How to learn new skills for free!

 

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Start learning today and fill that page!

 

Hi there.

Nearly two years ago I wrote about some free courses which are available on the world-wide web.

I think it’s fair to say that an that an update is overdue, so this week I’ll be mentioning course providers who offer courses relevant to business people (SMEs) and individuals.

I am starting with a provider with a great range of course to suit all learners.

FutureLearn by The Open University is a platform for MOOC (massive open online course) and is privately owned by The Open University.  According to their website you:

‘Join over 1733635 people learning with FutureLearn. Enjoy free online courses from top universities and cultural institutions. Find the course for you.’

They also have another path to free learning called Open Learn.

Open Learn is: ‘The home of free learning from The Open University

The resources used by FutureLearn and Open Learn are no different from the main Open University courses, in that they all have well- designed course material. I have taken courses with both and find them to be informative and interesting. The only negative I can find is that there are so many courses you may have trouble deciding which ones you want to study!

FutureLearn courses have specified start dates and can run for two/three weeks through to eight weeks. You can interact with other learners via threads of comments. Open Learn, offers more flexibility as you start and finish when you want.  At the end of the course, FutureLearn gives you the option of purchasing a certificate, while Open Learn offers you a statement of participation.

I studied for my degree with The Open University (and while it’s not free), I loved the fact that my fellow students came from all walks of life, all ages and nationalities.  According to The Open University‘s Former Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean:

The Open University’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.’

They have always been proud of their great resources, which is evident in their factual programmes made with the BBC; such as Hospital, where The Open University‘s academics have been advisors on the co-produced programme.

Now onto a completely different organisation called Alison.

Alison describes themselves as ‘the original MOOC’ (massive open online course), and is:

‘a five-million-strong, global online learning community, filled with free, high-quality resources to help you develop essential, certified workplace skills.’

To be honest I have started a few courses with Alison but did not know that much about them. Wikipedia has some background information and says that ALISON stands for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online. So, you can’t say that you have not learnt anything today.

From the information given on their website, and a promotional video, Alison started in Galway, Ireland and offers courses that are flexible and can be studied at your own pace wherever you are. They have over 750 courses on offer including diploma courses, free courses, languages, digital courses and courses for personal development. Students are assessed throughout the course and have the option of purchasing a certificate.

Lastly, a name that you associate more with recruitment than courses is Reed. While Reed, do not offer the courses themselves, they are a platform directing you to the sources of the courses. Rhyming was purely coincidental!

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that I am always encouraging reading and research. I love learning new things, so I’ll be checking out the new courses from FutureLearn.

I believe that whether you are a business owner or a regular individual, you should always be looking for ways to develop yourself and your business.

I hope that you enjoyed the blog, and it’s made you want to learn something new.

Take care,

Tricia

p.s Speaking about learning new things, if you are new to blogging and want more information or you’d like to attend a future blogging workshop, contact me here at My email address or via the contact form on My Website.

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Testing times ahead!

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Hello there.

Here is something a bit different this week.

As many young people start to revise for their GCSEs, I thought I would put you through your paces and test your general and education-related knowledge.

First round! These are questions which relate to education stories from 2016 –

Take this Guardian Education quiz

Next round! This will really get your brain working! I got 50% correct. See if you can do a bit better!

Telegraph 11+ article and quiz

Third round! For all those good with numbers take these Maths quizzes from the Guardian,

Are you smarter than a 16 year old?

and another from the Telegraph.

Could you pass GCSE Maths?

Last round! A hard general knowledge quiz, which has made me realise that I need to go back to school!

Buzz Feed General Knowledge Quiz

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I hope that you enjoyed these brainteasers. I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful that I’m not sitting exams right now.

How did you get on?

Have you ever thought about helping a young person with their revision? If you don’t already and feel you have the time and temperament to help a student in secondary education, why not get in touch with Action Tutoring. They are always looking for volunteer tutors to support young people. It is a rewarding experience.

Well, thanks for reading.

Take care,

Tricia

 

 

 

Spring Forward, Fall Back!

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Hi there.

You may be wondering what on earth is this ‘Spring Forward Fall back’ business? Well, if you have not remembered that the clocks go back this weekend, then the title says it all. In Spring the clocks go forward and in Autumn (or Fall if you are North American) the clocks go back. So, remember to put your clocks back!

