Monthly Archives: March 2014

Group Discussion: Politics

Hello and thank you for checking out the Start Gate English blog!

Every week on Monday at 3pm and Tuesday at 7pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. This class is open to any and all students, but recommended for intermediate and advanced. We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students, and students can ask questions to each other (and the teacher, too!). You are welcome to bring a dictionary or ask the teacher if you need help. One lesson is 1500-2500 yen, depending on how many tickets you buy. If you are interested, please check out the website or contact me directly. If you are not available on Monday at 3pm or Tuesday at 7pm, but would like to join, please tell me your available days and times and I will be happy to set up another class for you!

On to the discussion!

First, here is the lexical set (a group of words and expressions necessary for the discussion):

Politics lexical set

Nouns

Age

Campaign(s)

Citizen(s) [公民]

Government(s) [政治]

Lifetime

Mayor(s) [市長]

Part(y/ies) [政党]

Polic(y/ies)

System(s)

Responsibility

View(s)

Vote(s) [投票]

Verbs

Agree (with)

Spend

Think (of)

Vote [投票する]

Adjectives

Compulsory [義務的な]

Main

Minimum

Political

Expressions

Get s/o to do s/t  [誰かに説得して何かをしてもらう]

Stay the same [そのままである]

s/o = someone

s/t = something

1. What is the minimum voting age in Japan?  Do you think it should stay the same?

The students told me it was 20.  The students said they thought it should stay the same, because that is the age of an adult in Japan.  We talked about the history of voting ages.  For example, in the past, only people who paid a certain amount of tax could vote.

2. Have you ever voted before?  How old were you when you first voted?

The students had all voted before.  They were all about 20 when they first voted.  They vote almost every year!

3. Should voting be compulsory?

This was a hard question for the students.  One student asked if I meant it should be compulsory by law.  The students concluded that it should be compulsory, but not by law.  In other words, there shouldn’t be any kind of legal penalty for not voting.  They thought people should at least go to the voting booth and register.

4. Is voting an important responsibility of a citizen?  Why is it important?

The students thought so.  One student said it’s an important human right for ordinary people to participate in politics.  Another student it determines our lifestyle.

5. How can we get more people to vote?  Have you ever persuaded someone to vote?

The students thought long and hard about this one.  This was also a challenging question.  One student suggested we make it easier and more accessible to vote.  For example, we could allow people to vote on the internet or on the phone.  One student said he has been able to persuade his family members to vote.

6. Has the voting rate gone down?  Why?

The students agreed that fewer people vote nowadays because people are losing interest in voting and politics.  One student said that even though political parties change, citizens don’t notice any changes in their lives.   So no matter who they vote for, young people don’t see a difference.

7. How do you decide how to vote?

One student said he votes based on the person, not on their political party.  Another student said a candidate’s age is important.

8. What different types of governments do you know about?

The students were aware of .  The students did not know that the United States is not a democracy… it’s a republic!  Many European countries are Socialist Democracies, and the students seemed to believe that Japan was, too.  While Japan has a constitution, it can be changed if most people vote for it.  If most people vote against it, it cannot be changed.  In other words, it requires a majority vote.

9. What do you think of the Japanese government or politicians?

The students didn’t seem to be huge fans of the current government.  One student said he wished Prime Minister Abe was more moderate and less radical or extreme.  Another student said he sometimes aggravates other countries.

10. What are some of the political parties in Japan?

The students named the Liberal Democratic party, the Democratic party, the Communist party, the Social Democratic party and the Clean Government party.  Some are more moderate, some are more radical.

11.  Have your political views during your lifetime?

One student said he used to vote for the communist party!  He used to protest or hold demonstrations when he was in college.  But now he doesn’t any more, so he doesn’t vote for radical parties any more.  He has become more moderate or conservative.  Other students said their political views haven’t really changed.  One student said he has always been progressive.

