Aiton English

Learning Languages for Life

Author: lclanguages (page 2 of 5)

Python for linguists: beginner course + NLTK

If you’re interested in analysing how words are used in different contexts, or which words are more popular than others, analysing corporas, or just want to process people’s twitter / social media accounts to see who /what they’re positive about and what they don’t like so much, then python language programming can help.

And it’s easier than you think .

you can either search the internet for advice  / videos on

“how to use python to….”

and generally end up watching some videos to learn. Just two points:

1 – make sure you actually do yourself on your computer what you see in the video  (or read)

2 – as you “do” on your computer, play with what you’re doing, change it, experiment, have fun.

for learning about analysing language use, you can do the above, or follow the outline given below..

 

About the outline below, when followng it I recommend flexibility, i.e.

  • skip stuff that’s boring
  • look up more videos / articles for stuff that is difficult / more interesting
  • skip stuff that is still difficult after the previous advice
  • don’t be afraid at any moment to brach out into doing other things in python. THe stuff you learn will help with Natural Language Processing
  • definitely watch videos of stuff with python for doing anything so you raise your awareness of capabilities (in tihs case it miught be a good idea not to worry about actually doing what you see, just watch and pick pu general ideas even if you’re not sure about everything that is going on)
  • do stuff regularly, in smaller chunks
  • play and tweak…

 

 

Step 1: (if you’re new to python)

learn the basics of python.: good place to start is this free online course

NOTE: if you EVER have a problem, and the program tells you something is wrong, copy the message the program gives you, put it into a search engine, and you will find links to a GREAT tutoring forum

https://stackoverflow.com/

 

Step 2: NLTK  – Natural Language Toolkit

look into NLTK, a toolkit that helps analyse language:

a – watch videos 3,4,5,6 (click here)

NOTE: the book for NLTK is available online for free. Before, during or as you do step 2 a, you may like to read the first three chapters of the book (here)

b – then watch the series here  (ignore the fact that the guy is working from the “black and white” command line, you can do the same things in a Python IDLE)

c-  Do the course here (skipping stuff covered in the previous course)

At all times, any time you hav a question, pop it into a search engine to learn. There’s a lot of help for programming out there

 

after that look into regular expressions with python, scraping, plotting and other great stuff!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Active Grammar: Criticising yourself and others (past actions)

If you’re not happy about something that happened in the past and want to criticise yourself or another person, you can use…

 

subject + should + have + III

First, watch the video:

 

 

 

 

Now, read through written examples and watch the student video:

 

 

 

Note, ALL OF THE SENTENCES BELOW ARE ABOUT SITUATIONS THAT HAPPENED IN THE….

PAST

 

not about situations happening now or that might happen in the future

 

e.g. You can criticise yourself or your friends

I should have started learning English earlier. =Real situtaion: I didn‘t start English earlier and now I’m not happy about the fact and I want to criticize myself for this.

You should have told me earlier. =Real situtaion:you didn’t tell me earlier, I’m not happy about the fact that and now I’m criticizing you for this.

 

If you’re not happy with what your government / president did / did not do IN THE PAST, you can use this to critcize them…

The president shouldn’t have wasted so much money on useless roads last year. = I’m not happy that the president wasted money on the roads last year and I want to criticise him / her for this.

The government should have invested more money into education over the last ten years. =  I’m not happy that the government did NOT invest more money into education over the past ten years  and I want to criticiseit for this.

 

You can also criticise your parents for what they did  / didn’t do for you when you were younger:

My parents should have helped me more when I was younger.  = My parents did not help me enough and I want to criticise them

 

LINGUISTIC CHOICE:

You can improve your linguistic choice in this situation by making the criticism stronger or weaker.  In exams like IELTS  / TOEFL this will help improve your pronunciation and range scores

I really should have studied more for the exam. = strong criticism that I didn’t

I should have studied for the exam. = standard criticism

I probably should have studied for the exam.=  soft criticism

 

Analysize another student:

Listen to the student criticise herself for things she did  / didn’t do in the past using “really should have” and “possibly should have”. Does she

sound MORE critical when she uses “really should have” than when she uses “probably should have”

pronounce “have” as “ev” and fully join it to “should” or “shouldn’t” to produce “SHOULDev” or “SHOULDN’tev” (or is “ev” pronounced separately?)

