In School in Germany: Picture Games

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To start off this article, I would like to offer a word of advice to teachers whose passion also includes photography: Take as many pictures as you can and keep as many as you can. You may never know when and how you will need them- especially if you find the best ones for an activity (or several) for your class. 🙂  This principle I’ve followed for years which has led to not only successful activities but also successful articles.

This applies to vacation time, as two thirds of the population of German children are starting school now, with the remaining third still out until September. The same trend applies in the US, where half the schools start in mid-August; the rest after Labor Day. Children gather vast amounts of experiences through travel, summer camps, visits to long-distant relatives and friends, work and other events that add experience and enrich their knowledge of what’s around them. And at the beginning of the school year, they would like to share that experience with other classmates and especially their teacher.

After all, as we would like to look at their interests and get to know them, we can help them along so they can be what they want to be, right?  Be all that you can be, like in the US Army commercial. 😉

 

If you, as a teacher, have some problems coming up with activities to encourage the students to use their language skills and share their experiences with others, there are some activities that can help. Using a collection of photos, you can introduce the following exercises to them to motivate them to speak and be creative. These activities are not only meant to break the ice in terms of establishing communication between the teacher and the students, it is meant to unlock the knowledge that has been sitting in the freezer inside the students’ heads and it just needs to be thawed out. For the first exercise, photos from the teacher are required for use, whereas the second and third activities one can also use the photos from the students, if requested. In the fourth and final exercise, the students should present their photos and images, even if through Powerpoint or a slideshow.

Here’s a look at the photo activities you can use in the classroom (suitable for all ages and language levels):

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Picture This:

Based on an exercise in Baron’s TOEIC Preparatory Book, the object of this game is to look at a picture provided by the presenter to the group, and identify what is seen in there. How students view it and express themselves depends on what the picture has. The picture can be a landscape, a certain scene with people doing activities, a phenomenon, or something totally different. What is seen is what is to be identified. Some people may feel restricted because they have to focus on the picture itself and therefore may have some difficulties finding the right vocabulary for the pictures. Yet by the same token, especially if the activity is done in groups, one can take advantage of learning new words from this game or even refreshing the vocabulary that had been sitting unused for some time.  There are two ways of doing this activity: one is in a large group where each student can find what is in the picture and make a statement on it. The other is in pairs or small groups, where each one receives a picture, analyses it and can present it to the rest of the class. With the second variant, five minutes of preparing and five to ten minutes of presentation total will suffice, pending on the number of students in class.

As a trial run, use the picture above and find out what you see in there. You’ll be amazed at what you will find happening at a place like the Westerhever Lighthouse at the moment of the pic. 😉

 

Finish the Story: 

This activity comes from the film, Out of Africa with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. Originally in the film (produced and directed by the late Sidney Pollack), the character Karen Dinesen (played by Streep) is a story-teller and in a conversation with Denys Hatton (played by Redford) and others, she explains the concept, where one starts the story with a sentence, where the other finishes the story the way it is seen fit. Like in this example:

While one could adopt this concept in the classroom, if it was a one-to-one training session, in larger groups, it would not be as exciting as it is when each student adds a sentence to the first one given by the teacher, and going through a couple rounds until the entire class feels the story is complete. This concept helps students become creative while at the same time refresh their knowledge of sentence structure and a bit of grammar. While one can try this without pictures, more challenging but exciting would be with pictures, especially from summer break, like the ones presented below. Try these with the following sentences below and complete your own story……. 🙂

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It was afternoon on the North Sea coast and a storm is approaching. It is windy and perfect weather for kite-flying………   

 

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It is high tide, and the beach is underwater. Two people sitting in Strandkörbe are taken by surprise……..

 

Make a Story:

 Going further into talking about vacations and things to do in the summer is creating your own story, using a pic provided by the teacher. In groups of two or three, students have five minutes (for those on the beginner or pre-intermediate levels, 7-10 minutes should suffice) to create a story to present to the class. The advantage of this exercise, is that students are able to exchange ideas and knowledge to create a fantastic, rather interesting story to share with the rest of the class. In small groups of six or less, the exercise can also be done individually.  Even when you have pics like these below, which are rather simple, one can create great stories out of it. The whitest and plainest of canvases make for world-class pictures with this game.  Word to the wise  from my former uncle, who was a world-class painter. 😉

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Mini-Presentation:

With time constraints being the thorn in the side of teachers, one has to go by the principle of “Less Means More,” and optimize your class, in order to make learning as effective as possible. Mini-presentations are the best way for students to talk about their vacation in the shortest time possible. With a couple pics as support, each student has 2-3 minutes to talk about their trip.  The downside to this activity is that the student does not have much to talk about. It is possible though to choose one aspect of the vacation that you love the most and would like to talk about. The best aspect always receives the best attention. How it is presented depends on the student’s creative talents. One can focus on a sport the student tried, a wonderful place the student visited, a local food the student tried and loved, or a local event that took place during vacation. It can also include a summer job, summer camp, talent show or even a local festival, such as a parade, county fair or city market. Whatever event was the highlight, the student should have a chance to present it- as long as it does not overlap with another presenter.  🙂

