FLUENT ENGLISH

Let's enjoy English!

JAPAN vs UK ...

How about that! Did you watch the finals of the Men’s Team Gymnastics?

Yes, it was quite a thrilling/unusual/happy/sad moment when the final scores came in, as one of the Japanese athletes fumbled and thus was given a low score. This suddenly moved the Japanese team from 2nd to 4th place - no medal!

The UK team (or GB, as some people say) went from 4th to bronze and then when the 'fumble' happened, they suddenly went to silver. The Japanese coaches made an appeal and eventually the points were re-made and Japan re-claimed silver and thus the UK team got bronze. But hey ~ the UK has not received a Team Gymnastics medal for almost 100 years!

BRING ON THE FISH ‘n CHIPS FOR EVERYONE TO CELEBRATE ;-)

If you are an avid Olympics-viewer, I do recommend watching it online with the BBC or CNN. This will kill-two-birds-with-one-stone (it’s just a ‘saying’ - I would never hurt any animals), as you will be enjoying the Olympics and learning/practicing at the same time.

ENJOY ~

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IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES!

Yes, you will hear me say this a lot - and there is a good reason why...

Whether you want to write better, play an instrument better, sing better, look better and be fitter or speak better English ~ if you continue to do what you have been doing for the last two years until for the next two years, where are you going to be in two years time?

This not only applies to writing, playing an instrument, singing and to your weight and fitness but also to your overall English ability, especially speaking...

If a baseball player only practices once a month (or even once a week), do you think that he will be a good professional player and a great part of the team?

NO!

Of course he is going to practice for hours everyday, make mistakes and learn from them, have good days and bad days - that is life.

My point today is that ‘consistency’ is a very important part of activity, and activity will help make results that you want.

Yes, when you meet someone and start with a greeting or comment and perhaps you use a wrong word or wrong verb or wrong tense - no biggie - (they do the same when they try to speak Japanese) so learn from it. I look forward to making mistakes and learning from them, in so improving myself.

YOU CAN DO THAT TOO ~ “IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES!”


Robin

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Orlando ~

Hello from Orlando ~

I am actually here having breakfast with Mickey - he is running around the restaurant saying "HI" to all the kids and making sure they have a Wonderful Micki-nificant day

As you can imagine, it is rather warm in Orlando-> about 28C and it is only 08:15am!

OK - let me get back to chatting with Minney (she's cuter than Mickey ;-)

WISH YOU WERE HERE ...

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It's the Olympics ~

So the opening has taken place -> soooooo cool => 'tis interesting to re-live all the history of England and Great Britain ~ I hope you all enjoyed it.

Let the games begin . . .



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IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN ...

Yes, it is going to be a fabulous day today ~> it’s TGIF, it is ‘time for change’, and it is the Final Countdown to the 2012 London Olympics, with the opening ceremony starting tomorrow...

It has been very interesting to watch a lot of famous UK-celebrities (TV personalities and professional athletes new and old) carry the ‘torch’ through the streets of London -> even stopping at Buckingham Palace at one point! All the tremendous preparation of thousands of people will come to a climax tomorrow when the Queen will open the 2012 Olympic games ~

“Change” ~ good things will be changing next week when I get back from Orlando -> no, I’m not going to have Afternoon Tea with Mickey Mouse, though that sounds like fun ~ I am actually going to be at a Training Seminar (with top performers from different industries in the US - I will tell you all about that next week). I believe that keeping one’s mind open to constantly learn and absorb information is a good thing, no matter if you are 8, 28 or 88 (no, I'm not that old!) ~ as learning new things is very positive and beneficial, and help you in the long-run.

“T.G.I.F.” ~ as it is Friday with you and the end of another busy week. So I hope you have a wonderful weekend ~ whether you are going to be relaxing, going to be watching the Olympics or whether you are going away on vacation ~ have a great time.

And from next week I will be back everyday to give you stories and suggestions to help you improve your English, so do look forward to that ~ byeee . . .

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5 W's ...

Actually my bright little student Norika is the one to thank for today's post ~ she is a young and bouncy 8 year old girl who is trying very hard to speak English, and does so well!

Yes, she does very well ~ it is amazing what the young mind can absorb and put into action. Actually, anyone - no matter what their age - can do this but a lot of older children (commonly known as 'adults' ;-) put up traps that slow down the input and output of English knowledge -> 'tis a shame.

Anyway, we were chit-chatting -> asking each other questions and making short conversations about each topic (this is good practice for you, too), and I mentioned something to her that will BENEFIT EVERYONE ...

