Tag Archives: C2 – Proficiency

Collocation challenge 28/4/15 – verb + against

Today’s collocation challenge explores verbs which appear with the preposition against.

Start by making complete sentences from columns A, B, C and D.  Use the grammatical and vocabulary clues in columns A, B and D to help you do this (e.g. tenses, pronouns, related words etc.)

Then, think about the verbs and phrases in columns B and C and try to work out their meaning from the context of the whole sentence.  If you need to check them, look them up in an online dictionary.

Next, cover column B.  Test whether you can remember the verb which goes into each sentence.

After that, cover all the columns except column A.  Can you reconstruct the whole sentence?

Finally, write your own example sentences with the verbs you think are useful to learn and try to use the verbs in your next class or writing assignment.

verb + against

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Collocation challenge 24/4/15: Binomial challenge 1

The building work will take more or less a month to complete.

Her presentation was short and sweet – it only lasted about 10 minutes but she got in everything she needed to include.

I’ve booked a holiday in the countryside this summer.  I’m really looking forward to enjoying the peace and quiet and getting away from the city.

Sooner or later they’ll realise what a silly mistake they’ve made. 

The underlined pairs of words above are examples of binomials – words which often appear together joined by a conjunction (e.g. and) or a preposition in a fixed order (e.g. it’s always more or less not less or more).

Today’s collocation challenge includes a test of some of these pairs.

The challenge:  choose a pair of words from the image to complete sentences  1-10.  We’ll publish the answers in a few days in the comments section.

1)  I won’t explain everything that happened in the meeting but the __________ of it is that we’ve successfully negotiated an extension of the contract.

2)  Having grown up in the countryside it was quite hard to get used to the __________ of city life when I first moved here.

3)  The closure of the train station has left many commuters who relied on the train for getting to work __________.

4)  It’s __________ with him – he either plays brilliantly or he seems completely useless!

5)  It was __________.  If I didn’t tell her how I felt now, I knew I never would.  I took a deep breath and…

6)  Working to tight deadlines is __________ of my job.

7)  He expects his mum to be at his __________ 24/7.

8)  People came from __________ to see the exhibition.

9)  Local residents have been fighting __________ to prevent the closure of the station in their village.

10)  Considering its age the car is in pretty good condition – just a few scratches, you know, a little __________ around the bodywork.

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Collocation Challenge: 28/2/15 – Top 10 places and cities to visit in England (Part 6)

Welcome to Part 6 in our series of posts focusing on the vocabulary for describing places which appears in a text about the 10 Best Places and Cities to visit in England as published in The Daily Telegraph.

Links to previous posts in the series can be found at the bottom of this post.

This post is looking particularly at vocabulary in the sections of the text about Norfolk and Suffolk.

1.  Collocations in the texts about Norfolk and Suffolk

Match the adjectives with nouns they combine with.  There may be various possibilities.  Then check in the texts about Norfolk and Suffolk to see which were used.

1 undulating a days out
2 sleepy b days
3 ruined c countryside
4 enjoyable d bird life
5 low e landscape
6 bright e pub
7 lively f villages
8 wild g cheeses
9 dense h castles
10 astonishingly rich i temperatures
11 rare j pine forest
12 cosy k species
13 pungent l towns

Answer these questions…

  1. Can you think of an example of a sleepy village in your region?  Can you think of 5 things that make it sleepy  in comparison with a lively town you know?
  2. Can you think of a cosy pub you’ve been to or perhaps one shown in a film you’ve seen?
  3. Where can you go to see astonishingly rich bird life in your region / country?
  4. Does your region produce any pungent cheeses?  Do you like them?  What do they smell like?
  5. Which area(s) in your region would you describe as being wild?
  6. The Norfolk text talks about the countryside being undulating.  This means it is not flat.  Can you remember a collocation in the section of the text about the Cotswolds that could also be used to express this idea?

2.  Another example of draw 

This text uses the noun draw to mean attraction 3 times.  In the section on Norfolk, it says…

The beaches fringing the curved Norfolk and Suffolk coastline are the chief draw for visitors to the region.

We’ve also seen draw (noun) collocate with big and major in other sections of the text.

3.  Useful phrases for Writing from the Norfolk and Suffolk texts

Use these phrases and sentence frames from the texts with your own ideas about where you live…

  • (feature(s) of the place you’re describing) …are perfect for… (..activities you can do there / types of visitors)
  • (local attractions) …make enjoyable days out.
  • is/are the chief draw for visitors to the region.
  • Wherever you are, you’re never far from…

Links to previous posts

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Collocation Challenge: 21/2/15 – Top 10 places and cities to visit in England (Part 4)

This is Part 4 of a series of posts based around a text which appeared in the travel section of the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph:  Top 10 places and cities to visit in England.

