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Webcast competition
Talk about English - Webcast

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Fashion, brands and shopping Thursday, March 15, 2007

This week our phone guest Maddalena in Italy selected 'to pay through the nose' 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.

The winning entry will be published on this page along with comments from us. We will say what we like about your essay and also offer some corrections (if necessary). Closing date Monday 19th March, 2007

Thank you to everyone who entered.

This week's winner is Tinuska from Slovakia, congratulations! We liked your entry because it was siimple and straightforward, there was a good use of vocabulary and you used the key expression naturally as well as other vocabulary from the programmes.

Here is Tinuska's entry:

"Firstly I would like to say hello or aloha to everyone :o)

Secondly my opinion... Nowadays there are many fashion-conscious shoppers all over the world. Mainly young people keep1 up to date2 with the latest trendy3 garments. I am also interested in fashion but definitely4 I am not a zealot5 or a repeat purchaser. Sometimes I buy branded clothes, but when I am financially challenged6 :) I visit also second hands7. There are various unique pieces of clothing which I can combine to8 a perfect outfit9 and also I do not have to pay through the nose. Well, I do not mind where I buy goods or what kind of brand it has..for me the most important thing is quality, comfortable and extraordinary garments which suits10 me.

I wish you nice and successful day."

Comments from BBC Learning English
This is a very clear piece of writing which uses some great vocabulary. The numbererd comments below relate to this as well as some suggestions for correction.

Although this was quite a short entry we chose it as the winner because it used the language from the fashion programmes in a very natural way as well as adding some more useful words and expressions. It also has a nice personal touch.

As it is a personal piece of writing and not a formal style I think I would have used contractions rather than full forms, for example, so, for example, 'I'm' and I don't mind' instead of 'I am' and 'I do not mind'. It makes it more informal and matches the tone or register of the rest of the piece.

1: I think 'keeping' is better here and I would make this part of the first sentence, so no full stop but a comma after 'world'. This would make the connection between the number of fashion-conscious shoppers and the fact that they are mostly young people.

2: To keep up to date - this is a good expression to use here.

3: trendy - another good word for this topic. It's an informal word for 'fashionable'.

4: It's better to put definitely before not. I'm definitely not ....

5: a zealot - this might seem like an unusual word to use here, I would maybe have chosen the word fanatic instead but zealot is also used for people who have very strong and forceful opinions about something.

6: This is a great expression. It's a modern way of saying 'poor' which doesn't sound so negative. This structure is used for comic effect quite a lot. For example, someone who is short might be described as being 'vertically challenged'.

7: I also visit second-hand shops or I also buy second-hand would be better here.

8: for is the preposition to use here.

9: Another good word for this topic, an outfit; a set of clothes.

10: garments is a plural so you need suit here.

Congratulations again Tinuska, a BBC Learning English prize is on its way to you.


Also a special mention to Annarita from Italy. You didn't win this time but I enjoyed reading your story, here it is for others to enjoy.

"It was late afternoon and it was January. She was strolling as usual along the main street of the pretty small town on the sea she had moved to about three years before, when a funny red hat called her attention from a shop window beside the florist. Where had she already seen that object?

She knew it, she recognized it: she had purchased that hat about 10 years before at the old busy colourful market-place of Palermo. She remembered exactly the moment she had chosen it, the joy of the bargaining, the good price she had finally agreed with the attractive young Sicilian seller.

She liked that hat, but she had not bought it for herself. She knew she wouldn't wear it, she was too clumsy! While certainly her friend Marisa would have liked it and worn it since she was tall, slim, smart, with her elegant neck and pretty head, her wide blue eyes and long brown wavy hair. Marisa had enjoyed the present, or at least so she had pretended...

Then she had moved and had lost contact with all her acquaintaces. She wanted to find out why 'her' hat, the hat she had wanted for her dear friend was now exposed on that shop-window. She went in, asked the shop-keeper to see it, touch it, smell it; she wanted to be sure, but there was no doubt: that was a unique piece and an unforgettable emotion rose inside her.

'Where does this hat come from?', she asked.

'It's a unique piece' replied the man 'brought from Sicily by my wife Marisa. You see, she's great at chosing the right things and, well, of course it is very very expensive' He told her the price: it was really very expensive but she had no coice: she bought it, she would have bought it anyway. She paid through the nose, that's a fact!"