Literature, Reading

Top 5 books to improve your English

Reading is one of the most important ways to practice English. It’s funny , relaxing and helps you to improve your comprehension skills and vocabulary.

To help you choose some helpful books, we’ve searched for some of novels and stories that are full of adventures and exciting characters – and better yet, they are easy to read for language learners.

So here are our top 5 books to help you practise English at home.

1. Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Wonder tells the story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a home-schooled fifth-grader living in Manhattan. He has a medical condition that has left his face disfigured. At the start of the novel, his parents decide to enrol him into a private middle school for the first time ever.

Throughout the school year, Auggie faces many challenges because of his appearance. He’s often bullied and beaten by other kids. Against all odds, the kind and courageous little boy manages to make friends.

Wonder made the New York Times bestseller list and was adapted into a hit movie starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s parents and Jacob Tremblay as Auggie.

2.The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Published in 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth is still one of the best books for young adults and language learners.

The novel follows Milo, a young boy who goes on a fantasy adventure after receiving a mysterious package that contains a miniature tollbooth. He drives through the tollbooth in his toy car and finds himself in magical places where he meets all kinds of strange characters.

The text is littered with puns and wordplay, which make the book even more fun – and a great opportunity for language learners to practise their skills.

3.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

This mystery novel – with a mysterious title – takes the reader on a journey into the mind of Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who sees the world and the people around him in a different way.

Christopher finds himself in the middle of an adventure after he discovers the dead body of the neighbour’s dog, speared by a garden fork. As the story unfolds, Christopher finds out the truth about his mother. He also travels to London alone and takes an A-level maths exam, all in a frenzy of excitement and fear.

We love this book – and the English level is perfect for intermediate learners.

4. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights – known as The Golden Compass in the US – is the first book in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. It was published in 1995 and has since become a classic in the young-adult fantasy genre.

The novel tells the story of twelve-year-old Lyra Belacqua. She’s a brave and curious girl who lives in a world of mythical creatures and parallel universes. Like all humans in this world, she has a “daemon”, a talking spirit animal that constantly accompanies her. Together, they embark on a journey that is filled with danger and excitement.

If you’re looking for a thrilling but easy book to read in English, Northern Lights is a great place to start. You won’t be able to put it down!

5. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is well-known for his clear, straightforward writing style and short sentence structure, which is great for English language learners and many people have read it in school.

It’s the courageous tale of a Cuban fisherman and his battle to land a giant marlin and it’s a perfect introduction to Hemingway as an author.

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Grammar

Compound words and their meanings

English has a number of words that make the language confusing for those who are just learning the language. They include homophones, homonyms, compound words, and word pairs which look and sound similar but have different meanings.

Compound words which can be one word or two can be especially confusing. Here we will look at four of these confusing word pairs; everyday vs every day, anytime vs any time, awhile vs a while, sometime vs some time, and someday vs some day.

Anytime vs Any time

This compound word is an example of how the English language has changed. A few decades ago, the accepted standard was to always write “any time” as two words. A few scholars still consider using the compound version to be lazy writing.

Anytime [any time]

is an adverb which means whenever.In almost all cases the two word version and the compound version mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably.

For example:–

  • I am available anytime if you’d like me to help with your move
  • I am available any time if you’d like me to help with your move.

“Any time” [or anytime]

can also serve as a conjunction.

– Anytime we had the chance we would go for a swim.

– Any time we had the chance we would go for a swim.

There are a few instances where any time should be two words.

When the phrase is used with a preposition like “at” two words should be used.

– I will gladly help at any time of the day or night.When you are referring to an amount of time the two word version is used.

– Do you have any time to review my test today?.

Everyday vs Every day

Like many compound words, “everyday” and “every day” are typically more confusing in spoken English than in written English since most speakers do not parse the words correctly.

Everyday

 – This is an adjective; which means “mundane”, “typical”, “ordinary”, or “standard”. The phrase “everyday routine” refers to a normal, ordinary day where nothing unusual occurred. As the English language becomes even less formal, you will occasionally hear people use the word as a noun, sort of a shorthand version of “everyday chores.”

