks?

Reading a good book is comforting and mentally engaging. Reading and listening to an audiobook in the language you want to learn is not only pleasant, but also emotionally satisfying. Which book should you choose? If you are not totally fluent in the English language, I suggest you choose a book that you have already […]

Practice Your English with Songs

Every teacher knows how important it is to use songs in the classroom. Why? Why do we learn so well through songs? Well, I assume it`s because it is fun, it triggers emotions, and it conjures up memories. When we enjoy a song, we usually do not mind listening to it many times, so learners […]

The Son of Sobek

Have you read the first saga of Percy Jackson? What about the Kane Chronicles? If your answer is no to any of these questions or to both of them, you have got to start reading them. They are amazing. Well, that is, if you like this kind of adventures that involve Greek gods and teenage […]

Little Did He Know

Quotes are inspiring and can help us broaden our perspectives. In addition, they can help us learn a lot of cultural aspects and language. Take a look at the quote above. What do you notice? Why are the modal auxiliary verbs placed before the subject in affirmative statements? Did you know that in formal English we […]

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. […]

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 […]