Let's enjoy English!

The BEST Travel Spots in England 3

Mother Church of the Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Canterbury Cathedral is an inspirational building where beauty and holiness blend perfectly. This magnificent place of worship is a masterpiece of Romanesque and Gothic styles and an incredible display of architecture in relation to England's religious history. Once you enter you will instantly have the impression of being small and humble in the presence of the impressive Perpendicular Gothic high vaulting along with slender columns rising up to arch high above your head. The glass stained windows are worth having a look and so are the medieval tombs of King Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince.

If you ever get the chance to visit London, don't linger for too long gazing at the bridge open the bascules, and do justice to the Tower of London instead. Ever since it was founded by William the Conqueror to assert the Norman power, the fortress has been the setting for some of the most momentous events in European and British History. It has protected, housed, imprisoned and seen many a life taken away. By the way, don't lay your head where Ann Boleyn did before she was executed and have a picture taken of you - it's gross!. What you can do is marvel at the glamorous Crown Jewels, learn the names of all ravens roaming about the complex, and listen to blood-curdling ghost stories born in reputedly the most haunted building in England.

By far the best place on Earth for celebrity spotting, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum is heaps of fun if you're ready to make certain allowances. They're all just wax figures and you will hardly have to resist the impression they're alive, but the very idea of summoning the great of the world under one roof and the way the replicas take after their prototypes are truly compelling. Mingle with sport and pop stars, royalty and world leaders, Bollywood and Hollywood icons, as well as fashion and cultural figures. They're just waiting for their photo-opportunity with you!

Stunningly beautiful no matter when you visit, the Lizard Peninsula has forever been a gold mine of inspiration for artists. Staggering cliffs, white-washed cottages clustering around picturesque harbours, flamboyant fishing boats drying upside down on the beaches, sub-tropical vegetation and mild climate await along compelling history that's inevitably inscribed in the breathtaking vistas. Make sure you venture as far as the Lizard Point and its towering lighthouse to really get a feeling you're at the most southerly point of Great Britain. And if you're in for a tidal spectacle, especially on a stormy day, don't miss Kynance Cove, another sparkling gem that shouldn't be missed.

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The BEST Travel Spots in England 2

If you've ever wondered how big a dinosaur could possibly have been, this is where the answer awaits ~ you literally stumble upon it right inside the main hall. But the giant skeleton of Diplodocus is nothing but a curious drop in the ocean of marvels that the museum has to offer. From sections presenting the wonders of Earth's functioning and the mystery of human evolution to those dedicated to ecology and wildlife, they actually do encourage you to touch, smell, and press buttons providing you with a huge scientific input in the most accessible and entertaining way possible. A place to spend long hours, if not days!

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Jurassic Coast is the popular name given to a 95 mile (155 km) long stretch of coastline in southern England along the east Devon and Dorset shores. ‘Jurassic' does ring a bell, doesn't it? Although you won't be chased by any T-Rex here, you might go home with some Jurassic catch as the area abounds in fossils scattered on the beaches. If you are not into plowing through sand and mud to find your little precious something, just amble down the wild beaches for the sheer white cliffs and stunning rock formations with the millions of earthly years frozen in them are not to be missed!

The very name the region was proudly given, that is the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, speaks for itself. The gentle hills dotted with pretty villages of honey-colored stone, charming churches and cottages, dry-stone walls and country pubs represent the quintessence of rural England, as immortalized in countless books, paintings and films. Much of the superior quality of this region is owed to its medieval sheep and the wealth they generated. Who knows, maybe you can still hear a Middle Age ‘baa!' echoing in the dry-stone partitions used to enclose the animals. These days the enticing cities of Cotswolds like Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, and Oxford lure with great places to eat, celebrity residents and lively cultural events. A must stopover!

Indisputably one of the world's most vital prehistoric sites and surely one of Britain's most popular tourist attractions, the ancient ring of Neolithic stones at Stonehenge has attracted hordes of pilgrims, philosophers and mystery seekers for centuries. Situated in a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Stonehenge is considered one of the most archaeologically rich spots in Europe. It lures with not only its construction which echoes the long forgotten Britain's past but mostly with the veil of unsolved mysteries and theories connected with its use. Should you yearn for more of these ‘sacrificial center or a celestial timepiece' problems to solve head for Avebury's stone circles.

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The BEST Travel Spots in England 1

‘Open Travel’ has compiled a list of over 4,500 sights to see in England ~ this week I will share with you the top 25 things to see or do on your vacations there. Make sure you've got plenty of time, a pair of hardwearing footwear, and a couple of spare memory cards for your camera, as the multitude of incredible photos you capture will be enjoyed by all for years ...

England has it all: an enviable capital that takes weeks to explore, heart-melting countryside you may amble through to no end, a flamboyant pub-culture that sucks you in the moment you have a sip on your first cider ever, and a so inspiring history that every pebble in Cornwall and every cobblestone in Hertfordshire seems to echo its magnificence. See the grandeur of the Bronze Age at Stonehenge, walk the whole length of the Hadrian's Wall to get the gist of the troubles with the Romans, relive the days of the Norman Conquest at Hastings, sympathize with Henry VIII's tormented wives, and trace the legends of world's literature and music on route from Stratford-upon-Avon to Liverpool.

Today we’ll start with “CHANGING OF THE GUARD”

Her Majesty's prime residence provides a wonderful backdrop to this ceremonial event held in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace every day at around 11am. Dressed in fiercely red uniforms and fuzzy headgear, the regiments march up the Mall to provide guard duties to the Sovereign and relieve what is called "The Old Guard". Accompanied with music and a bit of crowd chaos, this highly intricate procedure is a focal point for the thousand of tourists in London and a vivid reflection of royal tradition that still hold sways all over the islands.

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Useful suggestions 7 ...

So, you've decided that you want to improve your English. The question is where do you begin? Learning English can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you don't have any specific learning goals in mind. Here are some tips to help get you off to the right start and make sure that you stay on track as you go...

Why am I learning English?
Everyone has their own reasons why they want to learn English - what are yours? Think about the English skills you already have and the ones that you want. Do you work as an accountant? Then learn English accounting terms. Are you a doctor? Then learn English medical terms. Are you planning on traveling to London? Include some London slang in your plan. Be specific. Determining your motivation will help you focus your studies more effectively on the areas you want to improve the most.

Define the skills you find difficult
If the only reason you are studying is "to improve my English", then it is time to get specific! Identify which of the four language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) is the most important one for you to learn or the one you find most difficult. Concentrating on different skills helps you to stay focused. For example, if you want to speak to native English speakers with confidence, focus on your speaking skills. This is an example of a long-term goal - a specific skill that you would like to master over time.

One day at a time
You also need to have short-term goals – specific goals you want to accomplish by the end of the day or the week. For example, if you learned a new English idiom, then your goal for the day would be to use that idiom in a conversation. Or, if you are interested in a certain topic, learning 10 related vocabulary words would be a suitable goal.

Keep a record
You should keep a journal to record your goals. Write down your short-term goal at the beginning of each day. At the end of the day, record any difficulties you came across when trying to achieve that goal. Meeting goals that you have set for yourself will increase your confidence and help you see your progress!

How do you learn best?
Knowing how you learn best - what styles and what times of the day - and using those methods to study is a great step towards achieving your goals. If English was boring, nobody would want to speak it! Make sure you study in a way that is fun and effective for you ~ GOOD LUCK...!

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Useful suggestions 6 ...

Many experts believe that we use one of our senses more than the others when we learn. This idea comes from the fact that we learn best with one of these four ways: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinaesthetic (moving) or tactile (touching) ~ read on ...

Visual learners
...enjoy looking at pictures and graphic displays

...use lists to organise their thoughts

...recognise words when they see them displayed

Tips for the visual learner:
- Draw pictures of vocabulary words and diagrams of grammar rules

- Use flash-cards to review new words

- Visualise a conversation with the new words you’ve learnt

- Watch sections in films/movies and do simulation activities of those scenes

Auditory learners
...enjoy listening to dialogues and discussions

...like to hear spoken instructions

...use rhythm and sounds to help remember information

Tips for the auditory learner:

- Sing vocabulary words, memorise songs or make rhymes to remember grammar rules

- Read out loud as much as possible

- Record yourself speaking English and play back the tapes for review

- Focus on the listening activities, conversation classes and voice chat rooms

Kinaesthetic learners
...find it difficult to sit in front of the computer for long periods of time

...learn best when trying something for themselves

...use movement as a memory aid 

Tips for the kinaesthetic learner:

- Don’t sit at the computer for too long

- Take breaks often

- Chew gum while you’re studying!

- Mentally review your lessons while exercising

- Stay active by attending conversation classes regularly

Tactile learners
...enjoy working with their hands

...remember words by writing or typing them on the keyboard

...learn well through practical activities like projects and games 

Tips for the tactile learner:

- Participate in role-playing and drama activities as much as you can

- Use objects to help you remember vocabulary words

- Use flash-cards and take them with you when you’re out

- You learn by doing, so practice English as much as you can! 

What’s your learning style? Do you combine two or more styles?

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Useful suggestions 5 ...

Do you sometimes feel left in the dark when people speak English around you? Don't worry! Listening may be one of the most difficult skills to master, but it is not impossible. Use these five practical tips to help give your listening skills a tune-up...

Know your limits
Listen to as much English as possible but only for short periods at a time. Your brain is not a machine, so if you feel like you're getting frustrated and can't understand things, take a short break and try again later. Remember, developing good listening skills takes time, practice and a lot of patience.

Be selective
Translating every new word you hear will cause your brain to tune out the rest of the conversation, leaving you behind - so be selective. The next time you are listening to an English speaker, pick out key words or phrases. Write them down and translate them later. You will find that your listening skills will sharpen and your vocabulary will increase this way.

Pick up sound patterns
Do you ever notice how native English speakers only stress certain words? It's true! If you listen carefully, you will notice a pattern ~ content words (nouns, most verbs and adjectives) are usually stressed, while function words (prepositions, pronouns, etc.) are not. Pick out the stressed words and you will be able to understand the main idea of that particular dialogue or conversation.

Watch a DVD
Everyone loves watching films/movies. So, why not use them to practice your listening skills? It's easy! Watch a segment of your favourite English DVD; first, watch it with subtitles in your native language, so you can understand it. Then watch it again. Secondly, use English subtitles and focus on how much more you can understand in English. By this time, you should have a good understanding of the dialogue and story-line. Now, watch it once again without any subtitles and focus on just listening ~ WOW, YOU UNDERSTOOD THAT MUCH NOW ~ GOOD JOB!

Help is a click away
The Internet is full of resources for practicing your listening skills. For example, the BBC site I always suggest is great for listening examples and more http://www.bbc.co.uk/ (click on the ‘links’ at the top of the page - first “More” and then “Learning”).

Start boosting your listening skills today . . .

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Useful suggestions 4 ...

Does the task of learning English seem overwhelming? Fear not! Just like how a baby learns to walk, you need to take things step-by-step. These things will get you on the road to fluent English...

Start with a Smile
No matter what your level of English is, a pinch of confidence can go a long way! To become fluent in English, you must be willing to take a few risks, and that requires courage. A confident speaker with a smile can create a great ‘first impression’, even if a few mistakes are made along the way.

Memorize More than Words
Do you know tonnes of vocabulary but have no idea how to use the words? Try learning phrases or whole sentences to give you a fuller understanding of their meaning. This will give you many more tools for communication ~ learn phrases!

Listen to Learn
When listening to English radio, news or films/movies, try to analyse what you hear. As English is filled with idioms, it really helps to keep a notebook to write down new phrases and words. If you are speaking to a native speaker, make note of the way they use certain words. Learning from their natural speech will let you move out of textbook-English and into the real world of natural-speaking.

Exercise those Vocal Cords
It's time to go to the gym and start a workout routine for your voice! If you have no-one to talk to, try reading out loud, describing pictures in magazines or objects in your room. You can also recite lines from plays and speeches or practice presenting an argument. Remember the only way to feel comfortable speaking is to practice, so use that voice!

Take Up Modeling
Model’ the speech patterns of native speakers. Stress and intonation are key aspects of English, and affect the meaning of what you say. So whip out a DVD and have the remote handy. Practice listening to and repeating the words of the actors at a natural pace, which in English means fast! This will not only speed up your speech but also your progress on the path to your fluency.

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Useful suggestions 3 ...

These idioms refer to when you want to speak but just can't get the words out the right way.

You may be asking yourself; "Will I ever be able to speak confidently?" OF COURSE YOU WILL! Here are some techniques that will make it easier to overcome any shyness ...

Practice out loud

Yes, you have heard it before ~> the only way to improve is to practice. Use English frequently and out loud. Some students practice silently – having conversations only in their heads (this helps with mental-preparation for the real thing), but you need to get your mouth used to using the words and your ears used to hearing them. You can do this anytime - in private, with friends or in class.

Plan ahead and warm up
If you know you have to have a conversation or make a speech in English, think about what you need to say. Practice a few phrases. Get used to the sounds. Then, you'll be prepared when you need to communicate with someone else. Mental-preparation does help!

Build confidence by going back to basics

Shy speakers' biggest fear is that when they DO speak they will sound silly, may be make a mistake or won't be understood. So by using simple sentence structures and phrases that are very basic and familiar to you will help a lot.

When you see that people can understand you, then you will be ready to move on to more complex ideas. Maybe on paper you are at an advanced level but all that knowledge doesn't help if you can't speak ~> PRACTICE!

Umm and aah

Do what natives speakers do. If you're not sure what to say or you forget a word, then pause and insert a verbal pause like "um" or "er". It gives you a moment to think and indicates to the listener that you're going to talk. Sometimes all you need is a few "umms" to help get a sound out of your mouth. (But be careful not to rely on this too often, or it may become a nervous habit you can't get rid of!)

Use an online conversation class
Online conversation classes might be the most effective way for shy speakers to improve quickly. It is convenient but best of all, no one will see you blush!

Nothing changes, if nothing changes -> SO GO PRACTICE ...

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Useful suggestions 2 ...

Think in English every day
This is a great way to improve your spoken English ~ you can do it anywhere and anytime. At home, you can talk to yourself while doing everyday tasks like preparing a meal. If you are on the train or bus, then describe the people around you (in your head, not aloud!), and when you go to sleep, go over the day's events in English.

Listen to the sound of your own voice
I have said this numerous times, CAUSE IT WORKS ==> even though you might not like hearing your own voice, this is a very useful way to find out what's wrong with your spoken English. Record yourself speaking and then listen to it or ask a native speaker for some advice ~ positive constructive criticism is always beneficial!

Keep a talking journal
Relating to ‘recording your voice’, this is another very useful suggestion; record your thoughts in English before you go to sleep at night. You can play them again at the end of the year to look back on important events, as well as monitor your English progress.

Take extra classes
If you feel you need extra practice and are finding it hard to interact with other English speakers, why not take a few extra classes here and there ~ everything helps.

Find English-speaking friends
If you are really serious about becoming a good English speaker, you need to meet people you can speak to in English. This does NOT only mean native-speakers! English is spoken by many more people as a second language than as a native language, and being able to understand different accents is a very important part in your overall English ability.

Remember that "Nothing changes, if nothing changes!" -> BE THE CHANGE to better your English and yourself . . .

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Useful suggestions 1 ...

Do you ever get your tongue-twisted when you try to talk in English? Even the best English speakers had to start somewhere, so read on and learn some of their secrets...

Putting the pieces together
To speak English well, a number of different elements need to work together: knowing (and choosing) suitable vocabulary, using the right grammar and sentence patterns, and producing the correct sounds, stress patterns, rhythm and intonation. That all sounds very complicated but by simply working on these individual elements you will see vast improvements when they all start to fall-together.

Two-way process
Speaking is about interacting with another person and involves listening, as well as talking. You can check that the other person is following by using simple conversation strategies, like emphasizing key words, rephrasing or using expressions like You know what I mean? or Don't you agree?

It's not just what you say...
Non-verbal communication is very important for effective speaking, even for native English speakers. Use gestures, body language and facial expressions for explanation or emphasis, and try to read what the other person's body language is saying.

Sing a song!
Music is a great way to improve your speaking skills, practice the rhythm of the language and learn some useful expressions. Look up the lyrics (song words) to your favourite songs on the Internet and then practice singing them aloud.

Take a chance!
You need the right attitude to improve your English. Look for every opportunity to practice speaking; like talking to people at parties, approaching a foreigner who looks lost, saying hello to a foreigner when shopping in a store or just putting up your hand when your teacher asks a question.

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Sunday sun

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL MORNING ~ I hope you slept well last night ~ and feel light and bright and refreshed for another wonderful day ~

The sun is out and the air is crisp, helping to rejuvenate the day . . .

With that in-mind, jump at it and sit down with your favourite magazine, book, radio show, TV show or film, have a nice cup of tea by your side and enjoy your studying/practice for the day.

Making it fun, making it enjoyable, making it a regular part of your daily routine WILL enhance your learning speed and enable you to speak and read and listen and fully communicate with proficiency that you want ~ rejuvenate your day . . .

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Vegefood Fest

Today I had a whopping great time! First was to Daizawa (actually for an interview), then to Kojimachi (Melaleuca store), then Omote Sando, then Yoyogi Koen (Tokyo VegieFood Fest), and finally making my way back to my friend’s house ~ it was a looong day ~ but I had a ball-of-fun!

What did you do today? I hope you had a great time, too!?!

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After a long week, I am sure that you are a little 'knackered' (tired) - or perhaps ‘cheesed off’ (pissed off/upset) as you are over-worked and underpaid ~ “c’est la vie” (“that’s life”) if you have a regular 9 ~ 5 job, unless you work for yourself -> but like yesterday, that’s another story for another time...

So this is the big question ~ are you totally 'zonked out' (completely exhausted) and simply want to go home and rest, or are you going out to a 'posh' (high class) place and going to have a real night out tonight??

Perhaps you haven’t been out for "Donkey’s years" (a long, long time) and fancy a night-on-the-town, then it is time to drop everything and go out tonight and have a ball ...



Who knows the meaning of this? “Oh fiddle sticks, I was supposed to pick up Mari at 7:00pm, and it’s now 7:15pm - OH NO!”


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Change your mind, change your ways, better your results ...

I am sure you have heard the phrase “Mind Over Matter” ~ this can relate to really anything that you want to improve upon or be better at. Whether that be your fitness training at the gym or at home, your cooking, your reading, your singing, your age or your English ability. Let me explain with a few examples ...

Exercise ~ KNOWING that when I feel I am at the end of my limit in exercising and have that “Aaah, I can’t do any more” thought, pushing myself to do a few more push-ups or squats or jumps or laps (or whatever I am doing), WILL make that difference giving me better results that I am aiming for!

Reading ~ if I am slow and finding it hard to pick-up what I am reading and want to stop ~ by reading a couple more pages each time I feel ‘I have had enough’, WILL help to enhance my reading speed and in-take of words.

Age ~ isn’t it funny that as kids/teenagers we all want to be older but when we become adults and are 30 or 40 or 50 or 80 or whatever age, we wish we were younger. “Mind Over Matter” and “Attitude” => you are as young or old as you think you are...
On paper I am 48 years old but in my mind and my young-minded outlook towards things, I am 18 (with 30 years of experience)! The way we look (physically) depends a lot on our health and fitness and nutrition (which is a whole other story for another time) but our mental thoughts and wants and wishes also make a big difference in this, as well.

English ~ your “Attitude” towards this, “Aah, it’s hard”, “It is difficult for me”, “I’m not very good at English” => IF YOU KEEP SAYING THAT TO YOURSELF, YOUR BRAIN WILL TELL YOU THAT YOUR ENGLISH SUCKS!
“English isn’t hard”, “Hey, this is easy”, “It’s not difficult, it’s just different” => this verbal usage and mental-intake will inform your brain THAT ENGLISH ISN’T HARD and you will learn easier and quicker than you had previous thought.

Thinking “positive” helps with everything -> “Aaah, it’s raining today :-( “
“It’s raining today and kind of grey BUT THE PLANTS NEED THE WATER, SO THAT’S GOOD!” => this “Attitude” will make you have a much better day...!

Cheerio everyone ~

big clouds

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If you missed my Facebook comment, then definitely have a read of this ...

Find a ‘trigger event’ to put you over the edge - make the situations REAL - for example, if you want to stop eating meats and become vegetarian; study how a vegetable diet helps the body, study how meat-protein is hard to absorb in the body, visit a ‘slaughter house’ and see how the meat gets from animal to your plate.

If you want to stop smoking; visit a hospital intensive unit to see patients who are confined to oxygen tents, see X-rays of black lungs, see adults who died before their children due to lung cancer.

If you want to speak better English, be professional at seminars or conference calls, then go watch and listen to someone who is trying but is an English-catastrophe and an embarrassment to the company -> do you want to be like that?

TAKE ACTION! Each Action Strengthens Your Commitment and Raises The Level of Emotional Intensity and Conviction.

BEGIN TODAY! Focus on the consequences of your beliefs and actions; are the things you are doing Empowering you or disempowering you?

If you are stuck on ‘so-so’ or ‘good’ and want “BETTER” or “BEST”, ask me how and I will show you the way ...

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火曜日10月16日 Work ~

Yes, getting better at anything includes you having to work hard at it

~> “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”

You will hear me say this often, as it is true! If you want to be better/healthier/fitter/faster/smoother (whatever it may be), you can ‘wish it’ all you want but you have to put in your work and your effort if you want positive results.

Work at it, give it your best and ‘change’ will happen ...

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月曜日10月15日 ~ New week with a new goal ...

New week with a new goal ...

It is Monday; the beginning of a new week, the sun is shining giving you extra energy and joy in your outlook, and making your attitude positive so your busy day will go smooth. With this in mind, sit down (with a cup of tea if you want ;-) and re-write your goals for your English; (examples with a “why”)

* I want to improve my speaking ability ~ casual conversation or business-level for meetings ~ WHY?

* I want to improve my listening ability with English or American or European or Asian people ~ WHY?

