Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

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.

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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.

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. 

Qualities of speaking

April 17, 2006

I wanted to write this yesterday, but the server was down (Relax and enjoy this Easter Sunday morning, and know that everybunny at WordPress.com is working their butts off to get your blog back online). I think I lost some of my thoughts, nevertheless I'll try to write the rest down. 

When I want to say something (especially when it's more complicated) in English, I need a while to think and find the right expression(s). 

First, my vocabulary is everything than enough to say everything I want. Even when I try not to use dictionaries I often have to. In every case I need much more time to say or write something than I would need in German. 

Second, the English language has much more words than the German one. It is very common that a German expression has five, six or more possible translation in English. In German you would just use that single word for different meanings. In English you have all these words who have a slightly different meaning and are used with different intentions. 

After all I think English expresses things much more precisely than other languages, for example German. 

… and sorry if that post looks a bit troubled, because that's how I actually feel … I need a break, but from what?

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.

Correct me!

January 15, 2006

I’m sure I don’t write grammar and spelling always as it should be. I’m still learning and trying to improve my English skills. Native speakers may correct bad mistakes, that would be great!

What teachers tell

January 13, 2006

Yesterday we had a supply teacher for our English lesson. It was an old one I wouldn’t want to have as a regular teacher. By the way our actual English teacher is a bitch. I can say for myself that I have improved my English skills, even not in school. But some others don’t … back to topic. Back to this teacher. I think he’s very stubborn (does that fit ? I don’t know), but he said something I totally agree. He said, one could learn as much as he could in school, but to improve your English, you have to read. Exactly what I am doing! And I see, it’s right. Especially if you got that old bitch I wrote some lines above you would not learn anything at all. I mean, she’s not that bad as a teacher. A few friends, included me, had to do some extra work for punishment. She distributed some newspaper to all of us and we should choose one topic and sum it up. The best English lesson we ever had with her. In usual lessons we do one boring textbook exercise after another. By the way, all school books are boring as hell. I don’t know why some who creates these books can think they were educational. Okay, I drifted totally from this supply teacher, but who cares. I’ll just continue. After all, we only have one genius English teacher at our school I know. At least for lower grades. But I think I mentioned her before. Hm, I should rename this post. But I won’t. Happy weekend, I’m sure I’ll have one.

French vs. English

January 9, 2006

I don’t like french. At this moment, I should learn French for tomorrow instead of typing this entry. So what. I learned French for six years now. English only for 4 years. Still, I speak much better English as French. I don’t know why. It just happened to be this way. I can only imagine why, but I think it’s in fact the reason. First, I only spoke French two or three times on vacation and on two student exchanges (if you don’t count school lessons).  I never met anyone I spoke French with anywhere else. English is everywhere. People you meet usually speak English. Most bad film copies are in English too. I started to read English books with a Harry Potter novel some time ago, now half of my readed books are in English. Actually, I read Dune. But most important: The web is English. English isn’t anymore the most spoken language in the world, because of some great asian populations or so, but it’s the unofficial language of the web. People all around the world who communicate over the web use English. So I do. But I’m anything else but perfect. That’s a reason too, why I started this blog. To improve my English, because I think that’ll be very important to all whose future has something to do with web. And my future propably will. Talking a bit French is a nice side effect of school, nothing more. But I don’t think, I learned my English at school. Anywhere else I did. But I am very thankful to my first English teacher. Now, I really should continue learning French.

Why the heck not?

January 8, 2006

I just saw it on wordpress.com under the headline Why blog ?. That’s why I like the english language. German would never be that unformal. In english you can say what the fuck ? or similiar expressions in your daily language, even on official sites with serious content. Great.