10 Brain-Healthy Foods That Will Boost Concentration and Memory

10 Brain-Healthy Foods That Will Boost Concentration and Memory

Being a student comes with big responsibilities and being able to concentrate while studying for a big exam is vital.

Here are 10 brain-healthy foods that will boost concentration and memory.

1. Avocados

The healthy fats found in avocados boost brain function by helping promote better blood flow. Blood flow to all your organs is essential for them to function at their best. Avocados are also high in fiber which means it will help slow down your digestion and keep away hunger pangs that could distract you.

2. Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a natural anti-inflammatory agent and can work to suppress cells responsible for inflammation in your brains. This will help boost your memory and prevent memory loss as you age.

3. Leafy green vegetables

Popeye wasn’t just chowing down spinach to boost his strength. Turns out, he was boosting his brain power too. Spinach and most other leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and B-vitamins which help boost memory, focus and overall brain health. They are also a good source of folic acid which helps boost mental clarity.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil is high in the antioxidant polyphenol. Antioxidants will help prevent cognitive decline as you age. It is also high in vitamins E and K which together help maintain brain productivity and boost processing speed. Olive oil also boosts the levels of brain chemicals which stimulate the formation of new brain cells.

5. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is often praised for its high level of flavonoids, which is a good antioxidant. It also helps lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain. However, make sure you choose the right brand of dark chocolate to absorb these benefits. Many store brands contain large amounts of sugar that could do more harm than good to your brain.

6. Salmon, sardines and other fatty fish

There’s a reason fish oil capsules are such a popular health supplement. Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines contain essential omega-3 fatty acids which are vital for brain function. It also protects your brain from declined cognitive functions and memory loss as you age.

7. Nuts

Nuts are rich in antioxidants, essential fats and amino acids that have been proven to help you focus. Walnuts are likely your best option as they contain the most amount of antioxidants compared to other nuts. Walnuts also contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid that promotes brain development and health. To get these benefits, just one ounce of nuts a day is sufficient.

8. Blueberries

One of the most antioxidant-rich foods you could eat, blueberries are the perfect supplement for a healthy brain. They are also high in gallic acid, which prevents damage to your brain from large amounts of stress.

9. Eggs

Eggs contain choline, which is vital for brain development. A large intake of choline is also correlated with improved cognitive performance. Make sure you eat the yolks too as they contain the most amount of choline!

10. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is often touted as one of the healthiest breakfast options. A good serving of oatmeal in the morning leaves you feeling full and prevents midday hunger pangs. Oatmeal also has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike blood sugar levels. This will help increase brain functionality. For a particularly brain-healthy breakfast, try opting for a bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal topped with a variety of nuts and blueberries.


Source: greatbigminds.com

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Is grammar important?

Is grammar important?

Some people think that correct English grammar matters only to teachers and is of no real importance in daily life. This is certainly not true. Grammar, regardless of the country or the language, is the foundation for communication. When a message is relayed with the correct grammar, it is easier to understand the purpose and meaning of that message. In order to communicate, a learner should know the grammar of the language. It is important to be able to express yourself, but this should be done in a way that people find easy to understand.

Writing that is poorly punctuated and contains grammatical errors is difficult to read and sometimes impossible to understand. If the reader has to go back and re-read a sentence several times because they are not quite sure what it means, it spoils their reading experience and they are quite likely to misunderstand the point or even give up and not read any further.

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules which influences the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given language. It is the systematic study and description of a language, and it helps us to understand how words and their component parts combine to form sentences.

Reasons why you should apply the correct grammar when you speak and write

  • Grammar rules can help learners develop the habit of thinking logically and clearly. After studying grammar, learners are able to become more accurate when using a language.
  • Without good grammar, clear communication is impossible. Proper grammar keeps you from being misunderstood while expressing your thoughts and ideas.
  • Grammar improves the development of fluency. When a person has learned grammar, it will be easier for that person to know how to organise and express the ideas in their mind without difficulty. As a result, they will be able to speak, read and write the language more fluently.
  • Many employers are immediately put off when they receive a cover letter for a job application that contains grammatical errors and is poorly written. Many employers will simply ignore this application and even delete it. It is therefore important to bear this in mind when applying for a job.
  • When writing on behalf of your organisation, it is important to use the correct grammar, as this can mean the difference between readers trusting your expertise or questioning your knowledge of the subject matter. If you can’t write properly, you can’t relay your subject matter with authority.
  • A person with poor grammar skill can form a negative impression on others. First impressions can be lasting, and may hide the true judgment of character. Some people consider good grammar to be a mark of intelligence and education. Don’t allow strangers to form a negative impression of you based on your poor communication skills.
  • Writing and speaking correctly gives you the appearance of credibility. If you’re attempting to build a reputation as an expert in your profession, correct use of grammar is extremely important.

