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July 2006

Saturday, 01 July 2006

Lost in translation

RACHEL FROM ENGLAND WAS THE TEACHER BLOGGER IN JULY

Congratulations! Italy is through to the semi-finals and with (I think) a 'clean sheet' (none of the teams Italy had played has scored a goal). 'In bocca al lupo' tomorrow for England, but I'm not sure which way the result will go........... My mum, dad and sister will watch the match at my house tomorrow. We'll concentrate on shouting at the TV during the first match and then eat beef curry and rice while we watch Brazil v. France.

I agree with you on subtitles; I much prefer them to dubbing. You describe the problem the translators had with 'The Godfather' as 'funny'. This is a very useful word in English as it can mean lots of different things, depending on the context in which it is used. The most obvious meaning is 'causing laughter', for example, a funny joke is one that makes you laugh. But 'funny' can also mean 'strange, unexpected or difficult to explain'. An example of this meaning is, 'he's a funny person, I don't understand why he behaves like that...'. There are also two informal uses of 'funny'. One of these uses is, 'not correct, dishonest or involving cheating'. An example is, 'don't try anything funny with me' meaning 'don't try to trick or cheat me'. The second of these informal uses is, 'not feeling well', for example, 'too much coffee makes me feel funny'.

A problem, like the one the translators of 'The Godfather' had, could be described as a 'tricky problem', 'a serious problem', or, as you do, a 'funny problem', meaning 'strange'; the second meaning in the list of four above.

Clara enjoyed her school trip, thank you! Her class visited a warship from 1817, now converted into a museum, in a town on the north-east coast of England, about two hours drive from York. You mentioned 'voyage', meaning a 'journey by sea'. Yes, it came from French into English in the thirteenth century. It is pronounced in English with a strong stress on the first syllable, except in the fixed phrase 'bon voyage', when the stress is on the second syllable.

Thanks for the photo!

See you on Monday...

Monday, 03 July 2006

Absolutely gobsmacked?

We watched England's match on Saturday feeling more afraid than excited. Poor play by England, Beckham injured, Rooney losing his temper and getting a red card, losing on penalties. Was any of this surprising???

Rooney said that he was 'gobsmacked' to get a red card. 'Gobsmacked' is an adjective that means very, very, very suprised. Other similar words are: 'astounded', 'stunned' or 'utterly astonished'. 'Gobsmacked' is very informal English (slang) and is usually spoken, not written. It's been used only for about twenty years and is mainly heard in the north of England. 'Gob' means 'mouth' and is about four hundred years old, and also from Scotland and the north of England.

There is a picture of Rooney's reaction to the red card on the BBC Sport/World Cup website. I think he doesn't look gobsmacked at all, just disappointed and slightly annoyed (at himself?):

BBC Sport World Cup Rooney's red card

It's interesting to hear what you think about Italians using occasional English words mixed in with Italian, Antonio. I'm sure you are correct to think that people who do this hope to sound more interesting or professional.

You say that mixing Italian and English is 'very ridiculous' and you 'absolutely don't like it. 'Ridiculous' is an adjective like 'astounded', astonished' and 'gobsmacked' and different from an adjective like 'suprised'. You can be more or less surprised, like you can be more or less 'old' or 'hot' and these words can by modified with 'very': very suprised, very old, very hot. These adjectives are known as 'gradable' adjectives.

In contrast, 'ridiculous', 'astonished', astounded, ancient (very old) and boiling (very hot) are not gradable. They are all examples of extreme adjectives; they already mean 'very........'. To modify extreme adjectives, you need 'absolutely', 'utterly', 'extremely' etc.
Unfortunately, some of these are fixed phrases, so 'extremely ancient' sounds OK, but 'utterly ancient' sounds wrong. A good dictionary will show which combinations of adjective and modifier are OK.

Some verbs are 'gradable' too. Instead of saying 'I absolutely don't like it...', try 'I really don't like it...' Other gradable verbs include: dislike, enjoy, want, annoy and 'I really (don't) verb' can also be used with these.

Still on the topic of mixing English and Italian, don't you think that we all use language to (try to) identify with certain groups? My son has some slang that he shares with his group of friends; their use of this slang is a way of belonging to a group and keeping out other groups (like parents for example!). At the college where I work, there is a way of speaking that identifies the speaker with academia and/or as a member of many committees (and therefore important!). I'm sure journalists and film makers have their own way of speaking too...........

Best of luck tomorrow! I hope you really enjoy the match!

Rachel

Tuesday, 04 July 2006

Best match of the tournament!

I'm watching the Italy versus Germany semi-final on the BBC Sport website. There are just five minutes to go before the end of extra time...and still the score is 0 - 0. The English commentators are saying 'wonderful', 'engrossing', 'classic football' etc.

You mention the 'kick-off', (the beginning of the match), Antonio. I think you need a verb here, after 'will'...'the match will kick off in five minutes...'. The verb is just 'kick off' (without the hyphen joining the two parts of the noun). My dictionary spells the noun as a single word 'kickoff', but I notice the BBC Sport website uses the same spelling as you, 'kick-off'. Other compund words on the website with 'kick' are 'free-kick' and 'goal-kick'. In fact, hyphens are becoming less used in English and for most compound nouns, except very common ones like 'bathroom', it's OK to separate the words, as in 'kick off'. it's an area of confusion for English people though!

Wow!!!!!!!!!!! Italy have scored twice in the last two minutes! Amazing! I have just listened to a bit of the post-match discussion on the TV and the commentators are saying that this was the best match of the whole tournament.

Congratulations! It MUST be possible for Italy to win the World Cup now..............

At the end of your post you talk about having dinner at half time, so that you don't 'lose an important action'. You could use the phrase,' miss out on the action' or 'miss out on any of the action'...'I don't want to miss out on any of the action'.
Well......I look forward to hearing your reaction to the best match of the tournament tomorrow!

Rachel

Wednesday, 05 July 2006

Past perfect

Congratulations on reaching the World Cup final! It's great to hear about the atmosphere in Turin. It sounds like everyone was pretty pleased!

You mention that you forgot to eat during half-time and only remembered when you woke up this morning! You say, 'I realised that I wasn't been eating anything for more than 20 hours...', describing something that happened in the past (not eating) BEFORE another thing in the past (realising). When describing two things that happen in the past, one before the other, you can use the 'past perfect' verb form for the earlier action. For example, 'I realised I hadn't eaten anything...' (had + third form of the verb/past participle). The past perfect is common in English after past verbs of saying or thinking, for example:

- I thought I had seen the film before
- He told me that the exam had finished
- I wondered who had forgotten to tell her

In these examples, we are describing things which happen BEFORE the thinking or saying takes place.


