ESL and IELTS Help 4 U

Archive for August 2010

Many students feel like this when they think of prepositions.

It’s easy to see why. There are over 150 prepositions in English. There are some rules to help you but not every preposition seems to follow a rule every time it is used. So we have to memorize.

In this post, we will review some of the most often used prepositions, ones that refer to  “where” something or someone is and give some other uses as well.

in

This water comes in a bottle.  

We are also in love. My friend is in training to be a doctor. A student could be in trouble if he gets caught cheating on a test.  If you are giving a speech you are probably standing in front of your audience.

on

This cute kitten is on the table.

We are also on time if we have a 3 o’clock appointment and we arrive at 3.  My friend is on TV if she’s in a reality show. If I’m traveling to Thailand and my plane has departed, I am on the way.

under

The Peanuts kids are sitting under the tree.

We are also under pressure if we are stressed. Fish swim under water although we can also say a fish is in the water. If a building is in the process of being built we say it is under construction.

behind

This little pig is behind the fence.

If my essay is due tomorrow and I have not started it yet, I’m behind on my homework.  If a soldier goes into the country of his enemy in a war, he is behind enemy lines.

beside

These young people are laying on the grass beside one another.

But if you hear someone say: “Your comment is beside the point,” it means the comment is not important, does not relate.

between

This beautiful girl is standing between two cute guys.

I could also say, “Between you and me, I think Tata is the best singer in Thailand.” This means I’m telling you something that I don’t want you to tell anyone else. I’m sharing a secret with only you.  In English we also say someone is between jobs if he lost his job and has not found a new job yet.

More prepositions to come! Enjoy your English! Study every day!

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In English, the term “pep talk” means a speech to inspire people.

So today, I want to give a small pep talk.

Every student I’ve ever had knew more than they thought they knew. It’s true for you as well.

You know more English than you think you know.

Your English is better than you think it is.

Trust yourself.

We are taught to always be improving. We’re told to study study study. We’re pushed forward by our families and our cultures.

So we always focus on how we need to improve. We say our English isn’t perfect. Our English isn’t good. We need to learn more, study harder.

It’s okay to have the desire to improve. It’s good to want to study and get results.

And…the one thing that always helps us learn is acknowledging* our current abilities. Appreciating* what we do know. Trusting ourselves to build on what we have already learned. Having confidence in our knowledge. Relaxing.

This is an attitude. The attitude of building and expanding the knowledge we have gathered over years of study, not the attitude of we’re never good enough.

Every student I’ve ever worked with knows the feeling of not being good enough.

This little pep talk is to say: We’re always good enough. And then there’s more to learn.

Enjoy this beautiful day…. Trust yourself.

* If you don’t know these words, look them up at http://www.thefreedictionary.com.

This came to my mind after a lesson the other day.

Do you have trouble deciding when to use the word “during” and when to use “while?” It is not difficult.

During:  Use this word with a noun.

During the day I often went to the museum to sit and relax.

During class I find myself dreaming.

During my trip to South America, I often felt homesick.

While: Use “while” when you are using a verb.

While I was studying, my phone rang five times!

While he was at his mother’s, he finished his thesis.

While we were visiting Paris, I met many students my age.

Sometimes you can choose either word, but your sentence must follow the same verb or noun rules.  For example:

Please don’t talk during the test.   Please don’t talk while taking the test.

I hope this is helpful!!

We’re all different in wonderful ways……and English helps us share our differences with one another. We do not lose our culture by learning English. We expand it.

From time to time I will write a post about some English words or rules that are confusing. Here are two for today.

1. loose or lose: There are two things to say about these words.

First, “loose” means the opposite of tight like in the phrase,  a loose screw. Loose clothing would be clothing that is bigger than your body and so moves as you walk. To let your dog loose means to untie it to let it run around.

“Lose” means to misplace something. So if I say I lost my wallet, it means I cannot find it. If I lost my sweater, I don’t know where it is.

The second thing to say is that the “s” sound is different in each of these words.

In the word “loose” the “s” is voiceless (come back for my next post on voiced and voiceless sounds). It’s a hissing sound like the first sound in the word “snake” or “sun.”

In the word “lose” the “s” sounds like “z” and is a voiced sound like in the word “zebra.”

2. desert and dessert: These two words mean totally different things. The desert is that dry, sandy place. It is a noun. The Sahara is the biggest desert in the world. The verb, desert, means to leave someone who needs some kind of help or assistance. He deserted her when she needed him the most.

Dessert is what is eaten after dinner and is most often sweet. We had cake for dessert.

But the more confusing issue with these words is pronunciation.

The noun, “desert” emphasizes the first syllable: de-sert. And the “s” has the “z” sound.

The verb “desert” emphasizes the second syllable: de-sert. Again, the “s” sounds like “z.”

Dessert always emphasizes the last syllable….de-sert. Again, the “s” has the “z” sound.

So, don’t be confused…,

study your English and

be happy….!

Many of my students have been confused about how to talk about their university experience in English.

Mostly, it’s the prepositions that are tricky.

So here are some examples of the correct ways to speak about this important topic.

1. If you are attending university:

I am attending Chiang Mai University.

I am a student at Chulalongkorn University in the Faculty of Engineering and will graduate in 2011.

I am in my third year at Naresuan University…or…I am a sophomore at Naresuan University.

If you are in your first year, you are called a “freshman.” In your second year a “sophomore.” The third year, you are a “junior,” and the fourth year, a “senior.”

2. If you have graduated:

I am a graduate of Chiang Mai University.

I graduated from Naresuan University in 2009.

I graduated from Chulalongkorn University with a degree in Engineering.

3. If you are studying for your masters degree:

I am a graduate student at Naresuan University.

I am a graduate student at Chiang Mai University in the Faculty of Medicine.

I graduated from Naresuan University in 2009 and am now studying for my master’s degree in psychology at Chulalongkorn University.

I hope these are helpful! Have a great day and your English!


Yes, grammar can be confusing.

A student’s question inspires this post.  It’s about the use of “most” and “most of.”

“Most” is used when we’re speaking generally.  It means the greater number of the largest grouping.

Most people like drinking coffee.

Most pandas live in the forest.

Most people are kind.

Most countries have financial problems these days.

However, if we want to be more specific and talk about a smaller group within a large group, then “most of” is correct.

Most of the people in Italy like drinking coffee.

Most of the pandas in China live in the forest.

Most of the people in Thailand are kind.

Most of the countries in Europe have financial problems these days.

And don’t forget: Most of the time, I like to sleep late.

Please also remember that when you use “most of” you will need an article:

the people

the pandas

the time

Enjoy your English study! Remember to have fun and relax — your two best learning tools!

Ok. So we all……have different learning styles.

We’ve talked about visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Here are a few more.

Logical: We could call this type of person a systems-thinker. Someone who is logical likes to understand how information and facts link together. This learner wants to know why things work as they do, to get the full picture in order to understand or learn. Memorizing won’t work as well as understanding how something works or how things fit together.

If you are a logical learner, make lists, draw diagrams, set up systems for your subjects. Don’t get lost in analyzing things.  Set goals and decide what steps you need to take to get to them…then follow the steps.

Social: A social learner does best when interacting with others. Talking about a topic, working as part of a team, pairing up with a friend to study. All these strategies will help a social learner.

Solitary: The opposite of a social learner, a solitary learner is happier studying by him or herself. Quiet places are where a solitary learner can focus and study best.

So now you have an idea of different learning styles.  There is a test to find out yours at this website:

http://www.learning-styles-online.com/

Enjoy this new information about how you learn. Use the tips and you will find studying and learning to easier and more effortless.