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42 Ways to Say “Yes” in English

Scrabble letters spelling yes.

Scrabble letters spelling yes.

When someone asks you if you want that second bowl of ice cream, how do you respond? With a resounding “yes!” of course! However, if your professor asks if you studied for the exam, you may respond with a less enthusiastic “absolutely.”

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “yes” is a term that can be used to do the following:

  • Give a positive answer or reply to a question, request, or offer
  • Express agreement with an earlier statement or to say that statement is true
  • Introduce a statement that corrects or disagrees with an earlier negative statement

The word “yes” can be interpreted in so many different ways, depending on your context, tone, and word choice. Let’s explore the many nuances of this word and its synonyms.


When you’re in informal situations, you will often choose to use casual language. For instance, when speaking to your friends and family, you would probably respond with “yep” rather than the much more formal “indeed.”

Things have gotten even more casual as technology develops. As we communicate through texting and messaging apps, we continue to alter words like “yes” to convey subtly different meanings. Texting has also fostered the creation of short forms and slang. So, when you receive a text from your friend saying, “Hey, do you want me to grab you some tacos?” you can respond with any of the following versions of “yes:”

  1. Yes
  2. Ya
  3. Yep
  4. Yup
  6. Totally
  7. Totes
  8. Sure
  9. You bet

However, if your friend asks you to pick up some tacos, and you feel inclined to do so, you can respond with these variations:

  1. OK
  2. K
  3. Okay
  4. Okie dokie
  5. Alright
  6. Alrighty
  7. Sounds good
  8. For sure
  9. Sure thing


When you find yourself in formal situations, it is important to speak or write using formal language. Typically, you should avoid short forms, abbreviations, and slang.

Should you receive an email from your professor asking whether you are able to come in early to tutor a fellow student, you can respond with any of the following:

  1. Certainly
  2. Definitely
  3. Of course
  4. Gladly

And, if your boss asks if you will be able to make it to the budget meeting, you can use one of these hearty responses:

  1. Indubitably
  2. Absolutely
  3. Indeed
  4. Undoubtedly


Sometimes, the best way to respond is with a good ol’ sarcastic acceptance. Typically, these are used in informal circumstances when you want to be sassy or funny. Make sure you know your audience before whipping out one of these responses!

Although a truly sarcastic person is capable of making any of the responses in this post sound sarcastic, these ones in particular rely heavily on tone and body language and are commonly used in response to nagging and stupid questions—or to indicate angry acceptance.

  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah
  2. Fine
  3. Affirmative (Because it is so excessively formal, you’ll most likely find this used when someone is trying to sound funny or robotic.)
  4. Very well
  5. Obviously
  6. No (This last one really requires emphasis, and even perhaps an eye roll, to seal the deal.)


If you are feeling Shakespearean or just enjoy using archaic language, you can use these words to say “yes.” Unless you are writing a paper about medieval times or emailing an archaic language enthusiast, we don’t recommend using these words in formal writing.

  1. Aye
  2. Forsooth
  3. Yea
  4. Verily
  5. Surely

Sounds and Body Language

You can also express “yes” without words. These are particularly useful when your mouth is full of tacos and ice cream or when you find yourself just agreeing because you weren’t paying attention to the conversation.

  1. Mhmm
  2. Uh-huh
  3. [Nodding]
  4. [Thumbs up] The thumbs up emoji.
  5. [Okay sign] The okay emoji.

Phew! Who knew there were so many ways to say “yes” in English? The word “yes” has been changed over the years in order to adapt to every situation and medium in which it is used. We hope this has helped you to navigate the different ways to say “yes.”

Did we miss any? If you know other ways to say “yes,” share them with us on Facebook!

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33 Great Online Resources for ESL Speakers

33 Great Online Resources for ESL SpeakersAs an English as a second language (ESL) speaker, it can be overwhelming to search for online resources to help you with your grammar and English usage. The Internet is great because it provides a wealth of information, but this information is often hard to navigate. How do you know which online resources for ESL speakers will best suit your English learning needs? GrammarCamp is here to help!

Our grammar experts have compiled a list of the best tools to help those learning to speak English. To help pinpoint specific needs, we’ve broken it up into five sections: Grammar and English Usage; Spelling and Punctuation; Vocabulary and Writing; and Speaking and Listening. To help assess what you’ve learned, we’ve also included the sections Quizzes and Worksheets, Lesson Plans, and YouTube Channels.

We hope these online resources for ESL speakers will help you become confident in your English usage and that you will continue to consult them whenever you need to brush up on your skills or improve your knowledge.

Grammar and English Usage

1. Daves ESL Cafe: Dave Sperling is an ESL teacher. His comprehensive website provides lessons on grammar, idioms, pronunciation, and much more for ESL/EFL students and teachers.

2. ESL Partyland: The mission of ESL Partyland, according to the website, is threefold: “provide students with the content and tools necessary to learn online; provide teachers with class materials; and allow for students and teachers to easily communicate together.”

3. is one of the world’s oldest and most trusted online editing and proofreading companies. Its primary goal is to provide clients with fast, reliable, and affordable revision services. The service is especially popular among students and ESL speakers, as it can help them overcome any language barriers that may be hindering them from communicating their ideas clearly.

4. Breaking News English: On Breaking News English, you can read current news stories at varying levels of difficulty. The following resources are also available, according to the website: “seven levels of free lessons, from elementary to advanced, with printable activities and handouts; lessons based on current news stories with 30+ online quizzes for each lesson; and listening files in British and North American English that can be downloaded in mp3 format or subscribed to via a podcast.”

5. ESL-Lounge: ESL-Lounge offers hundreds of exercises focused on parts of speech and vocabulary classified by difficulty, including ESL lesson plans and materials, books, talking points, pronunciation, and terminology.

6. GrammarCamp: GrammarCamp was developed by the award-winning editing experts at This online course allows you to learn English grammar at your own pace and become a better writer. With comprehensive lessons and quizzes, this course has helped people around the world improve both their written and spoken English.

7. Activities for ESL Students: Grammar and vocabulary quizzes at multiple levels of difficulty are available from Activities for ESL Students. The website also offers bilingual quizzes in dozens of languages.

8. 5-Minute English: 5-Minute English provides short and easy exercises for ESL speakers, including lessons on grammar, reading, vocabulary, listening, pronunciation, slang, and idioms. It also provides answers to students’ questions about confusing features of English.

Spelling and Pronunciation

9. TalkEnglish: English is currently the most commonly used language in worldwide business. TalkEnglish’s Business English lessons help people with office jobs communicate in such an environment. According to the website, “Each lesson contains multiple sentences that you can click on to learn how to say that sentence. You should be able to easily find what you need by the different subcategories. Repeat after the audio files and you will improve your business English.”

10. Antimoon: Antimoon’s website explains that it “provides advice and inspiration to people who are serious about improving their English. The Antimoon Method is a set of principles and techniques for learning English effectively. If you want to learn English well, you cannot rely on English classes; you have to take control of your learning. Antimoon will show you how to do it in a fun and effective way.”

11. English Zone: English Zone provides a variety of information for ESL speakers, including grammar, reading, verbs, pronunciation, idioms, spelling, writing, and conversation.

12. Learn That Word: Learn That Word “creates every session just for you. Nothing is out-of-the-box! Advance on your word journey in fast, easy steps. Focus on learning what’s important to you; we’ll manage your progress behind the scenes. LearnThatWord is a complete solution. We’re your virtual mom, catering to your every need and helping you be the best you can be.”

13. BBC Learning English: Since 1943, BBC Learning English has been involved in teaching English around the world. It is a branch of the BBC World Service, and it offers free learning materials to learners worldwide. According to the website, BBC Learning English “deliver [their] materials as full-length courses, but each component of the course is stand-alone and can be studied on its own. This means the learner can choose the best way to study for them: by following a full course or by following the individual materials most appropriate to them.”

Speaking and Listening

Speaking and listening resources.14. Using English: According to the website, is “a general English language site specializing in ESL, with a wide range of resources for learners and teachers of English. The site uses different varieties of English, and there are contributors from the United States, Canada, Pakistan, and non-native speakers, but much of the site uses British English.”

15. TEFL Tunes: The TEFL Tunes website uses the principle that language can be learned through music. Website visitors can select the level of difficulty, the song’s theme, the skill they want to learn, and even the artist they want to learn from. Subscriptions to the website are £10 for an individual or £36 for a school. However, there is also a selection of free song lessons available.

Vocabulary and Writing

16. Answers.coms Idiom Dictionary: Learning idioms can be one of the biggest challenges when studying English. To help you keep them straight, The Dictionary of Idioms “contains idiomatic words and phrases, slang terms, figures of speech, common proverbs, and metaphors, each clearly defined and illustrated with at least one sample sentence or quotation.”

17. The Ultimate Vocabulary Resource Guide: Looking for even more great online tools for improving your vocabulary? This guide, compiled by the writers at SuperSummary, includes links to vocabulary tools, resources for educators and parents, vocabulary test preparation tips, and more.

18. Cram: Cram offers “a wide selection of flashcards for you to study, memorize, test yourself on, and more. Flashcards are effective because they are founded on the principles of rote and memorization. You can use its web-based flashcard maker to create your own set. Once you create your online flashcards, you will be able to study, export, or even share it with your fellow classmates. You can collaborate perfectly with anyone, anytime.”

Spelling resources.19. ESL Lab: Finding the time to keep your language skills fresh can be difficult. ESL Lab’s vocabulary lists will teach you how to use vocabulary in everyday situations. According to the website, “Each of the pages on this website is designed to build communication skills and includes a listening and discussion activity. As you learn the vocabulary, try to use it in other situations.”

20. English Vocabulary: English Vocabulary offers resources for learners of English who are at a more advanced level, including articles, quizzes, and worksheets.

21. This is a “fun educational website dedicated to helping you build reading, phonics, or English language skills. It offers free online word games, which are specifically designed to build vocabulary skills and to motivate people to learn through fun practice in spelling, phonics, and vocabulary.”

22. Pizzaz: For learning to write fiction and poetry in English, Pizzaz offers some simple creative writing activities. It also offers printable resources both for learning and teaching English writing.

Quizzes and Worksheets

23. Self-Study Quizzes for ESL Students: One of the main benefits of Self-Study Quizzes for ESL Students is that none of the quizzes require JavaScript, Java, or Flash; they are all HTML only and should, therefore, be accessible on any computer with Internet access.

24. English Club: English Club’s vocabulary quizzes offers a compilation of over 1,000 activities for ESL students pertaining to grammar, vocabulary, idioms, and more.

25. ESL Resource Center: The ESL Resource Center was created for ESL teachers and provides plenty of worksheets, tips, and lessons on grammar, spelling, reading and writing, pronunciation, vocabulary and idioms, and listening.

26. ESL HQ: ESL HQ offers free ESL flashcards, worksheets, games, activities, lesson plans, advice from teachers, job listings, and more.

Lesson Plans

27. The Internet TESL Journal – The Internet TESL Journal offers a large collection of lesson plans, articles, research papers, handouts, and teaching ideas categorized according to the skill they aim to teach.

28. – is a forum providing message boards about language and teaching. In addition to conversations between users, message boards contain lesson plans, PowerPoints, and other resources that are helpful to ESL speakers.

YouTube Channels

YouTube resources.29. VOA Learning English: VOA Learning English allows viewers to see captioned news reports in American English at a speed that is 33% slower than normal.

30. Listen and Read Along: Listen and Read Along offers Reading Movies (Rovies) that encourage reading and attempt to make it an enjoyable experience for those learning the language.

31. TOEFL TV: According to the channel’s description, TOEFL TV is “a place to learn, share, and grow. TOEFL TV has tips from real teachers and real students to help improve your English skills. You can hear what leading colleges and universities think about the value of students who can communicate well in English in an academic setting.”

32. OMGmeiyu’s Channel: OMGmeiyu’s YouTube channel is an excellent resource for native Chinese speakers learning English and seeking to learn American English slang.

33. English with Jennifer: Run by an experienced ESL teacher, English with Jennifer “will introduce new content to some and serve as a review for others.” Both students and teachers can also leave comments and questions that Jennifer will address.