With the development of social networks and technology, people have become increasingly more lazy to use grammar in their everyday communications. When texting, using Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, they tend to use sentences that are as simple as possible. Grammar is unnecessary in these mediums and fragments of sentences are quite acceptable. Unfortunately, it is easy to get into a bad habit based on this.

There is no shortcut to learning English grammar. A computer can’t fully grasp the complexities of the English language. In some cases, a computer grammar check can sometimes suggest the incorrect alternatives when attempting to fix common errors.

Different ways to improve your grammar

Read more in English

One way to improve your grammar is to read more in English. The more you read, the more you improve your grammar and vocabulary. It may be tiring and difficult to understand everything, but this is one step you cannot skip if you want to get better at grammar. Reading helps you to see how English works and how the grammar works. That knowledge can transfer to your writing. Find something you like to read, and then keep on reading. It doesn’t matter what you read – books, magazine articles, or newspapers – as long as they are written in proper English. Try to read as many different genres (e.g. newspaper articles, academic journals, blogs, short-stories, etc.) as you can.

Listen more to English

Listening to others who use good English and watching television also helps. It works better if you watch what you are really interested in. Remember that the English spoken in America is different from that spoken in England. Some parts of spelling and grammar are different between the two countries. In South Africa, we follow the British grammar and spelling rules.

Practise more

Make sure you work through all your grammar exercises in your course book regularly. To learn English grammar well, you will need to practise each grammar point until you can easily use it. Look for a book of grammar exercises that also has answers for additional practice. Online activities and quizzes can also help. Focus on one grammar point each time you study.

Write more in English

Try writing a daily journal in English. Any extra practice that you can get is going to help you.

Remember, try not to get discouraged. Learning English grammar and using it correctly takes a lot of time, effort, and practice. Be positive and proactive about practising your grammar and you’ll begin seeing more improvement.


Source: witslanguageschool.com


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We all have to deal with stress at certain times in our lives, and at some times it can be worse than others. Studying can be very stressful for a lot of people, and this stress can be even worse if studying abroad. Not only are we more likely to get stressed out when studying abroad, but it can be harder to deal with too, with family and friends a long way away and potentially even in very different time zones. But don’t despair, because there are ways of coping with stress before it all becomes too overwhelming.

Organised means less stressed

The best thing that you can do to keep stress at a manageable level is to be organized and plan everything in advance. If you know what you have coming up in the week ahead then you’re less likely to get behind, or suddenly remember something you’d forgotten at the last minute and have a big panic about it (or, even worse, completely forget something and not show up or hand in an assignment, leading to more stress about said lapse in memory).

It's time for rest!

You also need to make sure that you have some down time. All work and no play make Jack an incredibly stressed-out student. Join a few societies and sports clubs, both at your college and out in the community, so you meet a range of people. Not only will this give you some time off from thinking about your studies, but also give you the opportunity to make some new friends, who you may need around when you’re not feeling so good. You will also have opportunities for further social gatherings with your new friends; if you’re invited for a party, then go for it! You definitely need some time off.

Stay in touch!

Although it’s important to make new friends, do keep in touch with good friends from home and, of course, your family. If calling and texting is expensive, try and schedule chats over the Internet, as this is free and easy provided you have an Internet connection. Try and schedule a weekly online meeting with the most important person in your life (be it a parent, sibling, best friend or someone else) so you have that chat to look forward to all week. If you don’t have it scheduled then you might find that it hardly ever happens, especially if you’re in different time zones. Chances are, this person will be missing you just as much as you miss them, so they will be able to sympathize with you.

No for Nostalgia!

