There are many ways to learn English, but certainly one the best and most effective is listening to native speakers. As much as you think you already know, there will always be some peculiar phrases that only native English speakers really use and understand.
Here is a small selection of those “useful” everyday English phrases. Get them into your vocabulary and start sounding like a native. Tune in and enjoy!
To have an axe to grind An expression for when someone’s got a strong opinion.
Get somebody’s goat
A phrase about something annoying
Just another way to say “lots”
Hangry I’m sure you all know someone who gets angry when they don’t eat.
A really great way to improve your vocabulary and reading skills is by reading a good book and getting completely absorbed in the story. If you’ve ever wanted to read some English stories, but weren’t sure where to find books suitable for your level, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are my recommendations for some great English books for language learners.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon
This book tells the story of Christopher Boone, a young boy with Asperger’s syndrome. Christopher’s condition means that he finds it difficult to connect with other people, and has trouble understanding some of the more complicated aspects of human relationships. Written from Christopher’s perspective, the book is a really interesting description of what it’s like to live with a learning disability, but also presents the world from a different point of view, giving us a new understanding of some things which we might take for granted.
The language in The Curious Incident is simple and easy to understand because Christopher speaks and thinks in an extremely logical and straightforward way. I would recommend this book for intermediate levels and above.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm is a book about farm animals.
The interesting thing about these animals is that they can speak to each other, think complex thoughts, and form governments similar to our own. The story focuses on a group of animals on one particular farm, using the way their society develops as a metaphor for the corruption and dishonesty of human politicians. Animal Farm is a classic story of revolution, power and corruption, told through the prism of a simple fable.
The language in Animal Farm is a little bit more complicated than in The Curious Incident, as it was written about seventy years ago and some of the language might seem a bit old-fashioned. With the help of a good dictionary, I think this book would be suitable for strong intermediate students.
Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
This is a collection of short stories by one of America’s most famous and influential authors. Focussing on a number of different topics and characters, Salinger explores the pain and suffering associated with our loss of innocence when we grow up. In almost all of the stories, children are compared with adults, the children often possessing the real wisdom and knowledge that the adults fail to see.
This is one of my favourite collections of short stories. Salinger’s language is relatively simple and easy to understand, but is also very expressive and evocative. I would recommend this book for intermediate levels and above
Penguin Graded Readers
If all of these books sound a bit too complicated for your level, a good idea would be to get one of the penguin graded readers. These are English novels which have been adapted to various different levels. The story is the same, but the language is simpler, so they are a good way to introduce yourself to English literature if you aren’t a confident reader.
When it comes to job hunting, getting your cover letter right is just as important as perfecting your CV! Your cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to the employer and is sent to accompany and expand upon your CV.
Many job hunters ask whether they need to write a cover letter when applying for a job, assuming that a CV should be enough. However, 57.1% of professionals rank the cover letter as an essential component of every job application – and with good reason.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your cover letter is a regurgitation of your CV and therefore a waste of time. Your letter is, in fact, a formalised way of introducing yourself and expanding on a few key areas that make you suitable for the role. This is a massive bonus if you’ve run out of room on your two-page CV. As a result, why wouldn’t you write a cover letter when it’s your number-one chance to tell the prospective employer more about why you’d make such a good hire?
Many recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of applications a day and can only spend a matter of seconds reviewing applications – so your cover letter needs to be good.
Below you will find useful guidelines to help you write a strong cover letter. Some recruiters may receive hundreds of applications a day, so your cover letter gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd (and with only 20 to 30 seconds to grab their attention, it needs to be good!)
A cover letter should complement, NOT duplicate, your CV.
The different types of cover letters
The application letter which responds to a known job opening.
The prospecting letter which inquires about possible positions.
The networking letter which requests information and assistance in your job.
« Dear Sir or Madame? » or « To whom it may concern? »
State why you are writing.
Begin by telling the employer and the position you are applying for and how you learned about the opportunity.
Establish a point of contact.
Advertisement in a specific place for a specific position; a particular person’s suggestion that you write.
Give some brief idea of who you are.
Highlight a few of the most salient points from your enclosed CV.
Describe how your previous job experiences, skills, and abilities will allow you to meet the company’s needs.
Stress action. Politely request an interview at the employer’s convenience.
Indicate what supplementary material is being sent under separate cover and offer to provide additional information, and explain how it can be obtained (a portfolio, a writing sample, a sample publication, a dossier, an audition tape, a website / blog).
Thank the reader for his/her consideration and indicate that you are looking forward to hearing from him/her.
Page format guide: 4 steps
1’’ – 1.5’’ margins are always a safe bet. Be careful not to make the content look crammed together.
Don’t go below a 12-point font. Anything below 12 can strain the eyes.
Font style is really a matter of preference. Try to choose one that looks professional or that matches what the employer uses on their website.
Maintain a uniform alignment throughout. Keep all paragraphs left-aligned.
The average office worker receives around 80 emails each day. With that sheer volume of emails, individual messages easily get overlooked. Follow these simple rules below to get your emails noticed and acted upon.
Prepositions are short words (on, in, to) that usually stand in front of nouns (sometimes also in front of gerund verbs). Even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation. There are hardly any rules as to when to use which preposition. The only way to learn prepositions is looking them up in a dictionary, reading a lot in English and learning useful phrases off by heart.
Most of the differences between the English of the UK and the English of North America are vocabulary differences and differences in pronunciation and spelling. However, there are some differences in the way grammar is used. There are fewer differences in writing than in speaking. Grammar is always changing, and many new ways of using grammar in BrE come from AmE, because of the influence of American popular culture, American media and the Internet.
You can find out more about these differences below: