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Blog : ESL

Do you Believe?

Do you Believe?

He has been and always will be skeptical. I, on the other hand, am a believer.
We arrived on time. I looked up at the address; Catamarca 3095.

“This is the place,” I said with excitement. My heart fluttered as I rang the dusty doorbell.

“Nothing a little spring cleaning can’t fix,” I thought to myself. I had a good feeling about this place.

“Who is it?”

“Hi, we are here to see the house you have for rent.”

“Oh yes, I will buzz you in. Just push on the door”

The door opened to a long staircase with a violet and green colored glass window at the top.

My eyes filled with tears. I had looked at twenty or more spaces in the last month but none of them were quite right. Too big, too small, too noisy, etc. By the time I had arrived to the top of the stairs, I knew this was it.
This would be my new language institute.

The agent guided us through each room with the enthusiasm of a man on his deathbed. The more we commented about how lovely it was, the more he tried to deter us from renting the space.

“The old pine floors are in fantastic condition!” I exclaimed.

“Aren’t they? Too bad they have termites. You will likely have to change them,” he responded.

His negative comments were not, however, going to change my mind. I had made my decision. With a little cleaning and a lot of love, I would make this place mine, and I did.

As we left, I remember saying to my husband “It has a special kind of energy doesn’t it?”

He just scoffed. He has never believed in that kind of thing.

After going back and forth with the agent, we finally convinced him to let us rent the space. Only now do I understand the creepy words he said when he shook our hands. “Well I hope she treats you nicely.”

She? Was he personifying the house?

Eager to start hosting my classes there, I immediately began cleaning and painting. I spent long days and nights making the space my own. Each morning I would arrive, put the kettle on, turn the music up and begin my flow. And it was on one of those mornings that I finally understood who she was.

I had been in the corner room, alone and standing on a chair in order to reach the cobwebs in the big stained glass windows when I heard a noise. It came from the bathroom.
I stepped down from my makeshift ladder and turned down the music.

“Hello? Who is there?” I said.

I received no response but I no longer felt alone. I cautiously walked toward the bathroom and as I did, I smelled the scent of a woman’s perfume and sensed a female’s presence.

She.

That night at dinner I told my husband about the experience.

“I think we have a ghost in the institute” I said. “I feel like she lives in the bathroom or on the balcony between the bathroom and the corner classroom.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said, “ghosts don’t exist. It was probably someone passing by on the street.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I had just been working too hard.
But then, a week or two later, something happened.

It was 8 P.M. My husband had chosen the corner classroom and was in the middle of giving class when he saw bright white light flash across the blackboard. Without turning around, he continued writing, thinking his student had taken a picture rather than copy the notes.

“Damned youth with their smart phones,” he thought to himself.

But he couldn’t help hearing his wife’s words in the back of his head. Ghost, woman, corner classroom.

When he turned around he found student’s face white with terror.

“What’s wrong? What happened?” he asked.

“Did you just see that, that white light on the board? It, it flashed and then was gone.” stammered the student.

“You mean you didn’t just take a picture with your phone?”

“Nah, man, I was taking notes!”

They searched the room for explanations. The windows and doors had been shut to keep the cold out. They were the only two people in the school. Nothing could have made a bright white light flicker twice across the board.

With little exchange they both acknowledged that class had ended. The fear in the air said more than the words stuck in their throats.

They left that night and perhaps she left with them. I haven’t seen, smelled or sensed her since. All I know is, my husband is still skeptical but he cannot deny the lack of explanation for what he saw that night.
As for me, I have always believed.

3 Tips to Polish Your Writing

3 Tips to Polish Your Writing

Writing is not an easy task which is why so many of you avoid doing it. But I have great news. The more you do it, the easier it gets! Because writing an essay is compulsory for the TOEFL, FCE and IELTS I am going to give you five tips that will make writing easier and more efficient.

1.Regardless which kind of essay you are writing, Agree or Disagree, Preference, Description / Explanation, If / Imaginary, Compare & Contrast, the most important part of your essay is the Thesis Statement.

