Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Cleaning

That's what this week's Six Minute English is about. And it is something I find extraordinarily difficult to do. However, when you listen to the programme, you will see that I am by no means alone.

First, let's consider the official question:

How many hours per week do you think the average woman spends doing housework?
(a) 3 hours

(b) 15 hours
(c) 20 hours

As you listen, try to answer these questions as well:

1. What does "skimming" mean?
2. According to the first speaker, what used to happen in her house on a Monday?
3. The second speaker Vivien Emleigh's house is ................... ..................... .
4. Her kitchen is clean but very .................................... .
5. According to the presenter, 'obsessive' means: ................................
6. 'Clutter' means .....................................................................
7. A 'clearout' is when you .......................................................
8. According to the presenter, spring cleaning clears both the air and ............ ............... .

Now listen to the programme and write your answers in a comment or, if there's room, on the Tag Board.

More soon!
_ Mike

Friday, May 15, 2009

Astrology on Six Minute English

Hello everyone.

Do you believe in the horoscopes? This week I have chosen a piece on astrology in "Six Minute English" as a listening comprehension exercise.

Here are a few comprehension questions:

1. Official question, as seen on the site:
- How many star signs are there?

Now for some more questions:
2. Jackie's star sign is ......
3. Her star sign means that she is ........ (3 personality characteristics)
4. The Scottish journalist Jan Muir's first job on her newspaper was ................
5. The formula for a horoscope included a ............, a ............. and a .............
6. According to Jan Muir, why do people continue to be interested in horoscopes?
7. According to the professor of astrology, horoscopes are a piece of ................... (two words)

Listen and write your answers in a Comment. The first person to get the answers correct will get an Honourable Mention - and I'll buy them a drink if we go out.

Now for two further things:
1. In Level 4A (Wed/Fri classes), we have been talking about crime. Have a look at a British newspaper, "The Times". Here's a link to the crime reports. How many new words, connected with crime and justice, can you find? Can you identify any special structures, such as passives? And can you identify any special reporting verbs?
- Write your answers in a comment.
2. I have promised to demonstrate how the concordancer web sites can help you research into how English works. Right now I only have time to point you to the main concordancer sites. I have temporarily moved the links up to just below the Tag Board. Here are some exercises you could try:
(a) How many phrasal verbs with "get" can you find, and what do they mean? Can you identify a "get" phrasal verb with more than one meaning?
(b) How many adjectives ending in "-ly" can you find?

That's all for now! More soon.
- Mike

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Learning to listen

Hello everybody.

Still on the subject of listening: later this week, I'll add another "Six Minute English" listening comprehension. For now, however, I would like to point you to "Learning to Listen". This is in another area of the BBC's "Learning English" web site.

It's intended for people who are considering studying at an English-speaking university. So the emphasis is on English for academic purposes. Everyone, however, will find this useful.

I recommend clicking on Part 1. This is the introduction. You can listen immediately by clicking on the tiny loudspeaker icon. But I suggest that you download the programme as well, and don't forget also to download the script, which is in Adobe Acrobat format.

Here are two comprehension questions for you:

  1. How, according to the programme, can you become a better listener?
  2. How can you prepare for listening to English at an English-speaking university?
Then try Part 2, in which you learn how to listen to lectures.

As always: do leave a comment below this message, or a quick note on the Tag Board, to say how useful you found this programme - or didn't, as the case may be.

Coming up soon: how to use the Concordancer web sites to find out how English words and expressions work. Look down the right hand column of this Blog, where useful sites are listed. Find the "See How English Is Really Used" section. Here are two questions for you:

  1. What's the difference in meaning between "think of" and "think about"?
  2. How many adjectives ending in "- ly" can you find?

That's all for now. More soon!

- Mike