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5 Struggles Faced by International Students

Five Struggles Faced by International Students and How to Overcome Them

Five Struggles Faced by International Students and How to Overcome ThemBeing an international student is an incredible experience. Many students travel from all over the world to attend universities in the United States and in Canada. While many of these students do very well in their new environments, most still face struggles at some point or another. Moving across the globe all by yourself—usually at the young age of 18 or 19—is a pretty big deal. If you’re an international student in North America and you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, don’t panic—you are not alone. Here is a list of five common struggles for international students, along with the best methods for overcoming them.

Struggle #1: Language Barriers

The Problem: Even if you’ve been speaking English for your entire life, learning to understand native English speakers can be a major challenge. Depending on where you are studying, the dialect could be almost impossible for you to understand right away—native English speakers can also have trouble understanding the dialects of English speakers living in regions different than their own. Even if dialect isn’t a factor, speed and slang certainly are added obstacles. Native English speakers may speak so quickly that you can’t separate the words, and they may use lots of terms and phrases that mean absolutely nothing to someone who is not well-versed in English colloquialisms. Being unable to communicate fully in English upon arrival at school can make it very difficult to make friends and to fully succeed in your classes.

The Solution: Make friends! This may seem difficult, but really, a university is the perfect venue for meeting people with whom you share common interests. Just like you’re interested in North American culture, customs, and language, many native students will be interested in where you come from and what your life was like in your home country. If you take time to communicate with your new friends exactly what your language limitations are, many of them will work to accommodate your needs.

The more you speak English with your new friends, the easier it will become to understand their speech and to generate more of your own. For example, I had a friend at my university who was an international student from Pakistan. His English skills were already very good upon arriving in Canada, but he had a hard time with slang and idioms. Instead of just avoiding the use of these phrases, he created a method for learning them. Whenever someone used a phrase with which he was unfamiliar, he asked what it meant. After the person explained—usually with some difficulty, as it is very difficult to explain why phrases like “I’m feeling under the weather” or “take it with a grain of salt” mean what they do—my friend would write down the phrase, along with its meaning, in a memo pad on his cellphone. He would then casually try these new phrases in his own speech with his friends to make sure he was using them correctly.

Struggle #2: Academic Issues

The Problem: Like most international students, you may be very serious about succeeding academically. After all, you did travel across the globe to receive your education. Still, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try—some assignments or tasks may be too challenging. This can be especially true for projects that involve strong English language skills or abstract writing abilities, like essays. It can be very frustrating to fully understand a concept but be unable to express it satisfactorily in English.

The Solution: Talk to your teachers! Most professors want to help their students succeed. Though it may make you nervous at first, utilize resources like office hours and study groups. Stop in to talk to your instructor if you are struggling with an assignment. It is perfectly acceptable at North American universities to actively seek help when you are having a hard time. If your professors are unable to help you themselves, they can refer you to resources that they think will be helpful, like your university’s academic writing center.

Struggle #3: Homesickness

The Problem: Moving away to school is a major transition, even when you aren’t moving a two-day plane ride away. It’s easy to quickly fall into homesickness, especially if you find yourself feeling isolated. You may start missing your family, your friends, the customs of your home country, and even the food you are used to eating.

The Solution: Once again, the solution to this struggle is to make friends! While it’s great to call home sometimes to chat with your family and friends, you shouldn’t rely on this contact to keep yourself from being homesick. Instead, you should spend lots of time with new friends. These can be both international students like yourself and North American students. You may find that it makes you feel better to tell your new friends about your life at home, to sometimes speak your native tongue with friends from your country, to teach foreign words to native English speakers, and even to expose your new friends to the foods you are accustomed to eating.

Struggle #4: Staying Active

The Problem: Your lifestyle may change drastically when you move to school. If you’re anything like other students, you’ll probably find yourself spending lots of time sitting around. Whether you’re hanging out with friends, sitting in class, studying for exams, or writing a paper, you may have a hard time getting the same amount of exercise you’re used to. On top of that, the new foods you’re eating may be drastically different from (and greasier than) your regular diet. It doesn’t take very long for what North Americans cutely call “the Freshman 15” to settle onto your hips. And let me tell you—there is nothing cute about it.

The Solution: Take advantage of your school’s resources. Don’t be afraid to try going to the gym—after all, you have a free membership! Most university recreational centers also offer free fitness classes and intramural sports. Even if physical exercise has never been your cup of tea, you should make an attempt to do something other than hang out in your dorm room. Consider joining an academic or social club, and try to become familiar with the city you’re staying in by using public transportation and going for walks. Staying busy and active will also help you avoid homesickness.

Struggle #5: Other Problems

The Problem: You’ve made friends. You’ve joined clubs. You’ve attended classes, written papers, and studied for exams. But still, something is missing. You’re not happy. Maybe there’s something personal going on in your life, or maybe you’re just having a hard time with the transition to post-secondary education. Whatever the reason, you’re not enjoying your life, and that’s a problem.

The Solution: While it may be difficult for some international students to understand, in North America, it is completely acceptable to ask for help when you are having problems. Most universities offer counseling services for their students. Usually, a certain number of sessions are covered by your student health plan, which means you can talk to a counselor for free. Utilize these resources while you can—these types of services are not usually free of cost in contexts other than school, and they can be very helpful when you’re trying to deal with complicated issues. Don’t struggle alone—learn how to reach out.


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Different Methods of Teaching Grammar

Different Methods of Teaching Grammar

Different Methods of Teaching GrammarEnglish grammar is notoriously difficult to learn for both native and second-language speakers. There are so many intricacies, obscure rules, and exceptions that it comes as no surprise that different generations of teachers have used various approaches to teaching grammar to train literate English writers. In the past, memorization-based techniques that relied on repetition slowly gave way to more creative methods. Today, we live in a society that prizes literacy and is willing to adapt to more effective methods to achieve the best results in teaching grammar.

Inklyo has a Grammar Boot Camp you might want to check out. Below, you’ll learn some of the other methods for teaching grammar.

Diagramming Sentences

One of the older forms of teaching grammar, diagramming sentences, first appeared in the 19th century. This method involves visually mapping the structures of and relationships between different aspects of a sentence. Especially helpful for visual learners, this method disappeared from modern teaching at least 30 years ago. Different forms of diagramming are used to visualize sentences, from the Reed-Kellogg System to dependency grammar, but all organize the functions of a sentence in a way that illustrates the grammatical relationships between words. More recently, diagramming sentences has had a small pop-culture resurgence in prints of famous opening sentences and websites that allow you to diagram to your heart’s content.

