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Learning Languages for Life

Job Interview: What are your weaknesses?

The video below shows some bad answers to the question “What are your weaknesses?” What makes the answers bad?

Now watch the same bad answers, but followed by good versions. What language techniques does the interviewee use to sound more positive?

Fill in the gaps below from memory, then listen and check

Psychologically BAD Weakness Psychologically GOOD Weakness
My English is bad / not good.My English is good, but I think it 1) _____ be better.

My English is good, but I think it could be 2) _ _____better

My English is good but it is 3) ___ __ good ___ it _____ be
I always have difficulty talking on the phone in English4)_________ I have a bit of difficulty communicating in English on the phone

, 5)________ if the other person has a very strong accent

I 6)___ always clarify the ideas

It 7)_____ be nice if it ____ a little bit easier
My communication skills are really badMy communication skills, 8)_____ good, could be a bit better I think.

It would be nice if my communication skills were a little bit better.

I think I need to 9)_____ my communication skills a bit 10)_____.
It’s always a problem for me to talk to other team membersI 11) ____ _________ had a problem communicating with a team member,

12)____ it’s something I’ve 13)_____ working _____

It’s something I’m getting better 14) ____

I 15)____ ____ I need to improve it a bit more
I’m not punctualAlthough I’m 16)____ a punctual person, occasionally I 17)____ be a little bit late 18) _____ ___ family commitments or things like bad traffic.

Although there’s 19)____ _____ a problem because of this, I think that it is something that could be improved a little bit.
I’m not patient / I’m really impatientFor me it’s 20)____ ____ important to meet targets and to meet 21)______, and I push myself a lot to achieve these 22) ____.

Occasionally, as a result, I 23)___ be a little bit impatient with colleagues.

24)________ , this is something I’ve been working on, and I’ve improved.

It’s just that I think 25)___ ____ _____ a little bit more improvement.

And then I’ll be quite happy.

Answers below:

Psychologically BAD Weakness Psychologically GOOD Weakness
My English is bad / not good.My English is good, but I think it could be better.

My English is good, but I think it could be a bit better

My English is good but it is not as good as it could be
I always have difficulty talking on the phone in EnglishSometimes I have a bit of difficulty communicating in English on the phone

, particularly if the other person has a very strong accent

I do always clarify the ideas

It would be nice if it was a little bit easier
My communication skills are really badMy communication skills, although good, could be a bit better I think.

It would be nice if my communication skills were a little bit better.

I think I need to hone my communication skills a bit more.
It’s always a problem for me to talk to other team membersI have occasionally had a problem communicating with a team member,

But it’s something I’ve been working on

It’s something I’m getting better at

I just feel I need to improve it a bit more
I’m not punctualAlthough I’m quite a punctual person, occasionally I might be a little bit late because of family commitments or things like bad traffic.

Although there’s never been a problem because of this, I think that it is something that could be improved a little bit.
I’m not patient / I’m really impatientFor me it’s always been important to meet targets and to meet deadlines, and I push myself a lot to achieve these goals.

Occasionally, as a result, I can be a little bit impatient with colleagues.

However, this is something I’ve been working on, and I’ve improved.

It’s just that I think it does need a little bit more improvement.

And then I’ll be quite happy.

TY Python [LISTS]: 5 – Help Uliana improve her adjectives

vocabulary list for the homework task 2

code from video:

from nltk.tokenize import word_tokenize
import nltk

file = open(‘adjectives.txt’).read()
most_common = open(‘most_common.txt’).read()
most_common_final = most_common.split()

final = word_tokenize(file)
is_adjective = lambda pos: pos[:2] == ‘JJ’

adjectives = [word for (word, pos) in nltk.pos_tag(final) if is_adjective(pos)]

l3 = [x for x in adjectives if x not in most_common_final]

print(l3)


Anki “rules”: easy

Anki is great, but two problems are

1 – 248 repetitions for today !@#$%%R@! (= too many repetitions build up)

2 – mm, mm, mm, mm (= people do the cards passively without speaking)

To manage, these problems…

a – Delete, Delete, Delete if…

i – a card is difficult

ii – the idea not clear

iii – the structure is not useful

iv – it is VERY easy. NOTE: even if it is easy passively, is it easy actively (See below)

aim to delete between 20% to 50% of your cards:

This will save you time and effort!

b – regular, it’s every day !!

if you do anki during the day in little bits, it’s easier. Do it when waiting for friends, do it when standing in a line, do it before a meeting starts, do it on the bus

do NOT take a one week break. Take it with you on holiday

c – Active or passive structures?

