Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2:30 minute English listening practice! "Dieting Advice" (10 new words explained!)

🎧Audio Player at the bottom of this post!🎧

Dieting: Old Advice, New Again

Diets usually fail. That’s how dieting has become a billion-dollar business. You lose weight, you stop dieting, you gain back the weight that you lost, and you start again on another diet.

Is there a better way? The answer is yes. And it’s easy. What is it? Change the way you eat.

It’s different for every person, but there are some general rules.

Read nutrition labels before you buy anything in a package.

Practice portion control.

Exercise and weigh yourself every day. If the number on the scale begins to creep up, you should walk, bike or swim a little more. You should eat a little less for a few days.

Eat everything you want, but eat in moderation.

Eat many homemade meals. Load the meals with vegetables.

Choose calorie-controlled snacks like popcorn, graham crackers, and ice cream (really ice milk). No seconds!

Reduce calories over the long term.

You are most likely to be successful when you decide what changes in diet to make and when. Dietary change is a slow process. It’s one that requires ongoing attention.

An expert said “I do not believe in diets or any particular products. I believe in learning how to create a healthy lifestyle. The formula is simple."
  • Stop eating junk food,
  • Eat good food that is real, not processed,
  • Avoid drinking your calories,
  • Know what one serving is and do not eat more than that in a sitting,

  • Move your butt every day — even just walking is better than being a couch potato, and
  • Stop making excuses.
Watch out for package claims of “low fat” or “low carbohydrate.”

Read the facts on the nutrition label. Sugar often compensates for flavor.

Fruit juice may be fat-free. But it is not low in calories. It contains large amounts of sugar.
Download a comprehensive calorie chart of common foods. It will help you make changes that will cut about 500 calories from your daily diet. Do the same with an exercise chart.

Listen HEREπŸ‘‚

Vocabulary definitions are from:
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Friday, March 16, 2018

English Grammar ~ Use ‘SO’ [not VERY] when you’re surprised! (Student conversation)

Listen to the post here↓

I get many blog ideas from my private students here in Japan. Great questions from people learning English, just like you!  (Or for other teachers ~ just like your students!)

This is from a natural conversation I had with a student after a lot of snow fell in Tokyo in January 2013. πŸ—ͺ

My student said "I didn't think it would snow very much." I knew what he meant, but we can say it with more natural English.

To say "I didn't think it would snow so much." is a better way to show your feeling ~ “I was surprised by the amount of snow.”

This was a great chance to explain how we use the word "so" when we are surprised. So often has a similar meaning to very, but so is used in sentences with the feeling of "something unexpected." 😯

"I didn't think it would snow so much." is the same as "I didn't think it would snow that much." BUT to say "I didn't think it would snow very much." is not natural in this example.

I didn't think... shows our surprise, so it's natural to use so as an intensifier instead of very

Please look at the next example:

"I tried to go for a jog yesterday, but I was so tired after just 5 minutes I had to stop." ~ I got tired quickly, I was surprised how difficult it was for me. (I am in bad shape!)

Compare that with -

"I just did a 5k (km) run. I'm very tired." ~ In this sentence very is natural because the fact that you are tired is not surprising. After a 5k run of course you'll be tired!

*"I just did a 5k (km) run. I'm so tired." is also okay, in this example both so and very make the adjective tired more intense. Stronger.

One more example:

"I need to replace the windshield on my car, mine is cracked. I went to the auto repair shop and I couldn't believe how much a replacement windshield costs! They are so expensive!"
~ I'm surprised by the price of windshields. (I couldn't believe the price of windshields)

Compare that with -

"My coworker was showed me his new watch at the office yesterday, it's a Rolex. It's a beautiful watch but it must be very expensive."
~ Rolex is a well know brand and they make good quality watches. I expect them to be expensive. It’s not a surprise.

Word definitions from:

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Friday, March 09, 2018

English vocabulary ~ See/Watch/Look at

Learn to use these English words correctly!
Don’t confuse them any more!
Download my See/Watch/Look at PDF e-book! FREE!

See/Watch/Look at

-  to become aware of somebody/something by using your eyes

Verb forms
present simple I / you / we / they see 
he / she / it sees 
past simple saw 
past participle seen

~ See is automatic, you do it naturally. If something is close to you, you can see it without trying. It just happens.

“I see a black car in front of the hotel.”
(The past tense of see is saw.)
“Last night I saw a black car in front of the hotel.”

“One person in the group is green. I can see him easily.”

*In English conversation it is very natural to use see for questions about movies and sports events, even though we watch them.  (read the watch section below!)
“Did you see the game last night?” 
“Have you seen the new Superman movie yet?”

