Dayne's Posts (30)

-Living la vida Laowai- (2013 Throwback)

-Living la vida Laowai-

Wikipedia describes Laowai as a commonly used Mandarin Chinese word, and a shorter, informal version of wàiguórén 外国人 ("foreigner").
Laowai is not intended as a negative word. Of course you may hear expat stories where the word has been adapted to be used negatively by some. Sadly, this has become human nature. I am currently not an expat, and my story is not a story about international racism. However, my story is about being different. My story is about being an outsider, and loving every minute of it.

I was born and raised in Victoria Australia. I am an English Language Tutor. I love what I do, I get to meet a fantastically diverse bunch of people, and I probably learn more than I teach. A little over a month ago now I began looking for a quiet office space in the CBD to accommodate some new Melbourne based learners. After browsing through sublet advertisements on Gumtree, I had come to the conclusion that I was probably going to end up in a broom closet next to the restrooms of a Legal Chambers, where the land lord had placed a semi-constructed flat pack desk, an over swiveled swivel chair, and a poster reading "hang in there. I picked one ad at random, and arranged a visit via email. I arrived at the address, took the elevator up 5 floors and stepped inside a lovely looking office suite. I was shocked to learn that I had arranged to view an office inside a Tutoring Center, there was even a stack of IELTS books by the reception desk. Needless to say, I moved into my new Melbourne office a few weeks ago. I share a suite with a wonderful company called Energy Bean Tutoring Center. Energy Bean is probably best described as a Chinese Australian Tutoring Centre, as it caters mostly to the needs of international students from mainland China studying at various levels in Australia.

It's fair to say the official spoken language within my office suite is Mandarin. The signs are all in Mandarin, the posters are in Mandarin, the Energy Bean web page is in Mandarin, I noticed that even the label and fine print on one of the whiteboard markers was Mandarin. Despite not knowing a great deal of the language, not once have I been treated as an outsider. Despite running a similar business, not once have I been treated as competition. I was instantly treated like a partner. After only three weeks I feel like I have been part of the Energy Bean family for a decade.

Last night I was invited to the Energy Bean Anniversary Celebration. The speeches, presentations, and games were all in Mandarin, and I felt how some of my intermediate students must feel when I ramble on and forget to articulate, and just like them, I was politely nodding and pretending I knew what was going on. Perspective is one heck of an eye opener. After giving up on my high hopes of becoming a fluent Chinese speaker by carefully listening to the speeches, I sat back and enjoyed the culture shock. When the games began, I watched Energy Bean staff and students light up with joy as they participated in competitive group activities. It was so entertaining from a spectators point of view. I couldn't even being to guess what the objective was, but their smiles and laughter spoke louder than any words in any language. Energy Bean's very own hard working receptionist kindly explained what was going on, and it turned out there was a lot of method to the madness unfolding before my eyes.

I felt guilty that I couldn't fully understand the festivities despite all the hard work that had gone into the evening. Everyone else probably felt guilty that I was unable to participate because they made sure not to make me feel as though I was being excluded, being sure not to alienate me, and make me feel like an outsider. As a result I felt like I was on an adventurous international vacation, but it became clear that I was actually witnessing Australia as the multicultural paradise that it should be.

In my opinion, I have become a better ESL teacher by spending some time as an outsider with people who instantly welcomed me, and let me in. I believe there are no minorities based on heritage and race. The only true minority group in this country are those ignorant few who consciously chose to shut everybody else out. I truly feel sorry for them. They don't know what they are missing out on.

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Do you hit snooze?

In a recent 'Dayne's Dictionary' post, We looked at the word 'snooze' as a noun or as a verb eg. "I like to snooze in the morning" (verb) or "I like to have a snooze in the morning" (noun)

We can also use snooze, as a noun, to describe the button on our alarm clocks and phone alarms that enable us to do the verb from which it get its name. The snooze button! As a big fan of a nice long sleep, I am guilty of hitting snooze on my iPhone's alarm. As a result I've had to rush to get to the office on time.