 

 

 

 

GRAMMAR +

After criticising yourself or someone else about the past, you can imagine the alternative situation. This helps emphasise your point to the listener  /reader of HOW BAD THIS SITUATION WAS / IS!!! The structure for imagining about the past = if + subject + had(n’t) + III, subject + would (n’t) + have + III

e.g. Compare the three situations below. All are fine, but which shows the worst / saddest result…

  1. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam.
  2. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam.and my parents wouldn’t have taken away my car.
  3. I really should have studied for the exam! I had studied more intensively, I would not have failed my exam and I would not have lost my wife and house and wouldn’t be living on the streets now.

 

It’s probably 3.

EXAM TIP

in exams, some students use 3rd conditional mechanically. If you want to sound more natural…..

 

a –  avoid repeating the same thing

e.g.:

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had studied more for the exam…. =  repeating / saying the same thing= mechanical

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had been more studious …………. = not repeating = more natural

you can use “If I had(n’t) done so, ……”  if you can’t think of how to say the same thing a different way

e.g.

I should have studied more for the exam. If I had done so, I would have passed and I ……

 

b – use the “really” or “probably” with good intonation to show feeling, and make “have” “ev” and join to “should”

“I REEEEAAAALLLY should-ev studied” with annoyed intonation

“I proooooobably” should-ev studied” with “maybe” intonation

 

c – if the result of the imagined situation is now, then use the “would” half of the conditional in the 2nd conditional form.

e.g.

I would not have failed my exam (before) and I would still be able to drive  my car (now).

 

 

FINALLY, MAKE A VIDEO YOURSELF! If you want, put a link to your video in the comments and I’ll ive you feedback

 

Business LC Gapfill: Asset-backed / mortgage – backed securities

from here

What choice of words can you think of for each gap?
note:

_______= one word

______(1/2) = think of one or two word combinations

WTD = what’s the difference between these underlined items

(TENSE) = what tenses are possible / what’s the difference

 

Asset-backed securities (ABS) and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are two important types of asset classes. MBS are securities created from the 1)____________   of mortgages, and then sold to interested investors, whereas ABS have evolved out of MBS and are created from the pooling of non-mortgage assets. These are usually 2)_____________ by credit card receivables, home equity loans, student loans and auto loans. The ABS market was developed in the 1980s and has become increasingly important to the U.S. debt market. In this article, we will go through the structure, some examples of ABS and valuation.

Structure

There are three parties involved in the structure of ABS and MBS: the seller, the issuer and the investor. Sellers are the companies that 3)____________loans and sell them to issuers. They also take the responsibility of acting as the servicer, collecting principal and interest payments from borrowers. Issuers buy loans from sellers and pool them together to 4)__________ABS or MBS to investors. They can be a third-party company or special-purpose vehicle (SPV). ABS and MBS benefit sellers because they can be removed from the balance sheet, allowing sellers to 5)_____________additional funding. Investors of ABS and MBS are usually institutional investors and they use ABS and MBS to obtain 6)___________yields than government bonds, as well as to provide a way to diversify their portfolios.

Both ABS and MBS have prepayment risks, though these are especially 7)_________________for MBS. Prepayment risk is the risk of borrowers paying more than their required monthly payments, 8)_____________reducing the interest of the loan. Prepayment risk can be determined by many factors, such as the current and issued mortgage rate difference, housing turnover and path of mortgage rate. If the current mortgage rate is lower than the rate when the mortgage was issued or housing turnover is high, it will lead to higher prepayment risk. The path of the mortgage rate might be difficult to understand, so we will explain with an example. A mortgage pool begins with a mortgage rate of 9%, then 9)__________to 4%, rises to 10% and finally falls to 5%. Most homeowners would refinance their mortgages the first time the rates dropped, if they are aware of the information and are capable of doing so. Therefore, when the mortgage rate falls again, refinancing and prepayment would be much lower compared to the first time. Prepayment risk is an important 10)_______________to consider in ABS and MBS. Therefore, to deal with prepayment risk, they have tranching structures, which help by distributing prepayment risk among tranches. Investors can choose which tranche to invest based on their own preferences and risk tolerance.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Discuss Both Sides and Give your Opinion

Click on the image below to download the PDF

IELTS essay discuss both sides

 

CPE Writing for “5”: Book Review (question + example answer)

Read the task below and note the key content points as well as the “detail” within them

CPE writing book review

Scroll down ……….

