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     Volume 4 Issue 11 | September 3 , 2004 |

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This is the first in a series of articles produced by the British Council. The aim is to help you, the reader, to practise and improve your English, also for them to be entertaining and for you to enjoy the activities! All the articles will try and give you some tips and advice on better study techniques and some useful language. Each article will have the answers at the end, so you can do the exercises, then check your answers. If you get the answers correct, well done! If not, don't worry, have another look and try to see why .
Have fun!

One of the skills we will be practising is being able to guess the meaning of a word from its context. What do you do if you don't understand every word in a paragraph you are reading? You can either ignore the word (not always a bad idea!), check the word in a dictionary (this can take time) or you can try to guess the approximate meaning.
Read the paragraph below to follow the third strategy.

The words around the unknown word can often help you to guess its meaning. You can cover the unknown word with your thumb, re-read the sentence and try to imagine what word, or phrase, would best fit into the space.

For example:Not even the most manager could have found the words

From the sentence we can guess that eloquent must mean something about a person's ability to use words. You might want to substitute the word with another, such as intelligent. But with the phrase '…could have found the words...' you can see that the word must have something to do with a person's ability to use appropriate words.

Now look at the word setback. Firstly, is it a positive or negative word?

Use the strategies discussed and choose a simpler alternative word from:

a) advantage b) advancement c) disappointment d) adventure
The answer is C.

Now try to guess the meaning of the words in bold in below. Use the strategies mentioned, then use a dictionary to check. You might want to use a thesaurus to see if your ideas were correct.

A) When Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it was a revolution in communication. For the first time, people could talk to each other over great distances almost as clearly as if they were in the same room. Bell's famous first words, to his assistant Thomas A. Watson, "Mr. Watson…come here…I want to see you", started a revolution that is still on-going, it's latest stage is the mobile phone.

B) The mobile phone began in the 1940's, a caller needed to be within range of a radio mast (scientists called them 'cells', which is why in many countries mobile phones are called 'cell phones'), but these mobile phones were enormous boxes that needed to be transported by car. Dr Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone handset in 1973, his first call was to a rival scientist to announce his success. By the 1980's the mobile phone was available to the public, but it wasn't until the mid-90's that the mobile phone became so popular. A combination of small, cheap handsets and cheaper calling rates meant that it seemed that everyone had a mobile phone.

While most people have access to, and often use dictionaries, not many people exploit the dictionary as much as they could. Look at the extract below, taken from a monolingual learner's dictionary.

You can find the different meanings of the word, the verb patterns it follows and how to pronounce it. It also gives you examples of how the word is used in a sentence. A dictionary is much more than a resource for checking spelling.

There are many online dictionaries including http://dictionary.cambridge.org/

In these articles we will also cover new vocabulary. Groups of words are best learnt and remembered if there is a common theme. Below is a crossword, use the clues to help you guess the words. The theme is football.

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