 

There are several more activities which require the use of photos, while an increasing number of them require the use of 2.0 technologies, such as blogs and other interactive platforms, yet these four exercises do not require the use of technology (minus the Powerpoint aspect), but more with your language skills and your creative talents.  While these four activities can be used at any time, with even different themes, such as Christmas or school-related events for example, for the purpose of reactivating their language knowledge and getting (re-)acquainted with the students and teacher, are they perfect for the occasion. By implementing one or more successfully, the class will become so involved, it will appear that the first day in school never happened, and that the class will pick up where it left off before break, without missing a beat.

Even more so, when using photos for classroom use, a teacher can do a lot with them, while the students can benefit from them through their own stories. Therefore, take a lot of pictures and be prepared to use them for your future classes. Your students will thank you for it. 🙂

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Naming and Faming: A Guide to Idiomatic Expressions in a Sense of Names

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Imagine this scenario: You are approaching a town in Iowa, tucked away in a steep river valley, while driving an 18-wheel rig (semi-truck, lorry- LKW (German). You are about to go down hill on a narrow road, and you need to slow down. In order to do that, you have to jake the truck, like in the video below:

To jake the truck means what?

 a. To shift the truck down to lower gear (5th gear)  

 b. To shift the truck up to a higher gear (2nd or 3rd gear)    

 c. To shift the truck up to a higher gear and activate the braking system  

d. To put the truck in neutral and idle the engine

It’s weird to use names to express situations in English, as we have the name Jake in there. Yet idioms in the sense of names serve as a better alternative to trying and describing situations in detail, especially when you are directing a person to do something (in linguistics terms, we would use the word imperative in this case). While German instructions tend to be detailed, long and sometimes complicated (if you don’t know the gists and shortcuts to the languages), but using idiomatic names in English is even more confusing because the notion of using a person’s name is considered insulting. Furthermore, one has to explain the origin of the idiomatic name used in the context to better understand its usage. It is safe to say especially in this case, one has to learn the idiomatic names by heart, just the way you learn (and conjugate) words in Latin.

And lastly, some expressions do not exist in mainstream English but do on a very local level, and these are in connections with certain local events that was caused by that particular person. There is one story in reference to this final argument that I will explain at the end of this exercise. 😉

Keeping this in mind, here are some exercises to get you acquainted with the idioms in connection with names. 🙂

A. Look at the following videos and determine which idiomatic name is best used.

  1. (Esp. at Minute 2:30)

The SImpson family is………

a. Trying to be rich as Croesus     b. Keeping up with the Joneses   c. Boasting like Bobby     d. Cherishing like Sherry

 

2.

My name is mud in this case is………

a. Dirty Harry   b. A fool     c. An unintelligent figure        d. both b & c     e. Bernd the Toast

 

To slip a Mickey means:

a. To put a drug into someone’s drink  b. To deceive someone    c. To trick someone              d. To gossip about someone

 

4.

To need one’s John Hancock means your (……) is needed

a. Signature    b. Penmanship       c. Handwriting           d. Story

 

5.

Great Scott is an expression used to describe……

a. Surprise        b. Shock         c. Amazement          d. Excitement         e. All are applicable

 

B. Identify the name and find out what the expression means.

  1. You can’t buy just any Smartphone. This one has to be the real McCoy.
  2. Since its founding in 2010, the company has been going Jesse, having earned millions of dollars.
  3. Jasmine is an elite class basketball player. Trading a couple of our great players for her was the Jack of all trades!
  4. You can count on Chuck to do the job. He’s always a Johnny on the spot!
  5. Working the cornfields takes the patience of Job in order to get a great harvest.
  6. Sometimes our president is Jack the lad. He has what he wants, no matter how!
  7. The public raised Cain when the politician made the announcement about the project to replace a bridge.
  8. The woman dialed for the police after a peeping Tom watched her get dressed.
  9. If there are no questions, we’ll cut to the Chase and talk about the progress of our project.
  10. I hate it when I have smart Alecs in my class, who claim they have the brightest bulb in the box!

 

C. Determine whether the following are true or false

  1. To Steve it means to do it perfectly and with power.
  2. For the love of Pete was named after one of Christ’s disciples and means happiness.
  3. Walter Mitty is a person who daydreams about success.
  4. To beat around the Bush means to get to the point, like Bush Jr.
  5. A nervous Nellie is one who is irritated or annoyed.
  6. To be happy as Larry means to be very happy over something you did successfully.
  7. Silly Sally and Good Time Sally are the same idiomatic expressions.
  8. If a person is the Benjamin of the family, then he is the oldest.
  9. To pull a Louie is to mess up on a date by not getting the girl’s telephone number.
  10. Even Stevens are things between people that are equal.
  11. A doubting Thomas is one who thinks the action will fail.
  12. We use John and Jane Does as names for unidentified people
  13. To dick around is the same as to Mickey Mouse around, when it comes to tampering with things.
  14. A person with a mixed, extreme personality is known as a Bonnie and Clyde
  15. To be petered out means to be tired. 