My sister manages a theatre in York and says that people who work in theatre are often very superstitious. Some things that theatre people believe may bring bad luck are: peacock feathers, whistling, blue-coloured clothes, dropping make-up on the floor, knitting, fresh flowers, candles and cats (!) on stage. Another dangerous thing to do is to wish an actor 'good luck'. So instead of saying 'good luck with your exam tomorrow', I'll say the theatrical alternative, 'break a leg!'.

Rachel

Friday, 07 July 2006

Shakespeare

Congratulations on passing your exam Antonio! It must be a very nice feeling to have your summer holidays and a World Cup final to look forward to.

Thanks for your picture of the Globe theatre in London. How wonderful to see Macbeth performed there.

My son (age 11) is preparing to put on Macbeth with his class at school next week. The play has been abridged (shortened) but the language is still the original Elizabethan English. My son is both a soldier and a narrator and for a number of weeks now has been muttering his lines: 'the soldiers advance and, with swords and axes, cripple the trees, leaving white wounds like dead men's faces.'

Saying the word 'Macbeth' is another thing that is considered unlucky in English theatre. Instead, superstitious theatre people say 'the Scottish play' and refer to Lady Macbeth as 'Lady M'. It's interesting to hear that Italian theatres are superstitious places too!

One very small suggestion, before I try and answer your question about the use of the past perfect continuous/progressive. You say that you '...hadn't seen a Shakespeare's work in a live performance before...'. 'Shakespeare' (noun) is made into a adjective by adding the ending '-ean' (minus the 'e') to make 'Shakespearean'. This 'ean' ending can be added to other names to mean 'of or like the person'. My dictionary gives 'Mozartean' as an example, meaning music that was either composed by Mozart or sounds like music by him. However, more natural sounding than 'a Shakespearean work' or ' a work by Shakespeare', is to say simply, 'I hadn't seen Shakespeare performed live before...'. We can use a famous person's name in this way to mean 'their work'. 'I like Mozart', for example, means that you like the work, not the man!!
On to your question about the past perfect continuous (you will have seen that some grammar books use 'progressive' instead of 'continuous').... In general, the difference between the continuous and simple aspects are:

continuous = used to talk about a repeated or temporary or continuous/extended action. Also, actions that continued up to a moment in the past we are thinking about, or until shortly before.

simple = used to talk about a single or permanent or completed action.

(NB: some verbs are not normally used in the continuous, for example 'know'.)

The difference in meaning between a past perfect continuous verb and one in the past perfect simple is often very small. Both forms are often possible in the same situation, with only a slight difference in emphasis.

'This morning I realised I hadn't eaten for 20 hours' (simple)...the meaning of 'hadn't eaten' is 'no food for 20 hours'; this is a 'single action/event of NO EATING'

'This morning I realised I hadn't been eating for 20 hours' (continuous) sounds like it means that you THOUGHT you HAD been eating for 20 hours (non-stop/ repeatedly) but when you woke up, you relealised you HADN'T. Perhaps you just dreamed about eating non-stop! The important thing here is that the use of the continuous aspect suggests repetition of the action, which is unlikely in this situation where there is simply NO EATING.


My goodness! I will check with my colleagues at work tomorrow to see whether they have anything to add to this explanation and let you know!

How does the way the simple and continuous aspects work in English compare to Italian?

Finally, another thing my sister told me about theatre language is that, in the past, the people who worked backstage were often out-of-work sailors. The sailors' skills with ropes (learnt on their ships) were very useful to help 'fly' scenery and actors on to the stage. As a result of this connection between ships and theatre, many of the words used today to describe backstage equipment and tasks are nautical - from the sea. Examples are the technical staff of a theatre (the crew), the stage (deck) and the ropes (rigging). There are lots more!

Hope you have another good day tomorrow. See you then.

Rachel






Run up to the Final?

Hi Antonio! I guess you're on your way back to Sant'Arsenio now. I hope you have a good trip. Let us know what Sant'Arsenio is like on the run up to the World Cup Final on Sunday!!!

Tomorrow, I'm going to post a summary of the language points so far.

See you later!

Rachel

Sunday, 09 July 2006

Summary

I hope you have a good day tomorrow Antonio. How will you pass the time before the match starts???

Your three-hour train delay sounds frustrating. Is it worth complaining to Ferrovie dello Stato? Are they likely to apologise? Could you get a refund on your ticket?

I went to Harrogate today, a market town about half an hour by train from York, to do some IELTS speaking tests. My mum looked after the children, and took them to the park to play football and cricket with some of their school friends. When I got home we watched ‘Dr Who’; a BBC TV science fiction drama series and our favourite TV programme at the moment. Unfortunately, it was the last episode in this series and we have to wait until Christmas for the next episode….

BBCTV Dr Who: Final Episode - Doomsday

I’ve got a couple of language points to make and then will list some of the points made in earlier posts this week. I don’t know whether it will be a useful reminder for any readers or not, we’ll see!

Going back to Ferrione dello Stato… you say that the delay was unacceptable, and that the company should be ashamed of their service. Instead of, ‘That’s simply ashamed!’, you could say, ‘They (FDS) should be ashamed!’. ‘Shame’ (uncountable noun) is a strong word that means feeling very, very bad because of immoral behaviour, inability or failure. You can tell FDS that they should feel bad by saying ‘Shame on you FDS!’. You can also use ‘shame’ as a verb, following it with an object and either ‘into’ or ‘out of’; for example, ‘We tried to shame FDS into refunding Antonio’s ticket’.

Now, ‘ashamed’ (adjective) means feeling shame or guilt, or feeling stupid and uncomfortable about something you have done. ‘Ashamed’ can be followed by ‘of’, ‘that’ or ‘to + verb’ (for example, ‘FDS should be ashamed of their customer service’).


OK….I think we’ve said enough about FDS now!!

One more small point, ‘we all look forward to the World Cup Final’, would be better expressed as, ‘we are all looking forward…’ Using the continuous aspect, not the simple, makes it clear that ‘look forward’ is a temporary action. Tomorrow the time for ‘looking forward’ will be over!!

Now I’ll list some of the other language points that have came up in the blog this week.

