February 22, 2018

The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"

The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"

Second learners of English always use the verb, "steal", to explain any act of stealing regardless of how the action is performed. Although "steal" projects the main idea, it is important you tell how the "stealing" is done by using the right word. This will prevent further questioning from your listener(s) and also project you as one who is well-grounded in the language. Therefore, knowing how to use these semantically-related but contextually-distinct verbs is a great step towards learning the English Language.
The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"
To steal means to secretly and peacefully take something from someone without their permission and without intending to return it. This means stealing is done secretly and does not involve violence.
1. That boy had been stealing from my shop.
2. Thieves stole her laptop.

To rob is to take money or property unlawfully from a person or public place in the open by force or threat of force. Robbery is not secret but is done openly and with violence. It's a planned and intended action mostly carried out by ruthless group of people.
1. I was robbed of my phones while returning from school.
2. They robbed three banks before they were caught.

To burgle is to enter or break into a person's house illegally with the intent to commit a crime, especially theft. This is accomplished when the occupants of the house are not at home or are away from the house.
1. We returned from church to find out that our house had been burgled.
2. We were burgled while at Church.

Example 2 simply means that our house was burgled while we were at the church. People cannot be burgled, but their house(s) can be burgled. North Americans use "burglarize" instead of burgle. e.g., We were burglarized while at Church.

To mug is to attack someone violently for the purpose of robbery. Mugging involves threats by the mugger and may either be carried out by one person or more.
He got mugged by three men.

When using either of these verbs, one must consider the situation (that is, the context), the way the "stealing" is done, or the way the item is stolen. If either of these things is not taken into consideration, the speaker is bound to use these verbs inappropriately. For example, a wallet can be stolen but can't be robbed, burgled or mugged. A person can be robbed/mugged but can't be burgled. I have been burgled means my house was burgled. A bank can be robbed but can't be mugged. It may also interest you to know that one who steals is called a thief; one who robs is called a robber; one who burgles is called a burglar; one who mugs is called is a mugger.

In sum, your language speaks volumes of you. Therefore, you should use it wisely and appropriately!

February 10, 2018

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

I have heard and seen some English teachers correct their students for saying "Give me my change." Their argument is that "balance" should be used instead of "change" for reasons best known to them. As a result, they advise their students to say “Give me my balance.” Do you agree with this?
The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)
Well, no matter how convincing their reason may sound, I think they are wrong if not ignorant. It is never wrong to say "Give me my change." In monetary terms, ​change​ is the "money given back when a customer hands over more than the exact price of an item." Simply put, change is the amount you receive  ​for paying in excess, that is, more than the required amount.

However, ​balance​ is the amount you ​pay​ in addition to what has already been paid in order to clear your debt. It is the difference between an amount due and an amount paid. Before I proceed, check out some definitions of these terms on some online English dictionaries.
Definition of change by dictionary.com

English App

Check out the third definition.

Oxford dictionary
For example, if a bag costs #500, and you give the seller #1000, you have change of #500 to receive because you paid more than the required amount. On the other hand, if a bag cost #100, but you could only pay #50, you have ​balance​ of #50 to give the seller in order to clear your debt.

Sentence examples
1. Driver, you are supposed to give me change​ of #50.

2. I still had balance​ of 500 dollars to add up after making the first payment.

In a nutshell, both balance and change are very correct but are not used in the same context. You receive​ change (from a seller) but ​pay​ balance (to a seller). Use these words appropriately.

February 08, 2018

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Some teachers of English as a Second Language (henceforth ESL) are yet to realise that learning a language like English poses a lot problems among second learners, even among native speakers. Consequently, they always expect their students to speak flawlessly and will never hesitate to correct them if they do otherwise. 

On the contrary, there are ESL teachers who rarely or never correct their students' mistakes for reasons best known to them. Which category do you fall into? Or which approach do you adopt?
Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes 
Well, in my point of view, both approaches have serious weaknesses hence shouldn't be adopted by ESL teachers. The attitude of the first category of teachers will make the students nervous; thus they won't be able to communicate effectively and fluently. Students may even lose motivation and shy away from using the language. The attitude of the second category of teachers will produce students who are very outspoken and fluent in ungrammatical sentences.

Therefore, ESL teachers should adopt a middle or balanced approach – an approach that neither gives room to incessant nor zero correction of students' mistakes. This approach will help both the teacher and the students.

The Pivotal Points of the Middle Approach
1. In this approach, the students are allowed to speak freely while the teacher takes note of the mistakes made by the students.

2. The teacher groups these mistakes in topics, makes a note of each topic and plans an activity for a later lesson. In course of the lesson, the students take note of their mistakes and learn to avoid them when speaking or writing.

3. The teacher corrects the students only when it is necessary. The question is, "When is it necessary to correct students' mistakes?"

When Should an English Teacher Correct Students' Mistakes?
1. English teachers should correct students when they lack the right word or phrase to use. When students get stuck in their speech due to their inability to get the appropriate word or phrase, the teacher can help them out by mentioning the word or phrase. This will not only enhance communication but will also motivate the students.

2. English teachers should correct students if their speech will lead to misunderstanding. If a student is explaining a past event using present verb forms, he/she should be corrected in order not to confuse the listener(s).

How to Correct ESL Students When They Make Mistakes
In order to make your students not to repeat a corrected mistake, you have to take these points into consideration when correcting their mistakes:

1. You should explain to the students why it is a mistake. Pointing out a student's mistake(s) to him/her without explaining why it is wrong is like giving that student a test on what you didn't teach him/her. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of most ESL teachers. Students are more motivated to understand correct English when they understand why the wrong English is wrong.
2. Never hesitate to show the students a better way of saying it after telling them why it is wrong. You can as well give more examples that are similar to the mistake(s) corrected, stating their forms and usage.

In sum, making mistakes, errors and corrections are part of the learning process of a language. However, the way one corrects the mistakes or errors made by a language learner greatly determines the learner's attitude towards that language. Therefore, ESL teachers should always adopt an approach that will instill in the minds of their students a positive attitude towards the language. If I must suggest, the middle or balanced approach is much more appropriate for teaching a language like English.