Every day

– When written as two words it means “each day”, “every” is an adjective for “day.” One easy way of checking your usage is the replace the work “every” with the word “each” and checking that your sentence still makes sense. For example, “each day routine” is not correct whereas “each day I drink a glass of milk” does.

Someday vs Some day

Someday

– This compound word is an adverb and means “at an indefinite time in the future.”

– Someday I will invest in a new mobile phone but the old one will be ok until I do so.

Some day

– Some day is an adjective, some, and a noun, day. Some means “unknown” or “unspecified”.

When paired with day it means a single day that is unknown.– The term paper is due some day in May.

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Learning, learning

Most effective online learning tips

  • Choose the best time and place to learn

Choosing when to learn and study is very important in terms of maximizing your energy and learning more efficiently. We all have different energy levels over the course of the day, and some of us prefer to do certain activities at certain points in the day, being able to strike a balance between your energy and alertness levels while also considering the time of day is crucial when it comes to learning and studying and even doing other things, another factor that can come into play aside from time is location.

The atmosphere around you can contribute greatly to the quality of your studying and learning time.

  • Taking notes

How good your notes are will determine how useful studying them later will be. A sign of good note-taking is when the notes are written or seen in such a way that you know the sequence of information that was brought up revolving around them.

Some other strategies to consider that can help you out are the following:

  • If you’re in a class that’s given assigned reading, read through it before the next class. Do the same with your previous notes.
  • Keep your notes from each subject together. Have notebooks for every class or topic you’re deeply exploring. This way, you avoid confusing them or mixing up information while reviewing them.
  • Always write down the main points of the topic so you can get a brief but solid overview of the subject.

  • Study in groups

discussing topics with other people around you is another way that you can help improve your learning. This online learning tip is a touch different from the previous tip because it’s more of a collaborative approach to understanding something.

  • Avoid distraction

Sometimes, distraction comes from outside sources that are beyond our control. However, there are also several other things that are internal that can be distracting.

These are things like our cell phones or having various tabs on your computer up while you’re reading or studying something else. We don’t often think about those as distractions, but they can and will pull us away from learning. So you need to Turn off your cell phone, Close down tabs or even blocking access to certain sites during a period of time.

  • Using a learning strategy that works for you

There are four methods for us to learn:

  • learning through sight.
  • learning through hearing.
  • learning through reading and writing.
  • learning through action.

We often have a mix of each one of these things. However, there is definitely one style of learning that each of us prefers over the other if we can get away with it. Knowing which type of learner you are most dominant in can help you devise strategies and techniques around your studying habits whenever possible. Of course, you can still use the other methods loosely or may have to rely on them more in certain circumstances.

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iye
Speaking

Important phrases for a job interview

In job interviews you have to be convincing , and to show why you want this job also why you deserve it . So you need to speak confidently and to have good expressions to convince your interviewer about your personality, strengths, experience and why you want the job .

phrases to describe your personality :

  • Trustworthy: someone who you can rely on.
  • Proactive: someone who takes steps to complete tasks without supervision.
  • Committed: a person who is loyal to a project or person.

phrases to describe your strengths :

  • Speak foreign languages.
  • Communicate well.
  • The ability to multitask.
  • Perform to a deadline.
  • Solve problems.

– phrases to describe your experience :

  • I studied at the University of ……………….
  • I have five years’ experience as a waitress/in retail/as a teacher
  • I worked for ………..as a lawyer.
  • I worked in …….. for seven years and was promoted to manager in my second year.
  •  I can say my top 3 skills are: ……………….,…………. and……………….. .