Simple and continuous aspect

In general, the differences between the continuous and simple aspects are:

continuous = used to talk about a repeated or temporary or continuous/extended action. Also, actions that continued up to a moment in the past we are thinking about, or until shortly before.

simple = used to talk about a single or permanent or completed action.

(NB: some verbs are not normally used in the continuous, for example 'know'.)

The difference in meaning between a past perfect continuous verb and one in the past perfect simple is often very small. Both forms are often possible in the same situation, with only a slight difference in emphasis.


Past perfect verb forms

When describing two things that happen in the past, one before the other, you can use the 'past perfect' verb form for the earlier action. For example, 'I realised I hadn't eaten anything...' (had + third form of the verb/past participle). The past perfect is common in English after past verbs of saying or thinking, for example:

- I thought I had seen the film before
- He told me that the exam had finished
- I wondered who had forgotten to tell her


In these examples, we are describing things which happen BEFORE the thinking or saying takes place.


Vocabulary – compound nouns

The verb is just 'kick off' (without the hyphen joining the two parts of the noun). My dictionary spells the noun as a single word 'kickoff', but I notice the BBC Sport website uses the same spelling as you, 'kick-off'. Other compound nouns on the website with 'kick' are 'free-kick' and 'goal-kick'. In fact, hyphens are becoming less used in English and for most compound nouns, except very common ones like 'bathroom', it's OK to separate the words, as in 'kick off'. It's an area of confusion for English people though!


Vocabulary – gradable and extreme adjectives

'Ridiculous' is an adjective like 'astounded', astonished' and is different from an adjective like 'surprised'. You can be more or less surprised, like you can be more or less 'old' or 'hot' and these words can be modified with 'very': very surprised, very old, very hot. These adjectives are known as 'gradable' adjectives.


In contrast, 'ridiculous', 'astonished', astounded, ancient (very old) and boiling (very hot) are not gradable. They are all examples of extreme adjectives; they already mean 'very........'. To modify extreme adjectives, you need 'absolutely', 'utterly', 'extremely' etc. Unfortunately, some of these are fixed phrases, so 'extremely ancient' sounds OK, but 'utterly ancient' sounds wrong. A good dictionary will show which combinations of adjective and modifier are OK.


Some verbs are 'gradable' too. Instead of saying 'I absolutely don't like it...', try 'I really don't like it...' Other gradable verbs include: dislike, enjoy, want, annoy and 'I really (don't) verb' can also be used with these.


If you have read this far, then it is probably time for the World Cup Final kick-off!! I look forward to reading your reaction to the match on Monday….

Rachel

Monday, 10 July 2006

Congratulations!

Congratulations! The party sounds fantastic! Is it still going on, or have things calmed down a little by now? Did anyone go into work on time this morning in Italy??!!

You say that the party went on (or 'lasted') 'all night'; this is a useful little phrase for an activity that takes place over a period of time - 'all morning', 'all afternoon', 'all weekend', 'all week', 'all year' etc. I wonder if the Italian World Cup party will last all week??!

You correctly use the present perfect form of the verb 'see', to describe the size of the World Cup party, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'. When 'ever' is used with a present perfect verb form, it means 'at any time in the past, up to now'.

I think you need another present perfect verb in this sentence, 'It is the first time I can see Italy wins...'. As above, if you want to say 'any time in the past, up to now', try, 'It is the first time I have (I've) seen Italy win...'

To go back to the first example of the present perfect, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'.... 'ever' is MOSTLY used in questions, for example, 'do you ever go to the theatre?', meaning AT ANY TIME. Also, 'have you ever been to Italy?', meaning AT ANY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Your example, however, shows that 'ever' can also be used in affirmative statements after a superlative adjective, 'the BIGGEST party I've ever seen.' You can also use 'ever' after 'only', for example, 'he's the only man I've ever loved.' There are a few other times when 'ever' can be used in affirmative or negative statements (e.g. 'I've never, ever liked him'), but as I have said, it is mostly found in affirmative statements.

On the other hand, 'ever' is not normally used to mean 'always', so 'I've ever liked him', is wrong. 'I've always liked him', is the correct form and means AT EVERY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Similarly, 'fair play should ever win in a competition', should be, 'fair play should ALWAYS win...'.

The IELTS speaking test is similar to FCE, except there is only one examiner in the room. All the tests are recorded, so if I'm not sure what score to give, I listen to the tape again. I enjoy doing it because of the challenge of asking questions, deciding on a mark and trying to look like a friendly person, all at the same time!

Congratulations again Antonio and enjoy the rest of the party!

Rachel






Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Information structure

So you were listening to music yesterday Antonio... I thought perhaps you were still celebrating Italy's win!!

You mention the song 'Harrowdown Hill' by Thom Yorke (the lead singer of the band Radiohead) in your post. Is it clear where the title comes from? What does the lyric about 'the ministry' mean?

Do you look for new albums in music shops or do you read reviews online and download your new music? Do you have a favourite music website?

You talk about Radiohead's tour this summer and say that their, 'songs are presenting to the public...' The word order in this part of the sentence needs to be changed to, 'their songs are being presented to the public.' This is a passive structure; the direct object (songs) becomes the subject of the passive verb (are being presented: are being + part participle/third form). You could use the active voice here, 'Radiohead are presenting their songs to the public': subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object. However, you have organised the information in this way (making 'songs' the subject of the sentence) to avoid repeating the name of the band, Radiohead, and to emphasise that THE PUBLIC are able to hear Radiohead's new songs, even though the lead singer has also made a solo album.

The way we organise information in a sentence, or part of a sentence, depends on what we have said/written before, or on what the listener/reader already knows, or on what we want to emphasise. This is a complicated area of grammar, but usually, in English, we like to put important NEW information at the end of a sentence or clause.

How does Italian organise information? Do you usually put new information at the ends of sentences?

I went to see Macbeth performed by the students of our local primary school yesterday. My son was a good '2nd Nobleman'; looked great in his costume and remembered his lines. It was really interesting to hear Shakespeare's Elizabethan English spoken in Yorkshire accents. It sounded really good. Because most of the children spoke quite quickly and didn't speak more loudly than usual, the effect was of very natural-sounding conversation. Very different from adults who might change their accents, speed and volume when reading Shakespeare. The result was very engaging and fresh.

Good luck finding your accommodation in London. Perhaps there is a reader of this blog who has a spare room for a week?!

