[Easy English Blog] Trying to be more active

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I spend most of my time sitting in front of my computer. This is not good for my health. So I am trying to be more active. I go running, but not as often as I would like. I need over an hour to have a good run. Most days, I start work at 7am and finish late at night. I would like to go running in the middle of the day, but this is a busy time for me.

So, I am trying to be active while I sit at my desk. I have a set of weights next to my desk, which I use when I take a short break from writing. I also stretch a few times during the day. I feel more relaxed when I do this, and it helps me to work better.

Still, I think I need to make more time to exercise. I could get up 30 minutes earlier and exercise before I start work. I have an exercise bike which I could use. I should stop making excuses and just do it!

by Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Speech contest

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The other day, I judged an English speech contest. The contestants were school students. I judge the contest every year. This year was my 11th time. There were about 30 students in the contest. As usual, I was very impressed with the standard of the speeches.

In speech contests, while pronunciation is important, it is also important to think about non-verbal communication and the impact your speech has on the audience. Factors such as eye-contact and gestures are important. Some students used too many gestures, which was unnatural. Others used them well – adding expression to their speech.

When practicing the speech, it is important to ask yourself “what impact do I want to have?” “How do I want the listeners to feel?” The students who scored highly in the contest gave moving speeches. They successfully communicated their feelings, not only their words, to the listeners.

I was impressed with all the contestants though. It must be very difficult for a teenager to stand up in front of everyone and give a speech in a foreign language. I’m sure I couldn’t have done it when I was their age!

Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Website update

person using black and white smartphone and holding blue card

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I had a meeting with our web designer yesterday. He made our website five years ago. I like the website, but I think it needs an update. So, I asked him to change the layout, add Facebook and Twitter feeds, and to make a mobile version.

Five years ago, I didn’t think about a mobile version. But the world is changing. More and more people are using their mobile phones to access the Internet. So I think we need a website that is easy to use and read on a smartphone.

We are also going to add more books in the future, so we need a better layout. I’m not a designer, so I’m going to let the designer decide which layout is the best. I trust him to make us a nice site which is easy to use. I’m looking forward to seeing what he creates!

 

[Easy English Blog] Coffee Coca-Cola

I tried coffee-flavoured Coca-Cola the other day. It tasted like….well…coffee-flavoured Coca-Cola. It was nice. I usually feel sleepy in the afternoons, so I drank it around 1:00pm. I thought the caffeine in the drink would wake me up. Unfortunately, I still felt sleepy after drinking it. I still needed to drink a cup of coffee afterwards to keep me alert.

Here it is. It just looks like normal Coca-Cola. The can is smaller than a usual can though. It is only 250ml. If you are in Japan, why don’t you give it a try?

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Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Running

One of my hobbies is running. I’m not a fast runner. I like to run slowly. I usually run 10km-12km at a time. This takes me about an hour and twenty minutes. I don’t think about the time. I’m not interested in running faster, or beating the time of my previous run. I just want to enjoy running.

Now that it is getting cooler, I want to increase the distance I run. My next target is 15km. Someday, I’d like to run a half marathon, but at the moment, I’m just happy to get out in the fresh air and enjoy running.

I think about many things when I run. When I’m running, I get many ideas for new stories. Sometimes, when I am writing a story, I get stuck. I don’t know the next part of the story. When that happens, I go for a run. While I’m running, I can usually come up with a good idea.

I listen to music when I run. I have tried running with no music, but I soon become tired. Music makes me want to move, and it gives me energy. When I finish running, I feel refreshed and ready to work. It is an important part of my life.

How about you? Do you like to run?

Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

 

[Easy English Blog] Living near the sea

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I live near the sea. It is about a 20-minute drive from my house to the sea. I feel that I am lucky to live so close to it. Many people visit the beach and the sea in summer, but I don’t. I like to visit the sea in spring or autumn. Sometimes, I go in winter. The wind is fresh, and there are no other people around.

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When I was a child, I went to the beach every summer. My family and I went on holiday to the seaside for two weeks every August. The beach was always packed (packed = crowded) with other families. I used to make sand castles and go paddling (walking in the shallow water) in the sea.

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Now, I drive to the sea, park my car, and enjoy listening to the sound of the sea and breathing the fresh sea air. Sometimes I write poetry. I think that being near the sea makes me more creative. Maybe it is the rhythm of the waves, or maybe it is the beautiful views, but when I go to the sea, I feel like I want to write.

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Last November, I went for a drive by the sea. The photographs on this page are from then.

When is your favourite time to go to the sea?

Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] How I learned Japanese

When I started learning Japanese 18 years ago, I didn’t have a computer. There were no apps, or language learning websites. I studied the “old way”. I started with a textbook called Japanese for Everyone.

Here it is. It was published in 1990.

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It was a good book. It was easy to understand and I enjoyed the exercises. At the time, I wanted to take the Japanese Langauge Proficiency Test (JLPT) (日本語能力試験). My goal was 1st grade. So, I bought textbooks for 4th grade, then 3rd grade, then 2nd grade and then 1st grade. I passed 1st grade in 2003 after studying for three years.

I also used books called Basic Kanji and Intermediate Kanji. I wanted to be a translator, so reading and writing was important for me. I started to read children’s books, manga and newspapers. I read every day. Of course, I didn’t understand everything, but reading helped me so much.

At the time, I was teaching English at a language school. I studied for three hours every night after work, and for eight hours on my days off. I always went to the library to study. It was quiet, and I could concentrate.

I was also lucky because I had nice Japanese friends. They would let me practice conversation with them, and help me when I didn’t understand some things. I think that conversation practice is very important. When I spoke to my friends, I tried to use the new words I had learned from my textbook. This helped me to remember the words.

For listening, I used to listen to CDs while I slept! I put a Japanese CD in my portable CD player, and played the CD all night while I was sleeping. Sometimes, I left the TV on while I slept. Did this help? I don’t know, but I got a good score on the listening section of the 1st grade test.

Now, I study other languages, but I don’t make much progress. I think my motivation level is different. I live in Japan, so I need to speak Japanese. Motivation is so important when learning a language.

I continue to study Japanese. I am a translator, so I read Japanese every day. I also read Japanese novels and non-fiction books for fun. I said before that I like Matsumoto Seicho. I also like Nakamura Tempu. I have read most of his books. There are still kanji and words I don’t know. Studying a language is a lifelong hobby!

How do you study languages?

Heather@ I Talk You Talk Press