Read through English Classes In's Blog for all the latest English language news and amazing articles on how to improve your English!

3 Reasons Why Casual Learning is the Way Forward!

Posted on April 7th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

haberResim27312Traditional classroom learning of languages is out and a more casual way of learning is in, according to a panel of international scholars at a recent conference in Shanghai. They believe that a more active way for students to learn a language over the traditional rote style of learning will be more of a success.

Informal learning environments not only allow students to connect with real life situations but also to connect with them in other languages. China has been criticized for a long time about its teaching methods of English, being outdated with little practical application. Over 80% of a person’s life is spent in informal learning situations, so it makes sense that languages should be allowed to fruition in these informal environments rather than be limited in formal classrooms. So how does informal learning help?

1. Bilingualism Stimulates the Brain

The scholars believe that, instead of memorizing scripts of vocabulary and grammar, the students should be free to actively communicate in English. They stress that bilingualism stimulates the development of the brain! The Chinese students in Shanghai who had been learning English in this way are very capable at it. As society is changing quickly, so learning should be adapted in the same way.

Being bilingual is actually a type of exercise for the brain. Learning, understanding and using different languages, as well as continually holding them as separate languages in the brain, strengthens the brain which, in turn, increases its health and brainpower.

2. Bilingual Environments Enhance Learning

Children_playing_tagStudies concerning children have proven that a higher cognitive ability is found among those who live in bilingual surroundings.

Students with bilingual parents are in the best positions to pick up a second language easily, as are children who go to multinational schools. They can tune into other languages much more easily and the casual atmosphere of being amongst family or friends makes it easier to learn, even without realizing it.

It has been proven that bilingual students have the ability to solve problems more easily than their peers, that they are more adept at thinking around things to find alternative solutions. They are also more comfortable with new situations and are more open-minded towards other cultures. This is presumably because learning to think and speak in another language makes them look at all aspects in a different light.

3. Easily Accessible Mediums

One of the first pieces of advice people are told when they move abroad is to listen to the local radio and to watch TV. Even if you don’t understand what’s going on, you’ll start to recognize and become familiar with certain words and phrases. By listening to or watching the foreign equivalent of your favourite song or TV programme, you’ll be able to start associating meanings with words in a short space of time. Even just casually listening to music in the background will help as you’ll subconsciously pick things up.

We’ve also got access to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, which instantly puts us in touch with other nationalities. This is a great way to pick up new words while learning something new about other people’s cultures.

Do you agree with the scholars’ suggestions about informal learning in real life situations? Have you found that actively practising your knowledge of English in unrehearsed situations helps you to remember phrases more clearly or to pick up new words than just by rote learning in class?

4 Top Attractions to Visit in the City of London

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

There is no end to the ways you can practise your English language skills when visiting the city of London. With so much to see and do you’ll be spoilt for choice, so we’ve narrowed it down for you with these 4 top attractions in the capital city.


Maze1. Hampton Court Maze

How can you practise your directions? You could ask the way to a nearby restaurant or shop. But why not make things a bit more interesting? How about getting lost in the famous Hampton Court Maze! Don’t be fooled by its appearance…you may think it looks easy but it’s much trickier than it seems. If your directions are not up to scratch then they soon will be, otherwise you’re in for a long stretch while you try to find your way back out of it. You could be lost in there for hours!


2. Big Ben

You can see just how long you were lost in the maze by taking a look at the clock face on the iconic Big Ben! Standing at the end of the Houses of Parliament, the clock face is set at the top of the Elizabeth Tower. Gaze up at it and practise saying different times out loud and count the chimes as they ring. Continuing with the numbers theme, take a tour of Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower while you’re there. You can count each of the 334 steps up to the belfry and, if you’re feeling really enthusiastic, the 399 steps leading up to the lantern.


