Tag Archives: language learning

Losable… and other -able adjectives


Photo credit: funnyjunk.com

What an eventful week… Yesterday I taught my first Russian class at a language school – it was a new experience for me as so far I have only taught individual students. It is also a men-only group, so it was very funny when they arrived and got their little notebooks out and said they felt like they were back to school. Then they started comparing notebooks and telling each other where they got them from – some ‘stole’ theirs from work, while some had to go to a stationary shop. The guy who came with a brand-new notebook said he didn’t know whether to buy a large A4 one or a smaller (A5) size, but decided to go for the smaller one, which, they all agreed, was more portable, but also more ‘losable‘! What an adorable word!

I’ll be honest – I do have a strange fascination with these made-up-on-the-spot words ending in ‘-able’.

When I watched ‘Closer’ for the first time, there was a scene in which Jude Law said about Nathalie Portman ‘She’s completely lovable, and completely unleavable‘, and it just blew me away. I guess one of the reasons I love English so much is that it is so flexible and it lends itself to puns and wordplay and making things up and really encourages a playful attitude to a language.

I am really looking forward to the next lesson in the hope that my students learn some Russian and I maybe learn some an English word or two!

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To pocket-call

to pocket-call meaning

Photo credit: cnn.com

Almost every dinner at our place is cooked and eaten to the soundtrack of Marc Riley’s show on BBC 6 Music. His today’s show, apart from the good music, as usual, had a rare linguistic treat for me – I learnt a new word and, most importantly, it was one of those I-never-new-there-was-a-word-for-it-in-English-words. I get twice as excited when I hear them.

Now, have you ever put a phone in your pocket or your bag only to find out later that the cheeky thing has called somebody on your contact list? It used to happen to me all the time. And when it happens again I’ll know the word for it – ‘to pocket-call‘, as in ‘Sorry, I pocket-called you yesterday’.

P.S. According to Wikipedia, you can also call it ‘pocket dialing‘ or ‘butt dialing‘.

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I’ll make my own way

i will make my own way phrase

Photo credit: toomanymornings.com

Last week I started giving Russian lessons to a student… actually, three students (I’ve gone from zero to three in a week!), but this one turned out to be an author of books on Business English. I was astonished! He showed me one of his latest books with basic Business English phrases and I wished I had this book years ago, when I was a student myself. Somehow we were never taught the ‘real’ English, but some ancient form of it (and I don’t mean Old English either – they’ve made us work really hard on that one).

There was one phrase in that little book that caught my attention – I must admit I haven’t come across this one before – ‘to make your own way‘, as in:

– Shall I send a car for you?

– No, thanks, I can make my own way.

And another example:

– Is it still possible for someone to pick me up, or should I make my own way to the airport? (Wordreference.com)

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Apps for learning phrasal verbs

cambridge phrasal verbs apps

Photo credit: cambridgemobileapps. com

Being quite a fan of online dictionaries, I try to alternate between two-three of my favourite for a change. Today I turned to the Cambridge Online Dictionary and started browsing other tabs on the website. I came across the Apps section, which had two free apps for learning phrasal verbs, which I rushed to install on my phone.

They are The Phrasal Verbs Machine and Phrasalstein. Both feature superb graphics, surprisingly good music and about 100 phrasal verbs each. You can either browse phrasal verbs and see short and witty videos and examples illustrating the meaning or choose an Exercises tab to try and guess the meaning. I could instantly see the amount of hard work that gone into developing these apps and it’s great that they are free. What’s more, you can view translations into other languages – French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Italian – or simply view a definition in English. What a treat for a polyglot!

I recommend these apps to anyone looking to brush up on their phrasal verbs or to learn some more!




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Websites: Woodwardenglish.com

woodwardenglish learning english resources

Photo credit: woodwardenglish.com

I’ve been planning for a while to start writing about the resources – websites, dictionaries and apps – that I use or just stumble upon and that should be helpful for English learners (myself included). This is going my first one.

I stumbled upon this website as I was searching for the explanations and examples of differences between ‘fun’ vs. ‘funny’.

I think it’s a brilliant resource for learners of intermediate to advanced levels with some very good visuals, such as this Cooking Vocabulary or Daily Routines cartoon (for elementary / intermediate level), or even Do vs. Make usage.

One of the most helpful posts is probably 7 tips for learning new vocabulary. I agree wholeheartedly with this strategy and I’ve been using it myself, especially the flashcards. More on them later.

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Updates on the competition


Photo credit: toptentopten.com

Dear readers,

as you’ve probably noticed I entered the competition of language learning blogs. You can support my entry (if you feel like it, of course) by voting on this page. I’m the 6th from the bottom.

Many thanks!

P.S. In the meantime I’m hunting for more new and exciting expressions and trying to cope with the workload. Stay tuned!

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Why bother and learn a foreign language?

If this blog strikes you as that of an obsessive language learner, you’re actually right. I probably wouldn’t have written this post had it not been for the Inspire Language Learning Competition (and I quite like the idea of having a few more readers), but I do sometimes wonder (and I’m sure people who know me also do) how I ended up like this.

I can spend hours with books, textbooks, magazines, dictionaries, notebooks, films and websites in or about different languages, occasionally emerging with a giggle only to notify whoever is present of a newly discovered word, phrase, a remarkable quote or a mind-boggling difference in grammatical structures.

To a normal person the reasons for such an obsession might not be immediately obvious. Most rational human beings would learn a language to get a promotion, to go travelling or be able to talk to their partner in his/her mother tongue. While some of these reasons apply to me, there is a bit more to it.

Even though English has pretty much become my career – I have been working as a translator (and having a bit of a love-hate relationship with the job) for over 6 years now – the only thing I can be certain about is that there’s still a great deal to learn. As to travelling, it is a huge advantage to be able to speak the language of the country you’ve wandered into, but even this does not guarantee you a smooth journey. Thinking of an example closer to home – how are you supposed to know that in the UK it’s perfectly normal to pay with a card in a supermarket, but in a pub you would be much better off paying cash (even if they have the card machine)? Knowing the culture (and gosh there’s a lot to know) takes you to the next level.

So, what’s the most exciting thing about learning a language?

I think that speaking a foreign language gives you a chance to be a new you, to reinvent yourself. It’s a bit like trying on new clothes, only much cooler. Even though the jury’s still out on whether the language we speak determines how we think or the other way round, I am pretty sure there’s something to both of these suggestions. When speaking English I become very apologetic, unnecessarily embarrassed (don’t say it’s just me!) and occasionally attempt a play on words or a pun, because that’s what the English do. Talking to Frenchmen I subconsciously mimic their inimitable facial expressions and become easily agitated about the things I normally wouldn’t be. German…. I haven’t actually spoken German for a long time, but it has this rhythm and melody about it that I find very appealing. Oh, and the composite German words are one of my biggest joys! Russian is the language which I perhaps feel most at ease with, for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t dare mention Spanish, it’s early days. But initially it didn’t really appeal to me because my temperament is hugely different from that of even the shyest and quietest Spanish person, so I’ll be learning it for this very reason – to imagine what it’s like to be a loud Spanish woman!

Learning a new language is a bit like peering through most weird looking glass and finding your way around a new place with strange rules and unfamiliar landscape. It is also a bit like putting together a puzzle of one billion pieces and knowing you’ll probably never get it right, but doing it just for the hell of it. Learning a new language can be a lot of different things and you never know what’s in store for you, so go for it!

(The infographic below is quite informative. It is also the requirement for taking part in the competition!)

inspire language learning

Learn English with Kaplan

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