Improve your English with Poetry

On June 30, 2018, I published a post: A Song with Dynamic Adjectives. I wanted to show you how effective a clever choice of English adjectives can be. I chose The logical Song by Supertramp

Awesome song-writers are really awesome poets. They can express a wealth of emotion, drama, and life experience in just a few verses. Music adds a further dimension. The Logical Song is an excellent example. The language is so ‘dynamic’, it almost jumps off the page! 

Today, to give you another example of beautiful English expression, I would like to share a classic poem with you. Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is very different from The Logical Song. The language is very simple but powerful. In just sixteen lines, the poet perfectly describes the grief felt by the death of a loved one. 

Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is a masterpiece.  The complete poem is included below. To fully appreciate poetry, it is best heard read aloud. I first heard this poem in the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and I won’t forget how it made me feel. It was brilliantly recited by the Scottish actor John Hannah. 

Click on the picture below to listen to the poem Funeral Blues recited by  John Hannah in the movie video, subtitles included. 

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks; cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin; let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves;
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ 

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Are you ready for a job interview in English?  Not sure?  Well, help is at hand!  Read on:

TALKENGLISH.COM has an extensive selection of lessons to help you to equip yourself for a job interview,  from basic to more in-depth questions.  Questions, answers, and explanations are provided.

These lessons are all available for self-study and they include short audios  to help you with pronunciation and speaking confidence. Give yourself enough time to practise. Ask a friend to help with a role-play. Click on the picture below to start your preparation! Good luck!

https://unsplash.com/photos/4mK2KVuYrDs

Are you ready for your Interview? 

⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳ ⏳

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Song with Dynamic Adjectives

I recently used a song, The Logical Song by Supertramp, in my Intermediate Level English class to highlight excellent English expression and in particular an impressive use of Adjectives. Individually, the adjectives are all wonderfully descriptive, but read the song lyrics and just see what happens to them when they are woven together into a story….. Magic!!

The Logical Song is about the biggest question of all: the meaning of life.

Roger Hodgson, songwriter: “The song was born out of my questions about what really mattered in life. Throughout childhood we’re taught how to behave, yet we‘re very rarely told anything about the deeper purpose of life. We go from the innocence and wonder of childhood to the confusion of adolescence, and that often ends up in disillusionment in adulthood. And many of us spend our lives trying to get back to that innocence.”

The Logical Song  by  Supertramp

When I was young,
it seemed that life was so wonderfula miracle; oh it was beautiful, magical

And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily, oh joyfully, playfully watching me.

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical,
responsible, practical 
and they showed me a world where I could be so dependableclinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep, the questions run too deep for such a simple man.

Won’t you please, please
tell me what we’ve learned?
I know it sounds absurd.  Please tell me who I am.

I said, watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a *radical, a *liberal, oh  fanatical  *criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name?
We’d like to feel you’re acceptable, r
espectable, presentable, a vegetable!

∧ ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧  ∧ 

* Radical, liberal, and criminal can be nouns or adjectives. They are used as nouns here. Did you notice the colourful adverbs: happily, joyfully, and playfully describing how the birds were singing and watching?

Click here for the YouTube video. Incidentally, the music is phenomenal! I hope you enjoy the music as well as the lyrics.

                            

Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Videos, Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What are the most valuable things everyone should know?

What are the most valuable things everyone should know?

Jordan B Peterson, 25 years as a consultant, clinical psychologist and professor

Tell the truth. 
Do not do things that you hate. 
Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act. 
Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things.
Pay attention.
Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships. 
Be careful who you share good news with.
Be careful who you share bad news with.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

18 English Words That Are Actually Hindi

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged | Leave a comment

It was a long long time ago – English Conversation

Here is a lovely lesson from the website ‘Vocabulary in Chunks’. Watch and listen to children having conversations with a 101-year-old woman. Then, check out the vocabulary chunks. Enjoy!

Vocabulary in Chunks

Hiho Kids

Vocabulary chunks :

• Nice to meet you
• I’m very happy to meet you
• How was it like back then
• We didn’t have radio
• We didn’t have television
• No telephones
• No trucks, they had wagons and horses pulled them
• It was a long long time ago
• I was in the Second World War
• I liked marbles and tops
• We had to wear skirts and stocking
• They didn’t have slacks and pants
• I did research on ants
• You’re really old but you’re really good
• I have a good life
• The secret to living a long life is being happy, working hard, getting exercise, doing things for yourself
• All of those things make you live a long time
• It’s wonderful to meet you, have a great life

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Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Vocabulary | Leave a comment

A Song with Present Perfect & Present Simple

Present Perfect Tense

If you want to understand and remember how to use Present Perfect Tense, just listen to the song  FRIENDS  by Marshmello and Anne-Marie. Here is the chorus:

Haven’t I made it obvious?                               Haven’t I made it clear?
(Do you) want me to spell it out for you?
F-R-I-E-N-D-S.
Haven’t I made it obvious? 
Haven’t I made it clear?
(Do you) want me to spell it out for you?
F-R-I-E-N-D-S.

