Mr. Bob's Posts (62)

Just Say No to Hate

It is hard to believe that we are already one week into the ninth month of 2017. I'm still enjoying teaching in Japan. But, I'm not feeling good about the direction of my own country (USA) since the government changed in January.I try to keep my blogs upbeat, but it is depressing to think that the world can be made less friendly. I want to see the people of the world coming together in friendship, not splitting apart.My attitude is that we should Just Say No to Hate.No means no.No hate, no fighting, no war.Enough is enough!Let's do what we can to make the world better.
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Moving House

Moving or "Moving House" is something that many people do in their lifetime. I know many people are born and die in the same house, but in the modern world we may have to move for our jobs or to be near family members who moved.

I have moved many times, but it never gets easier and it never is any fun. If you have had to pack up and move to a new place you may understand why I don't enjoy moving. These are some of the steps that I don't enjoy.

1. Packing - carefully putting your things in boxes and bags so they can travel safely

2. Extra cleaning - the old place usually needs to be much cleaner than usual for the new tenants

3. Deciding what to keep - too many things may need to be given away or discarded

4. Carrying boxes - someone has to move some boxes if you don't have a moving company

5. Unpacking - your boxes will be in the new place and they have to be unpacked

6. Trying to find something you need - something important can't be found when you need it

7. Doing without some things when you first arrive - maybe you don't have internet or need a fan to cool you down

8. Finding a new house can be hard too.

But the very most difficult thing is saying goodbye to really wonderful friends and great places I have come to love.  I will see some of my friends again but I know for a fact that when I leave it will be the last that I see of some of them. This is so painful to me and it hurts to leave people I have been watching improve in English for two years. I wanted to keep working with them and enjoying their company.

The good part is that I will be very close to both of my children. I will be able to see them a lot instead of making a major trip for the chance to have a meal together. So I am very happy about that part.

I am still sad about leaving my friends and may not get to answer your comments very often. I hope to have a new computer soon after I finish moving and hope to have a good internet connection. Goodbye EnglishClub friends for the moment. I will be able to see you again.

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The Great East Japan Earthquake

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the March 11th,  2011 Tōhoku earthquake.  On this day in 2011 the strongest recorded earthquake to ever hit Japan struck off the coast near Sendai, Japan.

All over Japan people will honor those who died in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  Today at 2:46 PM  local time we will all pause for prayer or reflection on the losses suffered on that day 4 years ago.  It makes me very sad to think of the deaths and injuries that happened that March afternoon.  More than 18,000 people were killed or are still missing as a result of this disaster. 

Japan also suffered severe damage at the  Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and this is still years away from being stabilized. My city in Japan has taken in more than 60,000 people who can’t return home due to the nuclear disaster.  Radiation in some areas near the reactors is too high for people to safely live or even travel to. 

I am thankful that the mountains between my city and the coast are an effective barrier to the radiation and our part of the Tohuku region was spared the bulk of the radiation. We have only low background levels of radiation where I live.

Please join me in wishing the best for those families who suffered so much from this disaster.  We can be thankful that our families are safe.

This clock was broken and forever marks the time when the shock waves shook my workplace until many things were thrown around the building. This time is two minutes after the earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean and reflects the most violent part of the shock waves in Aizu Wakamatsu, Japan.

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How to get Help if you Have Problems

Have you ever had problems with your settings or your computer/device on EnglishClub?  Did you notice that we have a separate Discussion Group called...Technical HELP?

That is a separate discussion group, so the help people can see your post and try to help you. It is the place you need to go if you have problems and they are usually pretty quick to work on your problem.

Did you ever have a problem with your computer on EnglishClub?

Did you use our Technical HELP discussion group?

Did they help you fix your problem or find a way you could do what you needed?

We hope that your problems were solved.  If you don't post in the Technical HELP discussions, your problem might not be found. Also, please remember to search the discussions (keyword search) and see if there is already an answer to your problem. Most problems have already been found by other members and you can see the answer to what you need.

I want to hear about your experiences getting help here.

Thank you for your reply.

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Dialogue: Learning a Neighborhood

A:    Hey, what have you been up to? I haven’t seen you for years.

B:     I opened a laundromat, so nothing much, besides the daily grind.  

A:    Same here, but I'm working the grill at a steak house in the city.  I have a question for you?

B:     Go ahead, shoot.

