Category Archives: myEnglish

5 common words that have different origins

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How international is English? Over the centuries the English language has assimilated words and phrases from a variety of other languages.

Here are 5 common words that have different origins.

Veranda/Verandah: A sheltered gallery or terrace attached to a house or some other building. The word began to appear in the English language early in the 18th century. In Hindi, the word varanda has a similar meaning. This is not the source of the word, however, as it is thought to derive from the Portuguese word varanda meaning a balcony.

Kudos: An ancient Greek word that means “glory” or “reknown”. In ancient Greek culture, glory was found on the battlefield, much like every other civilization. When a solider was refused his earned due, or kudos, it was considered a very serious insult. One of the most famous examples of kudos is in the Iliad when Agamemnon takes the maiden Briseis from the soldier Achilles as a gift of honor- kudos earned from his glory in battle.

Glitch: A word for “slip up”, glitch is believed to be a conglomeration of two words, both that meant to slip or slide, around 1962: “glitshen” (Yiddish) and “glitschen” (German). It was first used in English by American astronauts when there was a spike in an electrical current, and then broadened to other technical mishaps. (Image: GLITCH – Designing Imperfection.)

Assassin: The origins of this Arabic word date back to the ninth century, when an Islamic sect was led to overthrow the Suni Muslims.  Yemeni Shiite Hasan-I Sabbah was the founder of the group and set about his mission by targeting the enemies’ leaders. The group was given the name Hashshashin, meaning hashish-eaters, and was converted into English in 1603 as “assassin”.

Déjà vu: “I’m having déjà vu” has somehow secretly slipped into English to solely describe an inexplicable instance that may have never actually happened.

“Already seen,” is the English translation of the French phrase with which we associate that weird feeling of reliving the same past experience. In France you’ll hear this word on a daily basis, because it’s used to express “having re-seen” a person, place or things, not in another life or dimension. In other words, it’s a factual encounter.

The French do believe in the weird phenomenon, but have a different way of spelling it (with a hyphen), déjà-vu. There is no difference in pronunciation though, which is why context is always key!

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7 free ways to meet your #VocabGoals

#VocabGoals

#VocabGoals

What is your vocabulary score on this fun test? I got 3560/4000 on my first try!

Learning new words is a great way to improve your English. We come across new words every day and can easily add them to our repertoire. In case you are wondering, here is the meaning of repertoire!

Here are 7 free ways you can meet your #VocabGoals and get a better vocabulary score than mine!

Read. A lot. There is just no substitute for reading as an excellent way of acquiring new words. Underline any new words you come across while reading, unless it’s a book from the library! Guess what they could mean by reading the text and thinking of the context in which they have been used. Now see the dictionary. How off were you? Not much? Very good! Now note down the meaning of the word in your personal word journal.

Listen to podcasts. Don’t have time to read? Podcasts are your new BFF! What’s great about them is you can subscribe to the ones you like and can listen when you please; driving your car, riding the metro or even cooking! Do remember to write the new words you learn in your word journal. Don’t worry about finding podcasts, there are tons to good ones.

Download a vocab app. Learn on the go using any of the thousands of vocabulary apps which you can download on your phone. Try out activities, play games, rank on leader-boards. Learning was never this fun!

Play word games. Can you complete the daily crossword in less than 20 minutes? What about Pictionary? Word games are a great way to make things fun and challenge yourself. Once you are confident playing on your own, try some multi-player games. For now here are some good ones you can start with.

Use social media. Join an English language learning Facebook page like the British Council’s English in India page or the LearnEnglish British Council page.  These pages post a number of words, vocabulary learning tips and games every day. You can also participate in contests, interact with other learners and ask questions. Learn, with a little help from your (social media) friends!

Set a vocab goal. Nothing like a goal to work towards and motivate yourself. Set yourself a target to learn a certain number of words every week. How many weeks in a row can you learn 21 new words, three for each day of the week? Post your words of the day on your Facebook page to keep count. This way you can also share what you are learning with your friends. And don’t forget to reward yourself once you achieve your #VocabGoals.

Use new words. Practice makes perfect. Use the new words from your word journal while you are writing or speaking. Think of if they had the desired effect on your reader or listener. Did they make your communication better? Use them again, this time with more accuracy and confidence! Now they are part of your repertoire. See what I did there?

So, what are your waiting for? Go get your #VocabGoals!

Post by – Shivangi Gupta, Head Business Development English (Customers) India, English

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myEnglish launches in Bengaluru and Mumbai

Students of English in Mumbai and Bengaluru now have a reason to celebrate. The British Council marked the launch of its pioneering blended learning programme in these cities on 12 January, 2016. myEnglish combines the latest education technology and student-centred classroom instruction to improve students’ language skills, and more. The courses also foster essential 21st century skills such as time management, independent learning and critical thinking. While the courses are now available to more students across two new cities, they have been running successfully in Pune since May 2015.

The formal launch event in Bengaluru was well-attended as several eminent panellists joined members of the press and public for a discussion on ‘Better English, Better Opportunities’. The panel comprised experts from the world of business, education and technology; including Arvind Katageri (Senior Manager, Centre for Behavioural Excellence – Talent Transformation, Wipro), Ashwani Sharma (Country Head, University Relations, Google India Pvt Ltd), Lalitha Murthy (Consultant, Business English, Tata Consultancy Services) and Nirupa Fernandez (Assistant Director, English, British Council).

The panellists discuss 'Better English, Better Opportunities' at the myEnglish launch event in Bengaluru

The panellists discuss ‘Better English, Better Opportunities’ at the myEnglish launch event in Bengaluru

A lively dialogue ensued as the panellists discussed the role of English in the world of business. Lalitha Murthy from Tata Consultancy Services pointed out that while many new recruits may be confident about their English skills, what they may lack is the communicative competence required in the business world. Another topic discussed was the role played by technology in education. As Ashwini Sharma from Google pointed out, “Even a pen is technology” and in the debate that followed the panellists concluded that technology had always been present in education and that teachers have a responsibility to keep up with developments.

The launch was also attended by two myEnglish students, Ramchandra Kulkarni and Vishal Chandegave, who spoke eloquently and positively about their experiences on the course and about how it has helped them be more confident in their professional and daily lives. Read more about their experiences in The Times of India and the Deccan Herald

The myEnglish launch event in Bangalore was accompanied by a simultaneous press release in Mumbai and has generated a lot of interest among the press in both cities, with coverage in major publications including the Times of India, the New Indian Express, the Deccan Chronicle and the Deccan Herald. Several news websites and regional publications also covered the event.

For more information on myEnglish, please visit our course page.

If you want to register for a course, please leave your details here and we will get back to you.

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