– phrases to describe your goals for the future and why you want this job:

  • I feel my skills set is a perfect fit for your team and I can contribute by…
  • I believe your company is an important player in its industry
  • I’m looking to further my skills as a barista/in hospitality, as a childcare worker/in early childhood education
  • I’d love to work here because I ………….. .

phrases to thank the interviewer at the end :

  • I want you to know that I am very thankful for this.
  • It was a pleasure meeting you .
  • before I leave I want to thank you for the opportunity.
  • thank you very much for your time . I’ll be waiting for your call .
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Grammar

Your best guide for the verb tenses

There are 12 main tenses in the English language, the result of the following combination of tenses and aspects:

  • Present
  • Past
  • Future
  • Present perfect
  • Past perfect
  • Future perfect
  • Present progressive
  • Past progressive
  • Future progressive
  • Present perfect progressive
  • Past perfect progressive
  • Future perfect progressive

The Simple Verb Tenses

To begin, let’s take a closer look at the simple present, past, and future verb tenses. 

Present

The simple present tense indicates actions that are habitual or generally true.

  • I like sushi.
  • The weather in Texas is hot.
  • When we visit Bologna, we walk under miles of porticos.

In particular, notice the use of the simple present when stating a habitual action. It would sound incorrect to say, “I eat pasta,” in response to the question, “What are you doing right now?” Instead, you would use the progressive tense: “I am eating pasta.” 

You do use the simple present to describe a routine action, though.

  • He paints portraits.
  • I eat fresh strawberries in the summer.
  • The dogs bark whenever she takes a conference call.

You also use the simple present with stative verbs , which indicate possession, senses, emotions, or states of being.

  • I love that new song.
  • That shirt belongs to me.
  • She thinks spinach is delicious.

Past 

The simple past tense indicates an action that is already complete. To form the past tense of a regular verb in English, you add the suffix “ed.” Sadly, for ESL speakers, there are a number of irregular verbs that do not follow this rule, such as felt, came, and thought.

  • I donated to the food drive yesterday.
  • He felt nauseous after riding the roller coaster.
  • Thousands of Chinese immigrants came to the United States in the nineteenth century.

Future 

The simple future tense indicates an action or state of being that will take place in the future. You form it by adding auxiliary words (such as “will,” “shall,” or “am going to”) to the main verb.

  • I am going to love my trip to Hawaii.
  • The principal shall make the announcement tomorrow.
  • He’ll bring a casserole to the potluck if you don’t have enough food. 

The Progressive Verb Tenses To describe actions that are ongoing in the past, present, or future, you apply the progressive aspect to each of the three simple tenses. The three progressive tenses can be formed by adding the correct form of the auxiliary verb “to be” to verbs ending in “ing.”

The Progressive Verb Tenses

To describe actions that are ongoing in the past, present, or future, you apply the progressive aspect to each of the three simple tenses.

Present Progressive

The present progressive tense describes an ongoing action that is happening right now. The action began in the past and will continue into the future.

  • She’s filing the divorce papers.
  • I’m checking my social media accounts.
  • The neighbor’s dog is barking loudly and enthusiastically.

Past Progressive

The past progressive tense indicates an action that was ongoing in the past. It began at some point and may continue after a second action has taken place.

  • She was talking to her friend when their biology class ended.
  • I was watering my plants when three cop cars sped down the street.
  • They were driving up the coast when it began snowing so hard they could barely see.

Future Progressive

The future progressive tense indicates an ongoing action that will take place in relation to some future event.

  • I will be coming home for the holidays.
  • She’ll be heading out the door the minute she wins the lottery.
  • We will be singing the same song, undoubtedly, when our daughter graduates from college. 

The Perfect Verb Tenses

The perfect verb tense describes an action or state of being that is finished or already completed. You form each of the three perfect tenses by adding the correct form of the auxiliary verb “to have” to the past participle of the verb. Perfect tenses can be used with dynamic or stative verbs.

Present Perfect

The present perfect tense indicates an accomplishment, experience, or action that occurred over an indefinite period of time. The action may have ended sometime before the present moment or may still be happening. The present perfect and the simple past are sometimes used interchangeably in the English language. In fact, the difference between them boils down to context.

  • I have been horseback riding.
  • The train has been delayed until future notice.
  • The English language has been transformed several times since the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

Past Perfect

The past perfect tense indicates that a past action was completed before another action took place.