A:    I’m thinking about moving out of the city and I want to feel you out about this neighborhood.

B:     It’s a good neighborhood. The schools are top notch and my kids can walk to school.

A:    What about other things like supermarkets?

B:     There's a small supermarket just about 10 to 12 minutes’ walk from my house. It’s open till 9:00 PM.

A:    How about a hospital or clinics?

B:     There is a good hospital about 3 miles up the by-pass-road from my house. Also there are two drug stores over near the supermarket.

A:    What about public transportation? My car is old and won’t turn-over some mornings.

B:     There is a bus stop over on P Street. I know one bus goes to the Metro Station and all of them go to the bus terminal.

A:    It sounds like a decent location for me.

B:     I think so, you can get almost anywhere by bus or train from here if you need to.

A:    What about crime in this area?  Are there many problems?

B:     I had a window broken, but I think kids were playing ball down the block and it was probably accidental.

A:    Forget broken windows! I’m talking about serious crimes; break-ins, muggings, carjackings.

B:     No!  Our police write parking and speeding tickets over here, no felony crimes. This is a very quiet place.

A:    Perfect.  Crime is mainly why I want to leave the city.

B:     Maybe I'll see you around if you find a good place. There are some new condominiums near the bus stop.

A:    I'd rather a house than a condo, but I’ll scope them out. I really don’t want another apartment.

Words and Phrases to work on:

  1. Laundromat
  2. Daily grind
  3. working the grill
  4. Shoot
  5. Feel you out
  6. Top notch
  7. Drug store
  8. Public transportation
  9. Metro station
  10. Won’t turn-over
  11. down the block
  12. felony
  13. break-ins, muggings, carjackings
  14. condominium, condo
  15. scope them out

Look up any other vocabulary you don't know. I threw in some idioms and slang for you.

If you practice these parts with a friend, ask each other some questions like these below.

  1. Would you like to move to a new area?
  2. What are good things to know before we move somewhere?
  3. How important is public transportation?
  4. Did you ever see a crime?
  5. Would you rather drive a car or ride a bus to work?

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Dialogue: The Emergency Room

Sometimes we may get too sick to wait for the doctor's office to open. I hope you never have to go to the emergency room.

This dialogue is for practice and may help you if you ever need to rush to the hospital. Please enjoy and learn.

Patient:    I feel very sick and need to be admitted to the hospital.

Nurse:     Please let me see your insurance card if you have one.

Patient:    Here it is and my ID.

Nurse:     Thank you. Now tell me your symptoms.

Patient:    I’ve been nauseous and running a fever since yesterday. Now my fever is much higher.

Nurse:     We will check your temperature, but I need to know if you are taking any medication                            or if you had any vaccinations in the past week.

Patient:    No, I took some aspirin and a cold medication yesterday. It was an over-the-counter                               medicine.

Nurse:     So you've had no drugs, alcohol or medicines in the last 8 hours?

Patient:    That’s right and I haven’t eaten anything either. I just can’t keep anything down.

Nurse:     So, when have you vomited?

Patient:    I threw up everything I ate or drank, so the last time was about 3 hours ago when I                                 tried to drink some water.

Nurse:     Are you allergic to any medications?

Patient:    No, but I do have food allergies.

Nurse:     What are they?

Patient:    I’m allergic to milk, wheat and peanuts.

Nurse:     OK, do you have any pain?

Patient:    Yes, I have a cramp or similar pain in my abdomen.

Nurse:     Ok, you do have a high fever.   I’m admitting you. Can you answer questions about                                   your medical history?

Patient:    I’ll be happy to answer any questions.  Just please help me get well.

Words and Phrases to work on:

  1. admitted
  2. symptoms
  3. nausea, dizzy, light headed
  4. vaccination, shot, injection
  5. running a fever
  6. over-the-counter, OTC
  7. keep something down, hold it down
  8. vomited, vomit
  9. threw up, throw up, retch, upchuck
  10. allergic, allergy
  11. cramp, muscle pain, ache
  12. abdomen   (try to substitute - arm, neck, chest, back or leg when you practice with a friend)

Here are questions you can use if you practice with a friend.

 Did you ever go to the emergency room?

 Do you keep your ID and insurance card with you?

 Would you worry if you were dizzy and vomiting with a fever?

 Do you trust OTC (over the counter) medicines?

 What would be a bad allergy to have?

