Happy New Years (Resolutions)

Happy New Year!

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photo credit: RobW_ Happy New Year! via photopin (license)

Yes a new year and many posts along the lines of “New Year New You” here is some focused on language and study.

  • Start small: statistically speaking most new years resolutions are broken and a great many of them are broken because they are too ambitious, too vague. Don’t say “I’m going to read a book in my field every week”  start with a chapter or a paper a week.
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Creative Commons Photo Dave Fergy

  • Set goals: keeping in mind the above set small (achievable) short term goals, meet them and use this to help you move towards your long term goals. This works well within the ideal self and second language learning perspective for more on this start here.
  • Do a little often, rather than a lot infrequently, anything done too much can become a chore, but little steps taken often can make for huge improvements over time.
  • Get out and get involved: this can be a time of year when it’s all too tempting to stay at home. This in many ways is one reason so many resolutions don’t succeed.
  • Get organised: Over the years working with students, all to many limit their results and attainment by leaving assignments to the last minute. Use these weeks to look ahead at the semester and start working on assignments now. Even if it’s just starting to read around the topics. This early in the semester you have certain advantages: first the library is open but almost empty and second almost all the books are actually on the shelves.
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photo credit: Senado Federal Biblioteca do Senado via photopin (license)

There’s more help and advice for you here and here.

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Chawton Excursion

Recently both our Certificate of English for International Study and our International Foundation Year Programmes went to Chawton. To visit both Jane Austin’s home (now a museum) and Chawton House Library  which was her brother’s home. It’s just one of many excursions that we build into our programmes.

While classroom learning  and independent study are the core of a solid education, there are sometimes things to be gained from getting out of the classroom and visiting relevant locations to get a feel for how things are in real life. Whether that’s visiting a historic location   or an art gallery to see paintings first hand, changing the context and mode of learning can be a huge benefit and can both reinforce as well as enrich knowledge.

Here are some of the (unedited) comments from students who went on the trip.

Chawton House Library:

My most favourite room of the library was a room having bookshelves. It was a historical and beautiful room. I liked the hidden shelf in the room.

Old people were also using wig sign to avoid witches.

Garden which has a gate was beautiful.

Secret shelf.

The oak room is my favourite part of this short journey. Its special smells make me feel relax and comfortable. The corridor which I also like; it was fun to imagine how Jane Austen and other ladies who live in this house before walk on it.

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Photo: ELTSU

There were a lot of flowers and they were so beautiful (garden).

Sofa was really comfortable and big stove was so nice. I wanted to relax there more.

Secret space in the library made me exciting. I thought it’s like films!

Garden was so lovely.

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Unfortunately not a day for photography outdoors Photo: ELTSU

There were lots of picture of people who were related to Jane Austin and I could enjoy them.

So polite explanation.

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Photo ELTSU

I could know about history and growth.

The library was so lovely and brilliant!

I enjoyed the explanation as well.

As well as the care and detail in which the house, library and garden has been kept special attention was also given to the secret bookshelf and the sense of ‘walking into history’. Many houses at the time would have had secret shelves, cupboards or even rooms to hide valuable or dangerous things.

 

Jane Austin’s House:

I though Jane Austen’s house was cute. I like a brick fireplace and a cute white bed.

I like the kitchen, the fireplaces are new and interesting for me.

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Photo: ELTSU

The kiln to burn bread.

The exhibition is great. However, there is just four things that can touch and see and if they can point me which book that Jane Austen may read it will be great.

Kitchen.

We could experience Jane Austen’s era. For example, we could wear costume of the age and make lavender bag.

ja-house-lavender

Photo: ELTSU

Book room.

There were many books which is written by many languages. I found Japanese books so I felt happy.

Before seeing Jane Austen’s house, we could watch a short film of her life. It was good.

Not just seeing the house, we could enjoy wearing clothes and making lavender bag.

House was very beautiful. We could know about Jane Austen more.

We could enjoy making flavour bag.

I could get lovely souvenir.

It was fun that I could try wearing traditional clothes and making a lavender cologne sachet (plus playing the piano).

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Photo: ELTSU

 

Dressing in period costume,

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Photo: ELTSU

(also available here and here )seeing the house and especially the kitchen all help us imagine life at the time, and is popular for many museums .  As for the sense of living history there are any number of places that make this real for visitors and it is the essence of why we visit places like this.

Where we are…

There is a saying in real-estate circles “location location location”  and when you come down to it where one is can be very important. Recently Winchester has been judged the best place to live in the UK, see here, here and here. While Winchester is in no way immune to problems, as this blog mentioned and in other news, these are minor. There are a wide range of events and festivals based in the city, the Hat Fair is perhaps the best known internationally. It’s also a popular destination in any season whether for a specific event or just to walk around.

Winchester Kings Gate

Photo: J Beddington Many medieval city gates would have had Churches near or even on them. Winchester’s King’s Gate houses St Swithun’s Upon King’s Gate. This was to enable travellers to pray and give thanks for safe journeys.

Of course the University is a key part of the city and celebrating our 175th year. Here and here are some of the media coverage. Furthermore this article talks about being based here as a student.

Frost

Frost – in one sense it’s weather. As what happens to dew when the temperature is cold enough to freeze it. But, there are a number of interesting linguistic and cultural features using “frost” or a derivative in English.

Jack Frost – an anthropomorphic nature spirit; a representation of winter with a number of spin offs from beer to cartoon characters , and films to games. You might say – “watch out for Jack Frost tonight” – if you think it will be cold.

Jack Frost wikimedia

image via wikimedia

Frosted – adjective used in baking. When there is a thin layer of something (often sweet) on the top or even outside of a baked item. The layer is thinner than icing but more than just a glaze. The cupcakes were frosted with crystallised sugar.

Frosting – noun used in baking. See frosted.

Frost Nixon – a 2008 film directed by Ron Howard. This is a fictionalisation from writer Peter Morgan of the interviews between David Frost (a British journalist and presenter)and Richard Nixon (a former US president with a mixed reputation following the Watergate Scandal).

Touch of frost: expression meaning that there is some frost but not a hard frost.

Hard frost: a very severe frost, many gardeners dread predictions of a hard frost once the spring growth has started. It can be very damaging for many plants.

A frosty reception/welcome: a greeting but without the normal and/or expected warmth. We got a frosty reception at the hotel; despite booking on their website it appears they were closed for renovations so we had to stay somewhere else.

Touch of Frost  – TV programme. Starring David Jason as the eponymous Detective Inspector Jack Frost a determined if not always organised police detective.

A frosty smile/look: When someone looks unfriendly or even hostile despite outwardly seeming normal. I’m not sure we should leave Dave and Simon alone. Dave gave Simon a really frosty look when he arrived I think he’s still upset over losing the poetry prize to him.

Frosty the Snowman – A kid’s song often sung in winter or even as a non-religious Christmas song.

Frostbite – the name for the medical condition where part of your body (starting with the skin freezes. Fortunately, this is very rare in the UK but can be a serious danger in countries that get more severe winters.

Frost Maiden/Queen: a woman who is or seems frightening and/or intimidating and/or unapproachable because of manner, but also one who is logical and unemotional at all times. I’m aware that she seems like a bit of a frost maiden at first; but trust me she’s really very nice just a bit shy around people she doesn’t know. You might be surprised to find that this is a case of sexism in English but there is no male equivalent.

The Year of the Monkey

The year of the monkey is here.

Capture monkey

This week we’re celebrating the year of the monkey which started on Febuary 8th. Traditionally celebrations last 15 days, but we’re only a few weeks into our second semester so we’re not ready to have a big break yet, so we made do with a half day on Wednesday to celebrate together.

Enjoying the food MandyJ

Guests at the Chinese New Year party enjoying the food. Photo: M. Jones

The monkey is the 9th of 12 astronomical symbols and all the years of the monkey are divisible by 12. People born in the year of the monkey tend to be active often out of doors and generally very healthy. Monkeys (as people born in this year are often called) are seen as clever and often inventive, but also witty, flexible, social, and kind. Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Dickens are two European ‘monkey’s that fit this description well.

Capture Lion J Huang

The Lion Costume/Puppet. Photo J. Huang

It’s sometimes said that your birth year (when you are 12, 24, 36 etc.) is a potentially unlucky year for you so you should be doubly careful about new businesses or relationships in that year.

Monkey_2_svg Wikimedia

Image via wikimedia

While not all predictions are positive (and more specific predictions depend on when (exactly) you were born)  we wish you all a prosperous healthy and happy year of the monkey.

Pancake Day

Today is ‘pancake day’.

Wait a second what does that mean?

Well ecclesiastically we are entering the season of Lent where traditionally in the Christian calendar people fasted or gave up rich foods, such as cream and eggs, or meat  most frequently on a Friday but for some throughout the season.

However, in contemporary Britain you’re more likely to find someone giving up chocolate,  sugar; fizzy drinks; wine or even Facebook or supermarkets.

With that in mind how do you make pancakes?

Well it’s actually very easy but a little practice makes perfect.

pancake -wikimedia

image via wikimedia

For North-American (sweet & fluffy) pancakes you need:

  • 1 cup (284 ml) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (284 ml) of milk (full fat is nice but if you’re lactose intolerant water will work but you might need a bit more egg to help bind it).
  • 1 egg

Optional Extras:

  • A table spoon of sugar (Soft Brown sugars are especially nice here but anything works this helps the pancake to caramelise slightly).
  • Some Cinnamon and/or Vanilla (Personally I’d only use one or the other here).
  • Baking powder (especially if the flour isn’t self-raising/or isn’t that fresh)-(or you want to make them extra fluffy).
  • Cut fruit banana is a favourite of mine berries are also very nice but I’ve known people use chocolate chips here as well.

To make the batter: mix the egg, flour, milk, sugar, flavouring & baking powder together.

Fry on a medium high heat in lots of butter (the secret ingredient)-(margarine or oil will work here but may produce a slightly greasy pancake that you may wish to place on/pat with a piece of kitchen paper briefly before eating).

Pour about 100 ml or a third of a cup of your batter into the hot pan.

Add the slices of fruit etc.

When the bubbles on top are popping and leaving a little hole in the upper surface flip the pancake over. Unless you have lots of practice use a spatula or fish slice, flipping pancakes with a twitch of the wrist is a skill that requires work to master… and is only really good for showing off.

Serve with maple syrup, (golden syrup or honey work nearly as well) alternately jam and whipped cream.

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image via wikimedia

For British savoury pancakes substitute water for milk and plain flour for self-raising (and don’t add the baking powder). The pancake will also cook more quickly and can be served rolled with a variety of fillings. Ham & leek is a personal favourite and nice both with and without cheese, but experiment as lots of things work very well. You can substitute sour cream for the whipped variety as well. Be careful not to overfill them, especially if you plan to try and eat them like a burrito.

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Post Graduate Advice…

The Times Higher Ed has recently published a list of failure tips (or as they observe a list of potential pitfalls) for graduate degrees.

There is of course one more if you are an international student studying in a second language. Ignore any language weaknesses you may have, even if you’re unsure come and see us to find out.

Shield

At ELTSU (University of Winchester, English Language Teaching and Support Unit) we have special sessions (Logon Required) focusing on individually supporting international post-graduate students. Some see us for help with developing their writing others get support with speaking before their Viva (thesis defence). We can support your language development in a number of ways: from speed reading to editing or from the start of your research process to your final revisions.

 

Flooding in the UK: getting wetter

With over 80 flood warnings (46 of them severe) still in place lets look at some of the language used. This post from 2014 focused on Winchester which isn’t flooding at the moment. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in areas experiencing and at risk of flooding.

Source: Winchester: getting wetter

Tennis language:

In honour of Britain’s Davis Cup  win let’s have a look at some phrases relating to tennis.

The origin of the word tennis itself is thought to be from the French verb “tenner” witch was called when each player struck the ball into each other’s area of the court. The sport was probably imported into England by Henry the 8th or at least owes some of its popularity to his enthusiasm for it.

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Royal Tennis from Hampton Court Palace

 

Tennis is primarily played on 3 surfaces, “grass”, “clay” and “hard court”. It can be played by 2 or 4 people with the team variety known as doubles. “Mixed doubles” is when each side has a man and a woman playing.

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Professional Tennis has a number (8-10) of line judges who “call balls in or out” although they effectively only call out these days.

“to call a ball in” – to say something is good/ok.

“to call a ball out” – to say something is bad/not ok.

Each match of tennis is presided over by an umpire, also called a chair umpire as they sit in an elevated chair on one side of the net. The umpire can overrule the line judges. A tournament is presided over by a referee whose job it is to ensure that everything is within the rules. Occasionally players may complain to the referee if they feel the umpire is treating them unfairly.

Tennis is a sport of many games, to claim victory over your opponent you need to win the match. Each match is made up of 3 or 5 sets, and you need to win six (or more) games to win each set. While you need six games to win the set, you also need a 2 game lead over your opponent(s) so 7-5 is a possible (in fact not infrequent) final score.

wimbledon

“game – set and match” is traditionally the umpire’s phrase when someone wins, as they will have one the game the set and the match.

“match point” is the critical moment when one player may win the whole match.

“to break service” when the point is won by the player(s) who did not start the play of that point then the service has been broken. A “break point” is the point where the receiving player(s) win the game.

“to win the toss” just before play starts the umpire will toss a coin and the player(s) who win the toss can chose whether they serve first or receive service first.

“serve for the match” when a player is serving for the match they are in a strong position and likely to win.

“love” there is no zero or nil in tennis; if you have no points you have love. The serving players points are always given first so 40-love the servers are about to win, love-40 they are about to lose. Each game starts love-love, one point is known as 15, a second moves you to 30, a third moves you to 40, a fourth is game. However, 40-40 is also known as deuce. From deuce a player needs two points consecutively to win the game; the first point known as advantage. If the score is advantage X and Y wins the point then the score goes back to deuce.

val

To be in a deuce, or describe a situation as a deuce means a difficult of tricky situation.

The phrasing Advantage name (or even name’s advantage) is quite common and while it reflects the tennis score it’s used widely outside of tennis circles.

“The ball’s in your court” when you have done what you can about a situation and you require action from someone else then you can say the ball’s in their court.