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Are Children Better at Learning Languages?

It has long been held that children are much better at learning languages than adults – after all, it is children who are able to learn and master their mother-tongue so capably, while many adults struggle pick up a few basic words when they go on holiday. This is why it is often encouraged for children to start language lessons as early as possible, to take advantage of their natural learning gifts.

However, in actuality, children are not better at learning languages than adults – it is just that children and adults learn languages in different ways.

A Simpler Vocabulary

One reason that children can appear to be better language learners than adults is because their lives are inherently simpler and they require a much smaller vocabulary and arsenal of tenses in order to communicate. Adults are able to communicate in far more complicated ways, and as such they require a much broader understanding of a language in order to appear fluent.

It isn’t quite right to assume that just because children are more quickly able to get their point across in a foreign language, that means that they are learning the language. Rather that it is simpler for them to make their points.

Doesn’t Age Affect Learning Skills?

It is another misconception to think that as we age, our powers of learning naturally diminish. In fact, this is not the case at all, and people are able to pick up new skills at any time in their life. The only reason that children appear to have better learning skills is that the simply have more to learn, and childhood is a time of intense learning.

The only issues that typically affect someone’s ability to learn a language as they get older are their hearing and their vision – both of which are typically perfect in children.

Different Ways to Learn

One of the major issues surrounding adults learning languages is that they often try to learn in the same way as children. However, this is typically less effective. Children benefit enormously from classroom sessions as well as lots of repetition and reading. However, it is more valuable for adults to learn in a way that establishes meaning they can associate with real life.

This is why it is generally preferable for adults to learn in less formal group setting, where there is less of an intensive student-teacher relationship, but rather a chance to all learn together. Adults also learn better using online learning where children would not have the discipline to take all the lessons and practice.

Spring in the UK

As many of you will know, the British love talking about the weather. not only do they love talking about it, they also like moaning about it when it isn’t very good. Winter in Britain can be very rainy, cold and dark and, for a lot of British people, it is not a season they enjoy. While some areas do get snow and this can be fun as well as disruptive to work and school most places just get a lot of rain. So it is around this time every year when the British start seeing the signs of spring and begin looking forward to the summer!

Signs of Spring

Signs of spring int he UK are important for a lot of people. One of the first signs that spring is coming is that some flowers start to grow. Small white flowers called snow drops are often the first and these often flower in late winter. Also Daffodils and Crocuses are sure signs that spring is on the way. You will see yellow Daffodils on the sides of roads, in parks and many other places as spring starts. Other signs that spring is on the way include sunshine! There really isn’t very much sun in the winter in the UK so bright sunny and cold mornings and days are enjoyed by everyone. One of the nicest signs of spring is the birds singing. From mid February the song birds like Thrushes will start to sing in the morning and during the day and it is a wonderful sound. Another favourite in the UK is the first lambs of the season. As you drive past a field full of sheep you begin to see more and more babies as Spring starts to arrive.

Winter Still Holds On

February and March are certainly months where the UK sees some signs of Spring but they are also months that can be very cold and snowy in some places. Winter still hangs on throughout these months and seems to battle with Spring – one day it can be sunny the next cold, wet and windy again. It is a time of change and one that British people get quite excited about.

Thinking of Summer

Summer is a very important season in the UK. It certainly does not get as hot as many other countries and it can often rain but it is the warmest season the UK has so it is one that people get very excited about. As Spring arrives everyone begins thinking of days by the beach, swimming, warm sunny picnics and treats like ice cream! As this blog is being written in mid February, Summer is still a few months away and while the weather is bright and sunny the British winter may not be over yet and if it comes back again for a few more days the British people will take great pleasure in grumbling about it.

If you are planning to work, study or simply visit the UK the weather will play a big part in your stay. It can rain all day in the middle of summer, it can be bright and sunny in late winter or be dark wet and cold! Learning English and visiting Britain always involves lots of words about weather!

 

3 Foods That British People Love and American People Don’t

When you are learning English you will probably being watching a lot of movies with American actors and listening to a lot of American music. It is very common for people learning English to actually learn American English rather than the more traditional BBC style British English. English people certainly have a lot in common with Americans and share many of the same traditions, music, books, movies and more. But one thing that is often very different is the food. While everyone loves a Pizza or a Burger there are some very British foods that American people don’t like or even understand.

Beans on Toast

While Americans certainly like eating beans of all varieties the traditional British canned baked beans are not as popular. Americans do eat what the British would call baked beans but they do not have them served on toast and find the concept very strange. Beans on toast is a very traditional, simple and low cost meal in the UK, it is eaten right across the social classes from low income families to wealthy people. it is often thought of as a childhood meal and something people think of with happy comforting memories. The idea is simple; heat up some baked beans in a saucepan or in the microwave, toast one or two slices of bread and then pour the beans over the toast. Some people like some cheese on top of this and putting butter on the toast first in optional. In the USA this meal is never eaten and is considered quite unusual if not totally strange.

Marmite

Marmite is a yeast extract used for spreading on toast or to make sandwiches. Even in the UK it is something that some people love and others hate. It has a very strong taste but in terms of British foods Marmite is something no other country seems to like. Australia has it’s own version called Vegemite which is very similar in flavour. In America Marmite is very hard to buy and most people have never even heard of it. You can find YouTube videos of people from America tasting it which can be very funny!

Scotch Egg

While the name suggests the Scotch Egg is Scottish it is eaten right across the UK. If you have not heard of this snack it is a cooked egg wrapped in minced sausage meat, covered in bread crumbs and then fried in oil. The result is a round ball that can be eaten as a snack, part of a light meal or part of a picnic. Once again, the Scotch egg is not something anyone in America understands. While people in the US like sausage and eggs and they certainly like deep frying food they don’t seem to understand why British people would create this snack as a ball.

If you are learning English and planning to live, work or study in Britain or America you may find it useful to understand some of the big differences in language and lifestyle.

3 Easy Ways to Make Friends in the UK

If you are planning on coming the UK to work or to study then making friends is going to be really important. Being away from your friends at home and your family can be tough and building a range of new people to speak to and hang out with is really good for your happiness as well as your English learning.

Work vs School

If you are coming to the UK to study you may find you make friends very easily in class, you may find there are people from your country or even town studying too. If you are coming to the UK to work it can be a little harder to make friends so it is important to make an effort to create relationships.

Just Say Yes!

A great way to start making friends is to be confident and say yes if you are invited out. If someone at work asks you to come out with the team for a drink, just say yes. It is important to be safe and tell someone if you are going out alone with someone you do not know very well. But being brave and going out with new people at work is a great way to start making friends. They may not all be people you become close with but it is a great start point.

Join Groups and Classes

You may already have a hobby like Yoga, or Cycling so have a look on Facebook or ask the local bike shop or gym if there are any groups locally. By joining groups of people who enjoy the same things you can very easily start making friends. Shared interests are the best way to get talking.

Do Things

While joining a group can be a great way to meet people so is simply getting out there and doing things you enjoy. If you like jogging…go jogging and you may find you can say hello to some people who run in the same place as you. Go to the gym and get talking to people. If you do not have any hobbies then try going to a comedy club or a wine tasting event, take a cooking class or something similar. By being active and around other people you will naturally start forming conversations and these can lead to friendships. Why not check out our Facebook page and see if there are any people local to you that you can meet up with and talk about learning English?

By making new friends you will find your English learning will improve. Even speaking with other people who are learning can be really useful. Making friends can be hard but it is worth the effort.

A Guide to Speaking Like a Geek..or a Nerd

The terms Geek and Nerd have been around for a very long time but it is only in the last 10 years or so that they have really become popular and used as a positive way to describe yourself. Once being called a geek or a nerd was a serious insult. It normally described people who found it very hard to speak to people in a social situation, could not talk to the opposite sex and spend a lot of time studying and learning. 20 years ago playing video games was not very cool and the term nerd and geek was also associated with that movement, now video games are very popular and played by all sorts of people.

The TV show “the Big Bang Theory” also helped make geeks and nerds popular and cool and it is a very funny and useful show to watch if you want to learn more terms around this subject.

Slang

The terms used in this guide are all slang and many are only rally used online or on messaging services like whatsapp as well as online gaming platforms. These terms are fun to use and very useful to understand if you are learning English and you are a bit of a geek or nerd yourself.

Geek Terms

Pwned – This word is a misspelling of the word “powned” which originally comes from the word “owned. It means to be beaten and dominated. The original term came from World of War Craft when a player was beaten the computer game said “you have been owned” but there was a spelling error and it said “pwned”. This can be used if you have in any way been beaten in a game or by a task.

Noob – This is a derivation of the word “newbie” which means someone new and someone who doesn’t know very much. Again, this comes from video game culture but is used in other ways. If you were new to a workplace someone might call you a noob but it would be quite a geeky thing to say.

Woot – This is a very interesting word that came from role playing board game culture. It was once used when the characters int he game found some treasure or “loot” and they said “wow, loot”. This was shortened to woot. but since then it has simply become a word to describe excitement in the geek and online world.  “I have a day off work woot!” would be a good example of how to use it.

Fanboy – This word is used to describe someone who is an extreme fan or follower of a certain game, TV show, comic or any kind of medium. The term refers to someone who likes something so much they are not able to hear any negative comments about it. Many people like Apple products a lot and often these people are called “apple fanboys” because they will not consider using any other type of phone.

