Monthly Archives: June 2014

Privacy Discussion Wrap Up

Good afternoon! So here’s a wrap up of the privacy discussion!

Every week on Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 3pm, and Tuesday at 8pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. These classes are open to any and all students, but the Sunday and Monday classes are recommended for intermediate and advanced students. The Tuesday class is for high beginner to intermediate. 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 the scheduled days, 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! We are still looking for students interested in a Friday night and Saturday afternoon class.

Today we’re going to look at collocations related to privacy.

What are collocations? Collocations are combinations of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.) which can be used together to create meaning.

For example, “I drank a bed” doesn’t make sense, does it?  It’s grammatically correct, but I can’t understand what you mean.  That’s because “drink” and “bed” don’t collocate.

I could say “I got a schedule” and that sentence would be grammatically correct, but collocatively incorrect, because “get a schedule” doesn’t mean anything in English. Instead, you might say:

  • “Get a schedule book” (a concrete object) or
  • “Get an appointment” (an agreement to do something with someone) or
  • “Get (some) free time”

Collocation can be very hard in a foreign language, especially with abstract word like “privacy.”

First, it is important to understand what privacy is.  I have a secret password for my accounts, but is that password privacyNo, it is not.  It is private information.

So what is privacy?  Well, privacy is not information.  It is the ability of people to keep themselves or their information separate or apart from other people.  For example, if I can use a room in the house to get away from the other people in the house, then I have privacy.  If someone is always interrupting me at home, then I don’t have privacy.

So what words collocate correctly with it?  Here’s a list:

  • Invade s/o‘s privacy.
  • Protect s/o‘s privacy.
  • Respect s/o‘s privacy.
  • Have privacy.
  • Be a threat to [s/o‘s] privacy.

So what does those all mean?

  1. I found out my sister read my personal diary yesterday.  She invaded my privacy.
  2. You should make a new password for your accounts every year.  It helps protect your privacy.
  3. I don’t want you to come in my room while I am on the computer.  Please respect my privacy.
  4. I live in a one bedroom apartment with my wife.  I have no privacy (or There is no privacy).
  5. Did you hear about the new law?  The government can read our email or listen to our phone calls any time they want!  It’s a threat to [our] privacy!

So what do you think?  Do you have privacy?  How should we protect our privacy?  Does the government have the right to invade our privacy?  Are there any threats to our privacy nowadays?

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions!  Thanks!

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Group Discussion Topic: Celebrities

Hey everyone!  Here are the lexis and questions for our discussion groups!  The questions are limited this week, so this time it will be the same lexis and questions for all groups!  If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups!  If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know!  Thanks!

This week we had kind of an interesting discussion group: we shared experiences with each other.  Not only the teacher but also the students asked each other questions, using a set pattern: “Have you ever…?”  The students were given a set of example questions to look at and we went from there!  Many of the students came up with their own unique and original questions, and we all had a good time talking about our lives.

This coming week we will be talking about celebrities!  Here is a list of the lexis and possible questions which we may use during the lesson:

Lexis

Nouns

Adolescent(s)

Celebrit(y/ies)

Demand

Fan(s)

Fan Club(s)

Gossip

Hero(es)

Role Model(s)

Verbs

Admire

Champion

Deserve

Earn

Adjectives

Famous

Expressions

Be a high demand for N

Have the/a right to V

Pros and cons

Questions

  1. Have you ever seen a celebrity in person? What did you do?
  2. Which celebrity do you most admire and why?
  3. Which celebrity would you like to meet? What would you do if you could spend a day with this person?
  4. Do you know someone famous?
  5. Do you think that some celebrities earn more money than they deserve?
  6. Did you have any heroes when you were a teenager? Why do you think adolescents have heroes? Should celebrities be role models?
  7. Do you think famous people have the right to have a private life?
  8. Would you like to be famous? Why or why not?
  9. What do you think of fans and fan-clubs?
  10. What are the pros and cons of being a celebrity?
  11. Why do you think there is such a high demand for gossip magazines and gossip TV programs?
  12. What do you think of celebrities championing a cause?

Hope to see you at the next group discussion!  If you have any questions or comments regarding the lexis or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  Take care!

Experiences Wrap Up

Good morning! So here’s a wrap up of the habits discussion, finally!

Every week on Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 3pm, and Tuesday at 8pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic. These classes are open to any and all students, but the Sunday and Monday classes are recommended for intermediate and advanced students. The Tuesday class is for high beginner to intermediate. 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 the scheduled days, 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! We are still looking for students interested in a Friday night and Saturday afternoon class.

So here’s what came up during the lesson!

