Why it’s hard for adults to learn a second language


Brianna Yamasaki, University of Washington

As a young adult in college, I decided to learn Japanese. My father’s family is from Japan, and I wanted to travel there someday.

However, many of my classmates and I found it difficult to learn a language in adulthood. We struggled to connect new sounds and a dramatically different writing system to the familiar objects around us.

It wasn’t so for everyone. There were some students in our class who were able to acquire the new language much more easily than others.

So, what makes some individuals “good language learners?” And do such individuals have a “second language aptitude?”

What we know about second language aptitude

Past research on second language aptitude has focused on how people perceive sounds in a particular language and on more general cognitive processes such as memory and learning abilities. Most of this work has used paper-and-pencil and computerized tests to determine language-learning abilities and predict future learning.

Researchers have also studied brain activity as a way of measuring linguistic and cognitive abilities. However, much less is known about how brain activity predicts second language learning.

Is there a way to predict the aptitude of second language learning?

How does brain activity change while learning languages?
Brain image via www.shutterstock.com

In a recently published study, Chantel Prat, associate professor of psychology at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, and I explored how brain activity recorded at rest – while a person is relaxed with their eyes closed – could predict the rate at which a second language is learned among adults who spoke only one language.

Studying the resting brain

Resting brain activity is thought to reflect the organization of the brain and it has been linked to intelligence, or the general ability used to reason and problem-solve.

We measured brain activity obtained from a “resting state” to predict individual differences in the ability to learn a second language in adulthood.

To do that, we recorded five minutes of eyes-closed resting-state electroencephalography, a method that detects electrical activity in the brain, in young adults. We also collected two hours of paper-and-pencil and computerized tasks.

We then had 19 participants complete eight weeks of French language training using a computer program. This software was developed by the U.S. armed forces with the goal of getting military personnel functionally proficient in a language as quickly as possible.

The software combined reading, listening and speaking practice with game-like virtual reality scenarios. Participants moved through the content in levels organized around different goals, such as being able to communicate with a virtual cab driver by finding out if the driver was available, telling the driver where their bags were and thanking the driver.

Here’s a video demonstration:

Nineteen adult participants (18-31 years of age) completed two 30-minute training sessions per week for a total of 16 sessions. After each training session, we recorded the level that each participant had reached. At the end of the experiment, we used that level information to calculate each individual’s learning rate across the eight-week training.

As expected, there was large variability in the learning rate, with the best learner moving through the program more than twice as quickly as the slowest learner. Our goal was to figure out which (if any) of the measures recorded initially predicted those differences.

A new brain measure for language aptitude

When we correlated our measures with learning rate, we found that patterns of brain activity that have been linked to linguistic processes predicted how easily people could learn a second language.

Patterns of activity over the right side of the brain predicted upwards of 60 percent of the differences in second language learning across individuals. This finding is consistent with previous research showing that the right half of the brain is more frequently used with a second language.

Our results suggest that the majority of the language learning differences between participants could be explained by the way their brain was organized before they even started learning.

Implications for learning a new language

Does this mean that if you, like me, don’t have a “quick second language learning” brain you should forget about learning a second language?

Not quite.

Language learning can depend on many factors.
Child image via www.shutterstock.com

First, it is important to remember that 40 percent of the difference in language learning rate still remains unexplained. Some of this is certainly related to factors like attention and motivation, which are known to be reliable predictors of learning in general, and of second language learning in particular.

Second, we know that people can change their resting-state brain activity. So training may help to shape the brain into a state in which it is more ready to learn. This could be an exciting future research direction.

Second language learning in adulthood is difficult, but the benefits are large for those who, like myself, are motivated by the desire to communicate with others who do not speak their native tongue.

The Conversation

Brianna Yamasaki, Ph.D. Student, University of Washington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Zut alors, Jeremy Paxman! French isn’t a ‘useless’ language


Emmanuelle Labeau, Aston University

Presenter Jeremy Paxman recently hailed the victory of English “in the battle of global tongues” in an article for the Financial Times in which he also claimed that French was “useless” and “bad for you”.

Why such a needless attack on Britain’s closest neighbour and favourite enemy – unless he is trying to court controversy to generate interest in his forthcoming documentary on the UK’s relationship with Europe?

First of all, no language is useless: it serves communication between people. While languages may differ in the number of users and the practical and economic advantages attached to their mastery, they bring similar intellectual and developmental benefits. And multilingualism combines and increases all these gains by favouring personal mental agility, widening horizons and potentially contributing to overcoming parochialism.

