Thank you for your blog. I’m sorry you’ve had a couple of difficult days. It’s good when you have friends and colleagues who will listen – even if they don’t say anything. I’m very glad you’re feeling a bit happier now. Below, I have written a list of sentences and expressions you can use when you want to talk about how you feel. I hope they’re useful.
Yes, I have read the comments posted on your blog by Diema. I loved the questions. Shall I answer them? OK, I’ll do my best:
QUESTION 1: Are you satisfied with your job, and if you had the chance to change it would you?
I work freelance. Therefore, I don’t really have a job. I do little bit of teaching, which I love. I have written a few school books – mostly about other countries – and years ago I wrote a best-selling self-study listening book (which is now out of print). I work as a consultant for some language schools, and, best of all, I have a little bit of freelance work from the BBC. And I really mean ‘best of all’. The two months I have had blogging with you, Soyoung, and with Federico last month, have been more enjoyable than any work I have had for a very long time. Thank you (and thanks, too, to all the readers who write comments on the blogs).
QUESTION 2: What is the most important skill or characteristic which is required to be a good teacher?
You need to like teaching, and I suppose that means you need to like people, too. I love working with people (adults, anyway) from other countries. I love working with my language and my culture. I am fascinated by other cultures and I used to enjoy travelling a lot. I am not at all sure I’m a good teacher, but I do really enjoy it immensely. Diema suggests that patience is a quality which good teachers need. Oh, dear. I’m afraid that means I am not a good teacher. I have none, and perhaps that’s why I don’t enjoy teaching children very much.
QUESTION 3: Do you think you are a good parent?
Of course! I’m brilliant! Lucy has just read this, and fallen off her chair. I can’t understand that.
I don’t think I’m allowed to let Lucy write anything here but she would definitely be the best person to answer that question. I do take being a parent very seriously, though. My wife – Lucy’s mother – died of cancer just over three years ago. But from the moment she was born Lucy and I always had a very good, close relationship (which is interesting because I never wanted children). Yvonne, my late wife, was a head teacher. She was hard-working and always very busy. When Lucy was born – eighteen years ago – I gave up my job in central London and became freelance so that I could take care of ‘the baby’. That ‘baby’ is now a delightful young woman. She is great company and I think we have a really wonderful relationship. I am very lucky. Oh, Lucy has just told me she will permit me to write that I’m not bad as a dad, and could be a lot worse. Mmm!
QUESTION 4: What should one do in order to become your friend? How can one lose you as a friend?
What a fantastic question! No one has ever asked me that before. I like people who are honest, funny and clever. I am attracted to people who don’t take themselves too seriously, who are irreverent and enjoy irony. I am drawn to people who read very widely and who are interested in ideas.
If someone really is a good friend, I can’t imagine losing him or her as a friend. A couple of years ago, though, I had a ‘good friend’ who told me he needed money for a life-saving operation his mother needed in another European country. He seemed extremely upset and had no idea how to raise enough money. I lent him quite a lot of money – and I haven’t seen or heard of him since. I suppose that’s a good way to lose me as a friend.
Now to your questions, Soyoung (and thank you for them, they are good, too). Your first was about the number of countries I have visited. Actually, I have no precise idea but I guess it must be about thirty. I have probably worked in about 10-15 countries.
Yes, I am still in touch with quite a lot of ‘old’ students of mine. Some of them, in Sweden, for example, have become some of my very best friends. I am glad, too, that I am still in touch with students from Xi’an Foreign Languages University, in China, where I worked during 1980-82. I am very fortunate to have friends, former colleagues and ex-students in the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia (sorry if I have left any out by mistake).
It wouldn’t be right to say, here, which countries I have enjoyed most or been most impressed by. In different ways, they have all been positive experiences.
While you are at the cinema watching the Chinese movie, Battle of Wits, we are having a tremendous storm, here. The wind is very strong and the rain is extremely heavy. But it is incredibly mild. You asked about how much history we know about other countries. Well, right now Lucy is studying modern Chinese history. History is one of the three subjects she is studying for her university entrance exams. She wants to study History of Art at university.
This weekend she will go to yet another 18th birthday party. This time it is in a smart restaurant in central London, and after that they are all staying in a nice hotel near Trafalgar Square. That means I don’t have to stay awake till one in the morning just to be a taxi. Instead, I’ll have a (rare) quiet Friday night in the house with a good book (I’m reading some stories recommended to me by Federico, last month), some soft music and a glass or two…oh, no, I can’t do that can I? I’m supposed to have given up all alcohol until after I return from Kilimanjaro. OK, then, it’ll just have to be orange juice (it’s just not the same, though, is it?).
I’m very much looking forward to hearing about your mum’s trip to China.
Take care, and have a great weekend. Don’t worry about work. Don’t worry about your English. Don’t worry about anything. Have fun.
With warm good wishes,
SOME USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
the people you work with
enormously, a lot (Remember that most adverbs in English end in –ly. Use that information to help you decide on the grammatical function of a word.)
If you are irreverent, you don’t show respect for people or institutions only because of their status.
a way of using (sometimes bad) jokes to make a serious point
(This is a difficult word to define very clearly in English. Remember what I said about using dictionaries in yesterday’s blog? Well, this is an example of a word which you may need to look up in a good dictionary.)
am drawn to
another way of saying ‘am attracted to’
SOME WAYS OF WRITING ABOUT FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS
Here are some sentences and expressions you can use when writing about how you feel. Some of these example sentences are based on some of your sentences, Soyoung, in paragraphs 1 and 3 of today’s blog:
I’m feeling a bit emotional at the moment.
I’m feeling a bit depressed. But I don’t want to talk about it because it’s very personal.
I don’t want to let my personal problems affect my work.
I have mood swings, from time-to-time.
I feel much better now because I’ve decided to stop thinking about it.
I felt much better after talking about it with a friend.
I feel more and more tired as the week goes on.
I feel more and more tired as it gets towards the end of the week.
I don’t get angry quickly.
I don’t lose my temper easily.
I get depressed quite easily, especially in unfamiliar situations.
I sometimes just need a breath of fresh air to help my feelings improve.
…try to use words you already know rather than risk choosing the wrong word from a dictionary
…the difference between to get in touch with and to keep in touch with
(‘to get in touch with’ means to make contact; ‘to keep in touch with’ means to have continuous contact)
…in English we always say the internet (EXAMPLE: We can’t live without the internet.)
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