Learning Through Writing

This method is often used in schools in the U.S. and Canada. Students are encouraged to explore language through creative writing and reading, picking up correct grammar usage along the way. If there are specific problems with certain grammatical rules, these are covered in a more structured lesson. An emphasis is now being placed upon language acquisition over language learning, as it has been observed that learning grammar by memorization does not work well and that students are better able to recognize and understand grammatical rules when lessons are more interactive (i.e., they have to apply these rules in their own writing). Repeated practice is also important and easily achieved through creative or personal writing exercises. This article, posted by The Atlantic, suggests that to better equip future adult writers, teachers in the 21st century should consider dropping outdated grammar teaching techniques in early education and opt for learning through writing techniques.

Inductive Teaching

The inductive method of teaching grammar involves presenting several examples that illustrate a specific concept and expecting students to notice how the concept works from these examples. No explanation of the concept is given beforehand, and the expectation is that students learn to recognize the rules of grammar in a more natural way during their own reading and writing. Discovering grammar and visualizing how these rules work in a sentence allow for easier retention of the concept than if the students were given an explanation that was disconnected from examples of the concept. The main goal of the inductive teaching method is the retention of grammar concepts, with teachers using techniques that are known to work cognitively and make an impression on students’ contextual memory.

Deductive Teaching

The deductive method of teaching grammar is an approach that focuses on instruction before practice. A teacher gives students an in-depth explanation of a grammatical concept before they encounter the same grammatical concept in their own writing. After the lesson, students are expected to practice what they have just been shown in a mechanical way, through worksheets and exercises. This type of teaching, though common, has many people—including teachers—rethinking such methods, as more post-secondary level students are revealing sub-par literacy skills in adulthood. As one former teacher states, deductive teaching methods drive many students away from writing because of the tediousness of rote learning and teacher-centered approaches.

Interactive Teaching

Another method of teaching grammar is to incorporate interactivity into lessons. Using games to teach grammar not only engages students but also helps them to remember what they’ve learned. This method allows teachers to tailor their lessons to the different learning styles of students. For instance, each student can be given a large flashcard with a word on it, and the students must physically arrange themselves into a proper sentence. Other games can include word puzzles or fun online quizzes.

Over the years, many methods have been developed for teaching grammar and have been built upon, abandoned, or combined, all with the same goal in mind—teaching students how to communicate effectively and understand how to use the English language. Because of the grammatical complexity of English, each method has its pros and cons. Some lessons are less likely to be remembered, while others may require more in-depth explanation and practice. Regardless of how grammar is taught, a well-rounded understanding of English grammar is the most important factor in improving the literacy of students.


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So, You’re New to Canada, Eh?

So, You're New to Canada, Eh?I hear you’ve just moved to Canada. I bet you’re wondering just how to fit into Canadian culture. If you’ve done any research online, you’ve surely found that to act like a Canadian, you’ll need to say “eh” a lot, eat maple syrup-covered bacon, play hockey, be super nice to everyone, and pronounce it “a-boot” instead of “about.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but most of that stereotypically “Canadian” stuff is a bunch of over-exaggerated bologna. Sure, these things make for great punchlines in jokes about Canada, but they aren’t going to be much help if you actually find yourself in the land of the maple leaf. So, for you who are new to Canada, here are some dos and don’ts that will actually help you navigate the True North Strong and Free.

Do be nice

Canada has a reputation for being one of the nicest countries in the world. And while you shouldn’t expect every Canadian you encounter to shower you with love and affection, you definitely can expect us, as a group, to be very nice to you. For example, in Canada, it is generally considered pretty rude not to hold the door open for someone—even a stranger—who is entering a room or building behind you.

So, what can you, as a recent immigrant to Canada, do to fit in when out and about? The easiest thing you can do to be accepted by Canadians is just to be excessively polite. When you’re buying something at a store, being served at a restaurant, or receiving any other type of service, say “thank you.” And when somebody else thanks you, be sure to accept that thanks with a “you’re welcome.” Here is an example of a typical conversation between a cashier at a store and a customer in Canada:

Cashier: Hi, how are you today?

Customer: I’m great, thanks. How are you?

Cashier: I’m good, thank you. Did you find everything you were looking for today?

Customer: Oh yes, thank you.

Cashier: Good. Okay, your total comes to $15.00, please.

Customer: That will be on my Visa, please.

Cashier: Okay, you’re all set (sets up the Visa machine).

Customer: Thank you (completes the Visa transaction).

Cashier: Thank you. Here’s your receipt.

Customer: Great, thanks.

Cashier: No problem. You have a great day.

Customer: Thanks, you too.

Cashier: Thank you.

You may think that conversation is an exaggeration, but as someone who worked in retail for a long time, I can assure you that it isn’t. Most courteous Canadians treat service workers as if they are friends doing us extremely generous favors rather than as employees who are simply doing their jobs. The service workers, in turn, act as if the customers are their grandmothers, teachers, or other people who are generally treated with a high degree of respect. Of course, there are some rotten people who don’t treat service workers very well at all, but we prefer to believe that the mean people are actually all secretly American.

In addition to thanking people excessively, we Canadians tend to apologize profusely, usually when we have done nothing even remotely wrong. Some studies have shown that about 70 percent of Canadians will apologize when someone else bumps into them. That’s right––we say “sorry” for being in the way of people who aren’t paying attention to us. We also apologize when we don’t know what to order at a restaurant, when we can’t get our credit cards out of our wallets fast enough when there is a line behind us, when our small children cry in public, and so on. Even though it’s ridiculous, not apologizing for such things just seems rude.

Don’t say “eh”

The art of naturally integrating the word “eh” into a sentence is one that takes years of practice to master. Just like you can’t walk into a synagogue and toss around the few slang Hebrew words you know, you can’t just come into Canada and start saying “eh.” Most people who aren’t Canadian seem to think that we say “eh” in every other sentence. It takes a certain level of finesse to integrate it into your speech, and while some Canadians might be liberal with their “ehs,” most of us tack it onto sentences without even knowing it. Here are some proper and improper uses of the Canadian catchphrase that are good to know for those new to Canada:

Correct: “I know, eh?”

