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September 21, 2017
by Bloomsbury International

Loanwords and The European Day of Languages


English is a language that is always changing and is constantly adapting to the needs of its users. It might be surprising for some to find out that the Oxford dictionary adds approximately 1,000 new words to its pages every year, and these entries come from all different spheres of life, for example, social media (selfie), technological lexis (cyberthreat), products (smartwatch), borrowed words from other languages (bento box), to name but a few.Group of happy people with speech bubbles in different languages

These words have become part and parcel of our language. Just take the words café’ and croissant, for example. How often have you seen, said or heard these words recently? Probably dozens of times, however, many of us are unaware that they appear in the English dictionary as borrowed words.

Looking a recent statistics, we can see that the majority of borrowed words come from Latin (29%) and French (29%), followed by Germanic (26%) and then other languages (16%) . Some are easy to identify, whilst others are a bit trickier.

Here are some interesting examples of loanwords.

RSVP – abbreviation for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, French for “please reply”; used at the end of a written invitation to mean that you should inform the people who invited you whether you are going to attend or not. E.g. RSVP by 20 March

Gesundheit– a German word sometimes used by British speakers to mean “bless you” and said after someone has sneezed. Sick Brunette Blowing her Nose

Schmooze – a Yiddish word that means to talk in a friendly or intimate way about unimportant things at a social event, especially because you want to gain an advantage for yourself later.

Example: I went to that networking event to schmooze with some potential clients.

Macho– a Spanish adjective to describe a strong, tough, brave and muscular man.

Example: I prefer shy guys. I don’t like macho men.

Moped – is a combination of 2 Swedish words: mo= motor and ped= pedaler. It generally means a small motorcycle with pedals.
Example: He jumped on his moped and rode into the sunset

Paparazzi from Italian, it is used in English to describe a photographer (paparazzo) or a group of photographers (paparazzi) who take pictures of celebrities to sell to newspapers and magazines.

Example: I wouldn’t like to be a celebrity with all those paparazzi following me all the time.

Paparazzi with FlashesThe European Day of Languages

This sharing of words is a clear sign that our language is constantly changing but it is also the result of the meeting of people and the sharing of information and experiences.

To honour this, the Council of Europe decided in 2001 to institute The European Day of Languages, which this year will be celebrated on the 26th September 2017. On this day many schools and institutions are invited to participate in events to encourage language learning and understanding, promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe, and to increase intercultural understanding.

Bloomsbury International will be joining in the fun, as we have planned a range of different activities to promote language learning. We will be running a language quiz, a spelling competition (often called a “spelling bee”) and a wide range of activities throughout the day. It will be lots of fun and a great opportunity to learn something from our students.


September 7, 2017
by Bloomsbury International

Less Vs Fewer

Less vs Fewer Notepad

In our extensive experience at Bloomsbury International we have noticed that one of our students’ biggest difficulties is when to choose less or fewer!

So here are some helpful tips to help you along the way:

  1. Countable vs uncountable

There is a very simple rule of thumb: we use both fewer and less in comparative sentences but fewer with countable nouns and less with uncountable nouns

  • Lorna knows fewer celebrities than Fay (countable)
  • Aidarous eats less chocolate than Warren. (uncountable)

Woman with eats chocolate smiling This is supported by the idea that

  • Fewer= Not as many (as) è  →  Lorna knows not as many  celebrities as Fay (countable)
  • Less = not as much (as) è    →   Aidarous eats not as much chocolate as Warren. (uncountable)

But what about:

  • Simon writes to fewer/less people on Facebook

This is one of the most common mistakes English students make.

Is people countable and uncountable?

Well the answer is (drum roll)…… it’s an irregular countable noun:  person (singular)/ people (plural).

  1. When less acts as a pronoun
  • Olga eats less than Fay.

But what does Olga eats less of?

  • Olga eats less (food) than Fay.

In this case, the noun Less refers to can be removed, but be careful: This only applies to less, and not fewer

Now, compare these two sentences, which one is correct?

  1. Olga reads fewer books than Fay.
  2. Olga reads fewer than Fay.
  3. Olga reads less than Fay.

Both a) and c) are correct and b) is incorrect as fewer cannot stand on its own without a noun.

  1. Fewer/less + of (before determiners)

Less and fewer are used with the preposition of before determiners (such as the, my, this) and pronouns.

