Archive for the ‘English’ Category

Back to the basics

November 17, 2008

Hello there!

I haven’t been writing anything for a long time. Basically, the reason is that I am incredibly lazy. Still, there is a bit more to it. I am in my last year at school and I actually have to spend a little time doing school work. Further on, there is my unsatisfiable desire to get around, get to know new people and discover ancient long-forgotten cultures (for example, my last hitchhike took me to the Bavarians). Not to mention that I commit a lot of my spare time to the two exchange organisations AFS and YFU.

However, I have been getting increasingly unsatisfied with my English skills and especially my ability to express myself. So I thought it was an exellent idea to resurrect this old blog of mine bearing in mind that there are the A-level exams (Abitur) looming ahead.

I haven’t made up my mind what’s going to be the main topic for this new blogging area. I am sure I will be sharing various stories with you my dear readers. I still have some untold stories about my last hitchhiking trips in my repertoire and I constantly experiment with my ubuntu distribution. Let’s just see what inspires me …

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Non stop, full-stop

October 16, 2007

A long time has been passed since I wrote my last entry. However, I have a good excuse. A very good one.

First, I have had autumn holiday and I have been to Turkey with my family. Four days in Istanbul and 8 days in a relaxing all-inclusive pool landscape. The latter was a lot of fun, as I met a couple of nice guys from Switzerland and Russia there.

Then school started again, the Cambridge CAE course started and I started to work after school on some days. So now I’m whizzing around somewhere non-stop and can’t even catch a short break in the evenings, due to the lot of home- and other work I still need to complete.

But I don’t want to complain – the course is great, a lot of fun. The teacher is from the US, I forgot from where exactly. CAE is accomplishable. And we are good supported. As she put it: “This is not like school. Not teacher against you, but we all against Cambridge.”

The two sides of learning at school

September 5, 2007

After 4 weeks of school I’m kind of used again to weaking up early, sleeping less and lesser, reduced free time and even ways to seldomly going out on weekends.

On the other hand learning can be (and I truly mean it) enlightening. We got some teachers I don’t like, or don’t like to much, but that is bearable (most of the time). History is interesting (teacher sucks ass – I spend half of the time trying to overlook this fact), Literature is even more interesting, I don’t even need to mention Informatics, PE, what else is there left? Religion too (after all, I’am a convinced atheist), Maths (my  2nd Advanced course).

English courses especially are usually a hell of a fun. I would have preferred the 2nd English Advanced course’s students, because most of them have been abroad (California, Australia), but our teacher is ways better, the other course is complaining all the time . Not to mention a friend of mine who had to change due to some class schedule mistakes.

It’s demanding too – more or less at least. Homework is demanding, the lessons sometimes are easy-peasy and to slow paced.

In the last lessons, our teacher got a bit of a reading-texts-spleen – read this, read that. Interpret this, summarize that and don’t forget evaluating!

This can be a pain in the ass. On some days it is easy to make up my mind and write some interpretation or to sum up a text and it’s fun too – after all I really like the English language, reading and  so on.

However, at least half of the other days (probably more) I’m extremely dull after school and it’s hart even to write the last bit of a lousy summarize. And that’s just English – to counting everything together it’s probably about 400% of the other days ;-)

Still, I prefer all kinds of English homework a helluva times to doing German interpretation work. Poems, poems, poems. Right now I should have done one, probably instead of writing this. I didn’t. Fuck it, exactly that is school.

Learning English again

September 1, 2007

My abroad year is over, so I decided to focus on some other thing now: Learning English. As I wrote, I’m in an English Advanced course at school and to make thinks even more interesting I signed up for a preparation course for the CAE Certificate at an evening school.
I got two reasons signing up. Firstly, I did the FCE certificate this year in April (or was it March?) and at school they now offer a preparation course for it. I already did it, so why shouldn’t I try the next one?

Secondly, I love my English Advanced course, but it is not as demanding as I had hoped for.

Lot of reasons to write on this blog how my learning is going on. When I read the first posts I wrote about two years ago I can gladly tell, that I improved a hell of a lot. Now it’s time to continue writing more frequently to brush up my writing skills and maybe I should start again reading a few English books.

Exam, exam, exam …

March 9, 2007

In about 5 hours I am going to sit in the exam room, trying to get the most out of my brain. Cambridge exam, precisely called FCE (First Certificate in English) and on today’s timetable stands the Listening and Speaking part.  Tomorrow it continues with Reading (easy peasy), Grammar (bit tougher) and Writing. Probably the toughest part.

I haven’t been nervous a single time all the last week, but yesterday, trying hard to fell asleep, there it was. I feel a bit jumpily still and I think it won’t go away until I’ll sit there concentrating on the exam. By the way, it was exactly the same the day, or rather the day before, I flew to Latvia. Not a single sign all the days before and then, in one moment a rush of feelings. Kind of my nature.

