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  • A woman holding a book to her face, reading in a bookstore with shelves of books behind her
    • Just for fun
    • Linguistics and culture

    Fantasy, the English language and Tolkien

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    A large number of well-known writers have often created or coined words that are used in everyday English. When you think of authors, prominent figures like Shakespeare may come to mind. He enriched the English language with words like "amazement," "bedazzled," and "fashionable." Charles Dickens introduced "boredom," showcasing his talent for capturing profound human emotions and societal issues in a single word. Lewis Carroll added whimsical words to our lexicon, including "chortle," a delightful mix of 'chuckle' and 'snort.'

    But Tolkien is another one of those authors who has added to the English language's colorful dictionary. Tolkien did not just create worlds; he also enriched our language, adding a lexicon that elicits the smell of mead in crowded halls and the sight of smoky mountains veiled in mystery. Language enthusiasts and fantasy fans alike join us on this philological adventure as we uncover the words that J.R.R. Tolkien, the mastermind behind Middle-earth, either coined or brought into the limelight.

  • Students sat outdoors writing in notepads smiling
    • Technology and the future
    • Linguistics and culture

    Why learning a language is better than using machine translation

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 7 minutes

    As technology and AI translation tools continue to advance, it's becoming increasingly tempting to rely on them for language-related tasks. However, this can potentially undermine motivation to learn a new language when technology seems to offer a shortcut. While machine translation can be helpful, it also has its limitations. 

    Learning a language goes beyond just communication; it opens the door to different cultures, mindsets, and perspectives of the world. Machine translation, despite its efficiency, cannot replicate the cultural immersion that comes with learning a language. Spoken language nuances, idiomatic expressions, cultural references, and implicit rules that are second nature to native speakers are often lost in translation. Let's delve deeper into why learning a language is better than solely relying on machine translation.

  • Man and a woman stood together smiling
    • Linguistics and culture
    • Just for fun

    6 more strange English phrases explained

    By Steffanie Zazulak

    In a previous blog, we shared some strange English phrases that might have left you with some questions. The English language is full of peculiar phrases that can even confuse fluent speakers. In today's post, we'll take a look at a few more such phrases to help you expand your repertoire.

  • A man with a headset sat at a laptop, with mini flags by him.
    • Linguistics and culture

    What is the hardest language to learn?

    By Pearson Languages

    It's incredible to know that there are thousands of languages spoken across the world, each with its unique set of challenges for learners. A question that often pops up is: "Which language is the hardest to learn?". Today we take a closer look at this question and consider different factors that make learning a language challenging.

  • Children walking in a neighbourhood wearing costumes
    • Linguistics and culture

    10 creepy cryptids you should know about

    By Pearson Languages

    Cryptids are creatures that are often unseen and mysterious. They are shrouded in legends and stories that have been passed down for generations, making them a fascination for humans for centuries. If you're looking to add a little more creativity to your story writing, learning about these elusive beings can be a great way to do so. In today's post, we'll take a closer look at some examples of cryptids, to get your imagination racing.

    What are cryptids?

    Cryptids are mythical creatures or beings whose existence cannot be proven by science. Some may claim to have seen them but there's usually no solid proof of the encounter. They exist in folklore, mythology and urban legends. Cryptids can be found in cultures all around the world, from the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland to the Chupacabra in Latin America.

    Here are ten cryptids you'll want to learn about this Halloween:

    Barghest

    The Barghest is a ghostly black dog cryptid that appears in the folklore of Yorkshire and Lancashire. It is often associated with misfortune, and sightings of this ominous creature continue to be reported.

    Owlman

    The Owlman is a humanoid creature with owl-like features such as red eyes, wings and feathers. Sightings of this mysterious creature have been reported around the village of Mawnan Smith in Cornwall, adding an eerie twist to local legend.

    The Kraken

    The Kraken is a legendary sea monster of gigantic size and octopus-like appearance, said to dwell in the deep sea and feasting on ships that are unfortunate enough to come across it. 

    Water Leaper (Llamhigyn Y Dwr)

    The Water Leaper, also known as the Linton Worm or Lindworm, is a Welsh cryptid believed to inhabit bodies of water such as ponds and rivers. Descriptions vary, but it is often depicted as a fearsome water-dwelling creature.

    Shug Monkey

    The Shug Monkey, also known as the Shug Monkey Beast, is a cryptid that is said to be part dog and part monkey. It has a grotesque appearance with shaggy fur, fangs, and the ability to emit a blood-curdling scream.

    Bigfoot (also known as a Sasquatch)

    Probably one of the most well-known examples of a cryptid, Bigfoot is described as a large, ape-like creature, often reported in remote forested areas.