Translation: “I agree completely with what you’ve already said.”

Incorrect: “So, eh, I hear you’re an, eh, Canadian!”

Translation: “I’m doing a very poor imitation of a Canadian based on what I’ve seen on television.”

Correct: “It’s beautiful outside, eh?”

Translation: “Don’t you agree that the weather today is very pleasant?”

Incorrect: “Eh, don’t look at me like that.”

Translation: “What I really wanted to say was ‘hey,’ but I was trying to be clever.”

Unless you start saying “eh” without thinking about it, you would probably be better off avoiding its usage altogether. While we’ll probably just think it’s cute that you’re trying to be like us, we may be slightly annoyed if we think you’re mocking us (though it’s not likely that we’ll express that annoyance; instead, we’ll probably just offer you a beer).

Do accept hockey as a regular part of your life

You know that joke about all Canadians loving hockey? Well, it’s kind of true. I mean, no, we don’t all play, and I dare say, we don’t all even like hockey. But even those of us who don’t give a hoot about the sport itself do tend to take a certain amount of pride in our nation’s ability to dominate on the ice. Canada is a very large country, and hockey is one of the only universally Canadian things out there. From British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland, you’ll find small towns whose members regularly congregate at the local arena for hockey games. Many young girls and boys across the country grow up playing, and the amount of time, energy, and passion put into our hockey leagues can’t be ignored. We raise good hockey players, then proudly send them out into the world to represent us on our Olympic team and in the National Hockey League.

You don’t have to play hockey to live in Canada, but learning a thing or two about the game certainly won’t hamper your efforts to integrate into Canadian society. Tune in to Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday evenings once in a while to get an idea of what this hockey thing is all about.

Don’t think that all Canadians are the same

This may be an ironic bit of advice in an article on how to fit into Canadian society, but trust me, it’s still very valid advice for those new to Canada. Ever looked at a map of Canada before? If not, take a gander. If you haven’t noticed, Canada is huge. In terms of land area (no water), Canada is the fourth-largest country in the world. (If you count the water, we’re second only to Russia.)

This huge geographic span means that Canada has some pretty intensely different climates and intensely different people. For example, someone who grew up in Ontario would have a much easier time relating to a person from Michigan, USA than with a person from Newfoundland, Canada.

So, no, it isn’t always cold everywhere in Canada—in fact, not many people live in the places where it is always cold. And no, Canadians don’t all have the same “Canadian” accent. And no, we didn’t all share the same culture growing up. Saying so would be like saying that someone who grew up in Hollywood had the same upbringing as someone who grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. While stereotypical Canadian jokes are fine, people need to realize that they are just that—jokes. In reality, Canada is a uniquely diverse country.

Do ask questions, make friends, and feel welcome

I hope you’ve read the above points and thought to yourself, “Gee, I’m glad I moved to Canada.” If you are, I can’t blame you. It is a great place to be. We Canadians are fun people to get to know. We’re pretty accepting of others, too––if you respect us, we’ll respect you. So, come on in. Take off your shoes, get comfy on the couch (never the “sofa”), crack a pop (never a “soda”), and get to know us a bit better. I promise, you won’t regret it.


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Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online Business

Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online Business

Beyond the LOLs and Hashtags: English Is the Language of Online BusinessBritish colonialism, world wars, Hollywood blockbusters—for reasons that stretch back for generations, English dominates the world scene, particularly when it comes to business. As the world shrinks and communications diversify, global professionals have come to rely on the Internet for fast, reliable, and shareable online business exchanges. In this system of global online communication, English has trumped other languages on the Internet as the one most commonly shared between international parties. For those who speak little or no English, online translation services like Google Translate offer some help, though not nearly enough.

Although Google Translate has made leaps and bounds in improving its accuracy and information base (you can still get a laugh from Translate’s less-than-perfect days, as seen in this endlessly entertaining video), it hardly serves as a reliable (or realistic) means of viewing all potential business-relevant websites in your native language. Online professionals are finding that a sturdy knowledge of English is the best way to get the most out of an online business experience.

Forbes Magazine discussed the English language’s international transition from being a “marker of the elite” to serving as a basic necessity for those entering the workforce. Much more than just a trend, evidence of this progression can be seen in Japan’s major clothing retail store Uniqlo, the Nissan Motor Company, Finnish telecom company Nokia, and German airline Lufthansa, which are just a few examples of the many international companies that have adopted English as their official language of business. The British Council predicts that two billion people will be studying English a mere five years from now.

As explained by linguist Kachru, the use of English across the globe is divided into countries where it is the mother tongue (e.g., the United Kingdom), those where it is an official second language (e.g., Singapore), and those where it is a prominently used foreign language (e.g., China). The latter categories are of particular interest, as these countries (many of which, such as Japan, Korea, China, and India, are major economic drivers) actually use English as the go-to common language or, as stated in The Japan News, a “social resource.” Whether meeting the needs of a social network, a large conglomerate, or a small online business, English is fast becoming the language of commerce worldwide.

An agency from Argentina may do business with companies in Japan and Saudi Arabia, but more than likely the language they use to speak to each other is English. English also distinguishes local businesses from those with international targets. Walking into a hair salon off the street in Taiwan, you’ll probably be greeted by a Mandarin Chinese–speaking clerk; however, if that same business has shops across Taiwan and a few in Korea, you’re more than likely to find its website in English. This is where the importance of knowing English comes into play to be profitable online.

A 2013 study reports that Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese are growing at faster rates online than English, but English is still the most commonly used language. As pointed out by Business Insider, the only language that has some real possibility to challenge English’s online reign is Mandarin. Yet because the Mandarin language is “one of the world’s most difficult to master, and least computer-friendly,” a successful coup is unlikely. Sure, Mark Zuckerberg made some news by holding a Q&A session at Beijing’s Qinghua University entirely in Mandarin (which is hilarious, for Facebook is still blocked from online users in China), but English still runs at an impressive lead over other languages on online platforms. In 2013, 55.5% of websites used English as their main content language, with German occupying the second-place slot at a lowly 6%. Mandarin, in contrast, was the language of choice of only 2.8% of websites, despite the fact that Chinese speakers made up the second largest body of Internet users worldwide (English speakers being the first, with over 800 million users, and the Chinese not far behind, with 650 million users).