New vocabulary used during the lesson:

Types of governments:

Aristocracy 貴族政治

Autocracy 独裁国

Communism 共産主義

Democracy 民主国

Dictatorship 独裁制国

Republic 共和国

Socialism 社会主義

Totalitarianism 全体主義国

Political Parties in Japan:

The Clean Government party 公明党

The Communist party 共産党

The Democratic party 民主党

The Liberal Democratic party 自由民主党

The Social Democratic party 社会民主党

Adjectives and Adverbs related to politics
  • a certain amount of: ある数量

– A specific but unknown amount

Example: You can only bring a certain amount of money, but I don’t know how much exactly.

  • accessible: 入手しやすい、利用がしやすい

– easy to access/use

Example: The internet makes all kinds of information very accessible.

  • by law: 法律によって

– be true according to the law

Example: You are required to file taxes every year by law.

  • conservative: 保守主義の

– preferring traditional views and values.

Example: My dad doesn’t want to see many changes in politics, he’s very conservative.

  • extreme: 極端的

– beyond what is normal

Example: Communism is a bit extreme, don’t you think?

  • moderate: 穏健な

– against radical or extreme ideas

Example: Too much change is dangerous, we need to be more moderate.

  • progressive: 前進的な

– preferring progress towards better or different views or values

Example: President Obama is trying to change healthcare and welfare, he’s very progressive.

  • radical: 急進的な

– preferring revolutionary changes

Example: America has been a democratic republic for a long time, changing it to a communist state is pretty radical!

  • revolutionary: 革命的な

– resulting in a radical change

Example: America’s independence was revolutionary at the time.

Nouns related to politics
  • demonstration: デモ、示威運動

– publicly showing one’s opinion or view, usually in a group.

Example: We’re going to hold a demonstration downtown tonight, do you want to join?

  • human rights: 人権

– something that people deserve to have or be able to do

Example: The freedom of speech is one of the most important human rights.

  • majority vote: 多数決

– a vote which more than half of the voters cast.

Example: In order to pass this bill, we need a majority vote.

  • penalty: 刑罰

– a punishment required for breaking a rule, usually money.

Example: What is the penalty for driving through a red light in Japan?

– the place where people can vote

Example: Why is the voting booth in Sakai city?  That’s so far!

Verbs and Verbal Expressions related to politics
  • protest: 異議を申し立てる

– formally showing or expression disapproval

Example: I often see people protesting nuclear weapons on the street.

  • see a difference: 違いが分かる

– to recognize, notice, realize or understand that something is different

Example: Did you cut your hair?  Sorry, I don’t see a difference…

  • vote against: 反対して投票をする

– express one’s disapproval through election [選挙]

Example: I didn’t like that presidential candidate, so I voted against him.

  • vote for: 賛成して投票をする

– express one’s approval through election

Example: I liked that presidential candidate, so I voted for him.

New pattern!
  • no matter Q/W S-V(-O): たとえ疑問詞~でも

– It doesn’t matter Q/W S-V-O.  This is used to express that the action or event is irrelevant; the result will be the same.

Example: No matter what I say to her, she won’t listen. (Q/W is “what”)

This means What I say to her is irrelevant, because she won’t listen.

Q/W: Question Word [疑問詞]

S: Subject [主語]

V: Verb [動詞]

O: Object [目的語]

Politics Collocations:

Nouns related to politics can be hard, make sure you are using them correctly!

  1. run a campaign
  2. accept responsibility (for N)
  3. take responsibility (for N)
  4. cast a vote
  5. hold a demonstration/protest
Differences!

Some words are very similar, especially when talking about a topic as complex as politics.  Be sure you understand the differences between these words before using them!

  • stimulate vs. aggravate

Stimulate is often translated a 刺激する in Japanese, but sometimes this doesn’t work.  The problem is that in Japanese, 刺激 can be negative or positive, but in English it’s only positive!

Examples:

1. My teacher is great!  He always stimulates me to study harder.  O

2. I hate that guy.  He always stimulates me and makes me irritated!  X

The first example is correct because it’s positive, but the second sounds funny because it’s negative!

If you want to express 刺激する but negatively, use the word aggravate instead!  Aggravate is often translated as 怒らす, but it’s actually very similar to 刺激する.

Example:

2. I hate that guy.  He always aggravates me and makes me irritated!

So remember:

Stimulate is positive, aggravate is negative!

  • demonstration vs. riot

One of my students said he used to hold riots, which really surprised me!  Then I realized he didn’t mean riots, he meant demonstrations!

