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June 2006

Sunday, 04 June 2006

From BBC Learning English

The teacher blog will begin on June 16. We will be announcing the teacher very soon. Don't forget, if you would like to be a student blogger for a month on this site then enter our blogging competition. Full details can be found by clicking on the link on the right hand part of this page.

Monday, 19 June 2006

From BBC Learning English

Today we invite you to help welcome our new teacher blogger, Rachel Wicaksono. Rachel is a teacher at the Centre for International Studies, York St. John University College.

Rachel will tell you more about herself in her first blog later today.


I'm looking forward to taking part in the BBC Learning English Blog. It's the first time I've done anything like I hope you'll let me know what you think of my posts!

I've been working at York St John University College for two and a half years. I teach two kinds of students; pre-undergraduates and postgraduates. The students are from all over the world and (usually!) enjoy living in York; a beautiful and historic city. My students do, however, sometimes complain about English food and English weather! They especially don't like cereal for breakfast (boring and not filling enough) and the rain.

Before coming to York, I taught English, trained English teachers and inspected training courses in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. I'm happy to be back in England, where I was born and where (most of) my family lives, but it sometimes still feels a bit strange after living overseas for so long.

I know nothing about football, unlike Nader, our previous blogger. Despite this, I am enjoying watching lots of World Cup matches and shouting suggestions to the players on TV. England play again tomorrow and everyone is talking about Wayne Rooney. Will the Wednesday news headlines be 'England Roo-ind' (if Wayne hurts his foot again) or 'Roo-ner-up' (if Sweden wins the game), or 'Roo-thless' (if Wayne scores goals). I'll let you know!


Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Ciao Antonio!

Nice to hear from you Antonio! I enjoyed reading your post and hope that my comments are useful.

Your description of London rain as being 'soft' is beautiful; very poetic! It's just after midnight now and it's raining in York; it's not heavy rain, just a light drizzle. It's quiet outside (most people are probably asleep!) and the rain does sound soft. My Indonesian students had a direct translation for 'drizzle' but translated 'heavy rain' as 'hard rain'. Do you use 'heavy' to describe a lot of rain in Italian? When it's raining heavily, it's common to hear English people saying 'it's pouring down', 'it's bucketing down', or even, 'it's raining cats and dogs', though maybe the last one is a bit old-fashioned now.........

I'm not surprised to hear that your Italian friends don't like foreign food. It must be hard to find tastier food than Italian. I wonder what the favourite food of anyone reading this is??? My daughter's favourite food (she's nine years old) is lasagne. Though I wonder if the lasagne we eat in York is similar in anyway to yours in Turin or Sant'Arsenio! My son's favourite food (he's eleven) is chicken satay - a kind of kebab with peanut sauce. It's very popular in Indonesia but is also sold by the supermarket nearest to my house!

You use the phrase 'are used to complain' when you talk about how Italians don't like English food. 'Used to complain' means that they often complained in the past but stopped complaining and now they don't complain. I think you mean 'always complain' or 'usually complain' meaning that they complained in the past and STILL complain now, in the present.

Where did you go when you visited London? Was there anything you saw that you particularly liked, or disliked? I'm afraid I've never been to Italy. Most of my travelling has been in Asia, not Europe. Now that I'm back in the UK, I must make sure that I take my holidays in Europe! You use the word 'holyday' to describe your trip to London. I think that 'holyday' is an older spelling of the word 'holiday', when a day off was usually to celebrate a religious festival.

Your course in cinema and media engineering sounds fascinating. I'm glad to see that one of the comments on your posting is a comment/question on films! Is your interest in films one reason for learning English? Is it possible to learn English through watching films?

The rain has stopped now. I'll quickly check the reaction to the 2-2 draw with Sweden on the BBC Sport website and then shut the computer down.

I look forward to hearing from you again tomorrow!



the wolf's mouth

Thanks, Antonio, for the translation of 'good luck'; in bocca al lupo, 'in the wolf's mouth' ! The England team will need plenty of good luck from now on....

You mentioned learning the word 'lob', meaning 'long throw or kick', from reading BBC news reports. You already have a very wide vocabulary, but when you meet new words in an English language text, what is your usual strategy? Do you look words up in a dictionary? Do you prefer to guess the meaning of new words? How do you decide which new words to look up? I'd be interested to hear what strategies you use to increase your vocabulary.

Your description of London's special atmosphere is lovely! My Dad was born and brought up in London and today left York to attend his secondary school reunion. He is 71 and will drive very slowly, taking 5 or 6 hours to get there. He is interested in finding out more about his family history (quite a popular hobby here) and, as well as going to his school reunion, plans to visit the village where his great-grandfather lived. How much do you know about your family history? Is it something your Mum talks about?

A few language tips based on your last posting... You list the places you visited in London, introducing the list with 'some of them were...' Instead you could try 'they included:...', a useful phrase for listing some members of a group you are describing.

