Weekly English Practice

Leer, escuchar, escribir y hablar. Habilidades esenciales para comunicarse en inglés. Cada semana, English Coaching Projects te enviará nuestra exclusiva revista digital - WEEKLY ENGLISH PRACTICE (WEP) - para que puedas practicar estas habilidades. Incluye un artículo con su audio (5 voces distintas), definiciones del vocabulario y preguntas que estimulan la opinión y el debate. Puedes escribir tus respuestas, y incluso grabarlas, para enviarlas por correo electrónico a tu coach. En la segunda página hay más actividades prácticas e información sobre los eventos que organizamos en English Coaching Projects para que puedas practicar tu inglés en situaciones sociales.

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Weekly English Practice

25/06/20 10th Anniversary of ECP and the WEP

June 2020 marked the 10th anniversary of our cooperative and that meant that we have been producing the Weekly English Practice for 10 years too!

This is the last Weekly English Practice of this course. Thanks for watching, reading and listening to the WEP! See you again in the autumn!

Click on the image to download the pdf.

WEP 10th anniversary of ECP & the WEP


Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

June 2020 has been a special month for everyone at English Coaching Projects. Not only did it mark the 10th anniversary of our cooperative but it also meant that we had been producing the Weekly English Practice for 10 years too. That’s over 350 issues going all the way back to 30th September 2010! We incorporated audio as early as February 2011 and since October 2017 there has been an introductory video. All the articles since October 2012 can be accessed on our website.

English Coaching Projects was set up as a cooperative by 5 partners in June 2010. The Weekly English Practice was one of our first ‘projects’.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we have been unable to organise the big party that we had planned to hold to celebrate these landmarks but no doubt, once we all know how life will be in this ‘new normality’, you will all be invited to celebrate the ECP project and the part that you have played in it.

In the meantime, have a great summer and the Weekly English Practice will be back in the autumn!

This week, the ECP coaches have chosen their favourite WEP from 2019-20. Which one was yours?

Lakua’s market can’t compete with Primark!

 28th November 2019

This was written by Kez.  

I think I like my article about the market in Lakua the most because it was about a local place; very close, in fact, to where I’ve spent the most time living in Gasteiz. It also contained names of local people that some of our students might know, so it felt quite personal.

A Good Read: The Art of Loving

16th April 2020 

This one was written by John. 

My most satisfying WEP was ‘The Art of Loving‘. I read and discussed this marvellous book with a friend during the lockdown and it served as a kind of therapy which I can honestly say has changed my life. The feedback from our students was truly gratifying as well. Some are reading Fromm’s masterpiece now. I recommend the book to everyone.

Rekindling Hobbies During Lockdown

 30th April 2020 

This one was written by Darren.  

The articles I wrote during the lockdown were both personal and positive.  In ‘Rekindling Hobbies’ I decided to pick up drawing again after twenty years. I had every intention of continuing but the fact is, I haven’t picked up a piece of charcoal since!

Reading to learn is no walk in the park

 26th September 2019 

This one was written by Ali. 

From my 2019-20 WEPs, ‘Reading to Learn’ meant the most to me because it allowed me to share my geeky side with all of you. I’ve learnt so much Spanish vocabulary in the last year or so thanks to my reading efforts, and if I can inspire just one or two people to do the same in English, I’m chuffed!

Using a Mini Phone to Fight Screen Addiction

 7th May 2020 

This one was written by me, Rob.  

This was a very personal project that took months to complete. Writing the article was like therapy for my addiction and the video made me feel like a YouTuber!

Have a great summer! Bye!

Let’s chat about that!

Send your opinions to your coach!

What were your favourite articles this year? Explain why.

If you were asked to write a WEP, what would you write about?

What topics would you like us to write about in the future?


18/06/20 Can Computers Understand Ambiguity in Languages?

Will computers ever be able to handle ambiguity in language?

Click on the image to download the pdf.

WEP Computers and ambiguity

Read and check you understand this vocabulary before you read and listen to the text.

to pose: to constitute, to represent (a problem, a challenge, a danger)

hopeless: very bad, useless

world knowledge: non-linguistic information, such as culture and experience, that helps us understand words and sentences

to overcome: to solve a problem or get past an obstacle

marking: correction of academic exams or texts

approach: method, way of doing something 

to work sth out: to find the result of a calculation 

to draw on sth: to use sth

so as to: in order to

Listen to the audio and read the text (refresh the page if it’s not visible).

We know computers can be trained to use human language, but will they ever be able to handle ambiguity?

The verb run has 606 different meanings. It’s the largest single entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, placing it ahead of set, at 546 meanings.

Although words with multiple meanings give English a linguistic richness, they can also create ambiguity: drawing a gun could mean pulling out a weapon, or simply illustrating one.

We humans can generally avoid this confusion because our brain takes into account the context surrounding words and sentences. But, for computers, lexical ambiguity poses a major challenge.

“Computers are hopeless at disambiguation because they don’t have our world knowledge” explains Dr Stephen Clark, who leads two large-scale research projects that hope to overcome this difficulty. Applications of the research include improved internet searching, machine translation, and automated essay marking and summarisation.

“Many online translation tools are based on statistical models that ‘learn’ the relationship between words in different languages. But if we want the computer to really understand text, a new way of processing language is needed,” says Clark. “Humans are able to generate an unlimited number of sentences using a limited vocabulary,” he continues. “We would like computers to have a similar capacity to humans.”

Until now, two main approaches have been taken by computer scientists to model the meaning of language. The first is based on the principle that the meaning of a phrase can be determined from the meanings of its parts and how those parts are combined. The second approach focuses on the principle that the meaning of a word can be worked out by considering the various contexts in which words appear in text, and uses word “clouds” to show which words are frequently associated with one another.

By drawing on the mathematics of quantum mechanics, working with researchers at several UK universities, Clark plans to exploit the strengths of these two methods through a single mathematical model.

Clark has spent the past decade developing a sophisticated parser – a programme that takes a sentence in English and identifies the grammatical relationships between the words. The next step is to combine this tool with the word clouds so as to provide a new meaning representation that has never been available to a computer before. All of this, he hopes, will help solve the ambiguity problem.

Adapted from www.cam.ac.uk by ECP coach Alison Keable

Let’s chat about that!

Write your opinions in an email and send them to your ECP coach!

  1. Do you use machine translation or similar tools?
  2. What is Dr Stephen Clark’s goal?
  3. Is this kind of research important in your opinion?
  4. Do you think computers will be good at languages in the future?
  5. How can technology help humans to learn languages?


All previous articles

Search Older WEP Blogs

To see articles from 2012 to 2014 visit our old blog

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