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Is Coding More Important than English?

Apple CEO Tim Cook caused some controversy this week when he said that he believes learning coding is more important for students around the world than learning English. His exact words are below:

If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important to learn coding than English. Iโ€™m not telling people not to learn Englishโ€”but this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world. I think coding should be required in every public school in the world.
— Tim Cook
Tim Cook Coding English Quote

There were different responses to Cook's words. Some people agreed, and some think he is wrong. Fortune said, "Acquiring coding skills makes financial sense," because coding can help you get many high-paying jobs. But, as Quartz points out, "itโ€™s very difficult to become a good or even decent programmer without working knowledge of English."

What do you think? Is coding the language of the future, or will English remain important?

Answer in the comments!


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Nonexistent Words

Last week, Dictionary.com published a fun list of words that don't exist. What does that mean? Well, they're not just random letters, they are words that you might expect to exist because of other words that look like their opposites. Confused? Here's an example.

Combobulated

Discombobulated is a real word in English. Usually when we add the prefix dis-, we are creating the opposite of another word. For example, we can take agree, add dis-, and we get the opposite: disagree. Right? This works for lots of words: appear/disappear, approve/disapprove, believe/disbelieve, connect/disconnect. But discombobulate is funny, because combobulate is not a word. It doesn't exist.

Nonexistent Antonyms - Ginseng English

Reckful

Here's another one. We can add the suffixes -less and -ful to many nouns to turn them into adjectives. A person with no hope is hopeless. A person with lots of hope is hopeful. Something that causes no pain is painless, and something that causes a lot of pain is painful. Other examples are fear/fearless/fearful, care/careless/careful, color/colorless/colorful, use/useless/useful.

But we have another word in English: reckless. Reckless is similar in meaning to careless. Based on the pattern we looked at, you might think that reck is a noun and reckful is the opposite of reckless. But, as always, English is crazy, and reckful and reck do not exist in English.

A few more:

Disheveled is an adjective meaning not neat. But sheveled does not exist.

Nonchalant means cool, relaxed, and calm. But chalant does not exist.

Disgust is a strong feeling of unpleasantness or sickness. But gust does not exist.


Check the original post at Dictionary.com for more! Can you add any in the comments?


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Show Some Spine

English Idiom - Show Some Spine

English Idiom - Show Some Spine

Today's English idiom is show some spine. Your spine is your backbone, the strong middle bones that support your body. When you tell some one to show some spine or show some backbone, you are telling them to be brave or morally strong. If someone has no backbone or is spineless, it means they are a coward.

Examples

Your boss won't take advantage of you if you just show some spine and stand up to her.

Don't be intimidated by him. He's just a bully. Show some spine!

I always thought of Karen as timid, but she really showed some spine in that meeting.


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A Wrench in the System

English Idiom - A Wrench in the System

English Idiom - A Wrench in the System

Today's idiom is a wrench in the system. A wrench is a tool. Usually we think of tools as helpful things, good for building or fixing things, but a wrench in the system is actually a negative phrase. Imagine you have a big, complex machine with lots of gears and moving parts. Then imagine someone puts a wrench in the middle of those moving parts. This will cause big problems for your system, right? That's what we mean when we say a wrench in the system: it's a problem that causes a big complicated plan or system to break or fail.

Examples

We had our whole vacation planned out, but when we got food poisoning, it really put a wrench in the system.

If the new client won't agree to this contract, it will really throw a wrench in the system.

When they lost a major funder, it threw a wrench in the system for the new startup.


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Come Out Of Your Shell

English Idiom - Come Out Of Your Shell

IMG_6D4F9C1FCBFC-1.jpeg

Today's English idiom is come out of your shell. Lots of animals, like snails and turtles, have hard shells that they can hide in if they are scared or in danger. We can use this as a metaphor for people's personalities. If you come out of your shell, it means you open up and become more social and less shy.

Examples

Paula seems quiet at first but once you get to know her, she really comes out of her shell.

Lots of kids are shy around age 4 or 5, but most come out of their shells as they get a little older.

When Kim has a few drinks, he really comes out of his shell and doesn't stop talking!


