[Easy English Blog] Spring is here!

Spring is here! The other day, it was very sunny and warm, so I went for a run along the lake. The sky and water were deep blue. There was a gentle, slightly chilly breeze, but I warmed up as I ran. It was late afternoon and it was a weekday, so there were no other runners about. I ran 10km. I felt tired, but happy when I finished. Running is good for our body and mind. I try to go out running two or three times a week. It depends how busy I am at work. I’d like to go out more often, but I don’t have time. Some of my friends go running every morning at around 5 or 6am. I study languages from 6am to 8am, and then do some exercise at home. When the weather gets nicer, I might start going running in the morning. The lake at sunrise is beautiful.

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Plum blossom viewing

A few weeks ago, I went plum blossom viewing. There were only a few trees in bloom. Last weekend, I went plum blossom viewing again. The weather was really nice, and the sky was blue. It was warm. I could feel spring in the air. There were not many people in the park. Maybe people are staying away because of Covid. After plum blossom viewing, I walked through the forest. It was nice in the early morning, and I didn’t see any other people. Here are some photographs from my day.

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Early morning run

The weather was nice and spring-like a few days ago, so I got up early and went for a run. I usually run along the lake, but this time, I went running around the castle.

The castle is one of Japan’s few remaining original castles. It was built in 1607. It is a National Treasure. There were no people around, because it was early, and also because of Covid. There are not so many tourists in my city these days.

The air was fresh and cold, but it was sunny. The trees and ground were nice and green. A few weeks ago, everything was covered with snow.

I’m looking forward to spring. I usually go running at sunset, but I think I’ll go out running in the morning more often. The city looks beautiful in the morning light.

By Heather @ I Talk you Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] Plum blossoms

The plum blossoms are starting to bloom in my city. Here is a famous Japanese poem about the beautiful plum blossom!

東風 吹かば 匂ひをこせよ 梅の花 主なしとて 春な忘れそ

When the east wind blows

let it send your fragrance,

oh plum blossoms;

although your master is gone,

do not forget the spring.”

Sugawara no Michizane

[Easy English Blog] COVID19

How is the COVID19 situation in your town or city? Here, in rural Japan, it is not so bad. We have had about 200 cases in total in our city. Tokyo has had a lot of cases, but here, there are few people, so the numbers are not very high.

Even so, we take precautions when we go out. We wear masks, and disinfect our hands when we go into shops or other places. There is disinfectant at the entrance of most public places.

Some countries and cities have had a “lockdown”, and people’s movements are restricted. We haven’t had a lockdown in our city. People are living their lives as normal. I went to a cafe for lunch yesterday, and it was full. Some people are avoiding going out at night though. I haven’t been out at night for a long time. We have also been told not to make unnecessary trips to other prefectures. I am looking forward to the day when the world gets back to normal.

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Easy English Blog] New Year resolutions

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Have you made any New Year resolutions? Many people make resolutions at this time of the year. Some common resolutions are “I will exercise more”, “I will eat healthy food”, “I will study more”.

I make resolutions every year, but I don’t keep them for long! I’m going to try hard this time though. My New Year resolutions are “study French and Chinese more”, “take the French and Chinese tests”, “run a full marathon”, “write more graded readers”. I also want to eat less chocolate, but that might be difficult for me…

How about you? What are your New Year resolutions?

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press – Easy English Reading

[Easy English Blog] TV appearance

Last week, I was on TV. I was on NHK, the national broadcaster in Japan. The interview was about my book which won the 2020 Language Learner Literature Award.

The show was live, so I was quite nervous! Also, the interview was in Japanese. When the show finished, many people sent me messages to say that they had seen me on TV.

I was nervous about doing the interview, but actually, I enjoyed it. It was a good experience. It was my first time in a TV studio. It was interesting to see the staff working and to watch the announcers. I hope I have the chance to experience it again!

By Heather @ I Talk You Talk Press

[Short Story with Audio] The Dinner Party

This is a short story for learners of English from I Talk You Talk Press. You can read and listen at the same time, or you can try shadowing. We hope you enjoy the story!

Maggie and Dion got married a few months ago. They moved to a new town because Dion got a good job with a software company. Maggie and Dion live in a small apartment on the top floor of an apartment

Maggie hasn’t finished her degree yet. She is studying by distance learning. She doesn’t know anyone in the town. Dion is out at work every day, so Maggie often feels lonely.

One Friday morning, Dion is late for work. He eats some toast quickly and drinks half a cup of coffee. He kisses Maggie goodbye. He picks up his bag and hurries to the door. Then he stops.

“I forgot to tell you. I will be home at 6:30. Pam and Brian are coming with me. They are coming for dinner. Have a good day!”

Maggie runs to the open door. Dion is still talking as he runs down the stairs, but Maggie can’t hear what he is saying.

She closes the door and goes back inside.

A dinner party! This is exciting. Pam and Brian will be our first visitors. But I am a terrible cook! What can I make for dinner? I must think of a menu.

