Thursday, June 28, 2007

Since: Adverb, Preposition, and Conjunction

Since is often used to indicate time, but it can also be used for giving reasons, and in this sense is interchangeable with because. Be careful, however: because is not always interchangeable with since.

Giving reasons (conjunction): since=because
  • I like this park because it is close to my house.
  • I like this park since it is close to my house.

Passage of time
  • I have been working here since 2005. (preposition)
  • Since I was a child I have loved the Beatles. (conjunction)

From then until now; at a subsequent time (adverb)
  • Jenny left class at 9 am and hasn't been back since.
  • Mary graduated last year. She has since gotten a job and moved to California.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Improve your Pronunciation

Oxford University Press has a site for students who want to practice their pronunciation. Practice vowels, consonants, diphthongs (2 vowels or consonants that make one sound), regular past tense endings, and more. Hear the British pronunciation of the words by clicking on the word or icon. Repeat until you feel comfortable saying the sound. Play Stress Monsters - which is set up like a real video game, to practice syllable stress.
Have fun!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Estamos Unidos Radio Show

Estamos Unidos is a new radio show being put together as a joint effort by the U.S. Embassy and the IMAGCOM Group. The one-hour show will showcase the stories of Ecuadorians who have lived in the United States and U.S. citizens who live in Ecuador. The purpose behind the show - appropriately called "Two Nations - One Friendship" - is to create a space where people from the two cultures can share anecdotes and experiences. It will be in Spanish, so you won't be able to practice your English by listening, but there is sure to be something interesting for English language learners, too! If you like English music, tune in, as there will also be music from each country.

The show is broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays. For list of stations and times, click here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sufficiency Exam at CEC

Reminder to CEC students - after passing Advanced Two or Academic One, you should think about taking the Sufficiency Exam. Here are some pointers of how to study for it:
  • Look at phrasal verbs and two-part verbs. Remember that some verbs have double or triple meanings, so use the context to understand what they mean.
  • Become familiar with spoken American English. Listen to movies or radio shows for 5-10 minutes a day.
  • Improve your general vocabulary by reading something in English every day - a magazine or newspaper article, a blog on the Internet (like this one!), or the chapter of a novel. Don't look up every word, but try to understand the meaning through context.
  • Study the grammar topics from the Interchange levels. Pay special attention to the use of prepositions and verb tenses.
  • Relax during the test, and take your time answering. In the listening and reading sections, don't always choose the most obvious answer. Pay attention to the special context and analyze whether your answer may be correct.
  • For the listening section, you don't need to understand every word spoken. Listen for details that will help you choose the correct answer. Example: How long... the only possible answer would be an amount of time. How many times... the answer would be a number.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Study Abroad Opportunity

If you are interested in studying abroad, and are over the age of 17, then studying English in an intensive university program may be the right option for you. Juniata College of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania has an intensive English program for people who want to study English in a college in the U.S. One of the perks of this program is that, once you have studied or mastered enough English, you can stay on and be rolled into the regular undergraduate program. You will need a student visa to study here, so it is important to start your paperwork ahead of time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prospective Teachers

Why are you learning English? Is it for a job? Is it because you plan to work or study abroad? Is it because you simply like the language? There are as many reasons for studying English as there are people, but one thing you all have in common is that, once you've mastered the language, you could become potential English teachers. Maybe this option is the one for you.

In Ecuador, many college graduates find a hard time getting into their field. But, if you know English, you always have something to fall back on, since there never seems to be a shortage of institutions needing English teachers or tutors. One thing you will need to teach English, however, is a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Teacher Training Certificate. CEC-EPN's TEFL course can help you with this requirement. This 120-hour certificate is officially recognized by Juniata College of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and is offered 2-3 times a year. The price you pay for this course is a steal in comparison with other courses of the same caliber. Better yet, Ecuadorian residents get a 50% discount!

If you have an interest in teaching English, or are already a teacher yourself and would like to learn new techniques, trends and methods in the field, our TEFL course is right for you. Check it out at our web site, leave a message here in the comments field, or send me, Kari, an email message with TEFL in the subject line and I can get you more information.

CEC also welcomes people from other countries who would like to come and obtain their TEFL certification while learning Spanish and traveling Ecuador. Contact us today!

CEC library

Don't forget about the CEC library. It is a great resource for students and teachers alike. There are a number of grammar books and readers, as well as hundreds of authentic novels. Remember - you don't have to read an entire novel. Read the first chapter, or a short story. Some of our books even come with the CD and CD-Rom, so you can listen and read along. There is even a small French and Spanish section. Go to the reading room (located adjacent to the library) to find a quiet place to study. The librarian is there during the day to answer your questions, help with homework, or just recommend something interesting to read. You can go and practice your English, too, since she is an English teacher herself! Visit the library today!

Location: Seis de Diciembre and Veintimilla (next to “La Rossa” Corner Store)
Hours: 8:30 - 14:00 AND 15:00 -17:30
Reading Room Hours: 9:00 -13:30 and 16:00 -17:30
Telephone number: 254-4666
email: itobar (AT) cec-epn (DOT) edu (DOT) ec
DOT= .

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Grammarman to the Rescue!

Read about the adventures of Grammarman. Here are some cute comics that you can read along with. Good sound effects, too. For those who don't care for reading or who want listening practice, watch the movie! Here is a sample:

Go to the grammarman web site for more episodes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Expressing Surprise and Interest

Native speakers of English often use short interrogatives in speech as a way to express attention, interest, or surprise. Study the examples below:

"The party was terrible."
"Was it?"
"Yes, I had a horrible time! There was no music!"