When you agree with Cindy's opinion of the lighting in Kubrick's film, instead of 'what you said is the truth', you could try, 'you're absolutely right' or (more informal), 'you're absolutely spot on'. A very small point - 'he lit the film...' sounds better than 'he lighted the film'. Finally, try, 'I really like...' instead of 'I like very much...'. Your English is already excellent, so these are only small suggestions!

I looked at the headlines on the sports pages of today's newspapers. None of my predictions for headlines using 'Rooney' were correct! However, you correctly predicted my favourite headline Antonio, which combines Joe Cole with Cologne where the match was played.......'Joe de Cologne'! Another newspaper had 'Woe de Cologne' to show their sadness at Owen's injury, I guess. One newspaper had the simple (but effective??!!) 'Time roar, it's Ecuador!' I must remember to say in bocca al lupo for England on Sunday....

I look forward to hearing more from you!


P.S. It's fine to call me Rachel, not Ms Wicaksono.

Thursday, 22 June 2006


Just a short post this evening....

You may have seen this webpage already Antonio; it's part of the excellent BBC Learning English website. I think you'll enjoy it, as it combines talking about films with football!

Go to the Learning English homepage, look at the list of pages on the left hand side and click 'watch and listen'. Then, click on 'entertainment', then, again on the left hand side, click on the link called 'Offside'.

On this webpage there is a short radio programme that reviews the Iranian film called......Offside. You can listen to the programme and download the programme script. The webpage also highlights some useful phrases for talking about films. It's 'right up your street' (perfect for you) I think!

Hope you've had a good day.


Saturday, 24 June 2006


Good evening!

I agree with what your comment on surprises in sports events, Antonio. Great fun when they happen to the other team! Although maybe England will need a few surprises to stay in the competition.....

It's interesting to hear what you say about bilingual dictionaries; that they don't help your reading. Naheed, in a comment on your post, agrees with you. Maybe, as you suggest, monolingual dictionaries are useful for beginner-level students, but post-beginners benefit more from an English-English dictionary. I've noticed though, that many of my students at York St John University College now have electronic dictionaries that are both bilingual and English-English!

What a great idea to memorise bits of film dialogue. Be careful what kind of films you watch :)) Instead of saying, 'seeing a film I adore to memorise dialogues...', you could try, 'when I see/watch a film, I adore memorising dialogue...'. That 'When I .... I ...' is a useful phrase. 'Adore' is one of those verbs that is followed by verb-ing, not to-verb.

You mention the phrasal verb 'drop out' from the film Eyes Wide Shut. Another useful phrasal verb is 'look up', to talk about checking words in your dictionary. For example, 'I looked up every new word in my dictionary'. Or you can split the verb and the particle, 'I looked every new word up...'. When did you start reading novels in English? Do you do it to learn more words/phrases or just for enjoyment? Maybe both! Is reading English language novels something you can recommend to other learners??

One final language suggestion, 'aren't been meeting for so many time' should be 'haven't met for so long'. 'For so long' is another useful phrase; subject + verb + for so long. The opposite of 'so long' (a long time) is 'not very long' (a short time). Compare, 'they have known each other for so long' with 'they haven't known each other for very long'.

My dad is driving back from London, and his secondary school reunion, on Sunday afternoon. I expect the roads will be completely empty from midday onwards, when everyone (except my dad) is at home in front of the TV watching England play Ecuador. Please say 'in bocca al lupo' for England.

I'll be back here on Monday evening. My nine year old daughter has seen me doing this blog at home and now wants one of her own! We found and set a blog up for her. It was easy and free of charge. She wrote about her likes and dislikes, but I had to ask her to delete the part about who she doesn't like at school before she published it! Do you think I was right or wrong to force her to change her blog?

Have a good weekend. See you on Monday!


Monday, 26 June 2006

Quarter finals

I like your photo Antonio - great costume. Anna must be happy to be graduating on Thursday. Will she look for a job, or does she want to carry on with her studies?

You mentioned the annual medieval event in Teggano. Is it a play? Do you have lines to learn? Is it a series of plays? York puts on medieval 'mystery' plays every four years (the next performances are in November this year). 'Mystery' meant 'trade' or 'craft' in medieval English; different groups of workers performed plays on a variety of religious themes. It would be nice if Teggano and York had this religious/dramatic history in common!

Your excellent English makes my job very difficult!!!!! I read your post, didn't know what suggestions to make, so went downstairs to watch Ukraine play Switzerland......couldn't find the remote control for the TV.....finally found it under a chair......watched some of the match....made a cup of tea and a slice of toast......still no goals......watched the penalties and came back to the blog.

So, some very small suggestions.... Anna will graduate on Thursday, rather than 'will be graduated' and fascinating costume not costumes (this one was probably a typo). You may not want to sound overexcited, but instead of saying you are 'happy' to see Anna graduate, you could say thrilled, overjoyed or even, over the moon!