A demonstration is usually translated as デモ, sometimes as 示威運動 in Japanese, and that is usually correct.  But remember, demonstrations are almost always peaceful!  No one gets hurt or killed and nothing is damaged.  A riot, on the other hand, is damaging and violent.  People get hurt, sometimes killed, and something always gets damaged.  So riot is better translated as 暴動 in Japanese.

Examples:

1. 300 people marched in protest of nuclear weapons on Sunday, holding signs and chanting.

2. 300 people broke shop windows and started fights on Sunday.  12 people were taken to the hospital, property damaged totaled $500,000 and police were called.

The first example is a demonstration (or a protest!), the second is a riot.

That’s it!

Do you know the differences between the types of government?  What type of government is Japan?  Do you vote?  Have your political views changed?  Let me know on twitter or in the comments section!

Advertisements

Phrasal Verbs!

Hello English learners!  Since there was no group discussion lesson this week I’d like to talk (write?) about phrasal verbs!

Phrasal Verbs?

First of all, what are phrasal verbs?  Many people will say a phrasal verb is just a verb that comes with another word, or a verb that comes with a preposition (for example “listen to”).  This is not true.  It is true that phrasal verbs come with one (or more!) prepositions, but that’s only one part of it.  The other important part is that the combination of verb and preposition change the meaning of the verb!

For example, is “go to” a phrasal verb?  No, because “go” and “go to” mean the same thing.  How about “go up”?  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t!

Examples:

1. Please go up the stairs.

2. The price went up.

Is the first example an example of a phrasal verb?  No, it’s not.  The word go did not change meaning.  How about the second?  Yes, it is!  In that case, “go up” means increase, but “go” does not mean “increase” so the meaning changed!

Try these!

1. I checked the word in my dictionary.

2. I’m coming to your house tomorrow.

3. I checked in at the hotel.

4. I need to clean my room up.

Which are phrasal verbs?  Which are not?

Sentences 3 and 4 are phrasal verbs, 1 and 2 are not.  In the sentence 1, “in” just tells me where you are going to check the word.  It doesn’t change the meaning of “check”.  You could take it out and it wouldn’t change the meaning of the sentence.  It’s the same with sentence 2.  However, “check in” has a specific meaning that is different than “check”: to register your arrival.  Check and register are different!  Sentence 4 is tricky!  The verb clean means the same thing in “clean” and “clean up”, but the “up” adds a little extra nuance: it means to do something thoroughly or until finished!  So that additional meaning makes “clean up” a phrasal verb!

So remember: a phrasal verb is a verb that comes with a preposition and has a different meaning than the regular verb.

Why use phrasal verbs?

One very good question that I often get from my students is why are there phrasal verbs in English?  This is a very, very important question for three reasons.

  1. When you check a Japanese word in the dictionary, it usually doesn’t give you phrasal verbs, it usually gives you regular verbs.
  2. Phrasal verbs are very common in English.
  3. Phrasal verbs often mean exactly the same thing as regular verbs.  But if that’s true, then why do we even have them?

To answer this question I first have to explain a little bit about something called connotation.  Connotation is the association that comes from a word.  Basically, it’s how the word feels.  As an example, what’s the difference between “fat” and “overweight” in English?  Well, they both mean 太りすぎる in Japanese, and in English, they both have the same meaning.  However, the word “fat” sounds bad in English.  It sounds rude or unkind.  It hurts.  On the other hand, “overweight” sounds kind or considerate or polite.  We say fat has a negative connotation (it feels bad) but overweight has a neutral connotation (it doesn’t feel good or bad). So if you were a doctor, which would you say?  Overweight, I hope!

It’s similar in Japanese.  and both point to the same person (“I” in English), but when you hear , how does it feel?  Does it feel the same as hearing ?  I don’t think so!  So they have different connotations.

I still don’t understand why you have phrasal verbs in English…

So why do we use phrasal verbs and regular verbs that mean the same thing?  Because the connotations are very different!

