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. ūüôā ¬†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. ūüėČ

 

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. ūüėČ

 

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……. ūüôā

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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 Strandk√∂rbe 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. ūüėČ

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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. ¬†ūüôā

 

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. ūüôā

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In School in Germany/ Genre of the Week: Pelmanism- From the Novel: Don’t Try This At Home by Paul Reizin

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This Genre of the Week looks at a novel that may look ordinary to some readers who go through the whole book (or even half of it before putting it down for another one) and judge it as textbook style- where the protagonist gets caught in a situation where he has to find his way out.

The novel “Don’t Try This At Home,” by Paul Reizin looks at the protagonist from a first person point-of-view, who ends up being entangled in a mafia, getting in trouble with the law, and in bed with several girls in the process. All of these are by accident; all of these despite his attempts of getting himself out of the situation, only to end up digging himself even deeper in a hole until his wit, quick thinking and a little romance got himself out in the end. ¬†How it all happened and what his personal life was like is worth reading and interpreting yourself. ūüôā

Yet Reizin’s novel also features a few unconventional games that are worth trying, if you knew how they were played and done it wisely. Pelmanism is one of those games mentioned and described in the novel.

And while in the book Pelmanism had experiments with different types of alcohol while guessing what they were without looking, the game itself can be a useful one that provides the players of all ages with valuable learning experiences in all subjects of study.

Especially, when learning foreign languages!!!! ūüėÄ

I’ve been using this game for all my English classes since 2004- most of the time when we have our last course meeting as a group before the semester ends and we part ways for other commitments in life- and the game features words that are sometimes forgotten by some and unknown by others. It also presents some of the typical things and characteristics of some students. All it takes is some guessing what the objects are and who they belong to.

 

The object of the game is simple. You need:

A sheet of paper and a writing utensil

A timer

And a bag with ten personal items- the items should be small enough to fit in a cloth bag (not a see-through plastic one)

 

How the game is played goes like this:

One student grabs a bag and places the contents on the table in the middle, while other students close their eyes and/or look away as the contents are being taken out. Once all the items are on the table, that student signals the rest of the group to open their eyes and look at the table and the objects.  At this point, students have one minute to identify the ten items on the table in their working language, namely the foreign language they are learning. At the same time, they should guess who these objects belong to.

Once the teacher, who runs the timer, says “Stop!”, the students are called on upon random to name the objects and who they belong to. The student, who gets all the objects right as well as the correct person, will be the next one that chooses another bag, and repeats the same procedure.

This whole process continues until all the bags are used up or the teacher ends the game for time reasons. ¬†There is no clear winner, but the objective of the game is to get the students to “reactivate” their brains to remember the words they learned in the past. At the same time, they also have an opportunity to learn new vocabulary- much of which may need to be listed on a sheet of paper with the native language equivalent, should the foreign language level range from beginner to intermediate (A to B level, according to the Common European Framework). In some cases, small devices that are new to the students will need to be explained by the person who brought it with the other objects.

 

I’ve had some weird but interesting examples that warranted explaining, for instance:

A can of deoderant that is actually a capsule for fitting a small object for hiding in geocaching, a pen that functions as a light, laser pointer and hole puncher, small books full of quotes, USB-sticks with company logos, stuffed animals (also as key chains), pieces of raw material (wood, rock, metal), postcards, pictures and poems. If you can think it, you can present it and be genuine at the same time. ūüėČ

As mentioned earlier, Pelmanism can be played by all ages, regardless of language knowledge, and if you can have at least four participants (the more, the better), you can treat yourself to an evening of fun for either the whole family or friends. If you are a teacher in an English class, you will find this useful and fun for the students; especially if you participate in the game yourself.

Pelmanism is one of those games found in a book, where if modified for use in the classroom and mastered properly, it can be a fun experience for those learning new words, especially in a foreign language. It reactivates your brain and gets you reacquainted with words learned in the past (but seldomly used in the present), while at the same time, encourages active learning and acquisition of new words into an ever-expanding vocabulary. It is a fun game for everyone, and if you are as lucky as the protagonist in the story, you might come out with more than what words you learned in the game. ūüėČ ‚̧

Thanks, Paul!