3. Madame Tussauds

See the stars up close, hop into a black cab to take a drive through the history of London, and enjoy a 4D experience. But more importantly, practise your language skills while you’re there! There’s no end to the topics you can cover in this waxworks museum. From hair and eye colours to parts of the body to types of clothing, there is a lot of scope for your language revision.


Photo by Jeherv

Photo by Jeherv

4. Carnaby Street   

While visiting London, you’ll want to grab some souvenirs and gifts to take back home with you, so what better place to find them than in Carnaby Street? Wander around the stalls, boutiques and shops and take advantage of the shopkeepers’ friendly natures by practising your shopping skills. When you’re all shopped out, enjoy lunch in a local eatery and brush up on your conversational skills about food and drink.


There’s certainly a lot to talk about in this city! What other London attractions can you think of to help you practise your English language skills?


2 English Language Aids for Japanese Students

Posted on February 18th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Photo by OiMax

Photo by OiMax

Constantly striving to find ways of improving learning techniques for the English language, the Japanese government places a high priority on research into this field. Despite all of their efforts, Japanese children are less adept than children from other countries at speaking English. For this reason, much research is carried out to find ways of improving the teaching of English language in Japanese schools.

Some of this research has paid off in the discovery that combining mnemonics (pictures of objects which are used to help the children remember the letters) with sound contrasting (saying the letter in the picture which helps the children remember how to pronounce each letter) is an effective way for Japanese children to be able to get around the difficulties in pronunciation. Researchers have found that these language aids are successful in enabling children to learn how to pronounce letters from the English alphabet.

Mnemonic Images

Mnemonic images are used as a way for children to remember the shape and sound of English letters by relating them to Japanese words. For example, a picture of a brush, called ‘bulashi’ in Japanese, is overlaid with a picture of the letter ‘b’; an image of a telephone, called ‘denwa’ in Japanese, is overlaid with the letter ‘d’. In this way, it is easier for children to recall the sound of each letter by associating it with an image.

Sound Contrasting

The sounds of the letters ‘b’ and ‘d’ mentioned above are simple examples of phonemes (the smallest units of speech which sound different when used in different words) learned in this way. But the researchers have also had to highlight the differences between the simple phoneme sounds for letters, such as the ‘f’ sound made for the letter ‘f’, and the sounds used for kana syllables (syllables in the Japanese language), such as ‘fu’, which they can be confused with. One way to help children understand this difference is to explain about ‘loan words’ which are words in the Japanese language which originated from foreign languages. An example is the word ‘fulawa’ which means ‘flower’. The children are taught that the first syllable ‘fu’ is actually comprised of the vowel sound ‘u’ which is joined to the ‘f’ sound. In the English language, this distinction between vowel and consonant sounds as phonemes is not necessary.

Positive Results

ChalkDuring the study for this teaching method, the children already knew the names of letters of the English alphabet and were taught the sounds for these letters both with and without the use of mnemonic images and sound contrasting. The findings showed a significant increase in the children’s ability to recall the sounds of each letter having received tuition using these two study aids. The Japanese government is continually promoting the importance of English language learning, putting an emphasis on teaching methods to be implemented at the elementary school age. Research findings from studies such as this one will go a long way to improving the way the English language can be taught in a way that the children will be able to easily grasp and put into practice.

Do you feel that these 2 methods would help in any language? What have you found to be helpful during your English lessons?






Fill Up Fast with These 9 Delicious Dishes from Wales!

Posted on February 4th, 2014 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Travelling around and chatting to the locals can be hungry work, so why not satisfy your hunger by tasting traditional Welsh food during your trip to Wales. Here are the top 9 traditional Welsh dishes you’ll be able to enjoy.

Photo by zingyyellow…wish I could bend space/time

1. Welsh cakes (Picau ar y Maen)also known as bakestones, these little round cakes are flavoured with spices and dried fruit and are the perfect treat for teatime. Enjoy some warm Welsh cakes in a local cafe while you plan where you’re going to visit next.

