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Sunday, 18 February 2007

Kick the Habit!

Dear Juliette

Hello, thank you for your lovely introduction. I hope you had a fun weekend! Well, I can see that I’m going to have a tough job for the next two weeks – perhaps you could make a few more mistakes in your next blog! What do you expect me to correct? Can’t you make a few more spelling mistakes or confuse the word order in your sentences? Are you telling me your English was really poor eighteen months ago?! No way! You must be Wonderwoman! However, as you want to be a journalist, I will concentrate on the finer points of English grammar and style.

I’m not going to correct your mistakes, though. The language skill you need to develop is self-correction, especially if you want to be a journalist. Looking at your blog, I can see that you have a sound understanding of sentence structure and a good range of vocabulary. The errors that you make are mainly surface errors, that is, small slips in verb tense and word usage. The main part of your blog used the simple past tense, as you were describing completed events in the past. Your use of the simple past was 90% accurate, so next time you write, look at every verb that you write and ask yourself these questions:
• Is the verb in the correct tense?
• Does the verb have the correct agreement with its subject?
Being careful about verb tense will make your writing more accurate. I feel confident that you can monitor your own writing in this way

The next points are both quite small vocabulary points. Firstly, you should use “from today” rather than “since today”. I know this is a confusing grammar point for a lot of learners. You can use “since” for a date or time in the past, but not for the present time (ie. not with: “today” or “now”). Secondly, I know exactly what you mean when you say the "day flowed too quickly”, but correctly speaking, time and days “pass by”. You could include adverbs to add the element of surprise: “the day passed by so quickly / unbelievably quickly”. Finally, the phrase you are trying to use at the end of your blog is “kick the habit”, meaning to change your ways. I think this could be a really positive way of thinking about language learning - try to kick the habits that you learnt in the past and take up some new better ones! “Kick the habit” is a great phrase to use but it doesn’t need a preposition.

By the way, what kind of journalist do you want to be? I think you are really brave to give up your career in Geneva and start afresh in London. Looking forward to your next post!

Best wishes


PS. Task

I have copied a grammatical structure that Juliette uses to start one of her sentences (Juliette's entry for Feb 16th). I have started three sentences in a similar way. Can you find them? (Clue: look at verb forms!)


tough (adjective)
Difficult, hard.

really poor (adjective)
This is the expression Juliette uses to describe her English. It means very bad, but actually her English is great!

no way (phrase)
Used to express disbelief or surprise.

finer points (noun)
Advanced aspects / points.

self-correction (noun)
The ability to recognise and correct your own mistakes.

monitor (verb)

brave (adjective)
Used here to mean ready to face difficult situations, mentally strong.

start afresh (verb)
Start again, start in a new way.


Hi, samantha! I'm here to kick the habit of not practicing English everyday. Yesterday was the Lunar New Year called Seollal, one of the biggest traditional holidays in South Korea. Families and relatives gather to enjoy a feast and express wishes for good health and prosperity. I wish you well and look forward to your excellent lessons. I think the grammatical structure you copied from Juliette is 'be+~ing' form meaning to talk about a plan. So, my answer to the question what three sentences are ; 1. I'm going to have a tough job for the next two weeks. 2. Are you telling me your English was really poor eighteen months ago? 3. I'm not going to correct your mistakes.

Dear Smantha! As every time I would say that reading your entrys it's a good pleasent! Today I am confused a little bit... I just have wrote two times your entry and Juliette antry, and I couldn't solve your task, to find the similar sentenses - what a pity; But I am not collapsed I will try... I wish you all the best!

I've just realised that we, Chinese and Korean, have the same Lunar New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choi!(This is the cantonese version of meaning wishing you having a luck or a fortune, a typical phrase when we meet people in the first few days of Lunar new year.) So Kung Hei Fat Choi again!

Dear Samantha Thanks a Million for your instructive blog. Going through your blogs , makes me feel more confident about my English skills and also prompts me into more and more "learning" ,as I know I have a long way ahead.I believe the structure you have mentioned are used in these three sentences: 1)Looking at your blog , I can see ... 2)Being careful about verb tense... 3)...,but correctly speaking, times and days... these three have the same structure as ...bieng French,... that juliette has used in her first blog . By the way may we use "as of now" or"from now on" as a replacement for "from now" which you have explained? And can we use "blog" as a verb too? I am eagerly looking forward to your next entry. All the Best Katy / Iran

Dear Samantha, I hope that,you had a very good weekend with your family,mine was same as useual. In your last text, you have asked us to find some sentenc same style as Juliette.I think that you have used present participle from Juliette's sentence which is "I am now working in BBc worldservice as a researcher. You have used same style: 1)I am not going to correct your mistake. 2)I am going to have a tough job for next two weeks. Ofcourse Juliette is a brave young lady who has quit her good job in Switzerland and got a challenge job in totally different environment.Apparently she seems very smart and bold person. If don't know the language in the foreigncountry, it is very difficult to manage things in the new place. If you don't know what the encounter say, you will get frustrate.Sometime, people make fun of your accent, but british people are polite, they will try to understand what the foreigner says and help him(her) in that situation.As you know some english words are difficult to pronounce for foreigners who never get right pronunciation in their life time. My daughter is good at Phonetics,who always helps me in articulation, but sometimes I get fed up and never get the phonectics. Hi, Samantha write about your new job which you are going to do for next two weeks. Good luck for you. Now I know how to use "since" very well. Thank you. Kind regards.

Hello Samantha, it's good to hear from you again and from Juliette. I liked her blog very much too. But I was a bit confused about something. She said her home town was Geneva Switzerland and I understood she was born there. But further in her text she said that she was French. Isn't the expression "home town" used to refer to the city where we were born? Am I making a mistake here? Or perhaps a mistake in Geography, which, by the way, I'm not very good at. If it is so, please forgive me. As for the answer to the task, could it be the expressions firstly, secondly and finally the ones you copied from Juliette's blog? Thanks again for the wonderful opportunity you give us of learning English every time we read your blog. Best wishes from Brazil.

Dear Samantha! Hi again. Monitoring my previous entry on the comments' column , made me write again to apologize for some lapses I can see now : Firstly,I haven't put a comma (,) or an exclamation mark (!) after "Dear Samantha" , secondly,that should have been "is used" instead of "are used" on the 5th line and thirdly,I haven't put a capital beginning for "Julitte". There has been a typing error for the spelling of "being" too. Sorry for all these , I will try to check my writing before sending as of now! Then I have also got my answer about using "blog" as a verb, the word " blogger" has the very precise answer inside it!! Thank You and Best Wishes for all the friends here! Katy/Iran

hi Samantha Can you tell me how many ways there is to end a letter. for example ( Best Wishes ) is one way to end your letter. Can you tell me or write about it Thanks

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

February 2007

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