Coffee Break: Back To School

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… Back To School

Back-to-school season is already here! If you’re an English learner, it’s also time for you to refocus on your studies after this well-deserved break. And what’s better than a short vocabulary list to kick off the year? Check out these 10 education-related English words and expressions that we selected for you:

1. pedagogy (noun): the function or work of a teacher; teaching method
Ex: Even though each teacher follows his own style of pedagogy, some teaching methods have been proven to be more efficient than others.

2. to brainstorm (verb): to try to develop an idea or think of new ideas
Ex: The first assignment that was given to the students was to brainstorm ideas for the school play.

3. to hit the books (phrase): to begin to study hard
Ex: Mary wants to increase her grades this year, and she is ready to hit the books.

4. to catch up (phrasal verb): do work or other tasks that one should have done earlier
Ex: The teacher noticed that one of her students was a bit behind in math, but she was confident that he would be able to catch up with the rest of the class quickly.

5. school of thought (phrase): a particular way of thinking, typically one disputed by the speaker
Ex: Even if they have different schools of thought, both students are making efforts to understand the other’s point of view.

6. to procrastinate (verb): delay or postpone something, usually related to work
Ex: I procrastinated so much during the past few days that I’m not sure I’ll be able to meet the deadline for this project.

7. mnemonic (noun): a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something
Ex: FANBOY—which refers to the first letter in the words “for,” “and,” “nor,” “but,” “or” and “yet—is a popular mnemonic to remember coordinating conjunctions in English.

8. pedantic (adjective): a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning
Ex: The professor is so pedantic that he keeps interrupting his students to correct their pronunciation rather than letting them speak.

9. plagiarism (noun): the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own
Ex: Because Ricardo copy-and-pasted paragraphs from Wikipedia in his essay, he was suspended from college for plagiarism.

10. to cram (verb): study intensively over a short period of time just before an examination
Ex: She spent all night cramming at the library for her exam the next day.

We hope this article gave you the motivation to hit the books. Now, it’s time to stop procrastinating and to catch up on your English lessons!

Teacher's Corner Header Image

Ashley Dresser: The Morale of Making a Mistake or an Error

Achieving oral proficiency in a foreign language can often feel like an insurmountable challenge. And sometimes, no matter how fast you ride your horse toward it, it still remains a distant speck on the horizon. My adult English learners frequently express their frustration with this feeling, so I always have a lesson ready to help them take ownership over their speaking journey. I call this lesson “The Morale of Making a Mistake or an Error,” and its objective is to teach adult learners the basics of error analysis. As a result, they become better equipped to measure their own progress and they learn not to sweat the small stuff.

From day one of their speaking practice, my adult learners must be able to classify any deviation from correct grammar as either a mistake or an error and maintain two respective lists in their notebooks. A mistake is a grammatical correction that they already know, but they just didn’t apply it correctly in conversation at the time. An error is much more important because it tends to be unrecognizable to the learner; errors represent a lack of knowledge of the correct language rules and a gap in understanding that the teacher and learner must work together to address.

These distinctions are particularly effective for intermediate to advanced students where the learner typically experiences a feeling of “leveling off” in their progress, or they feel like they are making the same mistakes over and over again. It becomes more difficult for them to identify notable day-to-day improvement, and they are often discouraged by repetitive, minor errors, which are usually caused by interference from their mother tongue.

In these moments of frustration, I ask my adult learners to take out their error analysis lists and tell me which one is shorter: the mistakes or the errors. The number of mistakes almost always outweighs the number of errors, and in some cases, they even find that one of their previous errors could now be better classified as a mistake. Their faces light up at this hint of progress and I remind them then that even native speakers make frequent mistakes and they certainly don’t give up speaking!

The power of providing students with consistent visual measurements of progress is one of the great advantages of the online language-learning environment. Through historical feedback, skill scores and word performance percentages, students now have a much more precise picture of their language evolution. Tiny victories can suddenly become major motivators when mapped out in greater detail, and students are very much empowered by this new level of control and autonomy in their learning process. By teaching students to pinpoint their more serious errors as well as to recognize and celebrate their small advances, we are creating a more effective learning environment.

