The following are my top four grammar book recommendation. I've used all these books and found these books to be extremely useful and worth the investment. Each book has a unique style. Some books are more detailed than others. I've included the level I think is appropriate for each book. I'm a proud affiliate of these books and I get a very small commission for each book. Please support me by using the links provided. 


English for Everyone - English grammar guide by DK


If you’re a visual learner, which means you learn using pictures or by seeing then this is the perfect book for you. It teaches you grammar through visual examples and plenty of contextual examples. 

[Click Here]

English is not easy


Luci started taking notes to help her study English. She would draw to remember what she learnt. She then decided to publish a book. The book teaches vocabulary and grammar rules, useful phrases, idioms, and slang explained in a way that's easy to understand and entertaining. 

[Click Here]

English Grammar in use


This was one of the first books I bought to teach myself grammar. The book simplifies grammar and has plenty of exercises to help you practice. 

[Click Here]

Practical English usage


This book is excellent for students and teachers. It has all your grammar questions answered. It is by far one of the best books on the market.

[Click Here]


Next: Watch my interview with Khatuna.

Improve your English conversation with Question tags by Sarah from Teatime English

I know that a lot of you want to 'sound more like a native English speaker'. There are many things you can do to get you closer to this goal. One of them is adding question tags into your spoken English. There are a few 'rules' which I will now explain to you.

Firstly, please understand that sometimes, question tags are real question and you will want an answer, but sometimes, you already know the answer, and you will just expect a signal of agreement from the other person. For example, if I was really worried about my friend being unhappy with her boyfriend, I may ask, “You're happy with Leon, aren't you?” (I would say the question tag with a rising intonation (read it aloud like that now). In contrast, if I already felt sure that she was happy with her boyfriend, I would ask her the same, “You're happy with Leon, aren't you?” (I would say the question tag with a falling intonation (read it aloud like that now). Can you hear the difference? It really changes the meaning of the sentence. That's interesting, isn't it? ;)

A main 'rule' is: If the first part of the sentence is positive, the question tag is negative, and if the first part of the sentence is negative, the question tag is positive.

E.g. You haven't seen this film before, have you?

E.g. You've seen this film before, haven't you?

E.g. I'm taller than you, aren't I?

E.g. I'm not taller than you, am I?

If the first part of the sentence contains an auxiliary verb like 'have' or 'be', the question tag contains the same auxiliary verb.

E.g. She had met him before, hadn't she?

E.g. They were there, weren't they?

E.g. They've gone to school, haven't they?

If the first part of the sentence doesn’t have an auxiliary verb, the question tag uses ‘do’, 'don't', 'does' or 'doesn't'.

E.g. She said that, didn't she?

E.g. She drinks alcohol, doesn't she?

E.g. You walk everywhere, don't you?

If the first part of the sentence contains a model verb like 'can', 'could', 'may', 'might', 'must', 'shall', 'should', 'will', or 'would', the question tag will contain the same modal verb.

E.g. We should park the car here, shouldn't we?

E.g. You'd rather walk, wouldn't you?


That's easy, isn't it? ;)

Now it's time to test yourself to see if you've understood this.


  • They've been here before, ____ ____?

  • It's fantastic here, ____ ____?

  • You drive a BMW, ____ ____?

  • He always says that, ____ ____?

  • We could go there tomorrow, ____ ____?

  • You would need to drive there, ____ ____?

  • It was always closed, ____ ____?


Write your answers in the comments.


Did you see the blog post about talking about people's ages? Find it here.

Follow me on Facebook here. Please share this post on social media if you think it's useful.

Thanks. Sarah x



Sarah provides online video classes for both adults and children. Email her at for more information.

Check out Sarah's free learning materials on her website

Follow Sarah's Instagram at

Follow Sarah's Facebook page at

Copy of IMG_20170531_152635_587.jpg

5 Ways to Master your English vocabulary

Everyone learns language differently. You have to learn What's right for you. In today's lesson, you'll learn few tips on how to enhance how you learn new vocabulary. 