Differences
Evade vs. Avoid vs. Get out of

I often hear English learners overuse the words evade and avoid as a substitute for 逃げる. However, those words are considerably stiff and formal and are uncommon in English. We have another phrasal verb we use much more often for everyday situations: get out of. I’d like to use this blog to talk about the differences between the terms:

Evade: evade does mean to escape or avoid, but specifically by being very clever or by deceitful (for example, by telling a big lie). It does not mean escape or avoid by refusing or by accident. For example, a criminal suspect is running away from the police. He finally finds a clever place to hide. As a result, the police can’t find him. In this case, he successfully managed to evade the police. As another example, a husband comes home from work. His wife asks him to clean the dishes. He says he’s tired and complains, so she does it. In this case, he didn’t do anything clever and he didn’t lie, so he didn’t evade washing the dishes.

Avoid: Avoid does not mean escape.  If you escape, something has already happened or you are already in the middle of the situation.  However, if you avoid something, it means you stay away from it or you do something to prevent it from happening (so it hasn’t happened yet!).  For example, we should brush our teeth regularly to avoid cavities. Another example: You should avoid that part of town, it’s dangerous.

Get Out of: this is a phrasal verb that most English learners are not aware of, but is quite helpful.  It means to avoid or escape a duty or responsibility.  It could be something you promised to do or something you said you would do, or something you are supposed to do.  So we might say “Sorry, I want to go drinking with you, but I promised my wife I’d stay home and I can’t get out of it.”  Or we might say “I need a good excuse to get out of going to work on Saturday.”

Now you try!  Which expression do you think is best in the following sentences?

1. She was too embarrassed to answer the question, so she ___ it.

2. He actually used to put insects in his food to ___ paying the bill.

3. Unfortunately they go to school together, so even though they really don’t want to see each other, they can’t ___ each other.

4. She often used humor to ___ talking about serious topics.

5. Very often simply not responding is a good way to ___ trouble.

6. I totally forgot my wife’s birthday… I don’t know how I’m going to ___ this one.

Lose vs. get/be lost

This is another common one that I hear English speakers confuse.  In English “lose” and “be/get lost” are VERY different.

Lose means fail to win or be without something (and unable to find it).

Be/Get lost means not know where oneself is.

Examples:

  • The Hanshin tigers lost the match.
  • I lost my car keys, help me find them.
  • Excuse me, I‘m lost.  Can you help me find the subway station?
  • I was trying to find the hotel but I got lost and now, I don’t know where I am.

So when you can’t find a place or when you don’t know where you are, use the expression “I am lost” instead of “I lost.”  🙂

Steal vs. Rob

Another very difficult difference is steal and rob, but the difference is actually quite simple.  People are robbed, but things are stolen.  That means the sentence patterns is as follows:

S-robs-person

S-steals-thing

Some examples:

  • That man robbed me last night.
  • He stole my wallet.

And in the passive form:

  • I was robbed at the store.
  • My wallet was stolen.

That’s all for this week!  Please check us out again next week when we discuss privacy!

 

Group Discussion Topic: Experiences

Hey everyone!  Here are the lexis and questions for our discussion groups!  The Sunday and Monday lexis and questions are on the top, the Tuesday lexis and questions are on the bottom.  If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups!  If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know!  Thanks!

This week we had kind of an interesting discussion group: we shared experiences with each other.  Not only the teacher but also the students asked each other questions, using a set pattern: “Have you ever…?”  The students were given a set of example questions to look at and we went from there!  Many of the students came up with their own unique and original questions, and we all had a good time talking about our lives.  Here is a list of the sample questions which were used during the lesson:

  1. Have you ever broken a bone?
  2. Have you ever been in a fist fight?Have you ever gone mountain climbing? Skiing? Surfing?
  3. Have you ever ridden a horse? A motorcycle?
  4. Have you ever eaten strange food?
  5. Have you ever met a celebrity? Who was the person?  How long did you meet? What did you talk about?
  6. Have you ever cheated on an exam?
  7. Have you ever forgotten someone important’s birthday?
  8. Have you ever changed your appearance a lot in a short time? (For example, hair style, hair color or weight)
  9. Have you ever wondered why Asians can’t speak English?
  10. Have you ever had a Deja Vu experience?
  11. Have you ever regretted saying something?
  12. Have you ever been outside your comfort zone? How did you feel? What is your comfort zone? When do you feel the most comfortable?
  13. Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?
  14. Have you ever received a present that you really hated? What was it? Why did you hate it? Who gave it to you?
  15. Have you ever met a celebrity? Who was the person?  How long did you meet? What did you talk about?

