False friends a.k.a false cognates

This month we thought our blog post should be on false friends a.k.a[1] false cognates[2]. In life you will come across some false friends, and when speaking a foreign language you’ll encounter them too! And in both cases you can end up looking a bit silly, but at least with a language you’ll get over it quickly and with www.enunciateonline.com you will hopefully avoid making a few mistakes with them.

Now, there is a difference between false friends and false cognates but we won’t bore you with that, what’s important for you is they they both have the same outcome, you can end up with egg on your face! How do you like yours done? 😉 (Look for this idiom on our weekly idiom post on Facebook, Twitter and g+) What we will do is give you a few false friends in English with German and Spanish with English and hopefully you will find them useful.

So let’s begin with some typical false friends in Spanish and English. The first one up is Library. Now in English a library is a building or room with a collection of books whereas “librería” in Spanish is where you go and buy the books, the bookshop, the Spanish equivalent of library is “biblioteca”. So, if you want to study go to the library and if you want to buy the books to “la liberiía”.

The next one up is deception, in English, deception means something that is done to make you believe something that is not true; i.e. “It was all a deception! My English isn’t improving”. Something that we don’t do at enunciateonline, we let you know if you’re really learning English 😉 “decepción” in Spanish means to fail to fulfil your hopes or expectations, the English equivalent is disappoint.   Deception in Spanish is “engaño”.

Finally we have letter. In English a letter can be a written type of communication. (When was the last time you wrote a letter and not an e-mail?)The Spanish equivalent is “carta” whilst in Spanish “una letra” is a letter of the alphabet but can never be “ carta”.

Now lets look at our false friends between English and German. First up we have the word bald, now in English this means to be follicly challenged, like kojak, just google it and you’ll see. 😉 Now in German this means soon whereas bald is   “kahl”. So you can go “Bald Kahl”. 😉

Secondly, we have handy, now in English if something is handy it is useful and convenient, now in German, “handy” is a mobile phone. Yes a mobile is very handy but in German “das handy ist handlich”. Learning English vía Skype is handy and you can learn English on your “Handy”.

Last but not least we have rat, now in English these guys have some very bad press, the plague…etc. but they are very intelligent animals and from things that are intelligent may we can get some of what the word means in German because in German “Rat” means advice. Can you imagine saying ‘Let me give you a piece of “Rat”’. Which part would that be, the tail? Or we are going to have a new “Rat” section on our website. 😉 A rat is “Ratte” in German.

False friends are a tricky thing and they require a lot of study, everyone can be caught out because it’s great to use cognates to learn, as they will always help you to learn much more quickly and comforting to make links between the languages, but you have to be careful and have a teacher point out the false friends that are waiting for you to put your foot in it. But at www.enunciateonline.com we will be more than glad to help you learn these false friends with our English lessons via Skype and get you communicating clearly.



[1] A false cognate is a word that is the same in two languages, they have different meanings but the root of the word is different and, a false friend is a word that has a similar root but has a different meaning in both languages.

[2]A.k.a= Also known as

The tricky world of homophones!!!

We thought it would be nice to do this blog post on homophones. Now some of you might be saying homo what?? So we will explain. Homophones are defined by the Cambridge dictionary as: A word that sounds the same or is spelled the same as another word but has a different meaning. Now these words can really drive you up the wall and quite easily make you put your foot in it.

So in this post we will go over a few of them and explain the difference between the words and thus hopefully help you to avoid making these mistakes!! Aren’t we kind at enunciate online. J

We will start it off with bare and bear. Bare means to be without any clothes or not covered by anything. i.e. to be butt naked ( the way you were brought into this world). 😉 It can also mean empty, unfinished, revealing i.e. to bare one’s soul.   Whilst bear means: (apart from the big furry thing) to carry, to have or display a visible mark or feature, to be called by, to conduct yourself in a certain way, to support, take responsibility for, to accept or stand something, endure, tolerate, to give birth to and finally to turn and proceed. Wow, how many different meanings!!! So here are some examples of bear. E.g. the soldiers were bearing machine guns; he bore the surname Jones, He bore the sign of the beast, I can’t bear to part with my old comics, she bore six kids and finally, bare left when you reach the traffic lights.