After being petered out by all the idiomatic names, you should have an idea of how these work in the English language. You can find more by clicking here . 🙂

To close this section, I would like to refer back to the previous arguments about the difficulty in understanding the idiomatic names in English, and with that, my third argument on local idioms that have a local meaning. Americans have been well-known to create idioms and other expressions because of their affiliation with certain events, stories and names of people. Some stick and move to mainstream, others either remain local, disappear after a certain time or even both.

Mine fortunately belonged to the idiomatic name that disappeared after a few years. In high school I was a discus thrower, and our discus throwing facility was right next to the bleechers that lined up along the football field on the left-hand side. As I was a left-handed thrower, guess where my throws always went……. 😉

 

No wooden disc survived being “Jasonized!”

 

For those who read this and attended my high school, it will bring back some memories. For those who read it for the first time, your first question is probably going to be along the lines of this: “Why have the throwing area next to a football field?”

 

My response: Ask the coach. I’m more than 20 years away from home to answer that one. 😉

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Answers:
Jake the truck:   c.
 
Activity One:
  1. b. 2. d. 3. a.  4. a.  5. e.
 
Activity Two:
  1. Real McCoy- The real, genuine thing
  2. Going Jesse- becoming a success
  3. Jack of all trades- The best of both worlds; best deal for both
  4. Johnny on the spot- always reliable and willing to do it.
  5. Patience of Job- A lot of patience; nerves of steel
  6. Jack the lad- a brash, cocky person
  7. Raise Cain- Cause a commotion; pandemonium; hot debate
  8. Peeping Tom- a stalker who watches women
  9. Cut to the Chase- Get to the point. Chase is a male name.
  10. Smart Alec- a person who claims to know everything but doesn’t in reality
 
Activity Three:
  1. t 2. f. 3. t. 4. f.  5. f.  6. t.  7. f.  8. f.  9. t.  10. t.  11. t.  12. t.  13. t.  14. f. 15. t.

In School in Germany: The SWOT Analysis, Nostalgia and Football

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You don’t know how old you really are unless you look at your birthday card and see the hits from the 70s, the time you were born! 😉

Youtube has become the hub when it comes to finding some interesting videos for you to see. There are millions of music videos, episodes of TV series, amateurs performing experiments, and even tour guides that people can find and watch to their amusement. This also includes documentaries on historic events, and even sporting events of the past that we rarely see on TV unless you subscribe to Netflix, Uber, Hulu, or cable channels provided by networks charging people high monthly rates.

A couple weeks ago, as events in the United States with Donald Trump as President was beginning to unfold (which has to do with my silence from writing columns), I stumbled across full-length American football games dating back to the 1970s, featuring commercials, commentary by sportscasters and the like. It just so happened that I spent my Sunday evening, absent from watching real football games and Tatort on TV, watching a 1977 playoffs game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams, in what was dubbed the Mud Bowl. That game was televised in full length, which included the pre-game, the commercials and the play-by-play. The Vikings won 14-7 in what was one of the sloppiest game in the history of the National Football League and would advance to the NFC Championship game, losing to the Dallas Cowboys in the end. This Vikings’ victory was revenge for an earlier loss in the season.

Here’s the entire game in full length:

 

When watching this game, I came up with a grand idea that might be useful in any classroom setting. Both in America as well as in Europe, we have a sense of nostalgia, where pieces of our past are kept and cherished, while others that disappeared for a long time are recovered for rememberance purposes. Be it an antique cup, a historic building or place of interest, a lost recording of a film, old 70s style clothing or even music, we all have a sense of nostalgia, which we sometimes go back to look at what was then in comparison with what is today- right now. And this media-laden exercise takes us back to the past so we can talk about certain events, what we used to have and should have back at any cost, and what which ones were better off being a fad of the past and not of the future. 😉

SWOT:

Created by Alfred Humphrey in the 1960s, the SWOT Analysis is based on a strategy used by companies and institutions to determine their health and better plan for the future. The letters stand for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat, each one looking at the capabilities that a person and/or institution have so that they can see them as assets and not as liabilities. 

This activity has a sense of SWOT in there but shaped somewhat differently than what was developed by Humphrey because it focuses on the past-present comparison instead of the present-future scenario.  For S, we would have the assets of the past that were of great value and wish we should have kept; For W, we would have the aspects that were only good for the past and cannot be compatible for the present or future. For the O, we would have the question of whether some aspects of the past could still be instilled in the present or future. And lastly, for the T, we would have anything either from the past that could pose a threat to the future or from the future that would have altered the past had it happened. 