Very commonly, people will try to make an answer/response 'short' if they are unsure; "I don't know." But doing this does not help make a nice smooth and enjoyable conversation. So, I mentioned to her about the "5 W's" -> "the what?" she said ~

Who, What, Where, When, Why

I explained that not all the time but whenever you can, add the "5 W's" into your conversation and this will turn typical short and boring points into a vivid and interesting conversation!

Do try adding them into your speech -> Who, What, Where, When, Why . . .

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MID-WEEK WEDNESDAY ~

Excuse my absence yesterday, as I was on-the-road to and ‘in and around’ Miami for most of the day. If you have ever driven in Miami, then you will know how much of a pain in the *** it is there. Typical good driving ‘manners’ and ‘patience’ that you will see in a lot of countries (especially Japan) are not in the vocabulary of drivers there! So driving downtown is a little tiring - to say the least - plus I was tied-up until late in the day, so never made it here :-(

Anyway, during one of my lessons today I was discussing a few things with my student and thought that a couple of these points would be very beneficial to you...

I do stress to everyone to speak ARTICULATELY, as this sounds more professional, is clearer to understand and will leave your listeners with a better understanding of what you are wanting to say.

You will often hear me promoting the BBC, as I believe that their TV announcers have a much higher command of spoken-English and so they are usually very good to listen to and mirror;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/

This and one other action are both very useful to improving your natural-sounding ability and being able to express yourself much clearer and with confidence...

Even if you are not going to be giving a speech or host a seminar to a group of Doctors or other professionals, doing this will VERY MUCH IMPROVE the way you come across to people ->

Get a Voice Recorder and record your own voice when you are talking. Play it back and listen to what you say => if you have difficulty in understanding what you are trying to say, OF COURSE your listeners/conversation other-half is going to be the same and have a confused expression on their face! “What did you say?”

I do this myself, as I give Training Calls and Conference Calls, so I really need everyone to understand what I am wanting to say or I am wasting their time.


Try these two simple things - they may not be easy but they are simple to do - and you will see how well your communication ability improves ...

Robin

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THIS makes a difference ...

Good merry Monday morning ,

Most people don't care so much for 'Mondays' but they are the beginning of a great new week, so I like to get them off to a great and Merry start.

As people are usually rushing this morning, I will be brief and to-the-point...

PRACTISING -> good practice mind you - continually everyday will make a HUGE difference in your speaking ability and confidence!

Listen to high-level English (BBC for example) ~ repeat what you hear - and repeat and repeat and and and ~ this will enable your English to sound that much more 'normal' and 'relaxed' and 'natural' and 'fluent'!

Reading and writing is all wonderful for tests and exams but does not help with conversation, which is how people communicate.

It's simple ~ greet people and compliment them on something and ask a question, and then easy and smooth conversations will happen -> JUST SAY HELLO...


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IT’S THE WEEKEND ~

‘Finally’, I hear you say!

I hope everyone had a good week and that you are going to have an absolute fabulous weekend. What adventures do you have planned?

I am actually going to meet with a good friend of mine who flew-in from Houston, Texas. He just called me to say that he finally arrived but was delayed, as there was a malfunction with the plane and the engines wouldn’t start - yep, that could be a problem ;-) So, we will meet up later with some other friends and have a nice jolly chat => do you want to come? Hey, the more the merrier ...

Today I am just wanting to give out a few ‘chatty’ words that can be used in different situations ~ so do put them to good use ~

“Hey ***, how have you been? Long time no see!”

“I’m glad you finally made it. What happened with the plane?”

“What do you fancy eating tonight? You’ve come a long way, so it’s my treat...”

“How is ***? And how are the kids? They must be missing you ~ next time please bring them all along.”

“So tell me how have things been? What’s going on with the business?”

“It is great to hear how everything is going ~ I am so glad that it is working out for you all!”

So those are just a few examples of chit-chat amongst friends -> go out and see some people and simply say “Hello” => that’s where it all starts...

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T.G.I.F.

Hello all ~

'Tis late in the day for me here (presently in Florida) - actually it is 01:15 am - but I wanted to share something with you that stuck in my mind from earlier in the evening ...

I had a new online student (through CafeTalk) who wanted to say "Hello" and meet me, and to see if we made a 'match' and decide if she would want to continue with me (she did, so that was nice ;-)

Anyway, the thing that I am continually trying to get across to you about "practising" and "speaking" wherever and whenever you can -> I have previously mentioned this several times, as it is so important and so easy to put into action at work and at play etc.