2. Bara Brith – literally meaning ‘speckled bread’, this is a rich and spiced fruit loaf made with tea which is usually eaten spread with salted butter. Take a break to savour this favourite teatime fruitcake.



3. Cawl – this Welsh stew is made with different ingredients depending on whereabouts you are in in the country. If you’re travelling around the coastal area, you’re more likely to be served with a seafood stew, whereas inland you’ll be able to try the traditional lamb or mutton cawl. Cawl is the national dish of Wales, so make sure that you try some before the end of your trip!

4. Welsh rarebit (Caws Pob) – this famous Welsh dish is basically posh cheese on toast! The topping mainly consists of Welsh farmhouse cheese, mustard and ale which is served on top of toast. This delicious hot snack will keep you going while you see the sights.

5. Glamorgan sausage (Selsig Morgannwg) – this traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage is made with Caerphilly cheese and leeks coated in breadcrumbs. It’s a delicious meat-free option for you to try on your trip.

6. Bara Lawr – this classic Welsh delicacy called Laverbread is not actually a type of bread but is a dish made from seaweed which resembles a spinach-like puree. You can try some for breakfast fried with bacon and cockles or as a sauce to accompany a meat or seafood dish for dinner.

Photo by nyaa_birdies_perch

7. Leek broth (soup) (Cawl Cennin) – leek is the symbol of St David so leek soup is traditionally eaten on St David’s Day but this vegetable is a staple ingredient of Welsh cooking so you must try some during your visit.

8. Pembrokeshire pasties (Pastai Penfro) – these traditional Cymric (Welsh) pasties were originally made with mutton but are now usually made with lamb which is combined with redcurrant jelly and currants in a pastry case. These pasties are ideal to eat while you’re walking around so you don’t have to interrupt your latest tour.


9. Welsh rice pudding (Pwdin reis Cymreig) – this is a comforting hot dessert made with pudding rice which will leave you with a warm glow as you step back out into the cold to continue with your sightseeing.

Practice ordering the dishes in their Welsh names as well as the English equivalent and you’ll soon be as full as your sightseeing schedule! Get ready for your trip with some last minute language lessons so that you can make the most of your UK holiday!

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?

Distinguishing Between the Dialects: Three Great Cities to Visit in England

Posted on December 18th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Are you planning your trip to England? Have you decided where you want to go? Here, three of the major cities are recommended for you, with one being in the south, one in the middle and one in the northern part. While taking in the sights, try and take in the differences between the areas’ accents and dialects; you´ll be surprised at just how different they are.


Top of the list for the best cities to visit in England is the cosmopolitan city of London. Rich in culture and packed with entertainment, there’s something to suit everyone. The sightseeing musts await you: Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the London Eye and the Cutty Sark, to name a few. Visit the British Museum, the National Gallery or the Royal Opera House for a spot of culture then relax in one of the magnificent parks. If something a bit livelier is more your style, then why not grab a show in the West End followed by dinner and drinks at the popular venues around it. For shopaholics, you can’t beat London for its huge department stores, traditional custom shops and quirky markets.

1.5 million of the resident Londoners actually originate from abroad, and around 300 languages are spoken throughout the city. However, you need to polish up on your English skills so, as your plane lands or the Eurostar docks, have your phrase book at the ready! Home to the Queen, what better place to practice the Queen’s English than in London?


Slap bang in the middle of England, Birmingham is considered to be the true capital of England by the Brummies, as the locals are affectionately known. This vibrant city is full of exciting things to see and to do. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to Cadbury World and take some choccies away as gifts for your family and friends when you get back home. Shop ’til you drop in the Bullring shopping centre and pop into the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) to see what’s on. Enjoy the thrilling rides at Alton Towers or a quiet boat trip on the canals. Famous for their love of curries, you can’t visit Birmingham without having dinner in the Balti Triangle, which has a plethora of Indian restaurants to choose from.