 

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Germany Quiz 8: Saxony Part I: How to Speak S√§chsisch

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S√§chsisch Deutsch is probably the most local of regional dialects in Germany. Consisting of a mixture of dialects from the regions of Lausitz, Vogtland, Franconia and the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), people living in Saxony use this dialect with stresses on the short A and long O for vowels as well as consonant sounds mainly of sch, g, k and b. When compared with the high German, it’s like speaking a completely different language, like one sees with the Low German,¬† Franconian German, local Bavarian and even some northern German dialects in Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony. Some like Franz Xaver Kroetz find this dialect somewhat fremdsch√§mend (embarassing):

¬†Dialekt ist die Unterw√§sche des Menschen, Hochdeutsch ist die Konfektion, die er dar√ľber tr√§gt. (EN: Dialects are like underwear, high German is the ready-made clothing a person wears)

or when they love to chat with one another:

Der Sachse hält nich de Gusche (Mund).  (EN: The Sachse never shut up)

However, like all the dialects, the S√§chsisch des have some bright spots, apart from winning the hearts of a local woman in a village in the Ore Mountains or Vogtland region. Especially if you are a miner in the mountains along the Silver Road between Zwickau and Lichtenstein, a yodeler in Little Switzerland south of Dresden or even a farmer in the green valley near Glauchau, if you can sing the Sachsenlied, as written by J√ľrgen Hart, you can expect a bouquet of wild flowers and a mug of local beer from an admireress to go along with the chisel and hard hat ¬†ūüėČ :

Der Sachse liebt das Reisen sehr. Nu nee, ni das in‚Äôn Gnochen;drum f√§hrt er gerne hin und her in sein‚Äôn drei Urlaubswochen.Bis nunderhinunter nach BulgarchenBulgarien, im Ostblocksystem war das bereits eine Weltreise dud er die Welt beschnarchen.Und sin de GofferKoffer noch so schwer, und sin se voll, de Z√ľcheZ√ľge,und isses Essen nich weit her: Des gennt er zur Gen√ľche!Der Sachse dud nich gnietschenn√∂rgeln, qu√§ngeln, der Sachse singt ‘n Liedschen! ¬†(!: Click here for the entire song and below to listen to the melody sung by him ūüôā )

 

Either way you interpret it, Sächsisch Deutsch is the most local of all German dialects and one where if you have a dictionary, CD on how to learn it and (for the men), a beautiful local woman to teach you the language, you will open the doors to its local pride and heritage. And even if you have a partner from another part of Germany, Europe or elsewhere, having an opportunity to listen in on the locals will help you get a grasp of the language and perhaps open up new business ties with them, as they hold a treasure of inventions and patents of products we still use today.

As part of the series on German states and the quizzes and concentrating on Saxony itself, the Files has comprised a quiz, testing your knowledge of Sächsisch Deutsch and teaching you the tricks of the language, with the exception of the first part, all of the tasks consist of multiple choice questions, so you have at least a one in three chance of getting the answer right. The answer sheet will come in May.

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So without further ado, ¬†ūüėČ

Activity 1:

The following words are written in Sächsisch German. Find the equivalents in high German and English. The first 10 are quite easy to find, yet the last 10 has a hint given in one of the two languages. 

 

Sächsisch Hochdeutsch English
Fläscher
Radscho
Bargblad
Gliewärmel
Daschendicher
Biordäggl
Nachellagg
Breedschen
Beefschdeeg
Glemdnor
Lorke D√ľnner Kaffee
Reformande Strafpredigt
Dreiche Dry
Blembe Weak soup
Bliemchen (-kaffee) Ersatzkaffee
Kääbsch Picky (eater)
Iezch Angry
Motschgiebchen Marinekäfer
Quatschen Shooting the breeze (oral)
Rumbläken Herumschreien

 

Activity 2.

In your honest opinion, what is the Sächsisch equivalent to the following cities in Saxony. Mark the best answer. In some cases, none of the answers apply and therefore, you need to choose other and write it in (and also mention in the Comment section here)

 

  1. Zwickau (Saxony)     a. Twigge    b. Zwigge      c. Zwick          d. Zwish

 

  1. Leipzig ¬† ¬† a. Leice ¬† ¬† ¬† b. Liken ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†c. Leib¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† d. Leibz’sch

 

  1. Dresden ¬† ¬†a. Dr√§sd’n ¬† ¬† ¬† b. Driez ¬† ¬† ¬†c. Drisch¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† d. Dreeb

 

  1. Chemnitz      a.Chemmik      b. Gemmnidz       c. Gemmit        d. Dammit

 

  1. Plauen     a. Plowing      b. Plaue     c. Plau         d. Plau`n    e. Other ________________

 

  1. Mylau   a. Mi-low    b. Meow        c. Moolah       d. Meela     e. Other __________________

 

  1. Bautzen ¬† ¬†a. Pausen ¬† ¬† ¬† b. Other ____________ ¬†c. Bauz’n¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† d. Baussen

 

  1. Meissen ¬† a. Mice ¬† ¬† ¬†b. Miken ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†c. Maise¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† d. Mei’ sn ¬† ¬†e. Other ______________

 

Activity 3.

