I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

It’s that time of year again: Christmas parties, shopping for presents, spending time with your family and eating too much food. For most people, it’s a time to have fun and enjoy yourself. For others, it’s above all an important religious festival. And for yet others, it’s all overrated: “Bah! Humbug!” as Scrooge famously says in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Unsurprisingly, most English idioms that refer to Christmas assume it’s a happy time of year.

Crimes against language: who decides what’s right and wrong?

For most crimes, the government decides what we are – and particularly are not – allowed to do. With crimes against language, the situation is a bit different. To begin with, you won’t normally be fined or put in jail for breaking the rules of grammar. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules – or does it? The answer is, it depends.

How to build your vocabulary: part 1

When learning a language, it’s obviously important to learn grammar and to practice speaking and listening. But without vocabulary, you won’t get anywhere. To be able to communicate effectively and understand what people are saying, you need to know lots of words. For many people, this is the single biggest challenge. In this first post about building vocabulary we’ll look at two of the possible approaches: vocabulary lists and spaced repetition.

How to say Hello

When learning a new language, one of the first things you learn is how to greet people. With English, you’ll be taught “Hello”, “Hi”, “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, “Good evening” and perhaps “How do you do?” However, when you meet native English speakers, or watch English television programmes, you quickly realise that there are lots of other ways to say hello.