On the other hand, you shouldn’t obsess over your life back home. Constant messages and calls from a loved one could just make you feel very homesick and depressed, and you ultimately want to enjoy your time studying abroad and experience a new culture, not try and live your old life vicariously through a family member or friend. Try and get the best of both worlds, because coping with stress while studying abroad is all about getting the balance right in every possible way.
Source: hotcoursesabroad.com
How to cope with stress when studying abroad.
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  1. Get Organized. Making a plan for what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it will make sure you’re always ahead of the curve – literally.
  2. Don’t multitask. Studies have shown that multitasking is physically impossible.
  3. Divide it up. Studying isn’t fun to begin with, and forcing yourself through a study marathon will only make it worse. Dividing your work into manageable chunks and rewarding yourself when you finish each chunk will make studying (more) fun.
  4. Sleep. Don’t underestimate the importance of those eight hours of zzz’s every night! Getting a good night’s rest will sharpen your focus and improve your working memory.
  5. Set a schedule. Do you work better right after school or after you’ve eaten dinner? Are you more productive in 90-minute blocks or half-hour spurts? Find a schedule that works for you, and stick to it.
  6. Take notes. Taking notes will not only keep you more engaged during class, but will also help you narrow down what you need to study when exam time rolls around. It’s much easier to reread your notes than to reread your entire textbook!
  7. Study. This one might be obvious, but did you know that there’s a right and a wrong way to study? Review your material several days ahead of time, in small chunks, and in different manners (for example, write flashcards one day and take practice tests the next). In other words, don’t cram.
  8. Manage your study space. Find a place that will maximize your productivity. Look for places away from the television and other distractions. Whether it’s your local library or just the desk in your bedroom, set aside a study space that you’ll want to spend time in.
  9. Find a study group. Sitting down with a group of people who are learning the same things as you is a great way to go over confusing class material or prepare for a big test. You can quiz each other, reteach material, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. After all, teaching someone else is the best way to learn.
  10. Ask questions. You’re in school to learn, so don’t be afraid to do just that! Asking for help – from a teacher, a tutor or your friends – is a surefire way to make sure you truly understand the material.

Source: Opportunity.org

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Wave your freak flag in Observatory

Wave your freak flag in Observatory

Explore organic food, art and alcohol-fuelled debates in this bohemian Cape Town suburb

Need to let your hair down and let out your creative freak somewhere close to the city? Visit Cape Town’s most bohemian suburb, Observatory.

It’s an arty district locally known as ‘Obs’. The main entertainment area centered around the Lower Main Road. You’ll find quirky restaurants, easy-going bars, live music and lots of hippies in Observatory, which also represents one of the largest residential arts communities in South Africa. We’re talking shabby chic.

People from various walks of life find themselves calling this area home. Youngsters, students, artists, philosophers, actors, backpackers and all kinds of weirdos engage in alcohol-fuelled debates about philosophy, politics, jazz, organic food, books, history and the arts. Enter any café in Obs by yourself and you simply know you will leave with a new friend, philosophy or self-produced poem.

The Wild Fig Restaurant
Sit down, relax and enjoy the comfort of this 18th century farmhouse restaurant that serves pub lunches and even Mediterranean and Asian meals to boot. Situated on Valkenberg Estate, The Wild Fig Restaurant is home to a cosy and casual fireplace that’s perfect for those winter nights out. Their menu perfectly matches the setting; think hearty, country cooking buffered by garden salads, seasonal vegetables and fresh linefish specials – how’s that for a great day or evening out?
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 12pm – 10:30pm; Sun: 12pm – 9:30pm

1 Liesbeek Ave | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 0507

South African Astronomical Observatory
The reason this area is called Observatory is because the headquarters of the National Centre for Optical and Infrared Astronomy is based in this suburb. Every second and fourth Saturday of the month at 8pm you are welcome to have a peek. The headquarters include offices, the main library, computing facilities, engineering workshops and historic telescopes. This is your chance to look through the historic McClean telescope and spot that shooting star.
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Observatory Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 0025

This shabby chic café offers freshly prepared breakfast, lunch and, more recently, dinners. The menu is filled with organic and healthy foods. Opt for one of the delicious, homemade soups or taste the rich gourmet sandwiches. The staff recommends the bacon and potato salad. At Mimi’s all dishes are homemade and fresh. You won’t find any preservatives in the kitchen. Healthy enough, right?
Opening Hours: Mon & Tues: 7am – 7pm, Wed – Fri: 7am – 9pm, Sat & Sun: 9am – 4pm
107 Lower Main Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 6747

The Image & Hair
Looking for an excuse to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Give yourself a treat and head to The Image & Hair. In this extensive beauty salon you can get your hair and make-up done, while you’re getting a manicure and pedicure. Not satisfied yet? There’s also a fashion boutique and a massage salon, all under one roof.
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: 9am – 5pm
80/82 Lower Main Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 4426

OBZ Cafe
Start off with the OBZ Burger, try a piece of homemade cake for desert, head off to the OBZ theatre for live music, enjoy an Original Long Island Ice Tea and fall asleep in your dorm room at OBZ Backpackers. OBZ Café has everything you need for a full night out. On Wednesday you can grab a pizza at half price or taste the huge Big Daddy Special on Mondays for just R99.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 11am – 11pm
115 Lower Main Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 5555

The Foreign Exchange
Forex, as it is commonly known, sports with a combination of good eats, great drinks, interesting people and a great vibe that makes this Southern Suburbs bar a prime nighttime option. This spot is anything but cliquey hence there are people who come from all over just to experience the global diversity of The Foreign Exchange. Forex gives all other Mother City watering holes a real run for their money. So, make a night of it at this vibrant Observatory pub centred on global mixing and mingling.
Opening Hours: Mon – Wed: 4pm – 11pm; Thurs: 4pm – 12am; Fri & Sat: 4pm – 1am

