Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody, welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions, and I answer them. Maybe!
First question this week comes from Hardik Patel. Hi, Hardik.
Hardik says: How can I improve my spelling?
Um, yeah, this is an important question, and we did a livestream about this topic, so I'll quickly introduce the key points we talked about in the livestream, and hopefully they can help you as kind of a starting point.
So, the first and most important thing to do to improve your spelling is: READ.
And make sure that you read things that are properly edited; properly prepared.
So, this means I don't recommend, for example, social media posts, because not everybody is preparing everything thoroughly before they write it.
It's not being checked – it's not being proofread before it's being posted.
So I would recommend books and magazines and newspapers. That kind of thing, that has been properly edited and properly checked.
This is important because you're not just listening to the words, you're actually reading the words; you're reading the words on the page, so you're getting familiar with how the words should be spelled, instead of just how it sounds.
Some other things that you can do are word puzzles. Word puzzles are a lot of fun. In the livestream, I talked about something called "crossword puzzles."
Crossword puzzles are word puzzles. You need to know some vocabulary words. You also need to know some, like, history, perhaps. Or science, or maybe pop culture.
And then you need to put your knowledge together with your spelling knowledge to create, like, the finished version of a puzzle.
So, a crossword is really fun, and you can find beginner-level crossword puzzles to try.
So, as you practice, as you learn more English, and as you learn more about other topics too, you can level up the difficulty of your crossword puzzle.
So that can be a fun way to do it.
Another thing that you can do is join a spelling contest.
Depending on where you live, you may have a spelling contest in your city or in your country.
In the US, we have something called the Spelling Bee.
It's for kids, yes, um, so if you're watching this and you're a kid, if you are a young person who is studying, you can look for a Spelling Bee if you are in the USA. Or maybe there's a similar spelling contest in your country.
Um, so, those are great ways to practice your spelling, because it's a contest. You're competing with other people to spell the word correctly.
So that can be a fun way to do things if you are a student – If you are a young person.
Another thing you can do, regardless of your age, is watch English media with subtitles.
So, again, like I mentioned for the reading point, make sure that the subtitles have been properly prepared.
If it's someone who has like, created subtitles that are maybe not perfect, or they were prepared by a nonnative speaker, there might be some errors in there.
Um, so, if you can, try to find media, like movies, or even our videos, for example – sometimes they have subtitles.
You can try watching that with the subtitles on so that you understand the spelling of the words as they're being said.
So, that's another fun way to study, I think.
Really, though, I think reading is the best thing that you can do.
This was something I loved to do when I was a kid. I participated in a Spelling Bee when I was a kid.
And I think that reading really helped me understand the correct way to spell words, and to, like, learn how to identify new words in the future.
So, read! I think that's the best thing you can do. Thank you for your question, and good luck with your spelling!
Let's go to our next question.
Next question...comes...from Nor Azlina. Hi, Nor.
Nor says: Hi Alisha, my question is: what is the difference between "I'm looking" and "I've been looking"?
We use "I'm looking for" when we are in the act of searching for something.
Right now, in this moment, we're looking for something.
So, for example, at like, a department store, you can say, "I'm looking for shoes."
I'm looking for the restroom.
That's something that you're doing right now.
You're in the act of doing something right now.
On the other hand, "I have been looking for" is used for something that yes, we're searching for it, but the search has continued for a long time.
So, for example, "I've been searching for a new apartment for four months."
Or, "I've been searching for a new job."
In general, if you are in the act of searching for something right now, you can use "I'm looking for."
If it's something that you've been searching for for a period of time – a long period of time – you can use "I've been looking for."
I hope that helps you. Thanks for the question.
All right, let's move on to our next question.
Next question comes from Lion. Hi again, Lion.
Lion says: Hi Alisha, hope you're doing great (thank you). Uh, I have two questions. What are the rules of semicolons, and when should I avoid them? Is one.
And two: In some langauges, a multiple choice test is called an American test. So is it true that American tests are really mostly multiple choice? Interesting....
Let's go to your first question, about semicolons.
The quick version is:
Semicolons have two uses. The first use is they are used to separate what's called compound sentences.
A compound sentence is a sentence that's made from two independent clauses. So, there are two clauses; two parts to the sentence.
An independent clause is a sentence that can stand alone. Like, we don't need any other words to explain this sentence.
