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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I ain’t standing for that! What is wrong with ‘ain’t’? By Charlotte Buxton (From Oxford Dictionaries Blog)

👉By Charlotte Buxton, an Associate Editor for Oxford Dictionaries.

The language we use every day is littered with contractions. Shortened words like I’m, I’ve, I’ll, don’t, won’t, and we’ve have become an accepted part of standard English […].

Contractions are as old as the English language itself. When speaking quickly, it is natural to run a group of words that are commonly used together into one word: a form of verbal shorthand that is in turn adopted into written language. Most contractions have become so commonplace that we barely even notice we’re using them, while excluding them can actually make language sound stilted and unnatural.

One contraction in particular remains out in the cold, however. Ain’t has never been accepted into standard English […].

Even the origin of ain’t is murky […]. Unlike most of its cousin contractions, the words it is formed from are not immediately clear. […] It may have originally come from am not or are not, but it could also have derived from isn’t, with the s being dropped to make in’t, which was in turn lengthened to ain’t. When used to mean ‘has not’ or ‘have not’, as in they still ain’t been found or I ain’t been there myself, it derives from the dialect form haint or hain’t – a somewhat more obvious contraction of have not. This irregular formation is part of the reason for the widespread condemnation of the word, but it ain’t the whole story (so to speak). We accept other irregular contractions, such as won’t (which formed from the archaic form woll not), so why can’t we allow ain’t?

[…] Though undoubtedly used earlier in speech, it first appears in writing in the 18th century (though the form an’t is found earlier). It was initially used to imitate Cockney speech, with Dickens using it to mean both ‘are not’ and ‘have not’:

She ain’t one to blab. Are you Nancy? (Oliver Twist)

I ain’t took so many year to make a gentleman, not without knowing what’s due to him. (Great Expectations)

The use of ain’t in Victorian literature carries a moral judgement, usually signalling that the speaker is a part of the ‘criminal class’, to be feared and avoided. These associations cling to the word to this day, with ain’t still strongly associated in many people’s minds with a lack of education and low social status. (GO TO FULL BLOG POST)

🎬 You may also want to watch this:
What does AIN'T mean? | Real English Vocabulary (4:08 minutes)

Friday, January 18, 2019

What the earliest fragments of English reveal, by Cameron Laux (From BBC CULTURE)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: What the earliest fragments of English reveal
👉 By Cameron Laux
The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries. As an exhibition in London brings together treasures from Anglo-Saxon England, Cameron Laux traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts – including a burial urn, a buckle with bling, and the first letter in English.

The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.

Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together [in this exhibition],” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”

What we understand as English has its roots in 5th-Century Germany and Denmark, from where the Anglian, Saxon and Jute tribes came. As the Roman legions withdrew around 410 AD, so the Saxon war bands (what Rome called ‘the barbarians’) landed and an era of migration from the Continent and the formation of Anglo-Saxon England began. The word “English” derives from the homeland of the Angles, the Anglian peninsula in Germany. Early English was written in runes, combinations of vertical and diagonal lines that lent themselves to being carved into wood and were used by other closely related Germanic languages, such as Old Norse, Old Saxon and Old High German.

“The earliest fragments of the English language are likely to be a group of runic inscriptions on three 5th-Century cremation urns from Spong Hill in Norfolk,” Wellesley has written. “The inscriptions simply read alu, which probably means ‘ale’. Perhaps the early speakers of Old English longed for ale in death as well as life.”

The exhibition gathers together an array of documents, books and archaeological evidence to form a dense picture of the Anglo-Saxon period, including a burial urn with runic inscriptions in early English from Loveden Hill, Lincolnshire, England.

Anglo-Saxons cremated their dead and interred their remains in earthenware vessels. About 20 objects with runic inscriptions from before 650 AD are known from England, making this vessel – which seems to feature a woman’s name and the word for tomb – one of the earliest examples of English. (Continue reading)

Where did English come from? - Claire Bowern (4:53 minutes)

How did English evolve? - Kate Gardoqui (5:04 minutes)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

WEEKLY PICKS - 25

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 FUTURE: Pork fat is rated as healthier than kale
In a list of the top 100 nutritious foods, pork fat came in eighth place – higher than peas, cabbage and kale. Apparently, pork fat is a good source of B vitamins and minerals.
The world’s most nutritious foods – After analysing more than 1,000 raw foods, researchers ranked the ingredients that provide the best balance of your daily nutritional requirements – and they found a few surprises. (Continue reading)

From BBC FUTURE: January is the best time of year to apply for a job, by Amanda Ruggeri and Miriam Quick. Google searches for "jobs" peak in January, but few people actually apply. Companies usually get their new hiring budgets for the year, and annual bonuses often pay out in December, so a lot of people wait until then to change jobs.
When it comes to life events like applying for a job, buying a house or even getting married, certain months are more advantageous than others. Want to ‘hack your year’? Here’s how. (Continue reading)


BBC Reel: A hairdresser created a substance that could withstand 75 nuclear blasts. Reported by Lee Johnson, produced, filmed and directed by Adam Proctor.
Maurice Ward invented a world-changing fire-resistant plastic called Starlite, refused to sell it or have it patented in fear of someone stealing the recipe, and died in 2011, taking the material’s secrets to his grave. 
(Continue reading)

🎧 LISTEN & READ the TRANSCRIPTS:

  • Budgeting Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at budgeting. They look at how to make a money plan, and how to know where your money goes.
  • The History of Money How did modern money develop? What are the earliest kinds of money? Christy Van Arragon and Katy Blake look at money.
🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:
LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
How to... be vague (6:00 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
Silent Letters: When NOT to pronounce B, D, and L in English (13:06 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:
Learners' questions: 'How are you' and 'how do you do'? (2:28 minutes)
💡 GRAMMAR PICKS – Assorted exercises and games:
MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

How Resilient Are You? (From Mind Tools)

Find Out How to Bounce Back From Problems
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
Imagine that you've been working on a report for several weeks. You're pleased with what you've produced, and you can't wait to hear what your boss thinks. However, the next day she meets with you to discuss your work, and she asks you to rewrite your report.

You're disappointed, of course, but do you sit down and despair, or do you start drafting the next version?

Resilience is our ability to bounce back when things don't go as planned. It's a quality that we all possess to some degree, but some of us can draw on it more easily than others can. Resilience is important because it keeps us on track until we reach our goals, it allows us to deal with difficult situations, and it helps us to grow by encouraging us to look at the positives and to manage stress.
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
However, it's not about trying to carry on regardless of how we feel, and it's not about being superhuman! Instead, it's about understanding why we feel the way we do and developing strategies to help us deal with situations more effectively.

This quiz will help you to understand and assess how resilient you are, and it provides advice and guidance that you can use to become even more resilient.

QUIZ ⇒ How Resilient Are You?
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
💡 You may also be interested in the quizzes below:

Monday, December 24, 2018

WEEKLY PICKS - 24 - CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!

🎄🎅CHRISTMAS SPECIAL!🎅🎄Below is a 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: Where Christmas is a way of life, by Megan Snedden 
What it’s really like to live in North Pole, Alaska and Santa Claus, Indiana. 
Every morning, Paul Brown waves to Santa Claus, who occupies an office downstairs from his own, conveniently located on Saint Nicholas Drive in North Pole, Alaska. (Continue reading)

🎧LISTEN & READ the TRANSCRIPTS:
  • Fireworks: A Global Celebration  Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at one way that people celebrate - with beautiful, bright, exploding fireworks!
  • The Christmas Story ⇨ In today’s Spotlight, we tell one of the most famous stories in the world: the story of Christmas, and the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Babushka’s Christmas Legend ⇨ Colin Lowther and Liz Waid share a story from Russia. It tells about an old woman who gives up the chance of a lifetime.
  • Christmas Cracker of Christmas Traditions ⇨ Anne Muir and Adam Navis share a Christmas cracker of stories and customs from Christmas around the world.
  • Christmas Food Around the World ⇨ Spotlight looks at traditional Christmas food from places all around the world. These foods have special meaning.
  • A Christmas Carol ⇨ Nick Page and Marina Santee present "A Christmas Carol". Spotlight retells this famous Christmas story by Charles Dickens.
  • Saint Nicholas, The Christmas Saint ⇨ Santa Claus? Father Christmas? Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at the stories about Saint Nicholas. Who was this man and why do we remember him?
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ⇨ Spotlight tells the famous Children’s Christmas story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • The Joy of Christmas Music ⇨ Colin Lowther and Christy Van Arragon look English Christmas songs. They look at their history, and why they are so popular.
🎬 VIDEO PICKS – Short and fun videos:

LESS-THAN-5-MINUTE VIDEOS:
This Is Why The Holidays Can Suck! (2:50 minutes)
5-TO-10-MINUTE VIDEOS:
Learn to talk about the perfect Santa in 6 minutes (6:33 minutes)
A LITTLE LONGER BUT WORTH IT!
American Christmas Traditions for a very American Christmas (10:14 minutes)
💬 VOCABULARY PICKS:

MORE PICKS NEXT WEEK!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

RESILIENCE - Bouncing back from adversity

👉 Excerpts from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY GO TO FULL ARTICLES

All About Resilience
Adversity is a fact of life. Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make a person resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. [...] Resilience is not some magical quality; it takes real mental work to transcend hardship. But even after misfortune, resilient people are able to change course and move toward achieving their goals. There's growing evidence that the the elements of resilience can be cultivated.
From: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/resilience-quotes/
Bouncing Back From Tough Times
[...] Do you demand a perfect streak, or can you accept a mix of losses and wins? Resilience is about getting through pain and disappointment without letting them crush your spirit, and research continues to uncover what resilient people do as they persist after missteps, accidents, and trauma. Stories of ordinary people thrust into extraordinarily challenging circumstances prove that disasters can be overcome—and can even make one stronger.

The Power of Failure
To fail is deeply human, as is the capacity to inspect, learn from, and transcend failure. That doesn’t mean one needs to pretend that it’s pleasant to fail or simply ignore the frustration that arises when a goal falls out of reach. But accepting the feelings that come with failure, being curious about them, and resisting the urge to judge oneself too harshly are critical skills to cultivate. Ultimately, failures are no more than stumbling blocks on the proverbial path to success: The lessons they teach have implications for humility, maturity, and empathy.

Linda Raynier ⇒ Fear of Failure (How to Overcome the Fear of Failure) (7:37 minutes)

👉 Excerpt from AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION ⇒ GO TO FULL ARTICLE
The Road to Resilience
How do people deal with difficult events that change their lives? The death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness, terrorist attacks and other traumatic events: these are all examples of very challenging life experiences. Many people react to such circumstances with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty.

Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps.

This brochure is intended to help readers with taking their own road to resilience. The information within describes resilience and some factors that affect how people deal with hardship. Much of the brochure focuses on developing and using a personal strategy for enhancing resilience.

💡 GO TO FULL ARTICLE for more information about:
  • What is resilience? 
  • Resilience factors & strategies 
  • 10 ways to build resilience 
  • Learning from your past 
  • Staying flexible 
  • Places to look for help
  • Continuing on your journey
From: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/road-resilience.aspx
👉 Excerpt from MIND TOOLS GO TO FULL ARTICLE
Developing Resilience - Overcoming and Growing From Setbacks
According to legend, Thomas Edison made thousands of prototypes of the incandescent light bulb before he finally got it right. And, since the prolific inventor was awarded more than 1,000 patents, it's easy to imagine him failing on a daily basis in his lab at Menlo Park.

In spite of struggling with "failure" throughout his entire working life, Edison never let it get the best of him. All of these "failures," which are reported to be in the tens of thousands, simply showed him how not to invent something. His resilience gave the world some of the most amazing inventions of the early 20th century, such as the phonograph, the telegraph, and the motion picture.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."– Thomas Edison

In this article, we'll examine resilience: what it is, why we need it, and how to develop it; so that we have the strength and fortitude to overcome adversity, and to keep on moving forward towards our dreams and our goals. (Continue reading)

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)

👉 GO TO FULL ARTICLE: What is the best age to learn a language?
👉 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.