Let us now focus on Paxman’s attack on French. Are his barbs aimed at the language or at the people? It’s difficult to say as he confuses countries and languages throughout his column. While he concedes that: “France has enhanced civilisation”, he argues that its influence has long gone. It is very true that the rise and fall of a language greatly depends on extra-linguistic factors such as politics and economy – and France’s current situation does little to enhance the international prestige of its mother tongue.

Burnt cream anybody? Some things just sound better in French.
Le Journal des Femmes, CC BY

Does that mean that the French language is doomed? Clearly not, as French is the official language in 29 countries and France only represents between a quarter and a third of French speakers in the world. Perhaps we might stop to consider, en passant, why Paxman’s analysis does not extend to Britain and English. How much has the elevated status of English worldwide got to do with Britain in the 21st century?

Speaking in tongues

Paxman writes that: “English is the language of science, technology, travel, entertainment and sports”. And he’s right – to an extent. As we know and as all academics can testify, there is huge pressure to publish in English (without necessarily achieving the heights of Shakespeare’s language). And our daily life has been turned upside down in the past 30 years or so thanks to the discoveries of Silicon Valley (which wasn’t in Britain the last time I looked).

When travelling, an ability to master at least “pidgin” English comes in very handy – although it didn’t get me anywhere in Beijing in 2005, and I had to revert to speaking French while in Italy. As for entertainment, of course, people are flocking from all around Europe to take part in Britain’s got Talent … but Hollywood may have a role to play on the global entertainment stage as well.

Like Paxman, I would not expect the singer, Johnny Hallyday (who is, in fact, Belgian-born), to be “the future of pop” – he probably deserves a break after his stellar 50-year career. But the rising global fame of the singer Stromae (real name Paul Van Haver) – the son of a Rwandan father and a Flemish mother – seems to show that entertainment through the medium of French may still have a few good years ahead.

History lesson

Paxman also argues that “France never really decolonised” and its continued influence is stifling development in former colonies by imposing French on their higher education systems rather than English which, he says, would be far more useful. The linguistic imperialism of France certainly does not apply to all former colonies, as eloquently illustrated by the disengagement of France in Djibouti, to the dismay of Francophile locals.

The accusation of colonialism against France appears nonetheless a bit ironic from a British citizen. The Commonwealth is an organisation of British former colonies where Britain played an instrumental role. In contrast, Francophonie – the official use of the French language – was adopted in Senegal by poet and politician Leopold Senghor, in Tunisia the decision to adopt French was taken by Habib Bourguiba and in Cambodia by Norodom Sihanouk.

English and French have coexisted and exchanged words and phrases for a millennium and more. From a 2016 perspective, there is no denying that English has become the most widespread and used language of the two, but it may be worth remembering that for the first half of this coexistence, English was the poor relative and has only taken off as the lingua franca (oh, the irony) since the late 18th century.

History teaches us that civilisations and their language soar and collapse – what would Alexander the Great make of Greece’s current situation? With that in mind, Paxman may be well inspired to moderate his triumphalism. How will the global English language fare in five centuries – will it suffer the same fate as Latin? And even if it could be argued that our hyperconnected civilisation may prevent the death of English, there is no dearth of evidence from the blooming field of “global English” studies to show that the language changes as it conquers the world.

Your language has won the latest battle, Mr Paxman – but no more than that. As you say, the future may belong to those who speak English – but above all, it belongs to those who speak English fluently alongside other languages. And, as former US president George Bush discovered, French is very useful if you want to acquire a really sophisticated vocabulary in English.

The Conversation

Emmanuelle Labeau, Senior Lecturer in French Language and Linguistics, Aston University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

16 English words that are hard for non-natives to say

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo

‘Squirrel’ and ‘penguin’ are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our baffling language.
When I was growing up, my immigrant parents did an amazing job of learning English, but there were a few words and sounds they just couldn’t master. I remember going to the deli counter with my mom as she ordered “one pound of salami, sliced tin” — leaving the butcher looking baffled until one of us kids said “thin,” with an overemphasis on the “th” sound my mom couldn’t say.

And even today, my dad gets frustrated with those bushy-tailed critters in the backyard that commandeer his bird feeders and eat his tomatoes. He just can’t pronounce their name.

He’s not alone. On a recent Reddit thread, users weighed in with the English words they found toughest to pronounce. More than 5,500 people posted, sharing words and offbeat pronunciations, personal stories and impossible tongue twisters.

“Squirrel” was a popular submission and seems to particularly cause problems for native German speakers. One user says: “I’d counter from a foreign perspective that ‘Squirrel’ messes with German exchange students like you wouldn’t believe. To be fair though I can’t pronounce their word for it either.”

(Try it. “Eichhörnchen.”)

Carlos Gussenhoven, a phonologist at Radboud University in Netherlands, told Life’s Little Mysteries that “squirrel” is a shibboleth, a word notorious for the way its pronunciation identifies its speaker as a foreigner.

Although many non-native English speakers may have trouble with the word, Germans seem to have earned the worst rap with videos gently poking fun at their pronunciation attempts.

From sauce to birdsPopular on the Reddit thread was “Worcestershire,” a word that seems to baffle so many speakers, native and non-native alike.

One user offers this handy advice,” It’s that ‘-cest-‘ in the middle that messes people up. If you break it up like worce-ster-shire, the pronunciation makes sense.”

Or you could just point to the bottle.

Also popular in the discussion was “penguin.” Is this word really that hard to pronounce or was it just an excuse to link to a video of Benedict Cumberbatch voicing a BBC documentary where he said “pengwings” and other interesting iterations of the word?

“I’m completely terrified of the word,” Cumberbatch said on “The Graham Norton Show.”

Other big contendersAside from Worcestershire, squirrel and penguin, here are some of the submissions that popped up often on the Reddit thread of most easily garbled words — along with a few comments from posters.

Choir: “As a foreign speaker: Choir. Seriously. Why?”

wall of drawers

Drawer: “Droy-yer. Drar. Droor. Dror. I hate this word.”

Anemone: A helpful tongue twister: “In me, many an enemy anemone enema.”

Isthmus: From someone who lives in a town where that’s the name of the newspaper: “I have no idea how you are supposed to say the word, I just avoid it.”

Sixth: “What kind of word is that with an S and xth sound?”

Colonel: “If you know that it’s pronounced ‘kernel,’ it’s easy to pronounce. But if you were new to the English language and didn’t know that, you would never pronounce it correctly.”

Rural: “This one is entirely impossible for me as a German. ‘Squirrel’ I can manage.”

Tongue-twisting trends

“While there are clear trends in words non-native speakers mispronounce (due to irregularities in English spelling), words that are in principle hard to pronounce depend much more heavily on each individual speaker’s linguistic background,” says Czech linguist and mathematician Jakub Marian, author of “Most Common Mistakes in English.”

Words containing an “h” (as in “hello”) are difficult to pronounce for native speakers of romance languages and Russian, since there is no “h”-sound in their mother tongues, says Marian, who is fluent in four languages and can get by in four more.

“Words containing a ‘th’-sound (either as in ‘think’ or as in that’) are hard for almost everybody apart from Spaniards and Greeks, whose languages are two of the few that contain those sounds,” he says.

Marian offers some examples of words that stumble clumsily off a non-native’s tongue and why he says they’re difficult to say:

lettuce leaves

Lettuce: Remember that lettuce doesn’t grow on a spruce; and it also doesn’t rhyme with it.

Height: The pronunciation is as if it were written “hight.” The “e” is there just to confuse foreigners.

Fruit: The same situation as in the previous word; simply ignore the “i.”

Comfortable: If you “come for a table” to a furniture shop, it will hopefully be comfortable, although it doesn’t rhyme with it.

Recipe: “Cipe” in this case doesn’t rhyme with “ripe;” it consists of two separate syllables.

Non-native English speakers often cringe when they see anything ending in “-ough.” That’s because there are at least six pronunciations in American and British English for that relatively innocuous four-letter combination. A poster on StackExchange points out this example: “Though the tough cough and hiccough plough him through…”

Think the English language isn’t that tough? Check out “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité. This 1922 classic poem is filled with about 800 of the oddest irregularities in English spelling and pronunciations.

Drawers: Floodwall Project/flickr

Lettuce: Alice Henneman/flickr

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo

The Words English Owes to India

Everyone’s talking about Hobson-Jobson, the legendary dictionary of British India, after the announcement that a new edition is due to be published next year.

Hobson-Jobson has resulted in more English words of Indian origin entering the Oxford English Dictionary than of any other country, according to BBC Radio 4 – dinghy, bungalow and shampoo to name a few.

Since its first publication in 1886, Hobson-Jobson has been continuously in print for 140 years. It was compiled by two extraordinary polymaths Henry Yule and Arthur Burnell, who corresponded with scholars, diplomats, missionaries, intelligence officers and army personnel across the globe to produce their 1000 page lexicon.