    The Lambton Worm

    The Lambton Worm is a creature of myth from the legend of John Lambton. According to the story, John encountered a monstrous, serpentine creature in the River Wear in County Durham. This cryptid, depicted as either a giant worm or dragon, terrorized the local area.

    Wendigo

    Wendigos are believed to inhabit remote forests and desolate areas, particularly during winter. They are considered malevolent and bring death and misery to those who encounter them.

    Beast of Bodmin Moor

    The Beast of Bodmin Moor, also referred to as the Bodmin Beast, is a legendary feline or a large, black, panther-like animal that is believed to wander around the wilderness of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. The sightings of this mysterious creature have puzzled the inhabitants and tourists for many years.

    Bownessie

    Bownessie is a serpent-like creature with a long neck that reportedly inhabits Lake Windermere in England's Lake District. The creature has been compared to the legendary Loch Ness monster.

    The existence of these mysterious creatures remains a riddle, yet the tales and stories that surround them add an aura of mystique and wonder. Cryptids can be found in almost every culture, and you may start noticing patterns among them. Additionally, you may observe the use of these legends in media, particularly in the fantasy genre. They may not have the same names, but they are undoubtedly an obvious source of inspiration. 

    Cryptids are not only subjects of curiosity, they are also valuable tools for crafting engaging narratives that resonate with readers and viewers alike. So whether you are an enthusiast of the unknown or simply enjoy a good supernatural tale, use these examples to ignite your creative storytelling and English writing skills. Try writing your very own story and see where your imagination takes you. 

  • Woman and a child sat outdoors reading
    • Linguistics and culture
    • Language learning

    How to understand – and use – English oxymorons

    By Jeanne Perrett

    If you had to explain what an oxymoron is, what would you say? And would you know how to use one correctly? You might even be using oxymorons already completely by accident. After all, how many times have you talked about a “small crowd”, described someone as a “big baby” or gossiped about an “open secret”?

    Let’s explain more about the term. An oxymoron is a figure of speech where two words of opposed or contradictory meaning are used together to create emphasis. While some oxymorons are created by accident – such as “small crowd” – sometimes they are used deliberately to draw attention to something or to create drama for the reader or listener. Let’s take a closer look at some popular English oxymorons and get to the bottom of what they actually mean.

  • A woman sat at a laptop with a headset smiling, with a bunch of mini flags on the desk next to her
    • Linguistics and culture

    Unlocking the power of multilingualism: Celebrating European day of languages

    By Pearson Languages

    Language is not only a tool for communication but also a means to explore and comprehend diverse cultures, traditions, and perspectives. Europe, with its vast array of languages, is a prime example of this linguistic diversity. Each year on September 26th, Europe observes the European Day of Languages, which is a day solely dedicated to celebrating and embracing this linguistic richness.

    Europe is a magnificent tapestry of languages, with over 200 spoken throughout the continent. This diversity is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of each nation and reminds us of the intricate historical, social, and linguistic elements that mold our identities. The European Day of Languages inspires people to cherish and honor this linguistic heritage.

    Why September 26th?

    September 26th marks an important date for celebrating linguistic diversity and promoting multilingualism. This day commemorates the adoption of the "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" by the Council of Europe in 1992, a crucial document that recognizes and safeguards the linguistic rights of minority languages spoken within European countries. By celebrating the European Day of Languages on this date, it renews our commitment to supporting the rich diversity of languages and cultures that make our world a more vibrant and fascinating place.

    What type of events happen?

    Language Exchanges

    The European Day of Languages offers language learners a chance to participate in language exchanges, which is an exciting opportunity. During such exchanges, learners from diverse backgrounds partner up and teach each other their native languages. This not only helps improve language skills but also promotes intercultural understanding.

    Language Workshops

    Various European cities offer language workshops led by enthusiasts and experts, providing an introduction to different languages.

    Multilingual Storytelling

    Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool for learning languages. Libraries, schools, and cultural centers hold multilingual storytelling sessions, where stories from different cultures are shared in their original languages. This helps both children and adults to better understand and appreciate the beauty of linguistic diversity.

    Film Screenings

    Cinema provides a wonderful opportunity to explore different languages and cultures. Throughout Europe, foreign films are often shown with subtitles, enabling viewers to fully immerse themselves in new linguistic worlds.

    Cultural Exhibitions

    Museums often showcase exhibitions highlighting the linguistic and cultural heritage of various regions, providing insight into the history and traditions of different languages.

    Language Cafés

    Cafés and restaurants might offer special menus featuring diverse cuisines and multilingual staff – a delightfully tasty way to explore languages and cultures.

