Speak a little English every day. The absolute best way to learn any new language is just to speak it. It doesn’t matter if you only know five English words or if you’re practically fluent — speaking English with another person is the fastest, most effective method of improving.
- Don’t wait until you “feel more comfortable” speaking in English — you probably won’t reach that level for a long time, so push yourself outside of your comfort zone and start speaking English today. You’ ll be amazed at how quickly your language skills improve.
- Find a native English speaker who is willing to spend some time speaking English with you — you may be able to offer them a language exchange, where they spend 30 minutes speaking English with you and you spend 30 minutes speaking your native language with them.
- If you live in an English-speaking country, you can practice by starting simple conversations with the people you meet, whether it’s saying “hello” to a shopkeeper or asking a stranger for directions.
Japan’s most recent addition to its list of national holidays, Mountain Day falls on a Friday this year. Hooray for a three-day-weekend! To celebrate Mountain Day I have decided to climb up Mount Katsuyama to visit Matsuyama Castle.
It makes me wonder why it’s called a mountain when it is only just a little over 130 meters high. How high does it have to be, for it to be considered a mountain? It is tough to define. Up until the late 1970s, people had defined a mountain as being over 300 meters and that anything lower than that a hill.
For me, hills are an elevated portion of a plain that appears rounder at the top and usually unnamed. Mountains are generally high, steep, have a defined summit, and stand tall in contrast to its surroundings.
Mount Katsuyama is fairly steep, but not really a hard climb and I plan to head up later in the afternoon when it’s much cooler. You can get a good view of Matsuyama and can clearly see as far as Iyo, too. Plus there’s a lights display on which is really the main reason why I’m going. 🙂
A new report in Europe has revealed that there could be a significant increase in deaths related to the extreme weather that climate change is causing. Most of these would be due to heat waves. In Japan the temperatures that are being seen across Europe may seem bearable, perhaps even on the cool side, but in fact they are much higher than the usual temperatures. Climate change and the increase of greenhouse gasses are not new topics, and several attempts at reducing them and the impact they will have on our environment have been and are in the process of being implemented. From electric cars, to buildings which incorporate forests we have found some innovative solutions, will it be enough though?
What do you do to help mitigate climate change? Do you have any ideas that could help to reduce the effects of climate change?
One of the biggest fireworks displays in Ehime is scheduled to light up the night sky this coming weekend. I have been to Mitsuhama fireworks a handful of times and each time has been memorable. The getting home part is another story itself, however, still memorable.
This year unfortunately, I won’t be going. There’s a huge typhoon making its way to Japan as we speak and is forecasted to hit Ehime by the weekend. I’m not sure how badly it will hit Matsuyama, but you can’t be too careful. This time around I would much rather stay indoors, stay dry and stay cool.
For those going to either Mitsuhama or Onmaku in Imabari – enjoy the show and fingers crossed the typhoon doesn’t ruin your experience.
As we get nearer to August I feel myself becoming a little homesick, mainly due to a month long, citywide set of festivals that happen in Edinburgh during August. The entire city goes through a transformation during July, ready to begin the celebrations in August. There are several festivals that happen at the same time, the Fringe Festival, International Festival, Jazz Festival, Book Festival and the Military Tattoo. The result of having so many festivals happening in one city at one time means that it gets very busy! I’ve heard that the population quadruples during August, although I’m not sure how accurate those figures are, it certainly feels like it when you are walking the streets!
The entertainment ranges from circus acts, to comedians, to ballet, to cabaret, to exhibitions, to street performers, it seems the list is endless. Performers come from all over the world, one of the main regularly returning acts are The Ladyboys of Bangkok, giving a truly wonderful show. I also saw my first Taiko Drumming group during the 2010 festival, it was an absolutely stunning performance.
The prices of the shows range from free to very expensive, and the quality can vary too, although most people are there for a good time and make the best of a poor performance enjoying drinks with friends and performers alike. Having said that it can be quite difficult to get a seat at any of the local pubs during the festival, despite them being open for much longer hours.
The thing I miss most about the festival though, is the end of festival firework display. This display is coordinated with live orchestral music, and is simply spectacular. I used to have a tradition of inviting my friends for food and drinks before the fireworks, then grabbing a blanket and a few bottles of beer and a radio before heading to the park a few minutes away from my flat so get a good view.
7. leave, leaf
Sometimes students use the voiceless sound at the ends of words when they should really use the voiced sound. This can change the meaning of the word quite drastically! Some examples include:
leave /li:v/, leaf /li:f/
hard /hɑ:d/, heart /hɑ:t/
dug /dʌg/, duck /dʌk/
rise /raɪz/, rice /raɪs/
8. bow, bow, row, row, sow, sow
Although there is only one spelling pattern being used here, there are two different pronunciations and multiple meanings! The two pronunciations are /əʊ/ to rhyme with ‘oh’ and /aʊ/ to rhyme with ‘ow’.
bow /bəʊ/ – noun – ‘shoelaces tied in a bow’, ‘bow and arrow’
bow /baʊ/ – noun – the front of a ship
bow /baʊ/ – verb – ‘actors bow at the end of a play’
row /rəʊ/ – noun – ‘row of seats’, ‘columns and rows’
row /rəʊ/ – verb – ‘row a boat’
row /raʊ/ – noun – argument
row /raʊ/ – verb – to argue
sow /səʊ/ – verb – to plant seeds
sow /saʊ/ – noun – a female pig
9. bear, beer
These words all use diphthongs:
bear, bare /beə/ – this rhymes with ‘air’
beer /bɪə/ – this rhymes with ‘ear’
10. tough, though, through, thorough, thought
The above words all end in ‘ough’ but below is a very similar one ending in ‘ought’:
Having an idol can inspire us to achieve great things. Idols can be famous actors, musicians or sports stars, successful business people, inventors and scientists, even fictional characters can be idols. They can be people in our community or people we only know through history books and stories. Idols can help us to become improve ourselves in many different areas of our lives.
Idols can have a significant influence over us, from the way we dress to the way we behave. In turn these can have a great influence over the way we live our lives and interact with people. As with everything in life a balance must be struck, we may take cues from our idols on how to behave in certain situations, but we must learn to adapt those techniques to identify with our own identity and situation. Whether it’s a productivity technique, guide to happiness or new diet, we should always consider that we are all unique and somethings work for some people and not for others.
Who is your idol?
4. wonder, wander
wonder /ˈwʌndə/ – ‘won’ looks like it should rhyme with ‘on’ but in fact it rhymes
wander /ˈwɒndə/ – ‘wan’ looks like it should rhyme with ‘ban’ but in fact it rhymes with ‘on’
5. of, off
of /ɒv/ (strong form) and /əv/ (weak form)
6. loose, lose, choose, chose
loose – adjective – /lu:s/
lose – infinitive verb – /lu:z/
choose – infinitive verb – /tʃu:z/
chose – past simple of choose! – /tʃəʊz/