  • Gwen had invested in the company just before it went bankrupt.
  • We had argued for peace, but the opposition decided to wage war.
  • I had fixed the drywall cracks before the mud storm shifted the home’s foundation again.

Future Perfect

The future perfect verb tense indicates an action that will have been completed in some future time.

  • The dogs will have been fed before we arrive home.
  • She will have been exhausted by playing with her nieces and nephews.
  • By the time we see their light, stars will have been already alive for billions of years.

The Perfect Progressive Verb Tenses

The perfect progressive tense describes an action that occurred in the past and is ongoing in relation to some past, present, or future point in time. While the perfect tense indicates a completed action, the three perfect progressive tenses describe continuous action.

Present Perfect Progressive 

The present perfect progressive tense describes an action that began in the past and is still ongoing in the present.

  • I have been watching Netflix all morning.
  • They have been trying to build their new desk.
  • The lawyers have been eager to get the testimony of a key witness.

Past Perfect Progressive

The past perfect progressive tense describes an action that was ongoing in the past but stopped before the present time, often because of another action.

  • They had been working until the pizza arrived.
  • I had been shopping for Christmas presents until I exceeded my credit limit.
  • She had been daydreaming about visiting Italy for so long that it felt strange to actually be there.

Future Perfect Progressive

The future perfect progressive tense indicates an action in the future that will be ongoing and may continue past the time of another event, though the second future event often implies the cessation of the event that is ongoing.

  • I will have been working for ten hours by the time I go to bed.
  • The legal team will have been compiling research even if the parties agree to settle.
  • She will have been eating meat for 40 years if she decides to become a vegetarian in the New Year.
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Grammar, Writing

Kinds of noun

  • What is noun

A noun is a part of speech that names a person, place, thing, idea, action or quality.

  • Kinds of nouns
  • Common noun

Nonspecific people, places, things or ideas.

Man, city, relegion etc…….

  • Proper noun

Specific people, places, things etc……

Albert Einstein, London etc……

  • Abstract noun

Something that you can not perceive with your five senses.

Belief, bride, happiness etc…..

  • Concrete noun

Something that you can perceive with your five senses.

Apple, llion, eyes, flower…….

  • Countable noun

Something that can be counted, like pencils, trees, cars etc……….

  • Uncountable noun

Something that can not be counted, like snow, rice, water, food etc……….

  • Compound noun

Made up of two or more words, like sunflower, textbook, snowball, etc…..

  • Collective noun

Refer to a group of things as one whole.

Bunch, audience, flock, group

  • Singular noun

Refer to one thing, person or idea.

Cat, ship, hero etc……

  • Plural noun

Refer to more than one thing, person or idea.

Dogs, cats, ships etc…….

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Grammar, Speaking, Writing

Synonyms, antonyms, homonyms and homophones

  • Difinitions
  1. Antonyms : are words that mean the opposite.
  2. Synonyms : are words that have the same meaning.
  3. Homonyms : are words that sound and spelled the same, but have different meanings.
  4. Homophones : are words that have the same pronunciation, but have different spelling and meaning.

  • Examples
  • Antonyms
  1. Old, Young
  2. White, Black
  3. Boy, Girl
  4. Happy, sad
  5. Left, right
  6. More, less
  7. Over, under
  8. False, true
  9. Asleep, awake
  10. Close, open

  • Synonyms
  1. Big, Large
  2. Correct, True
  3. Near, Close
  4. Above, over
  5. Below, under
  6. Cry, weep
  7. Fix, repair
  8. Hard, difficult
  9. House,home
  10. Small, little

  • Homonyms
  1. Bat (animal), Bat (baseball object)
  2. Can (be able), Can (put something in container)
  3. Ball (object), Ball (dance)

  • Homophones
  1. Meet (to see), Meat (the flesh of an animal)
  2. Weak (not strong), Week (a period of seven days)
  3. See (to watch), Sea (water)
  4. Hare, hair
  5. Flower, flour
  6. Sell, cell
  7. Bored, board
  8. Weather, whether
  9. Loan, lone
  10. Rode, road
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Languages, Writing

Figures of speech

What is the figure of speech

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that is used in a non-literal way to create an effect. This effect used in the deliberate arrangement of words to achieve something poetic, or imagery as in the use of language to suggest a visual picture or make an idea more vivid.