 

 

 

 

 

Read through the example answer and answer the following questions (CPE criteria “content” = 5)

Is all the content relevant to the task?

Are you, the target reader, fully informed as to the points highlighted in the task?

Book review.

By Lena Vertugina

The name of the book I would like to write about will provoke no instant response in the soul of an average European reader, neither it will be familiar to the majority of Russians, to which nation belongs its author Alexander Sharov, which is undoubtedly sad. “Yozhenka”, as it sounds in Russian, is by all means, one of the most romantic, educating and beautifully written stories ever.

Its heroine, Yozhenka, is a little girl who came into existence when a kind artist (also a book character) drew her with a pencil that initially was a hedgehog’s needle, hence the name of the girl that can loosely be translated into English as “a little hedgehog-girl”. She then embarks on all sorts of adventure, learns to enjoy life together with other inhabitants of the island, also drawn by the kind artist, her father, and, finally, undertakes a dangerous journey across wild seas to wage a battle against the evil characters of the story, who, in their turn, were created by an evil artist, a sibling brother of the kind one. Of course, in the end peace is established and all wicked heroes are cured of their malevolence and make friends with other characters.

The plot being schematically explained, it is worth clarifying why this story, seemingly being quite common in treating the everlasting conflict of the Good and the Evil, could still be still appealing to the young generation of Russian kids. It is all in the idea that we all are responsible for the actions we take, the friends we choose, the words we say to each other, that every page of the book is rich. “Grow up to become a kind artist of your destiny!” – the author hints. Moreover, while reading one just gets so much captivated by what is going on in the story that cannot but experience the whole range of emotions from fear and rage to complete elation – the effect ensured by the fantastic beauty of the narrator’s language. What can be more important than living a book that teaches us the most crucial and individuality-forming things in our whole future life?

Having been the most remarkable book of my own childhood and the early years of my daughters, “Yozhenka” is unfairly little known to readers in our country. I would very much like to see it turned into a wonderful cartoon or even a feature film and carry its charge of kindness and creativity to generations to come.

 

To learn more about the author of the above example, Lena Vertugina, please follow the links below….

Personal page:

https://vk.com/id4783208

Group page

https://vk.com/englishtogoo

 

 

10 Step Exam Speaking: How often (generalizing, contrasting)

Step 1: Listening practice

Listen once, twice or three times to the audio below to get the ideas

 

Step 2: Learn from listening

Listen again, pausing an repeating where necessary to make a note of useful expressions.

 

Step 3 “a” : Focus on structures for saying “how often” (or “not”)  you do something

Looking at the table below, listen again and mark which  “how often” (or “not”) structures are used.

IELTS speaking - How often

 

Note:

Once / Twice a week (NOT “in a week”)

Three / four / ten / 15 times a year / month

fortnight = two weeks – Once a fortnight = once every two weeks

If the number is not “a” month / year, then use every:

3 times every 2 weeks

5 times every 4 months

but

3 times a week

5 times a month

 

Step 3  “b” : Focus on structures for “generalizing” and “contrasting” 

Perhaps you noticed some of these structures in  “Step 2: Learn from listening” . In any case, looking at the tables below, listen again and mark which  “generalizing” and “contrasting” structures are used.

IELTS speaking: generalizing

IELTS Speaking: Contrasting

 

 

Step 4: Improve your pronunciation

Listen again to the structures,  make a note of stress and intonation.

