Thursday, December 29, 2005

From the Icy English Midlands

Dear All,
I hope you have all had a really excellent Christmas or equivalent. I had a wonderful three days in Norfolk, eastern England, doing almost nothing. How I am in Leicestershire, where it's not at all comfortable right now - it's cold, snowy and foggy. So I hope that wherever you are, you are enjoying yourselves.

To cheer yourselves up, connect to the BBC web site and find out about Clubbing - "everybody wants to party, but it's too cold to be outside." Listen and learn some new words and expressions.

And here's a link to one of London's most famous clubs: The Ministry of Sound. It's got the latest tunes, advice on where and how to party, and much, much more. Take time out to explore this site.

Today I am moving up to the North-East of England, near Scotland. It is normally a three-hour car ride but it is likely to take longer today owing to the dodgy weather. To find out something about this fascinating part of the UK, go to 'This Is The North-East'.

Anyone out there interested in the law and justice? You could be a practising lawyer, a law student, or simply interested in what Italian newspaper readers know as 'la cronaca' - in other words, everyday news about crime. Whoever you are, you'll be interested in this Blog by a London Magistrate. 'The Law West of Ealing Broadway' offers us an insight to criminal justice in West London. You'll learn a lot of colloquial expressions. Just ask me via the Comments if you need help.

Someone has very kindly lent me their computer so that I can write this Blog posting, but I will sign off now because the connection is excruciatingly slow!

Please as always do leave your comment whenever you visit this Blog - and give your opinion of the sites which are linked here. Thank you very much indeed, Silvia and Bee, for your latest comments.

I hope to be able to add another Post to this blog while I am up North. Watch this space.

And a very happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Season's Greetings

Dear All,
This is the last posting of the year 2005. So a happy Christmas, Season's Greetings, and New Year to you all.

This year's holidays are longer than usual: 23 December to 9 January, or if you prefer, 19 days' total inactivity. So I leave you with a few Internet sites to explore during this time.

Level 4 Intensive Wed/Fri: we briefly mentioned the Winter Solstice, 21 December. Read more about it
here on the BBC's informative web site.

Levels 4 and 5: you will by now have had an e-mail for me about the highly useful
Learn English Professionals site. To enjoy all the facilities of this site, you need a user ID and password. I have given you these in the e-mail.

If you can find 15 minutes during the holidays, please do log in to the site. Read at least one article and do an exercise; do at least one listening exercise. Then please don't forget to leave a comment. Say how useful you found the site and the exercise.

Very Important: try the Listening Downloads at the bottom of the Learn English Professionals' front page. These give you ever more opportunities to practise listening.

And now something for everybody. Often, when you use Internet, you are passive. You read and listen, but you don't communicate. You absorb information, but you don't generate any. So why not try chatting? This is a good opportunity to practise your English online.

Unfortunately a lot of chat sites are a waste of time. But one site has been in existence for longer than most:
Dave's ESL Cafe. Although old-fashioned - you have to click a button to refresh the screen and see the latest conversations - it remains a friendly, safe area. You'll meet teachers and students from all over the world.

straight to the Chat, click on "All First Time Users Must Register Here", and complete the on-screen form. You will need to give your e-mail address, and you will automatcially receive a registration number. Simply click on the link provided in the message, and follow instructions.

Other Chats: you could try
Yahoo!, which has a large number of chat areas, and you can chat to your special group of friends by using Yahoo Messenger. You must be a member of Yahoo to use Chat and Messenger: I am a member myself and I go by the user name of Michaelivy. Let me know if you join Yahoo, and we can arrange to chat regularly.

Note: if your boss looks over your shoulder while you are on any of the sites I have mentioned here, you can legitimately point out that you are enhancing your value to the organisation you work for by maintaining your contact with English and improving your knowledge of the language. And of course your boss is most welcome to join this Blog, as well as the MetroZine. Tell him or her to contact me if desired.

That's all folks! Have a very happy Christmas and New Year holiday. During the holidays I shall be in England and France. If I am able, I will add another posting. So visit at least once a week. And as always, leave a comment!

Kind regards to you all,

Monday, December 05, 2005

Watch the news on the BBC

Many thanks are due to Fabio for his summary of 'Economist' Editor John Peet's interview on the Italian economy. Read about it in the Comments section of the previous posting, 'The Economist' Survey of Italy. I'll be posting my corrections to his comment in the same Comments section. But don't worry Fabio: your summary was well written.

Now for some more opportunities to practise your watching and listening skills. Go to the BBC News website and click on the button on the right: WATCH BBC NEWS IN VIDEO.
Choose any topic that interests you. Then, very important, leave a summary of what you saw in the
Comments section. Don't spend more than ten minutes doing this!
See you all this week. Ciao4now!
Mike, writing from a rainy San Giovanni on Monday night.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

'The Economist' survey of Italy

Levels 4 and 5: a good listening exercise for you:

An interview with the Editor of The Economist, John Peet.

Listen and see if you can understand what Mr Peet thinks is wrong with the Italian economy. Do you agree with him?

Read the survey as well.

And another thing (added 2 Dec 2005): check out the BBC web site for a piece on Italian neighbourhood shops and about Rome's disappearing shops and caf├ęs.

In both cases you can also listen - check the links in the right-hand column.

Don't forget to post a comment after reading and/or listening.