MonthFebruary 2015

Friday Idioms – The Weather

This happens to me every year – the end of February has come too quickly!

As regular readers will know, all through 2015, I will be dedicating the last Friday of the month to the funniest, most descriptive, and sometimes downright oddest English idioms. I won’t try to tell you where they came from, but I will explain them, show you how to use them, and give you some other fixed expressions to use in your spoken and written English.

I hope that you’ve all had the chance to use the Love Idioms we looked at in January. This month, the subject is the weather.

If you live, work or study with people from the UK, you’ll know how much we love to talk (or rather complain) about the weather. You might already have heard some of the idioms we have for heavy rain: It’s raining cats and dogs, it’s great weather for ducks, the heavens have opened, and I’ve been drowned standing are all good descriptions of summer weather in the UK.

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Writing your English CV

I’ve written a lot of job application forms since I arrived in Austria.   In fact, rewriting my CV was one of the first things I did when everything was unpacked.

Your CV is the account of your education and work experience which you submit when applying for a job.  It stands for curriculum vitae, which is the standard term in British English. You may also have heard of a resume, which is the American term.

Normally, your CV will form half of your job application. The other half is a covering letter, where you write at more about why you are qualified for the job.

As I was writing my CV for Austria, I noticed that there were a lot of differences to the way I had written it for the UK. The changes I had to make to my CV inspired this post.

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“A synonym is what you use when you can’t spell the other one.”

– Baltasar Gracian


Synonyms are different words which have a similar meaning.

Think of rich and wealthy, lucky and fortunate, true and correct.  But what about saying miserable when you have second doubts about spelling melancholy, or false when duplicitous seems a stretch too far?  I’ve certainly done this in exams before!

Learning synonyms is a great way to improve your vocabulary, but it’s not just the spelling which can cause a problem.  Subtle differences in meaning or collocations can sometimes trip students up.

Does anyone have a story about synonyms in language learning?  More to the point, does anyone have a good tip for remembering how to spell synonym?  Let me know in the comments below.

Writing Emails

Recently, I wrote about the correct way to structure a formal letter in English. This is a really important skill to have when looking for a job or working in a company. However in 2015,  you are much more likely to write an email.

When I worked as a hotel receptionist, I would send dozens of emails every day. Even today it’s one of the main ways I communicate with my colleagues, friends and family.

Unfortunately, writing an email can be a challenge. The tone and etiquette are a minefield even for native English speakers. Fortunately, I’m here to help. I have some advice about each part of the email, and have included sample formal and informal emails at the end of the post.

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