1. Learn in context

Learn to understand vocabulary in context. Watch movies, listen to music, read books. You'll find useful words used in context. When you hear a new word/phrase, try to understand it without checking the dictionary then check the meaning in the dictionary. 

2. Practise using new vocabulary

Practise new vocabulary by writing sentences using topics related to your everyday activities. It will help you remember new words. 

3. How to record vocabulary

Leave enough space in your notebook so you can add more vocabulary later. Remember to add synonyms and antonyms. 

4. Choose the right topic

Choose topics that interest you. Then focus on those topics. You'll find this helps you remember a lot more.

5. Recycle and reuse vocabulary

Don't forget about old words. Keep going back to older vocabulary and keep reusing them.

Watch the following video for more tips in the following video:

Texting in English

Everyone texts these days and it's a little different to normal English sometimes and can be confusing. How amazing is going to feel when you're texting someone, and you understand? Then let me help make things more transparent for you.

IKR -  I know, right.
ROFL -  Rolling on the floor laughing.
STFU -  Shut the *freak* up.
LMK -  Let me know.
OFC -  Of course.
GTG -  Got to go.
ILY -  I love you.
SMH -  Shaking my head.
LMFAO -  Laughing my freaking *a* off.
NVM  - Never mind.
TGIF - Thank God it's Friday
ASAP - As soon as possible
FYI - for your information
AKA - also known as
BTW - by the way
TTYL - talk to you later
TYT - take your time

Take notes of the abbreviation and try to use many as you can in the next week. Practice makes perfect. Until next time, happy studying and be A FEARLESS ENGLISH LEARNER.


What are prefixes?

What are prefixes? Prefixes are added at the start of a word to change its meaning. If you understand what the common prefixes mean, it can help you understand new words. Let's take a look at the prefix meaning and sample sentence. 

un = reverse, cancel, not --->  undo -  unable - unwanted
dis = not - ---> dislike - disagree - dishonest
im /in/ ir = not  ---> impossible - incorrect - irresponible
non = not ---> nonfat - nonliving - nonprofit
re = again ---> redo - rewrite - rebuild
mis = wrongly  ---> misbehave - misspell - mishear
anti = against  ---> antisocial - antibacterial
co = together  ---> co-writer - co-ownership - cofounder
ex = former ---> ex-wife - ex-president
inter = between, among, ---> international - interfere
mid = middle - midcourse - midafternoon - midday
out = better than others --->  - outnumber - outsmart - outswim
over = too much  ---> overestimate - overload - overacieve
pre - before ---> prepay - preschool
post = after  --->  postgraduate - postwar
self = oneself ---> self-confidence - self-esteem
sub = under  ---> subordinate - subtitle
super/sur = above, over  ---> superhuman - surcharge
under = beneath, below  ---> underachieve - undergrowth


Create Your Own Bakery (Lesson Plan + podcast) For Teachers

This blog post was created by Matt Purland from

Have fun in the classroom with this great speaking activity! 



I discuss a fantastic lesson plan where students plan and run their own bakery in class!

You can find the lesson plan below.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please tell a friend or colleague, subscribe, and leave a review – thank you!

Lessons plan and materials: Click Here

The collocation Love story

My story with collocations

I used to teach vocabulary differently than I do now. I taught single words and grammar. I had taught in a classroom setting before I started teaching online. My students learnt all the new words well. I even had tests to help them remember new words. They always did well when they did the tests. However, when they tried to use the vocabulary during a speaking or written activity, they would sound so unnatural. That's when I started my collocations journey.  I started researching, and reading and I found out about the Lexical approach by Michael Lewis. A new approach to teaching vocabulary and grammar. It was the most exciting thing I read about as a teacher. I started implementing its teachings straightaway.

These are some of the points I found most useful:

  • Your brain stores and retrieves word chunks quickly
  • Collocations are words that sound natural together to native speakers of English
  • Collocations help you produce natural English
  • It improves your spoken and written fluency
  • It helps you build a larger vocabulary bank
  • Successful language is more important that accurate language

What should you do now that you know this information?