 

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A Corpus Study using Ngram Viewer

You may know that corpus means body. A corpus of literature means a body of literature and is mainly used to indicate the words in that literature.

There are many Corpus studies to compare changes in language and to study how often a word is used. I have been using a tool from Google (Ngram Viewer) to compare words and their change in usage over time. I think you might enjoy using this Ngram Viewer tool which gives instant results based on the books that Google has scanned into their Google Books servers.

First lets look at this link: I used it on the corpus of Google books from 1800 to the year 2000. This is an interesting visual comparison of the words meter and metre: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=meter%2Cmetre&cas...

The result is a graph that you can look at for the 200 years that are covered by the books that were analyzed.

Here I have done the same thing with the words dialog and dialogue:   https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=dialog%2Cdialogue&case_insensitive=on&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=17&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t4%3B%2Cdialog%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bdialog%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDialog%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDIALOG%3B%2Cc0%3B.t4%3B%2Cdialogue%3B%2Cc0%3B%2Cs0%3B%3Bdialogue%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDialogue%3B%2Cc0%3B%3BDIALOGUE%3B%2Cc0

You can change the two words at the top and create a graph for any two words you want to compare. They should be separated by a comma for this to work properly. you can also compare two or more comma separated phrases. Please have fun. 

Here are the official instructions on how to use the Ngram viewer:https://books.google.com/ngrams/info

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Dialogue: In the Restaurant

This is a 3 part dialogue. We have the Person A, Person B and the Waiter speaking in this dialogue.

Waiter:  Good evening. We have a table for two over by the window or you can have a booth over here.

A             What would you like to do?

B             Let’s sit over here.

Waiter:  Can I get you something to drink while you check out the menu?

A             Thanks, I’ll have an iced tea.

B             I would like the House Coffee.

Waiter:  Great, I’ll be back with your drinks and take your food order shortly.

A             I’m thinking about the Beef stew since it is the Special today.

B             Oh, how much is it?

A             It’s $10.50 and it includes a salad, a drink and dessert.

B             I think I’ll get  the vegetarian combo.

 ...........................

Waiter:  OK, gentlemen. Here are your drinks. Would you like to order an appetizer?

A             No thanks, I think I’ll just order your daily special.

Waiter:   Very good sir. Anything else?

A             No thanks.

B             I’d like to try that vegetarian combo.

Waiter:   I’m sorry sir, that’s finished for today. May I bring you something else?

B             I was also looking at the Eggplant Parmesan.  Is that available?

Waiter:   Yes it is. Would you like to order anything else with that?

B             Sure, the Spring Salad looks very good.

Waiter:  OK,  I have a daily special of beef stew for you sir... and the Eggplant Parmesan with a Spring salad for you.  Is there anything else I can get you?

B             I think I will add that Homemade Vanilla ice-cream to my order.

Waiter:   Very good, I’ll get your food order going.  I’ll be back by with drink refills in a bit.

 

Check any vocabulary you don’t know. Online dictionaries are pretty easy to use.  Here are some:  http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/appetizer

or this one http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/appetizer 

or  http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/appetizer 

or search and find one you prefer.

Words and Phrases to work on:

  1. A booth, a table
  2. Can I get you…can I bring you…?
  3. Check out the menu
  4. Appetizer or starter
  5. Vegetarian Combo
  6. that’s finished for today
  7. drink refills
  8. in a bit

Some questions you can ask your yourself or a friend.

  1. What is your favorite appetizer?
  2. What do you think about stews?
  3. Do you know a vegetarian?
  4. Would it be difficult to be a vegetarian?
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National Day in Japan, February 11

I'm blogging again because today we have a national holiday in Japan.  Today is National Day or National Foundation Day.

Some people think that the origin of National Day dates back to 1946 when the new Japanese Constitution was approved by US General Douglas MacArthur on February 11.  It was no coincidence that the Constitution was approved on this date because it had been considered to be the founding day since the first known written history and had religious and national significance.

This holiday is actually very ancient and goes back to Japanese origin myths. The first Emperor of Japan is said to have ascended to the throne on the first day of the first month. That date was New Years Day under the traditional Chinese Lunisolar Calendar.

When the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in Japan, the government had to decide on a date for National Day in the new calendar. February 11 was agreed upon in 1873. At this time the Emperor was god and all powerful.