Well, this young lady has been doing all these things and therefore we were able to make some quite natural conversation on the topics of hobbies, games, colours, pets, numbers and things like that. We didn't go that much into detail and stayed mainly on casual topics, AS SHE IS ONLY 8 YEARS OLD! My point here, is that if an 8 year old can do it, why can't you!?!

If nothing changes, nothing changes ~> so BE THE CHANGE and make the effort to get one step closer to being fluent in English ==> if an 8 year old can, so can you!

GO TIGER GO ~

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REALLY???

You mean there are THAT MANY opportunities for me to practice speaking? Really?? WOW!?!

Yes, it’s not only going to a school to learn (though they are very good and help a lot - I strongly recommend them), nowadays there are so many places to go and things to do that will also help to improve your fluency.

There are tons of foreigners living and working in Japan - that you will see out and about - and hordes of tourists wanting to know how to get to their destination or simply to find a nice restaurant to eat. And when you can’t see any ‘live’ people near you, you can always jump on the Internet to watch or listen and repeat what you hear -> THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Here are a couple of web sites that I prefer; the ‘BBC’ site not only has news but a lot about travel and studying and children’s games etc - you could spend days looking through all the great information they have. Another site (mainly for news) I will often checkout is ‘CNN’ - both are good options for you:

BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/

You won’t get stuck on things to do, so just go out and look and take advantage to say “Hello”, help someone, have a short conversation and make their day ~ by helping them, you will be helping you ...


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WHY???


I wanted to go over your “WHY?” with you today ~ なぜなら、これがすごく大事です!

Yes, to be able to understand English better would be nice ~ yes, to speak better would be wonderful ~ yes, to be able to converse smoothly would make your day -> that is all great and very possible BUT WHY DO YOU WANT THAT?

Being specific in your ‘goal’ will definitely help and give you motivation to do the right things to get you there...! If you want to communicate with more of a ‘natural flow’, you do not need to be sitting down and studying Grammar, for example. If it is to be able to speak proper business-level English in order to do seminars, then you do not want to be studying with a High School student -> that may be good practice but will not solve your purpose.

My whole point here today, is for you to sit down and re-write your goals, and make a date ‘by when’ you want to be at that level. By doing this and writing an actual date on your calendar, this will help with a plan, with motivation and dedication to make it happen.

GO FOR IT ...

Robin

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“HELLO” ~

Repeat after me; “Hello”.

So tell me ~ how hard was it for you to say that word? Hello, hello, hello ...

Even if you say it to a Japanese person, you will usually still get a smile and a “Hello” or a “こんにちは” back from them. My whole point here is that using your English - even while in Japan - is doable.

Yes, while you are away on holiday in England or America or Italy or Austria or where ever you go, you will be speaking it everyday. But, even while in Japan you have so many opportunities everyday to use it; on the train, in the cafe, in the supermarket, in the park, in the book store ~ you have to be the change and make it happen -> “if nothing changes, nothing changes!

Just make that small but easy effort to say a “Hello” or a “Good afternoon”, as this will start you in-motion to becoming better, more confident and closer to one day being fluent.

Conversation is a combination of greetings, gestures, phrases, may be a question or two, a smile, a frown, a giggle, an answer, another question etc ~ it is NOT about ‘grammar’, it is NOT about 'spelling' - those are for exams not conversations.

Great pronunciation will improve over time with talking to native-speakers and having good teachers, and becoming fluent IS POSSIBLE ~ you just have to start by saying “Hello” ~ if nothing changes, nothing changes ...


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GOING HOME ~

Checking out of the hotel is as simple as checking-in ~ just go to the Reception Desk and say:

“I am checking out.”

They may ask:

“Shall we charge the credit card on-file or would you like to use another card?”

“The original card is fine.”

“Your total charge is $348.75 ~ please sign at the bottom. Thank you for staying with us and we look forward to seeing you again. Do you need a taxi to the airport?”


At the Airport Counter

When you reach the counter, you should give them your ticket and your passport. The first question they usually ask is how many people are traveling with you:



"Is anybody traveling with you today?"

"Is anybody else traveling with you?"

"Are just you two traveling today?"





All airlines have a list of questions they have to ask you at the time of check-in:



"Did you have possession of your luggage since you packed?"

"Did you leave your luggage unattended at all in the airport?"

"Are you carrying any weapons or firearms?"

