Blog posts

Word for Wednesday: Education

Friday January 24th January marks International Day of Education.  The word education is used to describe the activities of imparting or acquiring knowledge or skill, usually in a formal setting like school or university. International Day of Education honours ‘education and its centrality to human well-being and sustainable development.’ Education is a human right that offers children ‘a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future’. Despite this, ‘about 265 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40%...

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Commonly Confused Words: Peace vs. Piece

What does each word mean? Peace is the absence of stress or freedom from dispute. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is peace used in some example sentences: Mum wanted was to drink her tea in peace. A short period of peace was followed by further battle. The world leaders tried to negotiate peace. A piece a segment or part of an object. The word might also be used to describe an artistic creation, a coin of a specific value, a firearm, or a counter in a boardgame. Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word. Here is piece used in some example sentences: Would you like a piece of pie?...

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Word for Wednesday: Disaster

Do you know the term ‘star-crossed’? You may have come across it in the opening of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: Chorus: Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life; Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows Doth with their death bury their parents' strife. Romeo And Juliet Prologue, 1–8 If you are 'star-crossed' it means you are doomed. In Romeo and Juliet, you find out how the story ends right in the first scene. The...

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20 Steps to Help You Improve Your Spelling in 2020 (part 2)

Do you always give up on your New Year’s resolutions?  When we set ourselves goals at the beginning of the year, we often don’t create a plan of action for how we’re going to achieve them. As the weeks and months go by, abstract goals can start to feel more and more overwhelming and unachievable.  If one of your goals for 2020 is to improve your spelling, we’re here to help. Last week we shared the first part of our list of 20 tangible steps you can take to help you improve your spelling. Here’s part two: 11)    Print off resources  In part one, we talked about the value of getting away from your screen. As well printing...

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Word for Wednesday: Declutter

New year, new you – a phrase that you hear used a lot at this time of year.  Many companies – including us – have shared articles about goal setting. Your friends and family members might be setting resolutions of their own. Perhaps you have one or two ideas about what you want to achieve this year.  The word declutter is something else you hear quite a lot during the first part of the year. While it’s usually used around spring cleaning season, many people like to get ahead of the game. Decluttering describes the act of getting rid of unnecessary items from a (usually messy or overcrowded) space. Last year, on National Clean Off Your Desk Day, we...

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20 Steps to Help You Improve Your Spelling in 2020 (part 1)

Do you always give up on your New Year’s resolutions?  When we set ourselves goals at the beginning of the year, we often don’t create a plan of action for how we’re going to achieve them. As the weeks and months go by, abstract goals can start to feel more and more overwhelming and unachievable.  If one of your goals for 2020 is to improve your spelling, we’re here to help. Over the next two posts, we’ll share twenty tangible steps you can take to help you achieve:  1)    Sign up for a free trial to Spellzone If you aren’t already subscribed to our courses, start here. A free trial will give you time to navigate...

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Word for Wednesday: Champagne

Cava? Prosecco? Champagne? Or maybe just a cup of tea?  What did you ring in the new year with? Champagne is a white sparkling wine that is exclusively produced in the French region with the same name. The word dates to the 1660s and is short for ‘vin de Champagne’ which translates to ‘wine made in Champagne’. While officially only wine from this region can be labelled Champagne, people have been using the word to refer to all sparkling wines since the late eighteenth century. Prosecco is a sparkling white wine made in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy, and cava refers to sparking wines made in Spain.  Champagne literally means ‘open...

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2019 Blog Round Up

So here we are… the last few day of 2019. Some of you will be wondering where the year went, while others will be looking forward to wiping the slate clean and setting some goals for the new year. We’ll share some ideas for New Year’s spelling goals next week – for now, here’s what we got up to in 2019:  We began the year by sharing five challenges for 2019. Did you have a go at any of them? As usual, we expanded our Commonly Confused Words series. This year we looked at: allude vs. elude, assume vs. presume, bath vs. bathe, biannual vs biennial, biweekly vs. fortnightly vs. semi-weekly, click vs. clique, discreet vs. discrete,...

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Christmassy Words for Wednesday

Merry Christmas to all our course subscribers and blog readers! Whatever you are doing, we hope you are having a lovely day.  Here are some of the Christmassy Words for Wednesday we’ve shared over the years:  1)    December 'Decem' is Latin for 'ten', so why is it the twelfth month of the year that’s called December? 2)    Advent Is advent a period of anticipation or a period of reflection?  3)    Pudding Christmas puddings may be delicious, but the origins of this word are less appealing... 4)    Reindeer How long have these creatures been a part of Christmas...

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Word for Wednesday: Partridge

'On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: Twelve drummers drumming, Eleven pipers piping, Ten lords a-leaping, Nine ladies dancing, Eight maids a-milking, Seven swans a-swimming, Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree!' Although this bird takes centre stage in the famous Twelve Days of Christmas song, partridge is not a word you hear very often during the rest of the year.  The twelve days in the song begin on Christmas Day and end on Twelfth Night (the evening of the fifth of January and the eve of Epiphany). While the song’s origins are unknown, the...

