Words making the headlines – Fake news

Fake News!

The phrase ‘fake news’ started to appear in news headlines last year and has now entered the dictionary. Here’s the definition from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Fake news is:

“false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke”

The term fake news is used a lot by some politicians. When they say that a news report is fake news, they mean it contradicts their beliefs and so they don’t want other people to believe it. They have a different view of the situation and want to promote that view. Instead of giving evidence to support their view, the politicians try to discredit  the original new report by calling it fake news. Very often, it isn’t important to these politicians whether the news is true or not.

When a politician claims something is fake news they rarely criticise the content of the news report directly. Their aim is to call the writer and publisher of the report a fake. In other words, they’re calling them a liar. Of course, this is also an attack on anybody who accepts the truth of the original news report. The implication is they are stupid to believe it and, therefore, those who don’t, such as the politician and his supporters, are more intelligent.

Although fake news is a fixed phrase it’s not the only word that we use when we talk about attempts to deceive people. There are words such as false, forged, counterfeit, and fraudulent. For example,

The document had a forged signature at the bottom.

Last week I found a counterfeit pound coin in my wallet.

He was arrested for submitting a fraudulent tax return.

We can also use the words fake and false to describe these situations.

He made a false claim that it was his signature.

The pound coin was a fake.

The tax return contained false information.

While we’re taking about words that mean fake, let’s look at some words that mean the opposite such as true, real, genuine and authentic. For example,

Read the article then decide if each of these statements is true or false.

I prefer documentaries to dramas. I like to hear the stories of real people.

The art expert declared that the painting was a genuine Rembrandt.

There’s a new restaurant in the High Street. They serve authentic Malaysian food.

So, what’s the opposite of fake news? It’s just news, of course.

Listen to Barney reading the text.

Download this recording.

By Barney

 

Making contact – social language

Airport conversation

Social conversation is important to help get to know people and to build relationships.

Part 1

Listen

Listen to this conversation and answer these questions.

  • Do these two people know each other?
  • Where are they?

Questions and answers

We use questions and answers to move a social conversation. Can you match the questions and answers? Listen to the conversation again if you need.

Questions Answers
Is this the first time you’ve been to one of these conferences? That sounds great, thanks.
Have you been before? I’m a technical manager for IWB.
What do you do? No, I haven’t.
Why don’t we have a bite to eat and talk about it over lunch? No, I came last year when it was in Budapest.

Listen again

Listen again and follow the transcript.

A: Hi, I’m Julie. Is this the first time you’ve been to one of these conferences?

B: No, I came last year when it was in Budapest. I’m Susan by the way. Have you been before?

A: No, I haven’t. I’ve just started working in medical technology.

B: What do you do?

A: I’m a technical manager for IWB. I’m responsible for technical support in Eastern Europe. What about you?

B: Oh, I’m with BTC. I was in technical support, but I’ve moved into project management.

A: Maybe you could suggest a couple of useful sessions for me?

B: Yeah, sure. Why don’t we have a bite to eat and talk about it over lunch?

A: That sounds great, thanks.

Phrases

Let’s focus on the section of the transcript highlighted in yellow.

There are three parts:

  • I’m with BTC. = this says what the present situation is
  • I was in technical support, = this says what the past situation was
  • but I’ve moved into project management. = this says what has changed

Now, use this structure to write a sentence about you that says;

  • what your present situation is
  • what your past situation was
  • what has changed.

 

Part 2

Listen

Listen to this second conversation and answer these questions.

  • Do these two people know each other?
  • Where are they?

Questions and answers

We use questions and answers to move a social conversation. Can you match the questions and answers? Listen to the conversation again if you need.

Questions Answers
Did you have a good flight? Paul hasn’t.
When was that? He’s only been there for 3 or 4 months.
Has everyone else arrived for the meeting? Not too bad.
How long has he lived there? It was last year.

Listen again

Listen again and follow the transcript.

A: Hi Brian. Did you have a good flight?

B: Not too bad, Peter. At least it was on time.

A: That’s good. I’ve had problems with RiteFlite in the past.

B: Oh? When was that?

A: It was last year, on a trip to Buenos Aires.

B: Really? I’ve always wanted to go there.

A: Well, we had a fantastic time apart from the flight.

B: Anyway, has everyone else arrived for the meeting?

