Bring It On With Phrasal Verbs!

happy thanksgiving 187817836While the English languages is comprised of more than a million words – just take a look at the many volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary for proof of this – the simple truth is that the average person uses far fewer. In fact, according to some scholars, only 300 words account for 65% of all written communication. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that English language learners can do more with less and, one way to do exactly that is to use more phrasal verbs. Here are few that all use the same root: bring:

Bring … About – to cause or initiate

  • By studying hard you, too, can bring about incredible success.

Note: Remember, this phrasal verb, like all others, must be modified to make the tense (present, past, future). For example, though the sentence above is in the present tense, this phrasal verb is often used in the past and therefore written as “brought about”.

Bring … Along – to carry or take with

  • The worried parents always bring along supplies for their new baby – that way they have what they need under any circumstances.

Bring … Around – to convince or otherwise change someone’s mind

  • After discussing the issue for several hours Debbie was finally able to bring Mike around to her side of the problem.

Note: As noted with the symbols above, this phrasal verb must have the person or thing being convinced between the two verbs (and not after them).*

Bring … On – to cause something to happen

  • James should have known better – discussing politics at Thanksgiving always brings on a fight between his sisters.

Note: “Bring about” and “bring on” are extremely close in meaning and can often be used interchangeably.

For more on our system of notation – as well as a lot more phrasal verbs – check out our phrasal verb blog posts!


Train Your Brain To Study English

Businessman brain power 456041331Given that there are almost as many methods to improve your English skills as there are English teachers trying to select just one can seem almost as difficult as the language itself. Worse still, a a quick web search reveals hundreds (if not thousands) of pages claiming be the most effective! Well, we are here to tell you that, well-intentioned or not, there is no perfect study plan. No one system is right for every student. There are, however, some useful guidelines that all students should consider when working improve. Here are some of the best ways to train your brain to study English:

Warm Up!
Start studying before you study. After all, it is common knowledge that both cars and athletes perform better after they have had a chance to warm up. Thus it makes sense that something almost infinitely more complex – the human brain – deserves the same treatment. So don’t try to study with a cold mental motor! Instead, try to gradually acclimatize to English by activating your vocabulary and grammar before getting down to business. It can be as simple as brainstorming silently about the kind of vocabulary related to a particular subject or as complicated as creating a dialogue using the kind of grammar necessary to describe a past event but trust us, you will be glad you did.

Make It A (Daily) Routine!
The parallels with exercise do not end there. In much the same way that athletes practice every day, you too should train your brain to study English by reviewing English as regularly as possible. Marathon study sessions just don’t work. Instead, try establishing a daily routine of 30 minutes of practice. It is easier than it seems and studies show that short, steady practice is far more effective than long, sporatic periods.

Shake It Up (With What You Like)!
Finally, just because a routine is important does not mean that you should practice in the same way day in and day out. Try anything and everything as often as possible. Variety is the spice of life and, as an added bonus, using a variety of study methods can help you to reinforce your learning while simultaneously making it more interesting!

Want more tips on how you can learn English? Check out how you can learn English page for even more tips and tricks!


Some Idioms are “Out of This World!”

Businessman resting on a cloud 450975151As part of our ongoing coverage of common English idioms, in recent weeks we have discussed idioms that come not only from people but also from animals. Having discussed the living inhabitants of the planet, then, it only makes sense to turn our attention to the planet itself. Here are some of the most common:

Dirt Cheap
It should come as no surprise that dirt – you know, that brown stuff we use to grow plants – is not the most expensive of commodities. Thus if something is “dirt cheap” (that is, as expensive as dirt) it is quite cheap indeed and probably a pretty good deal as well!

Down-To-Earth / Head in the Clouds
This descriptive pairing are, as you might have already guessed, opposites. The first, down-to-earth, means practical and relatable while the second, head in the cloud, is just the opposite: easily distracted and out of touch.

Out of the Woods
To best understand this idiom you have to imagine yourself lost in the woods without a compass, map, or –  gasp! – cell phone. Lost and confused, you would probably feel pretty scared wandering around in the unknown. Then again, you would probably feel pretty great once you found your way out – which goes a long way to explaining why this expression means “out of trouble”.

Out of This World
This idiom makes sense if you compare things that in this world to things that are, literally, out of it. Because we see things in this world all of the time they are pretty ordinary. Comparatively, though, things that are out of this world are, well, extraordinary.

To Win by a Landslide
Given that the landslide referred to in this idiom is a large, dramatic movement of earth and rocks similar to an avalanche, to win by one is no small thing. In fact, to win by a landslide is to get almost all of the votes, points, etc. Think 80-20 and you’re on the right on track.

Did you enjoy our post on which Idioms are “Out of This World!”? Catch up on what you might have missed – or just get extra practice – by visiting other idioms blogs!


Homeland Security Cracks Down on Language School Fraud

Comic Strip Speech Bubbles 186534519Agents from the Department of Homeland Security raided a career institute’s offices and arrested five of its administrators as part of their ongoing efforts to target student visa fraud throughout the country. The resulting charges – which include both visa and financial fraud – could put the five alleged collaborators behind bars for as long as 20 years. At the same time, international students at the Micropower Career Institute‘s five campuses across two states find themselves in the middle of a very messy situation.

The Charges

According to authorities, the school and its officials conducted an elaborate charade in order to collect federal education money from otherwise ineligible English as a Second Language students. To do this, the schools’ five principal administrators – all connected to one another by birth or marriage – portrayed their schools as legitimate language schools where international students carried full course loads. In actuality, however, most of the English as a Second Language students enrolled at the school did not attend the majority of their classes.* To elude suspicion – and continue collecting the approximately $10,000 in annual tuition each student received – administrators would transfer students with poor attendance from one school to an another by creating an elaborate paper trail that, heretofore, had avoided detection. At the same time, school officials also faked or otherwise manipulated documents in order to hide the fact tat both they and their students were not complying with the Department of Education’s regulations regarding the financial aid it offers to low-income post-high school students.  Though it is hard to imagine that the school’s students were unaware of such widespread fraud they, too, will have to deal with the fallout of this investigation in their own way.

* Students who are granted F-1 student visas are eligible to remain in the US as long as they are pursuing full courses of study and attend 80% of their classes (or at least 18 hours of classes a week) at approved schools. Failure to do so is may result in the early termination of a student’s visa.