After a major war and changes in government in the 1940's, National Day was not as widely celebrated and most references to the Emperor were removed for a while. But, in 1966, the holiday was re-established as National Foundation Day and it kept the February 11 date for celebration.

Before 1946 the celebration focused on the Emperor as a god and was very nationalistic in tone. Today the celebration is more about loving your country and being a good citizen of Japan.

Personally, I am just happy to have a Wednesday off from work.  I get to blog and read other people's blogs. I also get to swim in the Community Pool. Last night after work I finished swimming 1 km in 36 minutes, while doing the backstroke. It is my fastest swimming stroke. Last year it took 40 minutes (not bragging on my new time).

I really love holidays.  Happy National day to all my Japanese friends.

 

Here are some links where I verified dates and things my students told me:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Foundation_Day 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Japan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunisolar_calendar 

Words or phrases to consider:

coincidence

Constitution 

significance 

Emperor 

Lunisolar Calendar 

Gregorian Calendar 

nationalistic 

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Dialogue: Missed Flight

A:  What can I do?  My connecting flight may be gone because we landed so late.

B:  When we come into the terminal, just ask the people at the arrival gate.

A:  I don’t speak Korean and they may not understand me.

B:  No big deal, I’ll translate for you.

A:  Please tell her I’m supposed to connect to JAL-422.

B:  She says you can’t make it. They already departed the gate. So, please go to the ticket counter in the next part of the building.

A:  OK, here’s the ticket counter. How can I get to Tokyo tonight?

B:  He says it is impossible to get there tonight.  But, they will put you on the first flight in the morning.

A:  When does it get to Tokyo?

B:  It should land by 11:30 AM.

A:  So, I will miss my meeting in Tokyo and I don’t have a place to stay tonight.

B:  He says don’t sweat it.  They’ll put you up in a hotel and convey you there.

A:  What can I do about my flight tomorrow?

B:  He’s printing your new ticket and boarding pass now.

A:  What about my bags? I need my clothes and medication.

B:  The bags are not available here. They have been forwarded to Tokyo.  They should be there when you land tomorrow.

A:  But, now I need some clean clothes to change into.

B:  He will give you a $200 clothing voucher for the airport shop. They can’t help you with your medication.

A:  Thank you for helping me. I will carry a change of clothes and medicine in my carry-on from now on.

B:  They apologize for our late arrival.  I hope the rest of your trip goes without a hitch.

 

Now please check any vocabulary you don’t know.

Words and Phrases to work on ( try your dictionary ):

  1. connecting flight
  2. arrival gate
  3. no big deal
  4. supposed to connect to
  5. departed
  6. convey
  7. forwarded
  8. put you up
  9. Don’t sweat it
  10. Voucher
  11. goes without a hitch

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Dialogue Challenge: Earth Day

It is sometimes useful and fun to practice dialogues with someone. I have been looking on the internet, but haven't found many for higher level students.  I wrote this one today and offer it to you to practice with.

If you want to, you can write a dialogue of your own and share it for others to use. You can link it to this blog in the comments and we will all try help you correct your grammar and make the dialogue sound like natural English speech.  Anyway, here is the one I wrote today:

EARTH DAY

A: Do you know about Earth Day?

B: I heard of it but don’t know what it's about.

A: It's on April 22nd, and it is a time to think about the health of our planet.

B: You mean health like having a fever?

A: No, it's more about protecting the planet and reducing waste and pollution.

B: Oh, you mean like recycling and reusing things?

A: Yes. We need to reduce what we use like water and other resources. We need to reuse things that we can and recycle stuff that can’t be reused. We need to reduce our carbon footprint.

B:  What about electricity, should we stop using electricity?

A:  I don’t think I can stop using electricity, can you?

B:  Well, no I don’t. I do need lights, air-conditioning and a refrigerator to keep my food in. I also need the microwave oven and need to keep my phone charged.

A:  I agree electricity is important if we want to live in the modern world.  But, I do think we could use less of it.

B:  How could we use less electricity than we do?

A:  We have to study our usage and then decide what is essential and what we can reduce or do without. You don’t need the lights on when you are not in the room.

B:  I see. I bet I can save if I don’t heat every room.

A:  Yes, and can't you also change the temperature when you use the heater or air-conditioner?  How warm do you keep your rooms?

B:  I usually keep the heater set to 22 or 23 degrees C.