Cambridge Certificate

January 26, 2007

I registered now for the First Certificate in English (FCE) and payed the fee. I think I saved some money in Latvia, but to be true, that are just peanuts. Anyway, I went to the British Council and looked through the library. The teaching books didn’t seemed that difficult to me. And I thought I should have directly tried to achieve the next level, the Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

I took no books with me, because I would have needed to pay a 7-Lats fee for one year of library use and I decided with a look into my empty wallet I would first search the internet and ask my english teacher. As far as I know my school in Latvia (after all it is called Riga English Grammar School) has a library to and I can get books there for free. They should have training material there too.

But first I look in the internet. It took me some time to find something, although there is plenty material on the official website. Blind as a bat I found some link from somewhere else to the site … after half an hour research. There is just no ‘real’ material besides the official provided one and everything else are just book offers. Really.

I tried out the Reading Part which consists of several texts and questions about them and is about 70 minutes. I found it unexpected difficult, but I managed to finish ways under the time limit and got a result of 87% correct answers of the maximum points. In my opinion a good result for the first try.

And finally I discoverd that I had downloaded the CPE papers instead of CFE. A pity that I didn’t registered for the more advanced level … but anyway, I’m content with the easier level, because there are sure some more difficult parts waiting than Reading, as Writing, Listening and … finally Grammar. These remain to be trained. And then will see, on 10 of March.

One year blogging

January 7, 2007

One year ago I started this blog. And I have to correct myself: I started blogging ways earlier, it’s just that this blog celebrates it’s first anual birthday.

Some kind of resolution wanted? Okay, I’ll give it a try. Although the idea came a bit later (i just registered the blog to test wordpress.com) I though I could use this blog to use and improve my English. And have fun doing it. That’s all.

I  fullfilled my aim. Absolutely. Although I can’t really say if it’s all just the blog – I read I lot of books too (to be exactly I kind a read nearly only English books) and I spoke English at the beginning in Latvia. So somehow it works all together but I think the blog was a milestone.

Did I had fun? Yeah. It’s especially obvious looking at my ultra long posts. I just started writing and couldn’t stop anymore.

What else? I would have enjoyed a few more comments, but as this isn’t an A-blog (rather ranking D to F) I can’t expect there too much. I didn’t want to push the traffic anyway.

General resolution: I’m happy.

And a short general prediction: It will stay pretty much the same.

Type it easy

May 10, 2006

English is, as far as I know, the most used language to communicate in the internet. Due to the fact that English is also often used by scientists, the internet was from sratch on in English. I would suggest that other languages came later, with the increasing number of normal users.

And I think for this reason, the Internet talking English, English will be the most spoken language instead of Chinese by the time global access to the web has increased.

But back to typing: I had recently a few chat conversations in French and I wrote mails in French. And it was much more difficult than writing something in English (not to mention German). Of course, my French is ways worser than my English. But this is just one reason.

Unlike English French has a variety of special characters, like à, é, è, â, ô or c with a cedilla (I would need the windows charmap to show it – I think with a German keyboard configuration it's not possible to insert it). And I think most other languages have those special characters with Macrons, Carons, Cedillas or however you call these little additions to a regualer character. Scandinavian languages have it (I learned Finish for a while and it was very annoying to learn it due to these characters), Latvian has quite a huge number and you could long this list as long as you want.

German, has some special characters too, for example ä, ö, or ü. Although, I can type these characters as easy as any other. But of course only because I'm used to it. I don't know, how difficult are these characters for non native speakers (writers)? Maybe with another keyboard language? I don't know if similiar conventions exist in other languages, but in German you can alternatively use ae instead of ä, oe for ö and so on which solves the problem. 

English is an easy language. And the lack of special characters makes it even more easier. Any keyboard in the world should be usable to type English without having to change the keyboard language. (Don't they? I don't know how Chinese keyboards look like ;-) ) I didn't tried it yet, but I am very excited how easy/difficult it'll be to type Latvian. 

The next level

March 24, 2006

I use the English language better and better. I remark it myself, but I have heard it from others too. The only thing is, that I often use a (by the way great) dictionary when I don’t get the word immediately or special words I want to use. The point is, that when I look up a word, I recognize it, because I already know it, but more in a passive way: Would I read this word, I would understand it, only translating German to English is sometimes not that easy. For the future I want to improve my active vocabulary and use less dictionaries.

Two new books

March 24, 2006

First, The Dark Tower – The Waste Lands from Stephen King and second, Shadowmarch from Tad Williams. I couldn’t restist to buy them yesterday before I did sport. Both recommanded here, unfortunately I’ve got no time to start reading at the moment.