So how do you make the distinction?? Apart from having lessons via Skype with enunciate online you can remember that anything to do with nakedness, uncovering or revealing is bare, the rest of the meanings will be bear.

Another set of wonderful homophones are witch and which. Now a witch is what normally sits on a broomstick and has a large nose and makes spells, whereas which is a relative pronoun that refers to something previously mentioned or gives more information. A way of remembering, which is which 😉 is to say the sentence: The witch had an itch. As only a person can have an itch you will know which one you are talking about and if you add the w to itch you get…. J

Lose and loose can also cause some unpleasant moments. It wouldn’t be the first time we have seen someone make this mistake. So what’s the difference? Firstly, one is a verb: to lose. Real Madrid will lose the match and the second is an adjective, I have a loose tooth. A good way to remember is with this mnemonic: If I lose any more weight, my jeans will be too loose.J

And last but not least, our last homophones for this post are weather and whether. Now this is another typical mistake that a lot of people make. Weather is a noun and refers to the state of the atmosphere. Whether is a conjunction and expresses a doubt or a choice between alternatives. A nice way to remember which is which is that the weather has an effect on what you eat. In the word weather you can see the word eat. Hopefully our post has helped you to clear up some doubts that you may have. At www.enunciateonline.com  we will be more than glad to teach you more tricks like these with our English lessons via Skype and get you communicating clearly.

Different ways of learning English.

We thought that the natural progression for the following blog post should be that we talk about the different ways that you can learn English seeing that we’ve covered the importance of learning a second language and how long it takes to learn a second language.

First things first, divine inspiration doesn’t work!! Speaking in tongues is not English 😉 Now that we’ve got that out of the way we can look at a few of the different ways of learning English.

The first ones we will look at are classroom-based lessons. Now a lot of different categories fall under this one. Two of the most common are the direct or sometimes called natural method of language learning or the grammar-translation method of learning a language. Both of these have their merits and seeing as each person is different one method or the other will fit them best. Phew!! Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we were all the same! Imagine everyone looked like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 😉  With the classroom-based lessons you have a set timetable where you turn up and hopefully learn. The good thing with this is that it provides you with a structure, you know exactly when you have to go for your lessons. The bad thing is that it doesn´t provide you with much flexibility, and if you are run off your feet with work it can be hard to find the time to fit in your lessons into this rigid schedule. Both of these methods, the direct method and the grammar translation method are great and no one should ever tell you this one is better than the other, as what works for somebody else may not work for you! But what they both have in common is that you are normally in a class with other people.  A teacher is present to clear up any doubts, motivate you as you move along and you also get to make new friends with your fellow classmates or maybe a nemesis, a bit of classroom rivalry can spice things up. 😉

Of these classroom-based lessons we can look at the two different types we mentioned before in a little bit more detail. First of all there is the direct method, this method lets you learn a language through doing everything in the target language that you are learning and you are taught grammar inductively. Primarily you do a lot of speaking and listening. It’s pretty much how kids go about learning a language. It tries to teach you useful everyday expressions that you will build up and add to as you go along.

Next up is the translation-grammar based method. Here you are taught grammatical rules which you then apply to the language you are learning and translate it. Have any of you studied Latin? Well just like that, remember the old rosa, rosa, rosam, rosae, rosae rosa?? Oh the memories!!! Some people find this method perfect for them as it is very structured. The method lets you know where you stand once you know the rules, and more importantly the exceptions!! Not many in English!! 😉

The next way of learning English would be through self-study with books and DVDS and in the past CDS and cassettes. This method can have great results if you follow the course book and instructions correctly. Most are interactive and keep you fairly engaged and above all provides you with flexibility if you have a busy schedule. However, you don’t get any feedback as to the mistakes you might be making and above all learning English in any situation requires a lot of self-motivation and when it’s self-study even more! So tempting to put your feet up once you get home and say, “I’ll study tomorrow”.