Now look at the pictures and choose the best of the three words in Sächsisch German and identify the English meaning. 

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a. Pieramidgerzen      b. Bieramidngärdse     c. Booramidskärze      EN:

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a. Bleedma      b. Duummann    c. Blodmama        EN:

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a. Seegeboot      b. Sähschelboud     c. Sälhboot      EN:

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a. Chim-Cheroo ¬† ¬† ¬†b. Feierr√ľbel ¬† ¬† c. Firebookman ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† EN:

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a. Pomguberschbärde     b. Geeschma     c. Gombschudoreggsbärde      EN:

Now that you have an idea how Sächsisch can be spoken, we will move onto the Quiz on Saxony itself, but not before listening to a pair of songs in Sächsisch- one of which by German comedian, Rainald Grebe.

Viel Spa√ü und los gehs oufz Dai’l zwee! ūüėČ

 

 

AND NOW TO PART II, WHERE WE GET TO KNOW THE STATE BETTER. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE QUIZ! ūüôā

 

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We need to talk……Or should it be chat?- The difference between talk, chat, speak, say and tell

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Imagine this situation: four girls are sitting on a log in the middle of the river, communicating about boys in their lives, philosophy, parents getting on their cases for not doing their chores, teachers’ pets and the like. They sit there for hours on end, letting time fly until one of the girls’ parents hollar their names. Turning around, they see a rather irritated person whose first but most important sentence reads:

“We need to talk, young lady!”

One could also interpret this as:

I need to speak with you.

I have something to tell you.

I have to chat with you about this.

or even

I have something to say to you. 

But is there an underlying difference between say, tell, speak, chat or even talk?

Believe it or not, there is and here’s how:

TELL:

  1. Tell is used to convey a message directly to the person, both in written as well as orally.
  2. Here, we use a person as an object and requires no preposition
  3. Examples:
    1. I have something to tell you.
    2. Did David tell Cara about the news?
    3. Sheila told the teacher that she was late because of a traffic jam.

TALK:

  1. Talk is used to exchange information or have a conversation between two or even more people. It can range from light-hearted conversatio to something serious.
  2. When using a person as a direct object, the preposition of to is needed. Otherwise, as an outsider looking in, with or between is commonly used when looking at two people discussing something. If it involves a theme and not between two people, about is used.
  3. Examples:
    1. Eileen, I want to talk to you about this.
    2. Frank had a talk with Ben about this project
    3. The talk between Dorothea and Carrie bore no fruit.
    4. Stephanie, we need to talk.

SPEAK:

  1. Speak is used in two ways. In the first one, it deals with one-way communication and focuses on serious matters. As the person(s) is the object, the preposition of to is used here. With is also used when talking about what two or more persons spoke about, also in a direct form.
  2. Speak can be used to look at the person’s ability to speak languages. Here, no preposition is needed.
  3. Examples:
    1. Jeremiah, I need to speak to you after class.
    2. The chancellor spoke to the audience about the plan. (Here you can replace speak with address but minus the preposition)
    3. Corrina can speak six languages fluently and is working on her seventh!
    4. The professor spoke with the dean of academic affairs about the complaint today.

SAY:

  1. Say is used to convey an announcement and/or fact and does not address someone directly. Therefore a preposition is not necessary.
  2. If using say directly to a person, the preposition of to is a necessity.
  3. When using say + that, it refers to something being addressed indirectly, although one can forego the luxury if addressing it directly to the person in a form of a command is needed.
  4. Examples:
    1. Matt had something to say to the proposal but didn’t have a chance to say it.
    2. My junior officer has something he wants to say to you.
    3. Mike said that Sara would cover for you while you were away.
    4. I said get that remote control!

CHAT:

  1. Chat can be used as an informal way of discussing a topic- similar to a talk, but most of the time more light-heartedly.
  2. When addressing a person directly, a preposition of with is needed. A topic, it’s about.
  3. Examples:
    1. I hate it when those two chat about nonesense during breaks.
    2. How about a chat over coffee?
    3. You love to chat! I don’t!- When a German says this to you, this is the cue to end the conversation and move on without delay.

 

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Any questions at this point? ūüôā

Exercise 1: Complete each sentece with either talk, speak, chat, tell, or say. Please keep in mind that a preposition may be needed in some of them. Also pay attention to the verb tenses, as they are written in either present, past or future (will) tenses.

  1. Chuck __________ Jasmine about the car being sold.
  2. The teacher _________ something about the field trip yesterday.
  3. How about a ________ over a beer at a pub down the street?
  4. I want to _________ you about your grades. I’m worried about you.
  5. The ________ between Crystal and Anna helped solve some key problems.
  6. Martin _________ that the golf course would be hosting the tournament this year.
  7. Why didn’t you __________ me about this? I could have helped you there!
  8. You wanted to __________ to me, Mr. Stone?
  9. Ian ________ you sent the letter off, yesterday. Is that true?
  10. Bridget ____________ you about the project next week.
  11. Dad and Paul _________ the whole night about everything.
  12. Stacey ____________ Marcus about the wedding proposal.
  13. Carolyn ___________the incident on the school bus this morning.
  14. The reporter __________ that the train wreck happened outside of town last night.
  15. I __________ don’t do it, but you did it anyway! Why?

 

Exercise 2: Use the set of words below and conjugate the sentences using speak, talk, say, and tell. Some words need to be added, some omitted.

1. Patty/scholarship/win

2. Holly/Brad/new car/ buy

3. Albert/Charles/becoming a new doctor

4. Conductor/ passengers/ train/ delay (or arrive late)

5. Teacher/ students/ dance/ Saturday night/ take place

 

Exercise 3: In each sentence, there is one error. Find that error and correct it.

  1. I want to say you something, Papa.
  2. I chatted to you to clean your room! Why didn’t you do that?
  3. Patrick spoke at the council about the proposal being bad.
  4. The two gentleman had a great say at the get-together
  5. Mama had a speak with her daughter about the birds and bees.

 

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Ted is Ded: The English Guide to Regular Verb Endings

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Here is a well-known fact: There are nine different types of verb tenses in the English language, more than in other Germanic languages, but not as many as in Latin. We have past (simple and continuous), perfect (present and past), present (simple and continuous), and future (will, going to and perfect). And even when we look at past simple tense, there we have two different types. There is the regular verb tense- verbs that carry “-ed”, and there are the irregular verbs, which like Latin, you need to learn it by heart, for each verb follows its own set of guidelines for past and past participle forms. A link with the entire irregular verb tenses can be found here.

Regular Verb tenses follow a stringent set of guidelines, both in terms of word structure as well as in terms of pronunciation that learners of English will find it easier to remember than with the irregular counterpart.

In terms of word structure, regular verb tenses follow five simple guidelines:

  1. Words ending in one or more consonants require solely the “-ed” ending. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Examples include: Wanted, Rejected, Opened, Visited
  2. Words whose ending is “-e” but it is silent only need a “-d” at the end. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Examples include: Bribed, Dined, Phoned, Died, Lived
  3. Words whose ending is a vowel+ y only require “-ed” at the end. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Examples include: Played, Destroyed, Betrayed, Delayed, Stayed, Buoyed
  4. Words whose ending is a consonant + y require the replacement of the “-y” with the “-ied”. Examples include: Carried, Buried, Hurried, Studied, Married
  5. Some words, whose consonants end in m/n/t/b/p/g/l require a double consonant plus “-ed” at the end. Examples include: Banned, Slammed, Crammed, Travelled, Levelled, Rubbed, Dubbed, Stopped, Flopped, Butted (out), Jogged.¬†

In terms of pronunciation, regular verb tenses follow three key rules:

