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A funny list of "True Meanings of Common Idioms"

One of my favorite entrepreneurship blogs, A Smart Bear, posted a list of "The True Meaning of Common Idioms". Check them out - they're good for a laugh.

I've seen lists like this before - comical explanations of what certain phrases "really" mean. A quick example:

"To be perfectly honest with...

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Why Memorize? My theory of "hook phrases"

I want to expand a little more on why I think memorization is so important for lanuage learning.

What is memorization exactly? It's different from simply "remembering" something. When you "memorize" information, you focus on it and repeat it over and over. That's how kids learn to say the...

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Memorizing and understanding

Learning a language is primarily about remembering lots of different words and phrases in that language. But as I pointed out in an earlier blog post, the word "learn" has more than one meaning. There's learning how a bike works, and then there is learning to ride a bike. The first kind of...

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4 common mistakes English learners make

In my last post, I pointed out that the kind of mistakes that you read about on the Internet are mistakes that English speakers make, not ones that English learners should watch out for. So the obvious question is: what should English learners look out for?

Before I present my list, I should warn...

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Native speakers' mistakes ≠ learners' mistakes

I sometimes browse through Twitter looking at things with the #English hash tag to re-tweet out to my followers. Today I came across this one:

I clicked on the link, and found pretty much what I expected to find: a list of mistakes that English speakers make in written English. These are...

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How to think in English: put in the time!

A user on the UsingEnglish.com forum posted a question that got me worked up to respond:

How to thinking in english....???


When I practise to speak english. I always repare a sentence with a native language then I translate it to english to speak.

I knew it wrong for speaking english. But how...

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"Will", "Going To Do", and "Doing" - why learners get them wrong

Here's a little example of something English learners get wrong that I attribute to a failure of textbooks and teachers to properly reflect the way language is used.

I've been spending a lot of time recently hanging around Lang-8.com and helping people out by correcting their journal entries....

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The Importance of Not Being Thorough

This morning I was trying to think of some phrases that use the word "face" to show to someone and did a quick Google search. One of the results I came across was this: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/32/messages/937.html

I think that this is fairly typical of phrase lists and...

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Uncommon Common Phrases

I was going through a list of English phrases that I collected from watching TV, reading online articles and so on.  I came across this one:

Are we still on for Saturday?

As natural an English expression as one could hope for, but not something I expect to hear from my students or friends...

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Speaking phrases vs. Listening phrases

Ever buy a book of idioms or phrases in the language you wanted to learn? Somewhere at my wife's parents' house in Japan is a book that I bought several years ago with several hundred pages of phrases.  I tried studying some of them, but at some point tried out a few on native Japanese...