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Shoot The Moon

English Idiom - Shoot the Moon

English Idiom - Shoot the Moon

Today's English idiom is shoot the moon or shoot for the moon. The meaning is to try something really ambitious or challenging, to have very big goals. It's impossible to actually shoot the moon, but some people say "If you shoot for the moon and miss, you will land among the stars." This means, if you have very high goals and you don't achieve them, you may still achieve something else great. Common synonyms for shoot the moon are go for broke and aim high.  

Examples

When my aunt plays cards, she really shoots the moon and bets a lot.

They already offered you the job. When they ask what kind of salary you want, you may as well shoot the moon and ask for more than you expect.

When I was a kid, my parents always taught me to dream big and shoot the moon.


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A Bird's-Eye View

English Idiom - A Bird's-Eye View

English Idiom Post - A Bird's-eye View

Today's idiom is a bird's eye view. How does the world look to a bird flying high above the earth? Probably similar to your perspective if you are in a tall building or an airplane. This is what we mean when we say you have a bird's-eye view. 

Punctuation Note

Notice that we put a hyphen (-) in bird's-eye. This is because, together the words bird's and eye are working like an adjective describing view. Whenever you have two words together working as an adjective to describe a noun, you should connect them with a hyphen.

Examples

I was nervous for my first hot-air balloon ride, but I really loved the bird's-eye view.

Drone cameras make it easy for anyone to get great pictures from a bird's eye view.

The bird's-eye view from the 25th floor was nice, but the elevator up was so slow.


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What is the Common European Framework?

A1? B2? What is the CEFR?

You may have noticed that many of our blog posts and English classes have strange combinations of letters and numbers on them: B1, C2, A1. These can tell you some important information about the level of the class or blog post. These codes come from a European system called the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR).

Although the CEFR is โ€œEuropean,โ€ it is used in many countries around the world. Because the CEFR is international, itโ€™s very helpful for language learners and language teachers to talk about levels. There are six levels in the CEFR: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

A chart of CEFR levels with very brief summaries.

The CEFR doesn't describe language in terms of number of vocabulary words or grammar structures. The CEFR focuses on what students can do with the language. For example, students at level B1 can give descriptions on a variety of familiar subjects related to their interests. C1 students can give clear, well-structured descriptions of complex subjects. That's why the CEFR can be used for any language, not just English. Learning your CEFR level can be really helpful to you as a student!

Soon Ginseng will have a placement test that will help you learn your CEFR level, so watch for that!


CEFR Levels Table

Here is a table with each level in the Common European Framework, along with a description of students at each level.

Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) Levels
Level Name Description
PROFICIENT USER C2 Mastery Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.
C1 Effective Operational Efficiency Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
INDEPENDENT USER B2 Vantage Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
B1 Threshold Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.,Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
BASIC USER A2 Waystage Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.,Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
A1 Breakthrough Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

You can read more about the CEFR at the website of the Council of Europe, which developed the framework between 1989 and 1996.

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Basic Geometry Vocabulary

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Basic Geometry Vocabulary

Rob recently took a trip to Shanghai and recorded a lesson on geographโ€”err, geometry vocabulary. Take a moment and have a look!

Geometry Vocabulary List

Vertical (adj.) - positioned up and down rather than from side to side; going straight up

Horizontal (adj.) - positioned from side to side rather than up and down; parallel to the ground

Diagonal (adj.) - not going straight across or up and down

Beam (n.) - a long and heavy piece of wood or metal that is used as a support in a building

Post (n.) - a piece of wood or metal that is set in a vertical position, especially as a support or marker

Narrow (adj.) - long and not wide

Wide (adj.) - extending a great distance from one side to the other; not narrow


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Simple Present Tense

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Simple Present Tense

Using the Simple Present Tense in English

The simple present tense is used for actions that happen again and again. This can be routines and habits, and also things that are currently, always, or generally true. It is also used to describe feelings, emotions, and our senses.


Examples of the simple Present tense

To state facts:

The earth moves around the sun.

The opposite of black is white. 

Your mother's mother is your grandmother.

To describe habits and routines:

I wake up at 7:00.

I brush my teeth every day.