So, both England and Italy through to the quarter-finals. The newspaper headlines today focussed on David Beckham vomiting on the pitch after scoring: 'Queasy does it, Becks', 'Here we throw' and 'The spewtiful game'. Oh dear.

My daughter, Clara, says she wasn't angry at me for suggesting she censor her post before she published it. This is a difficult subject I know, but isn't it better for her to say what she thinks to the person concerned, or say nothing at all??? Also, how about this traditional Yorkshire saying, 'if in doubt, say nowt (nothing)'???? Anyway, Clara and her older brother, pretty much already do what they think is right. My input is already minimal and mainly restricted to 'have you cleaned your teeth?' and 'where's the remote???'

Hope you have a good day tomorrow and I look forward to hearing from you again.


Tuesday, 27 June 2006


I agree that listening to someone that you can't see often needs a lot more concentration. Gestures and facial expressions give us so many useful clues about meaning. Listening to the radio as a way of preparing for a listening skills test, good idea!

Listening to BBC radio shows like Chris Moyles's is also a great way of keeping up-to-date with changes in English. My son's favourite shout at a good football player on TV is 'skillage!', meaning (I guess) 'highly skilled'. Lets hope there is are opportunities to shout 'skillage!' at the TV on Saturday.........

A few language points. Firstly, when you talk about a listening exercise, or any kind of exercise done in the classroom to practise your English, the verb you need is 'do', 'do/did my first listening exercise...'. Secondly, instead of saying 'I had to listen to some radio programmes', which means you had no choice, you could say '...should listen...', which means that you do have a choice. Finally, when talking about a show (drama, dance etc.), instead of saying the 'show is made in Tegganio's main square...' try the 'show is performed...' or the 'show is put on in...'

This evening we went to see a modern dance show performed by the Phoenix Dance Theatre Company at the Theatre Royal in York. There was loud music, sudden silence, flashing lights, smoke and a dancer on stilts (tall, artificial legs). My son said that it was 'weird', 'random' and 'cool'. I think this means that he enjoyed it.

See you tomorrow (and in York in November if you have finished your exams)!

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Exit Poll

Wow 40° C. That's hot! Today in York the temperature was 12° C in the early morning and 22° C in the warmest part of the afternoon. It rained again....of course. I went downstairs this morning to make breakfast, felt cooler than usual and realised that I had left the back door wide open all night....

I feel a bit sorry for Graham Poll; how embarrasing to make such a terrible mistake in front of so many people (30 million??).

Good luck with the preparation for your trip tomorrow Antonio. Some 'travel' language for you... Instead of saying 'I'm going to prepare my luggage' you could say, 'I'm going to start packing'. Or, 'I'm going to pack (my bag/suitcase)'. You say that you are 'setting off' from Sant'Arsenio in the morning, this sounds good and is less formal than 'departing'. 'Come back in Turin' would be better as, 'go back to Turin', or (more formal) 'return to Turin'. '10 hours to arrive there' would be better as, '10 hours to get there', or 'arriving after 10 hours'.

Have a good trip. I look forward to reading your travel diary!


Thursday, 29 June 2006


I'm glad to hear that you have survived your long journey Antonio! I hope you get some sleep tonight and feel better by tomorrow.

You definitely don't need a camera! Your description of the dawn light on the sea at Salerno provides as clear a picture as any photo.

A little more on 'travel' language... 'Travel' is often used as a verb, 'I travelled from Sant'Arsenio to Turin'. It can also be used as an uncountable noun to mean 'travelling' or the general activity of moving from place to place, for example in the saying 'travel broadens the mind'. This example is a 'fixed' bit of language; if any of the words are changed the saying sounds wrong (except to say the opposite: 'travel narrows the mind'). Another example is,'he returned home to Sant'Arseno after years of foriegn travel.'

In contrast, 'travels', the plural noun, means moving from place to place over a period of time, 'did you visit Jakarta during your travels in South-East Asia?'.

A 'journey', on the other hand, is the time spent and distance covered in going from one place to another. I think this is the word you need in your sentence, 'They've all finished their journey (not 'travel') now'.

A 'voyage' means the same as 'journey', but by sea. And finally, a 'trip' is (usually) a short journey, or one where you will spend a very short time in the other place. For example, 'we're going on a weekend trip to France next month'.

There are lots of fixed phrases in English on the topic of travel. When someone is soon leaving on a journey, you can say 'have a good trip!', 'have a safe journey!' or 'bon voyage!'. When school children go on educational visits with their teacher and classmates this is called a 'school trip'. Clara, my daughter, is going on a school trip tomorrow and has carefully selected her packed lunch: a prawn sandwich, a piece of cheese, a bag of potato crisps, a cereal bar, a small bag of jelly sweets and a bottle of water.

I hope you've recovered from your long journey by the time you read this!


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