Types of figures of speech

  • Simile

A simile is a type of figurative language which is used to compare one thing against another. Similes compare the likeness of two things and often feature the words “like” or “as”. For example, as strong as a lion.

  • Metaphor

A metaphor is a phrase describing something, as something is not in reality. It is used to compare two things symbolically, or to describe something as something it is not. For example, love is a battlefield.

  • Personification

Personification is a type of figurative language. It is used to give an item or an object a sense of being alive. The speaker will talk to the object as if it understands. For example, why are you so heavy, suitcase?.

  • Symbolism

Symbolism is another form of figurative language which is used to express an abstract idea using an item or words. For example, we had to put out a red alert.

  • Idiom

An idiom is a phrase which bears no literal meaning to the situation, it is describing but it implies the fact or story behind it. For example, there is a silver lining in every cloud.

  • Irony

It is used when a statement made is directly contradictory to the reality. It is also used to convey a style of sarcasm. For example, I posted on Facebook about how bad Facebook is.

  • Paradox

Paradox is a word which contradicts itself. For example, deep down Adam is really shallow.

  • Pun

Pun is a figure of speech, it uses a word to give a different sense to the sentence and add a double meaning. For example, An egg for breakfast is not east to beat.

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Grammar

Types of sentences

A sentence is the largest unit of any language. In English, it begins with a capital letter and ends with a full-stop, or a question mark, or an exclamation mark.

The sentence is generally defined as a word or a group of words that expresses a thorough idea by giving a statement/order, or asking a question, or exclaiming.

  • Types of sentence
  • A simple sentence

It expresses a single idea in a single clause.

  • Examples :
  1. Joe drank coffee
  2. Joe drank coffee with Tom
  3. Joe drank coffee in the afternoon with Tom
  4. Joe and Tom drank coffee

  • A compound sentence

It contains two ideas connected with a co-ordinator (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)

  • Examples :
  1. Joe drank coffee, and Tom played the guitar
  2. Adam drank water, but he was still thirsty

  • A complex sentence

It contains two ideas connected by a subordinator (because, since, after, Although, or a relative pronoun such as that, which or who)

  • Examples :
  1. Joe drank the tea that he bought in Chinatown.
  2. Although Adam drank water, he was still thirsty

  • A compound – complex sentence

It hhas the elements of the complex and the compound sentence.

  • Examples :
  • Joe drank the tea that he bought in Chinatown, but Tom played the guitar
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Languages

TOEFL vs IELTS

What is the IELTS?

IELTS is an abbreviation for International English Language Testing System. The test is available in two formats: ‘IELTS Academic’, for those planning to study at a higher education level abroad; and ‘IELTS General Training’, which focuses on social skills and workplace contexts.

What is the TOEFL?

TOEFL is an acronym for Test of English as a Foreign Language. It is an English proficiency test, developed by an American company, ETS, to measure an individual’s reading, speaking, writing, and listening proficiency in American English. TOEFL scores are a requirement for over 900 universities and other institutions in more than 130 countries. There are two methods of taking this test; it can be taken as a Paper-Based Test (TOEFL PBT) or an Internet-Based Test (TOEFL IBT) which is more popular.

These tests are standardized and this simply means that the scores are consistent all over the world . Both of them will test you on four main language skills and that is listening, speaking, reading and writing .

What is the difference between Toefl and ielts?

The major difference between these two tests is in speaking. While in TOEFL you have to talk to a computer, the IELTS requires you to talk to a real person. Many people find talking to a computer very strange and that is why they prefer the IELTS test.

Which test requires more preparation?

While both IELTS and TOEFL require basic preparation at least , many takers felt that to prepare for TOEFL was harder. But that varies with each individual. The difference in the test patterns may give rise to tasks that need more preparation.

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