 

Step 5: Moving from passive to active

Listen on repeat for a period of time. As you listen…

a – repeat the structures you hear from the tables, copying the stress and intonation

b – when you feel comfortage (still with the audio on repeat), repeat the structures and “finish”

 

Step 7: Linguistic choice

Think about your ideas to answer one of the questions. Choose the structure(s)  that best match(es) your opinion

 

Step 8: Fluency = 100%, Pronunciation = 100%

Without fully answering the question, practice again and again the structure until you feel that your “active use” of the structure is 100% fluent with 100% suitable intonation / stress.

 

Step 9: Fully active answer

Record yourself answering the question.

 

Step 10: Review and repeat

Listen to your answer, if you feel it needs to be done again, do it again. (Note, although practice makes perfect, it is a good idea to not repeat it too many times. As you move through the different questions you will get better.)

Business LC Gapfill: Invertment in metals

From mobe.com

 

What choice of words can you think of for each gap?
note:

_______= one word

______(1/2) = think of one or two word combinations

WTD = what’s the difference between these underlined items

(TENSE) = what tenses are possible / what’s the difference

 

Investing your money into gold, silver, platinum, palladium and other industrial metals can be a very smart way to 1)__________ your money, but before you buy into the first opportunity you see, take the time to learn the basics of the market.

Here is the most 2)________ information you should understand before choosing how to invest in metals:

1. Not all metals are categorized the same way.

Gold and silver are among the most popular metal investments but did you know you can also invest in other metal 3)______________? Metals used in manufacturing, like rare earth and base metals, are now becoming increasingly important due to high industrial demand. Therefore, they could 4)__________ good potential for asset diversification 5)__________ a variety of trading 6)________ including stocks, futures, options and exchange-traded funds.

2. There are various ways to invest in metals.

You can buy stock of the metals themselves, invest in mining companies or even invest in security companies that store precious metals like gold and silver. You can also purchase an Exchange-Trade-Fund, which is similar to buying a share of stock 7)________ that you’re actually buying a share of a fund. That fund contains various stocks, bonds, options and futures (WTD?).

3. Precious metals need to be stored securely.

This probably sounds obvious, but are you prepared to keep your gold or silver safe at home? If not, you can usually buy storage from the company that sold you the physical metal, but costs are 8)_______. Mike Clarke, President of Diamond State Depository, says that an account valued at $50,000 would generally be charged an annual storage fee of $375.

4. Physical metals come in two forms.

When you buy physical stock of precious metals, you can choose between bullion or coins. Bullion is precisely-weighed bars, stamped with information about the weight, purity and source of the metal. Coins, on the other hand, are collector’s items that may differ in value according to rarity and popularity.

5. Experts disagree on whether to safeguard your wealth with industrial or precious metals.

History shows that gold and silver 9) (always + be – TENSE) valuable, even in times of war or recession. 10)_________ (½ words) this information, there is a school of classic economics that insists, “If disaster strikes, gold is the metal we will 11) ______ (½ words) if paper-money, and the system that supports it, no longer exists.” The modern approach 12)_______ that industrial metals such as platinum and palladium will be more valuable in an economic breakdown because they are used to manufacture high-tech devices and machines.

6. Precious metals aren’t just for jewelry.

Just because gold, silver and platinum are popular for creating jewelry doesn’t mean they have no other purpose. All the so-called precious metals are used inside of computers, which in turn are used for everything from cellphones to space travel. This functionality boosts the current value of gold, silver and other metals.

7. Some precious metals may be subject to taxation.

If you purchase bullion or coins, you might need to pay tax if and when you sell them for a profit. If you trade often, the government may classify your investments and sales as a business, and tax you based on business tax. Check with your local tax office to find out exactly how national laws affect your physical stock.

8. Not every vendor is trustworthy.

Under no circumstances should you put your trust and money in the hands of anyone out there selling gold coins or stocks in platinum mining companies. Read reviews, talk to professionals, and ask family members for advice about reputable vendors that you can check out for yourself. If anything seems suspicious, run far away!

9. Physical stock needs to be insured.

At least, that is if you don’t want to risk losing your entire investment. You may be able to buy insurance through the vendor or the storage company; otherwise, you can look for good rates through other non-affiliated companies.