  1. Phrasal verbs usually contain very common verbs like “take” or “get” or “go”, but the regular verbs that mean the same thing are very uncommon. For example, you could say “exit”, but that’s a very uncommon verb!  We usually say “go out”.  Go is more common than exit.
  2. Phrasal verbs are usually broader than the regular verbs.  This means it has more definitions so it can be used in more situations.  In the example above, “exit” only means “to leave a place”, but “go out” has many other definitions.  “Go out” can mean “leave your house/home” or “join a social activity” or even “become extinguished”. So “exit” is very narrow but “go out” is very broad.
  3. Because of the first two reasons the connotations are very different!  Regular, uncommon verbs like “remove” or “exit” or “enter” sound very neutral, so they sound very formal and sometimes even cold!  Phrasal verbs, on the other hand, sound informal, friendlier and warmer!  This is why it’s very important to learn them to improve your conversation skills!

So what should you do about them?

There are a couple thing you can do!

  • Next time you read or hear a very uncommon regular verb, try to think of a possible phrasal verb for it!  For example, when you read or hear the sentence “Complete the mission” consider a phrasal verb you could use instead of “complete” (for example, “finish up”)!
  • Next time you read or hear a phrasal verb, think of how you would say it in Japanese or what other ways it could be used!  For example, if you hear “I’ll take you up on that”, what is the phrasal verb (it’s “take up on”)?  Can you make other sentences with it?  Can you find other examples of it in books or movies?  Are there any other ways to use it?
  • Can you make your own phrasal verbs?  Maybe you already know some phrasal verbs.  Do you see any patterns?  Can you experiment and try making your own phrasal verbs to use on twitter or at your next English lesson or next time you meet a foreign friend?

In the future I will talk about how to find patterns in phrasal verbs so you can more easily create and understand new ones.  I will also talk about the rules for using phrasal verbs (they’re pretty hard to use!).

Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Text Vocabulary:
  1. Broad: 意味の広い
  2. Common: 普通の、よくあること
  3. Connotation: 意外の意味
  4. Experiment: 実験をする、試す
  5. Narrow: 意味の狭い
  6. Neutral: 中立の
  7. Phrasal Verb: 句動詞
  8. Uncommon: 珍しい、よくあることではない

Group Discussion: Animals and Pets

Hello and thank you for checking out the Start Gate English blog!

Every week on Monday at 3pm and Tuesday at 7pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. This class is open to any and all students, but recommended for intermediate and advanced. We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students, and students can ask questions to each other (and the teacher, too!). You are welcome to bring a dictionary or ask the teacher if you need help. One lesson is 1500-2500 yen, depending on how many tickets you buy. If you are interested, please check out the website or contact me directly. If you are not available on Monday at 3pm or Tuesday at 7pm, but would like to join, please tell me your available days and times and I will be happy to set up another class for you!

On to the discussion!

First, here is the lexical set (a group of words and expressions necessary for the discussion):

Animals and Pets Lexical Set

Nouns

Animal(s)

Neighborhood(s)

Pet(s)

Testing

Trick(s) [芸当]

Vegetarian(s)

Zoo(s)

Verbs

Consider

Grow up with

Keep

Like

Ride

Adjectives

Acceptable [容認できる]

Afraid

Best

Scary

Expressions

It’s ok to V (O) […をしても大丈夫です。]

Look like […のように見える]

Pros and cons [賛否両論]

What do you think of… […のことをどう思いますか?]

What about N is ADJ? [名詞のどこが形容詞?]

N = noun

V = verb

O = object

Now, here are the questions and answers:

1. Do you like animals?

Most of the students liked animals, but one student kind of likes them. One student said she loved all kinds of animals, even insects!  Her favorite animal is an alpaca!  She likes it because there’s a famous Japanese cartoon character that is an alpaca.

2. What do you think of zoos?

One student didn’t like them.  He felt that animals should live in their natural habitats.  Other students, on the other hand, found them beneficial: we can see animals that we normally couldn’t see, like penguins.  This is especially good for children who are curious about animals.

3. Do you often see any animals in your neighborhood?  What kind?

One student said he sometimes sees weasels, squirrels and rabbits.  Another student said she saw stray cats and dogs.  Another student used to live in a rural area, so he sometimes saw raccoons, foxes, moles, rats, snakes and other wild animals.  I didn’t know there were moles in Japan!  All of the students said they’ve seen insects and crows.