I hope this article helps. Send me an email and let me know what you think!

Written by Halima from Blackboard English


Lewis, M. (1993). The lexical approach: The state of ELT and the way forward. Hove, England: Language Teaching Publications.

Are you ready to take the IELTS exam?

Are you thinking about studying abroad? Do you dream about a life and career aspiration in a different country? You’ve made significant progress in your new language, and you’ve come a long way; so, are you ready to take IELTS?  Here’s how you know:


Your goals

You’re a bright-eyed student ready to take on university, or you’re an ambitious worker ready to prove your skills to your boss.  Another good reason could be your willingness to start a new life abroad and the need to show the local government you can speak the language. 

Tip: As studying and taking the IELTS is a serious investment, having a clear goal in mind is crucial.


There is no “passing” or“good” score for the IELTS.  The test is scored from 0 to 9, and it’s up to each university, government or company to decide what is passing for them. So, you need to find out from the institution you are applying to what score is acceptable. Some university programs only ask for a 5; some governments require as high as an 8!   Do your research and find out that number that you need to shoot for.


Often test scores are due including other materials by a deadline date.  Some institutions give some leeway (for example, you need to take the test by a certain date, and scores must be received by a certain date).  Find out by when you need to register, sit the exam, and when your scores will be released on the IELTS website.

Tip: Typically, you have to book two weeks in advance, and it takes almost two weeks to receive the scores.

Your Level

Have you taken an IELTS practice test? 

This is the best way to know what your level is.  The British Council’s website has practice exams available.

If you’ve taken English lessons or a placement test before, you might have achieved a level such as A2 or B1.  If you know your level, you can guess your IELTS score by converting it here.

Time management

How much time do you have before you take your exam?  3 weeks?  3 months?  If you are at a 4 and your need to get to a 6.5, you have some serious studying to do!  If there is an available course nearby for your level (for example, B2 to C1), how long does that course take?  Will you be able to complete it before your exam?

If there’s no course nearby, measure your progress in hours.  To go up one score level in EACH SKILL may take between 300 to 700 hours of productive studying—wait, how many hours a week is that??

Being aware of your current level, your goal score, when you have to take the exam, and how much time you realistically have to study will help you effectively set study goals and manage your time. 


Whether you are at band 4 and need to reach an overall 6, or if you are at 7 and need to reach 8, you’ve got a plan about how to get there.  Maybe you will take lessons, join speaking clubs, watch movies, keep a journal, or use self-access materials on the internet.  You are also aware of your specific weaknesses and strengths and know what you have to work on.  Maybe you’re a star at speaking but struggle with writing.  It happens!

Tip: Ask your teacher to help you find resources you can use outside of class to practice grammar, vocabulary, writing, speaking, reading, and listening.

Knowing yourself

Sometimes we can get anxious about taking tests, lose our motivation, or have other situations that come up that make it difficult to focus on our goals.

Tip: Try to talk to your teacher or a counsellor about these issues for encouragement and success.  We’re all humans who need help sometimes, and especially when we’re up against a challenge.

With all this knowledge power, you’re ready to tackle this beast with confidence and flair.  Reach for the stars and go for your dreams!


Written by Rachel Bradley for Blackboard English on the 6th Of April, 2017. 

5 phrases to Express your Love for someone

Are you bored of saying the same phrases to the person you love? "I love you" Can be a little boring after the millionth time. So why not learn more exciting ways to tell someone how much they mean to you? I'm going show you five authentic English phrases you can use straight away. Sound good? Let's start. 


1. a match made in heaven 

Person A. Honey, we are a match made in heaven.  

Person B. Aww. That's so sweet of you. I completely agree.  

Meaning: a couple that's very well suited to each other. 


2. To fall head over heels (in love)

Person A. Darling, I'm head over heals in love with you. 

Person B. And I feel the same about you darling. 

Meaning: completely in love with someone


 3. Fall in love 

Person A. Sweetheart, I have something I want to say to you. You are the best person I know, and I have fallen in love with you.  

Person B. I don't know what to tell you. This is very unexpected. You're a great guy, but I don't feel the same way.

Meaning: to start having romantic feelings for someone


4. To be a soul mate

Person A: I could tell he was my soul mate as soon as I met my husband.

Person B: I don't believe in soul mates.

Meaning: someone with whom you share a close friendship and deep personal understanding (Oxford Dictionary)

5. To be someone's one and only

Person A: He's my one and only. There's no one like him.

Person B: I'm glad you feel that way about your husband.

Meaning:  (adjective) incomparable; unique - (as a noun) the object of all one's love (Collin's dictionary) 

Remember to jot down (write down) new vocabulary and use it as much as you can. Thanks and see you next time. 


What's the right way to study English?

Today i'm going to help you study English the right way.

Set goals

What would you like to achieve in one year? Take that goal and make it small. I mean tiny. For example, I'll study for 30 minutes a day. I want to focus on listening, speaking, vocabulary etc. :)


Accountability = checking on yourself

Choose a day and check your progress. Did you achieve your goal? How much studying did you do? Another way to do this is testing yourself. How many words can you remember?


Many students ask me "Teacher, how long do I need to study English for? How long you study English isn't important and my answer to that is always "Be Consistent". Consistency means "always acting or behaving in the same way" (Merriam-Webster Learners Dictionary). What does that mean for you as a student? First, ask yourself "How long am I  willing to study? Don't lie to yourself and be too ambitious. Set a realistic time. Try to study for 45 minutes or under. Moreover, it's a good idea to study at the same time every day. These are a few things you need to focus on while you're studying.      


Make sure there are no distractions. Dedicate the entire time to studying. This means turn off social media and anything that can distract you. 

Make it enjoyable  

Watch your favourite movie/series with a purpose. Set a task for yourself. I'll watch the movie then write a summary. I'll watch the movie then write down eight new words. I'll watch the series and write down questions. 

The park, Starbucks, or the living room?

Try to change up where you study. Make a list of places you like and go there. It will keep you motivated and help you avoid distractions. 

See what works for you and do it. By experimenting with different things, it will allow you to have a better learning experience. 

Study english

Grammar vs Vocabulary


If you're reading this, I am happy you're here. Here is my first post, and I'm hoping I don't bore you to death. So let's begin. Grammar and vocabulary will go head to head today in this post. Which one do you think you need to be able to communicate in English? Well, let's do an experiment, and you can test for yourself. 

Be new in job not easy. 

Being recent in operation is not light. 

Look at the two sentences. Which one is easier to understand? I've taken the grammar out of the first sentence and changed the vocabulary in the second sentence. I want you to see that with the right vocabulary you can still understand the sentence. However, with the correct grammar, it's difficult to comprehend the message. Cool right? So does that mean you forget grammar? Nope! Grammar is important for accuracy. However, don't make it your entire focus! Try to concentrate more on building your vocabulary. 

In the next post, I will write about which steps you should take! See you next time! 

English Listening Skills

Types of listening skills

  1. Predicting content (Guessing)

  2. Listening for gist

  3. Detecting signposts

  4. Listening for details

  5. Inferring meaning

Types of listening

  1. Extensive (focuses on the previous skills)
  2. Intensive (listening for enjoyment) 

Click to download a printable worksheet :)

Have you been studying English a long time? Do you understand grammar rules so well, you could probably teach it? Then why is it hard for you to understand native speakers? Or your favourite television series? Well, here are a few tips to help you dramatically improve your listening skills. The next time you do listening practice, remember these tips.

1. Listen with a purpose

What are you listening for?
Are you listening to understand specific information? 
- Name, age, hobbies

Are you listening to understand the general idea? 
-The guy was talking about his university. 

Are you listening for specific words? 
- Listen for specific phrasal verbs. idioms, collocations, etc. 

Are you listening for tenses? 
- He uses past tense and present continuous to tell the story. 

Always have a purpose for listening or your skills won't develop! 

2. Make listening a daily habit

Try to listen to something every day. A great time to do this is when you're doing something boring like washing the dishes, cleaning the house, driving, on the bus etc

3. Predict what you're going to hear

This will allow your brain time to get the necessary vocabulary ready. Let me give you an example. I'm taking a speaking exam and the topic is about family. I prepare myself by thinking about my family. I will ask myself questions like 'how many members of family do I have?' 'What do we do together?' 'Where do they live?' Etc. Try to do this next time and notice the difference. 

4. Listen and repeat

If you can't hear a particular word or phrase, listen to the audio until you can hear it. This will train your ear to work better!

5. Songs! 

Print lyrics and learn songs! So much fun! 

I hope this helped! Please share to help others. 

Written by Halima Salim


Download a poster



(Notes) Below

Dictionary use

Use more than one dictionary

My favourite dictionaries are:


  • Search on google 

  • Write the word e.g. coffee + meaning or definition



One meaning isn’t enough. To understand vocabulary clearly, use more than one dictionary 

synonyms (helps you understand meaning of new words)

Words with similar meaning

E.g. happy > glad

E.g. small > tiny, little


Words with opposite meaning

E.g. happy > sad

E.g. big > small

E.g. short > long



The study of words and how they change


Why are suffixes and prefixes important?


Part of the word that is at the end

-etic (relating to) athletic, energetic, poetic

-ful (full of). helpful, thankful, cheerful


Part of the words that's at the end of the word

(helps you understand meaning of new words)

un = reverse, cancel, not --->  undo -  unable - unwanted

dis = not - ---> dislike - disagree - dishonest


Part of speech

Noun: A noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea.

e.g. John, Mohamed, dog, pencil, sadness, dream  

Verb: A verb shows an action or state of being. A verb shows what someone or something is doing.

e.g. go, run, drink, dance, live, jump, have, hate, are,

Adverb: describes a verb

E.g. slowly, quickly, very, always, sometimes, well, yesterday, 

Adjectives: describing word

e.g. smart, small, sad, approachable, happy


Collocations with HAVE

In this English lesson, I’m going to teach you collocations with 'HAVE' in the context/subject of food. By the end of this lesson, you will learn how to use natural English to talk about meals of the day. This is a vocabulary lesson and will help you become better at understanding the English language.

How to speak about shopping in English

In this lesson, I'm going to teach how to speak about shopping in English. When you go shopping in an English speaking country, one of the first things you do is buy something from the store. In this English lesson, I am going to teach you what you the English vocabulary you need to speak about shopping. You will learn Idioms, collocations, phrases and sentences in English. I post a new English lesson every Friday! Subscribe and comment below with which English lesson you want next.

5 Easy ways to Set Goals and Learn English Quickly

In this lesson, I'm going to teach you  5 easy ways to set goals and learn English quickly. Goals are fundamental for you to learn English and achieve your dreams. All you need to do is set a long-term goal first then break down your goals to make them easier to achieve. 

Why are goals so important? 
- Goals Give You Focus
By focusing on a specific target, you’re allowing your mind to understand what the most important thing to learn. This enables more learning to happen. 

- Goals Allow You To Measure Progress
How do you know how much you’ve learned or accomplished? Goals will allow you to measure your success.

- Goals Keep You Locked In And Undistracted
Have you sat down trying to decide what to study and you study 15 different things? This is unproductive. It hinders your progress, and this is why you need to know what goals to achieve. 

- Goals Give You Motivation
 It’s easy to give up without goals. Goals will give you the inspiration and excitement to keep going.

Halima <


English American Accent - PITTSBURGHESE


In this lesson, I teach you the words I learnt in Pittsburgh. It was difficult understanding some of the words unique to Pittsburgh. I wrote them down and decided I would create this lesson for you. I enjoyed learning the lesson, and I hope you do too. This video includes Pittsburgh dad, a funny comedian from Pittsburgh. You can hear him use this dialect and see how much you understand. :)