In the song, Anne-Marie is telling a would-be boyfriend that they are only friends, nothing more. This is not the first time she has told him this. She sings, Haven’t I made it obvious?She uses Present Perfect Tense to indicate that she has told him many times that they are just friends, a situation that started in the past and has continued up to now. She reminds him, I’ve told you 1,2,3,4,5,6, thousand times.

She hopes that she is making herself very clear with this song and that he will stop making unwanted romantic advances now. She is putting him in a ‘Friend zone’. Because she is linking the past and present together, she uses Present Perfect. (For more information on Present Perfect, click here.)

Negative questions often show that the speaker knows the answer. The questions, (Haven’t I made it obvious? / Haven’t I made it clear?) indicate that Anne-Marie knows the answers, which are, ‘Yes, I have made it obvious!! Yes, I have made it clear!!’ She also sings, Haven’t we been here before? She knows the answer, ‘Yes, we have been in this situation before!’

⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ 

There are also several English expressions in the song which are worth noting:

Spell it out –  to explain very carefully to someone who would not otherwise understand. However, Anne-Marie spells it out literally.

Let’s have a look at some of the lyrics and some English expressions:

Don’t mess it up, talking that shit.
Only gonna push me away; that’s it.
When you say you love me, that makes me crazy.
Here we go again.
Don’t go look at me with that look in your eye.
You really ain’t going away without a fight.
You can’t be reasoned withI’m done being polite.
I’ve told you 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 thousand times.

Have you got no shame; you look insane,
Turning up at my door.

push someone away – to show that you do not want any communication with the person. Anne-Marie is warning him that if he keeps on bothering her, he is going to end all communication and then they won’t even be friends.

♥ make someone crazy – to really annoy someone

♥ Here we go again. – The same thing is happening again.

♥  look in your eye – the way you look at me

♥ without a fight – without trying hard

♥ I’m done –  I am finished with / I’ve had enough of / I’ve stopped 

♥ Turning up – arriving, especially unexpectedly

⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ ⊗ 

Present Simple Tense

Anne-Marie narrates her experience using Present Perfect Tense which helps us understand how she has arrived at her present situation. She uses Present Simple Tense to show facts and repeated actions. 

Repeated actions:                                                                     

♦ You say you love me.                                                                                         
♦ I say you’re crazy.                                                                                                                
Don’t mess it up. (Our friendship)                                                                                  
♦ Here we go again.    

Don’t go looking at me with that look in your eye.

Facts that are always true:

♦ You’re not my lover, more like a brother.

♦ We’re nothing more than friends.

Have you (got) no shame?/ Do you have no shame?

https://www.directlyrics.com/marshmello-annemarie-premiere-hilarious-music-video-for-friends-watch-now-news.htmlThis song uses some non-standard English often used by songwriters these days, especially in Britain and the USA. I think that they have a lot of fun playing with the grammar, but I doubt that they speak or write like this in everyday life.

Click here for the video with lyrics and here for the video featuring Anne-Marie and Marshmello.

You can read the lyrics, below, with my punctuation and grammar corrections. Present Perfect is in blue print and Present Simple is in purple print.

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Posted in Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Learn Compelling Vocabulary in 30 Seconds

Would you like to learn compelling new vocabulary every day automatically?

♦ No planning   ♦   http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-dayNo decisions 

Have a look at the picture on the right.

♦How would you describe the man’s personality?

♦ How would you describe the background colour?

If the first or only word that you thought of was ‘happy’, then you need to upgrade your vocabulary! How can you do that? … Well, I’m getting to that! … First, let’s look at two more pictures. 

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-day

How does the doctor on the left feel? Do you know a more descriptive word than ‘sad’ or ‘upset’ ?

Can you think of a better word than ‘requires’ or ‘needs’ to complete the description of the picture below, left: Carving the wood ………. patience and precision.

Carving the wood ………. patience and precision.

By subscribing to the Merriam-Webster online English Learners dictionary, you will daily receive:

♦ an excellent, new word with a full description and sentence examples in context,

♦ a picture – which makes remembering so much easier, and

♦ audio pronunciation. 

Deciding to Subscribe (for free) is the only decision you have to make. Then, you will automatically receive a Learner’s Word of the Day each day. It will take only about 30 seconds of your time to read it, maybe less. The 30 seconds it takes you to read the definition and sentence examples will be a great little mini-lesson.

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/word-of-the-day/2018/05/03

The woman has a look of horror on her face.

The sentence examples contain natural collocations. For advanced and proficiency level English students, it is worth remembering that the main difference between you and native English speakers is the use of collocation. 

I suggest that you create a Word of the Day folder in your Inbox, so you can refer to your new vocabulary easily, but keep the emails in your regular Inbox also so that you have a visual reminder whenever you use your email account. 

Click on the pictures above to see the definitions of ‘vibrant’, ‘distraught’ and ‘entail’. This will take you to the Learner’s Word of the Day website.

Click here to subscribe, and just watch the quality of your English soar!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Leave a comment

3 Minute English #4 by Vocabulary in Chunks

Learn words related to getting married

Click here for Vocabulary chunks:

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Videos, Vocabulary | Leave a comment

20 Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make

GrammarCheck.net header image         by JENNIFER FROST   20 Writing Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Grammar, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment