Taking on the task of learning a new language requires lots of hard work and study. When you first start out talking to native English-speakers with your new-found language skills, you’ll no doubt be nervous about getting everything exactly right.
However, it’s fine to have a few slip-ups in the initial stages of learning and it might make it easier for you to increase your skills. Here are five amusing and common mistakes that foreigners make in English.
Mixing up ‘in’ and ‘on’ with transportation
When talking about how they made a particular journey, English people will say they got ‘in’ a car or ‘on’a train. ‘In’ is used for cars and taxis and ‘on’ is used for planes, trains, busses and pretty much every other form of transport.
If you tell someone that you travelled to class by getting ‘on’ a car, you might get some strange looks as people will assume you were sitting on the bonnet during the journey!
Image source: Flickr
Ending sentences with contractions
In English, ‘I’ and ‘am’ are often contracted to make the word ‘I’m’. However, this cannot happen at the end of a sentence. If someone asks you if you are feeling all right and you respond with ‘Yes, I’m’ it will sound a bit odd to the person speaking to you.
Mixing up ‘like’ with ‘would like’
Saying that you ‘like’ something is not the same as saying you ‘would like’ it. If you want to say that you enjoy swimming as a hobby, you would say ‘I like swimming’. If you say ‘I would like to go swimming’, this implies that you want to go at some point in the future.
The person who you are talking to may assume that you are asking them to go with you (which could be awkward if you don’t know them very well!).
Image source: Flickr
Relying on a thesaurus
A thesaurus is a great tool for learning a new language and it’s exciting to find lots of new words. However, if you rely too heavily on it, you could come up with some strange-looking sentences which don’t make much sense!
When homophones come up (words which sound and are spelled the same but which have different meanings), you could be saying something completely different from what you intended.
Image source: Flickr
Using too much punctuation
Often, when people are learning English as a second language, they use too much punctuation as a way of expressing strong feelings. Surprise, shock, disbelief or anger can all be expressed without needing extra exclamation marks or question marks as these can make writing look strange.
In English, if you use three exclamation marks at the end of a sentence, it looks a bit odd.
The best way to improve at English quickly is to ask questions, read lots and try and surround yourself with people who are native English speakers.
Many people come to England every year to learn English as a foreign language (for more information on available courses, click here).
Some people want to learn for fun and others want to learn in order to open up new opportunities and enhance their careers.
If you urgently need to speak English well (without making too many mistakes!), intensive English courses provide several hours of classes a week including one-to-one support. These courses enable students to learn quickly – perfect for those needing English for work or relationships.
More and more people are working from home. For some the long commute is eased by certain days each week telecommuting while others freelance or have a business they run from home. If you are looking at starting to work from home here is a guide to the essential home office equipment you will need.
Working from home does not have to mean doing everything yourself. Certain tasks can be outsourced to reliable contractors so you may use printing services at South East Labels, mailing services at Sharp Edge and design services at Pink Frog.
Of course, different jobs may require different specialist equipment to be on hand but these are the essentials for any home office.
It doesn’t matter whether you choose a desktop or a laptop. You may need the mobility of a laptop but do consider investing in a plug-in keyboard for comfort when you are at your desk.
If you work closely with others try to use the same operating system as them (such as Mac, Linux or Windows). It goes without saying that a broadband connection is also a must.
A printer is also essential. As a minimum you will need a basic laser or inkjet printer. If you are only intending to print documents without detailed images or photos then a laser printer will meet your requirements.
A laser printer is also highly cost-effective and offers a much better cost per page for printing black and white documents. However, if you need to regularly print colour images then an inkjet printer is a more appropriate solution for you.
You may wish to consider investing in a multi-function printer that enables you to print documents, photocopy, scan and even fax as well. Do bear in mind, however, that the speed of scanning and copying will not be as fast as that of a dedicated scanner and the scanning resolutions may be lower.
Many UK home offices now also have a label printer alongside traditional printers. These are small and not very expensive and they can help you accomplish many tasks quickly and effectively.
You can just use your mobile phone as your business number but only consider this if it is not constantly in use for social calls. It is wise to consider a dedicated telephone for your business and if you choose not to you must remember to always answer your personal phone professionally.
If you are installing a second phone internet telephone service providers such as Skype or Vonage could help you keep costs low.
A good desk at the right height offering sufficient working space is crucial and do not skimp on your chair: your back will thank you in years to come.
You do not need to splash out on new storage units but you will need shelves and drawers to stop your office becoming an unmanageable sea of papers and boxes. For clearing up get yourself a bin, recycling bin and shredder.
These are the basic essentials of the home office. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need other equipment too. What you certainly will not need is a long commute!
Education of children is often thought to be the responsibility of schools and their teachers only. While there is a lot of things learned by kids during their time in school, there is a lot more to learn outside of the educational system. Parents have to play their role at home and teach kids things such as public behaviour, the value of work and money, or how to follow a healthy lifestyle. It is by giving good habits to kids when they are young that they will become responsible and happy adults.
Getting them involved
The best way to teach kids about a healthy lifestyle is to get them involved. Take your kids to the gym or your club when you go to do some sport, and take some time to cook with them once in a while.
Not only will they learn about food and be more able to prepare healthy meals later in life, but it is also a great family activity.
Of course, baking cakes is the easiest thing to do with kids, and there is plenty of healthy baking to do, but they can also help in preparing the dinner. Simple tasks such as washing vegetables or making a dressing are enough to get them involved and see the kitchen as a fun place to be.
Make sure that you get your kitchen ready for them by keeping knives out of reach as well as the handles of pans when they are on the hob. As the kids get older, they can help more and more instead of taking things for granted when it comes to eating.
Whenever I travel, I always try to go to places where I can actually learn about the local traditions and discover the real side of a country. All the fancy resorts and inclusive holidays usually show images far from the reality, taking holiday-makers in places tailored for tourists where all is good and nice. In the end, it is almost as if you were saying that you have been to a country when in a fact you have only been in transit in an airport. Of course, it is a bit extreme, but my point is that to know a place, you have to go where the people live.
The best way to get a feeling of a foreign country is to go there when there aren’t many tourists. As much as possible, try to travel during the low season. It is easier with small kids or when they are gone from home, but you can also go to places that are less popular, or more affordable. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not good, just that it is less developed for tourists. In both cases, you will spend less and be immersed amongst the locals. It always seemed pointless to me to go on holiday somewhere where all my country fellowmen go and with same shops and restaurants than at home. I might as well not go anywhere and save money.
Wherever you go, unless you cannot do without a lot of comfort and being served all day, try and rent a self-catering place. This way, you have more chance to find a flat or a house at the heart of a local community and share the locals daily life. It will be like you are part of the country instead of living in a cocoon away from what is really happening where you are. Put yourself in a position where you will have to interact with the locals and you will get more from your holidays.
In this day and age, business truly is global and the need for people to keep in touch with clients the world over has become paramount. No matter where you go, there are a variety of call plans that make it possible for you to conduct business with people around the globe. Gone are the days of having to use the old dial-up telephone, replaced by plenty of new communication options. In this guide you can read about mobile phone options and VoIP systems.
Be smart with your mobile
One of the most convenient inventions in recent years for business is the smart phone. Smart phones are great for having the internet at your fingertips and for being able to keep on top of your emails – they’re also good for the old-fashioned phone call.
The best thing for you to do is contact your network provider if you’re travelling abroad to find out the best deals they can offer you for phoning internationally. Make sure you include your internet needs in any plan and when you’re out of the country keep the roaming connections off until you need to use them.
Purchase an international mobile
Another option is to purchase a phone in the country you’re travelling to. If you’re staying for a while and conducting business in that country, this is a good idea as you should only get charged local rates. You need to do your homework with this one to find out the best deals and to see if this option will save you money in the long run. One issue is that the cost of calling home may well be greater, so make sure you check it all out.
Use a VoIP system like Vonage
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems are a great way of making business calls and can save you a lot of money. With providers like Vonage (www.vonage.co.uk) you’ll be able to pay a set amount and make all the calls you need. You can pick the plan that best suits you and get call packages for the countries you’re most likely to do business with or in.
The really good thing about companies and plans like this is they have specialist business plans, will understand your needs and can provide a variety of money-saving business call plans. You’ll be able to use the call plan package to use your existing number and have calls connected via the internet. All you need to set up such a system is an internet connection and a touch tone phone – then you’re away!
For all the latest international business news.
Keep up to date with global finances in the Financial Times.
The BBC’s section on business.
Instead of moaning that the days are getting shorter and that the temperatures are dropping (but were they that high this summer?), why not going with the flow and take the time to see how beautiful is the UK in autumn? If you have to work early, you might be lucky to see some great sunsets, especially if your office is high up a building. Take a walk through the park if possible on the way back to admire the changing colours. But mostly, use your week-end to get out and observe what is happening.
Berry picking and wildlife observation
Autumn is the time to harvest blackberries that flourish in every hedgerow, at the end of your garden, in the park, along the river or along the paths. Berry picking is a fun day out and you can make delicious tarts, or jams later. A home-made apple and blackberry crumble is one of the best thing about autumn! Hazelnuts and sweet chestnuts are there for you to take home too.
While berry picking, you will get closer to the wildlife: blackbirds, thrushes, voles, hedgehogs and squirrels are fans of them too.
Nearer the end of the autumn, you can observe the animals getting ready for the winter like squirrels storing nuts.
Of course, what makes the charm of autumn are the colours of the trees, the yellow, red and orange that give any woodland another dimension. Then once you’re back indoor, get yourself a hot chocolate and some cake to fight the cold!