10. Even historically valuable metals can suffer in the short term.

Most metals are meant to be long-term investments that protect the investor’s money from short-term dips in other markets. That doesn’t mean, however, that gold, silver or palladium is going to retain the same value day in, day out. It will rise and fall just like anything else you invest in—the difference is that over the course of a lifetime, these metals should more or less retain their original value.

 

Finish reading the text and check your answers here

 

IELTS Writing 2 analysis: Task achievement for “Discuss Both Sides”

Some people say that violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted since it can increase crime rates, whereas others believe that this is not the case, and such restictions are not necessary to reduce crime.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion

 

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own experience or knowledge.

a) Read the answer, do not worry about language, focus on ideas and answer the questions:

Does the candidate when writing their ideas address (focus on / talk about) all parts of the task above?

When supporting the ideas with reasons and examples, does the candidate focus on the the parts in the task?

Nowadays the violence shown in movies and on the news is an issue of big concern. Many people claim that it should be restricted, for it is the reason of increasing crime rates. However, others believe that in order to reduce crime such measure is not necessary.

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society. From this perspective, anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news, and the society is guided by what is presented to them foremost. In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information. Given that child psychology is not fully mature, this sort of propaganda can have a detrimental effect on their development.

However, other people state that such restriction is by far not necessary and will not contribute to decreasing crime rates. From this point of view, when violence, which is already existent, is represented frankly and openly, people see an explicit picture of the actual problems their social environment faces daily. Besides that, having a distant view on the essence and consequences of violence in general and in particular, one has a chance to grow aware of what is unacceptable in the society where he or she belongs as well as in the whole world.

To sum up, the issue of violence openly demonstrated on the television is extensively discussed. In my personal opinion, even though the abundance of such adverse information on the screens may have a negative impact on human psychology, and most significantly, on children’s mentality, placing a tight restrictions on broadcasts would not be an effective solution for crime prevention. I believe, that to a certain extent, such kind of content can bear a value as a distinct image of existent social problems and a demonstrative example of unlawful behavior.

Answer:

Let’s analyse this in detail…………………………………….

In order to see how well the candidate’s writing answers the parts in both sides of the argument, we need to establish what the parts are. The first argument has the following parts:

  1. violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted

  2. the reason is such violence can increase crime rates

Therefore, in the paragraph connected with this side, the exam candidate should present reasons why people believe the above are true.

b) Read the topic sentence of the candidates’ first body paragraph again. Does it address (talk about) these specific parts of the task (violence / in movies and on the news / should be restricted / violence can increase / crime rates)?

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society.

Answer:

Yes, it focuses on them.

This means that the candidate is directly addressing the parts in the exam task, so can get a 7,8,9 if they continue to address (talk about) these specific points.

c) Below is the first point after the topic sentence. Does it continue to develop the ideas of “such violence should be restricted” or “such violence can increase crime rates”?

From this perspective, anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news, and the society is guided by what is presented to them foremost.”

Answer:

To some extent they indirectly continue to address the parts of the exam task, but not directly. It talks about how “anything” can be promoted. “Anything” includes violence, so it is ok, but perhaps the candidate is starting to “lose” the specific topic. Perhaps not…… . The author then talks about how “society” is guided, again this is possible, but for this specific task there needs to be an argument about “how this can increase crime rates”. The candidate, however, does not make a conclusion about whether or not this”guidance” affects crime rates. This is a typical situation, where the connection is clear in the writer’s mind, and the examiner can guess “he / she probably wanted to say ‘and some people believe such guidance can result in people commiting crimes, thereby increasing the crime rate.”

According to the IELTS criteria,

conclusions become unclear” = 6

So make if you make the examiner guess your conclusions in the main body, you will probably get a maximum of 6.

Read the next part of the first body paragraph, again does it talk about ….

    1. violence shown in movies and on the news should be restricted

    2. the reason is such violence can increase crime rates

In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information.”

