Developing an ear for the language
We sometimes have the electricity or gas cut off if there is maintenance work to be done. They usually warn you in advance so you can make arrangements for that day. However, once it totally slipped my mind and I had to take a cold shower because there was no gas – it did a good job of waking me up I can tell you! It was back on at the exact time they promised. One thing you can always rely on in Japan is punctual service – everything is on the dot.
It’s funny you wrote about going to the doctor’s for a check up because Tomono and I have to arrange an appointment for the same thing. I always get a few butterflies in my stomach before going to the doctor’s. I’m sure I’m not alone, does anyone else feel that way, too?
I think that graded readers are a great way to improve your English. It’s always important to choose titles that you are interested in, though. As I mentioned in a previous post, they are a great source of useful phrases. Not only that, but if you can get a tape or CD they can be very useful for long listening practice and shadow reading. Shadow reading can really help you develop an ear for the language and it can help you with your pronunciation and fluency, too. My tip for shadow reading is as follows:
1) Find a short passage which contains a conversation between two or more people – not more than about 10 lines is best.
2) Read and check you understand the vocabulary.
3) Listen to the passage with the CD or tape as many times as you need and, with a pencil, mark: stressed words, weak sounds, rising or falling intonation patterns (especially notice the patterns where there are commas and at the end of sentences), linking sounds (such as between consonant and vowel sounds) and pace (you can show this with a wavy line – the faster the pace, the wavier the line)
4) Once you feel you’ve marked the important features, use these to help you read the passage at the same pace as the CD. However, start by just mouthing the words (with no voice – just move your mouth and imagine the CD is your voice). After you’ve done that a few times, do a ‘mumble drill’ – this means just try to copy the rhythm of the speech by copying the stress patterns (don’t say the words – just mumble the stress under your breath). Finally, after you feel you have got the rhythm, practice speaking at the same speed and volume as the tape.
It’s interesting to think about favourite words in English. We did a survey a few months ago about this for our students. I think the top three words for Osaka were: lovely, aqua and mother. My friend, Wakana, told me the other day that she likes the sounds of the word ‘baboon’ and she would like to call her boyfriend by that name if it didn’t have an ape connotation...
Some of my favourite words, off the top of my head, are: quintessential, elephant and onomatopoeia (try saying that one after a few drinks!).
I can't believe it's almost time to say farewell. Time flies!
Useful English from today’s post:
(to) have the gas/electricity/water cut off
(to) have the gas/electricity/water put back on (again)
(to) do something in advance (“to be told in advance” “to book a hotel room inadvance’
(to) do something at short notice
(to) (totally) slip your mind
(to) go for a check up (at the doctor’s)
(to) arrange/make an appointment (at the hospital etc)
(to) develop an ear for the language
“off the top of my head”
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