The Thesis Statement is more than the main idea, it tells the reader what the entire essay will be about and it acts as a guide for the paper. It usually reflects an opinion or judgment, but can also be used in comparative essays.

A typical independent writing task for the TOEFL is:

Some people feel you learn more from books than from watching television. Do you agree or disagree. Use examples and details to support your opinion.

I might write a Thesis Statement like the following: While technology is advancing at unprecedented speeds, I still believe we learn more from reading a book than from watching cable television.

2. Once you know the kind of paper you will be writing and you have formed your Thesis Statement, the best thing to do is to choose 2 or 3 points that support your Thesis.

In this case I would say:

  • Authors spend years researching and writing books.
  • Television often compresses large amounts of information into very small bits of concise information, whereby leaving out a great deal of knowledge.
  • Commercials and advertisements of cable television interrupt learning and offer a great deal of distraction.

3. Here is where the fun part comes in! So now that you have your Thesis and you have decided on your main points we just need to fill in the gaps. How do we do this? With my special recipe: PERDS

PERDS is:

 

  • Point – Authors spend years researching and writing books where as many television programs and series are written in just a matter of months.

 

  • Example – For example, it is said that Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mocking Bird, spent nearly 40 years writing her masterpiece. 
  • Restate example – That is nearly half a lifetime!
  • Detail – On the other hand, the movie, likely took four months to adapt the screenplay.
  • Summary – This is just one example of why I think books contain much more information than anything you could see on television.

These three tips should help your essay writing skills greatly! Not only will they help you to organize your information, but they will help your writing flow nicer and allow you time focus on your use of language rather than the structure in order to give your writing the polished touch!

Stay tuned for our creative writing tips in next month’s newsletter!

For more information about writing courses. Contact us at englishinrosario@gmail.com

 

If I had my life to live over again

If I had my life to live over again

If I had my life to live over again

I would live it just the same

For one does not grow

In the absence of pain

 

And though wounds run deep

They always turn to scars

Leaving their mark on our memory

Leaving their mark in our hearts

 

I am grateful to you

To them and to those

To the events that collided

In making me grow

 

Because learning is done

In the grey space of mistakes

There are no correct answers

Errors unravel our fates

 

No, I would not change

This I know is true

Because each of my failures

Eventually led me to you.

 

Spot On

Spot On

What are you thinking about? she asked.

I wasn’t thinking about anything, he responded.

Liar! You are a goddamned liar Raven. You can’t just turn your mind off. We are always thinking! It is a human condition! Why are you afraid of telling me what’s on your mind? I can see it in your eyes. You are worried about something. Don’t be worried. Talk to me. I want to listen to your problems. That is what partners do right? Raven? Are you listening to me? Raven! Good god, it is like talking to a fucking wall. I should leave your ass before you leave me. You don’t care about me, about us. Is this all a joke to you?

Jesus Jessica, calm down! You always do that. You jump to conclusions. I don’t know what I was thinking about. I don’t think I was even thinking! For crying out loud! I was day dreaming, dreaming about getting out of this town, about turning over a new leaf, starting fresh. I was dreaming about getting a better job, one that doesn’t kill my back and leave my whole body hurting. I have lots of thoughts Jessi, I can’t just reach out and grab one for you to examine the second you think to ask me to. They leave just as quickly as they appear.

Don’t you leave me Raven.

I’m not going to leave you and I don’t want to argue with you Jessi. I don’t want to argue about what was or wasn’t going on inside my mind. I just want to sit here, silently. I want to relax. I’ve had a long day. It was hotter than hell out there and now I am here, with you, and all I want to do is enjoy my cold beer in silence. Is that too much to ask of you?

Raven was accustomed to Jessi’s overreactions by now. They had been married for well over a decade. He had always been faithful to her, had never even given her the reason to suspect him of infidelity, and still, she allowed jealousy and insecurity to get the best of her. She was afraid of losing him. Her father had been addicted to heroine and her mother wasn’t much of a mother at all. Raven was all she had. He was the only person she could depend on and they both knew that.