That's an independent clause.
So, when we connect these two in a compound sentence, we can use a semicolon to connect the two. Like right here.
So, let's look at some examples.
An independent clause is a clause that is grammatically correct by itself; no other words are required.
The semicolon is used to separate the two clauses like a period; we do this when the ideas are closely related.
The second use is when you're separating items in a list. This can be tricky to do, but the reason we do this is because when you're making lists that have like, lots of complicated information – they include commas, for example – it may be difficult to understand where the items in a list end or start.
So, we use semicolons to help readers understand the points in a list.
Here's an example. This is a long list, so I'm going to read it.
The citizens requested: a new park, complete with a swimming pool; improved roads, sidewalks, and traffic lights; and cleaner schools.
We have a few plans for our vacation: hiking, biking, and swimming near our campsite; having a BBQ; and enjoying fireworks!
So you can see in these lists, actually all of the items have a semicolon in between them.
That shows us that's one item. So, we do that because there are commas in other parts of the list.
If we use commas to separate the items in the list, we might confuse the reader.
So, to show that each item is clearly one item, we use semicolons to do that.
This is not as common. Like, there are not so many situations where you need to use a semicolon in this way, but just in case, this is the second use.
In most cases, we just use the first one.
You don't need to avoid using the semicolon.
It's a very convenient way to punctuate your sentences. So, you don't have to avoid it. You can use it.
Just remember that you need to use it to separate independent clauses, like we talked about in the first use.
As for your second point, that's very interesting. I didn't know that tests were called "American tests." That's interesting.
Um, we do have a lot of multiple choice style tests, for sure. Especially in like high school and university levels, for like, official tests for like the SATs, for example.
However, we do have other styles of test too, so we have, like
fill in the blank (which I use a lot on this channel in the whiteboard videos)
we also have, like, essay – essay tests or essay examinations, where students write essays.
We also have, like, free answer. So, a student has to come up with an answer, like just from their own mind, or just using their own skills. We see that a lot in math classes, for example.
So yes, there are a lot of multiple choice tests, uh, but, it doesn't mean that all tests are multiple choice.
Just...it is very common.
So, hope that helps.
Okay, thanks for the questions!
Let's move along to our next question.
Next question comes from Dewi Cita. Hi again, Dewi, sorry if I pronounced your name wrong.
Uh, Dewi says: What is the difference between below, under, underneath, beneath, bottom, and down?
Nice, okay.
Um, there may be some differences depending on the situation, but generally speaking, let's look at the first four examples you presented.
We can use all of these adverbs in the same way. Let's take a look at some examples.
I keep my hair dryer below the sink.
I keep my hair dryer under the sink.
I keep my hair dryer underneath the sink.
I keep my hair dryer beneath the sink.
All of these mean exactly the same thing. The difference here is that probably, I would say, "under" is the most commonly used in American English.
Beneath sounds perhaps the most formal, and maybe the most old-fashioned.
You can use them all in the same way; they refer to being positioned under, or like, below something else.
So there's not really much of a difference there. I think we just use "under" the most.
Uh, the word "bottom," however, that's a noun that refers to the lowest part, or like the underside of something.
Let's look at some examples there.
There's dirt on the bottom of my bag.
He cut the btottom of the pumpkin.
So, these refer to the underside, or the lowest point of something.
So it's an actual noun, not an adverb.
Then, the last word in this list is "down."
So, down is also an adverb, but down refers to motion.
So, we use down when we're actually talking about movement of some kind.
So, for example, "put your hand down." Or, "walk down the stairs."
He sat down in the chair.
So, we're using some kind of motion. There's something happening from like an upper level to a lower level. There's movement happening there.
So we use "down" to express movement.
The first four words that we talked about are used to talk about position, not about movement.
Down is used to talk about movement.
Bottom is used to talk about a place on something.
So, I hope that helps you! Thanks for the question.
Okay, so that's everything that I have for this week! Thank you as always for sending your great questions.
Remember, you can send them to me at EnglishClass101.com/ask-alisha.
If you liked the video, please don't forget to give it a thumbs up, subscribe to our channel, and check us out at EnglishClass101.com for some other resources for your English studies.
Thanks very much for watching this week's episode, and I will see you again next week!
Bye bye!

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