The Acadia Center for English Immersion, located in beautiful Camden Maine. New Courses start every week.

Posts Tagged ‘Learning English’

Learn English Prepositions with Photos

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Who is the English language student’s enemy number 1?


Acadia Center intensive English course students on top of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park.

Acadia Center intensive English course students on top of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park.

Prepositions are small but pugnacious, refusing to fade into the background.

Prepositions laugh at translation (that’s laugh at, not laugh with, because it’s not a friendly laugh). Depende de in Spanish. De = of or from in English. So, it depends of the context, right? Wrong. It depends on the context.

The choice of preposition can be based on the word before and the word(s) after. You work in an area of expertise, for a company, with colleagues, and on a project. You work, for example, in pyrotechnics, for Up in Smoke, with your fellow pyrotechnicians, and on the Great American Fourth of July fireworks display.

Prepositions depend on other words for meaning, and yet, in what are known as phrasal verbs, if you change the preposition, you totally change the meaning of the verb that precedes it. Sadly, when it comes to (talking about, referring to) prepositions, no one has yet come up with (invented) a magic spell to instantly know them all, or come across (find, often when not actively searching for something) a secret key to unlocking their mysteries.

Prepositions are proudly defiant of our awkward attempts to master them, like wild mustangs.

So how do we learn them?

There are only two types of prepositions that can be easily corralled by grammar: prepositions of place and time, and prepositions of transportation (stay tuned for future blog posts). The rest is vocabulary!

Acadia Center student at helm of schooner Olad in Camden, Maine.

Acadia Center student at helm of schooner Olad in Camden, Maine.

And what is the best way to learn vocabulary? Not from a list. Leafing through several pages in the dictionary trying to learn all the phrasal verbs using the word get will get you nothing but sad, mad, and bewildered. Much better to learn them in context, reading (or listening to) things of interest to you, and observing how prepositions are used in the real world.

To illustrate, let’s look at six selections from one of The Guardian’s gallery of amazing photos from around the world, and see how prepositions – free spirits that they are – roam into and around the captions.

Mumbai, India: Rose petals and coloured powder are showered on a huge idol of the elephant-headed Hindu god Lord Ganesha during the 11-day Ganesh festival.

On can have the physical meaning of on top of.
Of follows the idea of representation as in a picture of, a copy of, etc.
During with an event: during the concert, during the meeting. Use for, not during, with a time period: We stayed there during for two weeks.

Kunming, China: A butterfly perches on a boy’s face at a butterfly exhibition.

On: the physical meaning of on the surface of something.
At: during is also possible with an event, but during can emphasize something of relatively short duration (like the shower of powder in the first photo) occurring in the context of an event of much longer duration (an 11-day festival). For another example, see the use of during Catalan elections in the next caption.

Barcelona, Spain: A dog waits outside a booth at a polling station during Catalan elections. Pro-secession parties say they will push for independence within 18 months if they win a majority in the 165-seat parliament.

Outside: Opposite of inside the booth, where the dog’s owner is voting.
At: A specific geographical location.
For: The go-to preposition for purpose or objective.
Within: No longer than. To indicate the maximum time period from now into the future.
In: In a group.

Fribourg, Switzerland: Guillaume Rolland, a professional mountaineer, balances on a highline on top of the Moleson mountain at 2,000 metres above sea level.

On: Physical meaning (see above).
On top of: Physical meaning.
At: For a specific point on a scale, as in Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.
Above: Above and its opposite below are used for numbers on a vertical scale.

Brussels, Belgium: A statue is silhouetted against a supermoon.

Against: Indicates contrast or opposition.

Zhodino, Belarus: Up to his eyes in muddy water, a man takes part in an extreme run competition.

Up to: As high as.
In: Physically inside a substance (muddy water), or in an event with the emphasis more on participation than time.

English Immersion in Maine: Perspective Québec

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Old Orchard Beach – for many, many generations of French speakers from the province of Québec, those three foreign-sounding words have meant sun, surf, sand, fried food, and fun family holidays on the beautiful coast of Maine. Beginning as long ago as 1842, even before there was a train connection between Maine and points south like Boston and New York, the Grand Trunk Railway was bringing summer visitors from Montréal to Maine’s beaches.

