In 2006, my wife and I packed up our things and moved to Lithuania. One of the first things we did was to purchase a small apartment near the city centre. It was an old German building with only six apartments built around the time when the area was known as East Prussia. The apartment also had a cellar with storage for each apartment and the pipes and services for the whole building. The main door didn’t have a buzzer and need someone with a key to open it. Beside this door was a sign with the phone numbers of those who had keys in case someone needed to get into the cellar such as service personnel.
One day, I was at home getting ready for class when I got a phone call. I hated getting calls since inevitably I wouldn’t understand them and would feel really stupid afterwards. Here is what I heard during that call (in English since it wouldn’t make sense to you otherwise): Continue reading Listening →
Image courtesy of Windell Oskay
It is funny how things change as you get older. When I was younger, I swore I would never be a teacher. Both of my parents were teachers and I actually thought they were good at their jobs, but the idea of teaching sounded boring to me. So what did I want to do when I grew up? I wanted to be an inventor. I had this box of old mechanical and electrical components I had scavenged from things I would find around the house and I would attempt to build things from them. My dad even went so far as to buy me a 6V lantern battery as a christmas present one year. It was only one of many unique gifts my parents gave me over the years. Funny thing was, I thought the presents were great.
One day, I decided to solder some random resistors and capacitors together to see what would happen when I plugged them in. Poof. A quick flame and lots of smoke. Oops. Well, at least I didn’t burn the house down. I had no idea that the little coloured bands on the side of the resistor held any relevant information. Nor did I grasp the concept of what a capacitor did. I just took what I thought were relevant parts and assembled them in a way that I thought would work.
For many of my English language students, writing works in the same way. They often piece together formulaic words and phrases that they feel should work in a given situation and PRESTO, you have a sentence that sounds like it was made up of stock words and phrases. Hmmm. Something isn’t working here. Grammatically it is good. Spelling is perfect. Meaning is mostly correct. So what’s wrong? Continue reading Hedging →