A Little House in West London
I don’t know whether or not you read the comments posted by readers on the Teacher’s Blog each day (I always read yours – they’re fascinating, aren’t they?), but if you do you’ll have read how kind people have been about my little house here in west London. By the way, the pink stuff is by no means all Lucy’s, and pink is probably her least favourite colour. (You should see my pink shoes sometime!)
The Europeans are, as always, fixated on why we have separate taps in our bathrooms. I don’t think I have ever had a European student who hasn’t asked that question but please keep asking it, this is not a criticism. I am privileged that you read the blog and post questions. I love it. Thank you. Oh yes, and I have at least five friends who don’t have separate taps in their bathrooms. You’re right, of course. I know, I know, it’s so much easier – and probably safer – when it comes to getting the temperature right. We do have a mixer tap in the kitchen, however.
There was a nice comment, too, from a reader in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, Russia. I was there for a few days about 20 years ago, and right now I am reading Dervla Murphy’s new book about travelling on the BAM (Baikal-Amur Mainline) railway, called Silverland (John Murray 2006, ISBN 0 7195 6828 5). Her 2005 book, Through Siberia By Accident (John Murray, 0 7195 6663 0) is a wonderful piece of travel writing. It’s now 27 years, I think, since I travelled from Beijing to Moscow on the (Chinese) Trans-Siberian Express (also passing through Krasnoyarsk). But one of my warmest memories from the later trip is of putting my face into Lake Baikal and drinking – and then not becoming ill! The water was as cold and as sweet as the perfect chilled beer on a hot summer’s day. And then there was that time, about 30 years ago, I was in Nizhny Novgorod, Alex – what a beautiful kremlin it’s got. I’ve still got a small wooden box I bought there. It’s decorated with a hand-painted picture of that fairy-tale kremlin… Sorry, I’m day-dreaming a bit here…
Back to you, Soyoung. I got a bit carried away there. I wasn’t ignoring you. It’s just that it’s a bit frustrating not to be able to answer every single reader’s comments, don’t you agree? Here’s a little fantasy: wouldn’t it be good if you and I could meet up, together with all our readers who’ve posted comments during the month, and have an international party? Just think about it. What would we eat? What sort of music would we choose? Where would be a good place to have such a party? Who else (if anyone) would we invite? How formal would it be? What would you wear?
OK, I said it was just a fantasy. It’s never going to happen, is it? But we can dream. If I won the lottery… Well, that’s never going to happen, either. (Mainly because I never buy a ticket!)
That’s all for today, Soyoung. I’ve got to get my running gear on. It’s now just two weeks before I leave for Tanzania, and I’m not fit enough (it would help if I stopped eating too often and too much).
Have a good day at the office.
(the answers are at the end of today’s blog)
1. In my first paragraph how should you pronounce the two words in bold text? Are they both pronounced the same? Why/why not?
2. Which word in my first paragraph means ‘very interesting’?
3. Which expression in my first paragraph means ‘not at all’?
4. Which of the following is the best synonym for ‘fixated on’? (a) obsessed with, (b) interested in, (c) stuck to, (d) critical of
5. Which of these is the best definition of mixer tap (second paragraph)? (a) food processor, (b) hot water tap, (c) single tap providing both hot and cold water, (d) cold water tap, (e) shower
6. Can you complete the sentence below with the correct preposition from the list?
I have happy memories ________ my visit to Manchester.
(a) with (b) to (c) by (d) of (e) through
7. Can you find a word in my third paragraph which means ‘cooled’?
8. Which expression in my fourth paragraph means ‘became over-enthusiastic’?
9. Which word in my fourth paragraph means ‘paying no attention to’?
A LITTLE BIT OF GRAMMAR
In English, if you want to ask about something that might or could be possible, you have to use certain kinds of conditional structures. Look again at my fourth paragraph and identify the sentences which ask about what would happen if we were able to meet.
Each of those questions can be extended, like this:
What would we eat if we were to have a party?
What sort of music would we choose if we wanted everyone to enjoy it?
Where would be a good place to have such a party if we were able to do it?
Who else would we invite if we wanted more guests?
How formal would it be (if we had this party)?
What would you wear if you went to this party?
Practise writing more conditional questions like these. For example, you could ask me about the kinds of things I would like to do if I visited Korea. Use the following question words: ‘what’, ‘where, ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘how’.
Look again at your original version of the passages I have corrected and re-written below. Make sure you focus on the differences between the two versions and that you understand the errors I’ve corrected. Check any new words in a good dictionary and any grammatical queries in a good bi-lingual grammar reference book.
I’m going to see the movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, tomorrow. Have you seen it? Tomorrow is the last day it will be on. Do you read the reviews before you decide to see a film?
The weather has changed and become very cold – around minus 5 – during the evening. It will be much colder tomorrow. I guess I should wear lots of clothes to keep warm.
It’s the last day of January and I remember my New Year’s resolution to learn the guitar. I’m starting in a fortnight and I’m very excited about it.
NOTE: The title of the Borat movie is in deliberately incorrect English. That is part of the irony of the movie. Please don’t worry if you think the title is in ungrammatical English. It is. It’s meant to be.
THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
There are quite a few grammatical and structural errors in your third and fourth paragraphs. Tomorrow, Syoung, could you give us a list of the official names of the main political parties? If you have time, could you look again at your third and fourth paragraphs and perhaps include a little bit more information about the election tomorrow?
For the benefit of your many, many readers, I’ve summarised your third and fourth paragraphs, below. I am not absolutely sure I’ve included all the information you wanted to include. Perhaps you could say a little more about all of this tomorrow. And do you have any photographs of political posters or leaflets, badges or logos from the different parties? Any chance you could post one or two so we can see what Korean political material looks like?
We will have a Presidential Election at the end of the year. A few candidates have already started campaigning. The governing (?) party has almost been destroyed by differences between the President and the government (members of the party). The main Korean political parties are reinventing themselves for the election. However, most people believe that the parties only change so they will be elected, not because their policies have changed.
It is not clear which candidate will emerge as the winner. Candidates have to win their party’s nomination first. Then they will be the Presidential candidate from that party.
CHECK THESE ERRORS
fine (not ‘find’), about the weather
nonsense (not ‘non-sense’)
readers’ (not ‘reader’s’)
Korea (not ‘Korean’, second paragraph)
reviews (not ‘critical columns’)
excited (not ‘exciting’)
ANSWERS: 1. /reed/ and /red/. The first is in the present tense and the second is in the (future) present perfect. 2. ‘fascinating’ 3. ‘by no means’ 4. (a) 5. (c) 6. (d) 7. ‘chilled’ 8. ‘got a bit carried away’ 9. ‘ignoring’
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