92-96 Station Rd | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 0083

Hello Sailor Bistro
If you’re an “Observatorian”, the rock’n’roll bistro Hello Sailor should definitely become one of your go-tos. The sailor-decor is inviting, the music is well chosen and the food is good. “Food is a big thing for us. We serve stuff we like and what people like.” says owners Bosko and Ryan, “Full on flavours but simple.” And chef Maggie (cool eyewear, cool tattoos) will make sure you have a good food experience.
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 11pm, Sat & Sun: 9am – 11pm
86 Lower Main Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 0707

Café Ganesh
This is a downscale student bar-cum-club-cum-restaurant in the Observatory neighbourhood. It serves samoosas downstairs, the South African Indian answer to egg rolls. They also showcase art films as well as live, sometimes impromptu, performances upstairs. It keeps the charm of the township tavern kitchen – serving traditional meals and unbelievably cheap quarts. Meals cost R28 – R60 and you get the real pap here: pap and vleis with a  nice authentic feeling.
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 2am
Lower Main Road at Trill Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 3435

A Touch of Madness
From the onset of arriving at A Touch of Madness, you are transported back to the Victorian era. The restaurant is quaintly situated in a Victorian-style house, which was built between 1900 and 1905. A Touch of Madness definitely holds a superior ambiance with its large windows casting a warm and homely vibe for those special get togethers. The burgundy walls and delicate chandeliers add to the eloquent feeling of fine dining. The extensive menu caters for all tastes. A definite must!
Opening Hours: Tues – Sat: 12am -10pm
12 Nuttal Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 4650

Mango Ginger Coffee Shop
Pastry chef Fiona injects love into every fresh dish. She focuses on pure health food. The gluten-free products are high in quality and low in price. If you’re a sucker for freshly prepared and tasteful goodies, this is the place for breakfast and lunch; the quality is in the ambiance and the details.
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 7:30am – 5pm, Sat: 8am – 3pm

105 Lower Main Road | Entrance in Trill Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 2500

The River Club
The River Club Golf and Conference Centre is the place to be. Enjoy a day of golfing on the 9-hole mashie course or the 90-bay driving range. The world famous Logical Golf Academy is also based here. Afterwards, grab a bite at Players Café and Bar. The menu offers a wide range of dishes from breakfasts to light snacks, salads and sandwiches.
Opening Hours: Mon: 11am – 8pm, Tues – Fri: 7am – 8pm, Sat & Sun: 8am – 8pm
Liesbeek Parkway | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 6117

Circus School
This South African National Circus School was founded by trapeze world champion, Dimitri Slaverse and his wife, Nicky. Watch contortionists move their bodies in unbelievable shapes and positions and figure out how the fire jumpers also jump through the ring at the right moment. Dare to take a challenge? Find out how fearless you really are and brave the trapeze or construct a human pyramid.

Willow Road | Hartleyvale | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 692 4287

Gear up for some indoor adventure at this wondrous venue. CityRock’s climbing facilities include a large bouldering area and high walls for rope climbing. They cater for everyone – from inexperienced first-timers to professional rock-climbers. The venue also has a relaxed coffee shop area, which is an ideal place to make new friends and climbing buddies to make plans for the next trip up the wall.
Opening Hours: Mon & Wed: 9am – 9pm, Tues & Thurs: 9am – 10pm, Fri & Sat: 9am – 6pm
21 Anson St | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 447 1326

Queen of Tarts Bakery
The delicious cupcakes, freshly baked goods and funky decor are what makes Queen of Tarts Bakery the treat of Observatory. This bakery takes its inspiration from Parisian patisseries. Make a lasting impression on your guests and order from Queens of Tarts for that one special event you’re hosting.
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 8am – 4pm, Sat: 8am – 2pm
213 Lower Main Road | Observatory | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 448 2420

Source: capetownmagazine.com

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There are hundreds of reasons why you should study abroad. Kaplan thought that writing each one would be too hard. We decided to list the top ten reasons instead.

1. Making Friends

Studying abroad might seem scary but it is a great opportunity to make new friends. You why study abroadwill meet people from different countries who are doing the same thing. Sharing your experience with them will create friendships that can last forever.

2. Gaining Confidence

Traveling to a different country to study takes courage. You will do things that you have never done before. Succeeding at new challenges will give you extra confidence and turn you into a stronger person.

3. Becoming Independent

Some people might not be used to do things for themselves. Studying abroad makes you learn to look after yourself without the help of family. Gaining greater independence will help you to achieve more in life.