In addition to these questions, here were some other ones that the students and teacher came up with:

  1. Have you ever landed on a deserted island?
  2. Have you ever gotten lost in a foreign country?
  3. Have you ever had a serious traffic accident?
  4. Have you ever seen a strange custom in Japan?

Do you understand all of the questions?  Would you like to answer them?  Please feel free to leave a comment or give me your answers on twitter!  Later tonight I will post some English that came up during the lesson.

See you next time!

Group Discussion Topic: Happiness

Hey everyone!  Here are the lexis and questions for our discussion groups!  The Sunday and Monday lexis and questions are on the top, the Tuesday lexis and questions are on the bottom.  If you are a student of mine, I hope to see you at one of the discussion groups!  If anybody (student or not) has any questions about this blog, please let me know!  Thanks!

Sunday and Monday lexis
Vocabulary

During

Generally

Happiness

Happy

Nation(s)

Expressions

Be missing

Make s/o ADJ

What is there to V

Time(s) of the day

Sunday and Monday Questions
  1. What is happiness to you?
  2. What is there to be happy about in the world today?
  3. Are the people in your country generally very happy?
  4. Do you think some nations are happier than others?
  5. Can money buy happiness?
  6. Are you a happy person?
  7. Do you wake up happy every morning? How often do you feel really happy?
  8. Does your happiness change during different times of the day, week, month or year?
  9. What was the happiest time of your life?
  10. What makes you happy? What makes you unhappy?
  11. How can you become happy again when you are sad?
  12. What is missing in your life that would make you happier?

 

Tuesday Lexis
Vocabulary

During

Generally

Happiness

Happy

Miserable

Wake up

Expressions

In order to

Make s/o ADJ

Time(s) of the day

Tuesday Questions
  1. Are you a happy person?
  2. Do you wake up happy every morning? How often do you feel really happy?
  3. Does your happiness change during different times of the day, week, month or year?
  4. Do you feel that you have to work hard and be miserable now in order to be happy later?
  5. Are the people in your country generally very happy?
  6. Can money buy happiness?
  7. What makes you happy?
  8. What makes you unhappy?
  9. How can you become happy again when you are sad?

See you next time!

 

Habits wrap up

Good evening!  So here’s a wrap up of the habits discussion, finally!

Every week on Sunday at 2pm, Monday at 3pm, and Tuesday at 8pm we have a one-hour group discussion on a different topic.   These classes are open to any and all students, but the Sunday and Monday classes are recommended for intermediate and advanced students.  The Tuesday class is for high beginner to intermediate.  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 the scheduled days, 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!  We are still looking for students interested in a Friday night and Saturday afternoon class.

So here’s what came up during the lesson!

Differences:

During the discussion of habits, the topic of sleep came up.  I’ve noticed a lot of my students have trouble with the following (very similar) expressions and words:

  • Be awake & Wake up
  • Fall asleep & Sleep
  • Midnight & In the middle of the night

So I’d like to discuss the differences here.

1. Be awake vs. Wake up

I often hear English learners confuse the terms “wake” and “awake”, and will sometimes even mix them (for example “be wake” or “be wake up”).  But there is a clear distinction and a pattern here.  Remember that “be” is often used to describe the ongoing state of something.  What that means is, the expression “wake up” only refers to a single moment, the point where a person stops sleeping and consequently starts to be conscious.  “Be awake”, on the other hand, is the entire time that a person is in the state of consciousness.  In other words, it describes the period that starts when a person opens their eyes until the point where they close them again.

Here are some examples:

“I was awake at 7am.”  This means that only at 7am (not necessarily at 6:59am or 7:01am) the person was in a state of consciousness.

“I woke up at 7am.” This means that at 7am the person stopped sleeping and started being conscious, and this continued past 7am.

“When you came home I was awake.”  This means that I was conscious at the point that you arrived home (but not necessarily before or after).

“When you came home I woke up.”  This means that before you came home, I was asleep, but from the point that you came home and after, I was awake.

“I was awake for 10 hours.”  For a period of 10 hours, I was not sleeping.

“I woke up for 10 hours.”  This sounds strange!  Waking up can only happen at one a moment, a person cannot continue to wake up!

2. Fall asleep vs. Sleep

These two expressions have a very similar relationship, but it is slightly different from “be awake” and “wake up”.  In this case, “fall asleep” expresses a change from “be awake” to “sleeping”, so it only happens at one point, so “sleep” expresses the state of not being conscious, so it’s usually used with a period of time (like “for six hours”).

“I fell asleep at 10pm.”  This means that at 10pm the person stopped being awake and started being unconscious, and this continued past 10pm.