I take my vacation every August.


Forming the Simple present tense

In English, regular verbs take the base form of the verb, except he, she, and it, which add an -s.

 
SINGULAR PLURAL
1ST I jog we jog
2ND you jog you jog
3RD he jogs they jog
she
it

Notes

  • Adverbs of frequency are often used with the simple present tense.

Other Forms

Question, negatives, and passive forms coming soon!


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Ginseng Named to Top 50 ESL Blogs

Top 50 English badge

We are so pleased to share that the Ginseng English Blog was selected by Feedspot to be featured among their Top 50 English Language Blogs. There are some other fantastic blogs on there, and we're so proud to be in their company! Thanks, Feedspot!


Take a look at where else we've been featured! 

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Ginseng English in the Patriot Ledger

Boston newspaper The Patriot Ledger has written a profile on Ginseng founder Rob Sheppard. Check out what they had to say!

In a real-life classroom, there are planned varied interactions, such as the teacher talking to the class, students volunteering answers, students talking in pairs and groups.

So Sheppard said that his company looks to take some new software that allows group video calls to split off into smaller clusters of people and use that to bring some real-world teaching strategies to the digital realm.

โ€œItโ€™s authentic communication,โ€ he said.
Rob Sheppard Ginseng English
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British Bad Words

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British Bad Words

British Bad Words

One of the most interesting and difficult things about learning a new language is learning which words are bad, and how bad they are. In English, for example, we have the words crap and shit. Both have the same meaning, but shit is a much stronger word. Your mom might tell you not to say shit, but most people don't mind crap.

A recent article at British newspaper The Indepedent describes a survey that was done by the British government's Ofcom (of + com = office of communications). This office decides what language is okay to say on TV. In the UK some language and content is acceptable after 9:00, when most kids are not watching, but not okay before that.

In the survey, they asked 200 people to rank bad words. Different rankings were mild (not bad, okay for kids), medium (maybe okay on TV before 9:00pm), strong (mostly okay on TV after 9:00pm), strongest (never okay before 9:00, generally okay after).

Here's the full list (sorry Mom! ๐Ÿ™Š)


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30 Most Common English Verbs

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30 Most Common English Verbs

Check out the 30 most common verbs in the English language! Learn these verbs first to make the most of your new vocabulary.

Note that verbs that act only as auxiliaries and modals (such as can and will) have been removed from the list. Verbs that act as both auxiliaries and main verbs have been left in. Data for this table came from the Corpus of Contemporary American English.

Infinitive Present Past Perfect
to be am, is, are was, were been
to have has, have had had
to do do, does did done
to know know, knows knew known
to think think, thinks thought thought
to go go, goes went gone
to get get, gets got gotten
to say say, says said said
to want want, wants wanted wanted
to see see, sees saw seen
to mean mean, means meant meant
to let let, lets let let
to make make, makes made made
to come come, comes came come
to take take, takes took taken
to look look, looks looked looked
to thank thank, thanks thanked thanked
to tell tell, tells told told
to put put, puts put put
to like like, likes liked liked
to talk talk, talks talked talked
to need need, needs needed needed
to believe believe, believes believed believed
to give give, gives gave given
to try try, tries tried tried
to call call, calls called called
to find find, finds found found
to feel feel, feels felt felt
to happen happen, happens happened happened
to ask ask, asks asked asked

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A Dime a Dozen

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A Dime a Dozen

Time for another English idiom! Today's idiom is "a dime a dozen," which means very common. 

As you may know, a dozen means 12. We use this word frequently to talk about buying things:

a dozen eggs:๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš๐Ÿฅš

a dozen donuts: ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ๐Ÿฉ

a dozen roses: ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒน

And a dime is a coin worth $0.10 in America: 

Dime
 

So, if something costs a dime for a dozen, it's really cheap, so it must be really common. This is a metaphor, though, so it isn't literal. Here are some examples: 

Beach towels are a dime a dozen in Florida.

Many people think old baseball cards are valuable, but they're a dime a dozen.

Cell phones used to be for rich people only, but now they're a dime a dozen.

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If you like these English idioms, check these out! 

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