Answer:

No, it is starting to overgeneralize. It introduces a fact “children spend a lo t of time watching about TV”, it then introduces a second fact that the children see “a lot of negative information”. Is this negative information violence, or bad language, or pessimism, or sexual content? talks about

Perhaps in the next part, the author will clarify that part of this negative information is violence, and that it can increase crime rates. Does it?

Given that child psychology is not fully mature, this sort of propaganda can have a detrimental effect on their development.”

Answer:

No. “negative information” is paraphrased as “propaganda”, but we still have to guess what it means. The reader is given a fact that this propaganda can………negatively effect development. But the reader / examiner has to guess if the author believes thi negative development is connected with crime.

How can we improve this body paragraph?

  1. Make the conclusions clearer

  2. refer to key words more

  3. take out “general” information

For example:

Many people claim that showing violence on the Tv has to be curbed, since it has a direct relevance on the increased crime rates in society. From this perspective, not just violence but anything can be easily promoted when shown on the screen to the masses of people, for instance, in the movies or on the news. If it is violence, then the society may follow suit, possibly lifting the rate of crime. In addition to that, children spend a lot of time watching TV and they are exposed to a great amount of negative information, including violence. Some people believe that children in particular may be led into crime by seeing this violence given that child psychology is not fully mature.”

The second “argument” in the exam task has these specific parts:

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

Read the paragraph topic sentence. Does it match the key actor / action / actees of the second side?

However, other people state that such restriction is by far not necessary and will not contribute to decreasing crime rates.”

Answer:

Yes, very clearly connected.

Read the rest of the paragraph. Does it develop the points in bold:

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

From this point of view, when violence, which is already existent, is represented frankly and openly, people see an explicit picture of the actual problems their social environment faces daily. Besides that, having a distant view on the essence and consequences of violence in general and in particular, one has a chance to grow aware of what is unacceptable in the society where he or she belongs as well as in the whole world.

Answer:

No. The paragraph overgeneralizes. It addresses (talks about) a different task:

Can you write an exam task that the above paragraph would address (talk about)?

Possible Answer:

Some people believe violence on TV is OK because seeing violence on the news and in movies help people understand society and what is acceptable or not.”

As this paragraph is so over-generalized, it cannot be improved by small adding or changing. IT needs to be re-written with a greater focus on

  1. it is not true that violence (shown on the news and in movies) can increase crime rates.

  2. restrictions are not necessary to reduce crime

Highlight in bold the parts of the conclusion that address the specific task, and underline the parts that overgeneralize.

To sum up, the issue of violence openly demonstrated on the television is extensively discussed*. In my personal opinion, even though the abundance of such adverse information on the screens may have a negative impact on human psychology, and most significantly, on children’s mentality**, placing a tight restrictions on broadcasts would not be an effective solution for crime prevention. I believe, that to a certain extent, such kind of content can bear a value as a distinct image of existent social problems and a demonstrative example of unlawful behavior.

* Although this is relevant, it does not need to be put in the conclusion. Not putting this in the conclusion would make it shorter and fit the expected IELTS balance more.

** this part of the sentence is fine as it supports the second, main part.

We can see that the over-generalized, underlined part, is again connected with the “different” task from before

Some people believe violence on TV is OK because seeing violence on the news and in movies help people understand society and what is acceptable or not.”

a) Last question, for task achievement or “how well does the candidate answer and support the specific parts of the exam task”, which body paragraph was better, the first or the second?

Answer:

The first was better, as the examiner can at least guess the connection between the ideas in the paragraph and the specific parts of the exam task. It is maybe even a bit better than the TA 6 “conclusions are unclear”. We could create criteria and say “conclusions can be guessed” . The second body paragraph is a 5 “addresses the task only partially” (the candidate did talk about the effect of violence, but not in relation to increases in crime / or what it is if not violence on TV that increases crime. The examiner may even believe that it is a 5, in the criteria for a 5 it says “presents some ideas but they are irrelevant”.

IELTS Writing Task 2: Advantages and Disadvantages

Click on the image below to download the PDF

IELTS Writing Task Two - Advantages and Disadvantages

IELTS Writing Task 2: Two Questions Essay

Click on the image below to download the PDF

IELTS Writing Task two - Two Questions essay

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