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Webcast competition
The return of Talk about English - new programme, new features!

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Fashion Thursday, March 1, 2007

This week our phone guest Molly in China selected 'long time no see' as her favourite English expression. We would like you to write a short piece which naturally includes this phrase and any other vocabulary from this webcast. It can be any kind of writing, a short story, telling us about something that happened to you, whatever you like. 300 words maximum please.

Congratulations to everyone who wrote in. We had many good entries and we enjoyed reading them all. Unfortunately we can't publish them all and there can only be one winner.

The winning entry was by Ivan Burda from the Czech Republic. We liked his entry because it was a moving story that had real emotion and showed a good range of language and expression. Here is the story, you can read some comments and corrections below.

Ivan's story

"I was sitting in a park not far from one1 clinic in a city called Zazrak. Watch2 on my left arm showed 4 PM and that meant Judy was already ten minutes late for our rendezvous. I began to think her operation had not come right3 but to drive away such black thoughts I tried to remember all the days we have4 been in love.

Me and Judy5 met three years ago when she moved with her family to the street where I lived. She started 6 to lose her sight at the age of nine and a year later she was completely blind. That time7 doctors did not know how to help her but ten years later there emerged a chance - a laser surgery8.

When she went to the clinic to undergo the operation we agreed I would not visit her to find out its result but I would wait till the day she is released home9.

Children in the park were playing hide and seek and whole the world around10 was painted in colors of coming autumn. I closed my eyes and remembered times I and Judy were sitting11 here, me12 reading to her a books13 she was not able to read herself.

Would she like me? I asked myself, knowing Judy has never seen me in fact14.

"There he is," I heard a whisper, but thought it was just something in my head.
Two arms hugged me from behind and I smelled a15 fragrance of my beloved one. I turned round and there she was!

"Judy! You can..." I murmured, but she ceased the words with soft kiss16.

Her mom was standing aloof and pretending she is looking17 the other way. But there was a nice smile upon her lips that spoke for her happiness better any words could18.

"Long time no see," whispered Judy and I cannot remember anything more than just a snogging19 that followed.

The story is a fiction; a product of author's imagination. Any similarity between this story and real events is purely coincidental."

Comments from BBC Learning English
This was a very well written story. It starts off by making us wonder about the clinic and the operation, we have to read on to find out what happens next. That's a very good stylistic technique.

There is lots of good language - expressions like "to drive away such black thoughts", "painted in colors of coming autumn" and "there was a nice smile upon her lips that spoke for her happiness" are very expressive and full of imagery. Ivan has also used a lot of suitable collocation, that is, putting the right words next to each other, here are some examples he uses:

to lose her sight,
completely blind,
to undergo the operation

The moment when Judy 'sees' him for the first time is genuinely touching. However, the very last sentence does rather spoil the mood. The word 'snogging' is really not suitable here. It's a very informal expression for lustful kissing which does not have the same register as the rest of the story. Apart from this, it was a pleasure to read. Well done.

In terms of correction there were a few minor errors with articles, always difficult, and some lack of consistency with the tense. None of the errors caused any problems with understanding, overall the meaning was always clear. I've listed the corrections below.

1: I would use the definite article 'the' here. Because 'the' is normally used for nouns which have already been mentioned it involves us in the story straight away, we have arrived in the middle of someone's experience.

2: The watch

3: gone well

4: had. Because the story is set in the past it's better to use the past perfect rather than present perfect here

5: Judy and I

6: had started
. Again past perfect here.

7: At that time ...

8: ... laser surgery. No article needed here.

9: ... until the day she was released. You don't need the word 'home' after 'released'.

10: ... the whole world

11: Judy and I had sat. Past perfect simple here.

12: my reading

13: book, singular (I'm sure this was just a typo though!)

14: knowing Judy had never actually seen me.

15: the

16: a
soft kiss

17: pretending to be looking or pretended to look

...better than any words could.

19: the passionate embrace / the tender kisses / in fact almost anything other than 'snogging' is good here!

Well done Ivan, a prize is on its way to you.

Also well done to Nyan Hein Latt from Myanmar. You weren't the winner but we liked your story so much we thought we'd put it on the site as well!

"Unforgettable Reunion"

Formerly my English was very bad and whenever I got a chance to speak among my peers in English language classes, my English is out of fashion, without correct usage. It also wasn't strange because at that time, I was just a keen follower of glossy fashion magazines, taking an interest in everything that's in fashion in our country. Frankly speaking, I was like a fashion victim.

Then one day, there came a change! Before I came across her, I could speak English, after a fashion. I couldn't recall the day we met. But we came across in a very different fashion and I loved her at first sight though she's not a celeb. I'm very grateful to her as she taught me the ways to learning English, helping me use English fashionably like other outstanding students.

From then on I neglected all about the latest fashion from the fashion periodicals and fashion shows from the fashion channels. Thanks to her, later on, I became fashion conscious.

But suddenly about 2 months after our encounter, she unexpectedly vanished into thin air and I didn't know how to fashion my words in written or spoken English without her. I could then realize that the world's not a fashion show and I managed myself to master English but it's a bit painstaking.

Finally last week she again called me and said she'd come to me with some major changes of hers. "Oh, long time no see!" I was really surprised. It's a very good reunion and I prayed she never leave me alone from now on. Would you like to know about her? I'm sure you'll also like her only if you have an intention to improve your English fashionably. She's nothing other than my most favourite webcast programme "Talk about English."