20 December 2014

A language studio nominated for Best Blog about the English language

This blog has been nominated for the Love English Awards 2014 organised by Macmillan Dictionary!

I can't even thank you enough for your support! I am deeply honoured that you felt this blog to be worthy of nomination.

If you think that A language studio deserves to win, you can vote for me on the Macmillan Dictionary site. Voting starts on 13 January 2015.

Thank you so much to all of you who nominated my blog.

17 November 2014

Observing Others: Some Useful Adjectives

Character traits

1. Julia is a somewhat naive person; she thinks love can solve all the world's problems.
[(disapproving) naive - willing to believe simple things perhaps because of inexperience]

2. My grandfather was a very conscientious man; he never took time off work unless he was really sick.
[conscientious - always take your work very seriously]

3. She's an unscrupulous financial adviser. 

 [(disapproving) unscrupulous - behaving in a way that is dishonest or unfair in order to get what you want]

4. Telephone salespeople often take advantage of gullible people.
[gullible - easily deceived or tricked]

5. You are so obstinate and pigheaded. Why don't you listen when people give you good advice?
[obstinate - unreasonably determined],
[(disapproving) pigheaded - showing unreasonable support for sth and refusing to change or listen to different opinions]


1. Sarah is such an introvert girl, and her brother Adam is such an extrovert boy. Strange, isn't it?
[introvert - shy, quiet and unable to make friends easily],
[extrovert - outward-looking and sociable]

2. She seemed rather aloof when in fact she was just shy.
[aloof - unfriendly and not sociable]

3. You shouldn't be so diffident about your achievements - you've done really well.
[diffident - lacks confidence; has a low opinion of himself]

4. My aunt Christina can be very haughty and disdainful at times, but she's lovely really.
[(disapproving) haughty - unfriendly and seeming to consider yourself better than other people]
[disdainful - to believe others do not deserve respect]

5. Without wishing to sound conceited or self-important, I am the best manager in the company.
[(disapproving) conceited - too proud of yourself, your actions and abilities],
[(disapproving) self-important - have an exaggerated sense of your importance]

6. Jill is very modest about her achievements.
[(approving) modest - not exaggerating your qualities]

7. English people are traditionally thought of as rather reserved
[reserved - not immediately sociable]

8. I've always found Professor Jackson rather unapproachable, whereas his colleague Dr Yang is very approachable.
[unapproachable - have an unfriendly and slightly frightening manner]

Visible behaviour

1. He's so impetuous; I wish he would consider things first.
[(disapproving) impetuous - acting on a sudden idea without considering the results of your actions]

2. I thought she was rather taciturn when I first met her. She hardly spoke.
[(disapproving) taciturn - reserved or saying little]  

3. They gave us such an effusive welcome it was quite embarrassing.
[effusive - giving exaggerated expression of pleasure, praise or gratitude]

4. He's such a pushy salesman. 
[pushy - behaving in an unpleasant way by trying too much to get sth or to make sb do sth]

5. She's a very excitable child; she needs to calm down. 
[excitable - easily excited by things]

6. Bryan's so garrulous; it's impossible to get any work done.
[garrulous - talking too much, especially about unimportant things]

7. His impulsive generosity led him to give away most of his money.
[impulsive - acting suddenly without any planning; similar to impetuous, but it can be used in a more positive way]

27 October 2014

Temperature Idioms

This cold weather inspired me to go through some of the temperature idioms. I'll divide it into two categories - 'cold' and 'hot' ones.

1. get cold feet - to suddenly become too frightened to do something you had planned to do, especially something important such as getting married.

- The poor girl was left standing there at the altar! Why didn't you come?
- I decided I just wasn't ready to get married. I got cold feet.

2. leave sb cold - to not make you feel interested or excited.

I'm afraid opera leaves me cold.

3. lose your cool - to suddenly become very angry and start shouting.

- I try to be patient with her but she was so irritating in that meeting, I just lost my cool.

4. frosty reception -an unfriendly welcome.

- So, you've met David's parents. How did you get on?
- Well, his mother gave me a fairly frosty reception. She's a bit worried that I'm ten years older than him.

5. in cold blood - if sb kills in cold blood, they kill in a way that seems especially cruel because they show no emotions. 

- Did you hear the news? A policeman has been murdered in the town centre.
- Yes, and he was killed in cold blood.

6. as cool as a cucumber - very calm or very calmly, especially when this is surprising.

- She walked in as cool as a cucumber, as if nothing had happened.

7. in the cold light of day - if you think about something in the cold light of day, you think about it clearly and calmly, without the emotions you had at the time it happened, and you often feel sorry or ashamed about it.

- The next morning, in the cold light of day, James realized what a complete idiot he had been.