Rachel

Thursday, 13 July 2006

Trains

Are you listening to music again Antonio??! !

I've spent most of today on trains and most of them have been late...making me think of your delays between Sant'Arsenio and Turin! I visited the external examiner for our MA in English Language Teaching at York St John. The weather has been beautiful today; calm, warm and sunny, so it was nice to go on a bit of a trip, despite the delayed, overcrowded trains....

Yesterday, I met the students I'm teaching for the next four weeks. They are university teachers from China and I had planned a classroom research programme for them, focussing on the way English teachers correct students' oral errors.

In the first class we talked about words we associate with 'research' and one of the teachers said 'wash'. 'Wash???', I said, thinking I had misheard. 'Yes, wash', he said, 'wash the test tubes in the lab after the students have done an experiment.' Of the five teachers on the programme, I eventually discovered that only one teaches English. The others teach Chemistry (hence the washing the test tubes), Engineering and Accounting. Tomorrow I'll meet them again, abandon the classroom research programme I'd planned and try to decide what to do instead. Oh dear....

See you tomorrow.

Rachel

Saturday, 15 July 2006

Possessives

Thanks for the information about Harrowdown Hill and 'the ministry', Antonio. I'll definitely listen to the song.

Don't worry about the timing of your posting. I realised today that I could talk about any of your previous pieces of writing. The only problem with this idea is that you make so few mistakes, it's often hard to find enough to comment on!

Your remarks about the differences between Italian and English grammar are interesting. Did you study Italian grammar when you were at school? I didn't and only started learning when I became an English teacher and my students asked me difficult questions! Ideas about literacy have changed in the UK since then, and my son and daughter do study grammar at school now.

I'd like to comment on your use of possessives. In the penultimate and final paragraphs of your posting yesterday you put two nouns together: 'research's results' and 'adjective's position'. In English there are three main ways of putting nouns together: noun + noun (a war film), noun + 's + noun (my daughter's school), and noun + preposition + noun (a man from York, the top of the page).

Usually an idea is expressed in only one of these three ways, though sometimes there are two possibilities: 'a war film', not 'a war's film' or 'a film of war'; 'the top of the page', not 'the page's top, though 'the page top' is OK; 'a man from York', not 'a York's man', though 'a York man' is OK.

This is a complicated area of grammar, but a good dictionary should show which combinations are allowed.

To go back to 'research's results' and 'adjective's position'....these are two examples of noun combinations which need: noun + preposition + noun. Although no reader will misunderstand your meaning, 'the results of the/my research' and 'the position of the adjectives', sound better.

How do you decide whether to use noun + 's + noun, or noun + preposition (of) + noun? Well, sometimes either is OK; for example, 'the writing's accuracy' and 'the accuracy of the writing' are equally correct. Sometimes, it's necessary to use 'of'; for example, 'the back of the book', not 'the book's back'. On the other hand, sometimes only the possessive 's sounds OK; for example, 'my son's name', not 'the name of my son'.

Again, a good dictionary should show which combinations are possible.

This is an example of when it's good to learn chunks of English from films, songs, books etc. Then, without having to analyse the grammar of a chunk, you can just concentrate on combining it with other chunks!

I hope you have a good weekend!

I'll do a summary on Saturday or Sunday of some of the language points that have come up this week.

Rachel


Summary

The weather in York today has been gorgeous; 27 degrees centigrade and a bright blue sky. Friends I made when I was teaching English in Indonesia came over from Leeds and Huddersfield. We hired two small motor boats and went up and down the river that runs through the middle of York. The river was busy and we had to steer carefully through the ducks, geese, houseboats, rowers, bridges and cruisers.

We took photos and video of York, to be included in information for new summer school students at the excellent Leeds English Language School. Our friends from Huddersfield brought a big bagful of Indonesian noodles – the most delicious junk food in the world!! Thank you Didi and Hendri!!

Today’s post is a summary of some of the language points that have come up this week:

1. combining nouns and possessives
2. information structure
3. the present perfect (‘ever’ and ‘always’)
4. ‘shame’ and ‘ashamed’

1. Combining nouns and possessives

In English there are three main ways of putting nouns together: noun + noun (a war film), noun + 's + noun (my daughter's school), and noun + preposition + noun (a man from York, the top of the page).

Usually an idea is expressed in only one of these three ways, though sometimes there are two possibilities: 'a war film', not 'a war's film' or 'a film of war'; 'the top of the page', not 'the page's top, though 'the page top' is OK; 'a man from York', not 'a York's man', though 'a York man' is OK.

This is a complicated area of grammar, but a good dictionary should show which combinations are allowed.

'Research's results' and 'adjective's position' are both incorrect....these are two examples of noun combinations which need: noun + preposition + noun. Although no reader will misunderstand your meaning, 'the results of the/my research' and 'the position of the adjectives', sound better.

How do you decide whether to use noun + 's + noun, or noun + preposition (of) + noun? Well, sometimes either is OK; for example, 'the writing's accuracy' and 'the accuracy of the writing' are equally correct. Sometimes, it's necessary to use 'of'; for example, 'the back of the book', not 'the book's back'. On the other hand, sometimes only the possessive 's sounds OK; for example, 'my son's name', not 'the name of my son'.

Again, a good dictionary should show which combinations are possible.

2. Information structure

You say that the band Radiohead’s, 'songs are presenting to the public for the first time...' The word order needs to be changed to, ‘Radiohead’s songs are being presented to the public…' This is a passive structure; the direct object (songs) becomes the subject of the passive verb (are being presented: are being + part participle/third form). You could use the active voice here, 'Radiohead are presenting their songs to the public': subject + verb + direct object + preposition + indirect object. However, you have organised the information in this way (making 'songs' the subject of the sentence) to avoid repeating the name of the band, Radiohead, and to emphasise that THE PUBLIC are able to hear Radiohead's new songs, even though the lead singer has also made a solo album.

The way we organise information in a sentence, or part of a sentence, depends on what we have said/written before, or on what the listener/reader already knows, or on what we want to emphasise. This is a complicated area of grammar, but usually, in English, we like to put important NEW information at the end of a sentence or clause.

3. Present perfect: ever and always

You correctly use the present perfect form of the verb 'see', to describe the size of the Italian World Cup party, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'. When 'ever' is used with a present perfect verb form, it means 'at any time in the past, up to now'.

I think you need another present perfect verb in this sentence, 'It is the first time I can see Italy wins...'. As above, if you want to say 'any time in the past, up to now', try, 'It is the first time I have (I've) seen Italy win...'