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10 Christmas Greetings

Today we have a Christmas twist to our 10 Words feature.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with our blog, every few weeks we choose a word and share 10 other words you could use in its place.  Today, instead of choosing a word, we have put together a list of different Christmas greetings. Some of these are spoken, while others you are more likely to encounter written down. We’ve also included some foreign-language Christmas greetings that are widely used by English speakers.  Whether you’re learning English or just looking to expand your vocabulary, this post will give you some variety when it comes to sharing the Christmas spirit.  ...

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Five Wintry Word Lists for the Christmas Season

With the Christmas holidays approaching, you might not be feeling as focused on your spelling studies as usual. We don’t blame you – there’s nothing like a cozy evening in on a cold day.  Why not try out our relaxing Spelling Snowball game to keep your spelling in shape? In the game, you click on snowflakes in the right order to spell out a word. While Spelling Snowball can be used with any word list (click on the football above the list to play), we’ve created five season-appropriate spelling lists for you to practise with. After all, if you have to work on your spelling, you might as feel festive while you’re doing it.  Here are our five wintry...

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Word for Wednesday: Tinsel

Have you noticed a Christmas theme in our Word for Wednesday posts?  Last week we looked at the word trim, and today’s word is something you might use when trimming your tree: tinsel. Tinsel is a type of Christmas decoration made up of strips of shiny metal foil attached to a thread.  Used during the Christmas season to adorn everything from trees, to picture frames, to ponytails; tinsel is often a divisive subject. While some love it, others deem it gaudy. In fact, the word is sometimes used figuratively to describe something that is superficially glamorous but ultimately cheap.  Here is the word used in some example sentences:  Every Christmas...

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Word for Wednesday: Trim

Do you celebrate Christmas? Have you trimmed your Christmas tree yet?  Today’s Word for Wednesday is a Janus word (also known as a contranym or auto antonym). This means it has two contradictory meanings. The term is named for the god of beginnings Janus, whose image – usually depicted with two heads, one looking back into the past and the other looking forward into the future – is often found carved over doorways and gates. In the context of Christmas, trim means ‘to decorate’ or ‘to adorn’. For example:  Each year the family gathers to trim the Christmas tree. For Christmas dinner, we had turkey with all the...

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Spellzone November Round-Up

Commonly Confused Words: Waist vs. Waste Since we didn’t fit one in in October, we started November by adding to our Commonly Confusing Words series. This month’s words were waist and waste. One of these words refers to rubbish while the other one is a a part of the body – do you know which? Click here for tips and tricks to help you tell them apart.   25 Idioms about Earth In November, we finally finished our collection of blog posts on idioms about the four elements. In this article we look idioms about both the planet earth and the earth on the ground. Click here to learn the meanings of expressions like ‘down to earth’, ‘salt of...

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Word for Wednesday: Thank You

Thanksgiving and similarly-named festivals are celebrated in various countries to give thanks for the harvest and the blessings of the previous year. The date of the celebration changes from country to country and from year to year, and tomorrow – as the fourth Thursday of November – marks the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States of America.  In America, Thanksgiving celebrations are the beginning of the festive period leading up to Christmas. Thanksgiving is usually celebrated by sharing a large turkey dinner with friends or family, with each person reflecting in turn on what they are thankful for. There are often parades in large cities.  The phrase thank...

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Sixty More American English Words and their British English Counterparts

Although the Spellzone course was written in the UK, it covers both British English and American English spellings. The different spellings of a words are highlighted throughout the course, and you can choose whether you would prefer to take a British English or an American English version of a test. Click here to read an overview of the main differences between American English and British English spellings, and here for more detailed information. It’s not just spellings you need to watch out for though! Some words have different meanings depending on whether they are used in an American English or a British English context. The word ‘pants’ in American English, for...

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10 Words for… HELLO

To celebrate World Hello Day, we chose hello for this month’s 10 Words blog post. What is World Hello Day?  World Hello Day was started in response to the 1983 conflict between Egypt and Israel with the intention of promoting and encouraging communication as a vital tool for keeping peace. Over the years, World Hello Day has been observed in 180 different countries. How can I take part in World Hello Day?  The goal of World Hello Day is for each participant to greet ten people over the course of the day. This can be in person, over the phone, or via written communication. Some people like to get in touch with world leaders using social media.  To help...

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Word for Wednesday: Nice

Nice.  It’s probably one of the most-used words in the English language. Chances are you’ve been advised not to use it by a teacher. I wouldn’t be surprised if we feature it for one of our 10 Words blog posts in the future.  If something is nice, it is ‘pleasant’. You can read the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word here.  Here is nice used in some example sentences:  The weather is supposed be nice this weekend.  He wasn’t very nice to his parents.  Last week we looked at the word 'kind', which originally meant ‘treating someone like family’, and it's quite easy to...

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25 Idioms about Earth

1.    down to earth – unpretentious, practical, realistic  2.    earth to someone – used to get someone’s attention 3.    earth-shattering – important, shocking, traumatic 4.    from the ground up – completely, from top to bottom  5.    heaven on earth – a pleasant/enjoyable place or situation, somewhere that feels like paradise  6.    hell on earth – an extremely unpleasant place or situation 7.    how/what/when/where/who/why on earth? – used for emphasis when asking a question  8.    like...

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