B2, vocabulary

Useful expressions in conversations

Whether you are speaking or writing, it is important to learn how to express your opinion on different subjects. If you are thinking about taking an international exam, for example, this could be particularly helpful, since you will be asked to write an essay or record your voice expressing your opinions on a given topic.

Expressing opinions

Here’s a conversation where two people give their opinion on the police and the use of body cameras, they agree and disagree with each other’s opinions, used expressions for persuading and clarify what was said.

Listen to the audio and identify the new expressions being used in conversation.

A: In my honest opinion cops shouldn’t be able to turn their cameras on and off.

B: Why do you think so?

A: Everybody has seen cases of police brutality and racial discrimination on social media. Many police officers use excess force when they arrest people, so it’s my belief that if their cameras are always on, they would be more accountable for their actions.

B: That may be true but some citizens are also concerned about privacy. Innocent bystanders, including minors, may be videotaped without knowing it. Can you see where I’m coming from?

A: I see your point but, from where I look at it, the police would be more accountable for their conduct if they wear body cameras at all times and I honestly think that’s the biggest concern for citizens, not being videotaped.

B: Put yourself in the shoes of a civilian that may be inadequately dressed or recorded at a location where an officer is rolling the cameras. Don’t you think we have the right to privacy?

A: So, let me get this straight, you think that officers shouldn’t wear body cameras at all, right? Is that way you’re saying?

B: You misunderstood what I said. It’s not black and white, I’m just saying being recorded when you are not aware of it is unfair on civilians.

A: Yeah, I agree with you there but a video footage could be used to solve a crime, maybe in court to back up somebody’s testimony, nobody would be looking at the civilian who wasn’t properly dressed.

B: I guess you’re right.

Why is expressing your opinion important when learning English?

As you can see, A and B disagree on whether the police should wear body cameras and have them on at all times. They, however, have a civilized conversation about it and debated this topic with useful expressions to express their opinions in a strong, assertive way without hurting the other person’s feelings. The ability to express yourself and defend your points of view using proper language is valued highly in conversation and can turn you into a great conversationalist! which is why I recommend learning at least a couple of expressions from each of the categories above (to give an opinion, to agree and disagree, to persuade, to clarify a point, to interrupt someone, etc) to incorporate to your conversations and debates.

More often than not I hear students using the worn-out expressions “in my opinion” or “I think”, but today I want to challenge you to stop using those expressions and start using expressions like In my honest opinion…, It is my belief that…, As far as I am concerned…, To my understanding… These expressions are more advanced and will surely give you extra points in an international exam when you are asked to give your opinion on a given subject.

Do you want to be ready to use these expression in English class? Download and print the document below and have it on hand when doing speaking activities.

How do I practice using these expressions?

You can practice with a classmate, a friend who is interested in improving his/her language skills or you can do it like we do it at WeSpeak Idiomas, in our conversation workshop 🙂 Whichever way you choose, just keep practicing!

Click on the video below to watch a segment of one of our live classes where we discuss this very same topic.

Happy learning!

A2, vocabulary

Kitchen verbs

How many kitchen verbs do you know? Go over this presentation and test your knowledge!

Step 1: Study with the flashcards

Read the definitions aloud and look at the pictures.

Step 2: Download the flashcards

Click on the download button to download the flashcards in PDF format. Go over them again next week and test how many you can remember.

Kitchen verbs

B1, vocabulary

Science verbs

How many science verbs do you know in English? Learn new science vocabulary by following two simple steps.

Step 1: Watch the video

While you watch listen and repeat after me. I recommend taking notes of each new word to practice spelling. In this video you will learn 19 science verbs in English.

Step 2: Do the exercises

Now is time to test your knowledge. Do this 10-question quiz and see how much you’ve learned. How many did you get right?

Try going back to this quiz in a week or so to see how many words you remember. When I was an English student I would go back to the content I’d learned in the past and test myself again and that’s how I memorized vocabulary. It worked for me, try it and see if it works for you too!

