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Sunday, November 18, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 23

This is a weekly selection of reading articles, free online exercises, YouTube videos, games, quizzes and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun – ENJOY!

📜READING PICKS – Articles, blog posts, quizzes and more:

From BBC CULTURE: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Portraits of a complex marriage, by Kelly Grovier. Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera painted each other for 25 years: those works give us an insight into their relationship, argues Kelly Grovier.
Seen side-by-side in photographs, they struck an almost comic pose: his girth dwarfing her petite frame. When they married, her parents called them ‘the elephant’ and ‘the dove’. He was the older, celebrated master of frescoes who helped revive an ancient Mayan mural tradition, and gave a vivid visual voice to indigenous Mexican labourers seeking social equality after centuries of colonial oppression. She was the younger, self-mythologising dreamer, who magically wove from piercing introspection and chronic physical pain paintings of a severe and mysterious beauty. Together, they were two of the most important artists of the 20th Century. (Continue reading)

From BBC TRAVEL: The country with 11 official languages, by Denby Weller. Before coming to South Africa, the last thing an Australian would think is that there might be language difficulties.
[...] Discussion of the evolution of the colonial languages of South Africa is controversial, not least because they are just two of the 11 official languages in use today, and neither one is the first language for the majority of South Africans. In the 2011 Census, IsiZulu emerged as the language most spoken at home, followed by IsiXhosa. Afrikaans was a first language for 13.5% of South Africans, while English was spoken in just 9.6% of homes. Yet it is English that has emerged as the lingua franca – albeit a unique, local dialect enriched by the company of the many languages of the land. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
What causes antibiotic resistance? - Kevin Wu (4:34 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
BBC 6 Minute English: What Makes You Laugh? with English Subtitle (6:03 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
How to Survive Long Haul Flights - Travel Tips, Hacks & Tricks (11:42 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
VOCABULARY: Find out when to write hyphens (6:14 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
English Grammar - comparing with LIKE & AS (9:10 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Monday, November 12, 2018

How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? (From Mind Tools)

Boosting Your People Skills


We all know people who are in full control of their emotions. They're calm in a crisis, and they make decisions sensitively, however stressful the situation.

We also know people who can read the emotions of others. They understand what to say to make people feel better, and they know how to inspire them to take action.

People like this have high emotional intelligence (or EI). They have strong relationships, and they manage difficult situations calmly and effectively. They're also likely to be resilient in the face of adversity.

So, how emotionally intelligent are you, and how can you develop further? Find out below.


💡 You may also be interested in the quizzes below:

Monday, October 29, 2018

What is the best age to learn a language? By Sophie Hardach (From BBC Future)

👉 By Sophie Hardach

When it comes to learning a foreign language, we tend to think that children are the most adept. But that may not be the case – and there are added benefits to starting as an adult.
Credit: Getty / From: BBC Future

It’s a busy autumn morning at the Spanish Nursery, a bilingual nursery school in north London. Parents help their toddlers out of cycling helmets and jackets. Teachers greet the children with a cuddle and a chirpy “Buenos días!”. In the playground, a little girl asks for her hair to be bunched up into a “coleta” (Spanish for ‘pigtail’), then rolls a ball and shouts “Catch!” in English.

“At th
is age, children don’t learn a language – they acquire it,” says the school’s director Carmen Rampersad. It seems to sum up the enviable effortlessness of the little polyglots around her. For many of the children, Spanish is a third or even fourth language. Mother tongues include Croatian, Hebrew, Korean and Dutch.

Compare this to the struggle of the average adult in a language class, and it would be easy to conclude that it’s best to start young.

But science offers a much more complex view of how our relationship with languages evolves over a lifetime – and there is much to encourage late beginners.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The 10 personality traits English cannot name, by Alex Rawlings (From BBC Future)

👉 by Alex Rawlings

From the “un-take-out-able” to the “magnets for bad luck”, other European languages have a rich vocabulary of personal characteristics that English struggles to describe succinctly.
An 'I-don't-care-ist', someone who is overly complacent, indifferent or apathetic (Credit: Javier Hirschfeld/Getty Images)





The English language may be one of the richest in the world. It draws on its unique combination of a Germanic heritage and strong Romance influences to offer speakers a broad range of nuances when expressing themselves. Just consider the difference between a ‘hearty welcome’ and a ‘cordial reception’ to see where the possibilities lie.

Yet, as English continues to rise as the world’s de facto lingua franca, it’s important to also remember its limitations. Languages encapsulate culture. They are an embodiment of the way in which a particular group of people has agreed to communicate. As a result, they reflect those people’s experiences of the world through the idioms and expressions that become common parlance.