“I slept at 10pm.”  This sounds really strange.  This means that only at 10pm (not at 9:59pm or 10:01pm) the person was unconscious.  This basically means that the person only had one minute of sleep!

“When you came home I fell asleep.”  This is very unusual!  This means that the same moment you arrived home, I became unconscious!  That’s quite a coincidence!

“When you came home I slept.”  This is also very weird!  This means that the same moment you came home, I entered my bed.

So how can you express that at the point that someone arrived home, you fell asleep already?

“When you came home, I was sleeping.”  OR

“When you came home, I was asleep.”

So now we have four expressions: fall asleep, sleep, be sleeping and be asleep!  More on this in the future!  🙂

“I fell asleep for 10 hours.” This sounds strange!  Falling asleep can only happen at one a moment, a person cannot continue to fall asleep!

“I slept for 10 hours.”  For a period of 10 hours, I was unconscious.  This sounds normal.

3. Midnight vs. In the middle of the night

Fortunately, the difference between these two expressions is much simpler.

Midnight simply means exactly 12:00am (or 0:00 in Japanese).  That’s it.  When it is 12:01am, it is no longer midnight.

In the middle of the night is any time between 12:00am and the morning.

So usually when Japanese people say “midnight” they mean “in the middle of the night”.  🙂

I’d like to talk about another difference though, and this has to do with using your dictionary.  Some of my students use their dictionaries during our discussion lesson, and I think that’s often a good idea.  However, they sometimes don’t know how to tell me what they’d like to do with their dictionary.  I often hear these expressions:

1. “I want to check my dictionary.”

2. “I want to check the word in my dictionary.”

3. “I want to look at my dictionary.”

4. “I want to look up my dictionary.”

5. “I want to look at the word in my dictionary.”

6. “I want to look up the word in my dictionary.”

7. “I want to search my dictionary.”

8. “I want to search the word in my dictionary.”

I hear many other expressions, but these are probably the most common.  Some of them are correct, some are not.  Can you guess which ones are correct and which ones are incorrect?

Only #2 and #6 are correct!  Did you guess correctly?

Anyway, here are the two correct expressions:

“I want to check the word (in my dictionary).”

“I want to look up the word (in my dictionary).” OR “I want to look the word up (in my dictionary).”

However, they do not mean the same thing.

“Check” means verify – make sure something is correct – by consulting an authority (in this case, a dictionary).

“Look up” means search for, specifically in a reference book (like a dictionary).

So when would you say “I want to check” a word?  When you think you know what it means but you want to make sure it is correct.

When would you say “I want to look up” a word?  When you don’t know what it means so you want to find it in your dictionary.

So next time you are with your teacher or another native English speaker and want to use your dictionary, try remembering these two expressions and using them!

Habit Collocation

Talking about good and bad habits can be an interesting and fun conversation, but it’s not a very common one.  Although most English learners understand what a habit is, it can be a challenge to make a sentence with them.  How do you say 癖を断ち切る in English?  How about 癖を直す? Here are some of the collocations we use with habits:

  • have a habit
  • develop a habit
  • fix a habit
  • overcome a habit
  • get rid of a habit

More specifically, how can we describe the habit in detail?  Here are two patterns you can use:

  • I have a (bad) habit of Ving (O)

For example:

“I have a habit of biting my nails.”

“I have a bad habit of talking too much.”

  • One of my bad habits is Ving (O).

“One of my habits is biting my nails.

“One of my bad habits is talking too much.”

Common Mistake

I often hear Japanese people overusing “for me”.  We often use it, but not as much as I hear it, and not in the same way.  English learners often use it to express that the statement is just their opinion and not necessarily generally true.  For example:

For me it’s important to care about your family.”

So how would a native speaker express this?  Simple!

I think it’s important to care about your family.”

So try using “I think” next time you talk with a native speaker.  🙂

New Vocabulary

Have you ever wanted someone to explain something just a little more or in a little more detail?  Have you ever wanted someone to talk a little more about something?  Here is a useful word for you:

Elaborate

Elaborate is a verb.  It simply means to explain something in more detail.  So you can just ask someone to elaborate something!

  • Please elaborate (on…).
  • Could you elaborate (on…)?

For example:

A: I’m living in Osaka.

B: Oh, are you planning to move?

A: Planning to move?  No.

B: Oh, then you made a mistake.

A: I did?

B: Yes.

A: Sorry, could you please elaborate (on the mistake)?

B: Sure!  Sorry about that.  If you are not planning to move, you should say “I live in Osaka”, not “I’m living in Osaka.”

A: Oh!  I see.  Thank you.

That’s all!  I hope you found something useful out of all this!  If you have any further questions let me know!  See you next week. 😉