Today’s tip is don’t overdo it. And yes, we are talking about using emoticons.
Now we do not deny that these combinations of punctuations can come in handy at times, and in any language, however, the words at and times should be noted carefully here.
This is because at other times these are either superfluous or simply inappropriate.
So do use them (if you wish) in informal e-mails, texts and comments on this blog, however avoid them in official correspondence, reports or marketing campaigns for flower festivals in Catalan cities (and our most sincere apologies to the marketing department of Girona council for whom our tip today obviously come a little too late…)
PS. For all of you wondering, the flower festival itself (which incidentally all of us here at The English Garden attended) was exquisite,magical and very vibrant. Below are a few photos of the installations.
As many of you will have enjoyed the long Easter weekend and will thus be facing your first day back to life, back to reality (to quote the musical geniuses who are Soul II Soul) today’s tip is all about how to cope with this inevitable predicament.
As big fans of breaks ourselves (be they Summer, Easter and yes, even mid-morning) here at The English Garden we are well aware that once these are over it can be hard to get back to the routine of working, gardening, and indeed, learning.
In the case of Easter, your stomach is full of sweet chocolate and your head is full of sweet nothing most probably, so to make the transition back into learning smoother, we suggest you reacquaint yourself what you had learnt last term.
You can do so by looking over your notes, re-reading any articles you worked on or revisiting your favourite English Gardener’s Tips.
If nothing else, doing this should hopefully remind you why you decided to learn English in the first place and thus help you face the future with renewed motivation.
For when it comes to learning, much like when stacking shelves, chairs or even coloured boxes, motivation is half the battle.
To improve both fluency and accuracy, when speaking English never translate.
Instead, try thinking in English and this way you will use the structures you know, not structures you translate from your own language.
When you translate it is as though the words in your sentence not only have to jump across a wall but also land in the correct place.
This is not easy to get right because apart from the fact that wall jumping is not the easiest of sports to master (and yes, we are talking from personal experience) sentences are structured differently in different languages. This means that, often, a word’s place in an English sentence does not correspond to its place in the Spanish, Catalan or Italian one.
You might find that thinking in English slows you down or seems to reduce your fluency level at first, but like all muscles, your mind too will become more agile the more you use it so in the long run you will see magnificent results (and without having to put your sportsgear on!)
Now this may seem quite obvious but here at The English Garden we have learnt never to underestimate the importance of reinforcing common sense (something which at times is far less common than one might expect).
You can read things online or off, you can choose poetry, prose or even comic strips, you can bury yourself in a book, peruse a report, or scan some news or reviews. Alternatively, if you wish, you can flip through fashion magazines, car magazines or even in-flight magazines.
Reading is useful because by doing so you can become aware of new vocabulary and expressions, new grammatical structures and, most importantly, new ideas.