For the origins of this phrase see, http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/spring-forward-fall-back.html. The site explains that fall originated in England and referred to the fall of a leaf in Autumn.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you will know that I mention William Shakespeare a few times and if you are not a fan then maybe you had better look away now!

If like me you enjoy finding out where phrases originate from, then start with Phrases.org.uk, in which you will find 135 phrases coined by William Shakespeare.

Here are a few to whet your appetite (sorry, couldn’t resist):

All’s well that ends well – A risky enterprise is justified as long as it ends well. Phrases.org.uk, state that John Heywood used it before Shakespeare.

High time – The time that something is due to be done. According to Phrases.org.uk:

High time’ derives from the allusion to the warmest time of day – when the sun is highest in the sky.’

By the way, ‘whet your appetite’ (not to be confused with an older phrase ‘whet your whistle’) has been around since the 17th Century and refers to stimulating your thoughts so that that you develop an interest in the subject matter.

I could go on and on, but I won’t as I previously covered this subject in my series You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Well, I hope that you enjoyed this brief jolt through the past. The next time we meet, we will all have had an extra hour of sleep! Enjoy!

Take care

Tricia

 

 

 

 

 

Watch these !

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Hello there.

So what is the cat watching?  Well, if he wants to improve his grammar with a few simple tips…probably the videos that I have decided to include in the blog this week.

Whether you are writing an article, an essay, an email, content for a website, promotional material or a letter, at some stage you may need some help.

I am a great believer that we are all different and we learn in different ways as one size does not feel all!

I say this as sometimes I watch videos and other times I read books to help me retain information and extend my knowledge base.

I decided to include two very different grammar videos which I thought were effective and entertaining.

 

 

The second video illustrates how complicated English language is, and how academics cannot agree on everything themselves. My advice when something like this happens is usually to research and see what the general consensus is.

There will always be exceptions to some grammatical rules, as there are now so many ways that people express themselves, so in some ways, they are making up their own rules.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the videos, and are inspired to find some more on YouTube.

Take care,

Tricia

 

Lost in Translation!

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Hey there!

Happy Fourth of July, to those of you from across the pond!

I thought I would update and re-post this blog from last year, with some of the differences in language between American- English and British- English.

Okay, I hear some die-hard linguists saying there is no such thing as American-English, it’s just English!  Well, you can relax, this is not supposed to be the definitive guide, just some fun!

On a day-to-day basis, I can’t say that I sit and think about the differences between our speech and that of our allies, but when my cousin Pamela came over from America last year, I did this mini guide in honour of her visit.  Please feel free to share it should you feel that you need some help with translation!

A few examples of the differences are:

UK /US

Pavement – Sidewalk

Pushchair/Pram -Stroller

Toilet/Loo -Bathroom/Washroom/Restroom

Supermarket – Grocery store

Mobile phone – Cell phone

Crisps – Potato chips

Trainers – Sneakers

Petrol – Gas

Tights – Pantyhose

Jam – Jelly

Jumper – Sweater

Trousers – Pants

I could spend all day compiling my own list, but there is a really good website that just about covers all you need to know, at London.trusttown.net

So we know what the differences are, but why do those differences exist?  In a nutshell, the British colonised the Americas and after independence, America decided to take back some of the control with the language.  For the full story, see,

Wikipedia

Hope you enjoyed this quick gallop down American-English Avenue.

See ya’ll later!

Tricia

 

 

Practice Becomes Custom!

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Hello there.

For the past three weeks through the Grammar Series, we have looked at errors in everyday language. Well, today I thought I would carry on along the same vein and mention words that are ‘brand’ names but now seem to sit comfortably in our day to day language. If you are a history person, then once again, you should enjoy this jog down memory lane.

The first example is probably the best example of this flagrant misuse of a word – Hoover.  When referring to vacuum cleaners, many call all vacuum cleaners ‘hoovers’ and when vacuuming (whether with a Hoover or another make of a vacuum cleaner) they may say, ‘ I am hoovering.’  Apparently, this started as a result of Hoover being one of the biggest selling makes of vacuum cleaners. The term continued, despite a decline in sales and can be a bone of contention with other vacuum cleaner manufacturers.

