11 Tips to Help You Learn English Faster

We didn’t write these, but we totally agree. A great resource! If you have questions about English – grammar, slang, idioms, etc., please let us know. We are happy to help.

http://english-tonight.com/learnenglishquickly/

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VIDEO: A Short History of English

Want to have a basic understanding of the history of English without taking a full course on the subject?

In under 15 minutes this E-Lecture by Professor Handke gives an excellent overview of the most important cultural and linguistic aspects that affected the development of the English language through time. This includes examples spoken in the original pronunciation of each period.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz8tEPXI25A

What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?

USING FLASHCARDS FOR VOCABULARY ACQUISITION

Do you need to learn new words in English, maybe for a test (like TOEFL, GRE, GMAT) or because you just want to improve your vocabulary?

One effective way is to self-study using flashcards as a starting point. (Eventually you want to try writing these words in sentences and even use them in real life.)

What is great about flashcards is that you can decide what information you want. It could simply be a word (on side 1) and a simple definition (on side 2), either in English and/or your native language. Often, pictures work better than definitions. Look at Google Images to give you ideas. Other types of info you may want to include are: pronunciation; part of speech (e.g. verb, noun, adjective, etc,); synonyms & antonyms; example sentences; and more.

Try starting with ten new words. Look at the word and the information several times for a few days. Then look at the definition. Can you guess the word? Or try looking at the word and see if you can provide the definition. Constantly review old words and keep adding new ones.

Again, you can do this alone, or even with a partner who can motivate you, help you, or correct you.

Want more advice from us? Just ask!!

MLK Holiday — See the I Have a Dream Speech and Video Here

Yesterday we had no classes as the nation honored Martin Luther King, Jr., one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders, by observing the federal holiday remembering his life and works. This holiday celebrates his birthday which was on January 15, 1929. We also remember his tragic assassination, which happened on April 4, 1968.

The following link contains a video of his most famous speech, and the transcript so you can read along. It may be difficult to understand everything, but the main message of peace, freedom, and equality will be clear.

http://www.commdiginews.com/featured/martin-luther-king-i-have-a-dream-transcript-video-memorial-slideshow-33605/

HAVING TROUBLE FALLING ASLEEP BEFORE A TEST (LIKE TOEFL)?

There is a well-known breathing technique called the 4-7-8 method.

Using this breathing method can help you fall asleep the night before a big test (like TOEFL) or other stressful things.

This method can also help you relax before giving a presentation or speaking English (if speaking English makes you nervous).

It’s easy:

1.) Breathe in for four (4) seconds through your nose.

2.) Hold it for seven (7) seconds.

3.) Exhale strongly for eight (8) seconds.

Here is a demonstration and more about it by the famous healthy living doctor from the U.S., Dr. Andrew Weil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRPh_GaiL8s

“‘TIS THE SEASON”: CHRISTMAS IDIOMS JUST IN TIME!

The following list contains numerous English idioms and expressions relating to Christmas and holiday traditions. Some of them are specifically used during the holidays and some can be used any time. More info below!

Bah! Humbug!
= first used by Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, this is sometimes said by people who aren’t fans of Christmas when confronted with holiday well-wishers.

I’m tired of all these Christmas carolers singing at my door! Bah humbug I say!!

Christmas comes but once a year = used as an excuse for over indulgence, whether on food or on gifts, on the basis that it doesn’t happen often. 

Go ahead and have another plate of food! Christmas comes but once a year.

Deck the halls
 = decking (or decorating) one’s hall with branches from a holly tree is an old tradition; the popular carol of the same name began as a Welsh tune dating back to the 16th century

Christmas is in five days and we haven’t put up any decorations yet! It’s time to deck the halls!

It’s the thought that counts = it’s the kindness behind an act that matters, however imperfect or insignificant it may be.(Expression can be used any time of year)

Lit up like a Christmas tree = nothing to do with decorations but used to describe an intense military attack on enemy positions (Expression not actually used for Christmas)

The more the merrier = the more people or things there are, the better a given situation will be (Expression used any time of year)

There’s no time like the present = a reminder that there are things in our lives we can do and accomplish RIGHT NOW with a little hard work (Expression used any time of year)

‘Tis the season to be jolly 
= taken from a Christmas carol, this phrase serves as a reminder to put on a happy face over the festive period (‘Tis is an old method of contracting it and is, but is rarely used these days) (Expression used near and around Christmas time)

Trim the tree
 = nothing to do with cutting, this is an old reference to decorating a pine tree with ornaments, lights and other glittery bits (Expression used during Christmas time)

White Christmas = when it snows at Christmas time (something which happens sometimes in Atlanta but not often)