So, use this SWOT analysis and watch this game from start to finish, including the pre- and postgame shows AND ESPECIALLY the commercials. If you use it for a class, you can divide the segments up and give one to a group to analyse.

When watching the game, keep the following aspects in mind:

  1. What were the surroundings? Most football games were played outdoors in the 1970s, and having an indoor stadium (or dome) was considered a luxury compared to today’s games.
  2. How did the people dress and how did they act, behave and communicate with each other and indirectly during those days?
  3. How was the game structured then in comparison to now? Here, some research may be needed to help you answer the question.
  4. How were the commercials marketed? The products featured? The product facts? Would they still be useful in the present?
  5. How were the products and TV show previews presented? 
  6. How was the graphics of the game, the TV shows, the commercials and previews shown?
  7. What controversies in the sportsworld existed during the time of the game. Again, some research may be needed to help support your arguments?
  8. What was the overall environment of the game in the past, compared to the present? 

You can use any full-length game to conduct this SWOT analysis and talk about what was good and should’ve been kept and what still exists today but in altered form. This focuses on not just American football, but soccer, boxing, basketball and even Wide World of Sports.  Most of the games can be found on youtube, just by typing in the key words plus full length. Keep in mind that some leagues, like the NFL, may have their own copyright laws and have pulled full-length classics from these platforms. But not to worry, there are enough full length games to watch and conduct this exercise.

It will take some research but in the end, you will have a chance to enhance your knowledge of English, while learning about the aspects of history, culture, business, media and technology, entertainment and marketing and even the sport itself.  😉

So sit back, have some popcorn and a good Löwenbrau in your hand and enjoy this classic, while using the SWOT to look at the what ifs and what nots. Enjoy!

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The Use of Time Markers in English Part II: Present Simple versus Present Continuous

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After taking a tour through the world of time markers for the past verb tenses- namely simple versus perfect, our next article looks at time markers in the present. And what more fun it is than to examine two different forms of the present verb tense, while looking at a typical commmodity one should neither live without nor leave Germany without it- pottery! When one looks at pottery, three main features come to mind, which we will look at in our exercises: Different types of clay and rock used for pottery, Pottery markets (in German: Töpfermarkt), and Polterabend-a rare, textbook style event that occurs before an important event in the lives of a loving couple. 🙂

The Files created a quiz based on this topic, which you can try. Click here.

Before we look at time markers however, let’s have a look at the difference between present simple and present continuous and which time markers belong to which verb tense.

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Present simple is a verb tense that deal with things that are done on a regular basis. In other words, no matter how it is treated- as a statement, a schedule, a habit or a future form, the key word to describe present simple verbs is routine. Here are some examples:

The pottery markets in Thuringia take place between July and September. 

Here, the phrasal verb take place, and in particular, take, is the present simple term describing when the markets take place in many cities in Thuringia. It is written in future tense based on an annual schedule.

The pottery market in Lutherstadt-Wittenberg is considered, by many in the industry, the largest market in Germany. 

Written in passive voice as a statement, the present simple form is consider because many dealers and pottery-makers believe that the market is Germany’s largest.

Apart from its use to make a statement and focus on schedules that are routine or etched in stone, the present simple tense can be used for headlines in newspapers but also for sports commentaries when an event just occurred, such as:

He shoots! He scores!!! And the ball game is over!!!!

Check out this excerpt below, when Michigan was upended by Michigan State in American college football, with only a few seconds left in the game in 2015. Can you identify the sentences in the clip?

BTW: Michigan State won 27-23, despite losing their hero, Jalen Watts-Jackson to a season-ending hip injury on that heroic return to save the team from its first losing game of the season.

The sentence construction of present simple is easy:

subject+ verb+ object?- Statement

To do+ subject+ verb+ object?-  Question with yes/no

Wh+ to do+ subject+ verb?- Questions with Wh

Interestingly enough, this form of present simple is closely related to the perfect form in this context, as the latter also functions for events occurring just now as well as for events that occurred but without a given date of when it started.

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Present continuous has several functions but they all follow the grammatical construction:

 to be+ (verb+ -ing).- Statement

to be+ subject+ (verb+ -ing) + object? – Question with Yes/No

Wh+ to be + subject+ (verb+ -ing)? Question with Wh

The verb tense is used for an event that is occurring either instantly or at the present time despite the length of the time frame. Here are a couple examples:

Mary: What is he doing?

Jon: He is putting wood chips into the kiln.

Mary: But isn’t it hot enough as is?

Jon: He needs more heat as he’s burning our ceramic pot. 

To sum up the conversation, the first deals with what the potter is doing right now, the second is the process of heating up the kiln with wood, and the last sentence has to do with what he is about to do. Also keep in mind the question forms that Mary uses and the difference between the two in terms of construction and how they are answered. The first is a W-question, explaining what the person is doing. The second is a question requiring a yes/ no answer, which Jon indirectly answers no in the last sentence.

Present continuous also functions as a future tense, yet that section is to be discussed further in Part III. Present continuous also focuses on the development and progress of a project a person is involved with or an event in a person’s life which he is going through stages from point A to point B. Take for instance this example:

Several football players are recovering from their season-ending injuries and are becoming more active.

In reference to the Michigan State football team, apart from Watts-Jackson, several key players, who suffered from season-ending injuries during the 2015 football season, are progressing in their recovery efforts that they are in shape and ready for the 2016 football season. This one is true as you can see in the article here.

TIME MARKERS:

While we see a difference in the way present simple and present continuous function, the key factor that makes the two verb tenses different is the usage of time markers. While the prepositional phrases of at, in and on in the sense of time are the same, and both sets feature mostly adverbial phrases, the difference between the two sets of time markers have to do with the frequency (which is found in present simple) versus those dealing with time frames and anything that has to do with instant progress. In other words, most of the time markers deal with frequency versus progress.

For the time markers in present simple, we have the following we use most often:

always, mostly, mainly, often, never, sometime, occasionally, (un-)usually, normally, traditionally, frequently, seldom, rarely, hardly (ever), certain days, weeks,, months and years, each/every (day, week, month, year,….), daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, annually, bi-annually, regularly, and the numerical frequency (once, twice, three times, etc.)

For present continuous, we mainly see the following time markers:

(right) now, currently, at the moment, momentarily, these days, nowadays, at present/ at the present time/ presently, today, this (week, month, year), in this era/period….

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Activity 1: Identify the time marker in the following ten sentences and determine whether they are present simple or present continuous:

  1. Helen and Martin are planning their Polterabend event at this moment.
  2. Polterabend always takes place the night before the wedding.
  3. Traditionally, friends, neighbors and some relatives come to their place, eat food and drink a good beer.
  4. They often bring old ceramic plates, pots and statues to break, whose shards bring good luck.
  5. These days, Polterabend is not as popular as they were 40 years ago.
  6. Even Martin rarely knows people in his circle of friends who have celebrated Polterabend.
  7. Right now, Helen and her family are planning the event because it is strong in their family tradition.
  8. At the moment, they are inviting all of her friends and relatives, but Martin has a better idea.
  9. Martin is currently planning a Bachelor’s party, which is not typical of German wedding traditions.
  10. But Martin is never a traditionalist. He always loves events that are non-conventional.

Activity 2: Complete each sentence using the correct verb tense. Please pay attention to the time markers and note that some of them have to be constructed in passive voice as indicated)

  1. Pottery markets ___________ (hold- passive) annually in the eastern half of Germany.
  2. In the past, only a handful of cities in Germany hosted these markets, nowadays dozens of cities ___________ (sell) pottery at these markets
  3. Usually, ceramics ___________(make-passive) with limestone and sandstone clay.
  4. Hardly anyone ____________ (produce) pottery with quartzite.
  5. Currently, ceramic glasses ___________ (buy-passive) by many people.
  6. While kilns ___________(use- passive) traditionally, these days, potters ________(heat) their ceramics with furnaces.
  7. We _________ (visit) the ceramic market in Bürgel today.
  8. Tens of thousands __________ (attend) the Bürgel market east of Jena annually.
  9. People always ____________ (color) their pots with navy blue with beige dots.
  10. At the moment, I __________(look) for a gift for my grandma for her collection.

Activity 3: Correct the following sentences. Each one has one error.

  1. Right now, the Michigan State football team always prepare for their upcoming football season.
  2. Despite a rough season in 2015, each and every player are rarely shaping up to face some tough teams.
  3. Each week they are practicing on the football field from dawn to dusk.  (Hint: they always do)
  4. Presently they shop for ceramics for their girlfriends. They always are ordering from Meissen Ceramics. (Hint: Think Christmas)
  5. They usually are getting their pep talk from their coach, but today they date their girlfriends and book their post-Bowl game flights to Europe.

Author’s Confession: OK, OK, so not all of the activities deal with ceramics and German traditions, but I bet some Michigan State football players are eyeing for some pottery, even if they go through the exercise and a dose of tradition that is outside their football stadium in East Lansing. 😉  In either case, the purpose of this section is to give you a brief description of the difference between present simple and present continuous through the use of time markers. This is important because some of the time markers and the functions of the two verb tenses apply for the future time form, which is a bit more complicated than what has been taught so far.

If you are still not convinced, you can check out another article written about the Christmas markets in Germany. There you have additional activities you can use to better understand present continuous and how it is different from present simple. This includes a quiz and a group project, all in connection with a German past time. Click here for details. 🙂

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The Use of Time Markers in English Part I: Past Simple vs Perfect Forms

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Time markers. They are like road signs- when you see one, you have to treat it accordingly. That means if you are on the road, approaching an intersection, and you come across this sign:

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By Roulex_45 (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

That means you should give way (or yield) to cross traffic as it has the right of way. Other road sign examples can be used as an analogy to the topic that is rather mind-boggling in the English language. Time markers are used as indicators for determining which verb tenses should be used in a sentence. Aside the fact that all forms of time, such as a day or time, are included under the definition of time markers, other grammar forms considered to be used as time markers include certain words, like ago, when, already, ever and never. They also include most of the prepositional and adverbial phrases as well as words and phrases used for sequential order, like at first, secondly and finally.  For each verb tense there is a set of time markers that helps the language learner determine what form to use.

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Our first set of time markers looks at the difference between Past Simple and Perfect form. As a quick review, Past Simple refers to an event that occurred (or simply stated, started and ended) in the past. Example sentences include:

Wilhelm Bartlemann invented the Strandkorb in 1882. (Active)

The Strandkorb was invented by Wilhelm Bartlemann in 1882.  (Passive)

The verb is invent and as it’s a regular verb, an -ed is added.

Another example with an irregular verb can be seen here:

The origin of this invention was found in the Netherlands as well as in Hanseatic cities, like Bremen, Hamburg and Luebeck. (Passive)

The verb is find and its past form is found.  Have you got your irregular verb lists out yet? You better, because more examples will be found below. 🙂

The time markers for Past Simple focuses on an exact time the event takes place. This means anything that has to do with ago, last (…), during (a specific period), adverbial forms dealing with a sudden event, sequential orders and finally, prepositions of time (at, in, and on) belong to the group where time markers are used to describe what happened in the past. Here’s a complete list to keep in mind:

Time Markers for Past Simple:

ago, last (night, week, month, year, decade, century & millenium), yesterday, at, in, on, for, during, suddenly, (un-)expectedly, from (a) to (b), in the course of (…), when (used as a subordinate clause), sequential order (first, second, lastly, finally, etc.- also after), other adverbial phrases (surprisingly, quickly, slowly, etc.)

Activity 1:  Identify the time markers in the following sentences below:

  1. When Elfriede von Maltzahn asked Bartlemann  to provide a beach chair for her in 1882, he came up with the idea with the Strandkorb.
  2. In the course of only a year, the first Strandkörbe were presented for rent at the beach in Warnemünde.
  3. From 1882 until the turn of the century, Strandkörbe appeared in many towns along the Baltic Sea coast as well as in the Lakes Region of Mecklenburg-Pommerania.
  4. At the same time, Johann Falck and Franz Schaft opened their own Strandkorb factories in Rostock and Kroepelin, respectively. Falck invented the Halblieger in 1897.
  5. During the Interwar period, the number of Strandkörbe and factories increased by ten fold.

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Perfect form is not in reference to young German ladies in bikinis stroming along the Baltic Sea coast (;-) ), but consists of two types: present perfect and  past perfect. The present perfect form has two functions: 1. It serves as an event that started in the past and continues into the present, and 2. It describes an event that occurred suddenly and at an unknown time in the past.  Examples include:

  1. Four factories in Germany have produced Strandkörbe since the end of World War II.

Here, we have the verb produce, which in present perfect form, means that the four companies (Eggers, Schardt, Harder and Korbwerk) are still producing Strandkörbe despite having an average age of 60+ years in the business. Korbwerk consisted of two factories from the East German era which consolidated in 1992.

 2. Look, Mom! Danny has just rented us a Strandkorb! 🙂

Here, we have the verb rent and in this context, refers to Danny having provided a Strandkorb. Yet it is unknown when, using the time marker just makes it appear that he bought it just now.

In the past perfect tense, we describe the event that occurred prior to the event occurring in the past. Basically, it means  schema A that happened before schema B- all in the past. Example:

  1. Before Bartlemann’s invention of the modern Strandkorb, weaved basket chairs with covers had been popular among the royal families in several German duchies.

Here, we refer to the popularity of basket weave chairs prior to Bartlemann’s breakthrough of the Strandkorb in 1882, using the past participle form of to be and the adjective, popular.

Time markers for perfect form consists of mainly prepositional phrases, as well as never, ever, past and last. With the exception of prior to, until and during (which are mainly used for past perfect), the following time markers can be used for both forms (unless marked with a star, which means it’s usage is strictly for present perfect):

for, already, just, yet*, before*, recently*, in the past/last (….)*, at last, never, ever, since*, then*, finally, in the end*, now*, at the moment,* currently*, always, traditionally, occasionally, usually, now*.

Activity 2:  Identify the time marker in the following sentences below and determine whether they are present or past perfect form.