So tell me, do you hit the snooze button in the morning? Tell me about it in the comments!

For more Dayne's Dictionary, go to

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Translating is really hard. Most Languages don't usually translate directly. However, when we are using our second language, we naturally translate it in our heads, using our native language.

for example; Lets assume your second language (L2) is English, and your native language (L1) is Arabic. You are having a conversation with a native English speaker, when he speaks you listen, and you naturally translate his words into Arabic in your head. Now you think of the appropriate response in Arabic, and translate it back into English so you can respond. As a result, meanings become lost in translation, the conversation doesn't flow, and you find yourself speaking broken English, even though you know better.

Listen - Think - Speak  or  Read - Think - Write

  L2        L1        L2             L2      L1        L2

This is a natural habit when we are using our second language, but unfortunately it limits us, and stops us from developing into fluent speakers of our L2. It can cause confusion, effect our confidence, and impede our communication skills.

The good news is, you can improve your second language skills easily. All you need to do is THINK in your second language when you use your second language, and stop forcing yourself to translate. (Unless you are a translator!)

Listen - Think - Speak  or  Read - Think - Write

 L2         L2        L2            L2         L2        L2


Try it!

Good Luck! :)



Vocabulary from this post:

L1 = first or native language (Teaching term)

L2 = second language (Teaching term)

Assume - verb; 1. To suppose, guess, imagine, or deduce

                       2. Take power or responsibility

Impede - verb; delay or prevent.

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Studying Grammar vs Using Grammar

Studying Grammar vs Using Grammar. (ESL)

By Dayne Collins.


I think I could spend my whole life studying the patterns and structure of a language without learning how to speak, write, or read it. I would probably know every little detail of the language, but never be able to use my knowledge and understanding in a practical way. Before I go any further, I would like to clarify that English grammar is important. In this post I simply want to share my views on learning about grammar, and learning how to use grammar correctly.


English is taught internationally with a heavy focus on grammar, but is there too much focus on grammar? I want you to try to think back to when you were an infant, how did you learn your native language? I doubt your parents lovingly whispered the details of complex sentence structure in your little ears. First you began to listen to, recognise, and understand your native language. Then one day your goo goo's and ga ga's began to transform into real words. 

By the time we were old enough to go to school, we already had a near fluent verbal command of our native language. But could you read and write? at 5 years old, would you have been able to explain to me why you structured words in a certain way? The answer is most likely no. You learnt the complex structure of your language inadvertently by listening, and speaking. So why aren't second languages taught in a way reminiscent of the natural acquisition of our native language? 

Why do so many English learners know more about the technicalities of English grammar than the average native speaker? Also, if these complexities are taught so thoroughly, why do so many learners still struggle to use it in real world settings?

 Don't get me wrong, grammar is very important. If you are in school, and you need to pass English exams, I suggest you do focus on the technicalities and terminologies being drilled over and over by your teacher. Otherwise there is no need for you to be able to write a 50,000 word essay on English grammar... You just need to know how to use it correctly!


If you are attempting to complete the transition from being adequate to being fluent at English, then English Club is a great place for it. Don't hesitate to leave the chat room once in a while, and check out all the great information here for English learners.


I don't have all the answers. I would really love to hear your opinion on English grammar. What has worked for you? Please leave a comment in the comment section below.




I have created a short list of advanced vocabulary & meanings from this blog post. (Below)


Inadvertently - without intention.


Reminiscent - to be reminded of something/ to resemble something.


Acquisition - to gain/obtain an asset, object, or even a new skill.


Complexities - parts, details or factors of a complicated process.


Transition - a process of change.


Adequate - Acceptable/satisfactory


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How to speak English clearly and fluently.
(For upper intermediate and advanced ESL learners)
By Dayne Collins
If you are learning English as your second language, and you are now at an advanced level, then you are likely to have a large vocabulary, as well as an understanding of the language equal to, if not better than many native speakers. However it is a safe bet, that like most learners of english, you probably find that speaking is the hardest part.

