Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This Interactive Blog!

Hello everyone. To my shame, almost a month has gone by since my last post to you. It's down to September and the beginning of October being exceptionally busy periods here in our teaching centre.

However, I am very happy to see that you, the readers, have not been idle. In particular, I would like to thank Ciro, Maria C., Giulia, Topazia, Giovanna and Angelo for leaving their messages on the Tag Board describing the English-language web sites they have visited.

This kind of interactivity is the essence of our blog. I created this Blog in far-off 2004 as a guide to the Internet for students of English. I intended it also to be a channel of communication between us. Unfortunately, this feature of the blog has so far been under-used. The recent Tag Board activity shows that this may be changing.

As for the wider Internet, in the 12 years since I started this Blog, the Net has changed and expanded enormously. There are now vast resources for you to choose from, and I encourage you to take full advantage of them.

Now, on another topic: imminently, I will post some advance notices on workshops here in our teaching centre, given by my learned colleague Bruce Warburton. You are strongly urged to go to these: there's always something new to learn.

And, also coming up: another Listening Quiz from the BBC's "Learning English" site.

Have a very good week!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Your sign, your personality?

Good day everyone. Today I want to draw your attention to an important resource: "Real English" by the well-known American teacher of English, Michael Marzio.

You are probably familiar with his spontaneous street interviews with passers-by, who answer questions on their nationality, phone numbers, what the Americans/British/Italians/Germans are like, and similar. Right now I'd like to look at the Zodiac.

It's often said that our personalities are influenced by our Zodiac sign. For instance, a Libran like me is supposed to be well-balanced. But is this true for every Libran?

So navigate or surf over to "Real English" Lesson 7 - "What's Your Astrological Sign?"

As you watch, make a note of the signs and the personality traits associated with each one. Then, when you've finished, watch the video again, with subtitles. Same or different? Did you learn any surprising facts?

Tip: - Click on the video title at the top of the video window, so as to open the video in YouTube and enable Full Screen. 

Question: What language is used, in English, to refer to Zodiac signs?

Write your answers to all these questions - signs and characteristics, and the language of the Zodiac - on the Tag Board or in a Comment.

P.S. You'll also find Michael Marzio's "Real English" in the list of useful sites, on the right below the Tag Board.

I look forward to reading your answers!
Have a nice day,

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Back at the ranch

Hello everyone. It's that time again: new year, new students, new horizons. and new posts to this Blog, "Rome English".

It's been a long summer holiday, and I apologise for the lack of new posts.

Soonest, I'll resume with Listening Quizzes. But for now, I'd like to welcome a new Pre-Intermediate class of students.

They are a small class, and are into Mechanics, Fashion, Physiotherapy and general culture. However it is early to present them with BBC Radio listening comprehension. I'd like instead to draw their, and your, attention to a few simple aids to practising English:

1. Our class magazine, "English, Actually". It's the place to go if you want to learn about us, and practise writing. That way, you join our community.

2. The British Council's "Learn English" site. Excellent for grammar and vocabulary research, and a wide range of listening exercises. I particularly recommend "Learn English Teens" even if you are not a teenager. There is a lot of lively material.

3. "Real English", by Michael Marzio. Watch the video interviews, do the exercises and test your listening skills. Try the phone numbers lesson: write down the phone numbers, then watch again using the subtitled version.

There are, of course, links to all these sites in the column opposite, on the right. I urge you to explore this column and checkout as many websites as you can.

That's all for today. Do write a comment or a message on the Tag Board, just to introduce yourself.

More very soon!
Michael Ivy

Monday, June 20, 2016

News review - vocabulary for you.

Dear all,

Sorry for my absence since the last post on 7 June. Now I'm back, with a very useful website for Upper-Intermediate students and above.

It's the BBC's "Learning English" and it's called "News Review". Here, two people in the studio discuss useful vocabulary to help you understand the news better.

The topic is the tragic, much-discussed shooting incident at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Have a look at the site, watch the video and note the vocabulary - words such as "vigil" and "moving". Then do the short quiz activity.

Extra activity: when you have finished, look through the various news articles on the BBC website. What words and expressions, specific to news reporting, occur most often? Post your answers in a Comment or on the Tag Board.

Do revisit the BBC's "Learning English" site. There are so many useful features here. Try "Lingohack". It's organised by date, with each date displaying three news headlines. Take your pick. Then give us your reactions, again, in a comment or on the tag board.

Always remember: it's vitally important to maintain your contact with English, especially now when courses may have finished.

I'll have more for you very soon! Watch this space.

