Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer Reading Program Successfully Launched!

Thanks to all the teachers and students who visited the CEC library yesterday and checked out books. We had an amazing response - over 300 students came to see us, ask questions, and browse the stacks. Don't forget to read, read, read all this cycle, and fill out the comment form for each thing you read in Enlgish in order to be eligible for the drawings every Friday!

Winners will be posted here, as well as in our three buildings: EPN (Civil Engineering, 5th floor), Edif. Araucaria (Baquedano 222 y Reina Victoria) and Veintimilla (Veintimilla y 6 de diciembre, next to Tienda Rossa).

UPDATE: And the winner is...

Anthony has won a brand new Cambridge University Press Spanish-English dictionary, a $25 value!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Download Free E-books for More English Practice

Want to read in English but English books are too expensive? Well, if you haven't been using the Internet already, do so! On the Internet you have access to news items, entertainment news, and just about anything you could possibly want. Most of the information on the web is non-fiction, however, and it might seem difficult to find fiction in English. There are a number of web sites that offer free fiction e-books, many of them classics, that you can download to your computer. Try these:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Common Particles in Phrasal Verbs: OFF

Off has various meanings when it is used as a particle* in a phrasal verb. While some of these meanings are literal, many are figurative. Here we will look at a few of these meanings and some examples.

Meaning 1
go away, leave a place or position
  • lift off: We watched as the giant rocket lifted off.
  • take off: Ed took three days off of work this week.
  • veer off: After the small car hit the pothole, it veered off the road and into the ditch.
  • make off: My ex-husband made off with all of the money in my bank acocunt.
  • run off: Jackie ran off with her high school sweetheart, leaving her family behind.

Meaning 2
remove or get rid of something
  • cut off: Michelle cut off the tags on her clothes before she wore them.
  • work off: Iris gained five pounds on vacation. Now, she is working that extra weight off at the gym.
  • take off: If it is too hot, feel free to take off your jacket.
  • fall off: The pictures fell off the wall in the quake.
  • cross off: I've already crossed several items off of my to-do list.

Meaning 3
start happening or start doing something
  • kick off: The game kicked off a few minutes late.
  • get off: We got off to a bad start, but now we are becoming better friends.
  • spark off: The mayor's decision sparked off rioting in the poorer parts of town.

Meaning 4
finish or complete something
  • carry off: I don't know if she'll be able to carry off the baby shower. It is in one week and she hasn't even sent out invitations yet!
  • log off: Did you log off the computer before you left? If not, someone else could use your account.
  • finish off: John finished off all the food in the refrigerator - and he's still hungry!
  • round off: We're going to round off the trip with a visit to the Panecillo and a light lunch at Pim's.
  • turn off: Please turn off the TV when you are finished.

Meaning 5
separate something from someone or something else, in order to keep it private, stop people entering it, etc.
  • block off: The police blocked off the area while they were searching for the suspect.
  • close off: The road was closed off because of the flooding.
  • fend off: She carries a fly swatter to fend off mosquitoes and bees.
  • fight off: I'm fighting off a cold.
  • scare off: Jenny scares off all her boyfriends by talking about marriage and babies on the first date.
  • laugh off: Clay just laughed off his mistake, but his boss didn't think it was funny.
  • brush off: She's an expert at brushing off criticim. It doens't seem to bother her at all.

Meaning 6
get out of a bus, train, plane, etc. or let someone do this
  • let off: You can let me off at the next corner.
  • get off: When you get off the bus, check to make sure that you are at the right stop.
  • drop off: You can drop off the books after 10 am. Alana will be expecting you.

*A particle is the second part of a phrasal verb (sometimes called a two-part verb) and is either a preposition (with, from) or an adverb (away, out).

Adapted from: Macmillan Phrasal Verbs Plus Dictionary.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Food, Music, Prizes, Books, and More!