D-form: words with ¬†l/ v / n / m / r / b / v / g / w / y / z / and vowel sounds have a pronunciation ending with “-d”. ¬†Most of these endings have a voiced sound, especially with words with the endings b/g/l/m/n/s/z. In other words, if words have a buzz, they’re responded with a “duh!” ūüėČ ¬†Examples of such words include the following:

advised (ad’vaiz) + d,  agreed, allowed, answered, appeared, arrived, believed, belonged,
burned, called, carried, changed, cleaned, closed, covered, cried, damaged, described, 

died,  dried, earned, encouraged, enjoyed, entered, explained, explored, filled, 

followed, happened, interviewed, imagined, jailed, killed, listened, lived, loved, measured, 

moved,
opened, planned, played, performed, pulled, realized, remembered, rained,

repaired,   saved, shared, shaved, showed, signed, slammed, stayed, snowed, 

studied, tried, traveled, turned, used, welcomed, whispered, worried, yawned

T-form: words with¬†¬†p / k / s / ch / sh / f / x / h are pronounced with “t” at the end. Most of these words have voiceless endings. That means if a person in the library says “Shhhhhhh!,” you can respond with “-it”, meaning…….. ūüėČ ¬† You can imagine what would happen if you were to do this in reality……. ūüėČ

Here are some examples to practice:

asked, baked, brushed, cooked, cracked, crashed, danced (da:ns) + t, dressed, 

dropped,
escaped, finished, fixed, guessed, helped, hoped, hiked, joked, jumped, knocked, 

kissed, laughed (læf)+t, locked, looked, missed, mixed, packed, passed, picked, pressed, pushed
pronounced, relaxed, slipped, smoked, stopped, shopped, talked, typed, 

walked, washed,  watched, worked

Ted is Ded form: ¬†words whose consonant ending is either “d” or “t” have the “-ed” that is pronounced as “-id”. As a chime, you have this sentence: Ed needed Ted but Ted is Dead (ded). Cruel but effective way to remember this……. ūüėČ

Examples to practice include:

accepted, afforded, attended, arrested, collected, contacted, counted, decided, 

defended, 
demanded, divided, ended, expanded, expected, exported, flooded, graduated,

hated
hunted, included, invited, invented, landed, needed, painted, planted, printed, 

presented,  pretended, protected, provided, rented, repeated, reported, 

respected, rested, scolded
skated, started, shouted, treated, visited, waited, wanted, wasted

Unlike irregular verbs, where index cards are the necessary approach to learning verbs and their past equivalent, there is no real solution except to practice saying the words at home by yourself or with your friend or loved one. One can also try a few of these exercises below, while at the same time, compare how past tense in your own country is different to this one.

http://www.pearsonlongman.com/ae/download/spectrum/pdfs/book2/sp2_pronpuzz.pdf

http://www.autoenglish.org/gr.edpron.pdf

While past tense is not as severe as in Latin, it is much more difficult than in many other languages, whose rules are simpler to follow, like the German past and perfect forms, which are not subdivided. ūüôā

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Genre of the Week: Mein Enkel

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Communication- the key to eliminating misunderstandings, solving problems and bringing people together. When one thinks of communication, we think of two things: a letter to a penpal or best friend living hundreds of kilometers/ miles away and talking to friends and family in a closed setting. I also think of communication as enjoying a cup of coffee while getting to know new people, talking with colleagues over lunch in a cafeteria like this one (this photo above was taken at the University of Bayreuth during my time as an English teacher in 2010), or even talking to parents and family members over the phone to see how life is like back home in Minnesota.

When the term communication comes to mind these days, we have the Smartphone, facebook and instagram. While they are meant to bring us together, they also separate us by not allowing the healthy face-to-face verbal communication. And while many in the older generations, especially the Baby-boomers have tried embracing the new technology, others have considered them the instrument of evil, especially when the computer language is English and it has penetrated many native languages, resulting in a bit of Denglish. ūüėČ

And this is what takes us to this Genre of the Week, entitled “Mein Enkel.” Produced by Sebastian23, based in Cloppenburg, the short film was released in 2012 with a setting being in a semi-empty restaurant in Bochum. The characters in the film consist of three people in their 60s (specifically, the older version of the Babyboomers), a grandmother (Mathilda) and two of her male friends (Eduard and Roland), one of whom is into sugar and has problems catching up with the conversation with the other two. One of the characters (Mathilda) starts off the conversation of her grandchild registering on facebook and her being added to his friends’ list, which sets the conversation in motion about social networking using pure Denglish. Have a look at this rather “flustig” scene below:

This film has been used as a platform for many conversations and presentations on the pros and cons of social networking, specifically, who profits from this new form of communication and whether social networking is destroying the way we communicate with other people or if it a supplement to oral and written communication. Especially when Denglish (a combination of German and English) is becoming a hot subject among linguists and teachers of foreign language as many in these circles have debated on how inappropriate the language is. Personally speaking, Denglish is an informal form of communication which is best understood when people know both English and German and can speak it outside the work environment. However it is very funny to see how the language is used and therefore, there is an exercise for you to try.