8. pour/throw cold water on sth - to criticize someone's opinions or ideas and stop people believing them or being excited about them.

- You don't look very happy. What's wrong?
- I just presented my plan for the new office to the rest of the staff, but they all poured cold water on it. They didn't like it at all. 

9. leave sb out in the cold - to not allow someone to become part of a group or an activity.

- Women's volleyball teams feel they are left out in the cold as far as media coverage is concerned.

10. keep a cool head - to stay calm in a difficult situation.

- I don't know how you manage to keep such a cool head in such a stressful office.


1. a hot potato - a problem, situation, etc. that is difficult to deal with and causes a lot of disagreement.

- The abortion issue is a political hot potato everywhere.

2. hot under the collar - embarrassed or angry about something.

- That's the fourth person trying to sell me insurance on the phone this week. 
- That's nothing to get so hot under the collar about. Just hang up.

3. be in hot water (get into hot water) - to be in or get into a difficult situation in which you are in danger of being criticized or punished.

- She found herself in hot water over her comments about immigration.

4. in the hot seat - in a positon where you are responsible for important or difficult things.

- I've just been made chairman.
- Well, rather you than me in the hot seat

5. in the heat of the moment - if you say or do something in the heat of the moment, you say it or do it without thinking because you are very angry or excited.

- I'm really sorry. I didn't mean it. I just said it in the heat of the moment.

6. warm to sb - to start to like someone.

-  I wasn't sure about Laura at first, but I warmed to her after we'd been out together a few times.

7. hot off the press - news that is hot off the press has just been printed and often contains the most recent information about something.

- Have our new catalogues arrived yet?
- Here's the first one hot off the press.  

8. go/sell like hot cakes - to be bought quickly and in large numbers.

- Her new lipstick is apparently selling like hot cakes.

9. a hotbed of sth - a place or situation where a lot of particular activity, especially an unwanted or unpleasant activity, is happening or might happen.

-  I'm glad I don't work at Reception.
- No, from what I've heard it's a hotbed of gossip!

10. be hot stuff - to be very skilful.

- She's really hot stuff at golf.

Do you know any other? Can you guess their meaning?

Photo credit: Damian O'Sullivan

19 June 2014

Webinar: What's hot, and what's not in coursebooks?

Date: Saturday 21 June 2014

Time: 15:00 BST

Presenter: Lindsay Clandfield

Lindsay is an award-winning writer, teacher, teacher trainer and international speaker in the field of English language teaching. He has written more than ten coursebooks for language learners and is the co-author of various methodology books for teachers. He is the co-founder of the round, an independent self-publishing collective at www.the-round.comYou can find out more about Lindsay at his website www.lindsayclandfield.com.

This webinar will focus on coursebooks as the indicator of what is popular at the moment in English language teaching. Lindsay will discuss what's hot in the latest generation of international coursebooks and what things are losing popularity. He will also take a look at several recent “flagship” courses from the major publishers and share some of the behind-the-scenes decisions made when a new coursebook series is launched. The webinar will wrap up with a look into the future and the question of whether or not we will be able to call these publications courseBOOKS.

To join the webinar please click here

You do not need to register in advance to join this webinar, just click on the link above and then:

  • Ensure "Enter as Guest" is selected
  • Enter your name and country
  • Click "Enter room"

10 June 2014

Webinar: Speaking Skills for Cambridge English: First for Schools 2015 Update

Date: Monday 16 June/Wednesday 18 June 2014

Time: 14.00 – 15.00/10.00 - 11.00 UK time

Presenters: Jill Buggey, Evelina Galaczi

This webinar is for teachers who are preparing candidates, or going to prepare candidates, for the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam. Alongside discussing the skills assessed in the Cambridge English: First for Schools Speaking paper, this webinar will help teachers understand the assessment scales for speaking at B2. Finally, the presenter will suggest teaching ideas to practise the skills required for the Cambridge English: First for Schools Speaking paper.

Register for this webinar for Monday 16 June or Wednesday 18 June.

9 June 2014

'To be or not to be' Competition

In honour of the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, British Council Russia is organising a competition << To be or not to be >>, in which you can win a royal pillow with Union Jack flag on it.

 1. Post a photo on Instagram on the topic «To be or not to be» until June 19th 2014;

 2. Put #450shakespeare hashtag and tag British Council (@rubritish) in your photo

 3. Get the most number of «likes» and the royal pillow is yours!

There will be three winners overall. Russian citizens and those older than 14 years are eligible for the competition.
Check out all the information at British Council Russia.

Good luck!

