Tag Archives: international

What is Facebook For?

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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.

More Messages

I’ve gotten more messages from my friends to share with everyone in Japan! If you’re not in Japan, please read the messages for some good vocabulary.

Bouquets
Flowers from my local farmers’ market

Name: Pat & Winston
Location: El Cerrito, California, USA
Message: There are no words in any language that can express our sorrow for what has happened, and is happening in Japan. Our thoughts and hearts are with you.

Name: Erin
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Message: We are thinking about you and hoping for your safety and well-being, and the well-being of your families and friends.

Name: Alex
Location: Fremont, California, USA
Message: We stand with you, and we are so proud of you! We hope you recover soon. We have great faith in you!
頑張れ 日本!!

Name: Kirsten
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Message: I am cheering for you. You are in my thoughts every day. Please stay safe. I am so sorry and my sorrow is for you and Japan.

Name: Ellen
Location: England
Message: I want to send a message of hope to the people of Japan. The rest of the world supports you.

Name: Ian
Location: New Forest, England
Message: My thoughts are constantly with you all. I salute your strength and fortitude through these difficult times.

Name: Caroline and her mother
Location: Minnesota, USA
Message: The strength and spirit of the people of Japan inspire us. We pray for you in this time of tragedy.

Name: Dion R.
Location: Bay Point, California, USA
Message: Hearing what has happened in Japan caused much pain, but do not lose hope. I pray to God you’ll all make it through. I encourage you all to continue assisting others in need, as well as staying safe. May you be protected and live another day.

You can leave a comment if you want to say something.

Continue reading

Sunrise

Messages of Support

Sunrise
Sunrise at the lake near my house – a peaceful scene few days ago

Some of my friends and family wrote messages of support to everyone in Japan. In the US and other places, there has been a lot of news about the earthquake, tsunamis, and other problems. I think we all know about it and are sending our best wishes.

Here is what they said. If you want to answer them or say anything, please leave a comment at the bottom!

Name: Marty (that’s Clarissa’s mom, by the way!)
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.
Message: May better days come soon.

Name: Julie F, ESL teacher
Location: Emeryville, California, USA
Message: I am aware of what has happened to you, which is so frightening, and my thoughts and concern are with you. It will be a while before life feels normal again. In this time you must be loving and patient with yourselves and others. I hope your country can safely heal, rebuild and move forward. My deep condolence for any lost friends and family members.

Name: Scott
Location: Denton, Texas, USA — Land of Cowboys, Horses, Tornadoes, and quite a few people from Japan who are here going to school.
Message: Y’all have my best wishes for future recovery. Many, many condolences for those you’ve lost. People at my office could not stop watching the news sites this Friday. We were awed and horrified by what we were seeing. I certainly hope things start getting better as quickly as possible.

Name: Melissa
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Message: We are very sad about the tragedy that has happened in Japan. We grieve with you. I hope that you all recover and heal quickly, and I hope that the world will come together to help you in this dark time.

Name: Bardi
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Message: May each morning be a flower of greater hope.

Name: Erin
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Message: I would like to send good wishes and hope to the Japanese people during this difficult time.

Name: Stephanie
Location: Washington State, USA
Message: I wish there is more I can do to help. Take care of each other. Japan is in my heart and prayers.

Name: Brent E.
Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
Message: This time is tough. I hope that all of you stay safe. Japan will recover!

If I get more messages later, I’ll make another post!

Please take care of yourself. Take a break, eat when you can, get some rest, and drink enough (if you can!). Be kind to yourself and others. We’re thinking of you!

Continue reading

Meet the World: Part 3

Meet the World is a set of three posts about sites where you can meet visitors to your area and speak English or another language with them. This is the third post.

Finally, you may have heard of Couchsurfing. Their main service is connecting travelers and people who have room in their home for sleeping. (That’s right: You let strangers stay in your home! However, like Hospitality Club, they have some safety features–you can only decide to accept people who have already stayed with other users, etc.)

But Couchsurfing also lets you just meet visitors for lunch, etc. When you register, there’s an option called “Couch Availability.” The question is “Are you able to host anyone now?” This is about whether people can stay overnight at your place. Your choices are “Yes,” “Definitely!” (meaning you really want to), “No,” “Maybe,” “Coffee or a drink,” and “Traveling at the moment.” If you’d just like to meet people, and maybe be their guide, choose “Coffee or a drink.” That’s fine!