  1. Prior to the invention of the Strandkorb, Bartlemann’s wife, Elisabeth had commissioned a person to improve the quality of the weaved basket chair in 1880.
  2. The oldest existing Strandkorb factory, Korbwerk, has produced Strandkörbe since the days of Karl Martin Harder in the 1920s.
  3. The Strandkorb has already become one of the key signatures of vacationing along Germany’s sea coasts and lakes.
  4. Three East German Strandkorb factories had produced their own products for 35 years until the consolidation in 1992.
  5. Carl Eggers, who had contributed to producing Strandkörbe during the Cold War, has had his family furniture business since the 1770s. (!: Two pairs of answers)

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Activity 3:  Using the time markers and the verbs in brackets, complete the following sentences using the correct verb tense (past simple, present perfect or past perfect). As this is a story, the context must be kept in mind.

  1. Three years ago, Patrick and Sandy __________ (travel) to Travemünde for vacation.
  2. They _____________ never (see) Schleswig-Holstein before.
  3. Sandy, who is an English teacher having come from Louisiana (near Baton Rouge), ___________ (live) in Germany for seven years, but ___________ (visit) never the Baltic Sea prior to the trip.
  4. Patrick ____________ (work) as a marketing manager at a computer company in Mannheim for 10 years.
  5. Patrick’s father ___________(own) a Strandkorb rental business in Eckernförde from 1960 until his death in 2003.
  6. Neither of them ___________ (rent) a Strandkorb before but they _________(plan) to do so on this trip.
  7. Patrick and Sandy __________(meet) each other when he was 23 and she was 19.
  8. They ________ (to be) in Bavaria at that time.
  9. When they __________ (arrive) at the beach, they first __________ (pay) for a Matjes sandwich, Flensburger beer and French Fries each. Then, they ________(rent) a Strandkorb located towards the water.
  10. As they were walking with their food toward their Strandkorb, a flock of seagulls _________ (line) up along the edge of the roof of a hamburger stand and at the right moment, _________(attack) them!

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Activity 4: Finish the Story  With a partner, prepare the second half of the story and decide for yourselves what happens to Patrick and Sandy. How do they deal with the sea gulls? Will they make it to the Strandkorb? Will they enjoy their trip to Travemünde?  For each verb tense, you much supply three sentences along with time markers for each one. More is better. Personal experiences with Strandkorb and seagulls are more than welcome. Make your story geniune for others to listen to. Good luck! 🙂

ALTERNATIVE/ FURTHER PRACTICE: In case you don’t want to do Activity 4 above or if you wish to work more on past tenses, please click here for some extra exercises that will help you better understand the mechanics of the tenses and even go wilder on the story involving Patrick, Sandy and their encounter with the seagulls. Enjoy! 🙂

fast fact logo: With the exception of the story in activity 3, everything in this exercise dealing with time markers for past simple and perfect form are based on a true story of how the Strandkorb was invented and has evolved as a signature for vacationing on German beaches. For more information on the history, click on this picture below, which will take you to all the facts you need to know. While the site is in English, you can switch to German or Danish as you wish. By the way, there is no direct translation for this except for beach chair, but it is in reference to a different type of chair. Hence the adoption of this unique German word. 🙂

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Minus the Yield sign, all photos were taken by the author in August 2016, while on vacation in Fehmarn.

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Being Blessed with Weather is a Blessing

The Comparison between the Adjective with -ed and the Adjective with -ing

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Sometimes spring-like weather can be a blessing for it enables the teacher and author to be creative. Therefore, let us start with the comparison of two different sentences:

Clara was astonished by the view of the hills.

The views of the hills were astonishing.

 

Do you know the difference?  If not, look at the next picture below:

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We were blessed with beautiful weather.

The beautiful weather was a blessing.

 

The difference is with the adjective. In the first one, we have astonished and astonishing, whereas here, we have blessed and blessing. Both are adjectives, but they have different functions. The difference will be focused in this article as many people, especially non-native speakers of English know the difference between the adjective and the adverb, but have problems telling the difference among the types of adjectives that exist, namely our focus on those with -ed and those with -ing.

So to start:

The Adjective is a word or group of words that support the noun in a sentence. A pair of examples to illustrate:

The professor was appalled at the fact that the student cheated on his test.

Appalled is the adjective describing the professor.

 

Jessica is having a stressful evening because her computer is not functioning.

Stressful is the adjective describing the evening Jessica is having.

 

Larissa’s day at work was rather interesting because she interviewed a popular sports figure.

Interesting and popular are both adjectives describing Larissa’s day at work and sports figure, respectively. 

 

The concert was absolutely, posivitely, unconditionally and totally fabulous! It was rather noisy and really crowded, but it was exciting!

Here, we have a couple rules to keep in mind: when more than one word is used to describe a noun, the rule is the word closest to the noun is an adjective, the rest are all adverbs. In this case, fabulous is the adjective in the first sentence, describing the concert. 

In the second rule, if there are two words separated by either a comma or conjunction, but describing the same noun, they are both adjectives. In this case, we have crowded and noisy as adjectives describing the concert (it) because it was separated by and. 