Today Old Orchard Beach is as popular as ever with visitors from all over Québec, and French speakers are also starting to discover a small English language institute further up the coast that combines uniquAcadia Center English immersion students from Quebec and Italy.e English language immersion courses with the kind of outdoors fun Québecers have long associated with Maine.

Only five hours by car from Québec City or Trois-Rivières and six hours from Montréal, Acadia Center’s home town of Camden is closer than Toronto for most Québecers.

The beaches are more rugged and rocky north of Portland, Maine, but our students from Québec love the beauty and friendly hospitality of this part of Maine’s Atlantic coast.

Acadia Center English student from Montreal on excursion at Maiden Cliff in Camden, Maine, USA.Click on the video at the top of this post to watch a video interview with Marc-André, a health and safety management consultant and author from Trois-Rivières, Québec, who explains how Acadia Center helped him learn the everyday conversation and business communication skills he needs for his work.

Business Communication: Acadia Center Seminar

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Business communication – in e-mails, presentations, conference calls, meetings, and social media – has been the subject of a series of business English seminars for Acadia Center for English Immersion students, offered by business executive and university business instructor Larrain Slaymaker.

Acadia Center for English Immersion students with business English seminar leader Larrain Slaymaker.Larrain has extensive experience working for both small businesses and multi-national corporations and as an entrepreneur. She has taught business administration at the university level, and she has taught English in China.

“When we communicate in a professional environment, we need to be clear and concise,” said Larrain in describing the focus of her seminars. “But how do we do this? How do we decide how to say something?  How do we know we are listening and reading effectively?  Cross cultural communications, business styles, vernacular, acronyms and a variety of business environments all add to the challenges of professional communications.”

Seminar discussions have included strategies for improving writing ability, people skills, and the capacity to think critically and strategically in English.

Business English seminar at Acadia Center.“Seminar participants include a health and safety management consultant from Quebec, an accountant from Mexico, and a supermarket executive from Colombia,” said Acadia Center director Brian Boyd, “and they all have benefited from Larrain’s tips on such subjects on the importance of tone and clarity in e-mails. They have also really enjoyed her interactive games and role-playing that allow for plenty of practice with the new vocabulary and idioms she is teaching.”


Check Out Our Facebook Page for Discounts, News, & Photos

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Have you thought about dedicating two weeks or more to improving your English for your work and/or travel? Like the Acadia Center Facebook page to keep up to date on the latest news, photos, and discount offers! Throughout the year we offer flash discounts, so check back regularly.

Register now for an intensive English course in Camden, Maine.English immersion course teacher with student from Quebec in Acadia Center garden.

Summer Immersion Courses Begin May 4

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Acadia Center student visiting local farm to pick raspberries and pumpkins!The time is right to join us in Camden, Maine, for an English immersion course that will help you reach your English learning goals while enjoying the company of other motivated professionals and executives from around the world.English immersion course students at work in the main classroom.

Learning is Fun!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Acadia Center students overlooking lake and mountains of Camden, Maine.The small size of our school and the dedication of our teachers make an English immersion course at English students in group class.Acadia Center in Camden, Maine, a memorable learning experience.

Register now for summer 2015!

Early Registration Discount

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Register before January 26 to receive a 5% discount off the package price for an intensive English immersion course in Maine, USA.

Join a group of motivated professionals who want to improve their English as rapidly as possible in a total immersion environment.

Acadia Center English immersion students on a sailing excursion aboard the schooner Surprise in Camden, Maine.

Sailing, Hiking Plus English Immersion Summer 2014

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Camden, Maine, and its environs offer one of the most popular destinations in the USA for summer sailing, as well as for hiking, kayaking, biking, and other outdoor sports.

During Acadia Center’s summer and fall English immersion courses – offered from May through October – twice-weekly excursions led by experienced teachers give students a chance to practice their English conversation in small groups while exploring Maine’s beautiful bays and mountains.

Early Registration Discount Extended to Feb. 1

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Register now for an English immersion course in Camden, Maine, and receive a 5% discount off the package price.

Register by January 15 for 5% Discount

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Acadia Center English student at work in study center.We are excited to announce that our intensive English immersion courses in Camden, Maine, will start up again on May 6, 2013. Take advantage of the 5% early registration discount by registering before January 15.

Acadia Center English students on hike up Mount Battie in Camden, Maine.English immersion courses are offered from May through October. From November through April, sign up for online English lessons in conversation and/or writing.

We look forward to a great new season in 2013!