4. Are you afraid of any animals?  What kind?  What about them is scary?

Most of the students were afraid of snakes!  One student said he was afraid of rats and some students said they were afraid of sharks.  One student’s wife and daughter were afraid of cockroaches.  One student said she wasn’t afraid of any animals!

One student said it was the shape of the snake that was scary.  He also said the way they slither is scary.  We also discussed the group named “slytherins” in Harry Potter and the meaning of “slithery”, an adjective that is related to the verb “slither”.  As for sharks, the students said Jaws made them scared of sharks!  Their pointy, sharp teeth are scary too.

5. Have you ever ridden an animal?  What kind?

Most of the students have ridden horses before.  One student said he took horseback riding lessons before.  Another student said he rode an elephant in Thailand once!  Another student said she has ridden a turtle before!

6. Is it ok to eat meat?  What do you think of vegetarians?

All of the students thought it was ok to eat meat.  They all concluded that animal protein was necessary.  They had mixed feelings about vegetarians and vegetarianism.  One student said he thought vegetarians couldn’t get the right type of protein.  One student said she would like to be a vegetarian, but then she changed her mind a few minutes later!  LOL

7. What kinds of animals can people keep as pets in Japan?  What are some unusual pets you’ve seen in Japan?

The students said that birds and fish are common animals to keep as pets.  One student’s grandchildren keep beetles as pets!  One student said he went to one of his son’s childhood friend’s home and they had five snakes!  Another student said one of his neighbor’s owned an iguana, a big reptile.  One student also mentioned that he saw that someone owned a crocodile as a pet on TV.  Another student said she has seen monkeys in pet shops.

8. Do you have any pets?  Did you grow up with pets in your home?

Most of the students currently did not have pets.  One student has a dog.  He’s a five-year old Shiba.  He has brown fur and a curly tail.  He can do some tricks: he can sit and lay down.  One student said he was too busy to keep pets.  The other is not a big fan of pets.  One student always had a dog and a cat when he was growing up.  One student said his brother raised a parakeet as well as up to 10 pigeons at one time!

9. What kind of pet or pets is or are best to own and why?

Many students thought dogs are the best because they are easiest to understand; they are very similar to people.

10. What do you think of animal testing?  Is it acceptable?

One student said he thought it was acceptable on any kind of animal.  But he understood why some people would be against it: Animals seems to have consciousness, like human beings.  Dolphins, for example, seem very similar to humans.

That’s it!

Again, we have these discussion groups every Monday at 3pm and Tuesday at 7pm, and anybody is welcome to join!  If you would like to join, but aren’t available on Monday at 3pm and Tuesday at 7pm, please contact me! Next week’s topic will be Friends and Friendship!  Hope to see you there!

New vocabulary used during the lesson:

Animals!

Alpacas: アルパカ

Beetles: カブト虫

Cockroaches: ゴキブリ

Crows: カラス

Foxes: キツネ

Iguanas: イグアナ

Moles: モグラ

Parakeets: インコ

Parrots: オウム

Pigeons: 鳩

Raccoons: アライグマ

Reptiles: 爬虫類

  • Remember, in English, “animals” refers to all living things that can move by themselves, including fish, birds, reptiles and insects!  So even mosquitoes or spiders are considered animals.

Adjectives for describing animals in English:

  • Domestic: 家庭の

– relating to the house or family

  • Domestic animal: 家畜

– an animal kept by people, usually as a pet.

Example: Most dogs are domestic animals.  Tigers are not domestic animals!

  • Stray: はぐれた

– have wandered away from one’s natural habitat or home

  • Stray animal: 野良ー

Stray dog/cat: 野良犬・野良猫

Example: There are a lot of stray cats in my neighborhood.

  • Wild: 野育ちの

– opposite of domestic

Wild animals: 野生動物

Example: You can see wild animals in the zoo.

Other related words!

  • Slither (V): 滑るように進む

– glide or slide; describes the way a snake moves

Example: The snake slithered across the grass.

  • Slithery(ADJ):

Literal meaning: ずるずる滑った

Figurative meaning: 狡猾な (negative!)