Not just Brummies by name, the dialect and regional accent is also known as Brummie. Very distinctive in its sound, the accent is much easier to understand than the dialect which has various terms unique to the area it’s from.


A bustling hub of activity, Manchester is filled to the brim with theatres, galleries and museums with a nightlife scene to match the cultural one! The ‘first modern city’ has a dramatic cityscape that you’ll want to take plenty of pictures of. Feeling sporty? Then head for Sportcity – Manchester’s dedicated sports district – and visit sports facilities such as the National BMX Arena and Manchester Velodrome. Football fans can’t leave without paying a visit to Old Trafford. Or get rid of some energy by skiing or snowboarding at Chill Factore, the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope.

Mancunians have a very distinguishable dialect from other Northern English dialects, and their accents highlight the over-enunciation of their vowels.

Travelling from city to city throughout England you´ll soon notice the differences between the accents and dialects, becoming more marked from one end of the country to the other. See which accent you can understand better and try to work out why. Then listen to some local phrases and try to work out what they mean. Get a head start before you go with a refresher course and make the most of all the help you can get!

Have you been to any other cities in England? Which ones would you recommend?

Using Technology to Talk for the First Time

Posted on December 7th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

We all know how much technology is able to help people with languages, whether it’s learning a new language (such as translation devices) or helping with our own language (an online dictionary and thesaurus, for instance), and how technological advances are continuously being made in other areas of language learning (such as with sign language).

A recent breakthrough has been the ability to teach autistic children to speak who have never previously spoken with the exception of just a few words. It was previously thought that if autistic children of 5 or 6 years of age hadn´t already begun to speak, then it was unlikely they would ever acquire spoken language.

How did this breakthrough come about?

During a study funded by Autism Speaks, researchers tested speech-generating devices on children aged between 5 and 8 years old. The idea was to see whether these devices could teach the children more words than other interventions – and the results were conclusive. All of the children tested learned to say new words, and many were even able to construct sentences. The results were staggering and for many parents it was the first time they’d ever been able to talk with their children.

How can technology make a difference?

The most successful device for this form of language learning was found to be an iPad. Whilst many communication and teaching devices have been used for decades in this field, the iPad has proved successful with its apps, its user-friendliness, the fact that it’s cheaper than alternative means, and that it’s more accessible. It also removes the stigma that autistic children often face from peers as the device is more commonplace amongst their age group as opposed to other communication devices. Researchers discovered that the voice generating programmes the iPad offered were more effective than others previously used due to the tone and clarity. When people speak, the words are pronounced slightly differently every single time, with different inflections in the voice depending on the use of the words in a sentence, becoming more blended into each other if speaking faster, and generally sounding acoustically different. For a child with autism, that difference is vast, and they rely on consistency to learn. The speech-generating apps on the iPad are always consistent; every word is pronounced in exactly the same way every single time. In this way, the child can gradually identify the words and begin to speak them.

How are these findings being used?

A five-year long study has begun to test two language teaching methods on autistic children who have minimal spoken language capabilities. For the direct-teaching approach, the children are taught basic communication skills, such as motor and verbal imitation, and requesting and matching objects. The children are then prompted to use the iPad between 5 to 10 consecutive times to request objects. For the naturalistic-teaching approach, the iPad is used during play and conversation, combined with communication gestures, turn-taking and social interaction with others.  Both methods include the use of the iPad as well as words to communicate; children are encouraged to repeat the words after listening to the device, and to touch the symbols displayed on the screen.

What does this research mean for traditional teaching methods?

The new study will continue until Spring 2017, but we now know that it is possible for autistic children who have minimal language use to be able to learn new words and develop speech patterns at a later age. Using the findings from the original study, language lessons can now be structured to accommodate those findings, enabling more children to be able to communicate where it was previously not thought possible.

What other cases of physical or psychological disorders have you come across where language learning is impeded and new advances are now being made in this field?