To go back to the first example of the present perfect, 'the biggest party I've ever seen'.... 'ever' is MOSTLY used in questions, for example, 'do you ever go to the theatre?', meaning AT ANY TIME. Also, 'have you ever been to Italy?', meaning AT ANY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Your example, however, shows that 'ever' can also be used in affirmative statements after a superlative adjective, 'the BIGGEST party I've ever seen.' You can also use 'ever' after 'only', for example, 'he's the only man I've ever loved.' There are a few other times when 'ever' can be used in affirmative or negative statements (e.g. 'I've never, ever liked him'), but as I have said, it is mostly found in affirmative statements.

'Ever' is not normally used to mean 'always', so, 'I've ever liked him', is wrong. 'I've always liked him', is the correct form and means AT EVERY TIME IN THE PAST UP TO NOW. Similarly, 'fair play should ever win in a competition', should be, 'fair play should ALWAYS win...'.

4. 'Shame' and 'ashamed'

‘Shame’ (uncountable noun) is a strong word that means feeling very, very bad because of immoral behaviour, inability or failure. You can tell someone that they should feel bad by saying ‘Shame on you!’. You can also use ‘shame’ as a verb, following it with an object and either ‘into’ or ‘out of’; for example, ‘We tried to shame the train company into refunding Antonio’s ticket’.

‘Ashamed’ (adjective) means feeling shame or guilt, or feeling stupid and uncomfortable about something you have done. ‘Ashamed’ can be followed by ‘of’, ‘that’ or ‘to + verb’ (for example, ‘The train company should be ashamed of their customer service’).


I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend. See you on Monday!

Rachel


Monday, 17 July 2006

War

'War' (noun) can be both countable and uncountable. As an uncountable noun, it means 'armed fighting (usually between nations)'. For example, 'the two countries have been at war for years'. We can add detail about the kind of war by adding another noun, or an adjective, in front: civil war, cold war, nuclear war, gang war etc.

As a countable noun, 'war' means, 'an example or period of armed fighting (usually between nations)'. For example: the American war of independence, war graves, war poetry etc.

Antonio, you ask the important question, 'how can someone see the future in the war?' This is a question that demands serious answers, not error correction!

Anyway.......you use the uncountable meaning of the noun 'war' in your question. Because 'war' in your question is uncountable, and you are talking about war in general, you don't need to use an article. When we are talking about things, or people, in general, we don't usually use 'the' with uncountable (or plural) nouns. Another example, from the John Lennon song 'Imagine' that you quote is, 'living life in peace', not 'living the life in peace'.

Another change I'd like to suggest to your sentence, is using 'anyone' instead of 'someone'. Usually, but not always, 'some(one)' is used in statements and 'any(one)' in negatives and questions. We can use 'some' in questions when we expect or hope that someone will say 'yes'. For example, 'would you like some more to eat?'.

'Someone' usually means we are thinking of only one person, 'there's someone on the phone for you'. Compare, 'did anyone phone while I was out?'. 'Anyone' has an open, non-specific meaning and usually suggests an indefinite number or amount.

I think your important question needs to be, 'how can anyone see any future in war?'.


See you tomorrow.

Rachel

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

No doubt

It's my Dad's seventy-first birthday today. My Mum and Dad came round to our house for a cup of tea and some birthday cake this afternoon, and we gave him his birthday presents: a shirt and tie from me and one of my sisters, a box of whisky-flavoured chocolates from my son and a bookmark made by my daughter.

Now I've eaten too much cake and feel a bit sick.

Maybe writing about English will distract me from feeling sick....!

No doubt/without doubt

You mention the Pink Floyd concert in Pompeii, Antonio. You say that the film of this concert is, 'with no doubts my favourite concert film'. 'No doubt' can mean 'certainly'. For example, 'there is no doubt that he is guilty, the evidence against him was very strong' = he was certainly/definitely guilty. When 'no doubt' is used to mean 'certainly' it is usually followed by 'that', as you can see in the example, 'there is no doubt THAT he is guilty.'

'No doubt' can also be used to mean 'I think' or 'I agree'. For example, 'no doubt the best concert film ever made = I think it is the best concert film.

'Without doubt' also means 'certainly', and is, I think, stronger than 'no doubt' , suggesting a strong sense of knowing the real truth. For example, 'this is, without doubt, my favourite concert film'.

I think your sentence about the concert film combines 'without doubt' and 'no doubt'. In fact you can choose either, but not both!

Ever

When talking about the Pink Floyd concert, you say that it is, 'the most famous live concert which has always been performed in this location'. This is a superlative sentence ('most famous') and you want to make your meaning very strong; to emphasise how famous the concert is. To do this, you need 'ever', not 'always'.....'the most famous live concert that has EVER been performed...'. 'Ever' adds emphasis in superlative sentences and in sentences with 'only'...'he's the only man I've ever loved.'


I do feel slightly less sick now. Unfortunately, there's no doubt this WON'T be the last time I eat too much chocolate cake.........

Let us know what your friends thought of the Bob Dylan concert in Pompeii, Antonio!

See you tomorrow.

Rachel



Thursday, 20 July 2006

Relatives

Yes, Giovanna is your second cousin (your mum's cousin's daughter). How nice to be able to show her around Sant'Arsenio. I look forward to seeing pictures of your relatives in the next few days!

The Bob Dylan concert sounds amazing. You say that, for your friend, 'it was a wonderful experience which he has never tried before'. In this sentence, you describe the experience ('wonderful') and then give us additional information, 'which he has never tried before'. The additional information is an example of a relative clause, used correctly to modify (give more information about or identify) a noun, 'experience'. You correctly use 'which' (a relative pronoun in this sentence) to introduce your extra information, because 'experience' is a thing. Usually: which = thing, when = time, where = place, who = person, that = place, person or thing.

'When' (time) and 'where' (place) are used in the same way as preposition + which. For example, 'the town where I was born' and 'the town in which I was born' are both OK. I think 'in which I was born' sounds a bit more formal that 'where I was born'.

Relative pronouns (which, that, who, where, when) usually follow their nouns directly. For example, 'the town was beautiful where I was born' is incorrect because 'was beautiful' separates 'town' (noun) and 'where (relative pronoun). 'The town where I was born is beautiful' is correct because the noun and the relative pronoun are not separated.

