Social Justice Terms you Need to Know

Racism in America, and globally, is a hot topic right now with protestors standing in solidarity against racism all over the world.

To be able to meaningfully discuss the protests we need to understand the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

The word matter is most-often used as a verb in the negative, e.g.: The phrase ‘it doesn’t matter’ means ‘it is not important’, in this case it is used in the affirmative meaning that something is important for a particular person, e.g: Violence by the state against black people is not right, black lives are as important as anyone else’s.

Our aim in this newsletter is to provide you with important terms and their meanings, so that you can express your opinion on this matter, in English of course!

These six concepts are central to this theme:

#1: Individual Racism

Individual Racism refers to the beliefs, attitudes and actions of individuals that support racism.

For more info on this term – look at the vocabulary list below.

#2: Institutional Racism

Institutional Racism refers to the ways in which government policies and practises create different outcomes for different race groups.

#3: Anti-racism

Anti-racism is the practise of identifying, challenging, and changing the values, structures and behaviours that maintain institutional racism.

#4: Prejudice

Prejudice is the pre-judgment and usually negative attitude of one type of individual or group toward another group and its members.

#5: Privilege

Privilege is a right that only some people have access or availability to because they are part of the more powerful group, e.g.: men vs women, caucasians vs people of colour, heterosexuals vs homosexuals, adults vs children, rich vs poor.

#6: Social Justice

Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.

– – –

We believe it’s important to discuss what is going on in the world and we encourage discussion in our classes. We hope that the terms in this newsletter will help you to express your opinion more easily when it comes to the topics mentioned here.

This racial equality resource guide has a comprehensive glossary of terms related to anti-racism if you want to learn more.

At Inspired English we discuss current events and in the process, you broaden your vocabulary and practice your speaking and listening skills.

 

New Vocab (all the words in bold in this newsletter):

1. Protestors  – People who show that they disagree with something and demonstrate this publicly in groups by marching to government buildings, carrying placards, singing songs, or taking some kind of mass action.
2. Solidarity  – Solidarity is agreement with and support for members of a particular group.
3. Racism – A complex system of beliefs and behaviors, grounded in a presumed superiority of one race over another. racial prejudice + power = racism.
4. Race – A social construct that artificially divides people into different groups based on their physical features such as appearance, ancestral heritage, and ethnic classification.

 

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IELTS Tips & Tricks – Part 1

 

The world is upside-down right now with the ever-present threat of a global pandemic. We hope that you can focus on that which is within your control rather than becoming overwhelmed by sadness as we mourn our old lives.

There is an English expression, “may you live in interesting times” – we certainly do. Yet, there is little consensus on whether this is a blessing or a curse.

Whether you believe the international lockdown is the former or the latter, there is a multitude of steps you can take toward the future you would like to see. These include preparing yourself for an international career in the global marketplace. An IELTS test is a great place to start.

 

3 Tips to help you ace your IELTS test:

 

1. Comprehension is Key

Make sure you understand the question completely before trying to answer it. Pay attention to keywords that tell you how to answer the question effectively. This is something we work with in our classes, we highlight the most important keywords that you need to look out for in the tests.

 

2. Keep it Simple

Answer the question as succinctly as possible. Don’t use unnecessary words. Be careful about repeating yourself. Provide the information being asked for as clearly and concisely as you can.

 

3. It’s not about General Knowledge

Remember that your English proficiency is being tested, not your general knowledge. It is better to provide an incorrect or incomplete answer than to provide no answer at all. Rather explain in clear English that you have no knowledge of the subject in question than lose valuable points by failing to answer.

 

Let us guide you:

Inspired English has prepared countless students for various recognised international examinations including Cambridge, IELTS, Trinity College London, Pearson PTE, and TOEFL.

Our teachers support students through the entire process, from deciding which test best suits their needs and skill level to completing sample papers, and last-minute tips and reassurance just before the exam.

Click here for private, personalised online English classes on Skype. Come for a free trial today! 🙂

 

New Vocab (all the words in bold in this post):

1. Upside-down  – Confused / muddled (informal)
2. Pandemic  – A disease that affects many people over a wide area
3. Overwhelmed – To feel sudden, strong emotion
4. Consensus – A generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people
5. Former – Of or in an earlier time / before the present time or in the past
6. Latter – Near or towards the end of something
7. Multitude – A large number of people or things
8. Effectively – In a way that is successful and achieves what you want
9. Succinctly – In a way that expresses what needs to be said clearly and without unnecessary words
10. Proficiency – The fact of having the skill and experience for doing something

 

 

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Relaxation Exercises to Boost Your English Speaking Skills!

Recently the Inspired English team had an online workshop. We learnt some somatic exercises that could be useful to practise in class with our students in classes.

