An A–Z of pronunciation

Every cloud, supposedly, has a silver lining. I guess my COVID-19 silver lining is the time I have on my hands. That, and the fact that I’m at home and not in a hotel. So with time on my hands, I thought it was about time that I dug up an idea that has sat […]


Sorry, but I can’t resist offering you another extract from Xiaolu Guo’s wonderful A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers. It’s her description of her first day at her new language school in London. Beginner n a person who has just started learning to do something. Holborn. First day studying my language school. Very very frustrating. Chinese, […]

‘London is the Capital of fog.’

‘London is the Capital of fog.’ It saying in middle school textbook. We studying chapter from Charles Dickens’s novel Foggy City Orphan. Everybody know Oliver Twist living in city with bad fog. Is very popular novel in China.      A soon as I arriving London, I look around the sky but no any fogs. ‘Excuse […]


I was in Seville the other day, bound for Algeciras. The name brought back echoes of my childhood – on Sunday mornings in the 1960s the BBC had a radio programme where families could ask for music for loved ones who were serving abroad with the British Forces. Many of these servicemen and women were […]

The globalization of English: implications for ELT

I’m coming towards the end of a series of articles on the globalization of English, and ELF (English as a lingua franca). They’re being published in Modern English Teacher, and there are five already out there, plus one more to round the series off. The five that are out there are: The globalization of English: implications […]

Creativity and communication

When I wake up early and can’t get back to sleep, I often put the radio on. Sometimes a local radio but more often than not, in these days of digital everything, the BBC’s Radio 4. The other day I was listening to an interview with an expert on the terrorist group ISIS. Trying to […]

Should I tell him it’s wrong?

I’ve just spent the last week in Madrid in a rather nice hotel, outside which there was a kiosk selling newspapers, magazines, cold drinks and other summer essentials. Going down into the metro each day, my eye was drawn inexorably to two signs the kiosk had displayed in English and Spanish. I mean, what are […]

A load of crap?

Last Friday I was travelling home by train. As we approached the mountains that separate Asturias from the great plains of Central Spain, I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, who I’d seen using English in a message he’d been writing on his phone. He turned out to be an American […]