  1. Decipher the conversation among the three characters in the story. What was the story about?
  2. Why do they consider the grandson’s registration on facebook to be an “epic fail?”
  3. What does Mathilda do with her grandson’s facebook page? Does she add him or not?
  4. What other social networks do they mention? Which one got the LOL by Mathilda?
  5. Why does Mathilda say “Opfer” after her granddaughter leaves to go play? What’s the meaning behind this?
  6. Who loves the sugar in the coffee? 
  7. Discussion: What are some advantages and setbacks towards social networking?
  8. Discussion: When should a child have a social network page, like facebook, and under what conditions?
  9. Discussion: Would you introduce or even allow a friend or family member of the Babyboomer generation (like the three) to social networking? If so, how would you teach them how to use it? If not, why not?

 

Please note, this is good for people learning German or English as a foreign language. ūüôā

You can click to the website of Sebastian23 here to see more about the German slam poet and musician: http://sebastian23.org/

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All They Want is Stuff: The Use of Stop-Gaps in English Part I

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Willow Creek Bridge in Mason City in the 1950s: New Bridge on the Left, Antique 1800s Bridge on the Right. Photo courtesy of Iowa Department of Transportation

This article is co-produced with sister column, the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles in connection with a project being constructed.

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Stop-gaps. Each language has its set of stop-gap words that people use, either as a substitute for a word they were looking for (but couldn’t find it), or as a bridge in the conversation with the purpose of avoiding a pause and revealing their insecurities in communicating with other people. Many of us are guilty of using these stop-gaps, both in our native tongue as well as when learning a foreign language. Here are some examples of how they are used in English:

  1. In connection with the picture above, I had my final conversation with my grandmother back in January 2007 about her community’s strive to destroying historic buildings and bridges, including a bridge near her home and a high school that used to be a haven for theatricals. Her reaction to the city’s plan to tear down the high school: “All they want is stuff!” ¬†Difficult to replace stuff with new or modern things, but she was opposed to modernization, fighting all the way up to her death three months later. ¬†Highly spirited woman I admired. ūüôā ‚̧
  2. A former college classmate goes off on a tangent over a teenager’s excessive use of “like.” Example: “I was like great. We could like meet at like 7:30 at like the theatre. Would you like that?” ¬†Overhearing this in a restaurant, she paints a vivid reaction on facebook. ¬†Geil! ūüôā
  3. A college professor stresses the importance of not using thing in a paper and was appalled to see at least 10 of these words in a 25-page paper in English. That student bawled his eyes out while receiving a failing grade, using that as one of the main reasons justifying the need to rewrite it. ¬†The professor was Czech and his student was from Saxony, who had spent time in Iowa as a high school exchange student, by the way. ūüėČ

But the underlying question is which of these stop-gap words are really informal and used for personal communication, and which ones are formal and can be used  for formal purposes as well as for research papers? In connection with a project being conducted at a university in Jena, a question for the forum is being introduced for you to think about. All you need is two minutes of your time to answer the following questions:

frage f√ľr das forum

1. Which of these words do you use the most in terms of verbal communication?

 

2. Which of these words do you use the most in terms of written communication?

3. Which of these words do you think are considered stop-gaps and used for informal communication?

 

4. Which of these words do you think are NOT stop-gaps because of their use in formal communication?

 

5. Why do you use stop-gap words in English?

 

For the first two questions, only one word applies; the next two has a limit of five possibilities and the last question has more than one answer possible. Each one has an option where you can add other words and items that are not on the list.  You have until 16 May, 2016 to vote. The results and some exercises will come in June. In case of any questions, please feel free to contact Jason Smith at the Files, using the contact details in the website under About.

The purpose of the questionnaire is to find out how often these stop-gap words are being used and why they are used. Already there have been discussions about this subject and even the author has put together a worksheet on this subject for use in college (that will be presented in the June article). It will help linguists and English teachers find ways to modify the use of stop-gaps and (especially for the latter) encourage students of English to use other alternatives and widen their vocabulary. Interesting is to compare the use of stop-gap words in English with that of other languages, including German- one of the words has been used here in this article.

Can you figure this one out and find the English equivalent? ūüôā

 

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