Why?: Learning English can be stressful and many of our students come to classes for test preparation or are under a lot of pressure to develop their proficiency in English very quickly for professional purposes. Furthermore, often we are unable to be fully present in classes because of worries about the future or thoughts of the past. Body awareness exercises can help to slow things down a bit and to be more present in the moment. Alongside developing skills in writing, reading, listening, speaking and expressing oneself in English, we offer our students tools to manage their stress, anxiety, and nervousness, because these can be barriers to learning effectively.

How?: Below are a few somatic exercises that you can take a few minutes to do before a class, test or meeting. It’s good to learn them when you are not in a stressful situation, so that they are more available to you in moments of pressure.

Breathing:
When we are concentrating very hard or taking in new information, there can be a tendency to hold one’s breath and tense up. First of all ,notice your breathing. Just how it is at the moment, not to change or fix it. Where is the breath going? More into your chest area, abdomen, lower belly, or more into your back or the sides of your rib cage? Pay attention to the inhale and the exhale; focusing on the exhale because this helps one calm down and release tension in the body.

Contact with the surface you are on:
Feel your buttocks on the seat and the weight of your body on the chair and your feet on the ground. Feel the chair holding you up. This can give you a sense of being supported and can help with deeper breathing.

Another exercise you can test out is to take a few minutes to tune in to your five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. We’ll share more about working with the senses to help you become more focused and relaxed in a blog post soon! Stay tuned!

New Vocab:

1. Somatic – Relating to the body

2. Abdomen – The lower part of a person’s or animal’s body, containing the stomach, bowels and other organs.

Exercise: Try one of the exercises above. Does it make you feel more relaxed? Let us know in the comments! 🙂

If you’d like to experience our holistic, online English classes and learn to relax while speaking English, then sign up for one of our private English classes, click here for a free trial lesson! 🙂

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Perplexing Prepositions TO & FOR – A Grammar Lesson

Commonly confused prepositions “to” vs “for” – Fernando is a Brazilian salesperson studying Business English. We discussed prepositions in class today. A preposition is a word used to show the relationship between words in a sentence. Prepositions generally work with nouns to link the noun to other parts of the sentence.

The preposition “to” is used with verbs, (e.g.: “to dance”, “to sing”, “to be”), it also indicates a transfer of some sort (e.g.: I will take my dog to the park [from here to the park], my daughter will go to school [from home to school], I will talk to him [information is transferred from me to him].

“For” is used to show purpose (e.g.: “this pot is for cooking rice”,”this bin is for paper”), and also to show when an action benefits someone (e.g.: “I will cook dinner for you”,”I will walk your dog for you”). Sometimes a sentence contains both “to” and “for” (e.g.: “I will walk your dog to the park for you”,”I will speak to my boss for you”). In Portuguese, there is one word that is used to describe both “to” and “for”: “para”. This makes the difference between these two prepositions particularly confusing for Portuguese natives.

Question: Which prepositions do you find most confusing?

Exercise: Write down some example sentences with “to” and some with “for” in the comments below and we’ll offer you feedback. Practice makes perfect! 😉

If you’d like to improve your English skills and join us for our private, online English classes, click here for a free trial lesson! 🙂

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Passions & Hobbies – A Conversation & Vocab Class

Have you ever been asked about your passions and interests and felt like your mind went blank or that you didn’t know what to say?

Today in class with one of our teens, we looked at a few questions you can ask yourself that could help you discover what you are passionate about. We watched a Youtube video by ‘Charisma on Command’ which gave us the following questions:

  • What makes you lose track of time?
  • What activities in your life do you choose to spend money on?
  • Where do you fear judgement from other people? This could mean that you care about this activity a lot.

We watched another video on Youtube by ‘Learn English’ with ‘Let’s Talk’ which explored a few ways of asking someone about their hobbies, passions and interests and some possible replies if you are asked the same question. These are really useful tools when you are making conversation with someone or meeting them for the first time.

  • What do you do in your free time?
    Answer: I spend a lot of time… + gerund    eg: I spend a lot of time gardening.
  • What do you like doing?
    Answer: I love/like… + noun/gerund          eg: I love football. / I love watching and playing football!
  • What sort of hobbies do you have?
    Answer: I’m really into… + noun/gerund   eg: I’m really into dancing.

This is a snippet of one of our personalised classes, this one focused on conversation and grammar and vocabulary skills with one of our intermediate teenage students, given by one of our creative online teachers – Teacher Jessica.

Vocab:

1. Hobby: An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
2. Interest: An activity or subject which one enjoys doing or studying.
3. Passion: Something that arouses great enthusiasm in you and makes you feel alive!
4. To be into something: To be interested in or involved with something (expression).
5. To go blank: To be unable to think of something.

Question: What are your passions? What makes you feel alive?