After a long silence, Raven spoke. I don’t know what to do or say to make you see. I am not big on words. When you have actions, words are dull. But the blind have a hard time seeing the actions of others and while your vision is perfect, you aren’t seeing me so I am just going to say it loud and clear for you. I have had two goals in my life, one is to stop suffering. I haven’t yet figured out how to conquer that one. The other is to take refuge in my happy spot on a daily basis. This one I achieved years ago but that happiness is nothing to me if I can’t share it with you. Do you understand me?

Jessi’s lower lip began to tremble. Why haven’t you ever taken me there, to your happy spot?

Jessi, it’s you! You are my happy spot. I take refuge in you!

Written by Stephanie Cariker

Director at EinR

Infinitive Theory

Infinitive Theory

Infinitive Structure is NOT difficult. Unfortunately some people explain it in a way that makes it confusing and so, at some point in your learning you decided “I hate infinitive”.

Well, if this is your case, you are in for a treat today!

Let’s start from the beginning.

How would you translate this word: BAILAR

I am sure you said, “dance”.

But that is incorrect. The correct translation is TO DANCE because it is not conjugated. There is no subject. No one doing the action. It is not dance! (¡bailá!)

Now, we know that all sentences need three things to be complete: A subject, an action and a noun.

I (subject) like (verb) music. (noun)

But what happens if you want to describe and activity that you like?

I (subject) like (verb) to run. (infinitive verb acting as a noun, an activity)

Let’s take it to the next step

I (subject) like (verb) pizza. (noun)

I (subject) like (verb) to eat. (infinitive verb acting as a noun, an activity) pizza.

If you say, I like run, a very common mistake, it would be similar to saying “Me gusta ¡corré!”

So when we use verbs of emotion, love, like, need, want, hope, etc and we follow that verb by another verb, that verb doesn’t act as an action, because the action is the feeling you have about the activity. The second verb is acting as a noun and for that to happen, IT MUST APPEAR WITH ‘TO’.

Motherly Love

Motherly Love

“Mommy, is Daddy your boyfriend?”

As of late, my six year old son has become rather inquisitive. He has started asking bigger more “grown up” questions about what it means to be in love and when he will be able to take part.

“No baby, Daddy is my husband. We are married.” I responded. “That is what two people do when they love each other very much and want to spend their entire lives together.

“Does that mean you want to kiss daddy on the mouth?” he said with a smile.

I bit my tongue to keep from laughing. He was so serious in his innocence.

“Yes, I suppose it does,” I responded.

“When can I get married?” he asked

“Well first you need to find a girl or boy that you love very much, someone that gives you butterflies in your stomach, someone you promise to love forever.”

“I promise to love you forever Mommy.”

I melted. “Mommy is already taken my love.”

“Oh, Daddy won’t mind, he likes to share.”

My giggles escaped me.

“Don’t worry sweetie, you have plenty of time to find a partner and once you do, you will spend some time together, making memories and having adventures. Then, when you are sure you want to spend your whole life with that person, and you two agree to love and support each other through thick and through thin, you can get married, if you want to that is.

“What does thick and thin mean?

“It means in good times and in bad.”

“Oh. How old do I have to be to get married Mommy? Mommy?”

I struggled to answer realizing that, in my gut, I wanted to say never.

Because the love I have for him and the definition I had just given him about marriage; making memories, having adventures, loving and supporting each other, those were all things I aspired to do with him too.

I took a deep breath and said, “maybe you are right, maybe Daddy won’t mind sharing after all.” My favorite grin crept across his face and with that I wrapped my arms around him. Squeezing him tighter and tighter, we giggled until our cheeks hurt.

Present Perfect Theory

Present Perfect Theory

The perfect tenses are perhaps the most confusing for English as a foreign language learn, especially Argentineans. The reason for this is that very few people in Argentina utilize the castellano equivalent.

The problem I have seen over the years with the use of these tenses is not necessarily in understanding the theory but rather in knowing when to apply it.

So let’s begin to break it down.