The Hoover company started in America in 1908. According to Wikipedia, James Spangler invented a basic suction sweeper because he suspected the carpet sweeper he used at work to be causing his asthma.  After working on the design and assembling electronic suction sweepers, he gave one to his cousin Susan Troxel Hoover to try. Being impressed she told her husband William Henry Hoover about it, and he bought the patent.  For the full history see this about the Hoover Company.

Two examples from the stationary world are Tipp- Ex and Post-it notes.  In real life they correction fluid and sticky notes.

According to Evelyn Vaz on Science.blurtit.com  Tipp-Ex  (the correction fluid) was developed in 1965, despite the company Tipp-Ex being formed in 1959 in Frankfurt.

Post-it notes history, as told by David Hiskey, can be found here and is an interesting read.

I am sure if you did your own research (if you feel inclined in that way), you would find more examples like Chapstick (lip balm), Kleenex (tissues) and Q-tip (cotton buds). If you are going to search, make sure you search and not ‘google it,’ as I am increasingly hearing.  I am not saying do not use Google as a search engine, I am saying use the correct term for the action that you will be carrying out.

So why have these names now become generic terms used in everyday speech?   I guess the answer in one word is popularity. Something which is popular is not always correct. I have nothing against brands, but my bugbear is just the incorrect use of words in general.

While I am on the subject. Whenever I hear people say ‘nothink’ or ‘somethink’ instead of ‘nothing’ or ‘something,’ I cringe. This is the same as using text language which can become habit-forming and impacts our everyday use.  See my blog No text please we’re British.

A phrase that my mother uses all the time is ‘Practice becomes custom.’ In relation to language or any other skill you wish to develop, the saying means if you want to acquire or maintain good language skills, you have to make a point of practising every day.

I think encouraging the correct use of words in speech and anything which we write says that we care about our language and hopefully this will be passed on to the next generation.

I hope that what I have said does not come across as patronising, but I am passionate about what I do and I guess I want everyone else to feel the same way.

Take care,

 

Tricia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Part Two

Hello there!

In Part One I introduced a few sayings and just started to touch on the intriguing subject of where these sayings originated from.

In the case of the title ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, http://www.knowyourphrase.com says:

“This idea of it being more difficult to teach things to an older dog has been around since at least the early 1500s. For example, in Fitzherbert’s Book of Husbandry, 1534.”

Another well- known phrase ‘going cold turkey’ is likely to have originated from America or Canada, see www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/…/origin-phrase-cold-turkey.

The notion of ‘beating about the bush’ is an old saying that is quite common and Tim Lambert in The meanings of some old sayings explains:

When hunting birds some people would beat about the bush to drive them out into the open. Other people would than catch the birds. ‘I won’t beat about the bush’ came to mean ‘I will go straight to the point without any delay’.

If you just want a straightforward website without any frills, with an extensive range of phrases and their meanings see, users.tinyonline.co.uk/gswithenbank/sayindex.htm.

Certain expressions such as ‘bad hair day’ and ‘filthy rich’ are now part of everyday language used in the UK, yet they originated from the USA. For more information see: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/american-phrases-and-sayings.html.

The Chinese are also well known for their sayings (proverbs) and an interesting site which shows the similarities between English and Chinese words of wisdom can be found on www.chinesetolearn.com/20-famous-and-wise-chinese-proverb. This site is also useful if you want to impress your friends with a new language as it shows all the phrases in Mandarin. An example from the site is:

Two heads are better than one. 三个臭皮匠,胜过诸葛亮 sān ge chòupíjiàng, sheng guò Zhūgé Liàng (“Three unskilled cobblers are superior to one Zhuge Liang.”)

We can go even further with impressive knowledge from across the globe by quoting some African Proverbs like:

Love has to be shown by deeds not words. Swahili proverb.

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. Ethiopian proverb.

For more of these gems see, www.siliconafrica.com/100-african-proverbs-i-always-keep-with-myself/.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this taster from the smorgasbord that is English Language sayings. I could go on and on about this subject, but I think I have said ‘enough already.’   So I had better sign off now, before I wander down the path of clichés.

 Have a nice day!

Tricia