*In English conversation we sometimes use the verb see to mean meet.
“I saw Sam last week at the gym. He told me he got a new job.” = I met Sam at the gym…
“That’s cool. I’m going to see Sam tomorrow night. He wants to talk about going fishing.” = I plan to meet Sam tomorrow…

-  to look at somebody/something for a time, paying attention to what happens

Let’s watch the baseball game tonight!

Verb forms
present simple I / you / we / they watch 
he / she / it watches 
past simple watched 
past participle watched

Watch means you try to see something, but watch is for a longer time. You focus in one direction for a longer time. Usually we are looking at things that are moving.
We watch TV or we watch a movie.

“Let’s go to the stadium and watch the baseball game tonight!”
*With sports events you focus on one area for a long time.

Look at
-  to examine something closely (phrasal verb)

I looked at your X-ray. I’m afraid your foot is broken.

Look at means you try to see something, focus. Look at is just for a short time.

“I looked at your X-ray. I’m afraid your foot is broken.”
= I focused on your X-ray (for a short time) and unfortunately (I can see that) your foot is broken.

*If you want someone’s attention in English we often use the expression: “Hey look at this!” 

Look at my new smartphone!” = Focus on my smartphone. 
Check it out!

Get the PDF e-book version of this post here↓

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Monday, March 05, 2018

English listening practice ~ 1 minute English! "Bucket List"

bucket list (noun) a list of things that you want to do before you die 
~This expression comes from the term "kick the bucket" which is slang that means to die. *This expression is very informal, it can be rude or insensitive (not sensitive/not caring)

"I really want to go bungee jumping one day. It's on my bucket list."

100 year old woman gets arrested 
to fulfill her "Bucket List"
A Dutch woman was getting close to her 100th birthday and she asked the local police to "arrest" her to fulfill an item on her bucket list.

Police in Holland, said the elderly lady told them that she is nearly 100 years old and has never been arrested. She said she always wanted to know what it was like to "experience a police cell from within." (within = inside something)

The police handcuffed her and put her in a cell, and then took pictures of her smiling when she showed off the handcuffs for the camera.

Police posted the photos on Facebook.

Have you ever been arrested? What's on your “Bucket list?”

Listen below!

Original story:

Kick the bucket ~ Wikipedia page:

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

English Grammar - Making suggestions in English Conversation (Video too!)

In English when we make a suggestion, we mention a possible action or share an idea we have for an activity (with another person or other people.)

Here are some example phrases that we use to make suggestions.

How about
What about

We can use these phrases with a verb in its gerund form, this means the verb + -ing. In the gerund form the verb acts as a noun, it describes an action.

to study (infinitive)
studying (gerund)

A: My math class is really hard this year.
B: What About asking your sister for help, she's good at math.
How about starting a study group with your classmates? 

We can also use the phrase How about with the simple present tense of a verb.

The kitchen is a mess! How about we order pizza for dinner tonight?

How about I call the new pizza place on South street?

We also use these phrases with a noun, especially when you answer a question.

A: What would like for dinner tonight?
B: How about pizza? What about hamburgers?
(I am suggesting we have pizza or hamburgers for dinner tonight.)

​Here are 3 common examples of phrases we use to make suggestions:

  • Shall we…
  • Why don’t we… 
  • Let’s…

These suggestions use the infinitive form of the verb without to.
*Remember ​to study is the infinitive.

"Shall we study some natural English conversation today?"(We don't use to with these phrases.)

Shall we is used to suggest that you and the person or people you are talking with do something together, as a group.

Shall we go to the cafe for some coffee after we’re done shopping?
Shall we eat something while we're waiting?​

Why don't we practice using some natural English?

Why don't we is like asking “Do you think my idea sounds good?”
Why don't we invite Derrick to our beach party tonight, I heard he’s in town.”
This is like saying I think that inviting Derrick is a good idea. Don't you agree?

The subject “we” can change depending on who you are taking to
A: “I never have enough money.”
B: “Why don't you get a part time job?”

Why don't I get some hamburgers for us on my way home from work tonight?”

Why don't you try to quit smoking?
Why doesn't Jeff try to quit smoking?

The phrase why not is another useful way to suggesting something, this has the same feeling as Why don't you..

Why not ask Andrea on a date? I think she likes you! 

“It’s a nice day, why don’t you kids play outside?”

Let's is my favorite suggestion phrase and it's the phrase I hear the most.

I’m bored, let’s go out!

This also has the feeling of doing something together with the person or people you are talking to. 

Let’s go to the fireworks display this weekend!

Watch this grammar presentation as a video!

Helpful websites I used when making this video:

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2:30 minute English listening practice! "Dieting Advice" (10 new words explained!)

🎧 Audio Player at the bottom of this post! 🎧 Dieting: Old Advice, New Again From:  http://www.thetimesinplainenglish.com/dieti...

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