Kind regards,
Michael Ivy

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Is the Latin Lover Dead?: The Answers

Hello all! I am sorry to have been away for so long. But now I can reveal the answers to the latest Six Minute English Quiz: "Is the Latin Lover Dead?"

Those questions and answers:
1. This weeks's official question: Who wrote the novel Don Quixote, about a 50-year old man travelling Spain in search of knightly adventures in rusty armour and a cardboard helmet? Was it…

a) Miguel de Cervantes: b) Leo Tolstoy: c) William Shakespeare?

2. What does Alice ask Neil to do at the beginning of the programme? [Give her his comfortable chair because hers is uncomfortable.]

3. Chivalry was all about [honour] and [courage] in battle. Later it was about being [polite] to [ladies].

4. In Poland they have battle [re-enactments] every weekend.

5. Jousting is a contest between two people on [horseback].

6. Professor Laura Ash of Oxford University says that [love] makes you a better [knight].

So what's the situation in your country? Is chivalry alive or dead? We'd all love to read your answers from round the world. Simply write then in a Comment or on the Tag Board opposite.

The next Six Minute English Quiz is coming soon.

Good bye for now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Is the Latin Lover Dead?

G'day all. The above question, I have asked my students in Rome many times. Most people, especially the ladies, emphatically reply "No".

And Six Minute English asks "Is Chivalry Dead?

Let's listen and see. Please, however, try not to look at the transcript until you have finished the exercise.

So - Six Questions for Six Minutes:

1. This weeks's official question: Who wrote the novel Don Quixote, about a 50-year old man travelling Spain in search of knightly adventures in rusty armour and a cardboard helmet? Was it…

a) Miguel de Cervantes: b) Leo Tolstoy: c) William Shakespeare?

2. What does Alice ask Neil to do at the beginning of the programme? (Write a short reply)

3. Chivalry was all about [______] and [______] in [______]. Later it was about being [______] to [______]. (One word for each space.)

4. In Poland they have battle [______] every weekend.

5. Jousting is a contest between two people on [______].

6. Professor Laura Ashe of Oxford University says that in medieval times,  [______] made you a better [______].

Post your answers to the Tag Board or write them in a Comment. The first person to post the right answers will get an Honourable Mention and an apero in the nearby Vineria on Via della Croce.

I look forward to maximum participation. Come numerous, to translate directly.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Migrants: The Answers

Hello everyone. I was very pleased to find loyal student Filomena's answers to the latest Quiz. Let's see whether she got them all right:

1. became a volunteer after going on a sailing excursion (The Optician, Carmine)
2. became a volunteer after her mother died (The Chef, Maria-Grazia)
3. doesn't understand why no one in their own countries helps migrants (The Chef, Maria-Grazia)
4. feels the presence of the migrants in the material he uses for his work (The Carpenter, Francesco Tuccio)
5. finds some aspects of his job "sad" (The Gravedigger, Giuseppe Giardino)
6. gets his material from wrecked migrants' boats (The Carpenter, Francesco Tuccio)
7. has had to find three hundred extra beds for migrants (The Hospital Director, Mr Giuffreda)
8. saved forty-seven migrants (The Optician, Carmine)
9. says "tiredness is not in our contract" (The Hospital Director, Mr Giuffreda)
10. says helping migrants is a blessing (The Hospital Director, Mr Giuffreda)
11. says that Italy and Europe are not doing enough to help migrants (The Gravedigger, Giuseppe Giardino)
12. says that until two years ago the media never talked about migrants (The Carpenter, Francesco Tuccio)
13. says there are many more children and teenagers than in the past (The Chef, Maria-Grazia)
14. sells his work all over Europe (The Carpenter, Francesco Tuccio)
15. took some Eritrean survivors out to sea to revisit the area where they were rescued (The Optician, Carmine)

Yes, she did!
What a pity, however, that she was the only person to take part. :-(

I encourage anyone who is studying English to spend a few minutes every day, if they can, on listening practice. It's the real key to making a substantial improvement.

Look no further than the right-hand column of this blog for a guide to useful websites.

Elementary to Intermediate students will find "Real English" a great help. Advanced students should venture onto the radio. The BBC's Radio 4 and World Service are good for news. As a step up, try listening to interviews. The Radio 4 Today programme is a good place to look; see also "Radio 4 in 4", which has clips lasting under 5 minutes.

A very good opportunity to listen to authentic English is offered by the British Council's "Learn English" site. "Learn English Teens", whether you are a teenager or not, has some very useful materials.

All the links can be found on the right-hand column. If you need help, just write to me in a comment or a message on the Tag Board.

Now watch this space for the next listening quiz!

Happy listening.