Your sentence, 'the region from where Josephine comes from' needs to follow one of the two 'rules' described above. You could delete the first 'from', to make the relative pronoun follow the noun directly; 'the region where Josephine comes from' Or, you could change 'where' to 'which' and delete the second 'from'; 'from which Josephine comes'.

Similarly, your sentence, 'Salerno, which Giovanna’s aunt Paola lives in' could be 'Salerno, where Giovanna's aunt Paola lives.' Or, 'Salerno, in which Giovanna's aunt Paola lives...'.


Have a great time showing your relatives around!

See you tomorrow.

Rachel

Hard/hardly

What a great idea to publish a blog of your rail journeys around Scotland, Antonio. It will keep your friends and family at home informed (cheaper and quicker than sending postcards!) and, as you say, you might get suggestions/tips from other travellers and locals.

Just a few very small comments tonight...

You say that it is late to be making bookings now for travel in July/August and that you 'will hardly find a good accommodation'. 'Hardly' means 'almost no(t)/never', 'only with difficulty' and 'only just/not really'. Your sentence is an example of the 'almost no' meaning, and in this case, needs to be followed by 'any', rather than 'a'. The correct sentence is, 'I will hardly find any good accommodation...'. Probably more natural sounding, however, is 'hard', rather than 'hardly'. For example, 'it will be hard to find good accommodation'.

'Accommodation' is an uncountable noun and so doesn't need an indefinite article (a/an) when we are talking about accommodation in general.

'Travel' is also an uncountable noun. 'Equipment' is too. Neither need an indefinite article (a/an) when we are talking about them in general.


I hope Giovanna had a good journey. Enjoy your tour tomorrow!

Rachel

Sunday, 23 July 2006

Summary

I hope you've had a good weekend showing Giovanna around Sant'Arsenio, Antonio!

The school summer holidays have started here. I'm still working with the Chinese university teachers at York St John University College, so my children are going to a do a 'Sports Camp' next week.

In this post I have a suggestion about phrases using have + object and will summarise some of the suggestions I made earlier this week, including: hard/hardly, relative clauses, doubt/no doubt, ever, war, and anyone/someone.

1. Have + object

In your post about your plans for a trip around Scotland, you mention getting suggestions from '....people who have already done this experience'. The correct verb with 'experience' is 'have'; 'people who have already had this experience.'

Have + object is often used to talk about actions and experiences, for example:

have a good journey/trip/flight
have breakfast/lunch/dinner/(a) coffee/a drink
have a bath/a shower/a wash
have a rest/a lie down/a nap/a sleep/a dream
have a chat/a talk/a conversation/an argument/a row/a fight

To make a question or negative, 'do' is used. For example, 'did you have a good trip?', 'I didn't have a good experience'. Continuous forms are OK; for example, 'what are you doing this evening? I'm having dinner with Sarah'. It's not OK to contract 'have'; for example, 'I have coffee with Claire every Saturday' but NOT 'I've a coffee with Claire...'.


2. Hard/hardly

You say that it is late to be making bookings now for travel in July/August and that you 'will hardly find a good accommodation'. 'Hardly' means 'almost no(t)/never', 'only with difficulty' and 'only just/not really'. Your sentence is an example of the 'almost no' meaning, and in this case, needs to be followed by 'any', rather than 'a'. The correct sentence is, 'I will hardly find any good accommodation...'. Probably more natural sounding, however, is 'hard', rather than 'hardly'. For example, 'it will be hard to find good accommodation'.

'Accommodation' is an uncountable noun and so doesn't need an indefinite article (a/an) when we are talking about accommodation in general.

3. Relative clauses

In the sentence, 'it was a wonderful experience which he has never tried before', you describe the experience ('wonderful') and then give us additional information, 'which he has never tried before'. The additional information is an example of a relative clause, used correctly to modify (give more information about or identify) a noun, 'experience'. You correctly use 'which' (a relative pronoun in this sentence) to introduce your extra information, because 'experience' is a thing. Usually: which = thing, when = time, where = place, who = person, that = place, person or thing.

'When' (time) and 'where' (place) are used in the same way as preposition + which. For example, 'the town where I was born' and 'the town in which I was born' are both OK. I think 'in which I was born' sounds a bit more formal that 'where I was born'.

Relative pronouns (which, that, who, where, when) usually follow their nouns directly. For example, 'the town was beautiful where I was born' is incorrect because 'was beautiful' separates 'town' (noun) and 'where (relative pronoun). 'The town where I was born is beautiful' is correct because the noun and the relative pronoun are not separated.

Your sentence, 'the region from where Josephine comes from' needs to follow one of the two 'rules' described above. You could delete the first 'from', to make the relative pronoun follow the noun directly; 'the region where Josephine comes from' Or, you could change 'where' to 'which' and delete the second 'from'; 'from which Josephine comes'.

Similarly, your sentence, 'Salerno, which Giovanna’s aunt Paola lives in' could be 'Salerno, where Giovanna's aunt Paola lives.' Or, 'Salerno, in which Giovanna's aunt Paola lives...'.

4. No doubt

You mention the Pink Floyd concert in Pompeii, Antonio. You say that the film of this concert is, 'with no doubts my favourite concert film'. 'No doubt' can mean 'certainly'. For example, 'there is no doubt that he is guilty, the evidence against him was very strong' = he was certainly/definitely guilty. When 'no doubt' is used to mean 'certainly' it is usually followed by 'that', as you can see in the example, 'there is no doubt THAT he is guilty.'

'No doubt' can also be used to mean 'I think' or 'I agree'. For example, 'no doubt the best concert film ever made = I think it is the best concert film.

'Without doubt' also means 'certainly', and is, I think, stronger than 'no doubt' , suggesting a strong sense of knowing the real truth. For example, 'this is, without doubt, my favourite concert film'.

I think your sentence about the concert film combines 'without doubt' and 'no doubt'. In fact you can choose either, but not both!

5. Ever

When talking about the Pink Floyd concert, you say that it is, 'the most famous live concert which has always been performed in this location'. This is a superlative sentence ('most famous') and you want to make your meaning very strong; to emphasise how famous the concert is. To do this, you need 'ever', not 'always'.....'the most famous live concert that has EVER been performed...'. 'Ever' adds emphasis in superlative sentences and in sentences with 'only'...'he's the only man I've ever loved.'

