Tag Archives: fun

Practice Listening and More with Music

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Hi! This is just a quick post. I’ve just started a new job, and I’m very busy. (I’ve promised you posts on Facebook and more. Those posts are coming, I promise!)

Right now, I want to tell you about a free site called Lyrics Training. At Lyrics Training, you can watch a music video with English words. At the same time, the words are shown under the video — but some of the words are missing! You need to type in the words while the song plays. There are harder and easier levels, and you can find old and new songs. If you like music, it’s a good way to improve your listening.

Remember that song lyrics often have strange or poetic words and grammar. Still, they’re fun and a nice way to enjoy learning English.

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.)

Contest Winners – Most Fun Technique

The next-to-last category is “Most Fun Technique.” This sounds like fun to me!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share tools for learning English. I really want to know how everyone’s learning it. And CONGRATULATIONS on your 100th blog!!

I like music and alway listen to the web radio during the work all day. When I come across a song that I like, I look up the words I didn’t understand. Here is my tool. http://www.tube365.net/ and then I get to know the meaning of the lyric. After that, I sing the song over and over again. In the radio I usually listen to, they seem to bring songs, which are routine. It means that I can take a test if I can sing the song I liked well everyday.

I’m not really sure if it works for improving my English. But It’s really fun to sing a song in English. That makes me feel as I’m a real English speaker at least at that time! ;)

I look forward to another great tools!

Thanks a lot!

@pakuchi5 on Twitter sent in this idea. I think it’s a really fun idea! I’m trying to learn some Japanese songs for karaoke myself. Song lyrics aren’t perfect for learning grammar, but they’re good for other things. They’re definitely fun and motivating if you like music.

100 Posts and a Contest!

This is post #100!


Time for the first Readable Blog contest!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

The contest theme is “Sharing Our English Tools.”

  • Think about one way that you practice or study English — something that works well for you. It can be anything. It should be something that you actually do.
  • Think of a way to tell me and other people about it. You can do that by taking and uploading a photo of you doing something (or a photo of a thing that you use). You can leave a comment on this entry. You can send me a message here. You can make a post in your blog, and Tweet me a link. You can draw how to do it, and send me a letter (please contact me and give me your e-mail address if you want my address. You can even post a video on Youtube or something like that. Almost anything is OK–just ask here or on Twitter if you’re not sure!
  • If you send it to me privately (by mail, contact form, etc.), please let me share it with everyone.

I will send something by mail to the entries that are

  • the most useful, based on what I believe as a teacher
  • the most fun to do
  • the most unusual
  • the most thoughtful

The (mysterious) thing each winner might get could include a book, something from Trader Joe’s, chocolate…Each winner will be able to choose between at least 2 things.

The deadline (last day) is November 6th! I must have received your entry by then.

P. S. You should be an English learner and a reader of this blog or a @readable follower to enter. (Of course, you can start reading this blog or following @readable now!)

(My Twitter follower, @10Lizy, suggested the idea for the contest. Thank you!)

Spam

You probably know about Spam, the meat product. Do you know about the connection between Spam and the English verb/noun “spam”?

The noncountable noun/verb “spam” means “e-mail and other internet messages that you don’t want.” Usually, these messages are advertising something (“BUY SOFTWARE CHEAP NOW”). People also use this word to mean “posting too often” or “posting a message over and over again.” Imagine that your Twitter account has a problem. It accidentally posts your Tweet 5 times. You might apologize by writing “Sorry for spamming everyone. It was an accident!”

You can get advertising spam on your blog, in your e-mail, on Twitter, etc. Recently, someone spammed Readable Blog on Facebook! That’s why I started thinking about the word “spam.”

Spam (the meat product) is not very common or popular in the US. However, we don’t usually use it as an insult. So how did it become the word for internet messages that you don’t want?

Monty Python is the name of a British comedy group. They were most active during the 1970s, but they are still popular today. In the US, they are especially popular with geeky people. Below is one of their famous sketches (comedy performances). The “Spam” sketch starts around 0:32 and ends around 2:41–sort of. Two people are in a cafe trying to order breakfast. The server or shop owner is telling them what she can serve them. (Yes, all of the main performers are men.) Warning: There are a couple of body-part words in here. Don’t watch it at work, and don’t watch it if you are under age 16 without your parents’ permission.

