[Easy English Blog]Driving in Japan

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I live in a rural area of Japan, so I need a car to get around. I used a bicycle for a year before I bought my first car. I enjoyed riding my bicycle, but it was hard in winter because we get a lot of snow here. Also, I couldn’t go out of town so easily, because there weren’t many buses or trains. (There still aren’t!)

So, I got a car. I had to get my British licence translated into Japanese, but I think that was all. I didn’t have to take a test. I got my Japanese licence 17 years ago, so maybe the rules have changed now. Driving in Japan is easy for me, because we drive on the left, just like in the UK. The one difference that surprised me was that I had to get snow tires for winter. In the area of the UK where I am from, we used the same tires in winter, even when it was snowy and icy.

When I got my first car in Japan, I started to drive everywhere. I drove to work, the supermarket, my friends’ houses…I’m sure I put on weight! I also drove out to the villages and towns near my city. I also drove to the mountains and the sea. Some of these places are very difficult to get to without a car. I don’t have many problems driving to these places. Even in the countryside, in the small villages and towns, the roads are usually well-maintained.

Autumn is my favourite season. So, every autumn, I drive into the mountains to see the autumn leaves. I hope I have time to go this year. If I do, I’ll take some photographs for this blog. I really don’t like driving in winter though. The main roads are usually fine, but the smaller roads near my house are so icy and slippery. Even with snow tires, my car slides around! The snow was bad early this year. I had to wake up earlier than usual to dig my car out of the snow. But it is better than having no car. So I shouldn’t complain!

[Easy English Blog] Friends in different seasons

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I have friends who live in Australia and New Zealand. We often talk on Skype. Our conversations usually start with the weather. I spoke to my friend in New Zealand today. It is autumn in Japan, but it is spring in New Zealand.

I told her that it was getting cooler here, and she told me that it was getting warmer there. It’s interesting when we speak in winter or summer. When it’s winter here, I have the heater on, and I wear thick sweaters, while she has her windows open and wears a T-shirt!

It’s interesting to hear my friends’ stories about Christmas. I associate Christmas with snow, warm drinks, and hot fires. My friends in the Southern Hemisphere associate Christmas with the beach, or the swimming pool and cold drinks.

I’d like to visit my friends one day. I’d like to go during summertime in Japan. I don’t like the heat, so it will be good to get away from the heat and humidity. It will also be winter in New Zealand and Australia, which means it will be cool, and there won’t be so many insects! I’m really scared of insects. My friend in Australia always tells me stories about the insects in his garden. I don’t want to see them!

[Easy English Blog] Starting I Talk You Talk Press

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I started I Talk You Talk Press five years ago with two friends. We have all taught English for many years in Japan. We always told our students to read English, because we believe reading is a very important part of English learning. Some of our students listened to our advice and read graded readers. Other students didn’t. They said they didn’t have time, or graded readers were too difficult.

So, we started writing original stories for those students. We knew our students’ English levels, so we wrote stories they could understand. The students were happy that we wrote stories for them. Sometimes, they recommended the stories to other students too. We were also happy that our students enjoyed our stories and were reading in English.

One day, we thought, “if our students enjoy our stories, maybe other English learners will enjoy our stories too.” So we decided to publish our stories as graded readers. Before we started, we spend a year researching publishing and graded reader levels. Then, we started publishing our stories in 2013. We published them on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Apple. Now, people all over the world are reading our stories. This makes us very happy. Our students are also very happy. We ask them what kind of stories they want to read, and they give us feedback about our stories. They feel special, because we write the stories for them!

Now, I Talk You Talk Press has 60 graded readers. We plan to publish a new one every month. This keeps up busy, but we enjoy it. 🙂

Heather@ I Talk You Talk Press

Gabble

Do you know the English verb “to gabble“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Terry: Did you understand George’s presentation?

David: No. He was so nervous, he was gabbling. I couldn’t understand anything he said!

Does it mean:

a) speak slowly

b) speak clearly

c) speak quickly and not clearly

d) speak quickly and loudly

The answer is below!↓

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Answer: c) speak quickly and not clearly

[Easy English Blog]Exercising at work

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I like sports and exercise, but recently, I haven’t been making the time to exercise. At first, I thought I had no time to exercise, but now I realise this is an excuse. I can make time.

I sit at a desk for most of the day. This is not healthy. When I’m working, I concentrate, and I forget to take breaks. Sometimes, I don’t move for three or four hours. So, I decided to change. I have a set of weights next to my desk. Every hour, I stop working, and take a break. I use the weights, or I stretch. I do this for about 5 minutes. It is a short time, but if I work for 9 hours, I exercise for 45 minutes a day.

It also helps me to work better. After taking a break, I feel refreshed. I am going to try to make this routine a habit. Sometimes, when I am concentrating, I forget to stop and take a break, so perhaps I should set an alarm. I can use the timer on my phone to make sure I do 5 minutes.

Now I wonder, if I can make time to exercise, what else can I make time to do?

[Easy English Blog]Soup season

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I love soup, especially warm soup on a cold evening. Now that the nights are getting cooler, I make soup quite often. My favourite kinds of soup are sweet potato, mushroom and onion; tomato, onion, spinach and mushroom; and carrot, onion and mushroom. As you can see, I like mushrooms!

It only takes me five minutes to make the soup. That’s because I don’t actually make it. I chop the vegetables, put them in my soup maker and switch it on! I wait 20 minutes, and then I have smooth and hot soup!

I bought my soup maker about 4 years ago, and it is the best kitchen item I have ever bought. It was cheap too, only about 4,000 yen. I can also make smoothies in the soup maker, which is great for breakfast.

This season I’m going to try experimenting with different flavours of soup. I wonder what I will try next…something with mushrooms in it, I’m sure! 🙂

 

I’m famished!

Do you know the English expression “to be famished“? Read the conversation below. Can you guess the meaning?

Eri: I’m famished! I haven’t eaten since 6am this morning.

Fiona: Same here. Let’s take a break and get something to eat.

Does it mean:

a) to be full

b) to be tired

c) to feel dizzy

d) to be very hungry

The answer is below! ↓

 

Answer: d) to be very hungry