English speech has a complicated rhythm, interesting pronunciation, a rise and fall intonation, unique stress patterns, loan words, and an exception to every rule.

The best way to improve is with a good ESL tutor, either face to face, or online, where prices are usually competitive. However if regular tuition is not in your budget, then here is some advice you will need if you plan to study on your own.

You will need; a relatively good understanding of English (upper intermediate or higher), internet access, a lot of patience, and a metronome (optional).

Step 1. Become familiar with the sounds of the english language.

There are approximately 44 english phonemes, these include long vowel sounds, short vowel sounds, and consonant sounds.
A thorough web search should provide you with written examples, and sound files to allow you to practice. Focus on sounds that don't exist in your own native language, master these English phonetics and you will be well on your way to fluent speech.

Step 2. learn English rhythm.

English has a stress timed rhythm, this means that some syllables are stressed, while other syllables are not.

A stressed syllable is clear and articulated, while an unstressed syllable is weakened, this is called syllable stress.

While each word has it's own stressed, and unstressed syllables, each sentence has it's own stressed and unstressed words.

Nouns, adjectives, adverbs, demonstratives, action words, and main verbs are called 'Content words', these words mostly make up the stressed words within a sentence.

Articles, conjunctions, prepositions,
auxiliary verbs, relative pronouns, personal pronouns, and determiners are unstressed and are called 'function words'.
(Please note, that you can change the meaning of a sentence, by moving the sentence stress)

Find more detailed resources and useful examples online, you can also use jazz chants, poems and nursery rhymes to improve.

Step 3. Connected speech.

Connected speech is relevant to the stress timing of English. Some sounds are difficult to articulate without long pauses when they follow the same sound, or certain other sounds. Connected speech corrects this, and is the reason English is able to flow without sounding broken.

Study all aspects of connected speech to understand why and where it is used. You can improve by paying attention to native speakers in films and on podcasts, and finally, try to put this into practice while reading out loud.

Step 4. Practice, practice, practice!

When you start to understand the first three steps, you can begin to put it all together.

If possible, speak with native speakers, or other learners of a similar level. If finding conversation partners is difficult for you, then consider getting involved with language exchanges online, it is a great way to find native speakers to help you, and in return you can share some of your own language too.

Alternatively, you can record yourself casually speaking, or reading out loud, then use narrated stories, movies, television and radio to compare your speech with, and monitor your progress.

When you have a feel for the stress timed rhythm, you can get extra practice by using a metronome, set it at a comfortable pace, then recite rhymes, jazz chants, and tongue twisters out loud. After some practice, you can read other reading material like news articles and books, or just casually speak over the gentle beats of the metronome. Try 110 beats per minute this is a good pace, be sure to pay attention to stress patterns, connected speech, and pausing where you should be.

Good luck!

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Hey EC,

Firstly, I'd really like to thank you guys for welcoming me back to EC with virtual open arms. I can't express just how much I appreciate all the support and feedback I've been receiving from you all. My friends! :)

Most of the long-time members here know me by now. And I'm enjoying meeting a lot of the members that found EC during my absence. So, as many of you already know, I love teaching English! I teach English face to face in Melbourne, Australia with a variety of clients ranging in age, needs, and skill level. A majority of my clientele are corporate clients who have been relocated to Australia by their companies. I do this privately and through my partnership with Berlitz Australia. I'm guessing some of you are familiar with the Berlitz brand, as the company operates in several countries around the globe.

However, my work doesn't stop outside of the training centre. I am passionate about teaching English and digital content and as a result I spend a great deal of my time making entertaining (I hope) online content for English learners & teachers alike. I am dedicated to doing this. It's more than a hobby to me, I consider it a part of my career and a huge part of my life.

What I'm doing?

- Of course, I share things here with you on my EC blog. This is super fun because I get to make friends at the same time.