2 June 2014

Webinar - An Introduction to Blended Learning

Date: 4 June (Wed), 2014

Time: 2pm UK

Speaker: Deirdre Cijffers

In this webinar, Deirdre will explore the basic principles of blended learning and ways of making it work, including what tools are available, and the role of teachers and learners in blended learning courses. She  will discuss the task of lesson planning and how they are affected by the inclusion of new technologies, and how good teaching remains good teaching even with these new challenges in potentially uncharted territory.

Visit Cambridge English Teacher to register.

30 May 2014

IATEFL Webinar: 'Motivation, Imagination and L2 Identity'

Date: 31 May 2014

Time: 3pm BST

Presenter: Jill Hadfield

The webinar will deal with recent research on the relationship between motivation and the identity of the learner. This method, known as the L2 Motivational Self System by Zoltán Dörnyei, combines three motivation factors and looks at the use of imagination to enable learners to envision a new identity.  The webinar will cover the theory behind this method, explain how it can promote language learning and suggest practical activities for teachers to use in the classroom.

To join the webinar please click here.

Go to IATEFL for more information.

26 May 2014

Druga konferencija o posebnim obrazovnim potrebama

U organizaciji British Council Serbia održava se Druga konferencija o posebnim obrazovnim potrebama i inkluzivnom obrazovanju.

Vreme: Subota, 14. jun, 2014, 09:00

Mesto: Sava Centar, sala 1, Milentija Popovića 9, 11070 Beograd

Kroz plenarna predavanja i radionice, cilj ove konferencije je ukazivanje na značaj inkluzivnog obrazovanja i adekvatne obuke nastavnika koji takvu vrstu nastave izvode.

Prijava za učešće na konferenciji biće naknadno objavljena i dostupna od 2. juna. Broj učesnika je ograničen.
Detaljnije o konferenciji i predavačima možete pročitati ovde.

14 May 2014

Seminar/Webinar: Focus on global English

Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Time: 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (BST)

Venue: British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, SW1A 2BN, London, UK

Speakers: Richard Cauldwell, Katy Davies & Laura Patsko


Accent and identity, prejudice and insecurity

In this presentation, Richard will track the history of his prejudices and find evidence of it in other people. He will also give a quick survey of the accents of the British Isles, including those of non-native speakers who live in England. He will conclude by suggesting that three factors (the requirement to be mutually intelligible, the desire to assert or preserve one's identity, and the durability of prejudices about accents) influence one's sense of self- worth as an individual.

Richard Cauldwell has taught English to speakers of other languages for over thirty years. Since 2001 he has been designing and publishing electronic materials for the study of listening and pronunciation. Two of his publications have won British Council Innovations prizes: Streaming Speech (2004) and Cool Speech (2013). 

Practical ideas for teaching pronunciation and listening in an ELF context (English as a lingua franca)

This seminar explores practical ideas for teaching pronunciation and listening based on the presenters' experiences in Dubai and London, respectively. 

Katy Davies teaches full-time at the British Council in Dubai and recently completed her MA in English Language. She is particularly interested in the use of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) in the UAE, and designing materials to support teachers whose students need to communicate in an ELF context.

Laura Patsko works at St. George International in London as a senior teacher and teacher trainer on the Trinity CertTESOL and DipTESOL courses.  She completed her MA in ELT & Applied Linguistics in September 2013.  She is particularly interested in teaching pronunciation and investigating the practical applications of linguistic research.

13 May 2014

The 50 Most Positive Words in English

A group of mathematicians at the University of Vermont published a paper in 2012 on positivity in the English language. They took over 10,000 of the most frequently used English words from different sources, such as Twitter, Google Books, The New York Times, and music lyrics, and had people rate them on a 9-point scale,  from least happy to most happy. In the resulting data, ''laughter'' comes in at number 1 and ''terrorist'' comes last. Here is the list:
  1. laughter
  2. happiness
  3. love
  4. happy
  5. laughed
  6. laugh
  7. laughing
  8. excellent
  9. laughs
  10. joy
  11. successful
  12. win
  13. rainbow
  14. smile
  15. won
  16. pleasure
  17. smiled
  18. rainbows
  19. winning
  20. celebration
  21. enjoyed
  22. healthy
  23. music
  24. celebrating
  25. congratulations
  26. weekend
  27. celebrate
  28. comedy
  29. jokes
  30. rich
  31. victory
  32. christmas
  33. free
  34. friendship
  35. fun
  36. holidays
  37. loved
  38. loves
  39. loving
  40. beach
  41. hahaha
  42. kissing
  43. sunshine
  44. beautiful
  45. delicious
  46. friends
  47. funny
  48. outstanding
  49. paradise
  50. sweetest

Which words do you consider the most positive? What is your favourite? 

Photo source: www.etsy.com

12 May 2014

Seminar/Webinar: Does learning a foreign language make you smarter?

Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Time: 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM (BST)

Venue: Parc Hotel by Thistle, Park Place, CF10 3UD, Cardiff, UK

Programme: British Council

Speaker: Miguel Angel Munoz

There are numerous reasons for learning a language. Cognitive development is often one of the most cited ones. Learning a language is said to improve memory, attention, multitasking performance and mental health. This talk aims to present an overview of the latest research published in this area in order to dispel some myths and highlight the real cognitive benefits of learning a foreign language.

Miguel Á. Muñoz (DELTA, M.A. University of Kansas, M.A. UIMP-Instituto Cervantes) has taught English, French and Spanish in Spain, Morocco, Reunion Island and the United States. He currently teaches general English at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas in Guadalajara.

10 May 2014

Top 10 Verb+Verb Combination Mistakes

The following list shows the ten mistakes that advanced students most often make when they put one verb after another. In each case the form of the second verb is incorrect.

1. Main Verb: suggest
suggest (sb) to do sth
I suggest to send our kids on a similar course.
suggest (that) sb do sth
I suggest (that) we send our kids on a similar course.

2. Main Verb: recommend
recommend to do sth
I recommend to write your feelings down on paper.
recommend doing sth
I recommend writing your feelings down on paper.

3. Main Verb: look forward to
look forward to do sth
I look forward to hear from you.
look forward to doing sth

I look forward to hearing from you.

4. Main Verb: need
need do sth; need doing sth
We need resolve a lot of other important problems.
need to do sth
We need to resolve a lot of other important problems.

5. Main Verb: consider
consider to do sth
I would like you to consider to sell the house.
consider doing sth
I would like you to consider selling the house.

6. Main Verb: want
want do sth
If you want have the body you have always dreamed of, you must join a gym.
want to do sth
If you want to have the body you have always dreamed of, you must join a gym.

7. Main Verb: be used to
be used to do sth
✗ She was not used to speak Cantonese.
be used to doing sth
✓ She was not used to speaking Cantonese.

8. Main Verb: (would) like
would like do sth
I would like thank the families for their help.
would like to do sth
I would like to thank the families for their help.

9. Main Verb: can
can to do sth
We need to find new markets where we can to sell our products.
can do sth
We need to find new markets where we can sell our products.

10. Main Verb: help
help (sb) doing sth
My job was to help operating the rollercoaster.
help (sb) to do sth; help (sb) do sth
My job was to help (them) to operate the roller-coaster.
 My job was to help (them) operate the roller-coaster.

Which verb+verb combinations trouble you the most?

9 May 2014

ELTForum.sk 2014

Eltforum.sk is an annual  international English teachers' development conference held in Slovakia in June. It is organised by the Slovak Chamber of English Teachers (SCET), the Association of Language Schools, ELT publishers and teacher training institutions in Slovakia. 
This year it is held on 6-7th June at the University of Economics in Bratislava.

All the plenary speakers are international experts in the field of ELT, including David Crystal, Maggie Kubanyiova, Gabriela Lojova. 

If you want to get inspired and learn something new, you can register here and check out all the necessary details.

7 May 2014

Teaching vs. Technology

Date: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Time: 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (BST)

Venue: British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, SW1A 2BN, London, UK

Speakers: Joanna Norton & Karen Wilkins


Technology has shared a long history within education. With each new invention came assurances that teaching and learning would never be the same again. However, during each innovation pedagogy has been noticeable mostly by its absence, and decisions about which types of technology  to use have been informed increasingly by behaviour patterns in the consumer space.

By the end of the session, teachers will have a better understanding of what mobile learning is and also how to assess and evaluate its impact on teaching and learning. The session will also provide teachers with an opportunity to explore alternative pathways around their own professional development and possibly consider education technology as a viable alternative.

1800 – 1815 Welcome and refreshments
1815 – 1900 It's time for educators to reclaim the technology debate with Joanna Norton
1900 – 1915 Comfort break and refreshments
1915 – 2000 How are new technologies changing the relationship between student and teacher? with Karen Wilkins
2000 – 2030 Networking reception

Joanna Norton is an educator with deep domain expertise teaching in today’s diverse, multilingual learning environments. A multimedia author and editor, her experience of using mobile phones for teaching and learning led to the creation of Keywords English. Keywords English is an app designed to support young language and literacy learners with the academic vocabulary of science, in both their first and second languages.

Karen Wilkins currently works as the Director of Studies for IH Intuition Languages, a global network of homestay tutors.  Karen has been teaching since 2004 and has worked in Spain, Japan and the UK. Karen has an MA TESOL, where her interest was in extensive reading. She is currently a part-time PhD student researching the effect that new technologies have on our relationships.