Dion is a very good cook. He makes the evening meal every night. Maggie usually buys something from the convenience store for her lunch, or makes herself a sandwich. But Dion will have no time tonight to cook for their visitors.

I will have to make something, thinks Maggie. I will text my mother and ask for advice.

She soon gets an answer from her mother. ‘Maggie! You can’t cook, so please make something simple. How about a roast chicken? You can cook some potatoes in the oven with the chicken and make a salad. Make an apple pie. Sorry I can’t help you any more. I am going to an all-day yoga retreat. Good luck.’

Maggie looks on the Internet. She finds many recipes for roasting a chicken. It doesn’t seem difficult. She reads how hot the oven must be and how long to cook the chicken. I can do this, she thinks. And maybe I can buy an apple pie from the bakery.

Maggie makes a list and goes to the supermarket. She makes a timetable, so she knows what time to start cooking the chicken.

She cleans the apartment. She prepares everything for the salad. She puts flowers from the supermarket in vases. She sets the table. I can use all the beautiful gifts we were given as wedding presents. The table will look beautiful.

Maggie feels very pleased. The dinner party will be a great success. This is not so difficult.

It is late in the afternoon when Maggie reads her timetable. 4:30. Time to put the chicken in the oven. Then I will prepare the potatoes and put them in the oven with the chicken.

Maggie follows the recipe from the Internet carefully. She does everything the recipe says. She sets the temperature for the oven and puts the chicken in. She prepares the potatoes and puts them in the oven too.

Everything is done and Maggie can relax. I have an assignment due on Monday. I haven’t done any work all day. I must do some work now.

She sets the alarm on her phone for 6:00 pm and starts working.

When the alarm goes off, she goes to the kitchen. That’s strange, she thinks. I can’t smell anything. When Dion cooks chicken, there is always a delicious smell. It makes me feel hungry. Maybe I should check.

Maggie takes the chicken and potatoes out of the oven. The chicken is white and cold. The potatoes are raw. Oh, no! The oven is broken! I only have snacks, salad and apple pie!

Dion comes home. He is very cheerful. “We left work early. Pam and Brian are parking their cars. They’ll be here in a few minutes.”

He looks at Maggie. She has tears running down her face.

“Oh, Dion! The oven is broken. We have no food to give them!”

“You cooked dinner? But……”

He looks at the chicken and potatoes on the counter. He goes to the oven and opens the door. He puts his hand inside. The oven is cold. He looks at the oven controls.

He hugs Maggie. “Did you look at a recipe?”

“Yes. I wrote everything down. The time. The temperature, everything!”

Dion laughs. “Quickly. Put the chicken and potatoes in the refrigerator. We’ll eat them tomorrow. I told you this morning that we would buy pizzas on the way home. Brian is bringing them now.”

“Oh,” says Maggie. “I know you said something, but I didn’t hear.”

Brian and Pam are at the door. They have the pizzas. They have wine.

It is a great dinner party. Maggie’s salad is good. Everyone likes the apple pie.

When Pam and Brian leave, Maggie says to Dion. “We must call the repairman tomorrow. The oven is broken.”

Dion laughs and hugs Maggie. “Mmm. The oven is not broken. You set the temperature. You did everything right, but you didn’t turn the oven on!”

“Oh,” said Maggie. “The recipe didn’t say anything about turning the oven on!”

By I Talk You Talk Press – Easy English Reading

[Short Story with Audio] Grandparent’s Day

This is a short story for learners of English from I Talk You Talk Press. You can read and listen at the same time, or you can try shadowing. We hope you enjoy the story!

After Walter Bergen’s wife died, he was very sad. He was lonely. He didn’t care about anything. He didn’t clean his house. He didn’t cook meals. He ate TV dinners and toast. He didn’t wash his clothes. He didn’t shave, or go to the hairdresser. His daughter, Melanie, was very worried about him. She drove to his house and said, “Dad! This is no good! You can’t stay here. Come and live in our house.”

“I don’t want to live in your house,” said Walter. “I am OK. Go away!”

Melanie was worried, but her father was very angry, so she went away.

One day, a few weeks later, Walter walked to the supermarket. He bought TV dinners and bread. He walked out of the supermarket. He walked across the road. He didn’t look to the left or the right. A car hit him. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital.  Melanie came to the hospital. “Dad!” she shouted. “You will not live alone. You will come to our house.”

Walter went to Melanie’s house. Melanie’s husband’s name was Roger. He was not happy. “Your father is dirty.  He is always angry. Why is he living in our house?”

“He is my father,” said Melanie. “He is old. He is unhappy. He must stay here.”

“I understand,” said Roger.

Melanie and Roger’s daughter was called Rosa. She was nine years old. One night while they were eating dinner, Melanie said, “Tomorrow, Rosa’s school has Grandparent’s Day.”

“What is Grandparent’s Day?” asked Walter.

“The children’s grandparents go to the school. They see what the children do at school. The children sing, and the grandparents play games with them. It is very nice,” said Melanie.