- I post content across my social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

- I have my Academia ESL blog (you can also view the RSS feed on my EC profile)

- Podcasts and Videos (to return soon!)

I'm not going to lie. As much as I love it, it's a lot of work! I would really appreciate your help to not only keep this up, but to increase my output! Here' re some of the ways you can support me:

> Connect with me on my EC blogs & discussions, and share them with your friends! - By commenting and engaging with me on EC you're helping be by offering me feedback, helping me improve, and ensuring more people in the community see my page.

> Check out - This is my new blog where I share almost everything. It's powered by Tumblr, so if you're a Tumbler user, you can follow the blog and reblog the posts that you like :D

> Like my page on Facebook - Okay, so I'm not as active here as I should be. But I promise to change! If you're on Facebook, please give my page a like and if you enjoy a post please share it with your friends too!

> Follow me on Twitter - I really enjoy Tweeting, and there's a tonne of great ways to teach English with 140 characters or less :P

> Follow me on Instagram - I've been having a lot of fun on IG lately. Instagram is where I post my 'Dayne's Dictionary' series. IG is really useful due to it's focus on images. Visual learners can benefit from this format and there're a lot of great language teachers on Instagram.

> If you do like what you saw & want to help me make more in the future, you could also become my patron on Patreon - Patreon is a cool way for people to fund creators they like by giving as little or as much as they want!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. It's a bit different from the kind of thing I usually post here and I'm grateful if you got this far. Please let me know in the comments what sort of things you'd like to see me post here on EC and across my  other platforms.




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Job Interviews - For English Learners

Job interviews - for English learners.

By Dayne Collins.

I am sure we all LOVE job interviews, right? (Perhaps the next article will be about mastering sarcasm.)

Unfortunately for most of us they are something we can not avoid. If you want the job, you must succeed at the interview. In today's international job market, many big companies require the use of English, and as a result many job interviews for the positions people want around the world are likely to be conducted in English.

Although the language may be different, luckily the rules are much the same. Learn how to promote yourself as a potential employee, this means learning to talk about your strengths with absolute confidence in yourself, and your abilities. Check your modesty at the door. But not all of it!
Practice your listening skills: Job interviews work on a question and answer basis, so it should be obvious that understanding the questions you are being asked is very important.

Speak clearly and with confidence: We know that understanding the questions is important, but it is equally important that your potential employer understands your answers too.

Research the company: Learn about the company you have applied to work for, then think of some questions you may be able to ask your interviewer. This shows you have a real interest in the company. Asking relevant questions will also impress the interviewer, and shows you have self confidence, and confidence in your English speaking skills.

Interview etiquette: It is important to understand interview etiquette. Etiquette can be different, depending on where you are, and the local culture. But there are some things that never change, no matter where you are. The basics are... Well...Basic. Dress appropriately, and avoid asking about money. $$$

Talking about past employment:
Be prepared to be asked about previous jobs. It is important to focus on the positives of your previous employment. No, this doesn't mean you should lie, but if you think your last boss was a jerk, and you hated your last job, it is best to avoid mentioning that in your interview.

Be prepared to be asked some odd questions: In some interviews you may be asked some questions that may seem a little bit abstract. Answer these as well as you can, these questions are designed to put you on the spot, so being able to answer without hesitation will impress your interviewer, even if your answer is as abstract as their question.

I would love to hear about your job interview experiences, as well as any strange questions you have been asked in a job interview. Please share them in the comment section below.

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Online and text abbreviations have their place in our modern era, and in the right situation (a chat room or text message) they are relatively acceptable.

However (I am going to be quite unpopular for saying this) I don't think it is wise for English learners to use many of these 'lazy words'.

Acronyms like LOL (laugh out loud) and BRB (be right back) are okay, as long as everyone is aware that they have no place outside a chat room or a text message, and they certainly don't belong in formal writing.

It is the lazy typing and phonetic shortening of words that can create bad habits for learners of English.