4. Food

Why study abroad? For food of course! Every country has amazing local dishes. If you travel abroad to the UK, you can try a delicious plate of fish and chips. Students in the USA can enjoy mouth-watering hot dogs. Nothing beats a barbeque in sunny Australia.

5. Make People Jealous

Friends back home will be very jealous of your adventures abroad. Posting Facebook photos and Twitter updates will show everyone how much of a great time you are having. This leads nicely into the next reason to study abroad …

6. Invite Your Friends To Visit

People will love to visit if you are studying abroad. You will be able to show friends around a new country and feel like a native. Friends will also be very impressed with your new confidence and independence.

7. Improve Your C.V.

Studying abroad looks fantastic on your C.V. Employers often look for confident people who

why study abroad

have done interesting things. Showing that you have studied abroad will improve your chances of getting a job.

8. Experience New Cultures

Traveling allows you to learn about the local art, history and culture of a new country. Discover exciting and unusual customs that will amaze you. Living with a host family is a great way to learn about local traditions.

9. Record Your Experience

Studying abroad is a great reason to start a blog. Keeping a blog or a journal will help you record and share your experiences. Look back at the start of your journey and see how much progress you have made.

10. Learn Languages

The last and probably most important reason to study abroad is that it is much easier to learn the local language. Living and studying in a country makes learning a language quicker. You might even pick up the local accent.

Source: kaplaninternational.com

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5 reasons why Cape Town is the best city in the world

5 reasons why Cape Town is the best city in the world

There are few places in the world that offer some of the greatest things in life in one neat and easily accessible package: Stunning nature, interesting history, awesome adventure, great food and wine, and some of the most exciting wildlife in the world. Cape Town in South Africa manages to do just that.

Here’s why my vote for the best city in the world goes to Cape Town – and why I think you should book a flight over right now. Or at least right after reading this article.

1. Stunning nature

At almost any location in or around Cape Town, you only have to look up to see the magnificent Table Mountain. At 1100 m tall, it dominates the horizon around the city and is, without doubt, Cape Town’s most famous landmark. If you ever get tired of seeing it from below, head on up the mountain to see the vista from a different perspective. You can jump on the cable cars to enjoy an easy glide up or take one of a few different trails ranging from 3-10 km that lead up to the top.

Directly across from Table Mountain sits Lion’s Head at 670 m above sea level. A 5 km hike to the top provides sweet views with little sweat. Interested in more adrenaline? Schedule a tandem paragliding trip off the top and soar above the city, off the coast and back.

2. A rich and raw history

Robben Island, where South Africa’s most famous civil rights activist and former president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, is a must-see. Used as a criminal prison by the Dutch, Robben Island became a prison used by the apartheid-era South African government to lock up civil and political activists who opposed the government. Walking through the compound you can visit the cell where Mandela spent 18 years of his life. Walking outside the compound gives you a view of the iconic skyline of Cape Town, ominously out of reach.

Coming back to the city center you can learn about the trials and tribulations of what was once the city’s soul – District Six. While nothing much stands in this location now there was once a booming neighborhood that used to be home to 60,000+ merchants and immigrants. Under apartheid law District Six was made a white only sector and by 1968 families were forcibly removed and relocated over 25 km away to the Cape Flats. Taking a walking tour of the now vacant area with guides who were themselves evicted in 1968 gives you very raw and real insights into what life in the city was like for decades. Don’t forget to visit the District Six Museum for further insights into what life in the area used to be like.

3. Adventure that’s all around

Adventure is part of the very DNA of this city. You can surf, hike and paraglide off mountains in one single day, and if you’re really, really brave you can go cage diving with great white sharks. Head out to Birkenhead Peninsula and you’ll find many companies eager to take you out to safely view one of the largest marine predators on the planet. Take your GoPro – but be careful with that selfie stick.

When cage diving with Great White Sharks isn’t enough take a drive to Tsitsikamma National Park where you’ll find many more opportunities to cross off your bucket list. Bungee jump off Bloukrans Bridge, the 4th tallest bungee jump in the world, then do a spot of kayaking, scuba diving or mountain biking in the park.

4. World-class wining and dining

The Garden Route is arguably one of the most iconic and idyllic places in the world to sample outstanding wines and eat outstanding food. And it’s easily accessible from the city. It sports beautiful coastal views, picturesque lakes and gorgeous farmlands and makes for a perfect road trip. It’s here that you’ll find South Africa’s best and most famous wine growing regions and vineyards, including Stellenbosch, Constantia and Paarl.

For some world-class (casual) dining, make a short trek to the Hout Bay Market on a weekend to check out a bustling marketplace with local vendors and eat oysters the size of your head. There you’ll find endless types of artisan foods, including hearty meats cooked on a brai (a South African barbecue), cured biltong (dried meat), fire-baked pizzas, (more) gigantic oysters and plenty of other fresh seafood. It’s also a bit of a shopping mecca, with art, clothes and jewelry being sold by local artisans.

