Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Look for R2G Site has a new look, as of December 2006. Hopefully, also it will load up a little faster for users who do not yet have broadband. Let me know if you prefer it to the old one.

There is a word strips game at, and you can try to get a high score for the month.

The word search puzzles are also located more conveniently on the main page.

Finally, if anyone is taking the GRE test, you can practise your vocabulary on R2G's sister site:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Awe, Awful and Awesome

Have you ever wondered about these words? How is it that if something is awful - full of 'awe' - then it is terrible, but if something is 'awesome' - having some 'awe' - then it is great?

In fact, awful is closer to the original definition. Both words share the root word 'awe', which meant 'fear and terror'. Over time, influenced by biblical texts, 'awe' came to mean 'reverential fear' as in 'the fear of God' and then later took the meaning that we associate with it today - a sense of wonder or shock. It still retains something of its old meaning; American bombing campaigns in Iraq were said to cause 'shock and awe'.

So hundreds of years ago, awful and awesome meant the same thing. As the use of the root word awe changed, awesome came to mean excellent, while awful retained the original meaning.

It's another example of how a word can eventually come to mean the opposite.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Most students are familiar with the shortening of 'I am going to' to 'I'm gonna', but did you know that many speakers shorten it even further to 'I'mma'?

So 'I am going to tell him' becomes 'I'mma tell'im'.

As far as I know, this is not in any textbook, but it is becoming widely used. Just another way spoken English is different from written English.
Weekend Tefl?!?

If you wished to learn a foreign language, would you have confidence in a teacher who had been certified after taking a 2-day course?

This site: offers two day certification for TEFL teachers. Judging by the blurb on the site, it is clearly targetted at people who just want to travel and find some way of financing it. Teaching English is better than washing dishes, right?

This kind of course and mentality cheapens our profession.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Big and Small

When people learn a new language, they think that it is the big words that are difficult. But what I’ve noticed from my students is that it is actually the small words that are the hardest. Which words do students always get wrong? ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘make’ and ‘do’, for instance. A word like ‘get’ has about 20 distinct meanings if you check the dictionary, but ‘globalization’ has only one.

So my tip of the day is this: don’t worry about the big words; worry about the small ones!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

When Black meant White

English is such an odd language, but did you know that the word 'black' once meant 'white'?

In Middle English, blac, blak or blake technically meant 'lacking in colour'. Of course, if something lacks colour, it could be said to be black or it could be said to be white. During the Middle Ages, both these definitions existed side by side. Finally, in England, the modern meaning of black, as in dark, won out. In France, however, the opposite held true and the word blanc (white) in French is actually derived from the same root as black in English. Compare this with the word blank in English. Are blanks usually black or white?

Check for more interesting word histories.


The R2G2 blog is an extension of the Road to Grammar (R2G) website for ESL learners and instructors.

Road to Grammar is found here:

New Quiz: YOUR and YOU'RE

There is another new quiz on Road to Grammar on the topic YOUR and YOU'RE - many learners - and even native speakers - mix up these two ...