It might be hard to understand all of it (Monty Python’s comedy is very strange). But I think you’ll get the main idea. You can watch a higher-resolution official video with no subtitles here.

When the internet was still new, there were online games and message boards. People who used these games and message boards sometimes typed the words of the “Spam” sketch or just “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam.” After a while, people started to call this kind of annoying activity “spam.” Later, people also started to post messages to message boards trying to sell things or get others to join money-making plans.

In 1998, the New Oxford English Dictionary added this definition to “Spam”: “Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users.” (There’s a long explanation about all this on Wikipedia.)

And now we get spam all the time. It’s everywhere, just like the Spam in the comedy sketch.

Annoying!

WonderCon

A small part of WonderCon
A small part of WonderCon (click for bigger photos)

On Saturday, my husband, my friend, and I went to San Francisco. We went to a convention called WonderCon. This convention is for fans of comic books, animation, movies, TV shows, and so on. Last year, about 32,000 people went to the convention–women, men, kids, older people, etc. It’s not the biggest convention like this, but it’s pretty big.

More of WonderCon (sorry about the glass)
More of WonderCon (sorry about the glass)

Every year, there are a lot of things to do at the convention. In the Exhibition Hall, you can buy all kinds of comics. Often, you can buy the comics from the artist or writer and talk to him or her. You can buy paintings and drawings from artists. You can buy books about comics, history, and computer graphics. You can talk to publishers and ask them questions. You can meet actors and other famous people from TV shows and movies. (You usually have to pay to get their autographs.)

On the left, a friend who's an artist. On the right, another friend and two more members of Legion Fantastique.
On the left, a friend who's an artist. On the right, another friend and two more members of Legion Fantastique.

Look at the photo above. The three people wearing costumes are looking at the original comic book art that is for sale by an artist. (They are members of a group called Legion Fantastique. If you’re in California, you can see them at the Great Pan-Kinetic Exposition in August.) Lots of people wear costumes and walk around the convention. You can usually take their photos if you ask them.

Some people work hard on their costumes
Some people work hard on their costumes

Another reason that people go to WonderCon is because you can go to presentations and panels (group presentations). At these, people talk about topics like how to make costumes, how to teach reading using comic books, religion in fantasy movies, and so on. Actors, writers, and other people are also on panels. Sometimes new movies or TV shows are shown for the first time.

Who's on the escalator?
Who's on the escalator?

We had a lot of fun, and we’ll probably go next year. There’s “something for everyone!”

Have you ever gone to a convention? What kind of convention would you like to go to? You can answer in the comments!


Notes

“Convention” (n.): A big meeting of people on one topic. It might be for people who work in one kind of business, like web designers. Other conventions are for fans of something, like Japanese animation, trains, growing roses, or comic books. People often travel a long way to go to the convention. Conventions are usually held in convention centers or hotels. “Convention” comes from the verb “convene,” which means “come together.” “Conferences” (n.) are almost the same, except that word is usually used for academic (teaching and researching) conferences–teachers, scientists, historians, etc. “Conference” comes from the verb “confer,” which means “talk” or “discuss.”

A “publisher” (n.) or publishing company is a person or a company that makes books, comic books, etc. A publisher isn’t a printer or a bookstore. A writer sends her book to a publisher and hopes that the publisher will accept it. The publisher agrees to buy it and pays the writer. The publisher pays a printing company to print the book. The publisher sends the book to bookstores. The bookstores sell the books. The publisher, bookstores, and writer share the money from selling the book. (The author doesn’t get very much…)

“Autograph” (n./v.): If a famous person writes his or her name on something, their written name (signature) is an autograph. When you write your name on a check, letter, etc., it’s just a signature (n.). If a famous person signs something, it’s an autograph.

If I didn’t explain something, please ask in the comments!

A joke from Eijiro

I just got back from vacation, and I still have a lot of work to do! I’m sorry I haven’t been posting.