5. The Big 5 (up close and personal)

The Garden Route Game Lodge is a great place to spot the famous “Big 5”: the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and the rhinoceros. Jump in the back of an open Land Rover and get your binoculars and cameras out for a beautiful sunset safari. Sunrise safaris are wonderful too, especially if you stay overnight and take advantage of the early hours of the day when lions and other big predators are at their most active.

Not close enough? The De Hoop Game Reserve is another great place to continue your wildlife spotting. This private game reserve is next to the famous Whale Trail – a common backpacking trail with coastal viewing of whales. Better yet, stay a night or two in the reserve surrounded by the (non-predatory) wildlife. Watch out for those baboons though.

All sound a little too good to be true? It isn’t. Don’t take my word for it and just go see it for yourself.

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Ten things you might not have known about the English language

Ten things you might not have known about the English language

Here are ten things that you may not have known about this wonderful language of ours:

1. It is the only major language without an academy to guide it

L’Académie française, based in Paris, is in charge of overseeing the French language. Part of its job is suggesting alternatives for the English words that are pouring into French. That’s how email became courriel, for example (although you will still hear it called e-mail in French).

For Spanish there is the Real Academia Española. German has the Rat für deutsche Rechtschreibung. There is no equivalent to L’Académie for English. Of the 10 most-widely spoken languages in the world, only English has no academy guiding it.

There are political reasons for this. The closest Britain ever came to having a language academy was at the start of the eighteenth century, when Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift was lobbying hard for an academy because “our Language is extremely imperfect… its daily Improvements are by no means in proportion to its daily Corruptions (and) in many Instances it offends against every Part of Grammar.” Queen Anne supported the idea but died before a decision could be made, and the issue was largely forgotten.

In the USA, a bill for the incorporation of a national academy was unsuccessfully introduced into congress in 1806. Fourteen years later, an American Academy of Language and Belles Lettres was launched with John Quincy Adams as president, but broke up after two years after receiving little political or public support.

Nowadays, the only English-speaking country to have a language academy is South Africa. Because the English language has become so ubiquitous without any guidance, there is little prospect of anyone starting an academy any time soon. Where would it be? In Britain, the home of the language? Or the USA, where the largest English-speaking population lives?

2. More than 1 billion people are learning English as you read this

According to the British Council, around 1 billion people around the world were learning English in 2000. This figure is now likely to be significantly higher.

3. 96 of the 100 most common English words are Germanic

Of the hundred most frequently used words in English, 96 have Germanic roots. Together, those 100 words make up more than 50% of the Oxford English Corpus, which currently contains over 2 billion words found in writing around the world.

Surprised? The most frequently used words are the meat and bones of the language, the essentials that make communication work, including Iyougoeat, and so on. Old English developed from various Germanic languages that came to the British Isles in the second half of the first millennium AD.

Whereas the language has changed almost unrecognisably since then, including the grammar, the basic words have remained.

4. …but most words that have entered the language since 1066 have Latin origins

If English is your first language but you find French or Spanish easier to understand than German, you are not alone. This may seem strange when English and German are on the same branch of the Indo-European language tree.

The Renaissance, which started in Italy and reached England via France, was a massive source of new vocabulary. New ideas, or old ideas rediscovered, started flooding out of the southern cities but there were no words to describe them in English. So the language adopted or adapted the Latin words. During the Renaissance, the English lexicon roughly doubled in size.

The shift away from the Germanic languages, however, had started much earlier, because…

5. For more than a century, the English aristocracy couldn’t speak English

William the Conqueror tried to learn English at the age of 43 but gave up. He didn’t seem especially fond of the land he had conquered in 1066, spending half of his reign in France and not visiting England at all for five years when in power. Naturally, French-speaking barons were appointed to rule the land.

Within 20 years of the Normans taking power in England, almost all of the local religious institutions were French-speaking. The aristocrats brought with them large retinues and were followed by French tradesmen, who almost certainly mixed bilingually with the English tradesmen. In turn, ambitious Englishmen would have learned French to get ahead in life and mix with the new rulers. Around 10,000 French words entered English in the century after the Norman invasion.

There is little to suggest that aristocrats themselves spoke English. It isn’t until the end of the 12th Century that we have evidence of the children of the English aristocracy with English as a first language. In 1204, the English nobility lost their estates in France and adopted English partly as a matter of national pride!

6. …which is why Latin words sound more prestigious than Germanic ones

Think about the difference between a house (Germanic) and a mansion (French), or between startingsomething and commencing, between calling something kingly or regal. English has a huge number of close synonyms, where the major difference is the level of formality or prestige. The prestigious form is almost always the Latin one.