“I am Rosa’s grandfather,” said Walter. “I will go to Grandparent’s Day.

Rosa jumped up. She ran away from the table. She went to her bedroom.

Later, Walter was going to bed. He walked past Rosa’s bedroom. She was crying. Walter heard Roger’s voice. “Rosa,” he said. “Stop crying.”

“No!” shouted Rosa. “My grandfather is dirty. He smells bad. He doesn’t clean his clothes. He is always angry. I don’t want him to come to my school. The other children will laugh at me!”

“Rosa!” said Roger. “Many children have no grandparents. You are lucky. You have a grandfather. If Walter wants to come to your school, it is a good thing.”

Walter went to his bedroom.

The next morning, Rosa did not want to go to school. “My grandfather is not nice. I don’t want him to come to my school.”

“You will go to school,” said Melanie.

The grandparents came to Rosa’s school at 1:00 pm.

The students went to the school hall. All the children ran to find their grandparents. Rosa waited by the door. She looked all around the school hall, but she couldn’t see her grandfather. Where is he? she thought.  Maybe he didn’t come.

There was one man who was alone. He was wearing a suit and tie. His shoes were very shiny. He looked very smart. I wish that man was my grandfather, thought Rosa. He looks like a nice man.

The man turned towards Rosa. “Rosa!” he shouted.

Rosa could not believe it. It was her grandfather, but he looked like a new man. Rosa ran to Walter and hugged him.

I’m pleased I heard Rosa talking to her father last night, thought Walter. It made me feel bad when I heard what Rosa said. But I understand. I will be a better person in the future.

By I Talk You Talk Press – Easy English Reading

[Short Story with Audio] The New Neighbours

This is a short story for learners of English from I Talk You Talk Press. You can read and listen at the same time, or you can try shadowing. We hope you enjoy the story!

THE NEW NEIGHBOURS

Molly lives in a small house in a quiet street.  She bought her house 20 years ago when it was new. Jim and Iris Waterson bought the house next to Molly’s at the same time. They were good friends and good neighbours for 20 years, but now the Waterson’s townhouse was empty. Jim and Iris have moved to Florida to live near their daughter and grandchildren.

I hope my new neighbours are as nice as Jim and Iris, thought Molly. I will be very upset if some young people buy the house. They will be noisy. They might have children. They might have pets.

A few days later a moving truck parked outside the house next door. Molly stood at the window of her living room and watched.

She saw sofas, armchairs, tables, chairs and beds go into the house. She saw the moving men carry many boxes into the house.  Then she saw a little bicycle. It was pink. A man carried it to the garden behind the house.

Oh no! she thought. A child!

Next the man carried a red bicycle into the garden. It was bigger than the pink bicycle, but it was too small for an adult. Another child! Shouting! Screaming! I don’t want to live next door to children.

Molly looked at her watch. It was time to go to the community centre. Every Friday, there was a concert at the community centre. Gustav Baer played the piano. He played beautiful classical music. He was a very good pianist. When he was younger, he was very famous. He gave concerts all over the world. Now he was retired, but he still liked to play the piano. So he gave free concerts at hospitals and retirement homes and community centres.

Molly put on her coat. She took her bag and went out of her house. She locked the door and hurried down the street. The men were still taking boxes and furniture out of the truck.

I don’t know if I will enjoy the concert today, thought Molly. I am so unhappy. I love my house. I love my quiet street. But now there will be noisy children. Everything will change.

Molly was very surprised when she arrived at the community centre. Gustav Baer was not there. “Mr Baer cannot come today,” the manager of the community centre said to everyone. “He is too busy. He will come next week. Mr Baer’s friend has come. He plays the guitar and he sings. Please enjoy the concert.”

The concert was very nice but Molly thought Mr Baer’s piano playing was better. After the concert she went home. The trucks had gone and it was very quiet.

Before Molly went to bed, she went outside to put some garbage in the garbage bin. It was very dark. There were lights on in the house next door. Molly could hear a piano. The music sounded beautiful. She walked over the fence and looked at the house next door. The lights were on in the house and she could see inside. I guess they have not had time to hang curtains yet, she thought.

She could see many boxes on the floor of the living room. She could see a grand piano, but she could not see who was playing it.

The next day, someone rang the doorbell and Molly went to answer it. She was very surprised. Gustav Baer was there.

“Good morning,” he said. “I am your new neighbour.”

“You!” said Molly. “I thought it was a family with children! I saw the bicycles. A pink one and a red one!”

“Oh,” said Mr Baer. “They are my grandchildren’s bicycles. Sometimes they come to visit on Sundays. It is nice for them to have something to do at my house. If they have nothing to do, they get bored and very noisy. Most of the time, there will only be me living there. I’m sorry. It will be very quiet. I think maybe you like to have children and pets next door.”

“Oh, no. No,” said Molly. “Please come in and have a cup of tea! I saw you have no curtains yet. Maybe I can help you. I want you to be happy in your new home.”

By I Talk You Talk Press – Easy English Reading