As business enterprises encompass our ever-shrinking globe, one thing is for certain: English won’t be retreating any time soon. For online business professionals and others, knowledge of English is no longer merely a plus on a resume; it’s the backbone of communications and online profitability. Fortunately, the Internet is also a giving beast. With online courses such as GrammarCamp, anyone can initiate his or her own English-learning experience and kick-start a more profitable relationship with the online business world.


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Five Obstacles Businesspeople Face When Learning English (and Why You Can’t Afford to Let These Obstacles Defeat You)

Five Obstacles Businesspeople Face When Learning English

Five Obstacles Businesspeople Face When Learning English English is indisputably the language of business around the world. It’s no longer just an asset for businesspeople to become fluent—it’s a necessity.

But behind this trend toward using English in business (regardless of citizenship or native language) are millions of individuals devoting time and patience to becoming fluent and able to compete in such a market.

Yet businesspeople who are learning English face many obstacles. According to a 2013 study by KnowledgeAdvisors about the use of English in business, these obstacles could be thwarting the attempts of many businesspeople to learn the language.

According to the GlobalEnglish white paper in which this study’s results were published, despite the need to be able to interact in English, “companies around the world find themselves ill-prepared. Only 7% of global workers feel their English is good enough to do their jobs, and only 13% of university graduates in emerging countries are hirable in multinational companies due to their poor English skills.”

So what’s holding non–English-speaking businesspeople back from gaining these coveted skills? Certainly, learning a new language is no small task, but the rewards for adapting to the demands of the business world are many. The GlobalEnglish white paper says that “one in four CEOs say they are missing market opportunities because of talent challenges.” If you can expand your skill set to fill this need, your value as an employee is almost certain to increase.

The following are five obstacles businesspeople face when learning English. Don’t allow these obstacles to hold you back.

1. Lack of time

Let’s start with the most obvious hurdle to learning any language: not having enough time. Businesspeople in particular always seem to be on the go, juggling work responsibilities and project ideas, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, caring for families, and keeping up with friendships.

How on earth can anyone find the time to learn a whole new language on top of all that?

The key here is prioritization and consistency. Let’s face it: certain things, such as family, just have to be more important than learning a language.

To overcome this obstacle, you’ll need a combination of willpower and cunning. If you’re serious about learning English, you must commit to practicing the language consistently. Then, even if you can’t spend as much time learning the rules as you’d like, try supplementing this by finding a buddy to practice with during downtime, such as on your lunch break.

This brings us to our next obstacle . . .

2. Isolation

No one—or very few people—can learn in isolation. We need teachers, peers, and learning tools to support us in the learning process. This is particularly true when learning a language; language is all about communication, which requires the involvement of more than one person.

Instead of burying yourself under a pile of dictionaries and language books, try seeking out people to have conversations with in English or courses that offer engaging language training with clearly defined learning outcomes, such as GrammarCamp by

The Internet can be a great place to practice interacting in English, and finding coworkers who are also seeking to learn is a great way to supplement this because you can encourage one another throughout the learning process. Whichever route you take, be intentional about finding support and accountability.

3. Simply not enjoying or liking the language

Finding time to learn something you’re interested in is enough of a struggle—this obstacle can become insurmountable when coupled with a genuine abhorrence of the material you’re learning.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy learning any language, or perhaps you just can’t take to the sounds and rules of English in particular. Whatever the case, the key will be using methods of learning that you do enjoy. Try reading online English articles about a topic that does interest you or watching some of your favorite television shows in English or with English subtitles.

Hopefully, these methods will help get you to a place in the learning process where you can begin to enjoy the language itself; if not, at least they get the job done.

4. Fear of losing cultural identity

Despite the pressure to learn English in business, some people are hesitant to get on the bandwagon for fear that it will weaken their own cultural identities.

Because language and culture are so closely related to each other, one can see why such fears are legitimate. The solution to this obstacle is less straightforward than the solutions to previous obstacles. As a native English speaker, I am certainly not in a position to pronounce such fears as unfounded. However, in the interest of helping people overcome obstacles to learning English, I do present the humble suggestion that learning English could actually strengthen cultural identity, allowing people to discuss their own values, backgrounds, and cultures with a greater number of individuals from differing circumstances.

Also, even though practicing a language as much as possible while learning it is beneficial, if the loss of cultural identity is a fear of yours, try to keep your use of the English language specific to your situation. For instance, use English when speaking to international clients and colleagues, and use your native language at home and with friends.

5. Discouragement

Embarrassment and discouragement when learning English are bound to affect the learning process. According to Tsedal Neely in an article in Forbes, “Incredibly competent employees who are experts in their various areas of work . . . say they feel ‘childlike’ when they have to switch to the working language.”

In the professional world, people are judged by the quality of their ideas, and because language is the medium through which these ideas are communicated, not being able to communicate effectively is particularly frustrating.

Overcoming this obstacle must be a joint effort between native (or fluent) English speakers and learners of the language. Those who are already proficient in English should be patient and respectful of English learners, and they should also alter the way they speak by using shorter and more widely known words.

Not only is this a kind thing to do, but it will also allow for more productive communication. To overcome discouragement, English learners need to be patient with themselves and remember that learning a language is a difficult task that takes time—years, even—to accomplish.

It seems trite to say, but remember that no matter your level of proficiency, you are working to accomplish a very difficult task that requires tremendous effort.

Try to avoid becoming too disheartened; if you can persevere, you will eventually get to a place where you’re confident in your English-language ability.


Apparently, the global use of English in business is here to stay, at least for a while. Although this means that businesspeople who do not speak English must now learn the language, the stability of English in the business world also means that those who expend the time and effort in learning the language—be it through practice with peers, an online training course, or a combination of both—will surely reap the rewards.

If businesspeople who are learning English can overcome the obstacles to the learning process, they can be the ones to fill the talent gap that is affecting so many companies.

Don’t give up!

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18 Ways to Say “Hello” in English

18 Ways to Say Hello in English

What is a greeting?

Hola! Shalom! Czesc! Marhaba! Salut! Hallo! 18 Ways to Say Hello in English

Well, hi there! Now that you’ve been thoroughly greeted, let’s get down to business and talk about using different greetings in English. According to Merriam-Webster, a greeting is a salutation upon meeting someone, or an expression of good wishes. More simply, to greet someone is to say “hello” or to extend a polite word of welcome.