If you’d like to improve your English skills and join us for our private, online English classes, click here for a free trial lesson! 🙂

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Travel Journals – A Writing & Conversation Class

In today’s lesson, Nina completed her Travel Journal. This writing exercise was inspired by a recent trip she took with her family to New York State, U.S.A. Although her brother lives and works there, this was her first trip to an English-speaking country and thus a great opportunity for her to communicate the language in real life situations and put into practice everything we have covered in classes. Nina wrote about her experiences visiting some well-known and interesting places in and around New York City, such as: Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the National Museum of Immigration, the American Museum of Natural History and a camping trip near the Peconic River. The highlight of Nina’s vacation, however, was a road trip to Niagara Falls! Nina also showed me some photographs she had taken during her trip to aid her explanations of the places she visited.

Writing a Travel Journal is a great way to reflect on trips taken abroad, the experiences shared with family or friends, the many lessons learnt and to share any recommendations you may have for people who have never been to these places before, who may be inspired to do so. If you are interested in becoming a travel blogger one day, this is a great exercise to begin with. For writing exercises like this one, we use Google Docs in lessons, which is a very interactive platform as it allows us to follow our students’ writing on the spot and add any necessary corrections.

This is a view into one of our personalised classes, this one focused on conversation and writing skills with one of our teenage students living in the Ukraine, given by one of our expert online teachers – Teacher Haanee.

Question: Have you ever written a Travel Journal before or have you created a travel vlog? Tell us about it in the comments below! 🙂

If you’d like to improve your English skills and join us for our dynamic, private, online English classes, click here for a free trial lesson! 🙂

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Retirement & Retrenchment – A Business English Class

Various news sources agree that millennials will change careers at least 4 times. In this context, I had a discussion with Phillipe, one of our advanced, French students, about the various ways people can leave a job. We discussed retrenchment, which means that the employee loses their job through no fault of their own but rather because the company no longer requires that position to be filled. In most cases, people receive a payout when they are retrenched. Retirement refers to a person reaching retirement age and leaving their job because they will no longer be working but will be enjoying their retirement whilst living off a pension or an income derived from their investments. When an employee is “fired” because of failure to effectively perform their job, we call it dismissal. Resignation means that a person has chosen to leave their job in order to pursue another job or become self-employed. People usually need to serve a notice period when they resign, it is not as easy as saying, “I quit!” and walking out the door.

This is an example of a business English class based on the students interests, needs and the natural flow of conversation. A lot of the time we prepare material in advance and send this to our students before the class, so they can practise at home and get ready for the lesson. Other times, we simply start a discussion and we see what naturally comes up. You’ll notice that lots of useful vocabulary was highlighted in this class – words that are necessary when talking about later phases of one’s life and career. This class was given by one of our highly skilled teachers who works with high-level students – Teacher Candice.

Question: If you could continue to work till the day you die, would you choose to do so or would you rather retire? Why or why not?

Exercise: Make some example sentences with the words that are in bold above. You’re welcome to post them in the comments below and we’ll offer you some corrections and feedback.

Click here to improve your English skills and schedule private classes with the Inspired English team. 🙂

If you’d like to improve your English skills and join us for our dynamic, private, online English classes, click here for a free trial lesson! 🙂

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Film Reviews – A Conversation Class

Lana and I have enjoyed discussing films together in our classes. Lana is an advanced student and so for our first lesson together, I recommended that she watch the film Eat, Pray, Love as a home task, including writing a film review about it. She really enjoyed the film and wrote a great review, which we went over together in class, adding notes and corrections. Since she wants to work on improving her vocabulary, we then went on to talking about personality traits. Lana always likes to make her own sentences using any new words she comes across in lessons.

In today’s lesson, we discussed the second film I had recommended called Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I asked Lana to focus on describing the main characters of the film using some of the personality traits we had covered in previous lessons, or any other adjectives that she might already know. Lana had also written her own short story for homework using some of the new vocabulary she had learnt, such as: down-to-earth, methodical, humble, stingy, untrustworthy, easy-going, high-strung and obnoxious. This was a wonderful exercise, which allowed her to be creative while also reinforcing her vocabulary and grammar skills at the same time.

New Vocab: 

  1. Down-to-earth: Someone who is practical and reasonable with no pretenses, you can trust them easily.
  2. Methodical: Orderly and systematic in thought and behaviour.
  3. Humble: Someone who is modest about their own self-importance.
  4. Stingy: Unwilling to give or spend, not generous.
  5. Untrustworthy: Not able to be relied on as honest or truthful.
  6. Easy-going: Someone who is relaxed and tolerant in their approach and manner.
  7. High-strung: Nervous and easily upset.
  8. Obnoxious: Extremely unpleasant and rude.

This is a glimpse into one of our personalised, conversational Inspired English lessons with Teacher Haanee.

Question: Have you seen either of these films? What was your impression of them?

Exercise: Make sentences with the list of words above (down-to-earth, methodical, humble, stingy, untrustworthy, easy-going, high-strung and obnoxious). Be as creative and silly as possible, so that you can’t possibly forget these new words!! We’ll offer some feedback in the comments. 🙂

Click here to improve your English skills and schedule private classes with the Inspired English team. 🙂

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Grammar Challenge #25 – Answers revealed and explained

 

For our followers on Instagram and Facebook, here’s another opportunity to check your answers and see some of your own common errors! It’s worth taking the time to read through the explanations and if you have any questions at all, feel free to ask us. Let’s get started! 🙂

Here are the answers:

  1. It’s an exception to the rule.
  2. They were suspicious of each other.
  3. I must look it up in the dictionary.
  4. The library’s pretty near (to) my home.

Let’s delve deeper:

1. While exclusion and exception sound similiar, they do have different meanings. This common error is simply a confusion between these two nouns, so it’s just a case of remembering their meanings. The expression above is very common and is used frequently in both spoken and written English. So, just to clarify their meanings: Exclusion is used when something or someone is removed completely and is taken out of the equation / situation. For example – The women were excluded from the temple activities. While exception is used when there is a restriction so that something is taken out of a category, group, statement or rule that would otherwise be included. Here’s an example that is 100% true and annoying! – English grammar is full of exceptions, which is incredibly annoying when you’re trying to get to grips with the language!

2. Adjective and preposition collocations can be tricky to remember in English! We recommend that you make a note of the combinations that you find difficult to recall and re-write them in example sentences. Make sure to read them out-loud too so that it really sinks in, even if you feel slightly crazy when doing so! When we use the adjective ‘suspicious’, it’s usually followed by the preposition ‘of’ and then someone or something. For example – I am suspicious of people who come across as extremely friendly, I often get the sense that there’s a whole other side hidden within their personality!

3. Phrasal verbs are a major component of everyday spoken English, so try and include them in your speech! 🙂 To look up a word means to search for its meaning in the dictionary and it’s a term I’m sure as an English learner, you use frequently! We generally look something up, so that the noun is in between the verb and the preposition. It doesn’t have to have a noun afterwards, but if it does, you’ll need to use the preposition ‘in’ beforehand. For example – Often when students ask me the meaning of a particular word in class, I ask them to look it up in an online dictionary first and then we discuss the meaning together and I check their comprehension. Here’s an example without a noun following the phrasal verb – Thomas was sure he had returned his books to the library, even though he had received a penalty for apparently not having done so. He ended up going into the library and asking the librarian if she could check it directly on their system. Since she was such a kind and helpful lady, she said to him, ‘I’ll look it up right away, no need to wait!’ and it turned out he had returned the books after all.

4. Near is never followed by ‘at’ and yet it can be followed by the preposition ‘to‘. Here you have a choice and often native speakers drop the preposition altogether. For example – It’s pretty important to me to live near (to) my parents, as I realize the importance of spending time with your loved ones.

Stay tuned for more grammar challenges on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Stay inspired with Inspired English!

 

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Grammar Challenge #24 – Answers revealed and explained

For our followers on Instagram and Facebook, here’s another opportunity to compare your answers from our last grammar challenge to the correct answers posted here. Make sure to read through the explanations and if you have any questions at all, feel free to ask us. Let’s get down to business! 🙂

Here are the answers:

  1. My friend felt incredibly ill on her wedding day and the next/following day she felt fine.
  2. I received a postcard from my aunt.
  3. Some people are allergic to nuts.
  4. We flew to London.

Let’s delve deeper:

1. We use tomorrow if we are talking about an event in the future. In the example above, both actions take place in the past. Therefore ‘tomorrow’ becomes ‘the next day’ or ‘the following day‘ when used in the past tense. This is important to remember when telling a story that took place in the past, in order to avoid confusion with tenses!

2. Verb and preposition collocations can be tricky to remember in English! We recommend that you make a note of the combinations that you find difficult to recall and re-write them in example sentences. Make sure to read them out-loud too so that it really sinks in! When we use the verb ‘receive’, we usually receive something from someone. For example – I received some awful news from my aunt. The preposition ‘from’ comes before the person or organisation.

3. Allergic is an adjective and therefore it needs the verb ‘to be’ before it. We have noticed that students sometimes forget to add the verb ‘to be’ before adjectives in this kind of sentence structure.

4. When talking about direction and movement, the proposition ‘to’ is best suited. Especially when it comes to verbs that are focused on travel, it is always best to use the preposition ‘to’, for instance: ‘He travels to France fairly regularly.’

We’ll be back with more grammar challenges soon on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Stay inspired with Inspired English!

 

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