A confession …
Hello Ha and all our friends!
It’s Sunday today and the sun has finally come out after weeks of rain in the UK. The weather today is glorious!
Yesterday it wasn’t so sunny but at least it stayed dry, which was a good thing because it was Richard’s birthday. During the day, we went to a very pretty part of the county I live in (Hampshire). The area is called The New Forest and it’s a National Park, which means it’s protected. It was established in about 1080 by the king William the Conqueror, who used it for hunting.
The New Forest is fantastic for walking, and one of the unique things about it is that local commoners have the right to graze their animals on the land, for free. For this reason, you’ll see lots of horses and donkeys just walking about – even on the roads. You can only drive at 40 miles per hour in the New Forest because there are animals roaming free everywhere. Here’s a picture of some we saw:
And here’s a picture of the landscape:
Then in the evening, we went to the pub for dinner. It was a lovely day. (Oh and the cake turned out OK too – thanks for keeping my secret!)
Ha, the end is nearly with us … You asked what you can do to improve your spoken English. I agree, speaking a foreign language is the most difficult skill – much more difficult than writing or reading, for example. I have some tips for you, and I hope they’ll help. Here goes:
1) Researchers say that when we communicate face to face, the way we understand what another person is saying is 50 per cent body language and 50 per cent what they say. So getting your body language right is very important. Remember to make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to, and use things like hand gestures and facial expressions to help get your message across.
2) Speak slowly and speak clearly. Sometimes it can be difficult to speak slowly, especially if you’re nervous. But give it a try.
3) Record yourself speaking. You’ll probably cringe at first when you play the recording back, but it can really help you notice problems in terms of pronunciation and language use.
4) Practise speaking in front of a mirror. Your family might think you’re a bit of a loony, but don’t worry about them. What is your body language like? How could you improve it?
5) Is there someone you think speaks English very well, and who you admire? An actor/actress or a teacher, for example? Study how they speak and the body language they use. Then copy them.
Ha, I hope that helps. Remember that as long as you make yourself understood in spoken English, this is the most important thing. Even native speakers, when they speak naturally, make mistakes and go back and correct themselves. So focus on getting your listener to understand your message, rather than thinking too much about grammar.
Now, we’ve been together for two months, friends, and I think you know me well enough and I know you well enough to share a little secret with you. You see, I have a confession to make.
Before I began writing this blog two months ago, I really couldn’t see the point of blogs. Blogs contain the words ‘I’ and ‘me’ more than any other kind of writing on the web, did you know that? I though that blogs were just for self-important people who wanted to talk about themselves all the time. How boring! But, I thought I should give the blog a try to see for myself.
However, my time as teacher blogger has made me do a u-turn. Thanks to this blog, I have:
* learned all about life and culture in Pakistan and Vietnam
* made friends with people all around the world
* shared some tips on the English language
* chatted with people from all over the globe
* learned about food, travel, christenings, work and many other things from around the world.
It’s really been an education. And it’s another reminder never to judge a book by its cover.
I’ll be back on Tuesday to bid you farewell. Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekends!
protected — in this context, this means you can’t just go fishing or hunting in an area – there are certain rules you have to follow when you visit a national park.
commoners – people who don’t belong to a royal or noble family
graze – to put animals somewhere they eat grass
face to face – in person
cringe – feel embarrassed or ashamed
a loony – a mad person
a confession – a statement of truth which is difficult to make because people might be disappointed in you, or you are embarrassed
see the point of something – understand the advantages or benefits of something
self-important – describes people who like to be the centre of attention and talk about themselves
do a u-turn – go in the opposite direction
never judge a book by its cover – an idiom meaning you can’t tell the quality or characteristics of something or someone just by looking at it/them.
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