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Community: Introduction

FAQ for users
Forum member profiles
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Hello and welcome to our community! We are glad you have decided to join our forum and read our newsletter. Of course you will want to know who the other forum members are. So it's time to meet the community and make new friends. Below you will find the profiles of our most active forum members. You can browse through their details and pick the person you want to get to know first. How do you meet someone on the forum? Very simple: You read through the ongoing discussions and select those forum posts you like most. Then click on the "quote" button and write your response in the text window that opens. Once you are done, click on "submit" and your message is added to the thread. After a while somebody will answer your post and you can start building a valuable and productive forum relationship.

FAQ for users
1. How can I join the forum?
2. I've registered on the forum but my account is still inactive. Why?
3. I've activated my forum account but I still can't log in. Why?
4. My username has already been taken?
5. How do I get started with the forum?
6. How do I ask a grammar or vocabulary question?
7. How do I know when somebody answers my question?
8. How long does it take until I get an answer to my post?
9. How can I improve my writing skills?
10. What does SHOUTING mean?
11. Why should I use the forum instead of email?
12. Why is not a good idea to publish my email address on the forum?
13. How can I contact another forum member in private?
14. How can I record and listen to audio messages on the forum?

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1.) How can I join the forum?  Top
This is easy. Simply take the following steps:
  • click on the Registration Link
  • create your user name and enter it
  • enter your email addresss
  • create a password and enter it
  • enter your password again
  • click on the "send" button
  • open your email
  • click on the "confirmation link" in your email

Congratulations! If you complete the steps described above, you are a new member of our forum.

2.) I've registered on the forum but my account is still inactive. Why? Please check your email inbox. Look for an email with this subject line: "Welcome to Forums." If you can't find this email in your inbox, please check your "Spam Folder" or "Junk Mail Folder". Your spam filter obviously marked our email as "spam" and that's why you can't find it in your inbox. Once you find our email, please open it and you will see a link. Simply click on that link to activate your forum account. Here are the steps again:

  • Go to your email inbox.
  • Look for this email: "Welcome to Forums."
  • If you can't find it, look in your Spam/Junk folder.
  • When you find the email, open it.
  • Click on the link in that email.
  • Now you can log in to the forum.

3.) I've activated my forum account but I still can't log in. Why?  Top
If you have activated your forum account by clicking on the email link you still can't log in, the cookies in your browser are disabled. To log in to the forum, you need to enable the cookies in your browser. For more information, please click here.

4.) I get this message: 'Sorry, but this username has already been taken'. What does this mean?  Top
This means that another person has registered the name before you. Since a user name can be registered and used only by one person, you need to think of a new name. For example, if you want to register the name 'Andy' and you get this message: 'Sorry, but this username has already been taken', you can register one of these names: Andy1, AndyMe, Andy4U, AndyNow, etc. Just use your imagination and creativity. Be unique!

5.) How do I get started with the forum?  Top
Once you have created your forum user account, it's time for you to get a better idea of how the forum works. The forum is divided into different areas and the best place to get started is the New Forum Member section. Before your post your own introduction, you might want to spend some time browsing through the messages from your fellow forum members. Many of our forum users post an introduction and then expect an immediate response. You will find so many new forum members who are eagerly waiting to meet you. Why not pick one that somebody whose introduction looks interesting to you? Simply say something like "Hello Tran, how are things with you today? I've read your introduction and I liked it very much. I'm also interested in practicing and improving my English so maybe we can share experiences and help each other?" If you use this approach, you have an excellent chance to make new friends from all over the world.