If you want to learn a word passively (it’s a bit difficult, or it’s not THAT useful etc), then do anki normally

If you want to learn a word actively then there are 4 levels:

—— mechanical levels (1/2)

active level 1 = repeat the answer OUT LOUD

active level 2 = repeat the WHOLE structure the answer is in (without reading)

—– flexible levels (3/4)

active level 3 = change the WHOLE structure so it is true for your life

active level 4 = COMBINE the structure with another structure you did in anki recently

Obviously it takes time and effort to do the “flexible” levels. So, if you’re tired or there are a lot of repetitions or you don’t have an idea, then do “active level 1 / 2”. If you have an idea for the card / you have more energy do active level 3 /4. If you’re on the bus and can’t speak out loud, then do them passively. Don’t forget to delete if necessary 🙂


Business: Motivate employees

Text 1

Below are 5 ways to motivate people in a small business. Read the text, for each point, think of whether this is true only for small business, is true mostly for small business, is true equally for small and large business.

5 Ways to Motivate Small Business Staff (adapted from here )

1. Offer Some Flexibility

If there’s one thing that employees might appreciate more than money, it’s time. With today’s hectic life, more employees than ever are struggling to find the time for family, friends, hobbies, and health.

By offering your employees some flexibility in hours, you’re acknowledging that you know they have a life outside of work. Even if you can’t offer your employees benefits like everyday core hours or work-from-home shifts, you might still be able to work some flexibility into your employees’ schedules. Think about letting employees come in early in exchange for letting them leave early, or even consider rewarding a hard worker with an unexpected paid afternoon off.

2. Recognize Good Performance

Nothing’s more discouraging than working hard on a project, only to have your hard work go unnoticed.

You should provide your employees with recognition for their hard work on a regular basis.  Show him or her your appreciation right away, with personalized gifts and awards, small bonuses, or even just by saying thanks.


3. Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Giving your employees the chance to enhance their skills makes them feel like the company is just as invested in them as they are in it, so it can increase loyalty and motivation. Professional development opportunities also motivate employees to succeed, and give them the tools they need to accomplish more. Knowledgeable, skilled employees are more motivated employees, and they’ll be more valuable employees, too.


4. Foster a Fun Environment

 Your employees spend a good deal of their lives at work, and by making the workplace more fun, you’ll make going to work more enjoyable, which can keep employees motivated and engaged. How can you do that? Workplace parties, bring-your-dog-to-work days, and weekly employee happy hours are some common strategies. Ask your employees for their feedback on what would make the workplace more fun.

5. Practice Effective Communication Strategies

In a small business, employees have the advantage of being able to directly see the impact their contributions have on the company. By communicating openly and effectively with your employees about how the business is doing and how they’ve contributed, you can help your employees feel like a part of the company’s big picture. Take their input seriously, and they’ll feel like a more valued member of the team.

Text 2 – video

Wall Street Journal interviews CEOs of big US companies. Do they mention any of the five pieces of advice above?  What else do they mention?


华为(HuaWei) CFO hauled off Canadian street

Background: A high-level Chinese businesswoman was arrested in Canada on behalf of the US. The arrest came in the middle of a trade-war between the US and China

Text 1 – Video

Before watching the video below, guess the answers to these questions:

How does the Canadian PM emphasize that his government is not connected to the arrest?

What reason do the “laobaixing” (the general public of China) believe is behind the arrest?

A Berlin  based economist says “this struggle between America and China will define the coming decades”. What struggle do you think he is referring to?

Watch the video to see if your guesses are correct:


Text 2

THe article below is about two Canadians who were arrested after the Chinese woman was arrested. It gives a reaction of an American, Mike. What’s your LC for the gaps below? Click on the link here to compare with the actual LC and finish reading the article.