Present Perfect is: Have/Has + Past Participle

  • Unspecific. So, we will frequently use it with words like: before, once, already.
  • Repetitive action in the past (unspecific): many times, a few times, twice.
  • Unfinished. This means it started in the past but is unfinished: since, for, up to now, yet, never, ever, so far.
  • Something that has just happened: just, recently.

But, when we use it the most is for asking question we have no know way of knowing the answer to. Have you ever been, have you seen, have you tasted, etc. 

The confusion comes when deciding whether we should use Past Simple or Present Perfect and it is VERY important to know the difference because we can make huge mistakes like the following.

Imagine you are looking to “pick someone up” in a bar and so you are getting to know them. Read the dialogue and see if you can detect the difference between the two tenses.

Scenario #1

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I was married for 10 years.

This person is clearly divorced after having been married for 10 years.

Scenario #2

A: Have you ever been married?

B: Yes, I have been married for 10 years.

This person is STILL married and has been married for 10 years.

Do you see how incredibly important it is to know the difference?

Look at the activities below to see if you can decide between Past Simple and Present Perfect.

  1. Last night I _____________________(lose) my keys so I had to call my flatmate to let me in.
  2. Doctor: Do you smoke cigarettes?
    Patient: Yes, I _______________________ (smoke) since I was 15 years old.
  3. I ___________________(traveled) to Paris three times.
  4. Last year I _______________________(visit) my cousin in Milan.
  5. Melanie and I are best friend. We_________________ (meet) in 2001. I can’t believe we ______ (be) friends for so long.
  6. Sorry I ___________________(write) in so long! I___________(be) really busy with work because one of the other secretaries ________________(quit) last week.
  7. I _________________(play) Hockey since I was a child. I’m not professional but I am pretty good!
  8. My mom _____________________ (celebrate) her fiftieth birthday this month.
  9. _________ you already _______(eat) ? I _______________(make) a delicious stew!
  10. I _________never___________ (saw) that movie.

 

Dream Job

Dream Job

Read the following short story to see if you can detect the perfect tenses in context.

“So tell us a little bit about yourself Kyle,” a voice boomed from the long lacquer table of black suits and bow ties. All eyes were on him. He had never done this kind of interview before. He felt intimidated being the center of attention.

“Well, I’m originally from Chicago. I have been living here in New York for the last two years, but I have lived all over really. I spent some time in Europe and South America, and have lived in California off and on again for the past 20 years. But like I said. I was born in Chicago.”

He was nervous. Being called for an interview by the New Yorker Magazine was something he had only fantasized about. Yet, here he was sitting before the board; the board who has published the first works of nearly all best selling authors in modern literature. The magazine who, since 1925, has evolved in establishing itself as the number one forum for serious fiction literature and journalism.

“And what brings you to New York?” asked the short brunette with cat eyed glasses.

“Oh um, my grandmother died a few months ago. She left me an apartment here so I thought I would try my luck. She always used to say, “you haven’t lived if you haven’t lived in New York.” So here I am, living.

“And have you always wanted to be a writer?” inquired the slightly balding Jack Nicholson look alike.

“I have never wanted anything more. I have kept a journal since the time I learned how to write. I still carry it everywhere with me. In fact, it is hard to believe I am even here right now. I have dreamed about this moment for so long. To be honest, I actually pinched myself to make sure this moment was real.”

There was a murmur of sophisticated giggles.

“Well, we were quite impressed with your writing,” said Jack’s twin. “Which is why we have decided to offer you a full time position here at the magazine. Your schedule would be from 9-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and when we have a heave deadline, we may ask you to work overtime. The salary starts at $45,000 a year. How does that sound to you?

Surprise painted his face. He hadn’t expected this. He had drawn this day in his mind and acted it out in his sleep, but he had never imagined he would be living it as a reality.

“It has been said, that good things come to those who wait and while that may ring true, as I have been waiting most of my life for this moment, I think that time must be accompanied by hard work. I have worked hard to get here and will continue doing so. It has not always been easy but I would have to be a fool to say no to the opportunity of a lifetime.

“We are happy you have accepted, they sounded in unison. “Welcome aboard.”

Written by Stephanie Cariker

Director at English in Rosario