6.) How do I ask a grammar or vocabulary question?  Top
One of the most popular sections of our forum is called Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms. This is the place where you can post any grammar or English usage question. To post a new question, please take the following steps:

  • click on Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
  • click on the "New Topic" button
  • enter a subject in the "subject box" (this is the title of your question)
  • enter your question in the "Message" box
  • click on the "Send message" button at the bottom of the message box

Before you create your question, please make sure you enter a meaningful title (subject). This is important because thinking of a title for your question will help you express your thoughts and it will also make it easier for our team to answer you. You can compare the subject line in the forum with the subject line of an email you write or receive. Imagine all the emails you get have the same meaningless subject line such as "hi", "help" or "question". Here are some more examples of rather useless forum subject lines:

  • doubt
  • grammars
  • query
  • grammar problem
  • please help
  • clear my doubts
  • can you answer

Why are the examples above bad? Because they don't contain any specific information that describes your question. A good message subject sums up your question making it easy for your forum English coaches to navigate through them. Now, how do you sum up your question with just a few words? Here are some examples of good subject lines:

  • difference between "always speaks" and "is always speaking"
  • origin of expression "call the shots"
  • infinitive or gerund?
  • present perfect vs. simple past
  • pronunciation of "advertising"?

Of course it might take a little practice to come up with a succinct and meaningful title for your question but this is all part of your learning process, isn't it?

7.) How do I know when somebody answers my question?  Top
As soon as somebody posts a reply to your forum message, you receive an email with a link. If you click on that link, you can read the responses to your message. Of course you can also put the address of the grammar and vocabulary forum into the "Favourites List" of your browser so you can quickly open it to check if there are any new messages. You can easily identify a new message by the orange button in front of it.

8.) How long does it take until I get an answer to my post?  Top
This depends on a number things such as the length of your message and the complexity of your question. However, you usually receive a response within a few minutes. You can speed up the entire process if you do the following:

  • Select an appropriate title for your question/message.
  • Use correct spelling and punctuation (don't write "u" instead "you", "i" instead of "I", start each sentence with a capital letter, put a full stop at the end of each sentence, etc.)
  • If it's your first post, introduce yourself briefly.
  • Be polite, use such words as "please" and "thank you."
  • Express your thoughts in short, clear sentences.
  • Tell us your own opinion on the question.
  • Limit the number of questions in each post. A long list of questions in a single post should be avoided.
  • Be specific.

9.) How can I improve my writing skills?  Top
This is a very popular question. So many of our forum users want to improve their written English because they need to write emails, business reports, essays, job applications and other types of texts. Since we live in the age of electronic communication, there is one essential step you must take in order to improve your written English: Learn how to type! On our forum I see so many learners struggling with basic punctuation errors because they don't know how to use their keyboard properly. Take a look at this example:

"hy ! i`m nooni from tatlan my english is bed can u help my ?i` will thanks u"

As you can see, this text contains quite a number of errors. Some of them are spelling mistakes that could have been corrected by a spell checker. Others are what I would call "typing errors". For example, the writer uses the "grave accent" (`) instead of the apostrophe ('). This means she or he hasn't learned how to type properly. Here are some more typical "typing mistakes":

  • no space after commas and full stops: My name is Frank.I'm from Chicago.I'm interested in reading books,playing football and cooking Chinese food.
  • no capital letter at the beginning of a sentence: my name is Frank. i'm from Chicago. i'm interesteed in reading books, playing football and cooking Chinese food.
  • no capital letters for proper names: My name is frank. I'm from chicago. I'm interested in reading books, playing football and cooking chinese food.
  • no full stops/periods at the end of each sentence: My name is Frank I'm from Chicago I'm interested in reading books, playing football and cooking Chinese food

In addition to these common typing errors, some learners of English have developed the habit of using "chat and SMS style" when they compose a text. Typical examples are:

  • u instead of you (can u help me?)
  • i instead of I (i don't understand)
  • dont instead of don't (i dont understand)
  • ur instead of your (what's ur name)
  • whats instead of What's (whats your name)
  • etc.

If you are really serious about improving your English, you must learn how to type properly. You can find one of the best free Internet type trainers by googling the phrase "dance mat typing". It takes you to a BBC page that offers an excellent interactive typing school which teaches you how to type step by step. All you need to do is spend a few minutes every day completing the interactive exercises until you learn how to type all the letters of the alphabet. Being able to type properly and fast gives you a huge advantage over those people who haven't developed this skill. On top of that, you will learn English much faster because you can ask more questions, write more forum messages and meet more interesting people.

For more information on this topic, please click here: How fast can you type?