B1, vocabulary

Money

For some reason we are always talking about money. On a daily basis we say sentences like How much is this?, I’m short of money, I need to save up to go on a trip, My friend asked if he could borrow some money. Money is part of our daily lives so knowing words and expressions around this topic will come in handy.

How much money vocabulary do you know? Learn 10 new words/expressions related to money management and then test your knowledge!

Now go ahead and do the interactive exercises on Quizlet to test your knowledge. Never used Quizlet before? It’s extremely simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. go to the flashcards section and review vocabulary, click on the listen icon to practice pronunciation
  2. go to the learn section and test your knowledge!
A1, A2, vocabulary

Board games

How many words related to Board games do you know?

Step 1: Watch the video

While you watch listen and repeat after me. I recommend taking notes of each new word to practice spelling.

Happy learning!

Step 2: Do the exercises

Blog, vocabulary

“Dilivery”. Let’s analize this spelling mistake.

While in El Paso, I wanted to do some grocery shopping and didn’t want to go to the chain supermarket but a local one, so I went to “Ruidoso”, a latin supermarket downtown. It was there where I found the “dilivery” poster.

All-focus

According the United States Census Bureau, in 2017, 80.2% of the population in El Paso county, Texas, were Hispanic or Latinos (including undocumented residents). So, does this mean that you can get away with not speaking English in El Paso? Well, if we talk about meeting daily needs like going grocery shopping, ordering food or using transportation, yes, it does.
I have been teaching English as a foreign language to Spanish speakers for a while and have seen all sorts of mistakes but this particularly caught my attention. Why hadn’t I seen that mistake before? That’s what led me to write this article and go deeper into analyzing this case. Who could have made that spelling mistake? It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure that out, the rest of the message is in Spanish, so… a Spanish speaker, right? However, by “who” I mean, what kind of English learner? What kind of exposure to the English language does this individual have?

The word delivery is pronounced /dɪˈlɪvərɪ/.  Focus on the first “e” (delivery), this letter is pronounced /ɪ/ like the sound in lip or tip.  To a Spanish speaker the reasoning is “it sounds like /ɪ/, it must be spelled with an i, then dilivery”. After analyzing the phonetics, it seems reasonable to say that the Spanish speaking individual who wrote “dilivery” with an “i” instead of an “e” in the poster is used to hearing how the word is pronounced, not reading or writing it; therefore, spells it the way it sounds. It makes sense to say that this individual would spell the word could the way it sounds to him, “cud”, applying the Spanish write-it-the-way-you-hear-it  rule to the English language.

But why hadn’t I seen that mistake before? I have a theory. I have worked in a classroom environment and the reason why students who have received formal education in English are less likely to make this kind of mistake is they have seen the word in writing more than heard it (unlike the first case). In this scenario students of English as a foreign language are more prone to make other kind of mistakes. Based on my experience (and this only applies for EFL students whose exposure to spoken language is not as high as for students of ESL), they are more prone to mispronounce words rather than misspell them. I have often heard the mispronunciation instead of read the misspelling of the word delivery. Students tend to say /delivery/ pronouncing the “e” like /e/. Here we have the opposite scenario, they pronounce it the way it is spelled because they have seen the word in writing more often than they have heard it. Their reasoning is “it is spelled with an “e”, it must be pronounced /e/”. That’s why when English students see the word “could” without having heard it, they pronounce it the way it is spelled, /could/. That is, they pronounce each and every letter in the word, the c, the o, the u, the l and the d, once again applying Spanish rules to the English language.

We can conclude then that in general, Spanish speakers who are exposed to spoken English might have a higher tendency to make spelling mistakes while English students who are exposed to written English more than spoken English are more prone to make pronunciation mistakes. This lead me to think that this person speaks English but doesn’t write it. Who knows, he may have been living in El Paso for a while but never taken English lessons. It’s likely his job does not require him to write the language.