"Are you carrying any flammable material?"

"Do you have any perishable food items?"
"Did someone you do not know ask you to take something on the plane with you?"



** You can't just say yes or no ~ the correct answer for some of them is 'no' and some of them is 'yes'. IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, then ask!

 **

"How many bags are you checking in? Do you have a carry on?"


"Can you place your bag up here, please?"


"How many carry on bags are you taking with you?"




Afterwards, they might ask if you prefer an aisle seat or a window seat.



"Do you prefer window or aisle?"



If they are out of aisle seats, they will ask you if window is ok.



"We do not have any aisle seats remaining. Is a window seat okay or would you prefer a middle seat?"



Some people like to be by the emergency exit. You can ask for that seat.



"Do you have a seat next to the emergency exit?" or "Can I have a seat closest to the emergency exit?"



If they don't, they will usually try to give you one that is close.



"All the seats next to the exit have been taken. I have a seat directly in front of it. Would you like that one?"



Finally, they will tell you the gate number and the boarding time.



"Here are your tickets. The gate number is on the bottom of the ticket. They will start boarding 20 minutes before the departure time. You should report to gate C2 by then. C2 is around the corner and down the hall. Thank you and have a nice flight."


Finding the Gate

They will usually tell you what gate you should go to, but if you need to ask again, I will provide an example question. Also, you might need to ask someone where the gate is located on the way to the plane.
 There are different ways of asking how to get there, so choose the one that is easiest for you:


"Can you point me towards gate C2?"

"How do I get to gate C2?"

"Where is gate C2?"



Have a safe flight home ... ;-)

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SIMPLE TALKING ~

今日のはカンタンです。。。

Unless you are writing a report or going to have a written exam, your focus on reading/writing is not necessary. We are all here because we want to improve our English and be more 'fluent', so concentrating ON SPEAKING is what we need to do ~ especially when you travel, as you SPEAK to people not write memos to each other.

Your basic knowledge with gestures and smiles will get you a loooong way:;

"Excuse me, will you please take a photograph of us?" with a nice smile, polite tone and pointing to your camera -> anyone will clearly understand!

"Do you know a nice restaurant near here?"

"Are they your children? They are so cute!"

"What a nice dog you have."

"We are visiting from Japan and like it here very much. Do you live near here?"

"When do they close the park?"


Simple phrases like this are all you need to say ~ people may answer or they may not. This "SIMPLE TALK" is often used to simply be polite when you see someone -> the simple mentality of saying 'Good morning' to greet someone will go a long way to making that person have a nice day, and give you more confidence when speaking English ~ at home or on your travels.

Have a wonderful day ...

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LET’S GO TO THE RESTAURANT ~

So, at some stage in the holiday you are going to eat I hope, therefore let me give you a few phrases to use at different places to make this smoother:


Fast Food



Here, the only thing you really need to do is to go to the counter, order your food and then pay for it. That's all ~ it is that simple:


"May I take your order?"

"Yes, I’ll have a *** and an iced-tea, please."

"One *** and one iced-tea. Will that be all?"

"Yes."

"Will that be for here or to go?" ここか持ち帰りですか?

"For here please."

"The total comes to $5.87."



A common mistake is to answer 'yes' or 'no' when you don't know the answer. It is simple to avoid this mistake by studying and being prepared.



In most fast food restaurants, it is even easier to order a fixed meal, as you just have to say a number.



"I'll take number 2."



But the difference is that there are sizes ~



"Would you like medium, large or super-size?"


"Medium please."


Regular Restaurant

Ordering:

When you sit down to eat at a restaurant, remember to leave a tip. The average you should leave is 15 percent.

 After you are seated, the first thing they ask is if you would like something to drink.



"Can I get you a drink?"
"Can I get a drink for you?"

"Would you like to order a drink now?"

"What would you like to drink?"




"I'll have an orange juice."

"Water will be fine."

"Can I have a glass of water, please?"




After they bring your drinks, they will usually take your order.



"May I take your order?"

"What would you like to order?"

"Are you ready to order?"

"What would you like today?"




If you need more time, you can simply say,

"Can I/we have a couple more minutes?"



When you are ready to order, just read off the menu what you want.



"I'll take the Salisbury steak with mixed vegetables."



Requesting the Bill

Most places will come by when you are eating and ask if everything is alright. Some of the things they might say are:



"How is everything?"

"Is everything ok?"

"How is your dinner?"

"How is your lunch?"

"Do you need anything else?"




When you are almost done with your meal, they might ask if you want some dessert.



"Would you like dessert today?"

"Would you like to see the dessert menu?"
"Would you like to order any dessert?"

"Any dessert for you today?"

"Would you like to hear our dessert special?"




If you are finished and want your bill, you can look for the server, make eye contact and raise your hand. When they come by, simply ask for the bill.



"Can I have my check?"

"Can I have my bill?"

"I'm ready for my bill."

"I would like my check please."



Fine Dining


Finally, these types of restaurants take reservations. Here is an example of making a reservation through the phone.



"Hello, 'Restaurant Special', how may I help you today?"

"I would like to make a reservation."

"What day did you want (would you like) to come in?"

"This Friday at 7:00pm."

"We have a table at 7:15. Will that be acceptable?"

"Yes."

"May I have your name, please?"

"George Sugimoto ~ that's S U G I M O T O."

"I have reserved a table for Mr. Sugimoto on Friday at 7:15. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"That will be all."

"Thank you for calling."

"Thank you. Good bye."
"Good bye."

When you arrive at restaurant, you can tell them that you have a reservation.



"Hello, I have a reservation at 7:15 for George Sugimoto."

"Oh, yes. Mr. Sugimoto, your table will be ready in just a moment. You can wait right over there."


Bon appetite ... ;-)


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SHOPPING AND MORE ~


Today I will cover easy shopping, bank and post office situations.


At the Department Store

There are only a few things that you will need to know and say -> here is a short list:

When finding things:

"Do you have different sizes for this shirt?"
"Where are your blue jeans?"
"Do you have regular T-Shirts here?"

"Where is the dressing room?
" or "Do you have a dressing room?"

Shoes:

When you see a shoe that you like, you have to find someone and have them bring your size out to you. Here are some ways to say what you want;

"Can I try this shoe on in a seven?"
"Can I get this in nine and a half?"
"Can I get this in a size six?"


If you don't know what your size is, they will take your measurement.

"I don't know what my size is?" or "I don't know what size I am - can you take my measurement, please?"

When you go to the register, you don't need to say anything but they might ask you some questions:

"Did you find everything you needed today?"
"Was anyone helping you with this?"
"Would you like to open a credit card? You can get 10 percent off everything today."


These are all 'yes' or 'no' questions, so answer appropriately.



At the Grocery Store

In the grocery store, you don't have to say anything except when you need to find something. Here are some sentences to find general items:

"Where is the fruit section?"
"Do you sell ice cream?"
"Where can I find batteries?"
"Where is the toothpaste?"
"Can you point me to the medicine area?"
"Where is the bakery section?"
"Do you have fresh seafood?"
"Do you sell postcards?"
"Where are the shopping carts?"
"Where can I find a shopping basket?"




At the Bank - Currency Exchange


"Do you exchange foreign currency?"
"What is the exchange rate for Japanese Yen?"
"Can I cash my traveller's cheques/checks here?"


"Today's exchange rate is 126 cents for 100 Yen."

"I would like to exchange 50,000 Yen please."

"50,000 Yen at today’s exchange rate is $630. Here you go."



At the Post Office

If you buy too many things and have to send them by mail, you can simply go to the post office. If you don't have a box, most post offices sell boxes.

"Do you sell boxes here?"
"Can I buy one of those large boxes, please?"
"What is the largest box you have?"
"How much is this box?"


Filling out the Customs form before going to the counter is the best thing. The first question they usually ask is how do you want to send it ~ by boat or air mail:

"How would you like to send it?"

"How much is it for air mail?"

If that is too expensive, then ask this:

"What is the cheapest way to send it?"

Because you are sending a box, they have standard questions they ask everyone:

"Are there any perishable food items in the package?Are there any fragile items?"

They also ask if you want insurance on the package ~ it is not that expensive so you can ask how much it is:

"Would you like to insure your package?"
"Would you like insurance?"


"How much is it?"

"It's $3.25."

After everything is determined, they always ask one more question:

"Do you need any stamps today?"


That is basically it -> simple questions and simple answers will get you through these situations => and don’t forget a :-) and a 'Thank You' ~ they go a long way!

Robin

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ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS ~


ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS ~

When you are looking for something it is usually much easier to ask, therefore this will come in very handy, as you may often find yourself asking the way to the beach/Post Office/park/shopping centre/Starbucks/museum/theatre とか. The best way to start when asking someone, is to say; “Excuse me” -> that will get their attention in a nice and polite way...

“Excuse me, I’m looking for the *** ~ do you know how to get there?”

or

“Excuse me, do you know where the *** is?”

“Yes, turn right at the corner, go past the shoe shop and it is on your left-hand side.”

海外もよく建物とか何何店で右か左とかを使えます 〜 



There are a few ‘key words’ that are often used, so write them down and practice them, then you should be good-to-go when you are on holiday;

“Excuse me, can you point me to the nearest petrol station (gas station).”

“Excuse me, do you know how to get to the *** from here?”

“Excuse me, how do I get to the motorway/freeway/highway from here?”

“Excuse me, what is the best way to get to *** ?"
町の名前を入れる



Commonly used directions are:
Left,
Right,
Around the corner,
Past the ***,
Take a Left at the Post Office,
When you get to *** then take a Left,
After you past *** then take a Right at the next light,
Take a Left when you come to the Stop sign,
When you see a church on your Left-hand side turn Right at the next street,
It’s right around the corner on your Right,
After 5-blocks turn Left,
After 2 miles turn Right at the hotel,
You will see it on your Right-hand side,
It’s across the street from the library,
It’s pretty far from here,
Go straight on this street for about 3 miles,
After 2 lights turn Left at the 3rd light,
From here go down to *** Street and turn left,
Keep going down this street then at the restaurant turn Right,
It’s up there just passed the house with the red roof ~


There are many, many phrases that can be used and they are all generally ‘descriptive’ in size or colour or building name etc. to make it easy to understand. If you do not fully understand what they are saying, show the person where you are wanting to go on a map and then thank them for their help.


Happy travels ...

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MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS ~

HOTEL RESERVATIONS:

Making hotel reservations and checking-in are usually smooth-going ~ they are very Customer Service-minded, so will often speak clearly and slowly. When you are talking to them - either on the phone or in-person - and if you need to, it is alright to ask them to speak louder or slower or to repeat what they said ~ NO PROBLEM!

There may be questions such as:

“Hello, how much are your rooms?” or “I would like to reserve a room.”
They may then say; “Singles cost ****, doubles are *** and suites are ***.”
“How many adults and how many children?”

Then you may say; “We have two adults and one child - I will also need a child’s bed” -> “How old/how big is your child?” or may be “Two adults” or “Just one”
Then they may ask; “Do you prefer a smoking or non-smoking room?”
&
“When are you staying? How many days are you staying?

“I need a double room for 1 week.” -> “Okay, one double room with a child’s bed, for 1 week ~ that will be **** ~ can I have your credit card number please... “

Some questions you may want to ask are; “Where is the elevator?” or “Where is the restaurant?” or “Where can I get a taxi?” or “Do you have a map?”
“Can I have a ‘Wake up call’ please?” -> “What time do you need it?”
“What are the hours of Room Service?”

The hotel’s front desk/reception or telephone service are there to help you, so go ahead and ask ~ they will be glad to help (that is their job). Thanking them and giving them a nice smile every time you see them is a good thing to do, as they will remember you and if you ever need their help again, they will be there to give it ...

Have a great trip ~

Robin

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LET’S TRAVEL ~

This week I will be giving you hints and examples of situations and questions that will help you when you go on holiday.

As you will be flying-out of Japan (or whichever country you live in), you should be fine with the language there ;-)  So, today let’s go straight to the scenario of Car Rental when you arrive at your destination ~ here are a few examples of what you can use or what you may be asked, so practice them now to make it easier on-the-day;

“Excuse me, where can I rent a car?”
“Hello, I have a Reservation under the name ****** ”

If you don’t have a reservation, then ask; “I would like to rent a car, what do you have available?” 無いなら "OK, thank you."  を言うて、次のカウンターへ行けばいい。。。
May be they will ask; “Did you make a reservation?” -> “Yes/no.”
“What sizes do you have?” -> “We have Compact, Medium, Full-size, Convertible, Jeep, Wagon.” --> “How much is a ‘Medium’-sized car? How many people can fit in it?”
“How long do you need it for?” -> “I need it for 1 week/10 days/2 weeks.”
“Here are some forms that you need to fill out.” -> usually your name, home address, local address, date of birth, driving license number etc.
“How much is insurance per day? What does it include?”
They may also ask you; “Who is going to be the driver? How many drivers are there going to be? Is everyone over 26?”

They will usually give you the prices and rules: “You need to be back here on *** by *** with the tank full of petrol (gas/gasoline). If the tank is not full, you will have to pay *** per litre/gallon.”

