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Ask Doctor English
Your ESL and English language learning specialist. Ask Dr. English whatever you like about the English language.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Here is a chance for you to have your questions answered by Doctor English. Today’s question is:

Is it possible to learn a second language (English for that matter), through on line gambling ?

This is a very interesting question. Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with on-line gambling, and therefore am not sure how much English is actually required to participate. In addition, gambling has been found to be addictive for some people, and therefore is not endorsed by Doctor English.

There are however many, many resources available on the Internet that can aid in your English learning. It is important to find something that interests you, so try doing a search for on-line newspapers, chats, or other activities where you can practice your English. Be aware that while the Internet is great tool, it is also important to have face-to-face practice in English.

Thank you for sending your questions. If you have any further queries, please email Doctor English at drenglish@vec.ca

Thursday, February 23, 2006


One of the challenges of learning English is that the language changes depending on the English-speaking country in which you are in. Whether you are in Canada, the United States, England, Australia, or any of the many other countries in which English is the primary language, you will find the language changes. Not only are there distinctions in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, but there are also many cultural differences which affect how we use the language.

Although “Canadian” English and “American” English are often considered to be the same, there are some differences in vocabulary between the two countries. These words, or “Canadian-isms” are one way to distinguish American and Canadian language.

Some of the most popular words include a toque (pronounced TOO- K), which is the name of a winter hat in Canada. Some Canadians use the word serviette, which is also called a napkin. As well, a chesterfield is what some Canadians refer to as a couch.

If you would like more information on CANADIAN, EH?, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


In our last edition of WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, Dr. English asked you to find the meanings of some common slang expressions related to sports. Here are the answers:

Out in left field – Odd/strange or confused
Ex: That guy is really out in left field. When I ask him for the time, he said it was raining in Mexico!

Drop the ball – Make a mistake
Ex : He really dropped the ball by not handing in his report on time.

Step up to the plate – Take responsibility
Ex: Susan has been letting all of her co-workers do her work. She needs to step up to the plate and do her own work or she’ll get fired.

A curveball – Something unexpected
Ex: The teacher threw us a real curveball when she gave us a surprise quiz!

Take a raincheck – Postpone something
Ex: I’m not feeling well, so maybe I can take a raincheck on our meeting.

If you would like more information on WORDS, WORDS, WORDS, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Using English for business purposes can be challenging. Typically speaking business English is more formal than the language used in everyday situations. However you need to consider not only the use of the language, but also the culture when using English in a business environment.

Using the correct title in a business setting is important. The first time that you meet someone in business, you should greet the person with a title followed by their last or family name.

For a man, it is simple – we always use Mr. as the title. It doesn’t matter if the man is married or single. For a woman, it is a little more complicated. We use the title Mrs. if the woman is married and we know for sure that she is married. If she is unmarried or divorced, or if you are unsure, you can use the title Ms. The title Miss is usually only used for young woman and is not common in business.

If you would like more information on BIZ TALK, please email Doctor English with your questions at drenglish@vec.ca

Monday, February 20, 2006

U.S. President’s Day

Today, Monday February 20, 2006 is a holiday in the United States of America. It is President’s Day and it is celebrated on the third Monday of February each year. President’s Day is actually a joint celebration of the birthdays of two past U.S. presidents - Lincoln's Birthday (February 12) and Washington's Birthday (February 22).

Now President’s Day is not only a celebration of these two men, but all of the men who have served as President in the United States of America. There are various events and celebrations across the country, with the key ones taking place in Washington, D.C. Also, as with most statutory holidays, certain banks and stores will be closed throughout the United States.

If you have any further queries, please email Doctor English at drenglish@vec.ca