The names of animals and meats also reflect this phenomenon. The old story goes that, in English, the animals have Germanic names but the cooked meats have French ones. For example, swine is Germanic but pork is French, sheep is Germanic but mutton is French. Was this because the English speakers worked on the farms whereas the French speakers ate the produce? It’s certainly possible.

7. The concept of “correct” spelling is fairly recent

There are many reasons why English spelling is so erratic including the lack of an academy, the contributions of Noah Webster (see below) and the introduction of William Caxton’s printing press just before major changes in pronunciation. But the idea of correct or incorrect spelling wasn’t really considered important until the 17th Century when the first dictionaries were published. Even then, it was largely a debate for academics and writers.

Shakespeare, for example, was liberal in his spellings of words, often using multiple variants within a single text; his name itself has been spelt in many different ways over the centuries.

8. One man is largely responsible for the differences between American and British spelling

Noah Webster, whose name you still find on the front of many American dictionaries, was a patriotic man. Born in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1758, he believed that a great emerging nation such as the USA needed a language of its own: American English.

Webster found the English in the textbooks of the time to be corrupted by the British aristocracy, with too much French and Classical influence. He was to write American books for American learners, representing a young, proud and forward-thinking nation.

Between 1783 and 1785, he produced three books on the English language for American schoolchildren. During his lifetime, 385 editions of his Speller were published. The modern US spelling of color was initially spelt in the British way, colour, but this changed in later editions. Other differences include the US spelling of center as opposed to the British centre, and traveler instead of traveller. Webster wanted to make spelling more logical, as befitting a nation that was founded on progressive principles. This is a rare example of a dictionary writer trying to lead the English language instead of describe it.

In Britain, the use of “Americanisms” is almost guaranteed to upset people. But not all Americanisms are what they seem. For example…

9. -ize is not an American suffix

There is a popular belief that words such as popularise/izemaximise/ize and digitise/ize have different spellings in British and American English.

Look at that z – isn’t it snazzy? It’s got to be American, hasn’t it?

Not according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which rejects the French s for a good old British z:

…there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic. In this Dictionary the termination is uniformly written -ize. (In the Gr. -ιζ-, the i was short, so originally in L., but the double consonant z (= dz, ts) made the syllable long; when the z became a simple consonant, (-idz) became īz, whence Eng. (-aɪz).)

10. The English language will change a lot during your lifetime, like it or not!

The only thing that is consistent in language is change. When a language stops changing, it becomes purely academic, like Latin or Ancient Greek.

New words are being coined all the time. If you asked someone twenty years ago whether they had googled the person they had just friended on facebook, they would stare at you blankly (spell-check still gives them wiggly red lines of disapproval).

Vocabulary changes more rapidly than grammar, but even English grammar is evolving. For example, the dative whom is increasingly being replaced by whoWho can you blame? Decades ago, this would have jumped off the page as a grammatical error, but doesn’t it look ok now?

Similarly, in the first part of this post, “Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift” is an example of grammar that would have sounded very strange even fifty years ago. Did it seem strange to you?

One thing is certain: with well over a billion people speaking English around the world and, for the first time, most of them speaking it as a second language, there are plenty of changes to come!


Source: oxforddictionaries.com

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The importance of correct pronunciation

The importance of correct pronunciation

Pronunciation is the most important and difficult problem that non-native English speakers have to face when studying English. Improper pronunciation can lead to negative impression, misunderstanding and ineffective communication. This page is designed to indicate some negative impacts of poor pronunciation and to provide you with some tips for the improvement.

Negative impression

When you talk to people in the real life, your pronunciation is the first thing they notice during a conversation. In everyday communication, you usually do not have to use many complicated words, so your limited vocabulary is not a big issue since you can use more simple words to express the word that you do not know. In fact, they will notice right away if your pronunciation is good or bad only the first few simple words. If you have a poor pronunciation with very strong foreign accent, they will think of you as a bad English speaker and your good vocabulary and grammar cannot help you.


Knowing a lot of vocabularies is meaningless if you cannot pronounce those words correctly and no one can understand the words that you are trying to use. Even worse, pronunciation mistakes can lead to some serious misunderstanding. For example, let’s think of the misunderstanding about the signal “sinking” in a video clip on Youtube called “I am sinking.” Many people believe that they can communicate in English because they can communicate with their teachers and other students. However, it is not true. The teachers have been listening to bad English for years so they can understand your poor pronunciation, and your friends are from the same country with you and speak English with the same accent so that they can understand your words easier. The best way is to talk to native English speakers, and if they can understand what you are saying, you have a good pronunciation.