– Literal meaning: to be slippery, to slide a lot

– Figurative meaning: tricky, clever, cunning (negative!)

Examples:

1. Snakes are slithery.

2. That guy is very slithery.  I don’t trust him.

  • Habitat (N): 生息場所

– The area or environment where something or someone naturally lives.

Example: The jungle is a lion’s natural habitat.

  • Fur (N): 毛

– The hair covering the body of a mammal.

Example: Your dog has really long fur!

注意! Most Japanese call this hair!  Only humans and monkeys have hair.  Other mammals have fur.

Animal Collocation

I noticed my students often used incorrect verbs with pets or animals:

MISTAKES:

raise pets X

To “raise an animal” means to help an animal grow for a specific purpose, usually to eat later or as a circus animal, for example!  Most people don’t help their pets grow for a specific purpose, they just want to have a pet.

grow up pets X

This is grammatically incorrect.  “Grow up” is an intransitive verb, so it cannot be used with a direct object.  So “A pet grows up” makes sense, but “I grow up a pet” has no meaning in English.

bring up pets X

To “bring up” something means to take care of AND educate!  Most of us don’t “educate” animals, we just take care of them.

CORRECT COLLOCATIONS:

Keep a pet O

Have a pet O

Take care of a pet O

Own a pet O

Other useful vocabulary and expressions:

  • Besides (PREP): 以外「に」

– in addition to, other than, except for

Example: Besides soccer, I also play baseball and tennis.

  • Curl (V): ひねる

– twist into a spiral shape

Example: When did you curl your hair?

  • Curly (ADJ): 巻き毛の

– having or looking like curls

Examples: My dog’s fur is very curly.

  • Hold: [手に] 持つ

– keep in one’s hand

Example: Hold (on to) the hand rail while on the escalator.

  • Rural (ADJ): 田舎の

– relating to the countryside

Example: Shiga is a very rural area.

  • “There are all kinds of people in this world” ・さまざまな人がいます。

 

  • (have) mixed feelings (about N)・[名刺についての] 複雑な心境 [です]。

Example: I have mixed feelings about getting married.

  • I guess… ・ やっぱり。。

Example: Hmm.  The map said the restaurant was here, but I don’t see it.  I guess this is the wrong place.

  • Would like to be N名刺になれればいい。

Example: I would like to be a vegetarian, but I like meat too much.

Useful Communication Patterns!

I’ve noticed that my students often want to ask questions or say certain things, so I’ve included some patterns here that you can use when you are having communication problems in English!

  • What does ___ means?  Use this question when you want to understand the meaning of a word or expression!
  • What does ___ mean in this context?  Use this question when you want to understand what a word or expression means in the conversation you are having!  This is often useful when you hear a word you know but you don’t understand why the speaker used it that time.
  • Could you give me an example of ___?  Use this question if you want to hear an example instead of an explanation.  Sometimes it’s easier to understand examples, so this question is pretty useful!
  • How do you pronounce this?  Use this question when you see or read a word but you don’t know how to pronounce it.  Be sure to point at the word when you say “this”!

Examples!

#1

A: Lions are carnivorous animals!

B: Did you say “carnivorous”?

A: Yes, I did!

B: What does carnivorous mean?

A: It means only eats meat.

B: Oh, I see!  Thank you!

#2

A: This wine ages well.

B: Did you say “ages”?

A: Yup!

B: I see.  I know what “age” means, but what does “ages” mean in this context?

A: Oh, it means to become mature, to taste better.

B: Oh, I see!  Thanks.

#3

A: A pig is a mammal.

B: Did you say “mammal”?

A: Yeah.

B: What does mammal mean?

A: It’s a warm-blooded animal that feeds its baby milk.

B: Umm… I still don’t understand.  Could you give me an example of a mammal?

A: Sure.  Dogs are mammals.  Cats are mammals.  Monkeys are mammals…

B: Oh, I see! 哺乳類! Thank you!

Additional advice!

Some of my students make very common mistakes while they speak.  Here are some mistakes that my students made this week, as well as the correct, more natural expressions that native English speakers use!

  • MISTAKE #1

A: Do you like animals?