* I want to improve my reading ability, as I enjoy books/magazines/poetry ~ WHY?

* I want to improve my writing ability for work or school or college ~ WHY?

* I want to have more confidence being around native-speakers, so I can talk freely with them ~ WHY?

* I want to prepare for my trip to Europe ~ WHY?

* I want to improve communication with my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/kids ~ WHY?

* I want to go out and play with the kids and have fun with them ~ WHY?

Whatever your goals are, make sure you write your:

(a) Goal?

(b) By when you want to be able to be at this level? (put a date in your calendar)

(c) What you are doing now to help you get there?

(d) What you need to do to be able to get there?

Writing down your goals, reading them every week (have a card with your English goals, Life goals, Business goals etc. and have that in your wallet or purse to read everyday/week/month) will help give you the ‘want’ and ‘purpose’ to make it happen ...


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Relaxing is the best ...

When you are forcing yourself to study for an exam, the pressure-overload can sometimes work against you. When you are relaxed is definitely the best time for your mind to absorb what you are studying and practicing, in order to enhance the outcome of your hard efforts.

Each person is different; for you it may be first thing in the morning or at lunchtime or after dinner or last thing at night. I prefer studying at the beginning of my day when my mind is clear, as I can absorb a lot more information and retain it, and then I can do some more later, if I have the urge.

My suggestion is to try studying at different times of the day, in order for you to find ‘your perfect time’.

Remember that a little bit everyday helps you go all the way...

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Going, going, gone ...



Now you see it, now you don’t!

I’m back to feeling like I was 17 - ha ha ha.

Playing around with one’s hair is so much fun ~ men don’t use make-up (well, most of us don’t) but changing your hair style or the way is goes (up or down or sideways or spiked or curly etc) each day changes your whole outlook on things.

Woohoo it’s the weekend, so let’s have some fun ...

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Colourful day ...

Today was a ‘walk in the park’ -> not literally but figuratively speaking ~ everything went smooth and easy and without hinderance. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I was going to have a nice day ~> it happened ...

The weather was nice, I heard from people I was wanting to speak to, I got the opportunity to have a nice photo-session, a delicious dinner at a friend’s house, then back home to have a nice message waiting for me.

I hope you had a wonderful day, too ~ enjoy and be grateful for the things and the people and the abilities you have in your life, as that mind-shift will make you appreciate more how special things really are.

Have a lovely evening and I will see you tomorrow ~

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“Today was nice...”

The weather today was just gorgeous! With the sun out, a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a refreshing breeze, what more could one ask for!?!

Have you noticed how people change according to the weather? Like now for instance, yesterday I was moaning and groaning as it felt so cold and I was walking around with a grumpy expression :-( but today I can’t stop smiling :-)

With those positive thoughts in your mind ~ whenever you see anyone, SMILE before you start talking with them, SMILE before talking on the phone, SMILE in any situation and you will portray a much better conversation every time!

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Wednesday stroll ~

I guess I shouldn't complain that it is 'chilly' but I am so used to 28~30C days and 23~24C nights, that wearing long-sleeved shirts and socks to keep me warm has not been on my mind for a looong time!

It is however, very nice to see the colourful flowers and the different shapes and sizes of the clouds in the sky as the season is Autumn.

With that in mind, I took a stroll around the area where my friend lives and enjoyed the lovely scenery, while taking several photos. Even out here in a quiet area in Saitama, you will see the occasional foreigner (like me today), so greet him or her with a ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ and a smile -> English is that easy!

So use those moments to say hello to someone ~ the more you can practice, the easier it will feel and the better you will get ...

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'new' and 'long time no see' moments ...

Yesterday I had some 'new' and some 'long time no see' moments when going to Roppongi/Minami Azabu area to meet and make new friends at 'Chien Fu' (a great vegetarian food restaurant).

We had a wonderful time there, and with full tummies decided to go for a walk (some people say 'hike' but that is more often used for a long walk in the countryside or in the mountains).

Well, back-in-the-day when I first moved to Japan, I actually worked in the Nogizaka area (at Ricoh) so thought it would be nice to take a walk in that direction for memory's sake . . . Passing "Almond" - still 'pink' but a lot cleaner-looking now - we crossed the Gaen Higashi Dori and Roppongi Dori intersection and headed towards Nogizaka. "Tokyo Mid Town" -> wow, that's new (to me anyway ;-) then I remebered the small park next to Nogi Jinja => both are lovely spots to sit and relax in the midst of hectic Tokyo - do go there, as you will be very surprised at how tranquil it is.

