Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Practice Vocabulary and Help End World Hunger

Does studying English all day make you feel selfish sometimes? Maybe you don't have the time to spend with your family because you are running off to English class. Maybe you cancel plans with your significant other because you have to spend the weekend preparing for the TOEFL exam. But now there is a way to practice your vocabulary and help feed the needy by going to the Free Rice web site. Here you will be given a word and asked to choose its meaning. If you are correct, they will donate 10 grains of rice to the poor through the United Nations.

It may seem like a little, but you can "play" all you like. Yesterday, for example, 48,720,340 grains of rice were donated. Watch your bowl fill as you play to give you an idea of the difference you are making.

Check it out, learn some vocabulary, and do something for you while helping others!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Free Online English Lessons

English lessons can be expensive. Or maybe you don't have time to attend a class due to a crazy work or school schedule. The Internet has opened up countless opportunities for people like you who want to learn English for free or in the comfort of your own home.

Free English lessons at Learn English Online.
Englishbaby has a new English lesson every day.
English at Home has many features, such as a forum and grammar activities. And it also has a sister site where you can improve your business communication skills.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Chat with a Robot and Practice Your English

Do you want someone to chat with who has perfect English, is willing to chat at any time of the day and will never get tired of your questions? Try Dave E.S.L. Bot, a service that will give you a month of unlimited chat time for only $10. Dave's the perfect English partner to talk to and has tens of thousands of words in his vocabulary bank. (Remember to always check a web site before paying for a product - this one has not been tested by us. Still, it is a neat idea!)

There are other free robot chats online. Rong-chang.com has one. Oliverbot is free also. Splotchy is a bit quirky but will talk to you if your computer is set up properly. And jabberwacky will "learn" conversations and responses the more you use him, thus getting more and more intelligent as you chat. You can even choose his emotions and taint his reactions!

One added plus: you won't be able to make lifelong friends with these robots, but you never have to worry about cyber safety issues.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Online Crossword Puzzles

We've compiled a list of crossword puzzles for those of you who like to play games in English.

The human body: From the BBC "Learning English" web site. You can send them an email and request a crossword puzzle based on a theme you like, too!

Past tense verbs: Practice the past tense of common verbs. There are plenty more on this site, like Animal sounds.
Or try something a bit more challenging, like Phrases with Make or Collective Nouns.

Maybe you are into something Business related? Or short but difficult?

Want to try an authentic crossword puzzle (one made for English speakers and not students)? Here's the Washington Post's, USA Today's, and Newsday's.

Maybe a designer crossword? Here's one which features clues Martha Stewart wrote.

Or something that can satisfy not only your love of words but also your soul?

If you are serious about crossword puzzle solving, you may need a crossword dictionary. At the very least you could use an online dictionary to help out with those clues you don't know the answer to.

Once you get good at the puzzles, why not try and create a few of your own?
This crossword puzzle creator is user-friendly and free! This one allows you to save PDF files of your creation (you have to register to the site). Here is another.

Have fun exploring these sites. Happy "puzzling"!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cambridge English Readers for Beginner and Basic Students

Reading for pleasure is one way to learn more vocabulary and practice your English. Cambridge University Press publishes original English Readers by level. Here are a few of their titles, with a blurb about the plot:

Ghost Story
The Girl at the Window by Antoinette Moses

For Grace, a ghost in a haunted house, the arrival of a young mother with a baby stirs the memories of the man and child she lost so many years before. But then danger threatens the baby girl and Grace must act decisively.

Murder Mystery

A Death in Oxford by Richard MacAndrew

When Dr Leighton is murdered Inspector Frank Williams and Sergeant Kate Miller set out to track down her killer. Was it her husband, her son or her colleague? All had reasons to hate her but which one killed her?


What a Lottery! by Colin Campbell

Rick Drummond is a music lover without a job who dreams of making it big in the world of music. The people around him think he's just a dreamer, or a loser. When his wife walks out on him it seems the real world is falling around him. But then his luck changes when he wins the lottery. Is this really a change of fortune for Rick or is he about to lose again?

Science Fiction
Let Me Out! by Antoinette Moses

Nolan is a robot created by a lonely electronics expert, John, to run his home, cook and do the ironing. but Nolan is not content; he wants to be human. When he realises that this is not possible, he turns against John, who finds there is no escpe from his malevolence.

The Penang File by Richard MacAndrew

Secret agent, Ian Munro, is dispatched to Penang to stop an assassination attempt on the Prince (a member of the British Royal Family who is there on a state visit). Munro tracks down the assassin, identifies where and how the "hit" will take place, but can he foil the assassination attempt in time?

Dirty Money
by Sue Leather

Joe lives in Canada, in a beautiful, quiet place. His peace is interrupted one day by the noise of bulldozers excavating near his house. He is told that it's a diamond mine. Joe is a journalist for a local newspaper and his neaighbours soon come to ask him to write about the awful noise and destruction. Joe becomes suspicious when his boss won't let him write about it. He starts to invesitgate the mine, but gets himself in harm's way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Listen to someone talk about Key West, Florida. What things does she say about where she lives?

What city or country do you live in? What is it like?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Take this fun musical quiz

How much do you know about English music from the past fifty years? Take this quiz and see how many of the bands you can get right!

Answers will be posted in the comments section.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cycle 5 Begins with Lines of Students

Cycle 5 began today, but you wouldn't have known it if you had looked at the lines in registration! A friendly reminder: register early and avoid LONG lines. Every cycle near the third exam coordinators come around to the classes to hand out the pre-registration forms. Take advantage and get in early!

On the bright side, next cycle starts on January 14, so there will be more time to register between cycles.

Don't wait until the last minute!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Michael McCarthy in Ecuador

Michael McCarthy, author of the popular series Touchstone, English Vocabulary in Use, as well as various other famous titles, will be in Quito and Guayaquil next week. Come meet the author of these ELT books and learn more about Corpus Linguistics at his seminar, "Spoken Fluency in Theory and Practice", in Guayaquil on October 10, 4-7 pm in Centro Empresarial Las Cámaras, Salón Las Cámaras, or in Quito on October 11, 4-7 pm, Centro Cultural de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. Reservations through the Quito-Guayaquil offices need to be made in order to ensure seating.
From the seminar invitation:
Fluency is a word we use a lot in language teaching and speaking a language fluently is seen as the ultimate goal for many learners. But what exactly is fluency in spoken language? Is it that language just "flows" from us without our needing to practice or rehearse? Is it the ability to speak fast, to speak smoothly, to speak without faltering and hesitating? If so, then many native speakers fail the test. in this presentation we look at notions of fluency, present examples of antive- and non-native spoken fluency, and conclude that fluency is a property of conversations rather than jsut a talent of individuals. We look at how fluency can be promoted in the classroom.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

South American Education Fair

Education fairs are popular among students looking for universities and colleges abroad. There are no education fairs scheduled in Ecuador at the moment, but if you find yourself in Chile, Peru, Argentina or Brazil, you might want to check out the South American EducaitonUSA Fair 2007. If you do go, why not post a comment and let us know what you thought?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cartoons for English Language Learners

Like to read cartoons? The British Council site has a cartoon-of-the-week feature. The cartoons are adapted for English language learners and often focus on a play on words. You can go into their archives for theme-related cartoons, on topics as diverse as animals, restaurants, and sports.