Category Archives: reading

What is Facebook For?

Readable Blog

For me and most of my friends, Facebook is a good way to connect with our real-life friends and family. Unlike Twitter, the people that we are “friends” with on Facebook are usually people that we know well. We also use Facebook to become “fans” (or “like”) the pages of businesses that we use a lot, brands that we like, media such as newspapers and TV stations, celebrities, local government and nonprofit groups, publishers and educational organizations, school and alumni groups, and so on.

The updates from our friends’ personal accounts and the photos and articles from the organizations’ pages are all shown in the same area, called the News Feed, when I log in. (Normal users have Facebook accounts; businesses and so on have Facebook pages. I, the woman writing this blog, have a Facebook account under my name, but there’s also a Facebook page called Readable Blog.)

I use updates from the Facebook pages two ways: First, I read and enjoy the updates myself. I get more information this way than on Twitter, since it’s not limited to 140 characters. I can watch videos or look at photos from inside Facebook. Some Facebook pages also have contests and coupons. (There are games and apps, too, but I don’t usually do those.) I comment on some of the interesting things. I also click “like” on stories, photos, and videos that are interesting and useful to me.

Second, when I see something that I think my Facebook friends would also like, I click “share.” This means that my Facebook friends will see it, too. They can comment on it, “like” it, and share it, too. Unlike Twitter, when my friends comment on it, they’ll all wind up talking together, which is nice.

It’s this mix of entertaining and useful news, video, and photos from all over the world, plus my friends from all over the world commenting together, that makes Facebook something I like. Also, it doesn’t take much time to use. If I want to share something I see on Facebook, it only takes a second to click “share” and type a comment. If I want to share something I found somewhere else, I just paste in the URL. Facebook makes it a link automatically. It’s faster than blogging, but there’s more detail than Twitter.

In the last two days, I shared some news about a charity for tornado victims in the southeast US, a comic strip about English vocabulary, a news article about a 9/11 memorial, and a music video. I clicked “like” on a lot of things, including my friend’s status update (kind of like a tweet) that she was accepted at a university, a message from a local park page announcing a free festival, an article from a travel magazine, etc. I also commented on lots of status updates and a few other things. Oh, and I entered a contest win an around-the-world airplane ticket! Heehee.

Finally, one thing that a lot of my friends do is play games and use other “apps” (mini-programs) inside of Facebook. Mixi started to also use this idea a while ago, and so did other SNSes, so you might be familiar with it already. Some of the games are really pretty good.

In some other posts, I’ll tell you how to get a Facebook account, how I use Facebook (literally–where I click and so on), how to stay safe, and how I think you can best enjoy using it.

Later, I’ll add some pages to this blog with more details (like my Twitter pages).

If you have ANY questions, please let me know!

Twitter Lists – Reading Material

I know that many of you use Twitter, so I’ve made some lists of Twitter accounts that you might like to follow.

I started working on this about 8 days ago. I stopped because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I was watching the news and trying to contact friends. Then, after that, I thought it wasn’t a good time.

However, now a lot of people are saying that are really stressed out. They want something to take their minds off of the news. They can’t do anything right now besides donate, wait, and hope for the best. So I decided to go ahead and share the lists. There are funny things, interesting things, and useful things on various accounts. You might find something that you like.

Of course, I’d be happy to get more recommendations. I’d especially like to know about Twitter accounts that tweet links or articles that are easy to read. Please tell me if you know about any. Thanks!

You can read about the lists on two new pages that I’ve made: 1) Twitter Lists — How to Use Them 2) Twitter Lists by @readable.

These lists include the community college anime club students who wanted to meet Japanese Twitter users, so please go read about them and follow them if you’d like!

If you have any questions, please ask me on Twitter.

Orchard

An Early Spring Walk

A few days ago, I went to a special park in my town. This park is a kind of garden around an old house. (I didn’t get a good photo of the house.) I like walking around in the garden. There are different flowers in every season.

Gazebo

You can see a gazebo behind the flowers. It’s is a nice place to sit and look at the flowers. Many parks and some big yards have gazebos.

Orchard

In the 1800s, there were a lot of farms and orchards (tree/fruit tree farms) in the San Francisco Bay Area. All of the orchards in this county are gone now, because we now mostly have cities with houses and offices. (A county is an official area. It’s smaller than a state. Each state in the US has several counties.) However, in the back of this park, there’s a small area with a few short, old trees. These trees are the last few trees from the last orchard in our county. The photo above is of a few branches on one of the trees. It looks like a cherry tree, but I’m not sure.

