Present perfect: Why you can’t just use the simple past

Sagrada Familia Temple In Barcelona

Last week I was helping a student complete a worksheet using the present perfect tense when she turned to me, frustrated, and asked “Why can’t I just use the simple past tense?”

I can certainly understand her frustration; the difference between “I saw a bear” and “I have seen a bear” is small and probably not very important. But nevertheless, when she said that she had no need for the present perfect, I was concerned! Sure, you can survive in English without the present perfect. But you’ll be missing out on expressing yourself accurately when talking about your experiences, accomplishments, or anything else in the past that continues to impact the present. You’ll also risk causing your listeners some serious confusion!

Continue reading Present perfect: Why you can’t just use the simple past

5 things to do in the morning to improve your English


By Gabby Wallace, Go Natural English

Learning English is a lifestyle choice. Adding English to your current morning routine will provide huge improvements to your English language Skills!

The following 5 things will become habits for strong, confident English. Like brushing your teeth, they should become a non-negotiable part of your day.

Start with one or two suggestions and work your way up to doing all five suggestions.

Upon Waking

As soon as you wake up, read these phrases aloud to train your brain for learning with a positive mindset. It is important to begin with the right mindset because it will help your brain to receive information.

Continue reading 5 things to do in the morning to improve your English

5 ingredients for a delicious language learning cocktail


Bartender is making cocktail at bar counter, adding some bitter

Note: Combining the following may create a sense of euphoria—consume at your own risk. 

2 cups of time & consistency

“A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules” – Anthony Trollope

No excuses. Make language-learning the first thing you do every day—even if it’s only for 15 minutes—and you’ll progress much faster than trying to do everything in one or two days. We’ve known since 1965 that spaced repetition is the key to building and retaining knowledge[1], and this takes time. Your biggest friend in the process is consistency.

2 cups of tutoring with a native

Is it difficult for you move to a new country to learn your next language? Or do you want to practice so you can immediately communicate when you get there? The biggest difficulty of group classes is that individual attention is limited. Tutoring gives you personalized correction on the things that are important to you, and having your errors corrected and all of your questions and doubts fixed will help you immensely in the process. It’s also a great way to build relationships and practice conversation in a safe environment as well.

Continue reading 5 ingredients for a delicious language learning cocktail

Top 5 mistakes Spanish speakers make in English

I made a mistake

When learning a new language, everyone makes the same mistakes. This is the fun part of learning a language! When you make mistakes you can learn from them—taking your language learning to a whole new level.

Most articles discuss common mistakes made by English learners, but none of them discuss how to actually eliminate those mistakes for good.

Here are the top 5 mistakes Spanish-speakers make in English, why they happen and how to get rid of them forever!

Continue reading Top 5 mistakes Spanish speakers make in English

5 American English idioms to use when things go wrong

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 14, 2013: Honky-tonks on Lower Broad

Have you had a bad day, week, or year? Take advantage of it and expand your English with some colorful idioms! Idioms are fun, creative, and advanced ways to express meaning.  Here are five common American English idioms that you can use the next time you find yourself talking about a troublesome situation.

  1. Face the music

Music is usually enjoyable but not so in this idiom! If it’s time to face the music, it’s time to accept the consequences of a bad decision. No one is exactly sure where this idiom comes from. One theory is that it comes from theater, where actors are facing the musicians in the pit below the front of the stage. Another theory is that this saying comes from military ceremonies, such as a dishonorable soldier being thrown out of the military to the sound of drums. Whatever the origin, this idiom is very useful whenever you must bear the results of your poor decision-making.

Continue reading 5 American English idioms to use when things go wrong

A plan for getting from beginner to fluent

By Mark Wilbur, the founder and academic director of Pagewood English School in Taipei, Taiwan.

What helps you learn a language?

One of the most important parts of learning a language is input. It’s so important that many prominent linguists say that the key to learning a second language is massive comprehensible input. In other words you need to read or listen to the language a lot, and you need to understand it. Reading just three or four pages a week won’t get you far. Neither will listening for just 5 minutes a day. Neither will listening for hours to something you can’t understand at all.

language study materials

Continue reading A plan for getting from beginner to fluent

How to create a successful study plan for the TOEFL

Happy Man In The Library

The TOEFL is a daunting test, but definitely not impossible. The key to studying for the TOEFL is to set yourself up for success by creating a personalized study plan based on your needs and specific situation. If you have a plan in place, you’re more likely to stick to it! (do it)

Here are 5 steps to creating a personalized study plan for the TOEFL. Follow these steps and you will be a few steps closer to TOEFL success!

  1. Determine your ideal score

Continue reading How to create a successful study plan for the TOEFL

6 best English learning podcasts:

summer holidays and teenage concept - smiling teenage girl in su

Fully immersing yourself into learning a language takes a sprinkle of dedication, a little more motivation and a lot of help from online resources. When you’re unable to commit time at your desk, podcasts are an easy and portable resource to help you on your way to language fluency.

If English isn’t your native language, and you’re looking to engage yourself through alternate avenues of language learning, check out these great English learning podcasts:

The English We Speak:
Tired of conjugations and the strict definitions of proper English? Try out The English We Speak by BBC. This series is centered on slang words and phrases spoken by real people to get you more accustomed to native jargon. Each lesson is roughly 3-4 minutes, providing a quick snippet of really useful English slang you can walk away with.

Continue reading 6 best English learning podcasts:

5 biggest differences between speaking British English and American English

Usa And Uk Flag

While both versions of the language have the same roots, the last 400-odd years have produced some pretty strong variation in the English language that can seem worlds apart. While we may initially only notice French fries being referred to as chips, and the terms ‘cheeky’, ‘knackered’ and ‘brilliant’ being used just about everywhere, the two dialects actually differ in an abundance of ways.

Depending on the region, American and British English have large differences in spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, punctuation, and tenses. Here are just a few:


1) Spelling:

handsome journalist writing with typewriter

Many differences between American and British English stem from Latin-derived spellings and Greek-derived spellings. Those differences are seen in the unstressed endings to words such as:

Latin-derived spellings:

American English British English
Color Colour
Behavior Behaviour
Honor Honour

Greek-derived spellings:

American English British English
Organize Organise
Dialogue Dialog
Analyze Analyse


Continue reading 5 biggest differences between speaking British English and American English

Peruvian Substitutions for American Taste Buds

Peruvian Women In Authentic Dress With A Goat In Cusco, Peru.

First off, I would like to state that the food in Peru is absolutely spectacular.  A variety of seasonings are added to each dish to maximize flavor.  Hands of the consumers are often placed on the table after each bite to stabilize oblivious conditions.   With that said, no matter how exquisite something new may be, an individual will often long for what they were first accustomed.  Some examples for most Americans in general would be peanut butter, bacon, s’mores, and bourbon whiskey.

Continue reading Peruvian Substitutions for American Taste Buds