Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Reading Colombian News

Semana magazine one of the most important media in Colombia has an English portal where you can read Colombian news in English. Reading is an important skill and the best way to improve it is to read tons of articles and books. It is a good opportunity to learn vocabulary and improve one's reading comprehension.

Friday, 23 July 2010

How to write plane English for an international Audience

Maintain cultural neutrality
taken from www.business.com

Writing for an international audience requires a keen sensitivity to the vast cultural differences that prevail throughout the world. We are tempted to believe that the world is becoming a smaller, more uniform place. A casual reading of the daily news, however, shows that the last decade of the 20th century is in fact witness to an increase in the importance of cultural identity!

Here are a few examples of things that require careful editing:

  • geographical references
  • historical references
  • date and time formats
  • political references
  • monetary references
  • units of measurement
  • experiential references
  • references to popular culture such as sports figures and celebrities
  • references to social customs such as coffee breaks
  • social events
  • social and religious value systems

The original text below is a good example of what not to write for an international audience:

Original Text (from "Kodak Digital Science User's Guide", 1998)

Instead of film, a digital camera places your pictures on a memory card. The pictures are made up of pixels. Stand really close to your TV -- so close that your mother would yell at you if she saw you. These little dots that make up the picture are pixels. It's the more the merrier when it comes to pixels and the quality of your digital pictures. But everything has its price. The more pixels you have (or the better the resolutions in other words) the more space you use on the camera memory card.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Football elements

From Wikipedia.com

The various codes of football share the following elements in common:

  • Two teams of usually between 11 and 18 players; some variations that have fewer players (five or more per team) are also popular.
  • A clearly defined area in which to play the game.
  • Scoring goals or points, by moving the ball to an opposing team's end of the field and either into a goal area, or over a line.
  • Goals or points resulting from players putting the ball between two goalposts.
  • The goal or line being defended by the opposing team.
  • Players being required to move the ball—depending on the code—by kicking, carrying, or hand-passing the ball.
  • Players using only their body to move the ball.

In most codes, there are rules restricting the movement of players offside, and players scoring a goal must put the ball either under or over a crossbar between the goalposts. Other features common to several football codes include: points being mostly scored by players carrying the ball across the goal line; and players receiving a free kick after they take a mark or make a fair catch.

Peoples from around the world have played games which involved kicking or carrying a ball, since ancient times. However, most of the modern codes of football have their origins in England

Monday, 3 May 2010

Mother's day celebration

The Story of Mother's Day
text and image from magiayamor.com

The earliest Mother's Day celebrations can be traced back to the spring celebrations of ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods.
During the 1600's, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday".
Celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent (the 40 day period leading up to Easter), "Mothering Sunday" honored the mothers of England.
During this time many of the England's poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes, the servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers.
A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church" - the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time the church festival blended with the Mothering Sunday celebration.
People began honoring their mothers as well as the church.
In the United States Mother's Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother's Day meetings in Boston, Mass ever year.
In 1907 Ana Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother's church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.
Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother's Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother's Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May.
While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Let's play Monopoly

As good exercise to improve your buying and selling skills in English. I recommend this game as a good tool in Conversation classes.


Today, MONOPOLY is the best-selling board game in the world, sold in 103 countries and produced in 37 languages including Croatian. But where did the MONOPOLY game come from? How did this phenomenal pastime get its start?

MR. MONOPOLY tells the legend of MONOPOLY best.

It was 1934, the height of the Great Depression, when Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania, showed what he called the MONOPOLY game to the executives at Parker Brothers. Can you believe it, they rejected the game due to "52 design errors"! But Mr. Darrow wasn't daunted. Like many other Americans, he was unemployed at the time, and the game's exciting promise of fame and fortune inspired him to produce the game on his own. With help from a friend who was a printer, Mr. Darrow sold 5,000 handmade sets of the MONOPOLY game to a Philadelphia department store. People loved the game! But as demand for the game grew, he couldn't keep up with all the orders and came back to talk to Parker Brothers again. The rest, as they say, is history! In its first year, 1935, the MONOPOLY game was the best-selling game in America. And over its 65-year history, an estimated 500 million people have played the game of MONOPOLY!

  • Over 200 million MONOPOLY games have been sold worldwide.
  • More than five billion little green houses have been "built" since 1935.
  • A MONOPOLY game made by my friends at Alfred Dunhill, with gold houses and silver hotels, sold for $25,000.
  • The longest MONOPOLY game in history lasted 70 straight days.
  • The longest MONOPOLY game in a bathtub lasted 99 hours!

The game of MONOPOLY is so much a part of today's popular culture that my lawyers have trademarked many of the game's graphic elements. The MONOPOLY tokens, Railroad, COMMUNITY CHEST, CHANCE, and Title Deed designs, as well as BOARDWALK and all four gameboard corners are legally protected.


Monday, 15 March 2010

Green, Green, Green March 17th Saint Patrick day

Facts about St. Patrick's Day Holiday

· St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17 because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD. It is also a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and history. St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, and a provincial holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

· In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.

· Many cities have a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Dublin, the capital of Ireland, has a huge St. Patrick’s Day festival from March 15-19, that features a parade, family carnivals, treasure hunt, dance, theatre and more. In North American, parades are often held on the Sunday before March 17. Some paint the yellow street lines green for the day! In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green with a special dye that only lasts a few hours. There has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, Massachusetts since 1737. Montreal is home to Canada’s longest running St. Patrick’s Day parade, which began in 1824.

Facts about Saint Patrick

· St. Patrick was born in 385 AD somewhere along the west coast of Britain, possibly in the Welsh town of Banwen. At age 16, he was captured and sold into slavery to a sheep farmer. He escaped when he was 22 and spent the next 12 years in a monastery. In his 30s he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. He died at Saul in 461 AD and is buried at Downpatrick.

Facts about the Irish

· 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry, according to the 2003 US Census. That’s almost nine times the population of Ireland, which has 4.1 million people.

· Some American towns have “Irish” names. You could visit: Mount Gay-Shamrock, West Virginia; Shamrock Lakes, Indiana; Shamrock, Oklahoma; Shamrock, Texas; Dublin, California and Dublin, Ohio.

· The harp is the symbol of Ireland. The color green is also commonly associated with Ireland, also known as “the Emerald Isle.”

· The Irish flag is green, white and orange. The green symbolizes the people of the south, and orange, the people of the north. White represents the peace that brings them together as a nation.

· The name “lephrechaun” has several origins. It could be from the Irish Gaelic word “leipreachan,” which means “a kind of aqueous sprite.” Or, it could be from “leath bhrogan,” which means “shoemaker.”

Facts about Clovers

· According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest number of leaves found on a clover is 14!

· One estimate suggests that there are about 10 000 regular three-leaf clovers for every lucky four-leaf clover.

Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Best man speech

Your best friend is getting married and has asked you to be the best man at the wedding. This means you have to make a speech at the reception after the wedding. You can imagine your best friend is someone you know or choose someone famous.

Is your friend getting married and you need help? this website is really helpful.

Image from the best man movie

Monday, 18 January 2010

Product Presentation Speech

You have developed a new product that you think will make you rich. You have been given the opportunity to present your product to a group of financial backers. You can choose a product that already exists or think of soemthing totally new.

Internet sites: http://www.asktheinventors.com/Books/presentations.htm

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Award Presentation Speech

You have been asked to present somene with an award for outstanding achievement. You can decide who the person is and what their achievement has been. Mayebe it's someone who has dedicated their life to a cause, a sports star who has had a great season or someone who has been very courageous.
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Play Hang man and review or learn new vocabulary