Each country or culture has its own way of greeting others, and these greetings are a part of every conversation. Think about how you greet new people in your native country. Do you have different ways to say “hello” when you meet someone in a store, at a job interview, at school, or at your own house? Just as there are different ways to say “hello” in your native language, there are different conventions to follow in English. It is important to know the common greetings and how to use them properly and confidently. They say that first impressions are everything, but I say that a first impression is nothing without the proper greeting.

Why are proper greetings important?

You may be wondering why you need to learn about greetings. Maybe you’re more comfortable using your native greeting, whether that be Hola, Kon’nichiwa, Ciao, or something else entirely. After all, you may think everyone will know what you mean. And you may be right. In a world that is quickly becoming one gigantic global village, the most common ways to say “hello” in different countries are becoming increasingly commonplace all across the world. No matter which English-speaking country you find yourself in, you’ll probably be able to get away with using non-English greetings. But, you know . . . when in Rome (or Toronto, Canada; or maybe London, England; or, heck, maybe even Sydney, Australia) . . .

You’re probably already aware of a few ways to say “hello” to someone in English, but there are actually dozens of greetings to use—in fact, too many to list here. Why does one silly language need so many different greetings, anyway? For one thing, English speakers like to avoid repetition. We would much rather create countless ways to convey one single message than face the possibility of having to repeat something someone else has already said. If one person says “Hello,” the other person will likely want to respond with another phrase. More important than this dread of redundancy, however, is that different circumstances call for different levels of formality. You would not greet a prospective employer in the same manner or tone that you would use for a classmate or friend (that is, not if you really want the job that employer has to offer.)

It may seem overwhelming at first, but over time you’ll learn which greetings to use in which situations. To help you get started, here are a few common English greetings (and examples of exchanges) that you can use in formal, informal, or casual situations.

Formal greetings: “How do you do?”

The phrase featured in the heading above is formal, a bit outdated, and not often used today. However, certain greetings are appropriate for use in more formal situations or when respect and courtesy are called for. These instances include business meetings, formal classroom or workplace presentations, or meeting a friend’s parents. You may encounter such greetings when doing business in restaurants and shops. There are many other options, but here are six of the most common formal ways to say “hello”:

1. “Hello!”

2. “Good morning.”

3. “Good afternoon.”

4. “Good evening.”

5. “It’s nice to meet you.”

6. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” (These last two only work when you are meeting someone for the first time.)

Let’s take a look at how these phrases might be used:

Mr. Piper (arriving at his client’s office): “Good morning, Mr. Drummer. How are you today?”

Mr. Drummer: “Hello, Mr. Piper. I’m very well, thank you! Please come in and we can review that contract.”


Dr. Feelwell (addressing a group of colleagues at a seminar): “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight I would like to present the results of my study on ‘Healthy Fast Food Options.'”


Mary: “John, I’d like you to meet my father.”

John (shifting from one foot to the other): “Er . . . ah . . . It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Wolverine, sir.” (This exchange is sometimes accompanied by a polite handshake. However, if—like poor John here—you are indeed meeting Mr. Wolverine, you should be sure that the claws have not already appeared. If they have, it is perfectly acceptable to skip the handshake . . . perhaps you should just run!)

Informal general greetings

Informal general greetingsThese greetings can be used in most informal situations when you are saying hello to a colleague or to someone you meet on the street.

7. “Hi!” (Probably the most commonly used greeting in English)

8. “Morning!” (A more casual way of saying “Good morning”)

9. “How are things (with you)?”

10. “What’s new?”

11. “It’s good to see you.” (Used when you haven’t seen someone in a while)

12. “G’day!” (Short for “Good day”)

13. “Howdy!” (Often used in the southern regions of the United States)

Even though some of these expressions look like questions, the “greetee” is not always meant to answer them. In fact, confusing as it may seem, sometimes a question is answered with a question. And sometimes these greetings can be used in combination:

Jane: “Hi, Jake. What’s new?”

Jake: “G’day, Jane. How are things?” or “Morning, Jane. It’s good to see you!”

Casual informal greetings

These ways to say “hello” are used in very casual, friendly, and familiar contexts. They can be used in spoken English, text messages, voicemail messages, or emails with people that you know well. While they’re not exactly rude to use with strangers, they aren’t exactly polite, either. Using these greetings with people you don’t know well might cause confusion, and these greetings are not considered appropriate in certain contexts. You shouldn’t use these casual greetings in formal situations, as doing so might make the person you’re talking to think you aren’t taking that formal situation as seriously as you should be. For example, it would be wildly inappropriate to say “What’s happening?” to someone you were greeting at a funeral, and I would strongly advise against using “Yo!” when meeting a prospective employer at a job interview.

14. “Hey” or “Hey there.”

15. “What’s up?” (Sometimes expressed as “‘Sup?”)

16. “How’s it going?”

17. “What’s happening” or “What’s happenin’?”

18. “Yo!”

These words and phrases are mostly used by young people to greet their friends when they arrive somewhere like a party, an exam, or a class. Again, although some of these greetings look like questions, no answers are expected.

Biff (as he approaches his classmates): “Yo! What’s happenin’?”

The Gang: “Hey. ‘Sup?” (Then they all mumble to each other for a bit, agree to skip English class, and head to the Sugar Shack for maple-bacon poutine. Welcome to my idealized version of 1950s Canada.)

This collection of ways to say “hello” is just the tip of the iceberg. The expressions are easy enough to learn; the tricky part is learning to use them appropriately. Try to use a different greeting every time you meet someone new, get together with your friends, or purchase something at the mall. You’ll be a master of English greetings in no time flat!


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Don’t Laugh at Me: 5 Ways to Help Out International Students

5 Ways to Help Out International Students

5 Ways to Help Out International StudentsStarting university or college is a huge learning curve for everyone. Some students are adjusting to living the post-secondary lifestyle while commuting to school and living at home with their parents; some are just getting settled into their new dorm rooms; and some have traveled great distances to attend school. Everyone is just a little bit unsure about how to manage the year ahead. But, regardless of the kinds of adjustments you find yourself making as you begin your post-secondary journey, you need to remember that others are experiencing new things as well. For instance, international students who have just left their home countries to study abroad might have even bigger adjustments to make than you do. If everyone tries to help each other out, things will go much more smoothly for the whole group. So what can you do to help the international students you meet during your studies?