Blossom

Here’s a close-up of the blossoms on another tree in the main garden. I think these flowers were past their peak (already beyond their best point), but they’re still pretty. It had rained recently, as you can see. (Because the San Francisco Bay Area has a Mediterranean-style climate, we only have rain between around November and April.)

Neighborhood

This is a neighborhood near the park. You can see green hills in the distance. These hills don’t become green until wintertime here. That was hard for me to get used to when I moved here!

How is the weather where you are?
Is it still too cold to take a walk, or is the weather already nice?

Contest Winners – Most Thoughtful

Here is the final contest winner, for “Most Thoughtful” writeup of a technique.

I’d like to entry the  contest!

My way to study English is watching DVDs of ”Friends”.
To begin with, I often watch it subtitled in Japanese to understand its outline, after that,I watch it subtitled in English, then without subtitle several times.

sometimes, I consult this script to understand the plot: http://www.friendstranscripts.tk/

I think  watching TV drama is useful for English learners to learn and we can not only  learn English in an enjoyable format, but also learn it from the situation so  vocab is also easy to stick in your head.

besides,reading the script aloud  is also helpful to speak English.

That’s why I pick this way up & I  believe it works well for me.

It was submitted by the Twitter user @turningpoint6. Even though her entry was short, I think she did a great job of thinking about several ways to use and benefit from technique:

  • It’s fun, which always helps!
  • Watching TV episodes several times can help you with listening and vocabulary.
  • You can practice multiple skills this way–listening, speaking, and reading.
  • The new vocabulary is in a context, which makes it easy to remember. (It also helps you learn about who uses that kind of word, when to use it, etc.)

A Friend’s Christmas Day

I thought some of you might like to see my friend’s Christmas Day. She lives in the southern part of the central US. On Christmas Day, there were four generations of her family in one house!

Here’s Christmas morning. They have a very tall tree (it’s taller than mine or my parents’). However, many Americans have trees that are about 6 feet/2 meters tall. One reason is because there are a lot of gifts to put under the tree.

Some families only give one gift to each person. In my family and my husband’s family, everyone gives more than one gift to each other. (I don’t know about my friend’s family.) So when I was old enough (maybe 10 or so?), I gave presents to my parents, too. They also gave presents to each other. This year, I gave presents to my mom, my dad, my husband, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law. (I also gave or mailed presents to several friends.)

Anyway, here’s the gift unwrapping at my friend’s house.

Some gifts are practical things that people have been wanting but can’t or won’t buy. (For example, my parents gave me a nice pair of jeans, a pair of trail shoes for hiking, and an extra iPod Touch cable.) Some gifts are educational or to help the person in their job. (For example, my husband gave me a book on English linguistics. Last year, my in-laws gave my husband a book about math teaching.) And of course, other gifts are just fun or nice. (For example, my parents gave my husband a Doctor Who DVD box set and a video game.)

I really appreciate my friend letting me share these photos with you. :) Thanks, Q!

Contest Winners – Most Useful Techniques

Thanks again to everyone who entered! Here are the first two winners. I’ve posted their submissions “as is,” which means that I didn’t edit their English. The main focus for this contest was good ideas, not perfect grammar!

The first category is “Most Useful Technique,” based on my opinion as a teacher and as a language learner myself. Two people submitted similar ideas, so there was a tie (two people scored the same/both won). Here’s the first one:

@10lizy's books

Hi!! 

I would like to introduce the tools of studying in English with attaching photo.
The notebook is necessary to memo for new words or new sentences.

The English-English dictionary and The Oxford Thesaurus are also necessary tools.
I use them since I was a student of English school in Malaysia.
The teachers recommended to use them!

Books are written by English.
I try to read them out!!
Picking up some nuances or learning way to native’s thinking from them.

The magazines, CNN English Express,to Include in CDs. I use for improving my listening.

That’s it!!

This combined technique was submitted by the user @10lizy on Twitter. It focuses on books, but she uses them in many ways. Graded readers are great for picking up vocabulary. Easy-to-understand regular books are great for learning words that go together and sentence patterns. She also mentions that it’s a good way to learn how native speakers think, and the nuances of words. She also uses English learning books with CDs for listening practice. She writes sentences and words in a notebook (some researchers say that this works well if you do it in a certain way.) Finally, she has a thesaurus and a dictionary to help her get a deeper understanding of words.



