Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ultimate Reading Practice

Introducing a new activity on RoadToGrammar: Ultimate Reading Practice:

Click here to try it

Ultimate Reading practice is a web app that has 50 short reading activities for upper-intermediate and advanced learners.

The passages are 100-200 words each and each one has four or five questions, mainly multiple choice. Each one has a word count and the difficulty level shown according to the CEFR levels.

These should provide great practice for any learner who will be taking the IELTS or TOEFL tests, or similar.

The web app can be viewed on tablets and phones, including the iPad.

A guide to answering these types of questions will be available next week on the site.


Friday, August 02, 2013

Words have lives, too

Just like us, words have lives. They are born, they struggle for survival and eventually they die.

Words have to come from somewhere. They are born when a new word is coined. 

Words might need to compete with other words for survival. For example, you could say 'maybe' or you could say 'perhaps'. I think you would agree that the word 'maybe' is more popular. Everyone seems to say 'maybe', but only a few people use 'perhaps'. As a word becomes less popular, it could begin to sound old-fashioned and it's decline is hastened. Eventually, nobody uses it anymore and the word is 'dead'.

The Darwinian-style life struggle of a word is influenced by coevolutionary social, technological, and political factors (see this link for empirical research).

A word most often lives longer than we do. A word can live for a few hundred years or more. Many Latin words have even outlived the death of their own language and live on in other host languages to this day, in phrases like alma mater.  

I'm trying to think of some words which are currently in their death throes and what comes to mind are the words used to describe groups of animals. After all, when was the last time you heard someone talking about a clowder of cats?

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 ...