A good thing to ask is: “How much do you charge if I am an hour late, for example?” -> “We charge *** per extra hour.”

“Here are the keys, your car is over there/downstairs, drive safely and have a nice time...”
 
It is better to understand all the rules beforehand, so the more questions you ask them the better ~
DRIVE SAFELY AND HAVE A GREAT TIME ...


Robin

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Anyone for tennis?

Anyone for tennis?

Even if you don’t like it, you can’t not miss all the news going on at the moment due to the Wimbledon tournament in the UK. If you like or play tennis, then I do suggest that you make the effort to go there one day, as all the excitement and the atmosphere at Wimbledon will leave you with some amazing memories!

I previously mentioned that when I was still in High School, we would try to go to Wimbledon every year and one time I actually bumped into (I mean literally ‘bumped’ into) Chris Evert in front of centre court - I apologised, complimented her on the game and then got her autograph, all at the same time - quite a funny experience.

Anyway, the point I want to share with you today is how your English studies and practice relate to this - meaning a ‘game’, an ‘interest’, an ‘activity’ -> BEING FUN & ENJOYABLE.

If you are just sitting at a desk reading a book or learning some grammar, that will probably bore you out of your mind and you won’t want to try to do any more of that ‘hard work’. So go out, say “Hello” to people, greet them with a “Good morning” or “Good evening” ~ if you are waiting for a bus or a train and you see someone, then say “Oh, I like your handbag” or “I like your shoes” or “That’s a nice tie”. Being active and saying simple things and compliments will take away the worry of being grammatically correct -> English is a communication language and not a test, so a simple greeting, a smile and a nice gesture will go a looooooong way to making conversations easier, more realistic and sounding very natural.

Just go out and try ~ “Have a lovely day ... “



Cheerio ~

Robin

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It’s the weekend ~ YEAH :-)

So what plans do you have going on ~ anything interesting?
Are you getting ready for your summer holiday?
Have you started to pack yet?
Where are you going? For how long?

There are so many little things that need to be done beforehand, so I hope you are
getting through your list - > all next week I will be giving you hints and suggestions
and useful phrases that you can use while on vacation, so don’t forget to tune-in for
that ~ you won't want to miss it!

Have a very special Saturday, practice your phrases and look forward to some more
interesting things tomorrow ...

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I wish you a very MERRY Monday

Good morning.

Just a little story of a pastime in England, as it is 'that time' of the year ...
Have you been watching Wimbledon 2012? In between teaching and taking my dogs out and
doing house work (yes, I clean and hoover and cook - I'll make a good husband
one day - ha ha ;-) ~> as you can see I am in a "MERRY" mode.

Anyway, I saw a picture of Chris Evert with her son in Wimbledon, which took me back down memory lane . . .

When I was still living in Southend-On-Sea (50 km east of London on the coast),
we would go to Wimbledon every year (when I was between 12-15) and try to get on Centre Court.
One day when I was trying to get through the gate, I actually bumped into Chris Evert
getting ready to play, so I commended her on her success this tournament and got her
autograph. YES!
The funny thing was that I had seen her many times before I 'bumped into her', as she
was dating a man who lived in a part of my town and sometimes when we drove past his
house we would see her in the drive way or in the garden.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this story ~ if you have any interesting ones like that, do tell me when we talk, as I would love to hear them...

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It’s Friday ~ TGIF

Therefore this is good to know ...

There are a lot of ‘idioms’ out there being used and they are good to know, since they
make conversations sound very ‘natural’.
So as it is bordering the end of the work-week (for most people anyway), I thought I
would throw in this idiom ~ to teach you of its use or simply remind you of how much
it is used...

“Call it a day”

You don’t have to wait until the end of the week to use it ~ it is often used in a
situation when you are ‘done/tired/finished - I’ve had enough - let’s stop now’ 
“もう疲れちゃった/全部終わりました” -> examples:

"Let's call it a day. I'm too tired to continue working anymore."
"We can't continue working without John, so let's call it a day."
"It's already nine o'clock. Let's call it a day."

Other similar sentences are:

"Let's turn in for the night."
"I think we should pick it up in the morning."
(pick it up = continue)

So when it gets to 5 o’clock today or when you are ready to ‘close shop’ and go home,
tell everyone that I AM CALLING IT A DAY ~

cheerio ...

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サーズデイーです ;ー)

Good morning :-)

I am listening to a very popular song that I am sure you also know and it suddenly
switched my thought-of-mind on what to write today, as this is important ...