Learning other languages offers insights into the way that other cultures see the world. For someone like myself, gaining those insights can become addictive, and that fixation has led me to study 15 different languages. My recent book, 'From Amourette to Żal: Bizarre and Beautiful Words from Around Europe', explores some of the words that other languages have, but that English doesn’t. The following 10 words, for example, describe character traits and behaviours that may be familiar to us all, but that the English language struggles to succinctly express. (Continue reading)

👉Alex Rawlings is a polyglot and writer, who in 2012 was named Britain’s Most Multilingual Student after being tested for fluency in 11 languages. His most recent book is From Amourette to Żal: Bizarre and Beautiful Words from Around Europe.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How Creative Are You? (From Mind Tools)

If the idea of being creative at work makes you think of artistic talent, don't worry!

Business creativity is all about finding fresh and innovative solutions to problems, and identifying opportunities to improve the way that we do things.
Image From: The Creativity Post

As such, anyone can be creative, just as long as they have the right mindset and use the right tools.

This test helps you to think about how creative you are right now. Take it, and then use the tools and discussions that follow to bring intense creativity to your everyday work.

❓ QUIZ ⇒ How Creative Are You?

💡 You may also be interested in the quizzes below:

Sunday, October 21, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 22

This is a weekly selection of reading articles, free online exercises, YouTube videos, games, quizzes and resources for you to further improve your English language skills and have fun – ENJOY!

📜READING PICKS – Articles, blog posts, quizzes and more:

F
rom BBC CAPITAL: How similar you are to your partner can affect your happiness, by Christian Jarrett. Researchers have found that how similar you are to your partner can affect your happiness – but it’s complicated.
Among many monogamous species, from cockatiels to cichlid fish, studies have revealed a clear pattern: it helps to be more similar to your mate. When mating pairs are behaviourally similar, their reproductive success tends to be higher.
In human terms, this would imply it’s better to be similar to your partner. Indeed, for a long time psychologists and others have argued that similarity is probably beneficial – after all, then we will be more likely to enjoy the same pursuits, values and outlook on life.
But no matter how intuitive the idea seems, for decades nearly every study has failed to support it.
Now, though, a team of psychologists at the University of Amsterdam think they know why. They have taken a far more sophisticated and nuanced look at the issue than in previous research. (Continue reading)

From BBC REEL: Reel: The oldest coffee in the world. From huts in remote villages to internet cafes in the capital city, coffee ceremonies are the centre of social life and hospitality in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. (Continue reading)

🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to show annoyance (4:11 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Salary Negotiation: 6 Tips on How to Negotiate a Higher Salary (9:56 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
HISTORY: CONSUMERISM (10:52 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
VOCABULARY: Words with more than one spelling (6:16 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
Learn English: "last year" OR "in the last year" (8:26 minutes)
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Core Values Are What You Believe, by Susan M. Heathfield (From The Balance Careers)

👉By Susan M. Heathfield (From The Balance Careers)

What Are Your Most Significant Beliefs and Needs?

Core values are traits or qualities that you consider not just worthwhile, they represent an individual's or an organization's highest priorities, deeply held beliefs, and core, fundamental driving forces. They are the heart of what your organization and its employees stand for in the world.

Core values are intrinsic to form the vision of your organization that you present to the world outside of your organization. Your core values are fundamental to attracting and retaining the best, most contributing employees.

Core values define what your organization believes and how you want your organization resonating with and appealing to employees and the external world. [They] should be so integrated with your employees and their belief systems and actions that clients, customers, and vendors see the values in action.

For example, [...] when customers tell the company that they feel cherished by the business, you know that your employees are living your core value of extraordinary customer care and service.

Core values are also known as guiding principles because they form a solid core of who you are, what you believe, and who you want to be going forward.

📌 Core Values Form the Foundation of Your Organization
Values form the foundation for everything that happens in your workplace. The core values of the employees in your workplace, along with their experiences, upbringing, and so on, meld together to form your corporate culture. [...]

📌 How to Identify Your Core Values
Your goal, when you identify the core values of your organization, is to identify the key core values, not a laundry list of cookie-cutter values that you copied from another organization's list of core values. An organization's employees would have a hard time living any more than 10-12 core values (at a maximum). Four-six is better and easier to hold front and center in everything you do. [...]

📌 Develop Value Statements From Your Core Values
Value statements describe actions that are the living enactment of the fundamental core values held by most individuals within the organization. For example, a nursing group of employees identified caring service as one of their core values. When they wrote their value statements, one was, "We will respond to all customer calls within one minute." Another values statement was, "No patient shall ever run out of medication from the drip line."