10.) What does SHOUTING mean?  Top
"SHOUTING" means that you type your text ENTIRELY IN CAPS -- using capital letters only. This is considered to be rude and should be avoided. It's similar to yelling or shouting all the time. I don't know why but using ALL CAPS (typing in capital letters only) seems to be quite common in certain countries. Please don't shout or yell on our forum. Be polite and try to communicate in a civilized manner as it is very difficult to read and understand a text that is written in ENTIRELY IN CAPS. Many thanks.

11.) Why should I use the forum instead of email?  Top
Using the forum has many advantages over communicating via email. First of all, the forum allows you to interact with an unlimited number of people. This is impossible to achieve via email since you always need to know the exact email address of a person before you can contact them.

The forum is different. All you need to do is post your introduction. As soon as you click on the "Send Message" button, your messages get published on the Internet and the chances are that you will receive a response immediately. What's more, you probably get several answers from several people -- while email is limited to just one person. Since your forum messages get indexed by Google, you help other people find answers to their questions and they will help you learn English in turn.

Here is an example. Let's say you want to know the difference between "look forward to hearing from you" and "looking forward to hearing from you". If you post this question on the forum, your question as well as the answers get indexed by Google. This means, anyone who has the same question can go to Google and find your forum thread. If you ask the same question via email, nobody except you will ever read it. So the forum is an open medium where people share their knowledge and experience. After all, sharing information is the basic principle of the Internet and it's also the best learning method.

12.) Why is not a good idea to publish my email address on the forum? Some of our forum users insert their email addresses into their forum messages. This is not a good idea because your email address will be collected by so called "email harvesting programs". One of them is called Ecrawl and here is an extract of their product description: "Ecrawl is an email harvester that swiftly crawls the web and extracts all the emails it can find. It has the ability to reach speeds in excess of 2 million emails per hour." This means, as soon as you publish your email address on the forum, it can be retrieved by people who are in the business of selling email addresses to so called "spammers". In other words, if you insert your email address into your forum messages, you are very likely to receive a lot of unwanted advertising emails. If you do want to exchange email addresses with other forum members, please use the "Private Message" function.

13.) How can I contact another forum member in private?  Top
If you want to send a private message to another forum member, please take the following steps:

  • Click on the person's forum member profile (simple click on their forum name).
  • On the profile page, click the "pm" button (Private Message Button).
  • Enter your private message title in the subject box.
  • Enter your message in the "message body".
  • Click the "Send Message" button.

Now your private message appears in your "Outbox". As soon as the recipient (the forum member you are sending your message to) opens your message, it appears in your "Sentbox". This means, as long as your message sits in your "Outbox", you can edit or even delete it any time. Once your message appears in your "Sentbox", you can't change it anymore because the other forum member has already read it.

14.) How can I record and listen to audio messages on the forum?  Top
You can use our forum to record and listen to voice messages.

To do that all you need is to make sure that "Java" is installed and enabled in your browser. Java is a free software extension (software platform) which you can download and install if you don't have it yet. Of course, in addition to Java you also need a headset or microphone connected to your computer.

If you do not Java yet, you can download the free SUN Java plugin for your computer.

Click here for latest SUN Java Plugin for English language.

Click here for latest SUN Java Plugin for other languages or for general Java information.

Once you have installed and enabled Java in your browser, you can record your own voice on the forum so other forum members can listen to you. Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Create a new forum post describing what your voice message will be about.
  • Go back to your forum post and click on the 'record' button.
  • Wait until a small online recorder in your forum post opens up.
  • Click on the red 'record' button.
  • Record your voice message.
  • Click on the blue 'stop' button when you are finished.
  • Click on the play button to hear your voice message.
  • Click on the 'send' button to upload your voice message.

You can also see how to record your voice messages on the forum if you click on this link: How to record voice messages on the forum?

Once you upload your voice message to your forum post, a little player will appear inside your forum post. Now you can listen to your voice message by clicking on the 'play' button. If you have any questions regarding the forum voice recorder, please use this thread: Recording audio messages on the forum?

If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.

Next:Community: FAQ for users

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