Some examples of these are:

Thnx/thx = thanks.
Lyk/lke = like.
Plz = please.
Ppl = people.
Jst = just.
Coz = because.

Maybe those of us who are native speakers, or advanced level learners, should avoid sharing our lazy online habits with Learners in the EC chat rooms, a beginner might mistake these 'abbreviations' with correct spelling.

I'm sure many of you might not agree, please go easy on me!
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Accents (in English)

Accents (in English)

By Dayne Collins

Writing this article is a calculated risk, I may become unpopular in the EC universe, lose a few readers, and receive some disapproving comments. I am aware that a lot of learners who read my content are borderline obsessed with mastering a particular accent. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discourage anyone from achieving their desired accent, I just want to share my opinion on accent acquisition in ESL English education.

Perhaps your native language is a tonal language, and there are many. Words in a tonal language are pronounced with specific tones and accents generally dictated in writing. When learning a tonal language, mastering the appropriate accent is an integral part of becoming fluent in the language. However, this is not the case when learning English. English is a non-tonal language, and perhaps that is why there are so many different native English speaking accents around the world.

If you are concerned about your accent effecting your ability to master the English language, then relax. You may think your accent is stopping you from speaking clearly, however, that is not the case. The problem may be simple, perhaps you need to work on your timing and rhythm, especially if your native language is syllable timed. English is a stress timed language, this means certain syllables are stressed. The stressed syllables are usually pronounced longer, clearer, and articulated. Unstressed syllables are weakened, or softened, they sometimes seem to disappear entirely, or join to the next word (connected speech) and thus we have rhythm. Similar to syllable stress, we have sentence stress. This is when certain words in a sentence are spoken louder, and clearer. This is also related to the timing of English, but sentence stress can be manipulated to change the entire meaning of a sentence, native speakers will recognise this instantly. Sentence stress is also closely affiliated with the intonation. Intonation is the rise and fall of the English language. All of these factors, as well as correct pronunciation rely on each other to create the English language as we know it today.

You see, accent training doesn’t really have a place in English language education as a single skill. Accents may be acquired over time, based on those you communicate with every day. Work on the pronunciation of the sounds you struggle with most, master rhythm and intonation, then discover the almost natural next step of connected speech. If you work on this, I promise you will quickly realise how natural, clear, and fluent you are able to speak. You will be speaking English with absolute clarity and confidence.

Good luck to you.

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Long Time no EC

Hey EC,

It's been a while, hasn't it? Many of you are probably thinking, "who the flip is this guy?" That's fair enough too. Sadly, the last time I logged in here was probably in 2014 and a lot has happened since then. I've been working really hard, keeping very busy, and taking on more and more projects. I've even moved to a new home. One that's very close to my office, and I love it here.

Speaking of home, logging in yesterday for the first time in a long time felt like a bittersweet homecoming. It felt really nice to be back and update my page a bit. I got to see my old This&Th@ podcasts in my blog section - They stood the test of time! And upon updating my page, a discussion post from 2014 burst back into life. However, on the other hand I can see just how much I have missed while I was gone.

Anyway, I'll keep this short and sweet. I'll end it before I get too emotional! I just wanted to invite those of you who remember chatting with me, to reconnect. And for those who are still wondering who the flip I am - Hi, I'm Dayne. I am an English language teacher from Melbourne, and I like to make digital media content for English learners. It's nice to meet you!

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This&Th@ English Sport Edition

Howdy, Sport Fans!

Here is the link to the study guide:…3/ep6-edit.pdf

On this episode of This&Th@ we discussed sport. We couldn’t have done it without the sporting efforts of you, the listeners. Thanks for writing in about your favorite sports, and letting us know what sports are most popular where you live. It really helped us get the ball rolling!
I can’t believe we are up to episode 6! Thanks for joining us every month. Don’t forget to tell us what is in your garden, as we’d love to know for our next show!
Connect with me and chat about the show, you can find me at or
Talk to you soon!