A:  Mine is set on 16 degrees but if I feel cold I will raise it to 17 or 18.  Mostly, I keep it on 16, but I do not walk around the house in my underwear either. I wear warm clothes. In the summer, I keep the house warmer and wear less clothing.

B:  That may be a good place for me to start saving electricity. I can turn off lights as I leave a room and lower my heater temperature setting.

A: Let’s make a list of other things we can do to use less electricity.

B: Good idea.  That can save us money too. I will reuse this old paper to make the list.

I think you might have fun if you and a friend practice dialogues or even record yourselves. You are welcome to record this one and add it on the Kill your Fear of Talking Group ( http://my.englishclub.com/group/kill-your-fear-of-talking ).  I would also love to see any dialogues that you write.

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A Fast Train Home

It may come as no surprise that Japan has some very fast trains. I like to ride these trains and this Monday I was thankful that they are so fast. I had spent a few days in Tokyo with my family and with work when the big Vongfong Typhoon was coming our way.  Saturday we were admiring the park near my daughter's home. We really hoped the storm would weaken and stop.

We could see the round Sky Tree tower in the distance. Further down the park was a baseball field with the teams getting ready for a game. Tokyo is the largest city I've ever seen and it stretches on for mile after mile.

Sunday we were shopping along Ginza street with the big crowds. There were so many nice stores and coffee shops. I didn't buy any clothes but I tried some on.

I kept thinking about the largest storm of the year that was coming toward us. Our train tickets for home were reserved for Monday at 5:28 PM on the Bullet Train (Shinkansen). The storm forecasts kept changing, but I was nervous because if there is too much wind or rain the trains are stopped.  These beautiful trains travel at speeds up to 320 km per hour / 200 miles per hour, so a strong storm wind can be dangerous.

I knew the stations would be crowded with people trying to return home and the storm was getting strong in the afternoon. I decided to forget my reserved seat and go wait at the station for one of the cars without reserved seating. I walked all the way to the end of the train platform and stood where train car #1 would be.  I was lucky to be first in the line. I met the captain and he confirmed the train was the correct one to get me to Koriyama and connect me with a normal train through themountains. I took this picture of myself as my green train approaches. The captain stands behind me with the key to open the train and let us on. Many people who didn't come early are standing behind me on the platform. Everyone got on the train and everyone in my car got a seat.

To escape the storm I would have been happy to stand, but going 320 kph it feels safer to be sitting. After we left, the trains were all stopped at 4:00 PM and my original train was one of those that was cancelled. I'm so happy I didn't have to sleep in the station.

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Uncountable Nouns (a Reminder)

I think everyone remembers that some nouns are countable like pencils, books, apples and cars.

We need to remember that uncountable nouns can not have a plural form, unless their form is plural to begin with. Then they don't have a singular form.

Countable Nouns:

apple...1 apple...2 apples

book...1 book ...2 books

pencil...1 pencil...2 pencils

car... 1 car... 2 cars

Uncountable Nouns:

water...We can't count it.  We have some water,  less water or more water.

rice...We can't count rice.  We can have some rice, more, less, a lot or a little rice.

information... I've got some information. How much, a  lot? I have a little information. I need more information.

Remember, If you can't count it it doesn't have a plural form. 

I can have information, I can't have informations.

If it is countable I can say give me another one. If it is not countable I would say give me some more.

A good trick to help you remember is to try to count something and if it isn't countable, you should not try to make it a plural.

So, lets take these examples and you test yourself.   I have done the first one for you, with the word boy:

boy      ...    one boy____  ...two boys____  So we see boy is countable.

minute   ...  one _______ ... two ________  Can I count minutes?

money   ...  one _______ ... two ________   Can I say give me two money?

salt     ...     one _______ ... two ________

cat   ...        one _______ ... two ________

electricity... one _______ ... two ________

progress...  one _______ ... two ________

baby  ...       one _______ ... two ________

There is more to countable and uncountable nouns than I covered here. This is just a reminder about another one of those things in English that can cause you to make a mistake. If you speak English some saying these words in your head may help you to see if a noun makes sense if you try to count it.   Happy writing and keep on learning. :)

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Spam and Spammers even use Chatrooms

Spammers are people who try to get your confidence and then get your money or infect your computer. I blogged on this topic in 2011 if you are interested, http://my.englishclub.com/profiles/blogs/spammers-can-get-us-if-we-are-not-careful ;

but they keep coming back and changing their methods. I don't use the chatroom, but I just had a message which popped up on my computer.

