Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What's the phrase?

A new series to quiz you on the right idiomatic expression.

Here's our first question:

"When you start a new sport and you're not very fit, take it very easy at first. Go into it gradually. Never go into it _______ .

a) sheep-headed.
b) bull-headed.
c) cow-headed..

Which one is right? Answer using a Comment! 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Holidays


To all our readers: A very happy Christmas and New Year 2019!

If you feel like practising Listening during the vacation, look to the column on the right for such sites as "Learn English" (British Council), "Learning English" (BBC) and "Real English" (Michael Marzio).

And there's our class magazine, "English, Actually."

More in due course!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Buying Eggs: The answers

Hello everyone. Here are the answers to last month's quiz on eggs, from BBC Radio Four in Four.

1) What does the British Association of Free Range Egg Producers recommend customers to buy?
Boxes of mixed-size eggs.
2) Leicester egg farmer Bill Crawley says large eggs weigh between 63 and 73 grams, while a medium egg is 53 to 63 grams.
3) What is one disadvantage of buying a larger egg? The albumen, or white, part of the egg is much larger than the yolk, or yellow part of the egg. So larger eggs do not necessarily have a larger yolk than smaller eggs.
4) How do supermarkets encourage producers to produce large eggs? By offering more money for the larger eggs and less money for the smaller eggs.
Mr Crawley concludes that a hen will only lay the size of egg that she is ready to lay. You cannot force a hen to lay large eggs on demand.

The Rome English Blog is a guide to practising Listening skills through the Internet. Listening is one of the more difficult aspects of learning a language. While we can practise listening in class, there is no substitute for regular personal practice.

Here is a very brief roundup of useful sites:
1) The British Council Learn English Teens site. You have a choice here: the Skills/Listening section, organised into different levels. Or the "Study Break" section, choosing either "Video Zone" or "YouTubers". And under "UK Now", choose "Video UK".
2) For more advanced listening, try the BBC's "Radio 4 in Four". You won't have the support of a transcript or exercises. So choose a topic you are interested in, and try to note the key expressions. Can you put these together to understand the general message?
3) There's also "Short Videos from Radio 4 in Four". These videos are fun but contain quite advanced, idiomatic language. There are plenty of "How To" videos - try "How to have lunch with a politician" and see how much you understand. See also "The science behind Christmas Wrapping".
That's all for the moment. Please do write in with your comments and reactions to the sites I have recommended. And if you have a site you would like to recommend it, tell us about it in a comment.

Have a nice day!
Yours,
Michael

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fantastic opportunities for listening

Hello. I am always telling students how important it is to listen to English when you are outside the classroom.

We do a listening exercise from the course book most lessons. But learning to listen is a slow process.It is vital to practise as much as you can in your free time. The rule is, as with financial accounts, "a little, but often".

Listening can include listening to the radio, to your favourite songs or watching a move or TV series. Let's take the radio as an example.

Many students are discouraged by the idea of listening to the radio, they say. They are afraid they won't understand every word. I say, don't worry about understanding every word.

Instead, try to get the general idea of the speech. You will get better at this with time, especially if you follow the rule of "a little, but often".

Try BBC Radio Four, which is approximately equivalent to Italian RAI GR 1. Here is a special website, "Radio Four In Four". The page you will see shows links to 'clips', or short extracts, from longer programmes.

Browse around. You could be interested in "Why Faith Seems Alive and Well in Social Media", or maybe you fancy "I Face Discrimination in the US as a Lawyer Because I'm a Woman". These are moderately long - 9 minutes 48 and 13' 30'' respectively.

So how about something shorter? "Why You Should Stop Buying Large Eggs" is just over three minutes. Let's listen to this clip now. Below are a few simple questions about it. Note carefully! Unlike "Learning English", there are no subtitles or transcripts to help you.

  1. What does the British Association of Free Range Egg Producers recommend customers to buy?
  2. Leicester egg farmer Bill Crawley says large eggs weigh between ___ and ___ grams, while a medium egg is ___ to ___ grams.
  3. What is one disadvantage of buying a larger egg?
  4. How do supermarkets encourage producers to produce large eggs?
Don't worry about understanding every single word. Just get the general message..Then send in your answers in a Comment.

Happy listening - and keep exploring "Radio Four in Four"!
Yours,
Michael (Editor)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Of Bugs and Beetles: The answers

Hello readers. My deep apologies for taking over a month and a half to post these answers. My usual excuse is that there has been very little time.
But better late than never, so here are the answers:

1. What is the car called? 'Bug' in the US, 'Beetle' in the UK, 'Coccinelle' in France, 'Peta' in Bolivia and 'Kodok' in Indonesia.

2. Which film made this car 'iconic'? 'The Love Bug', a Walt Disney film.

3. When did the original design stop being produced? Fifteen years ago.

4. What do you think is the difference between "goodbye" and "farewell"? This presentation suggests that 'farewell' implies that you will see the person, or phenomenon, again. 'Goodbye' suggests a permanent separation.
 However, it is not as simple as this. 'Goodbye' is much more common in everyday English. If, after a date, you said 'Farewell' to someone, they would think you were joking.

5. And what new words did you learn? You tell us - just send your answers in a Comment.

And keep returning to the BBC's "Learning English" site. There is lots more material here to help you with your English. I'll return to this site in the near future with some more indicators for you.

More soon and have a nice day,
Michael Ivy (Editor)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Of Bugs and Beetles


Here's something a bit different to help you with your essential listening practice.The BBC World Service's "Lingohack" regrets the passing of an iconic automobile. Here are some questions for you to think about as you listen:


1. What is the car called?
2. Which film made this car 'iconic'?
3. When did the original design stop being produced?
4. What do you think is the difference between "goodbye" and "farewell"?
5. And what new words did you learn?

Navigate to 
"Lingohack" on the BBC to find out!


More soon,
Yours,
Michael