The power of providing students with consistent visual measurements of progress is one of the great advantages of the online language-learning environment. Unlike traditional classrooms, Voxy students have immediate access to data showing their daily progress in core skills like grammar and reading, which allow them to identify and react to weak areas more quickly; and they’re able to monitor the frequency of their study habits to make sure they’re reaching their established goals. The Voxy Proficiency Assessment (VPA®) also personalizes their online course to meet their current proficiency level, so that learners can speed up or slow down their language studies based on their performance and progress rather than the fixed pace of a traditional classroom experience. By teaching students to pinpoint their weak areas, to celebrate even the smallest advances and to become more autonomous learners overall, we are creating a more innovative and effective learning environment.

Ashley Dresser is a Voxy tutor.

Ashley Dresser is a Voxy tutor.

Buenos_Aires_Festival_y_Mundial_de_Tango copy

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… Tango Buenos Aires Festival

It's #TangoFestival time! Here are 10 #English expressions you can use to talk about it. Click To Tweet

From August 18 to August 31, the world capital of tango, Buenos Aires, is hosting the biggest tango festival in the world as well as the Tango World Cup. These two events, spread over two weeks, attract thousands of tango dancers and aficionados to Argentina every year. In light of the event’s popularity, we thought it’d be helpful for you to know some dance-related expressions:

1. dance routine (noun):  series of steps that are planned out to make the overall choreography
Ex: The couple was rehearsing their dance routine before their official performance.

2. to have two left feet (idiom): to move in a very awkward way when dancing
Ex: I’d love to learn how to tango, but I’m a terrible dancer, I have two left feet.

3. seasoned (adj.): experienced
Ex: Because of the festival’s prestige, only seasoned dancers perform there.

4. extravaganza (noun): an elaborate and spectacular entertainment or production
Ex: With its tango shows, recitals, classes, book signings and film screenings, Tango Buenos Aires Festival is definitely the world’s biggest tango extravaganza.

5. recital (noun): entertainment given usually by a single performer or by a performer and one or more accompanists
Ex: The tango world champions will give a recital in the streets of Buenos Aires on Wednesday.

6. wildcard (noun): an opportunity to enter a competition without having to take part in qualifying rounds
Ex: One of the couples that will dance in the finals first entered the championship as a wildcard.

7. venue (noun): the place where an event happens
Ex: Classes and performances will take place daily at venues across the city.

8. jaw-dropping (adj.): (inf.) amazing
Ex: I’ve seen some of the most jaw-dropping tango performances ever while I was in Argentina.

9. it takes two to tango (idiom): both parties involved in a situation or argument are responsible for it
Ex: As much as I’d like to see this merger go through, it takes two to tango so we need to wait for the other party’s response.

10. workshop (noun): a class or series of classes in which a small group of people learn the methods and skills used in doing something
Ex: Beginners, intermediate and advanced workshops are organized during the festival so people of all levels can improve their dancing skills.

11. Bonus: milonga (Spanish noun): social event or location for tango dancing
Ex: The first social of the festival, or milonga, will take place tonight at 10:30 PM; all levels are welcomed.

It takes two to tango, so try using one of these expressions the next time you’re having a conversation in English!

Pokémon Go

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… Pokémon Go

It’s been a bit more than one month since the Pokemon Go craze has taken over the planet. You may have seen people walking down the streets frantically, their eyes glued to their smartphone screens, sometimes at their own risk. The app is undoubtedly a huge success and we couldn’t let this trend go on any further without adding 10 new expressions to your vocabulary:

  1. addicted (adjective): enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity
    Ex: Since he downloaded the app two days ago, my friend has been playing Pokémon Go nonstop; he is addicted to this game.