6. War

'War' (noun) can be both countable and uncountable. As an uncountable noun, it means 'armed fighting (usually between nations)'. For example, 'the two countries have been at war for years'. We can add detail about the kind of war by adding another noun, or an adjective, in front: civil war, cold war, nuclear war, gang war etc.

As a countable noun, 'war' means, 'an example or period of armed fighting (usually between nations)'. For example: the American war of independence, war graves, war poetry etc.

Antonio, you ask the important question, 'how can someone see the future in the war?' Your question uses the uncountable meaning of the noun 'war'. Because 'war' in your question is uncountable, and you are talking about war in general, you don't need to use an article. When we are talking about things, or people, in general, we don't usually use 'the' with uncountable (or plural) nouns. Another example, from the John Lennon song 'Imagine' that you quote is, 'living life in peace', not 'living the life in peace'.

7. Anyone/someone

Another change I'd like to suggest to your sentence, is using 'anyone' instead of 'someone'. Usually, but not always, 'some(one)' is used in statements and 'any(one)' in negatives and questions. We can use 'some' in questions when we expect or hope that someone will say 'yes'. For example, 'would you like some more to eat?'.

'Someone' usually means we are thinking of only one person, 'there's someone on the phone for you'. Compare, 'did anyone phone while I was out?'. 'Anyone' has an open, non-specific meaning and usually suggests an indefinite number or amount.

I think your important question needs to be, 'how can anyone see any future in war?'.


I hope you've had a good weekend and look forward to hearing from you tomorrow.

Rachel










Monday, 24 July 2006

For and during

Thank you for the information about Certosa di Padula, Antonio. How old is the monastery? Do the monks still live there? Which monastic order do they belong to?

Today, at work, we celebrated York St John becoming a university; independent of the University of Leeds, to which it has been affiliated for many years. We celebrated by drinking champagne and eating cake in the sunshine.

I'd like to talk about 'for' and 'during' in your sentence, 'I've been quite busy during last days'.

Probably more usual is, '...quite busy for the last few days.' For is used in English to say how long something lasts. For example, '...for many years', 'for the last few days', 'for a few minutes', and 'for two weeks'.

During, in contrast, is used to say when something happens. For example, 'during the summer' and 'during the night'.

'The last few days' refers to how long your busy time lasted, so for this reason, 'for' is probably better than 'during'.


See you again tomorrow!

Rachel


Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Briefly

Antonio - I'm interested in your use of 'shortly' in the sentence, 'The most important [place] has surely been ‘Certosa di Padula’, which I’m going to shortly talk about.' One of the things that is a bit more difficult (though not impossible!) in a blog, compared to a face-to-face classroom, is checking what a student means to say.

In the sentence I mention, did you mean that you will talk about Certosa di Padula soon or in just a few words? Although my dictionary is not very clear on this point, I think that when we are talking about words (a description, a talk, a chat, a paragraph etc.), 'shortly' means 'soon, in a little time'. 'Briefly', on the other hand, means 'in as few words as possible, not in detail'.

Giving feedback on writing is sometimes difficult when the teacher can't check the student's intended meaning. In a blog, it's up to the student to decide what to respond to. Face-to-face, it's a bit more difficult for the student to ignore the teacher's questions!!! I'd be interested to hear what you think are the advantages and disadvantages of learning via a blog.

Hope you've had a good day!

Rachel

Wednesday, 26 July 2006

A model writer

This evening I'm going to use your post to highlight some of the great things about your writing in English, Antonio!

One of the ways you construct complex sentences is by adding more information about a noun, or phrase, using relative clauses. I talked about relative clauses in a post published on July 20. In your post today you introduce several relative clauses with the pronouns who and which. Here are four excellent examples:

'I’d like to say ‘ciao’ to Lizeth from Argentina, who always comments on my posts';

' ‘L’ordine dei Certosini’ is the monastic order which monks who lived in Certosa belonged to';

'a student who’s really interested in learning English should answer all the questions which are blogged by the teacher'.

'‘Antonio de Paula’, who you mentioned in your comment, is ‘Sant’Antonio da Paola’, which means ‘St Anthony from Paola’'.

Another thing I like about your writing is how COHESIVE it is. Your sentences are well linked to each other and this makes your argument very easy to follow. A good example is the following passage, in which I have italicised your 'links',

'In my opinion a big disadvantage of learning via a ‘blog’ is, as you’ve already said, the lack of real-time feedback. On the other hand, the ‘blog’ approach has a lot of advantages! In fact it makes you able to write and send your posts whenever and wherever you prefer'.


The first link, 'as you've already said' is a link to something outside your text, in this case, my post yesterday. Your second link, 'on the other hand', connects and contrasts your second sentence (advantages) with your first (disadvantages). Your third link, 'it', connects your third sentence to your second by referring back to the subject (blog) of the second sentence. These 'links' provide the 'glue' that sticks your argument together very effectively.


In talking about your use of 'shortly' and 'briefly', you ask, 'do students of English frequently make this kind of mistake?' I think that the (very interesting) answer to this question is that I don't know. In my experience, English language classrooms are very busy places. Teachers don't always have a chance to discuss with students exactly what they are trying to say and how best to say it in English. Even in academic writing classes I don't seem to have very much time to work with individual students on their writing. An advantage of the blog is that I DO have time: to think about your writing; to ask you to explain what you mean; to look at dictionaries and grammar books. You also have time to answer, as you say yourself in your post today.

I'd like to think more about how blogs can be used in language teaching... Thanks for your thoughts today!

See you tomorrow.

Rachel



Friday, 28 July 2006

Fantastic

Thank you for your kind comments Antonio. It's been a brilliant experience for me too and I have very much enjoyed reading your lively, well written posts. Your excellent English has made my job difficult....but interesting!

You say, '‘Learning English’ is a fantastic site because it has such fantastic people on its staff.' I'd also like to thank the staff of 'Learning English' for the opportunity to be the BBC's first 'teacher blogger'.

My final suggestion for you, Antonio, (I will do a summary as usual tomorrow) is about your choice of 'fantastic' to mean 'extremely good'. I think your double use of 'fantastic', in the sentence above, helps to emphasise your positive feelings about the website and the staff who are responsible for the site. Repeating a word, as you do here with 'fantastic', is a good way of stressing its meaning.

Other words that could be used in your sentence to mean 'extremely good' include: splendid, superb, terrific, first-class, first-rate, excellent, fabulous, marvellous, wonderful, amazing, tremendous and sensational.


I'll see you tomorrow, for the last time, with my weekly summary. Bye for now!