  • I wish Simon would spend less of his time playing computer games
  • Do you still drink alcohol? No I drink less of it
  • Are there a lot of pandas alive nowadays? No, there are fewer of them.

Cute panda bear climbing in tree

4. Less+ adj/adverb

Less is also used with adjectives and adverbs:

  • Katie is less talkative than Xavier
  • Xavier laughs less loudly than Katie.

5. Less and fewer with numbers and measurements

 Less is also used with precise numbers such as distances, times, ages and money, despite the noun it refers to not being uncountable.


  • Their engagement lasted less than 3 months. Not Their engagement lasted fewer than 3 months
  • It weighs less than 200 kilograms.
  • Covent Garden is less than 1 mile away from Bloomsbury International.
  • He earns less than £20 a day

Fewer is use primarily with collective amounts of things.

  • There were fewer than 10 types of tree can be found in Bloomsbury Park 
  • There were fewer than 100 people at Hodan’s party    

High angle view of a group of people at a New Year's party

However, it is generally true that most people would adopt to use less rather than fewer when describing the above categories.

  1. Strange but true

As always, English throws a spanner in the works and causes us to doubt when to use fewer or less.

This sentence is a prime example:

  • All these items in this store are £10 or less

So far we have been lead to believe that we use less with uncountable nouns and fewer  with countable ones, so it would be fair to say that as the quantifier refers to items (plural/countable noun) then the sentence is incorrect. But how many times have you seen this sentence in a supermarket. The debate continues….

Go to this website to find out what the real answer is:  BBC News 


August 24, 2017
by Bloomsbury International

Notting Hill Carnival

notting hill paradeWhen is the carnival?

Notting Hill Carnival takes place every year on the last August bank holiday weekend.

This year the carnival will take place on 26, 27 and 28 August, 2017.

Where does the carnival take place?

The carnival takes place on the streets of London, around Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park and Kensal Road.

Brief history of the Notting Hill Festival

The annual Notting Hill Carnival has two main claims for fame: it’s thought to be the second largest carnival in the world, after Rio De Janeiro, and the largest street fest in Europe.

The main aim of the carnival is to celebrate the culture and heritage of the West Indian community in London. The celebration dates back to the 1950s, when Notting Hill was not as trendy and well-served as it is today. As a matter of fact the area was much poorer. It was a typical London slum where many people lived on very low salaries in often overcrowded accommodations. The area was predominantly West Indian and violence towards this community was rife, ending in the infamous riots of 1958.

The journalist and activist Claudia Jones, originally from Trinidad, decided to counteract all this violence by throwing a “party” to celebrate the diversity, culture, music and food of the Caribbean. People of all ages were invited to dress up in their traditional costumes, steel bands played and everyone had a good time. On one occasion, in 1964, the steel band players decided to leave the carnival hall and play in the streets, followed by all the party-goers. This was when the street carnival truly began.

Barbecue chicken on a smoking grill

Over the years the number of guests increased and what was once a small street party for the local community turned into a parade. However, it always maintained its fundamental aim of uniting the local community which was still fighting racism, unemployment and unsanitary living conditions.

The Notting Hill carnival is one of the most flamboyant, lively and colourful carnivals in Europe. The parades are endless, dancers calypso with policemen, West Indian music blares out from booming sound systems and the delicious smell of beef jerky oozes from every corner. It is not to be missed!

What’s on and when:

Click here for an extensive guide to the carnival and the carnival programme (

How to get to Notting Hill Carnival?

As more than 1 million people are expected to attend the Carnival over the 3 days, the area will be extremely crowded and some of the surrounding tube stations will be closed or subject to disruption.

Allow extra time to get there and back and check the Transport For London Website ( before setting off to plan your journey.

As the area will be extremely busy:

• Allow yourself extra time to get home.
• Set a meet-up point in case any of your friends get lost. Mobile phone signal will be limited on the day.
• Wear comfortable shoes- avoid heels.
• If sunny, wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses. Carry a brolly just in case or get in the mood by wearing a colourful raincoat.
• Always bring water to hydrate yourself, wet wipes (Caribbean food can be messy) and extra tissues (in case loo roll runs out).

Stay safe:
Notting Hill Carnival is an enjoyable and lively event which, as expected, will attract pickpockets and opportunists. Always keep your valuables securely hidden, be aware of what is going on around you and if you notice anything strange, notify a policeman.

Why don’t you come along with the rest of your new-found friends? It will surely be fun and an experience to remember whilst in London for your English studies at Bloomsbury International.