Easter Egg – While you may know this term and think it describes chocolate eggs given out around Easter time there is another meaning. In the geek world Easter eggs are hidden items or moments placed in a movie, TV show or video game. These items, mentions, references or secret things are things geeks love. It is assumed only true fans of a movie or game would see and find the easter egg. In gaming terms easter eggs are often hidden in very hard parts of the game. The term actually came from the 1975 movie “the Rocky Horror Picture Show” where the cast had a traditional easter egg hunt but most of the eggs were never found. However they could be seen in the movie in silly places throughout the duration.

 

These are just a few terms you might come across when speaking to people online playing games or just speaking to people who enjoy the geeky nerd culture. While these terms do not really make up part of learning English they are words that are used and therefore can be helpful to understand.

 

Top 5 Christmas TV Shows to Help You Learn English

If you are living in the UK and learning English or if you have access to UK TV online then these Christmas TV shows are great for learning English. TV and Movies are a brilliant way to help support your online English lessons and this Christmas there are some really useful ones.

Strictly Come Dancing

This classic British TV show is on Christmas day. It may not be something everyone likes but it is very popular in Britain. The reason it is good for learning English is because the judging panel all have different accents but there is also some very traditional English spoken throughout too. It uses a range of different voices and it great for picking up general spoken English.

Michael McIntyre Christmas Special

This comedian does speak very fast during his show and this can be a really good test of your English skills. He also uses a lot of modern vocabulary but not slang. If you can understand what he is saying when he is speaking quickly then you are doing very well.

Call The Midwife

This is a very old fashioned TV show set in the past. It can be very good to learn formal English and a much more traditional way of speaking. There is almost no slang on it and the grammar is very good. Not many people speak like this anymore but it is still very good to learn from.

Eastenders

This is a soap opera that is set in East London. It is full of slang and strong London accents. Words like “water” are pronounced without the “t” sound for example. It is a very useful show to learn how to understand people from London but it is important you do not copy it all when trying to learn how to say things properly.

The Great British Bake Off

This is very much like Strictly Come Dancing in that it’s a very popular British competition based TV show. It is good for learning English because, once again, there different presenters and contestants all have different accents and use different dialects. By watching the show you can get some feel for how different people speak English from different parts of the UK. This can be very useful if you are planning on working in the UK.

If you cannot watch these shows over Christmas don’t worry. Most of them are available online and there are lots of seasons of most of these. Have fun!

How to Say Happy Christmas in the UK

Christmas is coming and for people in the UK and other English speaking countries it is a very important festival or holiday. It is worth noting that for a lot of people it is less about the religious significance and often more about seeing family and friends, taking time off work and sharing presents. There is still a strong Christian theme for some people but not everyone will consider it like that. It is a month away but many people in the UK will be putting up decorations on the 1st of December and the shopping and planning has certainly started.

We thought it might be useful to look at some key phrases that are useful to know around this time of year.

How to Say Happy Christmas

First of all, just saying Happy Christmas is a very common phrase and a very simple and easy way to be polite and to give someone your best wishes. But there are other ways to express this.

Season’s Greetings – This is a simple phrase and is often used as a welcoming phrase. You will see it written on signs above shops or as you enter a restaurant or bar. It is not something you would say while saying goodbye to someone, but it could work well if you are welcoming someone to your home or place of work. It is often used in greetings cards too.

Merry Christmas – This is a very common and very friendly things to say. It is simply saying “I hope you have a happy Christmas”. Merry is another word for happy.

Happy Holidays – This is a very American term and really not used in the UK at all. You may hear it on movies and TV shows, but it is worth remembering it is a very American phrase. It still means happy Christmas but in America they say Holidays.

…and a Happy New year

It is very common for people to say Happy Christmas and also Happy New Year at the same time. This becomes more common as Christmas gets closer. It is not very common to say earlier in the month. New Year’s Eve is a very important parts of the Christmas season and it is polite to say “Happy New Year” to people around that time.

There are a number of other ways to say happy Christmas as you may be saying good bye to people as you leave work.

Enjoy Your Christmas – this is a good example of how to express good wishes for Christmas as you may be leaving work or someone else is leaving. You can also say Enjoy Your Christmas Break. The word break is used to describe a period of not working over Christmas which can be very important.

It is very polite to say Happy Christmas in whatever way you prefer and can be a very positive and happy way to greet or to say goodbye to someone in the UK.

Why Learning English Isn’t Just for Working in English Speaking Countries

One of the main reasons people learn English is for work. For thousands of people the desire to travel and to work and build a career in an English-speaking country and a big reason to learn English online. But there are other benefits to learning English when it comes to work even in countries that do not use English as a main language.

