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Sunday, 29 July 2007

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.


Hello Jo!!! How nice that the weather in the UK is much better. Here in Brazil is getting colder and colder. Brrr! Fortunately today didn´t rain. Oh thanks Lord! :-) By the way, what beautiful photos! You and Richard have had a great time. Ah! Jo, thanks for the tips. Recentely I´ve done a FCE simulated test, and my weak points in this simulated were grammar and speaking. Well, I need to 'attack' this topics more effectively :-). One thing that I´ve never try to do is recording my voice. But I will try Jo. I´m planning a little visit to Santa Efigênia Street(the Sao Paolo street specialized in electronic devices) in order to buy a mp4 to record my voice. We must do everything we can to brush up our English, am I right? ;-) Well, I have an actor that I really admire who is James Stewart. He said 'as a matter of fact' in a way that sounds so beautiful for me... aaah... Ohhhh... Is already time to say good bye? Time flies indeed! Specially when we´re enjoying a such nice company! Moreover, I´m learning a lot from you. Well, see you on Tuesday to bid you farwell. Best wishes, Ana Paula.

What a fantastic, inviting landscape! Looking at the green grass alongside the little country road, I think I could almost feel the fresh air of the lovely countryside. Are most other places in Britain in such a lovely environment-friendly condition, if I may ask? If so, I would envy you very much, for it is severely polluted in many parts of China, especially in big cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing, the former being where I am working now, the latter being my home town, where I am planning to go back later. I do not mean it is extremely unclean and smelly here in my country. But I do think that China is paying too much attention to economic development nowadays, with too little emphasis on environmental protection, somewhat like western nations in the era of the Industrial Revolution. Now the developed countries are caring more and more about environmental issues while seemingly most developing countries are not. Maybe their financial capability is not strong enough to afford to do so. But why shouldn't we just slow down a little bit in our economic pursuit while giving higher priority to health and environment? Anyway, I really hope more practical work will be done to keep our Mother Earth from being damaged or polluted any more in the near future. What do you think about that, Jo?

Hi Jo!I would like to say that you are so sweet!It's been a great time with you.The best part is that we have found a lovely as well as a helping friend like you.Your tips and lessons have helped to learn English in a better way and they will.Happy (belated) Birthday to Richard!He must be the luckiest guy to have a loving person like you:).I have a website to share with you: will find hundereds of recipes with the vidoe.Since you are a vegan,there are vegetable erecipes too.I recommend you do check out the erecipe of Humus,you will like it I'm sure.With lots of love.Naheed

Thanks for your respond its very exciting for me and I glad so mush as you know the BBC is indexed as ban site I congratulate you .you would be very glad for working in BBC although there are a lot of criticism about Persian BBC but I think your work in learning department is unique and very useful especial for we that live in …. I toke part in Blog competition in late competition do you know when the conclusive result for current month is declared? It would be very exciting to Blog and simultaneously brush up my English skill by your help I very need to improve it maybe you don’t believe it but it is very vital for me to learn English, pray for me. but if you don’t consider it as rude I have some question in English yesterday I study a conversation I cant recognize what the difference between start off and start. Is it important to say: “please start off by telling me a bit about yourself “or say “please start by telling me a bit about yourself “I mean that verb like it with preposition really disappointed me. Thanks Excuse me Excuse me Excuse me (oops) I named my self “nameless” in previous comment.

Hi Jo, Convey my belated birthday wishes to your husband. It’s nice to know that you celebrated his birth day in a good way. Did he enjoy your carrot halwa? Your experience with wasabi was really interesting. We have come to an end. The last two months of learning English experience with you was wonderful. Surely I have learned something. What ever learned from you I must use it in my every day life? I very much inspired the way you use the idioms. It motivated me to learn new idioms and use it in appropriate context. I mentioned that you are a nature and pet lover. More than that I could notice you that you very much like and love your must be a good life partner for him. That is more important above everything. Your life should be a model for others. Not only teaching English but beyond that. We will be happy whatever we have; whether it will be knowledge or any other thing. We will satisfy if we share it. The last two months of sharing your expert knowledge with us was surely help us in many ways.we are relly proud or you. Cheerio

Hi,Jo.IT's the end nearly with us.I am so glad that you have a nice time as being a teacher blogger,for it's more difficult to be a blogger than to make a confession.To be honest, i am touched by your confession,which is so true and sweet and warm. Best wishes to you and keep in touch.

