I often hear my students make the following mistake: “I am very interesting in this subject.” Or, they might say, “I am boring,” when they mean: “I am bored.”
These are very common mistakes. So how can we remedy them?
Try to pick up an example that you feel comfortable with, like: I am bored. = I feel bored. When you are unsure which form of the adjective to use, think back to your tested and tried example. Do you feel interested? If yes, then you should say: I am interested.
Let’s have another one. The Ring is frightening. I am frightened. = The Ring is a frightening film, therefore I feel frightened. If you say: I am frightening, that means you think people are afraid of you!
Okay, now you try it. Make three sentences with the following adjectives: tempted/tempting; excited/exciting; embarrassed/embarrassing.
The nice thing about adjectives in English is that they’re not terribly complicated. There are a few rules to remember, but on the whole, there isn’t that much to it.
Let’s look at an example of a descriptive paragraph, all the adjectives are in bold:
a large room.
a wide and comfortable desk
polished dark mahogany
Now, can you try to describe either, the room you are in, or an imaginary room. You don’t need to use terribly complicated language, use the words you are comfortable with. If you’d like to step out of your comfort zone, you can reach for a thesaurus, which is a dictionary where you will find synonyms. You can find this online by typing “thesaurus” into Google. Good luck!
In honour of this week’s Brownie Bonanza workshop, let me intrduce today’s idiom: half-baked.
This is when an idea isn’t properly thought through. For example: “He came to us with a half-baked plan and expected us to back him up on it!”
“This half-baked plan is going to get us into a lot of trouble!”
If you haven’t already heard about it, we’re organising a free online baking workshop entirely in English this Saturday, March 13th. To sign up, simply go to the link below and enter your information, we still have a few spots left!
When you can’t get yourself to a foreign country to really learn a language, watching TV is the next best thing. So, based on that statement, what fallows are 3 of my recommendations for the best series to watch in English.
There are several criteria that I used when selecting, and they are:
Brevity. Hour long episodes are great, but when you have to concentrate all your attention to understand what’s going on, fatigue can set it. So if you’re looking for something to watch, favour shorter shows.
Fun. They really should be very entertaining and especially, they should include humour that can be widely understood across cultures. Added slapstick is also a great advantage because, well, everyone gets it.
A mix of accents. Everyone knows that English comes in a variety of accents, it’s important to keep that in mind when choosing something to watch. Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s THE criterion to trump all others, but it helps to understand a wider array of speakers.
Simplicity. Don’t go for series where there is a lot of complicated language and specific slang. If you like House, that’s great, but remember, the show uses a lot of very specific medical vocabulary to seem authentic; most people struggle with this in their own languages, now imagine how it would be in a foreign language!
So here we go, my list!
This show is just funny. Very very funny. The actors were born of Saturday Night Live and so you also get that sense of improvisation that you don’t always feel from a regular sitcom.
Why do I recommend this one? Even though the language isn’t necessarily super easy, the accents are relatively neutral and the storylines easy to follow. The humour is very much cross-cultural, so most people will get a laugh out of it even if they don’t understand everything 100%.
Apart from that, it’s the type of show where you can turn on your TV and turn off your brain. It isn’t dumb in the same way a Ben Stiller movie will be, but it’s light and slapstick, so there’s something for everyone. Also, you can watch it with your kids; not the very little ones, mind, but from about age 9 I think they can probably handle it.
So what’s it about? A Brooklyn police precinct and the various silly things that seem to happen to and are orchestrated by, the staff.
The Good Place
Apart from being a comedy, this show is just plain nice. Its simple, unassuming plot can really be understood by everyone, and the short length of each episode means that it isn’t too taxing after a long day’s work.
What’s the premise? Three people die and wake up in Heaven. Two think they belong there, and one (the protagonist) thinks there must have been some mistake.
Again, this is one you can watch with the kids, though they will probably appreciate it much less than Brooklyn 99.
Why do I love this show? Because the characters are endearing, the plots always funny without being completely stupid, and the language relatively simple.
What’s it about? A family in LA: 3 generations across 3 homes. It’s a “modern” family in most senses of the word, since the grandad remarries a much younger Columbian woman (who already has a kid), the “typical” couple with three kids, a gay couple who adopted a little Indonesian girl, and from time to time guest star the ex-wife of the grandad as well as another older parent.
I even watch this with my 4 year old sometimes, who of course, doesn’t understand everything, but nonetheless manages to enjoy the slapstick humour.
So there you, go. Three easy-to-watch sitcoms for the whole family, in English. Remember, when you’re watching something in a foreign language, do these three things:
Forget about understanding everything. Don’t sweat it, you need to learn to ‘let go’ and try to enjoy what you do understand. As time goes by, there’ll be more and more of that!
Put on subtitles in English, this will help you follow along more easily and catch those things that the characters may or may not say a little too quickly. Plus, it’ll help you with your pronunciation, just wait for those “aha” moments.
Enjoy yourself. This is not supposed to be a time for close study, you are meant to put your legs up and relax in your free time. So switch on the TV, and let the show carry you forward, whether or not you’re able to follow 100% of it.
The definition I provided above has to do with the more figurative sense of the word, because I think we can all figure out what it means literally. So, here are a few more examples of watertight with the meaning above.
Jeremiah must have a watertight alibi if he wants to be beyond suspicion.
The contract is watertight, you don’t have to worry.
I still sometimes struggle with adjectives in French, because they change. You have to know the gender of the noun, adjust for plurals, etc.; that confuses me, or, even when it doesn’t, sometimes I simply forget!
In English, adjectives are pretty simple. They never change! No matter what you pair it with, your adjective will always be the same. For example: your old shoe, and, your old shoes. There may be more than one shoe, that’s ok, it has no effect on the adjective.
Aldo, adjectives go in front of the noun. For example: a happy face.
There you go! More on this again next week, when we’ll deal with multiple adjectives to describe one thing.
This idiom stands alone, that means that you don’t need to say anything else. Usually, if you’re with another person and he or she looks lost in thought, you might ask: a penny for your thoughts? Listen out for it in films, it’s used surprisingly often 🙂 .