Category Archives: general English

Information and any materials on general English. Whenever the information provided does not concern military environment and its jargon, it is put here.

Meeting in progress

Meetings – an essential part of the modern army

Like it or not, you will have to deal with it. Contemporary military personnel spend much time on meetings, either preparing them, either participating or reporting. You can call them sometimes briefings (sounds more military-like), but they are similar in nature to business or political level meetings. They have a lot in common so you cannot get away with not knowing its basic elements and related vocabulary. You’d better acquire some useful phrases, then you will be able to handle any meetings. For your convenience, the full lexical summary (a cheatsheet in an alphabetical order) is provided at the end of the article.  Continue reading “Meeting in progress” »

Reading tests – how to approach them

Reading comprehension tests

Many tests have been already published here, but never any hints on how to do these lightbulbparticular tests. I do clarify on that but only face-to-face with my students. Based on the lessons already conducted, I prepared a bunch of tips you should find handy. The presentation below is based on level 3 exam with the main focus on task 1. Firstly, texts in task one are short so it’s easier to analyze them, secondly if you do task one correctly, you will have almost the required number of points to pass the exam. The presentation (and this post alike) is bilingual; each slide is played twice: in English and Polish, to be sure that the Polish students will understand all nuances.

The slides will lead you through the desired way of reasoning which will help you find the good answer. Once you learn the proper methodology, you will be able to deal with the subsequent two slides with some tasks for you. Some hints are still given, but the whole process is up to you. Finally, general prompts are on the last slide which should shape up your preparation and expectations. Good luck!

Wiele testów już tu publikowaliśmy ale nigdy żadnych wskazówek jak je rozwiązywać. Wprawdzie udzielamy takich wskazówek ale zawsze odbywało się to przy osobistym kontakcie ze studentami. Bazując na przeprowadzonych lekcjach, przygotowaliśmy dla was zbiór przydatnych porad. Poniższa prezentacja została oparta na egzaminie z poziomu 3 i skupia się na zadaniu pierwszym. Po pierwsze, dlatego, że w zadaniu 1 mamy do czynienia z krótkimi tekstami, które łatwiej przeanalizować, a po drugie jeśli dobrze wykonamy to zadanie, to już mamy prawie całą wymaganą ilość punktów, wymaganą do zaliczenia. Prezentacja (jak i sam post) są wykonane w dwóch językach: po angielsku i po polsku. Chcieliśmy być pewni, że polscy studenci zrozumieją wszystkie niuanse językowe, które zostały omówione na przykładzie tekstów. Continue reading “Reading tests – how to approach them” »

Coffee break exercises

coffee_cupI’m tired of listening to people complaining about lack of time for studying languages. It’s nothing extraordinary. Everyone has the same problem nowadays. If you want to change it start from a single, short step and use your coffee break (for example) for some activities which will move you forward a bit. The aim of this article is just to give you some hints how you can spend short breaks, still developing your language skills. Here is the short lists of activities you can do Continue reading “Coffee break exercises” »

Conjunctions – introduction to compound and complex sentences

FANBOYS conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, soConjunctions – introduction

Whenever you want to show your proficiency in writing or speaking you should demonstrate that you are capable of writing longer, more complex sentences. It is not possible without a proper conjunction though. Putting two ideas from seperate single sentences into one sentence requires from writers/speakers to use conjunctions. Today, I will present the basic set of conjunctions to use to make logical connection between the ideas you want to sell. This basic set, often described as a mnemonic FAN BOYS, Continue reading “Conjunctions – introduction to compound and complex sentences” »

Modal verbs

Modal verbs – a handy summary

Modal verbs are often troublesome to many students. First of all, you must rememeber that all but ought & have requireModal verbs in English - can, could, may, might, shall, should, must, have to, ought to, will, would no preposition with the following verb. Secondly, as it is true for modal verbs, they do not need any operators to create questions or negative statements. Although we have a small number of modal verbs they can express multiple states and intentions. Below I present almost all possible meanings they can bear in sencences. In my research for a good grammar explanation of modal verbs usage I found a perfect summary in Grammarway by Jenny Dooley and Virginia Evans. It is still available on Amazon. Just click the picture. Grammarway by Jenny Dooley and Virginia Evans
At some time of your English education you must  have come across one of the books attributed to these English gurus. The following theory was organized in the order they propose, but the examples are mine.

Below the article you will find a link to an interactive exercise on modal verbs. You can also download this exercise in .pdf format to print out and do at home.

Here is the list of meanings of any modal verbs you might use: Continue reading “Modal verbs” »

Concise writing – wordiness and redundancy

Wordiness and redundancy

A writer must write concise sentences. Avoid wordiness and redundancies in your papers.Generally, when checking the students’ work I try not to interfere with their style. Simple eradication of errors is enough to make them perform much better. But sometimes you need to correct their style, especially when the better expressions save a lot of words thus fit all ideas into the words limit. Getting rid of so called wordiness and redundancy may work a dream and drop your words number from e.g. 100 to 80. Just enough to prevent you from receiving penalty points for excesive wording.

Wordiness and redundancy – how to avoid

Passive voice. First thing you can easily eliminate in your writing is the passive voice. Unless it is absolutely necessary (another example of redundancy) you should use an active voice to present your ideas.

Instead of “It is believed that the new solution may save millions of lives” we can say Continue reading “Concise writing – wordiness and redundancy” »