Here are some interesting links for you.

7 tips for preparing for the IELTS Test from

20 Tips for Learning your First Second Language from – I believe he means ‘first additional language’ but let’s not split hairs – via @SayHowDoYouDo

How to read and understand a scientific paper for non-scientists from

11 tips for learning through newspapers from

The Digest: 28th June 2014

the digest

On Monday there was a little bit of travel English with a guide to booking hotel rooms.

On Tuesday there was vocabulary, with a post about describing solutions to problems.

This week’s podcast was about crime.

There was a post about being aware of common homophones on Thursday.

Yesterday we topped off the week with an easy way to vary grammar structures in writing.

Be Aware of Homophones to Improve Listening Comprehension


When you listen to people speaking it is easy to misunderstand if you are not aware of homophones (words that sound the same). This is especially true in standardised tests like TOEIC, TOEFL and IELTS but also in everyday situations as well.

Some common homophones and near homophones are:

ate eight
blew blue
check Czech
eye I
flea flee
gym Jim
him hymn
in inn
know no
plain plane
right write
sea see
two too
wooden wouldn’t
you ewe

Here’s a video that shows just how confusing homophones can be.

The Answer to Your Problem


Some things are so difficult that you need a solution for them. Here are some different words and phrases that can be used to talk about the answer to your problem.

  • answer
  • “One answer to the energy crisis is simply using less energy.”

  • cure
  • “Most of the medical research budget is spent on looking for a cure for cancer.”

  • cure-all
  • “This medicine will help with your depression but it isn’t a cure-all for lifestyle choices. You need to take more exercise and eat a balanced diet.”

  • panacea similar to cure-all
  • “Space exploration is not a panacea for overcrowded cities; we shall not colonize space for at least fifty years.”

  • silver bulletThe only way to kill a werewolf. Usually used to talk about a very effective solution.
  • “Facebook is a silver bullet for boredom.”

  • solution
  • “The solution to the housing shortage is to convert unused office space into homes.”

  • way around
  • “One way to avoid driving in the city is to cycle.”

    Book Hotel Rooms

    Kawagoe Business Hotel

    When you book hotel rooms, it is important to know what kind of rooms you need.

    • A single room has one single bed.
    • A twin room has two single beds.
    • A double room has one double bed.
    • A suite usually has a double bed and a living room facility and often also has private dining facilities. It may also include adjoining rooms for staff.

    There are also different meal options.

    • ‘All inclusive’ means you can eat and drink as much as you like. This is mainly offered in resort hotels as part of a package holiday.
    • ‘Full board’ includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually without alcoholic drinks.
    • ‘Half board’ includes breakfast and dinner, again usually without alcoholic drinks.
    • ‘Bed and breakfast’, or B&B, includes breakfast.
    • ‘Self catering’ or ‘room only’ means you have to eat out or you may have cooking facilities available in your room.

    Example Conversation

    Booking Clerk: Hello, Paradise Hotel. How may I help you?
    Customer: I’d like to book a room for two weeks from the twentieth of July, please.
    Booking Clerk: What size room would you like?
    Customer: A twin room, please.
    Booking Clerk: Will you dine at the hotel?
    Customer: I’d like bed and breakfast, please.
    Booking Clerk: Certainly. That’s a twin room for fourteen nights, checking in after two o’ clock p.m. on the twentieth of July and checking out before eleven o’ clock a.m. on the third of August. Your catering requirements are bed and breakfast. That will be a total of nine hundred and ten dollars including taxes. Could I take a credit card number to guarantee the room?

    The Digest: 21st June 2014

    the digest

    OK, let’s kick things off with a post about space.

    To follow up, I posted about colloquial pronouns you never get taught.

    On Wednesday, the podcast was about feelings using adjectives and prepositions.

    After that there was a post about regrets.

    On Friday I put up a video about sequencing step-by-step processes with the example of making coffee. I also wrote a post about feeling comfortable with unclear meaning.

    Is This Right?


    When you start learning a language everything is unknown. You take in vocabulary and grammar and make fast progress in making those new, unknown words become old, known words. The speed of progress becomes normal.

    What most language learners aren’t prepared for is the plateau at the intermediate level, where there is less clear meaning. As a beginner, you studied the difference between ‘apple’ and ‘orange’; as an intermediate learner you study the difference between ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’.

    What can you do to feel more confident in your language use and studies?

    • Love the lack of clear difference

    • The lack of clear difference means you have made so much progress already. You are ready to learn the different nuances (small differences in meaning) between similar words, try longer sentences and use more complex grammar structures.

    • Enjoy the language like a native

    • This means you don’t have use textbooks as often as before. If you have a grammar reference book, a dictionary and a notebook you can write down the interesting language usage you see and hear in the things you read, watch and listen to. Remember, native-speaking children do not understand every word of all they hear from the television. They guess and they are used to making mistakes. Relax and enjoy yourself.