Our Day Out
Hey up Satya and everyone!
(Thought I’d start this one with a Yorkshire greeting – Yorkshire is the county where I’m originally from in England, in the north east. Anyway, we often say “hey up” to greet people.)
How are you all doing? Hope you’re enjoying the weekend – I guess for some of you Sunday won’t have started yet, as it’s only mid-afternoon here (Owen is asleep again). Satya, I’m sorry your robot wasn’t as successful as you’d hoped, but I hope the rest of the conference is living up to your expectations. I’d love to hear more about your childhood experiences (especially stealing exam papers!) when you have a bit more time …
Well, as I promised, I’m going to tell you a bit about what we did on the public holiday last Monday, and I have a little quiz for you! Everyone in NSW* had the day off because it was Labour Day (the rest of Australia had to work! Ha ha!) We went on a trip to a wildlife park in the west of Sydney (about 45 mins drive from where we live), which is full of Australian animals and birds. It’s very hands-on; there are some enclosures where the animals are free to roam about, and you can buy food for them and feed them yourself. We spent the whole morning there and had a ball – Owen loved looking at all the animals (apart from when he found a gate and found that more interesting than anything else – he was opening and closing it for about half an hour before we decided we’d had enough and dragged him away!), especially the lizards and the owls. It was really hot, though, about 38° - normally in Sydney it’s quite nice at this time of year, around 22 or 23, but Monday was a scorcher! It’s cooled down again now, though, thank goodness – one thing I really find hard about living here is the heat!
*NSW = New South Wales, the state of which Sydney is the capital city.
So I thought I would show you some of the animals we saw there and see if you know what they are: I’ll start off with two really easy ones, and I’ll put the answers below.
1.This animal only eats Eucalyptus leaves and spends a lot of its time sleeping.
2. This animal is a marsupial – it has a pouch. It moves around by jumping (Owen says it goes: “boinga boinga”) and its baby is called a Joey.
3. This bird is related to the kingfisher family, and makes a noise that sounds like laughter.
4. This animal is covered in spines and has a long snout to sniff out food. (Extra points if you can identify the other creatures in the background!)
5. This animal is also a marsupial and is mainly nocturnal.
6. This animal was introduced to Australia from Asia by the Aborigines around 5,000 years ago.
So how did you do? Here are the answers, just in case you need them!
4. Echidna (and Chris and Owen!)
5. Wombat (these are my favourites!)
One great thing about Australia is the diversity of wildlife, and parks like this one are fantastic in being able to display this variety. I have actually seen five out of these six in the wild (no dingoes yet) and I have to say it gives me a real thrill – maybe in that sense I’m still a bit of a tourist; Chris does not get excited about seeing a kangaroo, whereas I do. I have to say, though, I’m not a fan of Aussie spiders – some of them are enormous, and Australia is home to the ten deadliest species of spider in the world. Not good for someone who is terrified at the thought of one!
Anyway, I’ll stop scaring myself (and maybe some of you – sorry!) and move on to happier things – like English!! Hurray!
Well done to all of you on the homework from Wednesday – I have indeed used the present tense to make the story more vivid and immediate! This is more common in spoken English (and especially in jokes), but can be used for effect in written English.
Thank you also for all your excellent suggestions on how to record vocabulary, and I’m really impressed that so many of you are so diligent about it. If anyone reading this is new, or hasn’t had chance to read the comments, here’s a quick summary from what everyone said:
• work out the meaning from the context
• write down the word as part of a sentence
• make a word tree (nouns, adjectives etc that can be made from the word)
• sort the words into themes
• use a computer dictionary that you can edit
• keep a notebook especially for new vocabulary
• make a mind map
• write each word on a card with pronunciation, meaning etc (Chris used to do this at University when he was learning Ancient Greek and found it really helpful. He used to keep them in a hat and play ”Hat Greek” to test himself.)
• make up some sentences using the word
• use the new vocab as much as you can
Great stuff! Seriously, I couldn’t have suggested anything better myself, so well done!
Satya, thanks for your last set of questions; I’ll attempt to answer them …
After sleeping for more than 10 hours, I woke* up now. I have decided to spend this day sleeping in my room. My friends had* gone to watch another Robotics event. So, I stayed all the day alone in my room.
I would use the present perfect for the first sentence because you’ve used the word “now” and the sentence is relating the past (being asleep) to the present (waking up):
After sleeping for more than 10 hours, I have woken up now.
And present perfect again for your other question: your friends went to a Robotics event with the result that you are alone now.
So, if we look at the whole paragraph, I think it would be better to say:
After sleeping for more than 10 hours, I have woken up now. I decided to spend this day sleeping in my room. My friends have gone to watch another Robotics event. So, I have stayed alone in my room all day.
This assumes that at the time you are writing:
• you woke up very recently
• you decided before you went to sleep that you would spend the day in your room
• your friends are not there – they’re at another event
• you haven’t seen your friends since you went to sleep
Does that make sense? I hope so! I also hope it’s what you meant (let me know if not and I’ll have another look).
Sometimes, when I stay alone, my thought process gets accelerated. I become more* philosophical.
That’s fine – no problem!
(I don't think you need "gets", though - just use "accelerates".)
One day, I wish I would be a writer*...
You’re right to pick up on this as a mistake; it’s quite a common problem in English. It would be better to say:
I wish I could be a writer
In English, we use wish + could or would rather than wish + can or will, so well done for getting that part right. However, there’s a difference in meaning between could and would in this case.
If we use wish + would, we are expressing annoyance or criticism of someone else, e.g.:
Owen, I wish you would stop playing with that gate!
Chris, I wish you would turn the cricket off – it’s really boring!
(Yes, these are real life examples – did you guess?!)
We can express a future hope like this:
I wish I could be a writer
I’d like to be a writer
I hope to be a writer
Wish + past simple is talking about the present:
I wish I was / were at the beach (but I’m not, I’m sitting at the computer)
I wish I had more time to write about this (but I don’t – Owen will be awake soon)I wish I could go back to England more often (but I can’t – it’s too far)
Wish + past perfect is talking about a past regret:
I wish I had started writing this post earlier (but I didn’t and now I have no time)
Satya wishes that the wire hadn’t burned (but it did and now the robot doesn’t work)
If you like, here are a couple of sentences to practise this. Before you answer, think about whether it’s the past, the present or the future, and whether you’re criticising someone. Fill in the gaps with an appropriate verb form.
1. I wish I …………eaten so much for lunch – I feel really sick now.
2. Owen, I wish you ………… stop putting your toys in the fridge.
3. I wish I ………… a faster internet connection – uploading this post will take ages!
4. I wish I …………be the BBC teacher blogger again next year.
If anyone is really keen for more practice, try writing a couple of sentences about yourself and post them as comments and I’ll have a look at them.
Phew! So much grammar! I think I’ll stop here before I put you off English completely!
Next time I write I’ll have a chat with all of you individually, so keep the comments coming!
Bye for now, possums*,
to live up to your expectations (expr)
to roam about (phr vb)
to have a ball (expr)
put you off (phr vb)
And a final thought … I wrote: Everyone in NSW had the day off
Is there a difference between have the day off and take the day off?
If so, what is it?
*A very famous Australian TV personality (Dame Edna Everage) says this at the end of her show.
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