Colleagues

As a lot of people from non English-speaking countries want to travel and work in other places, so do people from English speaking countries like the UK and the USA. But a lot of people in English speaking countries also want to work in other places too. Many of them learn Spanish, Portuguese, German or other languages so they can travel and work away from home. Why does these mean learning English can help? Well, if you are from Spain, for example, and you are working abroad you may be working with someone who speaks English, and this can help build better relationships. They may enjoy speaking their native language with you and it also shows you know another language.

International Business

You may be working in a country that doesn’t use English but the company you work for may deal with companies from countries that do. Being able to speak English may be very helpful to the company and could be useful in getting promotion! A lot of large companies use English as the international language, so it is a very useful one to learn. It means you could speak easily with clients overseas as well as colleagues that may be based in English speaking countries.

International Business Events

Once again, while you may not wish to work in a country that uses English as the main language. However, you may have the chance to go to a conference or a large business event in a country that does. Being able to speak English may be very useful in making new connections and interacting with other people in your industry. It may also mean you understand some more of the key note speakers and more.

Learning English is Very Useful

Even if you are not speaking English every day in the company you work for knowing English is very useful for international business in all forms. Perfectly Spoken offer a range of free online English lessons and specific advanced business courses for those who want to invest more in business English.

 

Some of the Hardest English Words to Learn and Spell

We know learning English can be hard work and we love helping people get batter through our videos and courses. However, we thought it might be useful to share some of the words students tell us are some of the hardest to learn in the English language.

Whom

This is a really confusing word and for such a small word it causes big problems. It is a word used int he same way as “who” but there are subtle and important differences. One easy tip to know if you should use Who or Whom is to answer the question yourself and see if the answer is “him” or “he”. “Who/Whom are you going to the cinema with?” – “I am going with him”  – Him means you should use “whom” in the question. “Who/Whom said the film was really good?” “He did” – The answer is He then use “who”. In reality many English people fail to use “whom” but if you want to get it right then try and learn how to use it properly.

Colleague

This is an important word if you are planning on working in the UK or another English speaking country. The word refers to someone you work with. it is a more formal word for “work mate” because you would not use such a casual term unless you were talking with friends. In a business and work situation colleague is the correct term. It is a hard word to say but even harder to spell. It uses “ea” in the middle rather than “ee” and it also confuses students with the use of “ue” at the end. It is a very useful and important word, it is just a shame it is such a hard one!

Business

This is another very important word for people who want to work in English speaking countries. While it is easy to say, when you look at the spelling it can get confusing. It is spelt like “bus-i-ness” which would sound like “busyness” but it is said “buzness” which makes it a very hard one to learn how to spell and say. It is a very very common word so it is really important to try and learn it.

Country and Countries

Both of these words are spelt differently to how they sound. Going just by spelling they should be said like the word “count”. Without being rude it is very important to get this right as there is a very rude and very offensive word that can get used by accident here. The best way to make sure you have got this right is to ask a teacher or an English speaking friend to help.

Our online English courses are designed to help you learn these words and so much more. Learning English following a full course structure like Perfectly Spoken you will find these harder words much easier to learn.

 

 

 

Why is learning English through a course is so beneficial?

As the world becomes more and more connected, learning a second language is increasingly valuable. There are various ways to learn another language, from immersing yourself in the country where it’s widely spoken to using text books, but there are several benefits from choosing a structure course that make it the preferred method for so many people. Here are just some of the reasons why opting for a structured online English course will help you learn more effectively.

You’ll learn the rules of the language

English can be a tricky language to learn as it has a lot of contradictory rules and guidelines that can be confusing. Using a structured course will help to provide you with a better understanding of how these rules work in practice, as well as providing context for when and where certain words and phrases might be used.

It helps to keep your learning in order

When you’re picking up random phrases here and there, often you’ll learn something without the background of how it works which can make it confusing. Do you learn plurals first or adjectives? How about tenses? With a structured course, you’ll learn these things in the correct order, making your learning more seamless and efficient.

It’s faster and more convenient

Having structure to your learning means you’ll keep up with it and, as with anything, repetition is the best way to learn a new skill. Instead of reading a textbook and then not picking it up again for two months, by which time you’ve forgotten much of what you’d learnt, you’ll have regular interaction with the language which will help to speed up your learning and help you to pick up English more quickly.

Studying becomes more accessible

Courses provide multiple resources to help your learning, from online downloads to help you study wherever you are to people you can get in touch with if you’re struggling, all of which helps to ensure you learn the language more easily. The accessibility and help you receive with a course helps you to feel more supported throughout your learning.