Join us at the CEC library for a day of books and fun on Wednesday, August 29, from 9 am to 5 pm. We will be officially celebrating the opening of the library and kicking off the summer reading program: "Ahhh! The Power of Reading". There will be food, music, movies, and more, so stop by (Veintimilla y 6 de diciembre next to Tienda Rossa) and check out a book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Door Prizes:
There will be a drawing for a prize for all students who check out a book on the 29th. Ask Isabel, the librarian, for recommendations of books appropriate for your level.
Stop by the library during the day and catch a movie with your friends. (The movie schedule will be posted next week.)

Participate in the Reading Program: "Ahhh! The Power of Reading"
For every book you read in English during Cycle 4, fill out a short form and get your name entered in the prize drawings. The more you read, the better chance you have of winning. Drawings will be held on Fridays at 2 pm each week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

English News Web Site for English Language Learners

Practice your listening and reading skills, as well as increase your vocabulary, by reading and listening to articles at Simple English News. This web site offers a variety of news in simple, easier language than that found in a regular English newspaper. There are unusual news features, words in the news, entertainment & sports news, and even polls asking opinions for everything from "Would you like to travel in space?" to "What kind of cola do you drink when you are thirsty?".
Have fun exploring the site!

Monday, August 20, 2007

No jobs for Anglophones (English-speakers)

The French are known for being protective of their language and a bit "anti-American", but is this going too far? Kim Willsher writes an article for The Guardian about how a number of Anglophones in France feel that they are being discriminated against and not allowed to teach English in select universities because of elitism. Some Americans are crying foul at the French system, claiming that they need to have perfect French in order to pass the exams that allow them to teach English (which, in their opinion, doesn't make sense). While it may not be the exact situation here in Ecuador, it raises some important questions:
  • Should any English-speaker be allowed to teach English, or should they go through rigorous training such as that in France?
  • Is it necessary for English teachers to know the language of the country they teach in?
  • Should public universities and schools restrict the number of native English-speakers that can teach in their institutions, in order to give more opportunities to the non-native teachers?
  • If the number of Anglophones working in a public institution is restricted, is this fair to the students? Will this affect their learning English?
I think we need to hear from the students themselves. Post a comment below if you have an opinion!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"I don't see why you have to have such a crazy language, anyway!"

Frustrated by English? You're not the only one! Have a look at this I Love Lucy short and have a good laugh at some of the inconsistencies of the English language.

Did you catch the quote by Ricky in the title above? Listen again and see if you can hear it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Contest for Improving CEC!

CEC announces its first contest, open to students, for proposing improvements to all the departments of CEC. The contest runs from August 14 to October 1. The best suggestions will be awarded great prizes, from an MP3 player to scholarships, and much much more. If you have a suggestion that you think isn't worthy of winning a great prize, turn it in anyways - there will be a drawing among all entries submitted.

Interested? Fill out this form and send it via email (, or drop it off in any of CEC's three branches (Araucaria, Veintimilla, or EPN). Good luck!

See the contest rules here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More about Phrasal Verbs

  • Understanding phrasal verbs provides a key to a large amount of other English vocabulary
  • Contrary to popular belief, many other languages also have vocabuary that is very similar to English phrasal verbs.
  • Phrasal verbs , and the nouns and adjectives derived from them, are generally thought of as part of the Germanic component of English vocabulary, but inf fact we find very similar combinations in vocabulary that is derived from Latin and French too. In this case the order is particle + verb, and the spelling is always a single word.
  • It is often said that, in formal contexts, single-word equivalents are more appropriate than phrasal verbs. this advice may sometimes be useful but it is an oversimplification, and if it is followed too closely, it can sometimes lead to unnatural or over-formal language.

That said, see if you can think of the single-word equivalent of these common phrasal verbs: (Answers at the bottom of this post.)
  1. leave out
  2. go back
  3. look for
  4. put on
  5. call off
  6. bring up
  7. put up with
  8. give up
  9. decide on
  10. get out
Which of these phrasal verbs are probably a better choice than their single-word counterpart? Why?

  1. omit
  2. return
  3. search
  4. don
  5. cancel
  6. raise
  7. tolerate
  8. quit
  9. choose
  10. leave