When you confirm your account, you can choose to make a small donation to become “verified.” CouchSurfing uses that information to check your information and to send you a postcard. That proves to CouchSurfing and other users that your name and address are real. You don’t have to do this (I didn’t). Just choose “Continue to Edit Your Profile” if you don’t want to. You can also do it later, if you want to. When you use the site, you might feel more comfortable contacting other users who are verified.

If you don’t want your real name to be displayed to other users after you join, go to “privacy settings.” Change “Hide name” to “Yes.” It’s up to you. There are a lot of settings, so look at them all.

Couchsurfing.org is extremely popular, so if you really want to meet international travelers, you can try it without having people actually stay in your home. There’s lots of advice here. You can also change the language in the top right corner. (And here are messages from people who’ve tried it.)

To write this post, I registered for all three of these websites. So if you need help getting started, I can try to help you.

And remember, you don’t need to stress about your language level too much.

If you’ve already tried them, or if you know about a better site, please tell me!

Meet the World: Part 2

Meet the World is a set of three posts about sites where you can meet visitors to your area and speak English or another language with them.

The second site is Hospitality Club. It seems to be much bigger than Hi Everywhere!. People can use it to request guide services or or to ask to be able to stay at someone’s home. For that reason, they have more security features than Hi Everywhere! Here’s how to use it.

  1. You register. You give them information including your country, region (province, etc.), city, name, and address. You may not be comfortable with this, but they request this information so that members know that you are really the person they expected to meet. If they meet you, they are supposed to ask to see your passport to make sure it matches. You can choose to not show this information in your profile in general.
  2. In step 2 of registration, you fill out your profile. One part says “I can offer accommodation: yes, maybe, no” and “I can offer: show around town, have someone over for dinner.” If you’d like to be a guide only, then you choose “no” for accommodation. After that, choose “show around town”. You can also choose “dinner” if you’d like to invite someone to your house for dinner).

Meet the World: Part 1

I know that many English learners would like to meet other people to speak English with. It’s great to talk to other people from your country, Europe, and so on. Having someone to talk to is fun, can help you learn things, can make you want to learn more, and gives you a reason to really speak English. It can also be stressful and scary, but that’s part of learning!

Anyway, for a lot of people it’s hard to find someone to talk to. But there are ways…

shokunin_backpacker_on_a_phone from openclipart.org

As I said on the Improving Your English in Asia page, one way is to find out if your city or province (etc.) has a volunteer guide program, like Goodwill Guides. If you can’t do that, I recently found out about two other sites. (I already posted them to our Facebook page–remember to “like” it if you use Facebook!) I’ll introduce a third site, too, in three posts here. All of these sites are free to use.

The first site is Hi Everywhere! The site says “Hi Everywhere!” is a volunteer local tour guide exchange community.” Here’s how it works:

  1. You register. Your information includes a username (not your real name), your e-mail (not shown), the languages you speak, your city, and whatever you want to say about yourself.
  2. Travelers post information (requests) about where they are going and what they need. For example, a British woman is going to Japan for a month. While she’s there, she would like to go anywhere in the countryside. Even if she can meet someone for an hour, it’s okay.
  3. You look at the requests and decide whether you can help. If you want to be someone’s guide, you can click “Book it!” Or you can leave a comment to discuss it with the person.

After their trips, some users write journals about their good experiences. I don’t know how active the site is, but you can try it!

Don’t worry about your English level too much. If you’re not fluent in English yet, just tell them before you meet them. When international visitors come to your area, they will probably be happy to meet anyone who speaks ANY English. If you need help, you can find information about food, history, and so on in English in advance using Wikipedia, Wikitravel, and so on.

Here are the next two posts:

Blogging in English

If you’d like to write more in English than you can on Twitter, try blogging.

A great way to have a really simple English blog is to use Posterous. Posterous is so easy that you can even blog just by writing an e-mail! It will be posted to the blog automatically. Yes, even if you attach photos. (It’s amazingly easy!) Posterous is in English, but there are many “how-to” guides in other languages. Just search for “how to use Posterous” in your language. Here’s a guide in Japanese, for example. You can even share a Posterous account with other people, which is really nice. (So several people can write a blog together.)

