Archive for January, 2014

Using English to Combat Extreme Recruitment

Posted on January 30th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »


Have you ever considered the broader implications of languages? We know about the benefits of languages for furthering our careers or being able to speak with others on a social level, but languages can also be used in ways that most of us would never even think of.

It has recently come to light that agencies are having to infiltrate websites set-up by terrorist networks to recruit Westerners. In a bid to recruit English speakers in America and other Western countries, the extremist group, Al Qaeda, and its affiliates have been using an online campaign which the US State Department is doing its best to combat. The websites range from propaganda pictures to online magazines, social media pages and videos.

Analysts and bloggers have already been working online for a few years to ascertain how recruitment campaigns are formed, who their target audiences are and what appeals to them. Using this information, they then devise ways of dissuading potential candidates from being recruited. These analysts speak Somali, Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic.

Now, however, the shift in the recruitment drive by the violent extremists has resulted in the need for these analysts to use the same tactics using the English language. The analysts use online posts aimed at English speakers in order to steer them away from the jihadists’ lure. The State Department is using English to counteract terrorism wherever it sees propaganda or evidence that new soldiers are trying to be recruited.

The use of other languages to combat these violent terrorist groups’ attempts at recruitment have previously been successful, so now the hope is to make the use of English language tactics just as successful. Campaigns such as these prove just how powerful languages can be and the State Department is using the most widely spoken language in the US in an effective way to protect its citizens.

Have you ever considered the way languages can be used outside of the norm? In what way could you benefit your local community by using the English language? Expand your knowledge of English so that you can positively contribute to your area.


Online Lessons for Easy Language Learning

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

hand-on-keyboard-304648-mWe are lucky enough to live in a time when we can achieve anything we want to. It used to be the case that our schooling would define the direction our lives would take because careers would be limited, but that’s no longer the case. Learning has become a popular choice for many people and there are no restrictions as to what we can learn and how we can learn it.

Studying Languages

All manner of subjects can be studied to any level and not least among the subjects that has soared in popularity is languages. Within each language, you can hone your studying to cover exactly what you need it to, whether it’s a basic introductory course to the language, an in depth look at tenses and grammar, a course concentrating on oral skills, a simple refresher course or lessons geared around a chosen language to fulfil a particular purpose, such as the terminology needed for a new job.

Not only do we have a vast choice of subjects and numerous degrees to which we can learn them, but there’s also a choice to be made about how we learn.

The Benefits of Online Learning

Not everyone likes the idea of having to attend a lesson, or their schedules are just too busy to allow for set times. That’s where online learning has taken off in an incredible way. It offers an unlimited amount of flexibility and convenience.

Flexibility and convenience

  • Online lessons fit completely into your schedule rather than you having to arrange your schedule around your lessons. You can have your lessons at a time you prefer in a place to suit you by way of pre-recorded lessons and using the latest devices, such as tablets and smartphones. In fact, you can study anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
  • With online learning, you’ll enjoy the benefit of being able to dip in and out of lessons as your time permits.
  • Some people may feel that they won’t commit to learning unless they are made to go out to a meeting at a particular time on a particular day, but once you’ve made the decision and taken the step to start studying, you’ll find that online learning fits easily into your lifestyle and you’ll automatically make time for your lessons as you would if you were attending a class. Once you’ve got used to making time for your course, you’ll look forward to getting started on each lesson.

Motivation and confidence

  • People are often shy and embarrassed when it comes to learning new languages and, if online learning wasn’t an option, may not have the courage to learn a new language at all.
  • You can get face-to face feedback from your tutor and swap ideas with other students via mediums such as Skype.

Make your life easier and enjoy this convenient way to study by signing up for some online courses today!


The Pitfalls of Punctuation

Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »


You may be good at speaking English, but how are your writing skills? You’re trying to deal with the grammar, getting to grips with the tenses, are almost on top of the spelling, and are fairly confident that you’ve pretty much nailed it. Except for the punctuation…that seems to have gone a bit pear-shaped.

You’ll notice when you’re reading a book that quotation marks (often referred to as speech marks) can be single quotation marks (‘+’) or double quotation marks (“+”). There is no hard and fast rule as to when either type should be used. However, children’s books tend to use the double quotation marks purely because they are clearer. Adult books in America usually use double quotation marks while British adult books tend to sway towards single quotation marks. If the latter is used, then a double quotation mark will be used if a quote within that section of speech is needed.

The quotation marks are also positioned differently with relation to the full stop depending on how the sentence is written. If the quoted speech is a complete sentence, the full stop is enclosed within the quotation marks: “These quotation marks are confusing.” However, if the quoted speech is part of a sentence then the full stop is placed after the closing quotation mark: He said, “I think I’m getting the hand of these quotation marks now”. Quotation marks have other uses too, but you get the idea!

The most common stumbling block for people regarding punctuation is the apostrophe. How many times have you looked at signs in shops that have been written incorrectly or been unsure how to write something? Apostrophes are often added in where they shouldn’t be. For example, it’s common to see years written incorrectly: 1980’s when it should be 1980s. Apostrophes are also missed out where they should be included: a days work should be written as a day’s work.

Apostrophes for the possessive forms of words usually stick to the rule that you add an apostrophe and an ‘s’ after the word: the student’s desk. Words ending in ‘s’ and plurals can cause confusion though. The same rule usually applies to words ending in ‘s’ unless it’s a plural: the boss’s office.

For plurals, if the word already ends in an ‘s’ then only an apostrophe is added to the end, with no additional ‘s’: the cats’ baskets. For words that don’t end in ‘s’, the original rule of adding an apostrophe and an ‘s’ at the end of the word applies: the children’s toys.

For the possessive forms of names ending in ‘s’, the words are written exactly as they are pronounced: the Jones’s house or the Davies’ car. As with quotation marks, there are many variations of the ways apostrophes can be used, but that’s enough for now!

You’ve still got to get to grips with colons, semi-colons, brackets, parentheses and hyphens. And that’s not where it ends! When you’ve got your head around all of the ‘normal’ punctuation, you’re then faced with the specific punctuation pertaining to the language you are learning, such as accents and umlauts.

Do you get irritated when you see things written incorrectly? Where was the last place you noticed incorrect punctuation? Do you find any particular type of punctuation trips you up when you are writing?


3 Legendary Landmarks of Wales

Posted on January 3rd, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Stumped? It’s the name of a village in Wales which is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest place name in Britain. While you’re visiting the country, you might as well visit the famous spot and try your hardest to pronounce the name while you’re there! Don’t worry, you can still practise your English in Wales as it’s spoken throughout, but it’ll be interesting to see and hear the same words in Welsh while you’re there. You’ll notice that many signs have both the Welsh and English versions on them, so you can have fun trying to speak in Welsh before honing your English techniques. Here are some famous landmarks for you to visit while you’re in Wales Cymru.


1. Snowdonia

The most imposing natural landscape in Wales is undoubtedly Mount Snowdon Yr Wyddfa, the highest mountain in Wales and England which towers above the beautiful Welsh countryside at 3,560 feet. It is home to a large number of rare flora and fauna and has been designated as a national nature reserve. You can climb to its summit by walking along a number of well-known paths and, when you’ve recovered your breath, you can take some amazing photos of the views around and below you. Or why not experience the Snowdon Mountain Railway Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa – a rack and pinion railway which was opened in 1896 and travels 4.7 miles to reach the summit station. Snowdon Peak is set in the heart of Snowdonia National Park Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri which is the largest national park in Wales and is filled with lakes, moors and wetlands, coastline and beaches, and picturesque Welsh villages.

2. Millennium Stadium

Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium Stadiwm y Mileniwm is one of the most impressive icons of modern Wales. It is the national stadium of Wales, being the third largest in Britain. It is the second largest stadium in the world to feature a fully retractable roof. Located in capital city of Cardiff Caerdydd, the stadium is home of the Wales national rugby union team Tîm rygbi’r undeb cenedlaethol Cymru and also stages games of the Welsh national football team. Whilst visiting the capital city, you can take a tour of the stadium or watch a rugby match and hear the roar of the 74,500 strong crowd.

3. Caernarfon Castle

Known as the land of castles, Wales is brimming with ancient castles for you to explore. Caernarfon Castle Castell Caernarfon in Gwynedd is a great medieval fortress. The most famous and undeniably impressive castle in Wales boasts unusual polygonal towers with the Eagle Tower being the finest decorated medieval fortification, and you’ll be awestruck as you see the mighty King’s Gate which was considered to be one of the more fearsome gatehouses in its time, filled with ‘murder-holes’ for boiling oil and water to stop any potential intruders. Built by King Edward I, the castle has also been host to more modern day royals as the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales took place there in 1969.

Now you’ve had some fun trying to get to grips with a few Welsh words, you can breathe a sigh of relief – get back to practising the English language as you travel around this amazing country! Why not step-up your linguistic skills with a quick course before you take your trip?

What other famous landmarks can you recommend to others travelling in Wales?