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*PODCAST* Ep.3 This&Th@ English - Rhyming & Poetry

Listen to Ep.3 of This&Th@ English w/ Dayne & Katie. Ft. Darren McErlain

Don't forget to follow on with our PDF Study Guide!

This month our topic is Rhyming.

Rhyming is a big part of the English language: music, poetry, and sports cheers all use rhyme. So perk up your ears and en- joy this Month’s rhyming experience.
Understanding 5%, 25%, 75% or 100% is progress.

Our special guest submission came from Darren McErlain. You can visit to learn more about Darren and/or buy his book.

Enjoy the show!

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English Podcast! This&Th@ English Ep.2

Hi, EC!

Thanks for all of your support. You are helping the Podcast become a success!

In this Episode of This&Th@ Katie and I discuss Earth Hour & other ways to protect the environment. Thanks to those of you who have written to us and answered our questions. Unfortunately we couldn't feature everyone's responses, so please check the PDF to see if your response is there! :)

Don't forget to use our helpful PDF to follow the conversation & activities!


Next month's theme is rhyming & poetry! Please send me your short poem or rhyme so I can read some on the next Podcast. Thanks!


Enjoy the show!

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ENGLISH PODCAST! This&Th@ English Ep.1

This&Th@ (This and That) English is a fun filled podcast for English learners!


Join voice over artist/broadcaster Katie Adler & EC Member/English teacher Dayne Collins every month as they host a fun filled 'edutaining' podcast. This&Th@ is designed to help you improve your English skills the fun way. You won't even realise you're studying!

This&Th@ also comes with a PDF to help you follow the conversation & activities. Get the PDF HERE!


Enjoy the show!





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English Vs Japanese

English Vs Japanese   By Dayne Collins - Academia ESL

Ninjas are badass, I really enjoy sashimi, and Japanese horror films are definitely the scariest.

It's no secret that Japan is the home of many interesting things. Did you know that Japan is also the home to three different writing systems? In English, we have to worry about one alphabet containing 26 letters. Japan has Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Wrap your mind around that!

Just like English, modern Japanese is commonly written from left to right, but Japanese script is traditionally written in vertical lines from top to bottom, right to left.

Believe it or not, there is a theory that the Japanese language is related to Turkish as an Altaic language, along with other languages like Korean. However, just like Korean, many argue that Japanese is a language in a league of its own.

English and Japanese have little in common when it comes to structure and grammar. These differences can create some hurdles for Japanese speakers learning English. Students should familiarize themselves with English sentence structure, tenses, and focus on the existence of auxiliary verbs.

Phonetically, Japanese learners of English may need to pay extra attention to the consonant sounds l and r, as well as particular combinations of consonant sounds that don't exist in Japanese. It is not uncommon for Japanese students to add an unnecessary vowel sound where these combinations occur.

Japanese and English are both non-tonal languages, however our rhythm and intonation is quite different. English is a stress timed language, our rhythm relies on syllable stress patterns, and our intonation is a rise and fall in pitch depending on sentence stress. Japanese a mora-timed language with pitch accents, depending on dialect. For more on Mora-timed languages visit this link

I have had loads of fun exploring the differences between English and Japanese. As usual, if you have anything to add, please leave a comment below.

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English vs Korean

English vs Korean  By Dayne Collins - Academia ESL


K-pop is pretty huge right now, and many of us have had some exposure to the Korean language. Personally, I like to able to politely thank the kind lady at the Korean grocer for giving me free candy when I buy a big bag of Kimchi. (I tried making my own… wow, it was really bad.)


What is it that makes Korean and English different? What do we have in common?


Korean is a particularly interesting language, and one of my personal favorites. Some might place Korean next to Japanese as an Altaic language. Meanwhile, others tend to place it in a class of its own. The Korean language can trace some of its roots back to a Chinese influence, and originally used a Chinese script called Hanja.