Part 1 opened the series with a Reading exercise and a look at collocations in the first section of the text about Yorkshire.

Part 2 went on to explore vocabulary in the next section of the text about Bath.

Part 3 took a look at collocations and useful language for describing places in the sections about the Cotswolds and Devon.

Today’s post starts with some questions about language which appears in the section of the text about the Lake District and also focuses on vocabulary in the section on Brighton.

1.  Collocations in the text about the Lake District

A few questions to think about:

  • The text talks about this part of England offering visitors the chance to do a leisurely bike ride.  If your audience for this text were serious cyclists, what adjectives could you use as opposites to leisurely?
  • So far in this series of blog posts we’ve seen two examples of the word draw in the text (“shopping is a major draw” (Bath) and “most people are drawn to the magnificent beaches…” (Devon)).  Find the collocation with draw in this section of the text:  draw +  noun   +   preposition   (something)
  • The adjective + noun collocation “magnificent scenery” appears in this section of the text.  Magnificent is a general, positive adjective which is the the third most frequent adjective to collocate with scenery.  The list of words in CAPITALS, are other adjectives which collocate with scenery.  Decide if their meaning is also general and positive or more specific.  If general, like magnificent, decide if the alternative adjectives are at a similar grade.  Some examples have been given to help you:  BEAUTIFUL (general, positive(also the most frequent), ALPINE (more specific – of the region of the Alps or for mountain areas), BREATHTAKING, DRAMATIC, SPECTACULAR, COASTAL, STUNNING, WONDERFUL, SURROUNDING, MOUNTAINOUS, VARIED, FANTASTIC, SUPERB, CHANGING, DELIGHTFUL, GLORIOUS, REMARKABLE, EVER-CHANGING, ATTRACTIVE, PRETTY, GRIM, ROCKY.

2.  Useful phrases for writing about places from the section about the Lake District

Its picturesque patchwork of lakes, valleys, woodlands and fells make it one of the best places in Britain to get out and experience the great outdoors, whether it’s on a leisurely bike ride down country lanes or a day-long hike across the hills.

The complex sentence above could be broken down into the following framework:

(Its) (…reasons why the area is special and worth visiting…) …make it one of the best places in Portugal to (…activities you can do here…).

Use the framework and example above to write some complex sentences about…

  1. the local landscape and geography + activities
  2. cultural attractions in your town + activities
  3. range of places to eat or variety of regional dishes + eating-related activities

…in your hometown or region.

3.  Collocations in the text about Brighton

The writer describes Brighton as a…

loveably eccentric city.

Find other collocations in the text below about Brighton that extend this idea of eccentricity.  These collocations often contrast with vocabulary of a different ‘set,’ that of exclusivity.  Find examples of these too.

There’s always something unexpected to enjoy – the secret is to roam freely and keep your eyes peeled. Head to the boho North Laine, and you find offbeat designers and dingy flea markets happily melding with sleek restaurants and bars. Throw in gentrified Regency squares, oddball museums, and a clutch of well upholstered parks with traditional cafés attached – and you have a city that truly caters for all tastes.

In the extract above, find words or phrases that mean the following:

  • “include”
  • “the key” (to enjoying this place)
  • “coexisting”
  • “well cared for”
  • “go in the direction of”
  • “watch out for”
  • “wander around”
  • “appeals to everyone”

4.  Useful phrases for writing about places from the text about Brighton

Incorporate some ideas for tourists visiting your hometown into the following structures from the Brighton text:

  • The secret to enjoying (…name of place…) is to…
  • When you visit (…name of place / area of a city…), keep your eyes peeled for
  • Head for… (…name of place / area of a city…), and you will find…
  • (…various things that would appeal to different ages or types of visitor…) mean it’s a place that caters for all tastes.

For some answers to some of the questions here, check out the comments box below.

For the next post in our series, looking at the section on Cornwall, check out Part 5

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Collocation Challenge: 20/2/15 – Top 10 places and cities to visit in England (Part 3)

This collocation challenge continues a series based around a text which appeared in the travel section of the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph:  Top 10 places and cities to visit in England.

Part 1 opened the series with a Reading exercise and a look at collocations in the first section of the text about Yorkshire.

