Fluent, confident English

fluency confidence intonation range of vocabulary grammar pronunciation listening skills How do people learn to speak English fluently and with confidence? Continuum or triangle? Each learner is unique. Some see the list above as a continuum. Fluency is unachievable without confidence, but truly fluent speakers have good intonation, a range of vocabulary suited to their life needs […]

Tuesday and Thursday

  Sometimes the simplest words cause problems. The days of the week are absolutely essential. How can we plan our activities or make appointments without knowing how to name those days? Monday, Friday and Sunday rarely cause problems. Saturday needs a little practice. Wednesday looks more difficult than it sounds: “Wensday”. But Tuesday and Thursday make […]

Applying grammar when speaking

So. You think you understand the most basic rules of English grammar. You feel confident when you’re speaking. You never allow fear to silence you. Somehow, however, you find it impossible to combine those two strengths: knowledge of grammar; and confidence. You are perfectly capable of talking about the past, the future, your hopes and […]

Walk on water: English immersion

Do you sometimes think it would take a miracle to make you fluent in English? Well, come to the land of miracles! On Penarth pier you can walk on water, when the tide is in. We have the second highest tidal range in the world. So if you’re used to the Mediterranean, you’ll have to […]

English for Spanish speakers

Spanish speakers often have difficulty pronouncing English. In fact, it’s your pronunciation errors that identify you as Spanish. They are so typical of Spaniards. Let’s look at seven classic mistakes. When speaking castellano, consonants are very soft, almost silent. In English, you’ll need to emphasise the consonants to ensure that listeners can hear them. The letters […]

Float to fluency in English

I remember the old docks in Penarth. Full of mud when the tide was out, empty and deserted. In the 19th century, and for the first half of the last century, those docks were busy with commercial ships. During my childhood, they offered a peaceful refuge where we could eat chips out of newspaper. They were […]

What’s the weather like?

Some people are afraid to visit the UK because they’ve heard terrible stories about the weather. Wales, in particular, has a reputation for rain. That’s what keeps the country so green. One client commented, at the end of his intensive course, that he now prefers rain to sun. Coming from the Mediterranean coast of Spain, he wasn’t […]

I want you to speak English well

One of the trickiest structures for non-native speakers of English is the following: “Somebody wants somebody else to do something“. In some languages, this idea is expressed using “that”: “I want that you help me“. This is incorrect in English. We say “I want you to help me“. If you have been saying this incorrectly […]

How to say “No” in English

Are you learning English? Do you speak the language fluently but still have problems with negatives? Perhaps your mother tongue combines negative words for emphasis. You are used to seeing and using these double negatives. But they don’t exist in current standard English.  In the sentence I just wrote, the word “not” – as in “do not exist” – is the only […]