Mike Pompeo says China should free two Canadians held after Huawei executive’s arrest

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has said China should free two Canadian citizens who were 1)______ this week following the arrest in Canada of a senior Huawei executive on a US extradition warrant.Pompeo’s comments were the first by a senior US official on the Canadians’ arrests, which the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said could 2)_______ a growing trade conflict between China and the United States.
“The unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens is 3)__________,” Pompeo told reporters after talks in Washington with Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland. “They ought to be returned … We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly.”
China detained the two – businessman Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) – after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on 1 December.
Canada’s foreign ministry said its ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, was 4) ____________consular access to Kovrig and is 5) for access to Spavor. Trudeau predicted that access would take place “shortly”.
“We are being absolutely clear on standing up for our citizens who have been detained, trying to figure out why, trying to work with China to demonstrate that this not acceptable,” he told City Tv in Toronto.
ICG President Robert Malley also called for Kovrig’s release.
“Michael’s arrest is unjust. He should be freed immediately,” Malley said in a statement.
“Far from being secretive, Michael’s work was open for all to see, Chinese officials first and foremost,” he said. Kovrig did not do anything to 6)
___________China’s national security, either as a diplomat or at the ICG, Malley said.
US prosecutors accuse Meng of misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, putting the banks at risk of 7)_______ US sanctions. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has said she is innocent.
The United States and Canada promised a fair judicial process for Meng.
Foreign ministers and defence chiefs from Canada and the US met in Washington as Ottawa increasingly looked like 8)_______________ damage in a 9)
__________________US-China trade war, with Beijing at the same time working to 10)_____________ trade tensions with Washington.

French Protests

Below are three texts, one of them written, the other two a video:

Text 1

The gapfill (20 gaps) below is from an الجزيرة Al-Jazeera article Fill in the gaps with your linguistic choice range, then click on the link to see the author’s linguistic choice and finish reading the article.

Why are the ‘yellow vests’ protesting in France?

The wave of protests 1)______ through France is not a rejection of green policies. It’s a 2)_____ against the 1 percent.

 For the past three weeks, France has been experiencing one of the most significant socialmobilisations in its recent history, which laid bare the country’ssocial 3)____, anti-elite sentiment,growing inequalities and thirst for social justice.

It all started on November 17 when tens of thousands of people 4)____ to the streets across the country to protest against rising fuel prices. 

The protesters, dubbed “Les gilets jaunes” (the yellow vests) after the high-visibility jackets they adopted as a symbol of their complaint, blocked roundabouts, burned effigies and clashed with the police. They were angry about the almost 20 percent increase in the price of diesel since the start of the year, as well as the planned fuel tax 5)____ President Emmanuel Macron had recently announced.

While Macron said the tax was necessary to “protect the environment” and “combat climate change”, protesters claimed the decision was yet another sign that the “arrogant” and “privileged” president is out of touch with regular folk 6)_______ to make 7)____ meet.

The intensity of the protests quickly forced the government to make a U-turn and first suspend and later permanently shelve its plans for fuel tax increases. However, the protest movement was not only about fuel prices. It 8)_________ wider anger and frustration against the political establishment in general and President Macron in particular. As a result, the government’s decision to abandon fuel tax hikes 9)______ to calm tensions.

The “yellow vests” want further concessions from the government. Their demands include a redistribution of wealth as well as the increase of salaries, pensions, social security payments and the minimum wage. Some say they will not 10)_________ for anything less than the president’s resignation. 

So how did day-to-day frustrations about fuel prices and “green taxes” transform into a nation-wide protest movement attracting hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of weeks?

It all comes down to Macron’s apparent failure to connect with the people, understand their concerns and steer France away from destructive neoliberal policies.

 Misleading the electorate

40-year-old Macron was elected last year on pledges to change the face of French politics, create more jobs and improve lives. 

On the eve of the 2017 presidential election, French voters were tired of career politicians. They wanted a different kind of leader, someone who can understand their 11)_______ social and economic concerns and deliver real, practical solutions.

For the past four decades, French people have been worried about the 12)_____ of social protections in their country. Since Francois Mitterrand’s socialist government controversially decided to 13)________ austerity policies in 1983, successive governments have taken slow but consistent steps to dismantle the French welfare state.

All this gradually accentuated the economic concerns of the French middle and working classes and led them to be more and more suspicious of all mainstream politicians on the right and the left. They came to believe that the political elite protects the interests of the wealthy and does not care about the 14)________ of ordinary citizens.

Successfully diagnosing the public’s frustration with the political class, Macron worked hard to differentiate himself from the establishment in Paris and act as the representative of a “new world order” throughout his election campaign.

He had the youth, the energy, the positive message. He was the leader of a brand-new political party, 15)__________ neither with the right nor the left. He appeared to be carrying no political baggage. Many viewed him as a possible savior and did not hesitate to give him their vote.

Moreover, he was 16)_______ against National Front leader Marine Le Pen. This also made him look like a “progressive saviour”. A significant portion of the French electorate was ready to vote for any moderate candidate who could stop the far right from taking power. So, they voted for Macron, even though many of them did not support his agenda completely or have faith in his ability to respond to their concerns.

As a result, Macron was elected by a 17)______. However, it didn’t take long for his supporters to realise that his “reformist”, “new world” image was nothing more than an illusion.

Macron’s failure to 18)_______ about change should not have surprised anyone. Even though he seemed “young and new”, he was part of the establishment.

He had served as the minister of the economy, industry and digital affairs from 2014 to 2016 under Francois Hollande – he was in charge of implementing the former president’s 19)_______ Labour Law reform, which caused 20)_______ protests across the country. Before that he was a Rothschild investment banker.

Text 2

The article has what could be described as a left-wing view. The video content might be described as right-wing. Watch the video twice. The first time see which ideas in the video are the same as in the article and which are different. The second time: make a note of linguistic choice.

“the straw that broke the camel’s__”


Text 3

Before watching the video about police protests (for more money),  what’s your LC for the missing words:

 The yellow vest protests have been Macron’s ____ challenge yet.

After a series of measures designed to _______ public anger

The yellow vest protests came out of __ ___ .

Frustration had been ______ below the surface

Dealing with the protests and terrorist threats has left the police force_____.

All of that (Macron’s plans) has had a _____ encounter with reality.

We saw the number of protestors ______.

Participation has dropped ___ dramatically in the last week

The basic grievances of the yellow vest protestors have the ___ of the general public.

now watch and compare



 


Speaking GRammar: “Wish + II” to show you’re sad about the present

Do the interactive speaking video below. When the video pauses, choose the correct answer:

 

IELTS Writing part 2 help (general and academic)

IELTS writing part 2 is an essay, the difference between academic and general is the questions in academic are  “more difficult”. But it is a small difference. There are 5 or so main type of essays. In order to learn how to get an IELTS  7/8/9 in the writing, I recommend you

a – read the PDFs linked below

b – watch videos by me on my youtube channel

 

Once you have read the PDFs and watched the video you will know about

  • the types of essays and the differences
  • the structure expected
  • the four criteria the examiner uses to give you a mark
  • how to avoid typical mistakes (in grammar, vocab, orgnaisation and answering the question)
  • how to maximise your mark

 

A – ESSAY TYPES ( you can read in any order, but I recommend following the order given)

firstly read about … topic sentences

then the types…

Advantages and Disadvantages

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Discuss both sides and give your opinion

Two Questions Essay

To what extent do you agree?

B – Watch the videos here (in any order)

 

 

Soft skills (intermediate business)

1 -PRE – READING:

For each of the following soft skills decide

a – why it is important

b – if you are happy with your level

c – if you need to improve it. If you choose ‘c’ think about how you can improve it

 

communication / teamwork / adaptability / problem solving / critical observation / conflict resolution / leadership

 

 

 

2 – READING:

read the article below and see if you agree with “why you need it” / ” why employers look for it” / “how to gain it”

(adapted from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/soft-skills-you-need)

What are soft skills?

Some examples of soft skills include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, and leadership.

Research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers actually care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like reading comprehension and mathematics.

“Soft skills are key to building relationships, gaining visibility, and creating more opportunities for advancement,” says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career-coaching firm TurningPoint.