Hi Jo. I think it's the first time I write to you, I have been reading all your blogs since the beggining though. I wanna raise a question. I have seen "practise" and "practice". I asked a native speaker another day which is the correct. He said it was "practice" but you wrote "practise" in your blog. I'm confused, what can you say to me? Thanks for the tips. I like to chat with foreigners before I speak with them because I like to choose only who doesn't type like "4u"(for you) or "ne1(anyone)" "or "brb"(be right back) or "Y?"(why?). It may be quick to communicate but a bit confusing for us learners. Don't you think so? Well, your last blog will be tomorrow and I am already sad. I'll miss your lessons and your cute pets. You are a beautiful person inside and outside. Bye

Hello Jo, Thanks to BBC, attending these virtual classes is a real opportunity for us learners to improve and refresh our understanding of English. And a special thank to you to share your knowledge and experience with us in such a friendly way. On my turn, I have a confession to make too: I ENJOY living in this global village. It is a hi-tech way of breathing for some of us. Hope to see you again. Bye then.

Being an English teacher, I strongly agree with you, and believe that we actually learn a lot of things from our students. Ya, never judge a book by its cover. Also, wanna thank you for writing these wonderful blogs,from which i learn lot of English and more imporantly, lives in England. It's a bit sad to say goodbye, but anyway, wish you good luck. If you have any questions about China, feel free to tell me, anytime.

hi Jo, I don't like to bid "farewell"... I know that you will be our side when we need you... Am I right!. I have got many useful things from you Jo. I appriciate you a lot ... I find the idiom "never judge a book by its cover " very important. In Turkey there is a short feature written by Nasreddin Hoca, Who is a well-known sage. in brief; A banquet has been given by a wealthy man to the people who are notables of a village. hoca is invited the banquet as well. Hoca,as an invited guest, comes to the banquet in wearing poor-looking. nobody welcomes and cares him, he immediately rushes home and puts on his fur coat and return to the banquet house. when the owner of the house see HOCA "in wearing of striking appearance" as bowing, flattering; welcome hocam welcome, and they give him the first places. HOca sits at the banquet table, hold his fur and immerge in the bowl is full of delicious meal, by saying " eat my fur eat"..... it is a ironic isn't it!.... love sevinç

Hi, Jo. You had a lovely day! The New Forest seems like a tranquil sight! I wish I could go somewhere like there and ride a horse! Jo, the day has finally come! Time passes so quickly! It's been two months since I started reading your useful blogs. I've been enjoy reading your blogs and comments to me very much! Thanks to you, I've learned a lot from you! You've been very helpful! Scratchy, Raffles, Smokey, Panther and Socks, all of you are well done! Scratchy, you like playing a trick on the others but I know you're a busy bee cat! I hope you get a big game! Raffles, you're the only dog there but you have wonderful company! I hope you go on a trip to Japan someday! Let's play a game of Frisbee! Smokey, you like sleeping and food very much but why don't you go for a walk for your health? Oh, don't be grumpy! I hope you get the others' leftovers! Panther, you're extremely handsome I know. You're clever and popular among the others. I hope you're not found stealing some food from the food tub! Good luck! Socks, have you met the male cat recently? I hope you one day deal a knockout blow to him! Be brave and strong! At last, Richard, I remember that I found your comment here two month ago. It was kind of you to write it! I guess you've been more supportive of Jo since last month, havn't you? Jo, I've had a great time here! I'll miss you and your blogs here. I hope you find or build an ideal house somewhere nice place with Richard and the lovely pets in the near future! Thank you and good luck!

Hi,Jo... Im so glad with u... my english language its not very well... but im so happy because what you wrote... i can understand it word by word..., your language make me easy to understanding.... hopefully... we can chat together and u can teach me more english language... thank you so much...

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