"Gina had a nice vacation."
"Did she?"
"Yes, she went to the Galapagos Islands."

"I've seen that movie five times already."
"Have you?"
"Yes, with my sister. She loves Harrison Ford."

"I don't understand the assignment."
"Don't you? Here, let me explain..."

Negative replies to affirmative sentences can show emphasis when someone agrees with you.

"It was a great performance."
"Wasn't it? Renee's voice was superb."

"She's gained some weight."
"Hasn't she? She must be eating better."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good vs. Well

Native speakers of English often confuse good and well, and it is common to hear good instead of well, especially in speech. So, what is the difference?

Good is an adjective, and thus modifies a noun. It can also be used after linking verbs such as be, feel, taste, look, smell.
  • This coffee tastes really good.
  • Rebecca is known for her good behavior.
  • Fred does a lot of good deeds. He belongs to three or four charities.
Well, on the other hand, is usually an adverb. It modifies a verb.
  • She did well in practice yesterday.
  • She speaks French well.
  • Karen cooks very well for a third-grader.
The confusion between the two words probably comes from the fact that, when talking about how someone feels or looks, we can use well (in this meaning it is used as an adjective).
  • Sarah felt well enough to go to class today, but she didn't look well.
  • Do you feel well?
These are some good exercises to practice how well you understand the difference between these similar words.
  1. Harry speaks ________ French, but he doesn't speak Italian very ________ .
  2. The internet is a ________ place to get updated news.
  3. Martha plays the guitar very ________ . She isn't a very ________ piano player, however.
  4. Mary doesn't look ________ . Is she sick?
  5. This cake tastes so ________ .
  6. Jan dances so ________ that she was chosen to appear on a TV dance program.
  7. My teacher is ________ , even though she couldn't explain the difference between good and well very ________ .
  8. I feel ________ about my test. I think I did ________ .
  1. good / well
  2. good
  3. well / good
  4. good
  5. good
  6. well
  7. good / well
  8. good / well

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Many Uses of the Verb Can

Can is a modal verb. It can be used in a variety of situations, depending on the context. Let's look at some of these meanings.

ABILITY: (to be able to)
  • Can you drive?
  • Can you play the piano?
  • Can you speak French?

PERMISSION: (to be allowed to)
  • You can park here.
  • You can hang your jacket up in the closet.
  • You can have dessert if you finish your peas!

REQUEST: (informal requests)
  • Can you tell John that I'll pick him up at noon?
  • Can you close the window, please. I'm cold!

POSSIBILITY: (possibilities in the present, not in the future)
  • You can find the information in a dictionary.
  • You can order a beer when you are 21.

OFFER: (polite offers of help)
  • Can I help you with those boxes?
  • Can I help you finish the project?

Courtesy of and adapted from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Problem with Wikipedia...

Have you ever used Wikipedia? Have you thought of it as an amazing, informative site, or one "broken beyond repair"? Apparently, one of the founders of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, believes it is no longer reliable. He openly criticizes the Education Secretary, Mr. Johnson, for saying that children should use Wikipedia as a good source of information.

He told The Times:

“I’m afraid that Mr Johnson does not realise the many problems afflicting Wikipedia, from serious management problems, to an often dysfunctional community, to frequently unreliable content, and to a whole series of scandals. While Wikipedia is still quite useful and an amazing phenomenon, I have come to the view that it is also broken beyond repair.”

Sanger has launched a new web site,, and says that, even though the public will also be able to contribute, the site will be more reliable academically.

See the full article in The Times.

So, how do you research information? Do you use wikipedia?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Free Grammar Lessons to Your Inbox

Want to practice your English grammar but forget the web sites? Don't have time to search the Internet for what you're looking for? How about having English grammar lessons e-mailed directly to your inbox? Wouldn't it be nice to have someone else remind you to practice your grammar? Better English will do just that! Simply put in your e-mail address and these free lessons will come to your inbox a couple of times a week. They are business-oriented, so perfect for those of you in the business world!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Do you know the words to...?

Many students use music as a means to learn new vocabulary and practice their English. Check out this link for a fun activity, using the famous Beatles song With a Little Help from my Friends.

Friday, June 8, 2007

More Grammar Practice for Beginners

The BBC has a great site for beginners to practice their grammar. Look at factsheets (explanations) about the grammar point, play games to see how well you know the material, then test yourself with an interactive quiz. There are also worksheets you can print off to work on at home.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Grammar Games for Beginners

The New English File series has a web page with great grammar games for beginners. Practice prepositions, numbers, questions and negatives... there is something for everyone! And not only for beginners - English File also has a section for intermediate and upper-intermediate students. (You will need Flash Player to play the games. Download it here for free.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

ESL Depot: Web Site for Teachers and Learners

ESL Depot is a web site that offers many resources for teachers and learners of English. You can find games, books, e-books, dictionaries, pronunciation practice and software for sale. If you are looking for something to help you practice your English, and want to have fun doing it, check out this web site. There might be something there for you. And they claim to ship free worldwide! Now, you can't beat that if you are living outside of the States!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

World Environment Day

Today, June 5th, is World Environment Day. So, how do you celebrate this day? Some ideas:
  • street rallies
  • bicycle parades
  • essay and poetry contests in school
  • green concerts
  • clean-up campaigns (mingas for the Ecuadorians)
  • recycling efforts
  • tree planting
What are you going to do to celebrate?

Are you a global citizen? How much do you know about environmental issues? Take this quiz and find out - these issues affect us all. Post your score in the comments section when you are done!