We continued past where Ricoh used to be towards Aoyama Ichome ~ saw the 'Aoyama Twin Towers' and 'Akasaka Post Office' that are still there, and then decided to head down to Omotesando -> yes, it is quite a stroll but the was nice weather and there are some nice spots to visit, so it was worth while ~

There were a lot of new stores and cute boutiques that I had not seen before but seeing Kokkaigijido in the distance and 'Bell Commons' did renew the thought that "I'm home".

What journey/experience today will bring back memories for you ... ?

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“I’M HOME!” ~ in some ways it really does feel that way

Everyday I am visiting (re-visiting) places that I haven’t been for several years. . .

The other day I went to Odaiba where my friend threw a ‘surprise picnic’ for me - very sweet - thank you Juju! Yes, there are a lot of new shops and stores and restaurants, and yes it was fairly busy with many people (like it always used to be) but the biggest shock (as such) is seeing how many more foreigners there are here now!

Before (10 years ago) when I passed someone in the street there was a nod or a wave or a ‘Hello’ but now there are so many more foreigners, so I would be constantly be saying “Hello” all the time if I did that!

Relating to that, now is so much easier for you to go out and practice your English ~ just by using simple greetings and a compliment now and again will be very good practice for you and will make someone happy at the same time!! Constantly doing this will help you a lot ~ so do fit these things into your daily life, as it will show you that speaking English really is easy and you do it well...!

See you tomorrow ~

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This week’s theme is “Back in Japan...”

Well, I have been back for a week now and thank goodness my body has finally switched over to Japan-time ~ do you ever have that when you are traveling abroad ~ your body feels confused on which time-frame it should be working on?

Florida is eleven hours behind Japan, so the first few days I found myself wanting to take ‘afternoon naps’ and then go to bed at around eight in the evening. This made things worse, as I would wake up at two in the morning ~ my internal clock kept saying “it’s one o’clock in the afternoon, so you should be up!”, even though is was pitch-black outside (of course it is at 02:00am). I would then do some lesson-preparation and other work on my laptop and stay up. By five o’clock when my friend has to wake up, it already felt like midday to me.

So now it is mainly getting used to the climate change ~ here you have four very different seasons of the year, whereas Florida only has three: “hot ‘n humid”, “very hot ‘n humid” and “I think I’m going to die in this heat ‘n humidity” - ha ha - a slight exaggeration but you get my drift -> ‘autumn clothes’ and ‘winter clothes’ are kind of nonexistent -> last year we had a ‘cold front’ come in for about 4-5 days (the temperature suddenly went down to +-15C from 28C!). I went to buy some gloves and finally found a pair at the fourth store - that’s how hard it is to find ‘winter things’ in Florida.

I hope you are enjoying this long three-day-weekend and I will see you back tomorrow ...

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Interesting words and languages ~ part III

Today is the last part of some interesting uses of the English language -> read and learn . . .

41. In Chinese, the words crisis and opportunity are the same.

42. The infinity character on the keyboard is called a "lemniscate".

43. The valediction 'good bye' came from God bye which came from God be with you.

44. So-long came from the Arabic salaam and the Hebrew shalom.

45. The word 'nerd' was first coined by Dr. Seuss in 'If I ran the Zoo'.

46. Before Jets, Jet lag was called Boat lag.

47. The word "monosyllable" actually has five syllables in it.

48. There are no words in the English language that rhyme with month, silver, purple or orange.

49. It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalms 46, the 46th word from the first word is shake and the 46th word from the last word is spear.

50. 'Zorro' means 'fox' in Spanish.

51. The verb "to cleave" has definitions which are antonyms of each other: to adhere and to separate.

52. The verb "sanction" also has definitions which are antonyms: to sponsor and to ban.

53. "The only 15-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable."

54. There is a seven-letter word in English that contains eleven words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, I, therein, herein.

55. “Rhythm" and "syzygy" are the longest English words without vowels.

56. "Go." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

57. The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.

58. There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs five times: "indivisibility."

59. Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them would burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired." I wonder what "To get sacked" refers to?

60. The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

61. The letter most in use in the English language is "E" and the letter "Q" is least used.

62. "Four" is the only number whose number of letters in the name equals the number.

63. The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.

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Interesting words and languages ~ part II

Not necessarily ‘topics’ for your everyday conversation but none the less interesting usage of the English language...

21. The only other word with the same amount of letters as it is its plural:- pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses.

22.The longest non-medical word in the English language is FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION, which means "the act of estimating as worthless".

23. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."

24. The longest place-name still in use is:-'Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturi
pukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwe-nuakit natahu' it is the Maori name of a hill in New Zealand.

25. The longest place name in the UK is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, it means “The name means: "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave".

26. The longest word in the Old Testament is "Malhershalahashbaz".

27. Mafia in Old Arabic means 'sanctuary'.

28. Some long running myths say that a pregnant goldfish is called a prat, twit, twat or twerp. The correct word is actually "gravid", which describes the condition of a female live-bearing fish when carrying its young.

29. You should know this => Karaoke means 'empty orchestra' in Japanese.

30. The first message taped by Samuel Morse over his invention the telegraph was: "What hath God wraught?"

31. The first words spoken by over Alexander Bell over the telephone were: "Watson, please come here. I want you.

32. The first words spoken by Thomas Edison over the phonograph were: "Mary had a little lamb."

33. "Papaphobia" is the fear of Popes.

34. The Academy Award statue is named after a librarian's uncle. One day Margaret Herrick, librarian for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, made a remark that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar, and the name stuck.

35. The three words in the English language with the letters "uu" are: vacuum, residuum and continuum.

36. "Underground" is the only word in English that begins and ends with the letters "und."

37. A baby in Florida was named: Truewilllaughinglifebuckyboomermanifestdestiny. His middle name is George James.

38. 'Dreamt' is the only English word that ends in the letters 'mt'.

39. The word 'Bye' is used in both English and Spanish meaning the same thing.

40. "Pogonophobia" is the fear of beards.

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Interesting words and languages ~ part I

Here are a few interesting words ~ how many do you know?

1. The first word spoken on the moon was "okay".
2. Seoul, the South Korean capital, means "the capital" in the Korean.
3. The names of all the continents end with the same letter that they start with.
4. There are only four common words in the English language which end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous. (There is also annelidous, which you probably won't need unless you are a biologist.)
5. The "you are here" arrow on maps is called an ideo locator.
6. The dot over the letters 'i' and ‘j’ is called a tittle.
7. The symbol on the "pound" key (#) is called an octothorpe.
8. The symbol used in many URLs (Web addresses) is called a tilde. (~)
9. The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.
10. In English, "four" is the only digit that has the same number of letters as its value.
11. Q is the only letter in the alphabet that does not appear in the name of any of the American States.
12. The word "trivia" comes from the Latin "trivium" which is the place where three roads meet, a public square. People would gather and talk about all sorts of matters, most of which were trivial.
13. TYPEWRITER, is the longest word that can be made using the letters only one row of the keyboard.
14. "Speak of the Devil" is short for "Speak of the Devil and he shall come". It was believed that if you spoke about the Devil it would attract his attention. That's why when you're talking about someone and they show up people say "Speak of the Devil".
15. The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat" which means, "the King is dead".
16. Only three words have entered English from Czech: polka, pilsner, and robot.
17. The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language.
18. Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
19. The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
20. The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary is:- pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Look forward to part 2 tomorrow ...

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Food for thought ~

Here is some 'Food for thought', as I want you to have a look back at yourself ~ let me explain ...
Wow, I can't believe it is October already ~ this year is just 'flying by' ~ anyway, I want you to have a look back at where you were with your English speaking ability and reading ability and listening ability etc, back in January of this year -> that's right, compare the 'now' you to the 'then' you.

This will do one of two things ~ it will show you how well you have improved (you may not see it so easily, as you are with you everyday and don't notice it) compared to back in the beginning of this year OR it you don't see that much or any real improvement, so then you need to add more practice into your daily routine, as it definitely does help!

Also, to re-write your goals might be a good thing ~ times change, goals change, you may be better at conversation but want to further improve your reading or visa-versa. Re-writing your goals on a quarterly or six-month basis will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat and constantly help give you that 'push' to keep you moving forward and improving . . .

Comments welcome ~

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If all this did was ...

... to help improve your speaking ability, listening ability, comprehension and overall confidence when using and speaking English, THEN WHY WOULDN’T YOU PRACTICE EVERYDAY!?!

When you listen a little, read a little, speak a little, learn a little and use a little everyday in your daily life, those lots of ‘littles’ become “BIG”! The compound effect builds up over time, giving you the confidence and power and capability to command the English language in the way YOU want.

It is not up to me, not up to your boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife or boss etc ~ I and they are here and willing to support you in your goals but you need to make the effort to start it rolling ...

Make these ‘little things’ be a part of your daily life activities and you will see positive results happen ~

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