Values play a defining role in employee motivation and morale. [...] Values such as integrity, empowerment, perseverance, equality, self-discipline, and accountability, when truly integrated within the culture of the organization, are powerful motivators.

They become the compass that the organization uses to select staff members, reward and recognize employee performance, promote employees to more senior roles, and guide interpersonal interaction among staff members.
📌 The Downside to Identifying Values

The downside to identifying values occurs when an organization's senior leaders claim to hold certain values and then behave in ways that are contradictory to their stated values. In these workplaces, values deflate motivation because employees don’t trust their leaders’ word.

Remember that employees are like radar machines watching everything you do, listening to everything you say, and watching your interaction with customers and their coworkers. They see your values in action every day at work—or they do not.

Employees want to work in a workplace that shares their values. They want their overall work culture to promote being a part of a whole system that is much bigger than themselves. They experience motivation and engagement when their workplace exhibits their most important core values. Never underestimate the power of core values in creating a motivating work environment—or not. Your choice.

💡 You may also be interested in:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

GRAMMAR PILLS: How to use articles - A/AN, THE and ZERO article

How do we use articles in English?

💡 Quick answer:

NOUNS
In general
(indefinite / non-specific)
In particular
(definite / specific)
Uncountable
Countable Plural
(1) Zero article
(3) the (el, la, los, las)
Countable Singular
(2) a / an (un, uno, una)

💡 EXTENDED ANSWER:

(1) When we talk about an uncountable noun or a countable plural noun in general (i.e. we talk about all the items in a group, or there is no need to specify an item in particular), we do NOT use an article:
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo (=nombre) incontable o contable plural en general (es decir, hablamos de todos los elementos de un conjunto o no hay necesidad de especificar uno en particular), NO usamos artículo:

Advances
in technology (❌The advances) have made it easier for us to keep in touch with our loved ones.
Modern technology (❌The modern technology) is essential to our lives, both at home and at work.
Students (❌The students) should hand in their assignments on time.
People (❌The people) are the same everywhere.
👉In these examples, we are talking about 'technology', 'students', and 'people' in general.


(
2) When we talk about a countable singular noun in general (i.e. we talk about one non-specific item in a group), we use a / an (the indefinite article):
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo contable singular en general (es decir, hablamos de un elemento no especificado en un conjunto), usamos 'a' / 'an' (un, uno, una = el artículo indefinido):

⟶ I went to a pub last night. (Fui a un bar anoche.)
⟶ I’ve got a car. (Tengo un coche.)
⟶ He gave me an apple. (Él me dio una manzana.)


🔺 ‘A’ or ‘an’?

Use ‘a’ before words that start with a consonant SOUND:
Usamos ‘a’ antes de palabras que comienzan con un SONIDO consonante:
A university degree ⇒ ‘u’ is pronounced /juː/ here, and /j/ is a consonant sound
a one-hour class ⇒ ‘one’ is pronounced /wʌn/, and /w/ is a consonant sound
⟶ a uniform / a house, etc.

Use ‘an’ before words that start with a vowel SOUND:
Usamos ‘a’ antes de palabras que comienzan con un SONIDO vocal:
An honest man ⇒ ‘h’ is silent here, and the first sound is a vowel: /ˈɒnɪst/
an hour ⇒ ‘h’ is silent here, and the first sound is a vowel: /aʊə/
an MBA degree, etc.


(
3) When we talk about an uncountable, a countable plural or a countable singular noun in particular (i.e. we talk about a specific item, or there is only one item in the group, and it is therefore clear which item we are talking about – e.g.: ‘the sun’), we use ‘the’ (the definite article):
Cuando hablamos de un sustantivo incontable, contable plural o contable singular en particular (es decir, hablamos un elemento específico, o hay un solo elemento en el conjunto, por ejemplo: the sun’, el sol’), usamos ‘the’ (el, la, los, las = el artículo definido):

⟶ A look at the advances in technology during the 1960s (los avances en tecnología durante la década de los 60), from washing machines to computers. (BBC Four) (a specific set of advances)
The students who failed the exam (Los alumnos que reprobaron el examen) should study hard for the resit. (a specific group of students)
The people who migrate (La gente que migra) are called migrants. (a specific group of people)


👉The rules above apply to almost all cases; however, there are some special uses that should also be taken into account. Read more:
🎬 VIDEOS:
Using zero articles - BBC English Class (2:10 minutes)
The definite article - BBC English Class (2:22 minutes)
Learn about indefinite articles with singular countable nouns - BBC English Class (2:40 minutes)
GRAMMAR: How to use the definite article with abstract uncountable nouns (6:04 minutes)

📌 Practice:

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