A: Paul hasn’t. He called 20 minutes ago to say his train was delayed! It’s typical, isn’t it? The person who lives closest is the one who’s late!

B: Oh really? I thought he lived in Norwich.

A: Not any more. He’s moved to Richmond.

B: Ah. How long has he lived there

A: He’s only been there for 3 or 4 months. He moved because he wanted a shorter commute to work!

Phrases

Let’s focus on the section of the transcript highlighted in yellow.

There’s a question about an unfinished time:

  • How long has he lived there?

The answer has two parts:

  • He’s only been there for 3 or 4 month. = an unfinished time = the time he’s lived in Richmond
  • He moved because he wanted a shorter commute to work! = a finished time = the time he moved

Here are two questions with the same structure:

  • How long have you lived here?
  • How long have you worked there?

Write answers about you.


Answers

Part 1

Julie and Susan don’t know each other. They are meeting for the first time.

They are at a conference.

Part 2

Peter and Brian know each other. They are colleagues.

They are at an airport.

 

By Louise and Barney

Do you know the rules of making small talk? Watch our video.

 

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

Do you need practise social language in English? Send us a message.

 

Stratford Teachers Pub Quiz

The Old Thatch Tavern pub in Stratford upon Avon – drawing by Barney Barrett

Pubs are an important part of British culture.

How much do you know about the language of pubs?

Test yourself by watching our new video.

There are six questions. Use the comment box at the bottom of this page to tell us how many you got right.

Of course, the most important thing we do in the pub is make conversation. Watch our video on the rules of small talk for advice on how to start and keep a conversation going.

Video by Barney with  Joy, Louise, Simon, and Stephen. Cheers to Emily and Stephen for also adding their voices.

 

If you have any questions about this, leave a comment below.

If you are interested in learning more about British culture and the English language, send us a message.

 

Dealing with presentation questions

Dealing with presentation questions video

Do you need to give presentations in English?

Do people in the audience often want to ask questions?

Our latest video shows some ways of dealing with audience questions.

If this was interesting, why not look at Starting a presentation, and Describing upward and downward trends?

 

Video by Barney with the voices of Joy, Simon and Stephen.

 

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

Do you need help to prepare and give a presentation in English? Send us a message.

 

Words making the Headlines – Brexit

Brexit dotted-line

Reading the news is a good way to build your vocabulary. This is the first of an occasional series about words that appear in the headlines of English-language news stories.

It won’t surprise you that today’s word is Brexit. This term is used to talk about the end of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Brexit is two words merged together*: British and exit. It’s always written with a capital B because the first part comes from British.

Brexit is a noun but it’s often used to modify another noun, for example this article from the Guardian newspaper contains:

GB in the EU car stickerBrexit terms [the details of a future agreement with the other members of the EU]

Brexit bill [the amount of money the UK might have to pay for leaving the EU]

Brexit promises [commitments by both sides of the negotiations]

Brexit minister [a member of the UK government responsible for managing the UK’s exit from the EU]

There are also different types of Brexit. A hard Brexit means a situation where the UK gives up all the commitments and benefits of EU membership. A soft Brexit means a situation where the UK keeps some of those commitments and benefits.

Supporters of Brexit are often referred to as Brexiteers. People who do not agree with the plan to leave the EU are called Remainers. It’s important to note that British people only use these terms to talk about other people. We never use them to describe our own position in the debate.

If you would like to suggest a word from the news for future blog posts, please use the comment box.


 

Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.

 


* The technical term for this is a portmanteau word.

 

by Barney

 

The Rules of Small Talk

The Rules of Making Small talk in English video

Making small talk in a foreign language can be a challenge.

Our video has five simple rules you can follow. These will help you start and develop conversations in social situations.

Video by Barney with the voices of Linda, Joy and Simon.

 

If you have any questions or comments, leave a reply below.

Do you need practise making small talk in English? Send us a message.

 

Saying small numbers

SAying small numbers in English video

After last week’s video about saying large numbers, we now have a video that focuses on saying small numbers.

Did you know there is more than one way to say the number 0? What are the important pronunciation points to consider when you say fractions like 3/4? Watch the video to find out.

by Barney

 

If you have any questions about this, leave a comment below.

If you are interested in learning and practising English vocabulary, send us a message.