The last category that we will talk about is online learning. The great thing here is that just like self-study, learning online provides you with flexibility, most places have some form of Internet connection available so you can more or less study anytime, anywhere you want. If you are learning online via Skype then the fact is that most of the time it’s just you and the teacher. This means that you can make the most out of the lesson and hopefully improve a lot faster as you can focus directly on your mistakes and problems. The cons are that you don’t have any colleagues with whom to talk things over with and the lessons are a little bit more expensive, but as we said before it’s just you and the teacher so you have their undivided attention.

At the end of the day deciding which method is best for you is a question of trial and error and seeing what really works for you. If you want and feel that learning online is the way to go because of the flexibility and the fact that the lessons are one on one then get in touch with us at www.enunciateonline.com for your English lessons via Skype and we will be more than glad to give you a hand in learning to communicate in English.

How long does it take to learn a second language?

This is the million-dollar question! How long does it take to learn a second language and above all English?  I’m sure every one would love for me to give a set time frame, study for 1000 hours and you’ll be fluent, but that’s not possible. Some can spend a lifetime and never really learn their own mother tongue (Just look at some of the mistakes some celebs make when speaking their own language, a future blog post beckons! yet alone another language. However, there are some things that can help you to learn a lot quicker and there are some numbers for the length of time that some individuals have given, we can look at those too, but ultimately second language acquisition is hard, complex and only for masochists (only kidding!!).

So what can you do to learn a second language as quickly as possible? Well the first thing is to sign up to somewhere where you can be taught that language with great teachers. (Such as at www.enunciateonline.com where else? ;-). Now with that out of the way we can begin to look at some of the variables that make it extremely complicated to give an exact figure.

Firstly, your age plays a crucial factor, and the younger you start the better, it’s what is known as the “critical period hypothesis” meaning that you learn the language in a different way and ultimately reach a higher level.[1] For those that haven’t started at a young age don’t despair, it’s still attainable; it’s just going to take a bit more sweat to get there (remember the masochist remark???).

The second variable is“ How quickly will I learn if I live in the country of my chosen language (majority language)? Or “How quickly will I learn if I learn the language in my home country (minority language)?[2]  It goes without saying that if you are in a majority language situation you should learn a lot quicker than in a minority language situation as you come in contact with the given language during a great deal of time, unless you’re locked up at home, as you are immersed in the language. However, if you can’t manage or permit yourself to move to the U.K to learn the language you can still do lots of things to help you move along at a good pace. For example: watch things in original version as much as you can, and as soon as possible wean yourself off subtitles, it will be hard at first, but after a while you’ll realise that each time you understand more and more! Read the news every day online in English, a great source of vocab and current affairs, and of course, have lots of English lessons.

How many hours I hear you ask? Well…. this all depends on what method you are being sold. Some will tell you for our course you need X amount of hours and others will tell you that you need Y amount of hours.  However, the only concrete thing that can be said is that practice makes perfect, and that means a lot of hours. An article in the Harvard Business review concluded that to reach expertise in something, and not just language training you need to practise for 10,000 hours!!![3] That works out at roughly 416 days without sleep! So when you’re worried that it’s taking you longer than expected to reach your desired goal, don’t worry, 10,000 hours are a lot of hours and at www.enunciateonline.com we will be more than happy to help you whittle down the hours and get you communicating effectively in English.




Whittle down: Phrasal verb: To reduce the number of people or things, or the size of something.

[1] Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis. Birdsong, David (Ed.) (1999) Mahaw, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

[2] Archibald, J., Roy, S., Harmel, S., Jesney, K., Dewey, E., Moisik, S., et al. (2006). A review of the literature on second language learning.

[3] Ericsson, K. A., Prietula, M. J., & Cokely, E. T. (2007). The Making of an Expert. Harvard Business Review (July-August ).