Rachel

Sunday, 30 July 2006

Summary

This is my final post before the new teacher blogger takes over on Monday. Thank you to all the readers of the blog, especially those who have posted comments and questions. Thank you too, to Antonio for his excellent posts and, finally, thank you to the team at BBC Learning English for the opportunity to participate in the blog.

BBC Learning English is the best place on the web for students (and teachers) of English. I look forward to seeing how it continues to develop!

I’ll finish with a summary of the language points covered this week: ‘fantastic’, relative clauses, cohesion, ‘briefly/shortly’, ‘for/during’ and ‘have + object’.

1. Fantastic

Your double use of 'fantastic' in this sentence, '‘Learning English’ is a fantastic site because it has such fantastic people on its staff’, helps to emphasise your extremely positive feelings about the website and the staff who are responsible for the site. Repeating a word, as you do here with 'fantastic', is a good way of stressing its meaning.

Other words that could be used in your sentence to mean 'extremely good' include: splendid, superb, terrific, first-class, first-rate, excellent, fabulous, marvellous, wonderful, amazing, tremendous and sensational.

2. More examples of relative clauses

One of the ways you construct complex sentences is by adding more information about a noun, or phrase, using relative clauses. I talked about relative clauses in a post published on July 20. In your post today you introduce several relative clauses with the pronouns who and which. Here are four excellent examples:

'I’d like to say ‘ciao’ to Lizeth from Argentina, who always comments on my posts';

' ‘L’ordine dei Certosini’ is the monastic order which monks who lived in Certosa belonged to';

'a student who’s really interested in learning English should answer all the questions which are blogged by the teacher'.

'‘Antonio de Paula’, who you mentioned in your comment, is ‘Sant’Antonio da Paola’, which means ‘St Anthony from Paola’'.

3. Cohesion

Another thing I like about your writing is how COHESIVE it is. Your sentences are well linked to each other and this makes your argument very easy to follow. A good example is the following passage, in which I have italicised your 'links',
'In my opinion a big disadvantage of learning via a ‘blog’ is, as you’ve already said, the lack of real-time feedback. On the other hand, the ‘blog’ approach has a lot of advantages! In fact it makes you able to write and send your posts whenever and wherever you prefer'.

The first link, 'as you've already said' is a link to something outside your text, in this case, my post yesterday. Your second link, 'on the other hand', connects and contrasts your second sentence (advantages) with your first (disadvantages). Your third link, 'it', connects your third sentence to your second by referring back to the subject (blog) of the second sentence. These 'links' provide the 'glue' that sticks your argument together very effectively.

4. Briefly/shortly

In the sentence, 'the most important [place] has surely been ‘Certosa di Padula’, which I’m going to shortly talk about.' do you mean that you will talk about Certosa di Padula soon or in just a few words? Usually, when we are talking about words (a description, a talk, a chat, a paragraph etc.), 'shortly' means 'soon, in a little time'. 'Briefly', on the other hand, means 'in as few words as possible, not in detail'.

5. For/during

I'd like to talk about 'for' and 'during' in your sentence, 'I've been quite busy during last days'.

Probably more usual is, '...quite busy for the last few days.' For is used in English to say how long something lasts. For example, '...for many years', 'for the last few days', 'for a few minutes', and 'for two weeks'.

During, in contrast, is used to say when something happens. For example, 'during the summer' and 'during the night'.

'The last few days' refers to how long your busy time lasted, so for this reason, 'for' is probably better than 'during'.

6. Have + object

In your post about your plans for a trip around Scotland, you mention getting suggestions from '....people who have already done this experience'. The correct verb with 'experience' is 'have'; 'people who have already had this experience.'

Have + object is often used to talk about actions and experiences, for example:

have a good journey/trip/flight
have breakfast/lunch/dinner/(a) coffee/a drink
have a bath/a shower/a wash
have a rest/a lie down/a nap/a sleep/a dream
have a chat/a talk/a conversation/an argument/a row/a fight

To make a question or negative, 'do' is used. For example, 'did you have a good trip?', 'I didn't have a good experience'. Continuous forms are OK; for example, 'what are you doing this evening? I'm having dinner with Sarah'. It's not OK to contract 'have'; for example, 'I have coffee with Claire every Saturday' but NOT 'I've a coffee with Claire...'.


Thank you for reading!

Rachel


Monday, 31 July 2006

The new Teacher Blogger has arrived!

Hello everyone. My name is Lewis Davies and I’m the new ‘teacher blogger’. I’m very excited about the chance to help the new ‘student blogger', Jenny, develop her English ability. I hope that I can continue the great standard of work started by Rachel, the previous ‘teacher blogger’.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I’m from Yorkshire in England, but now I live in Kobe, Japan. I’ve been living here for about seven years. I just got married last year. I'm a teacher at the British Council in Osaka, which is a short train ride from my flat. I really enjoy working and living here. Kobe is a very modern city with wonderful restaurants and shops. It’s also a very convenient place to live because so many other interesting places, such as Kyoto, Nara and Osaka are not far away.

I love listening to music, watching films and eating! My wife works for a restaurant magazine, so she takes me to lots of places to eat delicious food. I also really like travelling. I’ve been to many places in Asia, including Hong Kong!

Enough about me…

Hello Jenny!

I’d like to say a big ‘Hello!’ It’s very nice to read your first blog post. I hope we have an enjoyable time blogging together. In my first blog I’d just like to talk about the content of your first blog. I'll start giving you lots of useful feedback on your English in my next post.

You sound like you have a very busy life. Working, studying English and taking care of your family must be very challenging. How do you find time for yourself? You are a very lucky person to be able to practise your English for free, I think. I wonder if more people will join your English class now you are a famous blogger?

Thank you for telling us the Valentine’s story. I had no idea there was a Chinese Valentine’s day. Actually, there are many things I don't know about China, so I’m really looking forward to learning more about your lifestyle and culture. I've heard that many Chinese people really enjoy romantic films and love songs. Is that true?

You like cooking and I like eating! A very good match, I think. I’m really glad to hear that your family enjoyed the quiche. Many people complain about English food, including my students, but it’s not all bad. Living in Japan, I often really miss a nice, home-made, Sunday lunch. Roast beef, roast vegetables and gravy. It’s heaven. Have you ever tried it?

Well, it’s time for my dinner. On the menu tonight is grilled fish and deep-fried vegetables. Lovely…

Bye for now,

Lewis

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