Chatroom spammers use the same tricks. They try to get you to contact them by email or go to a certain web site. Such contact with them can only end badly for you. MyEC is a safe place as far as we can make it. We can't protect you if you look for friendship or photos from a spammer. Please have a good safe day online.   :)

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Privacy and Community

MyEnglishClub is a community that shares and learns together.

We also try to have fun communicating. A big part of the success of this community is being able to make friends.

It is important to make friends.

PRIVACY SETTINGS can keep you from making friends.  Privacy and community do not go well together in my opinion. Here are the best privacy settings to use:

Here are the two most important things to keep open:

1. Visibility-

Your profile page, your blog and photos need to be kept open to - Anyone

If we can't see you and read about you we are not going to become your friends. Without friends you will not improve as well as you could.  Friends keep us motivated. Friends keep us happy. Friends help us.

2. Moderation-

Comments should be open to - Anyone

When someone adds a comment on my profile or my blog- Publish it immediately

Why on earth would you want to prevent comments from members? We are supposed to love comments. Comments are helpful and motivating. That is why we have friends. That is why this is called social media.

I feel like it is rude to moderate comments. When I leave a comment on your page and it doesn't show because it is being moderated, I can't check spelling or even delete it if I change my mind.

If I come back later and wonder if I thanked you for your comment I won't be able to see it. I may have tried to leave it from my phone, but now can't tell if it worked or not.

You should probably keep your moderation set like the example below. If you want to make friends you will be better off to do this. I am not going to bother too much with someone who wants to be unreachable or thinks they are better than the other members.

So don't expect to get a lot of friends if you hide from everyone or if you make us wait when we want to leave you a comment. I don't need to be friends with people who don't want to be a friendly part of the community.

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Eating Natto in Japan

Have you ever heard of natto or maybe even eaten some natto?

This is a fermented bean dish eaten in Japan and the "A" makes the sound of "A" in father or the "O" in not. So, what is so special about natto?

The first thing you might notice with natto is that it is very sticky and the beans are covered with something like glue.  Another thing you may notice is the smell. Some people think of dirty socks when they smell natto. My natto didn't smell that bad, but when I removed the plastic cover my fingers were very sticky until I could go wash them.

You may wonder why the beans are so sticky and have an unusual smell. The answer is simple. The beans are allowed to ferment the same way milk ferments to make cheese. Protein can get smelly after a few months and that is the case with nato.  

Certainly something that smells and is sticky like this, must taste very good for people to buy it and eat it after it is rotten. We know that some of the most smelly cheeses also have the most flavor.

In my opinion, natto doesn't have much flavor and when you buy a carton of natto, mustard and something like soy sauce are included. I tried it plain, with the mustard, with the other sauce and with both mixed in. I thought it was better with the mustard/soy sauce mixture. It is not my favorite food but it wasn't actually bad.

The fish, the cooked greens and the cooked egg, all were better tasting than the natto. They also smelled better and didn't offend my lunch companions. I had heard about natto and I decided I should try it and make up my own mind about it.

When you visit Japan you must try some, so you can decide. We also have many other exotic things that we eat here. Some things we eat raw like horse meat and fish, while others are pickled, cooked or fermented. Food in Japan is like no other country.

Look up the words in bold if they are new to you.

  :)

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Gardening

Did you ever make a vegetable garden?

I love to garden and I really, really, really love to eat the fresh vegetables. Gardens are not difficult if you have healthy soil.

Some plants like soil that is a little bit acidic and others like a neutral or a more alkaline soil.

Weeds also like gardens and seem to like every kind of soil. Weeds are what we call any plant that we don't want growing in the garden.

If you want to make a garden, you need to decide what you will grow. It is good to check your soil and make sure that it is good for the crop you will grow. The potato does best with soil that is slightly acid and not very high in nitrogen content. Wood ash or manure would not be good to add to your soil if you will grow a potato crop. Potato flowers are different colors from different kinds of potatoes.

I always add some organic materials to my soil. I like to save the leaves, roots and stems of plants I don’t eat. Coffee grounds, old cabbage and other vegetable waste can be composted to make a very good organic material to add to your garden. 

acidic       http://www.yourdictionary.com/acidic

alkaline    http://www.yourdictionary.com/alkaline

organic    http://www.yourdictionary.com/organic

compost  http://www.yourdictionary.com/compost#americanheritage

neutral soil is not acidic or alkaline. pH of 7 = Neutral pH.