 

Soft skills for your career

1. Communication

Why you need it: Both written and verbal communication skills  improve your chances of building relationships with co-workers.

Why employers look for it: Workers are more productive when they know how to communicate with their peers, says Robinson.

How to gain it: One way to improve your communication and presentation skills is to join Toastmasters, a national organization that offers public speaking workshops.

2. Teamwork

Why you need it:  Success is the result of many people working toward a common goal.

Why employers look for it: Employers look to team players to help build a friendly office culture, which helps retain employees and, in turn attracts top talent.

How to gain it: Lend a hand when you see a co-worker in need. (“Hey, I know you have a lot on your plate. How can I help?”)

3. Adaptability

Why you need it: Things don’t always go as planned.  “Successful leaders are the ones who know how to be flexible when problems arise,” says Robinson.

Why employers look for it: “The speed of change in any given workplace is so rapid,” says Joel Garfinkle, executive coach and author of Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. Consequently, employers need workers who can adapt well.

How to gain it: Push yourself to be an early adopter of change. “For example, adapting to technology is crucial for people to be seen as someone who  meets new challenges,” says Garfinkle.  Offer to teach your co-workers what you learn.

4. Problem solving

Why you need it: When something goes wrong, you can either complain or take action.

Why employers look for it: Companies rely on problem solvers to deal with unexpected challenges.

How to gain it: “Always approach your boss with a solution, not a problem,” says Robinson.

5. Critical observation

Why you need it: Data doesn’t mean much if you don’t know how to interpret it.  Being a critical observer can help make you a better worker all around.

Why employers look for it: Companies need critical thinkers—people who bring a fresh perspective and offer intuitive solutions and ideas to help the company be better than the competition or improve internal processes.

How to gain it: To be a critical observer, you need to be able to analyze information and put it to use. For example, does your boss actually read the weekly sales reports? What was her reaction to bad news in the staff meeting? What’s the best time of day to approach your manager with a question?

6. Conflict resolution

Why you need it: “Any time you put more than one person into an organization, there is going to be conflict,” says Robinson. “It’s human nature.” Therefore, being able to resolve issues with co-workers will help you maintain relationships with peers and work more effectively.

Why employers want it: Being able to constructively solve disagreements with people shows leadership potential. Someone like this helps to promote a healthy, collaborative workplace.

How to gain it: The best way to resolve disagreements between co-workers is to address issues directly but diplomatically. So, when trying to solve a conflict, let both sides give their opinion and then work together to find a solution.

7. Leadership

Why you need it: Having confidence and a clear vision can help influence your co-workers. Displaying such leadership skills can lead to more opportunities for promotions.

Why employers want it: Bosses and managers are always looking for employees with leadership potential.

How to gain it:  Leadership means inspiring and helping others reach their full potential. One way to do that is to become the internship supervisor, which gives you the opportunity to manage people, learn how to motivate a team, and take on more responsibility.

 

 

 

VIDEO 1

Think about these questions:

Do you have charm? How important is it? How can you develop it?

then watch the video

 

 

VIDEO 2

Pre-watching questions:

Why is communication so important?

Do you communicate well with people?

Do people listen to what you say?

How important are words and actions ?

Now watch the video:

 

 

IELTS Essay – 2 questions – Rubbish

You can learn how to get a 7,8,9 in an IELTS two question essay by going through the steps below. Before doing them, I would advise you read the pdf on how to answer an IELTS two questions essay here.

STEP 1 – analyse the IELTS Two Questions essay task yourself and answer the questions:

What is the general topic? What are the specific details / parts of the topic and two questions? What is your answer?

Nowadays we are producing more and more rubbish. Why do you think this is happening?  What can governments do to help reduce the amount of rubbish?

(sent by a student, source unknown, perhaps Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests)

2 – watch the video where an IELTS examiner examines it

3 – plan the ideas  and paragraph structure and / or write your answer.

4 – watch the video analysis of an example answer

 

5 – read through the checklist below

IELTS two questions essay – Rubbish – checklist

6 – use the checklist for your writing (if you did it)

7 – watch a full analysis of another IELTS two questions essay here

 

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