  1. augmented reality (noun): a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world
    Ex: Pokemon Go uses location-based services and augmented reality to make Pokémon appear on the screen as though you are traveling through Pokémon World.

  1. stampede (noun): a situation in which a lot of people try to do the same thing at the same time
    Ex: When Pokémon Go players saw a very rare Pokémon spawn on the map, everyone started running toward it, which caused a stampede.

  1. glitch (noun): a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or irregularity of equipment
    Ex: A glitch of the app has caused the in-game Pokémon tracking mechanism to break down entirely.

  1. hunt (noun): a search; a seeking or endeavor to find.
    Ex: A group of Pokémon Go enthusiasts went on an 11-hour-long hunt around the city to catch a rare Pokémon.

  1. to level up (verb): to increase or improve something
    Ex: Pokémon Go players can level up by training and battling at gyms to improve their skills.

  1. ability (noun): talent, skill or proficiency in a particular area
    Ex: Pikachu’s first ability is static, which means he can paralyze his opponents by surrounding them with yellow static electricity in an attack.

  1. landmark (noun): a building or place that was important in history; a feature of a landscape or town that is easily recognized
    Ex: I love Pokémon Go! It is like a tourist guide to attractions and landmarks around the city that I never knew existed.

  1. quest (noun): a journey made in search of something
    Ex: The app has the world roaming their cities on a quest to catch Pokémon.

  1. feature (noun): a noticeable or important characteristic or part
    Ex: The company that developed Pokémon Go has already announced 11 new features to diversify the game and improve the overall user experience.

Are you ready to pursue your very own quest? Become addicted to the Voxy app and learn as much vocabulary as you can! The good thing is, you won’t create a stampede if you stumble upon an unusual word. So, ready to “catch ’em all”?

Workers Reviewing Blueprints

10 Words for…Civil Engineering

In the engineering world, blueprints and measurements are straightforward. But even though numbers are universal, communicating on projects can present a challenge. Given the multicultural nature of our world today, language barriers often arise, which is why we’re here to help!

This blog series will explore the top 10 useful words for specific industries, so you can learn the English you can actually use in the real world. This week, we’re looking at some basic concepts and vocabulary words related to civil engineering.

1. hydraulics (noun): parts of a machine or system that use the pressure of water or other liquids to move or lift things

Ex. In order to design an efficient pipe system, the civil engineer applied his knowledge of hydraulics to move the water smoothly through the building.

2. blueprint (noun): a diagram or technical drawing

Ex. Jane looked at the blueprint to figure out the exact dimensions of the building.

3. sector (noun): a specific area of economic or commercial activity, categorized as either public or private

Ex. Engineers work in either the public or private sector, which means they are involved in projects for public government or private corporate purposes.

4. discipline (noun): area of specialization

Ex. Civil engineering is traditionally broken down into more detailed disciplines focusing on applications within architectural, environmental, structural and transportation fields.

5. competency (noun): the ability to do something successfully or efficiently

Ex. In an increasingly multicultural world, civil engineers must possess a global competency to collaborate with coworkers from diverse cultures.

6. structure (noun): something built or constructed, like a bridge, building or dam

Ex. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is an interesting structure because it manages to have strong foundational support despite being tilted off center.

7. maintenance (noun): the process of keeping a structure in good condition or in working order by repairing it regularly

Ex. With proper maintenance, the pipe system throughout the old building should last for several years.

8. license (noun): a permit from an authority to engage in an act

Ex. The zoning department gave the engineering firm a license to build the apartment complex in the neighborhood.

9. infrastructure (noun): basic physical and organizational structures, like buildings and roads, needed for society

Ex. After the hurricane, the engineering firm helped rebuild the plumbing and road infrastructure around the devastated community.

10. model (noun): a three-dimensional representation of a proposed structure

Ex. She showed the investors her model, a scaled down version of the redesigned corporate headquarters.

For additional practice with industry-specific terms in English, check out the Unit Catalog in your Voxy course for more work-related materials!