Anyway, here is a cute joke from Eijiro:

One day, a mother mouse and her child were taking their daily stroll when, out of the blue, they were cornered by a cat. Keeping calm, the mother mouse yelled out “Woof! Woof!” Startled, the cat ran off in fear.

The mother mouse then hugged her child and said, “Now you can see why it’s so important to learn a foreign language.”

Do you understand it? I love it!

You can read the joke in Japanese and listen to it at www.eijiro.jp — Eijiro is the source for the popular dictionary at ALC, so it’s very good!

Watch Out! It’s April Fool’s Day Again

Last year I wrote about April Fool’s Day. A lot of countries around the world enjoy this holiday, even though there is usually no time off for it. Because it is already April 1 in Australia, Japan, etc., you can already read about this year’s April Fool’s Day Jokes at Wikipedia. Which one do you think is funniest? I’m going to wait until I can read all of them.

No one is sure how April Fool’s Day got started. Some people say it’s because the European calendar was changed in the 1500s, and people who didn’t change their calendar to the new way were “April fools.” Other people think it comes from even older holidays or traditions. It’s probably related to the vernal equinox (the first day of spring, in late March). This day was a joyful holiday in many ancient cultures. We’ll probably never know exactly where it comes from, but it will probably be popular for a long time. People love to play jokes on each other.

The main Wikipedia page about April Fool’s Day tells us about some actual events that caused problems on April Fool’s Day. In 1946, there was a big earthquake on April Fool’s Day. It affected Hawaii and Alaska. More than 150 people died. Some say that people didn’t listen to the tsunami warnings because it was April 1.

If you hear anything shocking on April 1, be careful: you can’t be sure if it’s true or not.

(P. S. Did you read the Harry Potter books? The twins, Fred and George Weasley, have their birthdays on April 1.)

Send Your Stuff

Remember the previous entry about PostCrossing? Well, how about sending more than just a postcard? That’s the idea behind Gimme Your Stuff. You put together a small package of interesting things from where you live, and trade it by mail with someone in a faraway country. For example, I might send a small box of Californian stuff to someone in Italy, and the person in Italy would send a small box of Italian stuff to me. Right now, there are over 500 participants from 41 countries. (The website and most of the participants use English to communicate; there are also lots of participants in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia.)

In order to participate, you need to have a website or blog page where you can post a description of the kind of thing you’d like to send and receive. Then you’ll add your information to the Gimme Your Stuff site, and choose someone to trade with. (Here’s their How To page of instructions.)

Check out the website for fun photos of some of the “stuff” that has been sent across the world. People send magazines, postcards, jewelry, candy, toys, stickers, yarn, pasta, recipes, handbags, and even things they’ve made themselves. Many of the exchangers seem to have made friends with each other, too. Here’s a great chance for you to make an English-speaking friend somewhere in the world, and share your culture with someone else, too.

(If you don’t currently live in your home country, you can still participate, of course. A mix of local things and whatever you can find that originates in your home country would be great!)

Postcrossing: Trade postcards across the world


Postcards Exchange

Postcrossing is a free system for helping strangers exchange postcards. 1. You register with the site. 2. Then you request an address to send a postcard to. 3. The site gives you someone’s address and a postcard ID number. 4. You write and mail the postcard, with the ID number on it. 5. The person who receives the card enters your ID on the website, which is proof that you sent a card. 6. Then your address is given to the next person who requests an address, so you should receive a postcard soon. (Many people privately send a postcard back to the person who sent them one, but the official Postcrossing system keeps things fair.) By trading postcards in English with people from all over the world, you get practice reading and writing. You might even make some friends.

It sounds confusing, but it’s very easy when you register. Just follow the instructions.

Some people have scanned and uploaded the images from the postcards they’ve received on Flickr.

According to the website, there are

  • 214,889 users in 204 countries
  • 29,874 males, 125,506 females; 58,43 prefer not to say
  • 6,214,658 postcards received
  • 210,346 postcards traveling at this moment

It’s free to register, but of course you’ll have to pay for postage. I’ll have to see if I have any international postcard stamps!

Edited to be easier to read, and statistics updated, on January 26, 2010.