    Games and Competitions

    Language-based games and competitions, such as crossword puzzles and spelling bees, are organized in schools and communities to provide a fun and educational way to celebrate language.

    If you are a teacher hoping to celebrate this occasion make sure to check here for ideas on what to do.

    Check out what events are happening near you here.

    Just like the European day of Languages, we at Pearson Languages are fully committed to empowering and celebrating language learners and educators alike. That's why we are now supporting French, Italian, and Spanish language learning with the Global Scale of Languages (GSL). With these new language learning frameworks at your fingertips, you can confidently design curriculums and personalize learning pathways to help fast-track your learners’ progress and help your learners be themselves in French, Italian and Spanish.

    Whether you're a teacher, a language learner, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of languages, the European Day of Languages and the GSL provide exciting opportunities to explore, learn, and enjoy the rich tapestry of Europe's linguistic heritage.

    Find out more about the Global Scale of Languages

  • A woman sat at a laptop with a headset smiling, with a bunch of mini flags on the desk next to her
    • Linguistics and culture

    Unlocking the power of multilingualism: Celebrating European day of languages

    By Pearson Languages

    Language is not only a tool for communication but also a means to explore and comprehend diverse cultures, traditions, and perspectives. Europe, with its vast array of languages, is a prime example of this linguistic diversity. Each year on September 26th, Europe observes the European Day of Languages, which is a day solely dedicated to celebrating and embracing this linguistic richness.

    Europe is a magnificent tapestry of languages, with over 200 spoken throughout the continent. This diversity is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of each nation and reminds us of the intricate historical, social, and linguistic elements that mold our identities. The European Day of Languages inspires people to cherish and honor this linguistic heritage.

    Why September 26th?

    September 26th marks an important date for celebrating linguistic diversity and promoting multilingualism. This day commemorates the adoption of the "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages" by the Council of Europe in 1992, a crucial document that recognizes and safeguards the linguistic rights of minority languages spoken within European countries. By celebrating the European Day of Languages on this date, it renews our commitment to supporting the rich diversity of languages and cultures that make our world a more vibrant and fascinating place.

    What type of events happen?

    Language Exchanges

    The European Day of Languages offers language learners a chance to participate in language exchanges, which is an exciting opportunity. During such exchanges, learners from diverse backgrounds partner up and teach each other their native languages. This not only helps improve language skills but also promotes intercultural understanding.

    Language Workshops

    Various European cities offer language workshops led by enthusiasts and experts, providing an introduction to different languages.

    Multilingual Storytelling

    Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool for learning languages. Libraries, schools, and cultural centers hold multilingual storytelling sessions, where stories from different cultures are shared in their original languages. This helps both children and adults to better understand and appreciate the beauty of linguistic diversity.

    Film Screenings

    Cinema provides a wonderful opportunity to explore different languages and cultures. Throughout Europe, foreign films are often shown with subtitles, enabling viewers to fully immerse themselves in new linguistic worlds.

    Cultural Exhibitions

    Museums often showcase exhibitions highlighting the linguistic and cultural heritage of various regions, providing insight into the history and traditions of different languages.

    Language Cafés

    Cafés and restaurants might offer special menus featuring diverse cuisines and multilingual staff – a delightfully tasty way to explore languages and cultures.

    Games and Competitions

    Language-based games and competitions, such as crossword puzzles and spelling bees, are organized in schools and communities to provide a fun and educational way to celebrate language.

    If you are a teacher hoping to celebrate this occasion make sure to check here for ideas on what to do.

    Check out what events are happening near you here.

    Just like the European day of Languages, we at Pearson Languages are fully committed to empowering and celebrating language learners and educators alike. That's why we are now supporting French, Italian, and Spanish language learning with the Global Scale of Languages (GSL). With these new language learning frameworks at your fingertips, you can confidently design curriculums and personalize learning pathways to help fast-track your learners’ progress and help your learners be themselves in French, Italian and Spanish.

    Whether you're a teacher, a language learner, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of languages, the European Day of Languages and the GSL provide exciting opportunities to explore, learn, and enjoy the rich tapestry of Europe's linguistic heritage.

    Find out more about the Global Scale of Languages

  • teenage boy studying with headphones on and  with a laptop
    • Linguistics and culture

    Why should I learn English?

    By Pearson Languages

    English is the second most widely spoken language – it is estimated that nearly two billion people worldwide can speak English at a useful level. That means they can hold a conversation with other English-speaking people.

    A report by the British Council attests the importance of the English language to the world, and says that second-language English speakers far outnumber fluent English speakers. It also recognizes how being able to speak English can give individuals a competitive edge over others. If you're asking the question, "Why should I learn English?", read on to find out more...