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What Should I Study?

How can you spend your time in the best way when you are trying to learn a new language? 

Which of the four language skills are most important; Listening, Speaking, Reading or Writing?

First, let's look at how people acquire language after they are born.
Listening-  Children learn their language on their own from listening and they make little sounds as they hear others speak. They hear their own sounds and can try to copy the sounds others make.

Speaking-  After listening to everything that is said around them for a long time, children start speaking, so that they can carry on conversations. At first it is to make their needs known better than just crying. I am thirsty, I am hungry, My ear hurts, are all better ways to get relief than just screaming.

After speech is learned, some people might never read or write. Some languages have still never been written and on a simple basis speech can work well for them because everything they need can be communicated by speech.

Reading and writing are things that we have to be taught. We do not naturally pick them up like we do speech. Someone has to show us the symbols that our language uses to stand for sounds.

Reading-   Reading is important because it is how we can learn things from people we will never meet. These may be people who are no longer alive but have some very important things to teach us.

Writing-    Writing is the way that you can communicate with people you have never met. Things that you write might even be read hundreds of years after you are gone. Your grandchildren might be able to read messages from you on cached EC pages years from now.


Which skills are most important for you?

Listening is the most important skill for English communication if you want to speak to people and to understand when they speak to you.  Just like the baby, effective speaking comes after listening.

Speaking should be your next most important skill. Your English training and your practice should emphasize speaking and listening where you can do that. Those are the basic skills you need for communication.

Reading is a way to greatly expand your learning once the very basics are mastered. Just like your own language, reading in English is the way that you learn new words. It also lets you see how sentences and paragraphs should be put together.

Writing is the best way to put the things you have learned into practice.  Writing blogs and starting discussions are very important for you to keep moving upward with your language skills. Beginners should write simple things but still use proper grammar and spelling. Everyone above beginner level should try to write more complicated blogs. Again, you must get in the habit of using correct English.

EnglishClub has countless ways for you to practice all of these skills. I think we offer the best opportunities for writing. That is why I always encourage members to write. You have to crawl before you can walk and you will fall a few times as you learn. It is the same with writing. Forget your fear and just write something.    When you do, please tell me so I can read it.

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Can you surprise me? Idioms

I guess I am going to let the cat out of the bag, for some of you night owls who spend most of your English Club time chatting and reading your friend's blogs.  But, English Club has much, much more than My English Club (our social media side).

If you have paid attention in the past, you may have noticed some of the helpful resources.  

Today I am reminding you about our sections on idioms.  

I am just scratching the surface of the offerings that are available. The idioms at this link are about animals and some are in bold in my paragraph above.  http://www.englishclub.com/ref/Idioms/Animals/index.htm

?What happens to you if you play it by ear and then end up  facing the music 

http://www.englishclub.com/ref/Idioms/Music/index.htm

If you haven't checked these idioms and the rest of the English Club site you are missing the boat.

http://www.englishclub.com/ref/Idioms/

 


 

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Using Contractions Properly

Many students are confused on how to properly use contractions in speech.  This is one of the most common errors that I see in my students, so I will explain how this should be done and give some examples of pronunciation. 

But first, let us remember that a contraction is a short form of a phrase in English and is most commonly used in informal speech and writing.  The phrase is shortened (contracted) by removing one or more letters, inserting an apostrophe in their place and making the phrase into a single word.

In more formal writing we should not use contractions, but it is fine to do in friendly communications with your friends and family where an informal tone is appropriate.  When you are reading and come to contractions, you should always pronounce them as contractions and not as the longer phrase they represent. 

For example: You should say can't instead of cannot if it is written as can't.  If you see won't, you should always say won't instead of will not.  If you make pronouncing contractions properly a habit, your English speech will sound much more natural. You do want to sound natural don't you?

Practice saying some of these:

aren't

can't

could’ve

couldn't

didn't

doesn't

don't

hadn't

hasn't

haven't

he'd

he'll

he's

I'd

I'll

I'm

I've

isn't

let's

might’ve

mightn't

mustn't

she'd

she'll

she's

shouldn't

that's

there's

they'd

they'll

they're

they've

we'd

we're

we've

weren't

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