Part 2 went on to explore vocabulary in the next section of the text about Bath.

This post will take a look at collocations and useful language for describing places in the sections about the Cotswolds and Devon.

1.  Collocations in the section about the Cotswolds

  • vibrant festivals
  • intriguing museums (C2)
  • rolling hills
  • an area of outstanding natural beauty
  • bracing walks (in cold weather)

Match the adjectives in bold above to the ideas they communicate below:

  1. doing this activity in the cold makes you feel alive and full of energy
  2. interesting, unusual and mysterious
  3. full of life, colour and energy
  4. describing geographic features – gentle, not extreme rises and falls in the landscape
  5. clearly better than what is normal

2.  Useful phrases for writing about places from the text about the Cotswolds

The text about the Cotswolds puts an emphasis on what visitors can do there if they visit at different times of the year.  It says that “every season has intrinsic appeal” and gives highlights for why each season is special in this place.  Try using the same sentence stems that appear in the text to give advice to potential visitors to your hometown or region; you could use things like activities you can do at these times of the year, special events that happen, or features of nature which are specific to the time of year:

  • Winters are ideal for…
  • Come in spring to see…
  • Visit in summer for…
  • Or make an autumn excursion for…

3.  Features text organisation in the section about Devon

Thinking about cohesion, the section about Devon highlights some simple techniques for organising ideas effectively in texts.  Just look at the structure given in this basic framework:

(Name of place)

_____ and _____, _____ and _____, _____ and _____ – holidays in (name of place) are  adjective ,   adjective  , and  adjective  .

Most people are drawn to _____, but _____ has its appeal too.

A visit here mixes two of life’s loveliest pleasures: _____ and _____.

Activity ideas:

  1. Look back at the original text about Devon for 1 minute (link to the article).  Switch back to this page with the framework above and try to complete it from memory.
  2. Use this framework as the basis for a short text about your hometown or region.
  3. Find examples of parallelism to bring cohesion to the text in the framework above.

*Notice how the word draw appears in this text.  We met it before as a noun in the section about Bath (“Shopping is a major draw”).  Here it’s a verb:

Most people are drawn to the magnificent beaches on the south and north coasts, but inland Devon has its appeal, too.

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Collocation challenge: 18/2/15 – Top 10 places and cities to visit in England (Part 1)

Today’s collocation challenge is based on an authentic text published in the travel section of The Daily Telegraph (a UK newspaper).  It starts with some multiple-matching reading questions and goes on to start a series of posts which mine the text for interesting collocations and phrases that could be used in your own writing when describing places.

Let’s start with the reading exercise.

Part 1:  Reading

You’re going to read an article about the 10 best places and cities to visit in England.  For questions 1-10 below, choose from the places and cities mentioned in the text.  The places may be chosen more than once and there may be more than one possible answer to some of the questions.

Multiple-matching questions - Top 10:  Best places and cities to visit in England.

Multiple-matching questions – Top 10: Best places and cities to visit in England.

Click this link to visit The Daily Telegraph website with the text.

Once you’ve got answers to all or most of the questions, check your answers at the bottom of this post.

Part 2:  Language focus – collocations and useful phrases for describing places

This part of the post starts off a series of posts focusing on some collocations found in the text.  We’ll start with the section about Yorkshire and look at the other sections of the text over the next few days

1.  sheer + noun (C1 / C2)

When giving reasons why Yorkshire is worth visiting, the writer says that…

The sheer beauty of the county, sometimes as unexpected as a dilapidated mill chimney stabbing up through a leaden sky, has inspired generations of painters

What’s the effect of adding the adjective sheer in the collocation with beauty?  Does it emphasise or weaken the noun? What could you replace sheer with and still keep the meaning and effect the same?    

Check your ideas with the Cambridge Dictionary online entry for sheer 

2.  Useful phrases for writing about places

The section about Yorkshire has a few interesting phrases that you could adopt in your own descriptions of places:

Visitors flock to Yorkshire because there is no place on earth like God’s Own County…

Yorkshire boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in the country

  • to flock to a place  – go or travel somewhere in large numbers
  • to boast – when people boast about something they usually talk about something they can do with a lot of pride – it’s usually considered a negative thing.  In the example here however, it is used to talk about something a place has that it deserves to be proud of.

