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Several of my students have had Japanese computers and Japanese operating systems, with Japanese versions of Word. They needed to write English essays for their classes. However, it’s difficult to get the settings (line spacing, paper size, etc.) correct in Japanese, because everything is different. For example, English essays are spaced by line: double-spaced, single-spaced, etc. Japanese essays are spaced by character. It’s really confusing to try to make it match!
I know some people must be able to do it correctly, but I couldn’t figure it out.
Anyway, I recommended downloading either NeoOffice or OpenOffice.org (Yes, “.org” is part of its name…). Both are free office software packages (including databases, presentations, word processors, etc.). If you download the English version, it’s good practice. You will be able to find the right settings for writing in English. If you’re using a non-English operating system, the website might try to make you download another language. Just look for an “Other Languages” option and choose English.
NeoOffice (Mac OS X only–I use this one)
OpenOffice.org (Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Mac OS X)
(I didn’t include the OpenOffice.org logo because their website says you have to ask their permission. Um, okay …)
Even if you’re at an advanced level, you should keep reading in English. People may tell you things like, “Your grammar is correct, but it just sounds strange for some reason. I can’t explain why.” In this case, your English may sound “unnatural” because you haven’t read enough well-written English. (You’ve probably noticed this problem when native English speakers write in your language.)
Here are three totally different websites with lots and lots to read. Take a break this weekend and improve your English at the same time as you read something interesting!
- Quamut is a publisher of how-to and other guides. However, you don’t have to buy the guides. A lot of their information is available online for free. You can learn about baseball, jewelry-making, American business socializing, and more.
- Paula’s Choice is by a woman who calls herself “the cosmetics cop.” She writes about makeup and other beauty topics. She’s not afraid to say that an expensive product is no good. Personally, I think women shouldn’t feel forced to wear makeup. But if you like to wear makeup, you might find these articles worth reading. She also writes about skin care, hair care, etc.
- Little Brother is a new novel by Cory Doctorow. It’s written for young adults, but it’s getting good reviews from adults too.The book is a thoughtful science fiction story that takes place in the near future. The main character is a young hacker who is wrongly arrested by the American government after a terrorist attack. On the linked site, go to Download: Official Files to download your legal, free copy of the book. You can even download it for your cell phone.
Whether you choose to read a how-to, a makeover article, or a novel, I hope you find something you’re interested in.