Tip #1: Offer Assistance

To some international students, even the simplest activities can seem overwhelming. Not knowing or understanding social and cultural norms—or even conventions that might seem incredibly natural to others, like meeting with a professor during office hours or hanging out in the student lounge—can be overwhelming and even embarrassing. Depending on their proficiency in English and their exposure to North American culture, international students might avoid many activities that would ultimately prove helpful or enjoyable to them simply because they’re anxious about participating in these activities.

As a person who is familiar with your own country’s cultural norms, you can be a great help to international students in these types of situations. All it takes is a friendly inquiry to see if there is anything you can do to help a foreign classmate who is struggling. If you can clearly see that someone is having a hard time, offer to help. Be a real Canadian about it: be nice. Remember that a small and simple act of courtesy on your part might make a huge difference to someone else.

Tip #2: Be Patient

If you are having a conversation with an international student whose first language isn’t English, you might have to speak a bit more slowly than you’re used to. You both might have a hard time understanding each other’s accents, and it might take the person you’re speaking to some extra time to plan sentences before saying them.

The fact that language barriers can be frustrating is no excuse for avoiding them. This goes for international and native students alike. International students should make a point of talking to native speakers to improve their speaking and listening skills, and native speakers should engage in these conversations just as they would with any other conversation. You should also keep in mind that people who are learning a second language often have better listening than speaking skills. This means that, while international students might need a moment to organize their response to your question, they very likely did understand the question. Being patient and making friends with international students is well worth it, as you’ll likely learn as much from them as they will from you.

Tip #3: Be Willing to Learn

Depending on where you come from and what experiences you’ve had, your time at university might be your first real exposure to different cultures, and that in itself can be intimidating. Remember that university is not the time to stick to your comfort zone—you’re there to learn, after all! Becoming friends with international students means that you get to teach each other about your respective cultures. Even if you haven’t traveled to another country to study, you can still learn about and appreciate them. Be open to learning about your new friends’ families, religious beliefs, favorite foods, and languages. They get to learn about your life; you get to learn about their lives. This will help you appreciate each other on both a personal and cultural level. Of course, this will work out only if you’re willing not just to teach others about your own culture but to learn about theirs in return.

Tip #4: Be Inclusive

Be InclusiveMaking friends during university can be a bit of a process. When you start school, you’ll likely find yourself hanging out with large groups of people. This will be especially true if you are living in a dorm. Over time, that group will probably either dissolve or break into smaller subgroups. This is completely normal, as it takes some time for everyone to figure out whom they get along with best and whom they would like to be friends with.

Unfortunately, international students are sometimes left out of these large groups, and as such, they never get to establish themselves within the smaller subgroups. The solution here is simple: be sure to invite the international students from your residence to take part in the large group’s activities. Invite them to parties, outings, or even just casual hangouts that don’t really require invitations. Though not all students will accept your offers, they most certainly can’t accept them if they’re never extended. Make it a point to make international students feel welcome, as many of them will likely feel isolated from you and from other students if you don’t.

Tip #5: Don’t Laugh—Literally

Just like everyone else, international students are bound to make mistakes from time to time. They might do something that is socially unusual; they might use an English phrase incorrectly. Perhaps they might do or say something else that seems funny. No matter how funny these mistakes might seem to you, remember that they can be terribly embarrassing for the people making them. Instead of laughing at international students for the mistakes they make, then, try to help them avoid making the same mistakes in the future. If you end up being friends with an international student for a long time, you might be able to bring up this mistake at a point when the other person will also find it funny. Until such a time arrives, be nice—don’t laugh!


Helping international students feel welcome is really quite simple: be nice, and treat others the way you would want to be treated. There’s no reason for our differences to divide us; indeed, if we want them to, they can work to bring us together.

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Fake It Till You Make It: 7 Ways to Improve Your English When You’re a Non-native Speaker

Fake It Till You Make It

Fake It Till You Make ItWhen you’re a non-native English speaker looking to improve your English, there are many different things you can do and resources you can use to strengthen your reading, writing, and speaking skills. Yes, you might have to “fake it” a little till you can make it, but with practice comes progress! Here are seven tips from the grammar experts on how to improve your English when you’re a non-native speaker.

1. Swim in a sea of speech (i.e., immerse yourself in English).

Read books (aloud), and watch TV shows and movies in English. Anything you would do or watch in your native language, do it in English. Being exposed to English, especially colloquial English, and seeing and hearing it used in conversation will help you improve your English. Try to immerse yourself in the language daily, as the more you see and hear it, the more ingrained it will become.

2. Take notes.

While reading books and watching shows in English, take notes! For even more active learning, write down every idiomatic word and phrase—be it slang, jargon, or dialect—you come across. This will make it easier to remember such expressions and help you learn how the language is used day to day. In addition to referring to your do-it-yourself dictionary, use an actual dictionary (such as a Merriam-Webster pocket dictionary) to learn the meanings of words you don’t know.

3. Practice makes perfect.

While you’re becoming comfortable with reading and writing in English, it’s also important to practice speaking. Whether with a friend, tutor, or teacher, it’s imperative that you practice speaking the language and become comfortable with having conversations in English.

4. Be a grammar geek.

Grammar CampUse’s GrammarCamp to improve your English grammar. This comprehensive online course allows you to learn at your own pace in your own space. It will teach you the rules and nuances of English grammar, which—combined with reading, writing, and speaking in English—will greatly improve your knowledge of the English language and your ability to understand and use it.

5. Write it out.

Practice writing as much as you can. Writing goes hand in hand with reading and speaking in every language, and you must practice all three to really improve your English and learn to communicate like a native English speaker on all levels. You can write anything you want: a note, a letter, a book review . . . anything that piques your interest and helps expand your vocabulary!

6. Go pro.

Use a service like to have native English speakers review your work. Not only will they make corrections to your documents, but they will also make comments and suggestions to explain why certain changes were made.

7. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Improving your English should be fun, so don’t worry if you make mistakes. After all, as the English expression goes, “You can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.” So take it in stride, use your resources, and embrace the challenge.

Image source: Krzysztof Puszczyński/