Playgrounds, zoos and collocations..
3 pelicans ponder the meaning of 'culture' at London Zoo
Hi Taru. It looks like you all had a lot of fun on your course, but I can also see why you would be knackered after all that. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then the 2 small photos inset in your final photograph say it all! I like the idea of an indoor playground for adults. Did you have a go?
The playground reminds me of a fad back in the 90s for men’s crèches at shopping centres. The idea was for a specific relaxation area to be set up for men who were out bargain-hunting with their other halves. It had TVs showing sport, magazines, and other things supposed to keep them quiet while their partners went round the shops looking for that killer outfit. I’m not sure where the idea originated from, but it never really got off the ground in the UK…
I live quite near London Zoo (not in it, though). A few years ago I used to play football in Regent’s Park. The pitch was a stone’s throw from the zoo and we could sometimes hear lions roaring in the background as we played – they weren’t watching, of course, probably just hungry. If we kicked the ball over the fence, one of us would have to climb over and retrieve it, being careful not to get bitten. (actually I made that last bit up, but we really could hear them...).
The last time I went to the zoo was about a year ago. I have mixed feelings about zoos. I know that they do lots of good work in terms of conservation and education, but it gets me down a bit seeing some of the animals in their confined spaces and thinking of how different it is to their natural habitat. Having said that, I think some zoos are better than others, and London Zoo seems to take care of its animals well. It’s been open since 1828, so they’ve had plenty of time to develop it in the right way.
Some informal words and expressions this time, most commonly found in spoken English and less formal writing.
Knackered - Exhausted
fad - a trend or fashion for something which does not last for a long time
bargain-hunting - Searching the shops for products which are good value for money
other half - partner/wife/husband etc.
killer - Excellent/in-demand
get off the ground - to become successful or establish itself (usually of a business or project of some sort)
a stone's throw - close (in distance)
get sby down - to make somebody feel depressed/sad
Now, time for some language.
Well done everyone who correctly identified that the problem with the sentences from Taru’s blog was prepositions. Choosing the correct preposition is something which always gives students problems, so don’t worry Taru – you’re not alone!
The correct answers were:
1. The studies consist of 210 units and they are divided into seven parts.
2. We have a small group and we arrange free time activities for the students.
3. We left campus and walked through the city and arrived at the harbour of the Kemijoki River.
4. He laughed at it.
I would love to be able to say that there are some very simple rules which help us to decide which preposition to use but sadly, there aren’t any such rules. So how can you improve your use of prepositions in English?
1) Read a lot.
2) Try to become aware of which prepositions cause you most difficulty (for example, prepositions of place) and find some practice exercises on them.
3) If you are noting down a word or phrase which is often used with a particular preposition (often called a ‘dependent preposition’), make sure you record both the word and its preposition. For example ‘have an influence ON’, ‘accuse OF’, ‘satisfied WITH’ etc.
4) Remember certain fixed prepositional phrases like ‘at home’ ‘at school’ ‘in bed’ etc.
The following website has a useful page on prepositions.
Capital Community College Foundation - prepositions
Taru, for your post from yesterday, I’d like to focus on collocations.
I’m sure many of you will be aware of the importance of collocation for English learners. It’s really important to familiarise yourself with combinations of words, and there are many different types of collocation. For example:
Adjective + noun: a warm smile (not a hot smile)
Adverb + verb: vaguely remember (not weakly remember)
Verb + noun: commit murder (not do murder)
These are just a few examples. The point is that the words in the collocation are often found together in English. There is no grammatical reason for this so there are no rules to learn. A bit like prepositions, you need to read a lot, expose yourself to as much English as you can, and when recording vocabulary you should make sure you write down collocations whenever you can. Using a decent concordance programme can help you learn collocations. (for more on how to use concordance programmes see Rachel’s entry below)
LE Teacher blog - concordance
In your blog post, you wrote the following:
it has made a research
it will be really far-reaching view
I would like to tell my best regards
raised our experience
In these examples, the problem is collocation. I’ve given you some correct alternatives below:
It has done/conducted/carried out research
It will have a panoramic/good/great view
I would like to give/send my best regards
Increased/enhanced/deepened our experience
You’ve used prepositions very well in this post, Taru. Well done!
Here's a quick test for everyone - if you have read my first welcome blog post, without scrolling down to look at it, how many of the 14 words and expressions in bold can you remember??
A big thank you to everyone for your comments. In my next post I’ll return to the subject of culture and reply to your comments. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.