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Keeping these rules in mind, let’s take a look at two example sentences:

Dorothea found the artist’s night photos fascinating.

Dorothea was fascinated with the night photos.

Here, we can find the difference in terms of the usage of adjectives. In the first one, the adjective with the -ing describes the appearance of the night photos taken by a talented photographer. Like in the endings if -ful, -ive, less, etc., the adjective with -ing is used to describe an object, event or incident that the person (either as narrator or as second or third person) comments about, based on observations, reactions and impressions that do not affect the person directly.

In the first example, we can see Dorothea’s observations and she makes a comment about it (either mentally or with another person) without any emotional reaction, as can be seen in the second example.

When using the adjective with -ed, it implies that the person reacts to an event, observation or object with emotion. Similar to the passive voice (meaning the ending must coincide with the past participal (perfect) verb form), the adjective with -ed functions in a way that the person receives the event and reacts to it.

In the second example, we can see Dorothea receiving the impression of the night photos through her own observations, and her reactions were that felt the photos were fascinating. Yet as  reaction, we would say that she was fascinated because the reactions to the photos come from her directly.

 

The exception to this rule is when we have sense adjectives, sometimes combined with the verbs feel, find, consider, think, get and other verbs dealing with feelings and reactions, where no -ed ending is needed because they stand out alone.  Some examples using the word Sick include:

Theodore is sick with the flu.- Theodore got the flu from someone else and is therefore feeling bad with fever, etc.

Theodore got sick when he heard of the news of his friend’s suicide.- Here, Theodore received the news of the tragedy and feels numb and sad, wondering why it happened and regretting his non-interference.

Theodore is sick and tired of his job.- This example represents his disdain of his job and his quest to find a better one.

 

Interestingly enough, if these adjectives were used as an observation, many times, -ing is added- but not always. A couple examples:

Theodore’s obsession with Annette is sickening.  BUT

Theodore’s obsession with Annette is sick.

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But our main focus is the use of adjectives based on observation (-ing) and reaction (-ed), for they can be mixed up, based on the context and how it is presented. If one observes an object and reacts to it, then the adjective with -ed is needed. If one commentates on an object and describes it, then it is with -ing. You can see it more in details in the diagram above, the writing was courtesy of the author. 🙂

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 Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the following exercise, where you use the verb in parenthesis and convert it into adjective, using either -ing or -ed

Part A.

  1. Terry was __________ by the lecture that was ______________. (bore)
  2. I was ____________ by breath by the view of the city from the cathedral, which was breath-___________. (take)
  3. Sharon was ____________ by the Indian’s _____________ story of the great warrior named Tree Woman. (amuse)
  4. Frank and Walter’s _____________ seat pad got them ___________ in the car for hours. (stick)
  5. Eva felt ___________ into an immoral deal by two ______________ salesmen. (pressure)

 

Part B.

Prof. Smith was _____________ (tire) and wanted to escape to a quiet apartment when suddenly, a _____________ (sob) student appeared into his office. He knew this girl because she was in one of his classes that is ____________(excite) because many students are ______________(impress) with the ______________ (interest) and thought- _______________(provoke) discussions about current events in a foreign language. _____________ (surprise), Mr. Smith asks the girl named Elisabeth what the problem was. She handed him a letter that was handwritten but also messy. “No worries, Liz,” Mr. Smith replied. “This letter cannot be that ____________ (shock), right?” Liz, _________ (anger) by his response, shot back at him by saying “It’s worse.” With a __________ (perplex) look on his face, he read the letter. Two minutes later, his face ___________ (drain) in white with sweat, he asked her how long she has known about this. Her response was a ____________ (resound) one: “For four ___________ months and now, I’m totally ___________ because of him!” (fuck)

“OK,” said a calm but now very ___________ (annoy) Mr. Smith. “I will talk to him about this and see what we can do about this problem. It is definitely a very serious one that cannot be ____________ (ignore), period.”

Next day, as he was heading to one of the university halls for class, he encounters Liz’s main problem, who wrote her the letter. Despite his stirn but professional stance, his reaction was ___________ (surprise), even to himself. He…..

C. In your opinion, what do you think happened between Elisabeth and her student colleague?

 1.  He dated her but then decided to love someone else instead

2.   He dated her but has an extra affair on the side

3.   He hasn’t been dating her but harassed her to a point where she needs help to settle the matter.

4.   He has been thrown out of the university because of his failing an exam three times and has kept it secret

5.   He has been dating her and are suddenly expecting a child after a few months of dating

6.   He is keeping something a secret from her and has repelled her attempts to find out what has been going on.

7. Other thoughts?

 

Pick what you think happens then click here to see the result with some exercises.

 

Note: The Three-Strikes and You’re Out Rule applies to studies in general at a German university. For more, please click here.

 

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