Showing posts from August, 2018

Person, people, persons, peoples

I tell my students that there is one person, two people in most contexts. 'Persons' comes into play in legal contexts 'murdered by a person or persons unknown' as crime show fans will know. 'Peoples' is concerned with tribes of people, 'the peoples of the Amazon rainforest'. I saw this sign and thought it was a good example of 'persons' in use. This is persons as it is referring to any one person. If the sign said, 'no unauthorised people' then perhaps a single unauthorised person would be allowed?

Last and ago

Last and ago Last         (Long) periods of time before the current one year month week                 Seasons spring summer autumn winter                 Night                 Days of the week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday                 *but yesterday is the day before today. Ago        Usually a specific length of time in the past                 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago                 Be careful with “I met her two summers ago ” Idiom “It was a last minute job” It was done or occurred at the latest possible time before an event “It happened ages ago” It occurred a long time in the past In song lyrics Wham “Last Christmas I gave you my heart” Don Mclean American pie “A long long time ago..”

Mistakes that native German speakers of English often make

As I taught English for many years in Germany, a student recently asked me to compile a list of mistakes that native German speakers often make in English. Here it is. 1)       Using make all the time instead of do . This is because their equivalents (machen/tun) are not equivalent at all. A common mistake being ‘make a party’. There are rules, but it's a hard habit to get out of. 2)       Using drive in situations where it is inappropriate – such as drive a bike, drive a train, drive on a scooter. Due to the fact that fahren seems to be ubiquitous in German. Remember, the only person who drives a train, is the train driver, the rest of you are travelling on a train. It is appropriate in situations about cars such as "I drive to work" meaning I drive to work in my car. 3)       Using until instead of by. ‘ I will give you the report until Friday’. Which is probably because gives ‘til’ and ‘until’ as the first and second results when translatin


It was the first of one of my English conversation classes after a long break and one of the activities I had decided to do was Taboo. It was a new class, and I wasn't sure how it would work as I didn't know the students. I modelled the basic idea behind the game, there is a word that people have to guess, for example, 'bones' but they cannot mention the 'Taboo' words such as break, skeleton, broken, dog. I split the class up into four groups as it was a large-ish class of 23. The students got the idea and were amazingly creative about how they described the words. This ability is incredibly useful when it comes to communicating and not knowing a particular word, should not stop students from being understood.

Moving on and new students

I had the pleasure recently of teaching a very dedicated and enthusiastic student who in a very short time scale, managed to pass IELTS at a grade higher than she needed. It's such a good feeling to have worked with someone who put so much into her studies, to get where she needed to be. She is now on to pastures new (leaving a present situation for a new one) and I wish her all the best. I am now teaching a new student, who is at the beginning of his journey which will culminate (end) with him taking his English exams in the future. It can seem like a long way, to get to where he wants to be. He asked me recently, "do you think it's possible that I will pass this test?". Part of my job as a teacher is to encourage my students, and help steer them and push them to achieve their goals. So what I said to my student is that with enough preparation, looking at past papers and practice, yes, it is not only possible but likely that he will pass the test. This advice goes fo