A Tip for Tuesday

To improve your listening skills watch some talks on TED.com.

With a variety of topics from speaking the language of dolphins to bringing Pac-Man to MOMA, and the options to watch talks in English with English subtitles, it really is a website that keeps on giving!



A Tip for Tuesday

Today’s tip is don’t overdo it. And yes, we are talking about using emoticons.

Now we do not deny that these combinations of punctuations can come in handy at times, and in any language, however, the words at and times should be noted carefully here.

This is because at other times these are either superfluous or simply inappropriate.

So do use them (if you wish) in informal e-mails, texts and comments on this blog, however avoid them in official correspondence, reports or marketing campaigns for flower festivals in Catalan cities (and our most sincere apologies to the marketing department of Girona council for whom our tip today obviously come a little too late…)

emoticonsPS. For all of you wondering, the flower festival itself (which incidentally all of us here at The English Garden attended) was exquisite, magical and very vibrant. Below are a few photos of the installations.

A Tip for Tuesday

Today’s tip for Tuesday is all about using your imagination.

If we told you that today we were going to look at the word run the thought ‘I already know this word’ might cross you mind, possibly closely followed by, ‘how boring’.

However, just before you run for for the proverbial cover, one question:
Do you know all 396 definitions for this word?

To this, the answer is most probably ‘no’, in which case you can check a few of them out here.

Now, what’s all this got to do with using the imagination?

Well, to quote a slogan from the protests in is Paris (no, not the recent ones, rather those of May 1968), ‘those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking’.

tea potSo our tip today is don’t be one of those, because when it comes to learning, be it English, tea pot cover knitting, or life lessons, there is always something new to discover.

A Tip for Tuesday

To practise your English look for opportunities to use it. Below are a few suggestions:

  • If some tourists stop you in the street to ask for directions don’t be shy, help them out.
  • If you are interested in a certain topic, say Extreme Bonsai Tree Trimming, look for forums about it in English.
  • If you are going away to an exotic destination, or are day dreaming about doingso, look for information about it in English.
  • Finally, if you are reading this post and need some practice, write a short comment below 🙂

The more you practise the more you’ll progress. As the famous saying goes ‘you’ll reap what you sow’ or, as we here at The English Garden like to put it, ‘you’ll enjoy what you mow’.


A Tip for Tuesday

Hello everyone and welcome back.

As many of you will have enjoyed the long Easter weekend and will thus be facing your first day back to life, back to reality (to quote the musical geniuses who are Soul II Soul) today’s tip is all about how to cope with this inevitable predicament.

As big fans of breaks ourselves (be they Summer, Easter and yes, even mid-morning) here at The English Garden we are well aware that once these are over it can be hard to get back to the routine of working, gardening, and indeed, learning.

In the case of Easter, your stomach is full of sweet chocolate and your head is full of sweet nothing most probably, so to make the transition back into learning smoother, we suggest you reacquaint yourself what you had learnt last term.

You can do so by looking over your notes, re-reading any articles you worked on or revisiting your favourite English Gardener’s Tips.

If nothing else, doing this should hopefully remind you why you decided to learn English in the first place and thus help you face the future with renewed motivation.

For when it comes to learning, much like when stacking shelves, chairs or even coloured boxes, motivation is half the battle.


A Tip for Tuesday

To improve both fluency and accuracy, when speaking English never translate.

Instead, try thinking in English and this way you will use the structures you know, not structures you translate from your own language.

When you translate it is as though the words in your sentence not only have to jump across a wall but also land in the correct place.

wallThis is not easy to get right because apart from the fact that wall jumping is not the easiest of sports to master (and yes, we are talking from personal experience) sentences are structured differently in different languages. This means that, often, a word’s place in an English sentence does not correspond to its place in the Spanish, Catalan or Italian one.

You might find that thinking in English slows you down or seems to reduce your fluency level at first, but like all muscles, your mind too will become more agile the more you use it so in the long run you will see magnificent results (and without having to put your sportsgear on!)

A Tip for Tuesday

Today’s tip is a four letter word: read.

Now this may seem quite obvious but here at The English Garden we have learnt never to underestimate the importance of reinforcing common sense (something which at times is far less common than one might expect).

You can read things online or off, you can choose poetry, prose or even comic strips, you can bury yourself in a book, peruse a report, or scan some news or reviews. Alternatively, if you wish, you can flip throughreading fashion magazines, car magazines or even in-flight magazines.

Reading is useful because by doing so you can become aware of new vocabulary and expressions, new grammatical structures and, most importantly, new ideas.