Ineffective communication

You are making it difficult for people who listen to you with your strong foreign accent. It is irritated for other people if they have to keep asking you to repeat, but they still cannot figure out what you are saying. Consequently, if it takes a lot of efforts to understand your English, people will avoid communicating with you as much as they can. In contrast, they will enjoy talking to you when you have a pleasant accent that is easy for them hear and understand you.

Tips for proper pronunciation

Here are some tips for you to improve your pronunciation.

  • With every new word, you should look it up in the dictionary to find the correct pronunciation.
  • Listen to native speakers to get used to their accent. Instead of boring listening lessons, you can listen to English songs, watch movies or listen to your native English speaking friends and relatives.
  • Practice in front of a mirror and make sure you move your mouth in the correct way.
  • Do a lot of practices. Remember that practices make perfect.
  • Be patient and determined. The journey may be tough, but the result will be worth.

Source: hopespeak.com

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10 Amazing benefits of being biligual

10 Amazing benefits of being biligual

1. Being bilingual has positive effects on the brain

Studies show that being bilingual has many cognitive benefits. According to research, speaking a second language can mean that you have a better attention span and can multi-task better than monolinguals. This is because being bilingual means you are constantly switching from one language to the other. Numerous other studies suggest that bilingualism can also reduce the risk of having a stroke.

Cognitive benefits effect both bilingual kids and bilingual adults. Children as young as seven months who are exposed to more than one language tend to adjust better to changes in the environment. For older bilinguals, there tends to be less cognitive decline.

2. Bilingualism gives you the educational advantage

Many of the cognitive benefits mentioned above can also mean that bilinguals have an advantage at school or further education. Many studies show that those who speak a second language are more likely to be less distracted and more focused on tasks.

Even bilingual children who are educated in their second language, have actually been seen to outperform monolingual students in their native language.

The recent Millennum Cohort Study found many educational benefits for bilingual children. Their research showed that even though children who are educated in their second language may initially lag behind around three, four and five years old, they soon catch up and outperform their peers by age seven.

3. Languages are highly valued in the workplace

Speaking a second language has numerous employment benefits. Being bilingual means that there are more job opportunities depending on which languages you speak. Communication in the workplace is important, and more companies, especially those with international offices, are considering bilingualism a high priority.

Fast growing fields such as tourism, journalism and translation put great value on bilingual employees. Additional languages on the resume could have your application moved to the top of the pile and give you a better chance at getting the job, even if you aren’t as qualified as another monolingual applicant.

4. Being Bilingual has been linked to health benefits

There have been many studies proving that being bilingual can benefit ones health. Researches recently found that there is growing evidence to suggest that bilingualism can delay the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for example. Other benefits of being bilingual include things such as a faster stroke recoverylower stress levels, and delay many effects of old to name a few.

5. Speaking more than one language makes you more open minded

Have you ever heard the bilingual quote “To have another language is to possess a second soul” by Charlemagne? One of the benefits of being bilingual can mean that you see the world in different ways. Some even say that speaking two different languages can sometimes feel like having two different personalities.

Bilinguals are used to constant change. This means that they are usually less effected by changes in the environment, and more open minded to new things and new experiences, because they have more than one view of the world already.

6. Speaking a foreign language can be highly beneficial when you travel

Of course you can get around many countries without speaking the language. However, think of how much more you can experience if you speak the local language of the place you are visiting. No need for a phrase book or a translation app on the phone. Being able to communicate with the locals and immerse yourself in the language and culture can make your travel experience so much more enjoyable.

7. Being Bilingual opens up new social opportunities

Bilinguals can make friends in more than one language meaning more opportunities to meet new people, and enjoy different hobbies and activities. Being able to communicate with people from other cultures is a huge social advantage and can open up so many more doors in life.

8. Knowing more than one language helps you to learn additional languages

An amazing benefit of being bilingual is that you can learn additional languages more easily that monolinguals. This is because language skills reinforce each other. So if you have learned a second language already, then learning a third means transferring those skills over.

9. Being bilingual means you can raise bilingual kids

What better advantage, than being able to pass on your languages to your own children so they can reap the benefits of being bilingual too! Give your children the best start in life and raise them bilingual from birth. Your bilingual kids can then have bilingual kids of their own and languages can be passed on through generations.

10. You are not the minority if you are bilingual

One of the biggest misconceptions is that bilingualism is a rare phenomenon. But, in fact being bilingual means you are NOT the minority.  More than half the world speaks more than one language on a daily basis. In many countries around the world, bilingualism is actually considered the norm, and I’m sure it won’t be long until the rest of the world catches on. Everyone should have the chance to learn a second language and reap the benefits of being bilingual.


Source: bilingualkidspot.com

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