Try to finish these sentence beginnings with your own ideas:

  • Visitors from northern Europe flock to the Mediterranean in summer because…
  • Tourists flock to my hometown to see/visit/experience…
  • A new 5 star hotel has been built in my hometown.  In addition to 2 swimming pools it boasts
  • The most famous museum I’ve ever been to boasts… …in its collection.   (What makes that museum really famous and special?)

Answers to the reading exercise questions:

  1. The writer says that the food which is available today in Bath is better than it once was: “Bath’s Achilles heel used to be used to be a surprising dearth of good, affordable places to eat. But that is no longer the case. The foodie transformation of a number of the city’s pubs over the past decade has been the most significant improvement.”  Achilles heel = weakness
  2. The writer mentions opportunities to buy locally produced food in the sections about Devon and Suffolk: “A visit here mixes two of life’s loveliest pleasures: good food and the great outdoors. Devon folk make the most of the rich larder of food on their doorstep. Lamb, venison, pheasant, pork and seafood are staples, and the county’s farmers’ markets are full of artisan producers selling delicious cider, apple juice, cheese and ice cream.” / “Wherever you are, you’re never far from a cosy, pamment-floored pub serving local ales or an excellent delicatessen selling the region’s specialities – pungent cheeses, smoked fish or honey.”
  3. In the text about Suffolk the writer talks about opportunities for nature lovers to see a diverse variety of animals? “Bird life is astonishingly rich… … while the unique wetlands of the Broads, one of England’s 10 designated National Parks, is home to more than 400 rare species, including butterflies, dragonflies, moths and snails.”  Wild animals (seals and sharks) are mentioned in the section about Cornwall but the writer doesn’t emphasise the variety of animals visitors can see.
  4. The sections on Brighton and London highlight the variety of things for visitors to do as major attractions. Brighton is praised for being a place where “you need never get bored” and a number of varying different attractions are listed as reasons why the city “caters for all tastes.”  Similarly, the diversity of activities available to visitors to London is emphasised:  “Restaurants, bars and theatres are buzzing and the range of events on offer – from sport to food pop-ups, from music festivals to theatre – is unbeatable. “
  5. The weather is mentioned in various texts. However, in the section about Norfolk the writer refers to “northerly and easterly winds” keeping “temperatures low” and goes on to say that “even on cold, bright days in winter, the beach car parks can be busy with dog-walkers and hikers” – hiking and dog walking can be considered “outdoor activities”.
  6. The section about The Lake District best matches the statement that “the area is associated with many artists and writers”: “The Lake District also has numerous artistic and literary connections, most famously William Wordsworth, who was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his poetic inspiration from the surrounding landscape.”  A reference to only one writer, Jane Austen, is included in the section about Bath and in the sections about Yorkshire and Cornwall only artists are mentioned.
  7. Surfing is mentioned in the texts about Devon and Cornwall but in the section about Cornwall this water sport is said to “attract a number of visitors”: “Surfing is big draw, for all ages – bodyboarding too – and lessons are available on most north-coast beaches.”
  8. “The glorious, honey-coloured towns and villages of the Cotswolds look as if they have strayed into the 21st century from another era.” This description matches the statement that “places in this region look like they did in other periods of history.”
  9. The writer mentions the fact that “even in natural areas you can see signs of an industrial past” in the text about Yorkshire: “The sheer beauty of the county, sometimes as unexpected as a dilapidated mill chimney stabbing up through a leaden sky…”
  10. The advice that exploring the place on foot can bring you interesting surprises matches to the text about Brighton: “There’s always something unexpected to enjoy – the secret is to roam freely and keep your eyes peeled.”

Language notes for Part 2:  collocations and useful phrases for describing places

1.  sheer + noun  Sheer emphasises or intensifies the noun beauty, it could be substituted by complete or utter.  Nouns which frequently collocate with sheer include:

  • size
  • weight
  • volume
  • force
  • scale
  • joy
  • number
  • pleasure
  • delight
  • luck
  • quantity
  • chance
  • determination
  • coincidence
  • relief
  • frustration

2.  Useful phrases for writing about places – possible ways to end these sentences:

  • Visitors from northern Europe flock to the Mediterranean in summer because of the good weather / they are almost guaranteed sunshine.
  • Tourists flock to Coimbra to visit the historic university.
  • A new 5 star hotel has been built in my hometown.  In addition to 2 swimming pools it boasts an 18 hole golf course, a state of the art gym and 3 top restaurants.
  • The most famous museum I’ve ever been to boasts an amazing dinosaur skeleton in its collection.

You can continue exploring the language in this text by looking at Part 2 in this series of posts.

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