How to use RSS to organise your English reading material

If you’re like me and read a lot of blogs, sometimes, following all of them can get a little confusing. It’s difficult to know when they are updated and can be a chore having to open lots of different windows in your web browser.

I’ve found the best way to avoid this is to use an RSS reader to make sure I can access all the blogs I like in one place and see when they are all updated. ‘RSS’ stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ an it works by sending a ‘feed’ containing all the new articles on the site to your RSS reader.

There are many different RSS readers to choose from. I prefer Google reader or Bloglines because I find that they are the most simple to use. Adding a new feed in Google reader is really easy. All you need to do is click ‘Add a subscription’ and enter address of the site or feed you would like to follow.

To view articles, just click the name of the site in the column at the bottom-left and it will show up in the main window.

Once you are following a few sites, you can make folders and put them in groups so you can find them easily. The number of new articles on a site shows up just to the right of its name in the list.

Have you added the World of Words to your RSS reader, yet? If not, maybe it’s time to give it a try and subscribe now.

Will the iPad bring us cool new ways to learn English?

safari_20100127 copyApple’s iPad looks like it’s going to be a cool new gadget. I’m really tempted to get one and load all my books into it. It would save a lot of space and that’s a good thing because my house is very small.

There are lots of ways the iPad could change the way we learn, too;

  • People could develop interactive textbooks with comprehension questions that pop up as you read.
  • We could embed video and sound in textbooks to practise all aspects of a language in one place.
  • Books could link to real-life examples of the language in context on the Internet.
  • Developers could build aspects integrating touch and bold graphics to appeal to kinaesthetic and visual learners.
  • You could take all this with you wherever you go!

Of course, a lot of this (other than touch) is achievable on current computers. The difference with a tablet style device is that it is more intimate. You can practise in bed, on the couch or wherever you feel most comfortable.

For a lot of students I’ve met, feeling comfortable speaking English is one of the most important steps towards becoming fluent. Being comfortable with a language starts with learning it in a situation where you already feel comfortable.

If you associate English with being stretched out on your couch at home, when it comes time to speak it in real life, you will feel a lot more comfortable speaking than if you associate English with sitting in a classroom answering the teacher’s questions.

I guess I’d better start saving now!

How smart is your phone?

girl_with_a_phoneDo you have a smartphone? I’d really like one but they are a bit too expensive for me! I’m interested in finding out about them, though and that’s why this article on the Reuters (U.S. Edition) website caught my attention.

There’s lots of interesting English vocabulary in the article, too. The first expression I spotted in was in the title:

Nokia maps out defense in smartphone battle

To ‘map out‘ is a nice piece of vocabulary meaning the same as ‘plan’. In this case, it’s a pun because the plan is about using their mapping technology to make their phones more appealing.

It’s also interesting to note the spelling of ‘defense‘. This is the American spelling. In the U.K, people would usually write ‘defence‘.

In the first paragraph, the author mentions ‘high-end‘ devices. This means expensive equipment which is in the most prestigious sector of the market.

The next piece of vocabulary I spotted was to ‘trump an offer‘. This is a great business English expression meaning that you provide an offer that’s better than those already existing in the market.

Later in the article, the expression ‘industry standard‘ is used. If something is ‘industry standard‘, it is the same throughout a particular industry. In this case, they mean that all smartphone manufacturers will start offering free navigational tools.

The last expression, ‘to set (something) apart from the crowd‘ means to make something different (usually better) than it’s competitors.

Today’s image is by Michal Zacharzewski.

What is a dongle?

InternetIt’s been a while since we had any geek speak on the World of Words, so today I thought I’d share an article from the BBC technology news section.

I use a 3.5G (HSDPA) Internet connection so this news was particularly interesting for me. I would love a connection ten times faster than the one I have now so I can’t wait for this technology to be released to the rest of the world!

There was some interesting technical vocabulary in this article, too. The first interesting word was ‘dongle‘. A ‘dongle‘ is a small electronic device that must be plugged into a computer in order for a specific function to work. In this case, it’s to receive a signal to transfer data. In other cases it might be to act as an authorisation key for a certain piece of software.

The next interesting word is ‘downlink‘. This means the transfer of data from the Internet to your computer. The opposite is ‘uplink‘.

Slightly later on, the author uses the word ‘pilot‘ meaning ‘to try out’ or ‘to test’. Sometimes, we can also use ‘pilot’ as an adjective when we talk about a ‘pilot scheme’ or ‘pilot episode‘.

The last expression I would like to look at today is ‘on the move‘. This means ‘whilst travelling’.

What kind of Internet connection do you use?

Today’s image is by CLUC.