Using a service like Posterous, WordPress.com, or Blogger may help you get more international readers and commenters. If you use a blogging service that is based only in your language, it may be more difficult to find English-using readers.

It’s fine to write a short blog post. It’s a good idea to decide that you will post at least once a week and choose a day to do it. (It’s easy to forget about it if you don’t!) However, I’m not good at doing that, either… Anyway, if you try to blog every day, you’ll probably get too tired and stop doing it.

Picking a theme makes blogging much easier. Of course, you can always write about your daily life, your language-learning, etc. That’s fine too!

Here are some things you can write about:

  • Reviews of restaurants in your town
  • Anything else food-related, like grocery stores, bakeries, etc.
  • Photos and comments about how English is used in your area
  • Pet/animal/nature photos and descriptions
  • Photos and information about people’s fashions
  • Your cooking or crafts
  • Interesting places to go in the area near you
  • Reviews and your thoughts about TV shows, movies, music, or video games
  • Reviews and your thoughts about books or comic books/manga
  • Explaining local traditions (festivals and so on)
  • Your outdoor activities such as hiking
  • Cool or funny things from stores
  • etc.!

And yes, it’s really fine to write about things in YOUR town in Japan, Korea, Hungary, or wherever. Many times, there’s not much English information about a place on the internet. If you write about a bakery, temple, hiking spot, etc., and give its name, location information, and so on, people will be happy to read about it. (A friend was very happy to find a blog post about a Korean sewing shop in Seoul once! She was able to go there and buy supplies.) So most people will not mind if your grammar is not perfect. It can be fun to write things that people want to read!

Of course, if your blog is mostly for yourself, it’s OK too.

Remember that your blog is public (on most blog services), so be smart about how much information you give out!

If you start a blog, or if you already have one, please tell me about it! Comment here or tell me on Twitter. Thanks!

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!

A New Way to Read

If you do not live in an English-speaking country but you really want to read a lot more English, there is a new way to do it. Amazon.com has an “e-reader” called Kindle that lets you read books electronically. It’s very nice because the screen is very clear, like paper. It’s easier to read than a computer screen.

However, the old version had some problems. One of the problems was that it only worked in the USA. Now Amazon says there will be a new kind of Kindle, the International version, which you can use in a lot of different countries. This is pretty cool because you can buy and download English books to it very quickly.

The Kindle uses cell phone networks, not wifi. You don’t need to be in an internet cafe to download books–you can be almost anywhere. For example, if you are waiting on a train platform and you decide you want to read a book on the train, you can quickly use the Kindle to buy and download the book. In 5 minutes, you can start reading it. Of course, most of the books aren’t free. (Some books are free–just look up “free Kindle books” on Google to learn how.) When you use the Kindle, Amazon will charge your credit card for the books you buy. Because it’s so easy to buy books, you should be careful!

Also, some people have problems because the Kindle’s USB connection doesn’t work well with some computers.

You can use the Kindle to use the internet, but only on really basic, text-based sites like Wikipedia.

I don’t have a Kindle because I can buy English books cheaply since I live in the US. But if you want to improve your English and English books are expensive where you live, the Kindle might be a good idea for you. Remember, reading a lot is one of the best ways to improve your grammar, use of articles, use of prepositions, use of idioms, overall fluency, understanding of English-speaking cultures, and add to your vocabulary. If you are already advanced, then you can buy lots of regular English novels. If you’re still learning, you can find many books such as Staying Together, a Level 4 Cambridge English Reader, for Kindle. You can also subscribe to Simple English News on your Kindle, which is a newspaper that you will get every month.

If you see a book that you want that isn’t available yet, you should click below the book’s photo, where it says “I’d like to read this book on Kindle.” That will tell Amazon and the book’s publisher that people want a Kindle version to be made. They are adding Kindle versions all the time.

This map (move to the right to find Asia) shows where you can use the Kindle International Edition. In other countries, it won’t work wirelessly. It includes many countries, but not all of them. It should work well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, France, Italy, Spain, and many other places.



Have you tried a Kindle for reading English? What did you think? Would it be useful for you?

(Note: If you buy a Kindle or something else from Amazon after clicking on these links or the Readable Bookstore link, Amazon gives me a small amount of money. It doesn’t change the price for you, however.)