English is a non-tonal language, and for the most part, Korean is too. However, I believe that there are some tonal dialects. Unlike the stress timed rhythm of English, the Korean language uses a syllable timed rhythm. Speakers of syllable timed languages often face some extra hurdles when learning a stress timed language. Korean speakers learning English may add an unnecessary syllable in the form of a vowel to the end of a word. This is due to the syllable timed structure of the language, and the fact that a consonant sound is not released in Korean unless it is followed by a vowel sound within that syllable. Unfortunately, this often gets blamed on accents or pronunciation.

There are plenty of pronunciation differences between English and Korean too. Trust me, these different phonemes are just as challenging for English speakers learning Korean, as they are for Koreans learning English. Korean speakers learning English may want to pay extra attention to some voiced friction sounds like z, v, and the voiced th (in then). Followed by the unvoiced friction sounds f, and the unvoiced th (in thin).

When it comes to writing, the Korean language uses an alphabet called Hangul. Hangul is extremely practical, and replaced Hanja in the 15th century. Much like English, Hangul is most commonly written horizontally from left to right. Perhaps not as common, but twice as badass, Hangul can also be written vertically. Sadly, I can’t understand it either way.

Etiquette and honorifics are extremely important in the Korean language. Many Korean honorifics are even strictly required in informal settings. According to Wikipedia – “Korean grammar as a whole tends to function on hierarchy — honorific stems are appended to verbs and some nouns, and in many cases, one word may be exchanged for another word entirely with the same verb- or noun-meaning, but with different honorific connotations.”   This can be rather daunting for English speakers learning Korean, but doesn’t seem to be a huge problem for Koreans studying English. I find that honorifics become less important when I tell my Korean students that my title is ‘Captain Awesome.’


If you can think of any other interesting comparisons between Korean and English, Let me know in the comment section below!



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English Vs Mandarin


English Vs Mandarin By Dayne Collins – Academia ESL


The best thing about learning a language is discovering the unique differences, and sometimes uncanny similarities. What makes Mandarin and English so different? Do we have anything in common?

The most obvious difference is the written forms of both languages. English uses an Alphabetic system to construct words. Mandarin has no Alphabet, but instead uses symbols that represent words. This is called a logographic system.

It’s probably fair to say that Mandarin and English have very little in common phonetically. Many sounds that exist in one language don’t exist in the other. These differences can make pronunciation and listening difficult for learners. In my experience working with Mandarin and Cantonese speakers, I often find myself paying extra attention to voiced and unvoiced sounds, as well as the difference in distinguishing and pronouncing l, r, and n.

 The unique traits don’t stop with phonetics. The other differences may go unnoticed from the outside looking in, but they come as no surprise to English speakers learning Mandarin, and Mandarin speakers learning English.

Unlike English, Mandarin is a tonal language. This means that the pitch and tone of a sound will directly affect the meaning of the word, and can be the difference between one word and another. English is non-tonal, so in English, pitch and tone can emphasize emotion, intention, or even an implied meaning of a word, but it does not change the overall word entirely.

Formalities are very important in Mandarin. There is a plethora of ways to address different people regarding their age, and/or status in relation to yours. It can be difficult for Mandarin speakers to assert themselves appropriately when communicating in English in the absence of this strict formal structure. It is equally difficult for English speakers to familiarise themselves with the appropriate cultural formalities when learning Mandarin.

But what about rhythm? Surely we have nothing in common there… Right? English is a stressed-timed language, and if you’re familiar with my blogs, then you would be aware of how obsessive I am about the stress patterns of the English language. You might be interested to know that Mandarin is also a stress-timed language, unlike its syllable-timed sibling, Cantonese.

Do you know any other similarities/differences between English and Mandarin? Share them in the comment section below.

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English with Katie Adler

Recently I was the special guest on Katie Adler's live English language talk show.

I had a wonderful time on the live online talk show, and I hope some of you were able to tune in and listen. If you missed the show, I would like to invite you to listen to the replay.

To listen to the replay of Live with Katie Adler featuring yours truly, click here



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