Here’s the second one:

Hi, I’m AlexaderBD on the twitter and this is the first time I  write to someone that have English as first language. xP

About the  contest I can say that my English was not that bad, but was not
that great  too, and my solution to improve it was to read books. I have choose
the reading of books because books are one of my big love. When I have a  doubt about some word in the book I use a dictionary
This is a picture  of the book I’m reading at the  moment.

alexaderbd's books

I  think this is what is suppose to do in the contest, if it isn’t please let me know.
But the main reason to make me participate is the help me  improve my English.
Hope you can understand everything I try to say.  :p

This technique comes from @alexaderBD on Twitter. He has a more direct approach of reading novels in English. He is comfortable reading English, loves reading, and speaks another language that’s related to English, so this is a great choice for him. Huge novels like The Stand (or Harry Potter) aren’t a good idea until you’re comfortable with them. If you are, then you can use them to improve your vocabulary, your reading speed, the different ways you can use words, your understanding of difficult things like articles, and so on.

If you just read books about English, it’s not very useful. But if you read books in English, I think it can be a very useful technique. Great job, both of you! If you wrote me about which prize you wanted, I’m sending your prizes soon. (Some people didn’t answer about their prizes…)

I’ll post more winners tomorrow!

New Links

bookmark-new from openclipart.org

I’ve added some new links to the sidebar on the left.

Here’s some information about each one.

  • Learning English from Friends: Terry is a non-native English speaker from Korea who’s been working in the US as a systems application engineer since 2006. This cool blog is about his and his friends’ experiences learning English. (The way you really learn a language when you live overseas is that you talk with people, you make mistakes, and you learn new things from your friends. That’s what he’s writing about. It’s fun!) I really like this blog. Terry is a great example of an enthusiastic language learner who likes thinking about language.
  • Jukugo: If you are Japanese and use Twitter, you probably know about Jukugo already. This blog is bilingual (English/Japanese) and focuses on idioms. The author includes cute drawings with each post.
  • Business English in 5 Minutes: Naturally, this blog is about business English. Each post is short.
  • ESOL Courses Blog has short posts to help you study English.
  • ESOL Courses – Free English Lessons Online has grammar practice, vocabulary, and other activities.
  • Listen a Minute: This site gives you listening practice. You can listen to a short speech about something (Harry Potter, the World Cup, fast food, etc.). You can read the words, too, and test yourself on it. The English is at an low-intermediate to intermediate level. There are no definitions or explanations, so you might have to use a learners’ dictionary.

I’m going to change the organization of the site when I have time. If you like these links, you should save them. I recommend using Delicious, Xmarks, or another bookmark manager. If you do that, you can have the same bookmarks on every computer that you use.

Fashion Blogs & Websites

Here are some English-language blogs you might enjoy if you like fashion:

The Fashion Police Files
Advanced Style
Haute Macabre (warning: includes lingerie/underwear)
Ne Plus Ultras
The Sartorialist
The Dandy Project
Mrs.O
The Urban Gent
The Chocolate Fashion Blog
Punky Style
Diary of a Vintage Girl

Can you find one that suits you?

There are also lots of English blogs about Asian fashion…lots and lots! Sushi-Cat.net is one, and there are so many more–even for people who like to wear kimono. You can find them if you use Google.

Two of my favorite places to look at accessories online are Etsy (here are some of my favorite items) and Sock Dreams. Like most of my friends, I don’t really care about famous brands. I just like things that look interesting.

If you have links to fashion blogs or websites, in your language or in English, please comment and share them with us!

TED | Translations

I’m posting twice in one day! Crazy!

Here’s a resource for intermediate to advanced learners:

TED | Translations.

TED talks have become extremely famous for their interesting topics and good presentations. The speeches are from 6-20 minutes long, with still images or videos (NOT traditional Powerpoint). The speakers talk about everything: dance, robots, food, storytelling, DNA, etc. They talk about “big ideas.” (Some of the speakers make me cry.)

However, a lot of the speakers talk really fast because they’re trying to fit big ideas into 18 minutes. And sometimes they use difficult vocabulary words for the same reason. Still, because the ideas are so cool, I think they’re worth a try if you are not a beginning or low-intermediate learner. (If you find some easier TED videos that are good for lower-level learners, please tell me!)

Lots of volunteers have helped make subtitles for TED. You can see these at TED | Translations. I recommend watching your favorite videos several times–with subtitles in your language, then with English subtitles, and then without any subtitles.

TEDx events are not official TED events. (There’s TEDxTokyo, TEDxSeoul, etc.) They’re TED-style events, and the speakers are sometimes not as skilled as the TED speakers. However, sometimes they’re just as good. Some TEDx speakers speak in languages other than English, with English dubbed versions available. You can try those, too.

You can subscribe to TED in iTunes, by the way.

Here’s one very popular video that is available in 21 languages. Click on View Subtitles to see them. The speaker has a light Nigerian( or Nigerian British?) accent, but she speaks more slowly than other speakers, and her presentation is really interesting.

Let me know if you find some good ones! There are so many TED videos–it’s hard to know where to start.