A BBC article uses the word ‘dam’ as an example of an Indian word. The dictionary defines the word as: “Originally an actual copper coin. Damri is a common enough expression for the infinitesimal in coin, and one has often heard a Briton in India say: ‘No, I won’t give a dumree!’ with but a vague notion what a damri meant.” That is the etymology of ‘dam’. But Yule and Burnell have more to say….

“And this leads to the suggestion that a like expression, often heard from coarse talkers in England as well as in India, originated in the latter country, and that whatever profanity there may be in the animus, there is none in the etymology, when such an one blurts out ‘I don’t care a dam!’ in other words, ‘I don’t care a brass farthing!'”

50 more words from India

  • A – atoll, avatar
  • B – bandana, bangle, bazaar, Blighty, bungalow
  • C – cashmere, catamaran, char, cheroot, cheetah, chintz, chit, chokey, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry
  • D – dinghy, doolally, dungarees
  • G – guru, gymkhana
  • H – hullabaloo
  • J – jodhpur, jungle, juggernaut, jute
  • K – khaki, kedgeree
  • L – loot
  • N – nirvana
  • P – pariah, pashmina, polo, pukka, pundit, purdah, pyjamas
  • S – sari, shampoo, shawl, swastika
  • T – teak, thug, toddy, typhoon
  • V – veranda
  • Y – yoga

What is Blended Learning?

Firstly, lets make it clear that currently, there is no consensus on a single agreed-upon definition for blended learning. However in ELT it often refers to ‘the combination of diverse delivery channels and teaching tools as part of course design’ (from ELT World Wiki).

Blended Learning usually involves a combination of classroom learning, online learning and/or mobile learning. The degree of integration of these components depends on the course design .

So, what are the benefits?

An article by Mobl21 states that  a blended learning course’s aim (from a pedagogical perspective), is to combine the best of classroom face-to-face learning with online learning experiences, enabling:
  • An opportunity for students to practise technology skills in navigating online course materials and possibility creating digital content for assignments.
  • An increase in student-instructor and student-student interaction through the use of course-communication tools like, discussion forums.
  • The ability to reserve face-to-face time for interactive activities, such as higher-level discussions, small group work, debates, demonstrations, or lab activities.

From a student perspective, the appeal of blended learning includes:

  • Flexibility of schedule: learn any time, anywhere.
  • Control: students have some level of control over the pacing of their learning. Difficult concepts can be reviewed as often as necessary.
  • Convenience of an online class with many of the social aspects of a face-to-face class.

Blended learning gives learners and teachers a potential environment to achieve more, through a greater reach and accessibility of educational material.

Ok, so how do I start using it?

There are many blended learning courses for ELT already available, so unless you are planning to develop your own, all you need to do is choose one! Find out how you can use blended learning with specific publishers by following these links:

Richmond Digital

Macmillan Digital

Oxford University Press Digital

You may also find these links useful:

BEBC Digital ELT Resource Glossary

British Council Blended Learning

Blended MEC

Or you can give us a call on +44 (0)333 800 1900 to find out what digital components are available for the course you’re using!

BEBC’s Digital ELT Resource Glossary A-Z

ELT Publishers are creating more and more digital content, which some would agree is a positive step for language teaching. However these useful additional resources and the terms used to describe them are going above the heads of many who simply don’t understand the products or their functions. This is made even more problematic by publishers naming very similar resources differently.

For this reason, we at BEBC decided to get definitions from publishers to accompany the types of digital resources on offer so that we might share them with you. You may wish to save this page to your favourites or print it off as a reminder to help you when making your next purchases…


ActiveBook (Pearson)a digital student book with full audio, suitable for any computer. Used just as a book in class, and outside the classroom it gives access to Student Book pages and audio so that students can practise activities taught in class.

ActiveTeach (Pearson)for use with a computer and projector or with an Interactive Whiteboard. Includes Student’s Book pages, full class audio and DVD, printable worksheets and interactive exercises, assessment activities and tests and Interactive Whiteboard tools.

App (Cambridge University Press and others) – software for consumer mobile devices like mobile phones, tablet computers and media players.


Blended course (Cambridge University Press) – a teacher-led course containing a self-study portion accessed by the learner over the internet.

Blended Learning (Macmillan and others) – a method of learning which uses a combination of different resources, especially a mixture of classroom sessions and online learning materials.


Class Presentation Tools (Macmillan) – tools for classroom presentation.  This Interactive Whiteboard Software offers a digital version of the Student’s Book on screen with integrated audio, video, games and customisable Teacher’s pages e.g. New Inside Out / Global.

Classware (Cambridge University Press) – computer software that lets you present digital versions of Cambridge textbooks on an Interactive Whiteboard or projector, to engage the whole class.


Digital book (Richmond) – complete digital version of all components usually delivered on CD-ROM and compatible with any Interactive Whiteboard.


E-storycards (Richmond) – electronic version of storycards for display on interactive whiteboards.

eBooks (Cambridge University Press and others) – reading materials in digital form, requiring a computer, mobile device or e-reader to display the text.

ELT Advantage (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – online professional development courses, workshops, and virtual seminars that help teachers increase their expertise in English language instruction. Free demos at http://elt.heinle.com/eltadvantage.

ExamView (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – comes with Assessment CD-ROMs and is available with most Heinle programs.  The testgenerating software allows teachers to create and customise tests, manage classes and assignments, retrieve results from online tests, and generate detailed and flexible reports.


Footprint Reading Library (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – a collection of online ebooks (readers) typically accompanied by audio, record and playback functionality for pronunciation practice, video clip and interactive quiz. Free demos at http://elt.heinle.com/ng.


Global eWorkbook (Macmillan) – an evolution of self-study materials, providing a wide range of resources including: listening and video materials, with video content from the BBC Worldwide archive, which can be viewed on a computer or downloaded to portable devices for mobile learning, grammar, language practice, reference materials, useful language sections and model conversations.



iTools (Oxford University Press) – digital resources for a range of Oxford University Press courses, giving teachers material for use on the Interactive Whiteboard and bringing learning alive in class (iPacks – first generation of Interactive Whiteboard software available for the New English File course).

iTutor (Oxford University Press) – a new interactive self-study DVD-ROM, included with some OUP courses (in the Student’s Book). Gives learners interactive material from the book, grammar revision and practice, skills practice and vocabulary lists with example sentences and pronunciation.

iWriter (Oxford University Press)  – available on the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary CD-ROM. Guides students through the stages of planning, writing and reviewing a range of different written tasks. Task types include essays, presentations, reports, letters, reviews, CVs and more.




LMS (Learning Management System) (Oxford University Press) – a platform that allows teachers to assign exercises to their students, track their progress and see their marks. LMS is now available with all courses that have online workbooks, online skills practice as well as online practice tests and online placement test.

Learning Platform (Richmond) Portal + Virtual Learning Environment + Test Studio.

Learning Resources Bank (Oxford University Press) Student’s Website.


Macmillan English Campus (Macmillan) – an English language learning platform that offers a complete solution for blended learning.  Combining a database of over 4,300 interactive resources with a range of learning management tool, Macmillan English Campus gives teachers full control of the resources and monitors students’ progress.

Macmillan Practice Online (Macmillan) – an easy, cost-effective way to offer your students the advantages of online learning.  With a range of over 80 online courses to choose from, each designed to support classroom teaching and including 100-200 resources, you can choose the one that suits your needs.

Macmillan Webinars (Macmillan) – the Macmillan Webinars are a series of live talks, broadcast over the internet to teachers worldwide.  Free to access and viewable from any computer with an internet connection, teachers have the opportunity to watch the talks and put questions directly to Macmillan authors http://www.macmillanenglish.com/webinars. No microphone is necessary as questions can be typed to webinar hosts.

mimio® software(Cambridge University Press and others)MIMIO is a portable device which can be attached to a whiteboard, wall etc, via a projector, which provides similar functionality to a smart board. You can see more about them at the website- http://www.mimio.dymo.com/.

MyELT (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning) – an internet based learning management system designed for English language teachers and students. Instructors use MyELT to assign Heinle online learning content, track student progress reports, and more. Students use MyELT to complete the online activities, monitor their own learning progress, and review as necessary.

MyEnglishLabs (Pearson)provides interactive activities and online tools which give students tips, automatic feedback and instant grades. A grade book and diagnostic tools reveal to teachers how students are progressing. Teachers are able to assign activities to groups of students with different needs.



Online exam practice tests (Oxford University Press) – online practice tests for: KET, PET, FCE, CAE, IELTS, TOEIC®, TOEFL iBT™ and national exams. Teachers can assign online practice tests with help including instant feedback on answers, exam tips and an integrated dictionary, or without help as a mock exam. Saves time with automatic marking. Easily identifies areas of weakness to focus on in class.

Online Placement Test (Oxford University Press) – a Placement Test that helps teachers find their students’ level of English online. Saves time with automatic marking and then places students in the right class based on their scores (CEFR level, score out of 120, time taken and more…)

  • Online
  • Automatically marked
  • Instant results
  • Variety of scores (CEFR level and more)

Online Practice for Students (My…) (National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning) – access to online practice is usually included the student’s book of a series e.g. Outcomes or Practical Grammar. It allows students to study online at their own pace or do the work their teacher set for them. All activities are automatically graded so that both students and teachers can monitor progress. N.B. Online practice with the Outcomes course is called ‘MyOutcomes,’ and online practice for Practical Grammar course is called ‘MyPG’ and so on…

Online Skills Practice (Oxford University Press) – Interactive Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking practice for a range of OUP courses. Students get access through MultiROMs available in their Student’s Books.

Online Workbooks (Cambridge University Press) – learning activities presented interactively on a website, rather than in a printed book, intended for homework.


Portal (Richmond) – interactive and regularly updated site corresponding to a particular course and offering both informal and formal learning. There are product demos, author interviews and downloadable sample units for teachers and fun learning activities for students such as blogs and games.

Presentation Tools (National Geographic Learning/ Cengage Learning)– a CD-ROM containing tools which combine resources from the core materials of Heinle Cengage courses e.g. Happy Trails, English Explorer, Time Zones, Outcomes. For use in the classroom with an Interactive Whiteboard or data projector with computer.

Primary Place (Pearson)a website for primary teachers to find downloadable materials for their classrooms. Members of the website get access to invitations to workshops and presentations, free articles on current trends, few photocopiable activity sheets and free packs filled with posters, story cards, games and more.



Readers Apps (Richmond) – interactive app to download for the iPhone, iPod or iPad complete with audio, animation and extra activities. Also see Apps.

Richmond vodcast series (Richmond) – a series of short films available on YouTube for adults corresponding to the Elementary to Upper-Intermediate levels of The Big Picture and New Framework. Ideal for sparking classroom communication or for use in conjunction with the online activities and competitions.


Student CD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for students on CD-ROM.

Student DVD (Richmond) – video accompaniment to student book complete with activities. Contains authentic interviews, stories or documentaries.

Student MultiROM (Richmond and others) – CD-ROM with audio tracks. For use in a CD player or computer.

Student’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – also called Learning Resources Bank. A website for students using OUP resources. Designed to provide students with extra practice both in and outside the class.


Teacher CD-ROM/DVD-ROM (Richmond) – extra resources for teachers on CD-ROM.

Teacher/Student Resource Site (Richmond) – dedicated course website containing extra resources for both students and teachers. These are usually free and are intended to supplement the core material contained within each course book.

Teacher’s Website (Oxford University Press)  – a website for the registrants of Oxford Teachers’ Club that enables teachers to download extra practice activities and ideas that supplement OUP courses and that are designed to be used with students in class.

Test studio (Richmond) – an online tool allowing teachers to create their own interactive tests online or editable paper versions. Teachers can create tests to revise by unit, a block of units or a complete book.



Virtual Learning Environment (Richmond) – an online resource, pre-populated with trackable activities for teachers to assign to their students. They are provided as integral parts of the course. Accessible with student and teacher log in account details, these highly adaptable resources allow teachers to set timings and pass marks for exercises. Scores are recorded in a grade book, allowing teachers to track their students’ progress. The forum and library allow teachers to communicate with their class and students to communicate with each other.


Web application (Cambridge University Press) – A website that acts like a piece of software, allowing you to perform some task, rather than being a static resource.




You can also view and download this glossary as a pdf via Scribd.com. Is there any other way you would like to see these grouped besides A-Z?

What is the meaning of this word, please?

John Walsh gives his view on the meanings of English words…

Given the breakdown (or break-up) of the single dictionary definition as an authority, is it still possible to answer the question “What is the meaning of  (a word or phrase)”?  The role of the dictionary has been superseded by the new authority, usage, and by the time you have added in factors such as colloquial and idiomatic use, register, pragmatics, formal and informal, spoken or written, context, and a whole host of other influences, I feel the  task of answering the question is nigh on impossible. I write not from the view of a grumpy old grammarian but more as someone with feeling for those trying to learn our vibrant developing language where the linguistic goalposts are constantly moving.

John H Walsh

Managing Director

The Bournemouth English Book Centre Ltd (BEBC)