B: So so.  X

The question was a yes/no question.  Usually we just answer with yes or no, but sometimes we have mixed feelings.  In these situations, Japanese people often say “so so” but that’s incorrect!  The correct answer is “kind of” or “sort of”.

CORRECTION

A: Do you like animals?

B: Kind of. O

“So so” is in between “good” and “bad”.  “Kind of” is in between “yes” and “no”.

A: How was the movie?

B: So so. O

A: Did you like the movie?

B: Kind of. O

  • MISTAKE #2

A: I have a dog.  Dog name is Shiba.  X

Shiba is not a name of a dog.  It’s a kind of dog!

CORRECTION:

A: I have a dog.  It is a Shiba. O

A: I have a dog.  My dog is a Shiba. O

People give animals or other people names.

A: I have a dog.  His name is Kentaro.  He is a Shiba.

A: I have a dog.  My dog’s name is Kentaro.  He is a Shiba.

  • MISTAKE #3

A: What’s your favorite animal?

B: My favorite animal is an alpaca.

A: An alpaca?  What is that?

B: It’s an animal. X

Look at the first question.  The topic is animals, so Person A already knows that an alpaca is an animal!  This answer isn’t helpful.  LOL  Instead, it’s better to describe it (talk about its appearance, for example!)

CORRECTION

A: What’s your favorite animal?

B: My favorite animal is an alpaca.

A: An alpaca?  What is that?

B: It’s an animal that looks like a llama.  O

B: It looks like a llama. O

  • MISTAKE #4

A: What kind of animals do you like?

B: I like dogs.

A: Only dogs?  What else do you like?

B: Besides dogs?  X

This is actually not too bad.  If your tone is very natural, it sounds good and a native speaker can understand this.  But sometimes it’s confusing, because it’s not a full sentence.  If you want to clarify what the other person is asking you, try this:

CORRECTION

A: What kind of animals do you like?

B: I like dogs.

A: Only dogs?  What else do you like?

B: Do you mean besides dogs?  O

That’s it!  I hope that was helpful!  See you next week!

Group Discussion: Cooking, Food, Eating and Drinks!

Hello and thank you for checking out the Start Gate English blog!

Every week on Monday at 3pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. This class is open to any and all students, but recommended for intermediate and advanced. We have 2-4 students in each class. The teacher asks questions and discusses the answers with the students, and students can ask questions to each other (and the teacher, too!). You are welcome to bring a dictionary or ask the teacher if you need help. One lesson is 1500-2500 yen, depending on how many tickets you buy. If you are interested, please check out the website or contact me directly. If you are not available on Monday at 3pm, but would like to join, please tell me your available days and times and I will be happy to set up another class for you!

On to the discussion!

First, here is the lexical set (a group of words and expressions necessary for the discussion):

Cooking, Drinks, Eating and Food Lexical Set:

Nouns

Food

Restaurant(s)

Place(s)

Cook(s)

Meal(s)

Information

Diet(s)

Meat

Verbs

Eat

Like

Drink

Prefer

Cook

Skip

Read

Buy

Include

Adjectives

Good

Nutritional

Vegetarian

Additional Expressions

Eat out

Eat at home

What kind of N…?

Place to V (O)

N = noun

V = verb

O = object

Now, here are the questions and answers:

1.  Do you like eating?  What do you like about it?

The students stated that they liked that it’s social and relaxing.

2. What kind of food do you like?

The students like Japanese food.  One student said when he was younger he liked meat more than he does now, but now he prefers lighter food, like vegetables.  They also like pasta and Chinese food.

3. Do you drink tea?  Coffee?  How often?

The students drink tea and coffee, and they drink it almost every day!  One student also drinks vegetable juice almost every day, and another drinks tomato juice almost every day!

4. Do you prefer eating at home or eating out?  Why?

The students preferred eating at home.  One student said it’s easy to cook his favorite food (Nabe) at home.  But they eat out sometimes.

5. What kind of restaurants do you like to eat out at?

One student said he eats out at yakiniku restaurants, another student said he often goes to Japanese and pasta restaurants.  They don’t particularly like fast food, but they eat that kind of food sometimes because it’s convenient.

