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What do we mean when we say that we are in or at a place? These two small words can be instrumental in helping us to reveal (and conceal) exactly where we are in the world and, crucially, how we feel about being there. Take the sentence, 'I'm at school'. Seemingly simple on the surface, but can't we say, 'I'm in school' too? So, if they both sound fine, why does 'I'm in/at classroom' sound bad? Lets look a little closer. In for buildings and rooms This is not a difficult one. If we use in, we are referring to the fact that we are in a place which has walls, a floor, and a ceiling. It can be a room, it can be a building, it can be a cardboard box at the side of the road. It depends on how much money your parents are investing in your education. The thing to remember is that, unlike at, we must use an article here to specify the space we are talking about. However, the days of a one-room village school are long gone and so it would be odd to hear ‘I’m in the school’... read more

So, we’ve explored the idea of in and at as ways to describe where we are and what we are doing there and found that it's a little bit more than just buildings and borders. In this post, we'll take a look at how using or omitting articles can help us to express how we feel about the places we are in. Before we begin, let's agree that articles are pretty much the most horrendous part of the English language, especially for Russian speakers. Rather than simple functional devices which can help us build more meaningful sentences, they seem to have more in common with capricious women, drunk on the power of being able to alter their surroundings with the merest flutter of an eyelash. To help us understand them better, I've compiled a series of examples to illustrate exactly how these devices operate. Omitting articles So, we already know that omitting articles is fine when we are talking in terms of our involvement in a process (I'm in school/court/), or our... read more

I’m not prone to exaggeration, but when it comes to the words moreover and furthermore, I can safely say that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick if it meant that never again would I have to hear them misused in everyday English conversations with Russian speakers. I see why they come up so often. They both appear, on the surface, to be sweetly analogous to the often-used term ????? ???? and, to Russian speakers of English, it probably feels like it is a suitable upgrade from plain old ‘and’. The problem is that using them in everyday conversations can make you sound, at best, overblown or pretentious and, at worst, vaguely threatening. That said, as with everything, there is a time and a place for introducing these words. They carry with them, a level of accuracy in meaning which other ‘plainer terms, may not have. We just need to make sure that we understand exactly when and where to use the word; and that the right time and place is... read more

I’m not prone to exaggeration, but when it comes to the words moreover and furthermore, I can safely say that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick if it meant that never again would I have to hear them misused in everyday English conversations with Russian speakers. I see why they come up so often. They both appear, on the surface, to be sweetly analogous to the often-used term ????? ???? and, to Russian speakers of English, it probably feels like it is a suitable upgrade from plain old ‘and’. The problem is that using them in everyday conversations can make you sound, at best, overblown or pretentious and, at worst, vaguely threatening. That said, as with everything, there is a time and a place for introducing these words. They carry with them, a level of accuracy in meaning which other ‘plainer terms, may not have. We just need to make sure that we understand exactly when and where to use the word; and that the right time and place is... read more

So many students want to know how to get a high score on the IELTS. Yes, a band score of 7 or higher is possible, but you need to know the strategies and how the test is scored. If you don't know how the test is scored, you can't possibly know how to respond. That is why, one of the best hints is to look at the public band score information for each task. 

Practicing for the speaking part of the IELTS English proficiency exam is daunting, to say the least. There are so many elements of a good speech that you have to remember to score the necessary band to get into your English-speaking university of choice. If you are not sure where to start, take a look at these tips: 1.) Don’t worry so much about your speed. More important are your abilities to speak without grammatical mistakes and to have few pauses or hesitancies in your speaking. Pronunciation is also negatively affected by speaking too quickly. So slow down, and concentrate on making yourself understood. 2.) Choose your higher-level vocabulary carefully. Many students end up sounding like they are living 150 years ago because their vocabularies are so formal. Choose a few (about three or four) words that are higher-level in your interview to use. Don’t overdo it. 3.) Use transitions. The flow of ideas from one part of the speaking prompt to another is important... read more

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