Who doesn’t know the Michael Jackson song; “We Are The World” -> if you don’t, where
have you been???
Anyway, several of the words correlate to you practicing your English - let me explain ~

Join in and sing with me if you want to ;-)

“We are the world, we are the children, we are the one to make a brighter day,
so let’s start giving...”

‘we are the one to make a brighter day, so let’s start giving’ -> YOU are the one that by giving a simple greeting to someone, not only “makes their day brighter” but it also gives you great practice and confidence in HOW EASY IT IS TO SPEAK ENGLISH!

And then the song goes on ~

‘it’s true we make a brighter day just you and me’ -> that person may (sometimes Yes
and sometimes No) respond back to you with a simple “Thank you” or “Thanks” and then
you can easily give a “Have a lovely day” and :-)

WASN’T THAT EASY!

You were able to practice, you made someone happy and then they responded and made you
happy and more confident.

“it’s true we make a brighter day just you and me...”

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Birthday of America

Well, well, well ~

Today is the 'Birthday of America' (actually tomorrow, as it is still the 3rd here,
as I am writing) - the only reason I am saying this, is that I am currently living in
Florida and there are going to be parties, parties and more parties, and LOTS of
fireworks by evening time.
This week most of the people are geared-up for the celebration, so business-wise things are a l i t t l e slow here this week.

Anyway, today I am wanting to share a couple of words with you - you may already know
them or they may be new to you ->

1) ASPIRATION and 2) INSPIRATION.

The reason I want you to know and use them, is that they are great words with deep
meanings that will help you and motivate you. What do I mean ...

1) ASPIRATION
This is having 'hope' and 'ambition' of being able to achieve
something. Yes, this relates to you so very much, as you are 'wanting' to be able to
speak English fluently. This continues further into the next word...

2) INSPIRATION
You have the 'inspiration' to do it - that's why you are here at CafeTalk, as you have
the desire to get there and are making the effort to do that. This 'effort' is
the all-important catalyst (ingredient to make you have 'movement') that makes you
different and special and capable to be able to get to where you want to go, as you are actually doing it.

Those other people may also have the 'want' to speak better English but they are
sitting on the sofa watching TV or at a bar having a drink and don't have the
much-needed aspiration and inspiration to make it happen.
My hat-is-off to you for your continued effort and I challenge you to keep going ~
IT IS WORTH IT IN THE END ...

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何も変わなければ、何も変わらない

Let me explain . . .

Okay ~ I use this phrase when I do seminars and conference/training calls, the reason
is because people want 'change' for anything and everything; I want a bigger house,
I want more money, I want to send my children to Cambridge University, I want to live
in Hawaii, I want to understand English better, and the BIG one "I WANT TO SPEAK ENGLISH FLUENTLY!"

That is all fine-'n-dandy but 何も変わなければ、何も変わらない!
"If nothing changes, nothing changes!"

I (and the other tutors and staff) are here and want to help you but YOU have to be
the one that makes that happen - -> YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION!
Talk to people when you see them (even if it is only a short "Hello" or a
"Good morning" or a "Hey, nice shoes!"), make the effort to do that - it will get
easier and better the more your try.
Book lessons with me, so I can help you tweak your ability to get to that higher level
and go out into the world with more confidence to talk and ask and respond and have
great conversations in the cafe, while shopping, at work, on holiday ~
wherever, whenever and however ~
" 何も変わなければ、何も変わらない!"

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さて。。。

Good morning ~ I hope you slept well ~ and that you are in the midst of having a wonderful Sunday.

As all this week I gave you lots of ideas and suggestions (and recommendations of what
to do), I can only imagine that your brain needs a rest ;-)
So, if you were here (I'm currently in Florida but will be moving back to Japan
this year ...) then we could go for a stroll along the beach, stop at one of the
quaint cafes, drink a nice cup of tea and have a good-old chat about things.
But as you aren't, you'll have to book me so we can talk on Skype - ha ha.

My point is this, wherever you are you can and should use those 'daily' situations to
practice speaking English -> "でも今日本にいるから出来ない" =>that excuse is simply an
EXCUSE!
You will see gaijin all over town. Start to use the phrases you know and I have given
you, just to say "Hello" or actually start a conversation ~ you may even see them again and make friends.
I am English and I sometimes make mistakes, so don't worry => JUST TRY TO DO IT ...
it will get easier and easier, and you will become a more confident and better English
speaker ~

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