6. Do you have a favorite place to eat?  To drink?

One student’s favorite place to eat is at a sushi restaurant near his house.  He loves sushi!  It’s one of his favorite foods.  Another student said his favorite place to eat is at a cafe near his house that only serves dinner three days a week.  They make original, home-cooked dinners there.  One student was careful to ask if I meant to drink “alcohol”; the question was “Do you have a favorite place to drink?”  If that question does not have an object, it is fair to assume the speaker is talking about drinks!  One student prefers to drink at home.  One likes cafes in general, but doesn’t like Starbucks!  He thinks McDonald’s cafe is better than Starbucks coffee!

7.  Are you a good cook?

One student enjoys cooking, so he said yes.  One said he wasn’t really.  The student who is a good student cooks things with eggs a lot.

8. Do you or did you always eat dinner with your family?

The students all have children who are grown up, but one of them has a daughter who still lives with him so they still eat dinner together every night.  The students all said they used to dinner eat together every night with their family.  One student commented that Japan used to be an agricultural society, so it was very common for families to eat dinner together every night, but nowadays Japan is an industrial society, so a lot of people work late and don’t eat dinner together every night.

9. Do you ever skip meals?

One student said no, never.  One student said he skips lunch sometimes because he has to take house calls sometimes (for work) and he doesn’t have time or he forgets to eat.  He says sometimes he doesn’t even realize that he’s hungry!

10. Are there any foods that you liked as a child but you don’t eat now?  Are there any foods you didn’t like as a child but you eat now?

One student said he doesn’t eat candy any more, but another student said he still loves candy!  One student said he didn’t like tofu as a child, but he likes it now.  Another student said he didn’t like fish, but now he does.

11. Do you read the nutritional information on the food you buy?

One student said he reads the ingredients, but not the nutritional information.   Another student said he’s trying to avoid carbohydrates so he reads the nutritional information.

12. Some food products have artificial nutrients or nutrition.  What do you think of that?

The students thought it was less healthy, but one student said that it’s really important for some people.  For example, some people take supplements because they have allergies.

In the end, one student asked another student why he avoided carbohydrates.  He said he avoids carbohydrates because people in ancient times mostly ate meat.  We started eat carbohydrates after we invented agriculture, so it’s not as natural.

That’s it!

Again, we have these discussion groups every Monday at 3pm, and anybody is welcome to join!  If you would like to join, but aren’t available on Monday at 3pm, please contact me! Next week’s topic will be Food, Eating and Cooking!  Hope to see you there!

New vocabulary used during the lesson:

Be in the same boat (idiom): 境遇・状況・状態を共になる

– be in the same or similar situation/circumstances.

Ex: I’d like to lend you some money, but I’m in the same boat as you: I don’t have any money, either!

Be (not) particular (about N):こだわりが強い、好みがやかましい「こだわりがない」

– fussy, difficult to please.

Ex: She’s very particular about music:  She only listens to very famous J-pop singers.

Edible (adj): 食べられる

– something that can be eaten; something that was made to be eaten

Opposite: inedible

Ex: Is this yogurt still edible?  It smells really strange.

Hand-cooked (adj): 手作りの

– something that someone cooks by themselves.

Ex: Did you like the food?  It was hand-cooked (by the chef).

Tuck into (phrasal verb): 寛大に食べる

– eat in an enjoyable way

Ex: After a hard day of work, I like to tuck into a good meal.

Vegetable juice (N): 野菜ジュース

– a drink made of mostly or only vegetables

Ex: I like eating vegetables, but I don’t like drinking vegetable juice.

Notes:
  • In English, fish, seafood and chicken are kinds of meat!  Meat = beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, crab, pork, etc.
  • In English, seafood refers to any animal that lives in the water, not vegetables.  So shrimp is seafood, but seaweed is not seafood!
  • We don’t “take” food or drinks in English, we eat or have food or we drink or have drinks.
  • There are various places to eat and drink.  Some places to eat include restaurants, cafes and at home!  Some place to drink include cafes or bars.  We use the expression place to with a verb to indicate that there are various places where the action could happen.
  • Remember, hand-made refers to inedible products, like plates or toys, but hand-cooked refers to edible products, like cakes or salads.