One hundred and eight: Local and International News
Steve: Hi Jill.
Jill: Hi Steve.
Steve: You know what I thought we'd do today?
Because we've received some requests, which we really like, we're going to try to accommodate all the requests. So for the first few minutes we will talk about some local events, which people seem to like or some political events. We won't get into too much detail. In the second half we'll talk about some of the language questions that we've received.
Steve: The first thing is we've had snow here for the last two days. Vancouver doesn't normally get snow or not very often. How did you cope with the snow?
Jill: It wasn't such a big problem for me because I live right by the water, so at sea level, so where I live, we didn't have much. We did definitely have some, but I live on a main road as well, so it's plowed and cleared. You know, I had to drive slower and take it easy, but it wasn't too bad. I think in some of the higher elevations where Kate lives – another lady at the office here – I think they got about a foot of snow where she lives.
Steve: Well I woke up and, of course, there was all this snow on the ground. I checked my email, which I do first thing in the morning and I saw that two of our employees here – KP Wood employees not LingQ – said they weren't coming in because of the snow. Now in the rest of Canada in cities like Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal…
Jill: …Toronto, anywhere really…
Steve: …Ottawa, Halifax the snow is just a part of winter.
Jill: For six months.
Steve: Well, six months is a bit long, but certainly from end of November early December through to March.
Jill: Oh, a lot of them have snow in October.
Steve: October, yeah and so they have the equipment; they have the snowplows. The snowplows are working and everyone has snow tires and so it's not an issue.
Jill: And I think, too, the snow is different. Here it's not very much colder than zero degrees, so our snow is very wet, which is heavy and it grabs your tires. In a lot of these other places it's quite a bit drier.
Steve: Right, but it's slippery when it's wet. It's mushy, so you have no traction.
Steve: So there are always accidents and very often school is closed when we have a big snowfall. Was school closed this time?
Jill: A lot were, not all, but a lot were. It was funny to me though because I remember other times where we've actually had more snow and school wasn't closed and this time most schools were closed. I know that people in other parts of Canada do laugh because with the amount of snow we got they would never ever close schools and people would still go to work. But, yeah, it was quite the thing here. There were accidents all over the place when I listened to the radio coming into work. It was five minutes worth of accidents that they were listing; it was unbelievable. Like you said, I think a lot of people don't have snow tires. I don't because it's a lot of money to spend on tires that you don't need very often.
Steve: And if you forget to take your snow tires off and you run through the summer with your snow tires on you're just going to ruin your snow tires.
Steve: But now we're back to normal here. It's warmer. It's three or four or five degrees above zero centigrade, whatever that is Fahrenheit.
Jill: Six today it's supposed to get to.
Steve: Six today? And it's been raining and so a lot of the snow has melted. We're back to normal.
Steve: So that's one news item; that's a local news item. Another item, which is local Canadian news and yet international news at the same time, has to do with Afghanistan. Canada has troops in Afghanistan that are located in the most dangerous part, which is Kandahar in the southeast, I guess, near Pakistan. There is a lot of discussion in Canada as to whether our troops should be there. There have been something like 70 Canadian soldiers killed. There are other countries, NATO countries, and other countries that have troops in Afghanistan. Most of them are not in as dangerous an area as the location where the Canadian forces are. It's a center of Taliban activity. In the other areas it's not so dangerous because the locals are busy growing poppies for the heroin trade. But, this is the issue and there was a Canadian government sort of committee struck led by an opposition politician. The liberals are in opposition the conservatives are in power. He recommended that we should stay there only if other NATO countries provide more troops and that the Canadians shouldn't be the only ones…
Steve: No, they're not the only ones because other people are there too, but it's a very, very difficult issue, you know.
Jill: Yeah, I don't know. I don't even really know where I stand on the issue. There's part of me that thinks yeah, we shouldn't be there and it's somebody else's country and they should run it the way they run it and it's not our concern. Then there's the other part of me that, you know, feels how can you allow that kind of regime to carry on to continue and all of the atrocities that happen, especially how women are treated there. But the, I guess, those things are happening in lots of other countries as well.
Steve: Well that's true and if I had to say that my kids were, you know, of that age…mind you in Canada we have a professional Army, so the soldiers that's their job. They're not conscripted; they're not forced to go there that's their job. And for many men or women the excitement of going there is what attracts them into the Army.
Jill: Of course.
Steve: Actually, the recruitment went up because they had something that they felt was worthwhile and exciting to do. But, still, would I like to have my son or daughter in Afghanistan running the risk of being shot for the sake of, presumably, helping the Afghans?
Jill: No or blown up.
Steve: But then you could say how would you like your son or daughter to be a policeman or a policewoman where they are also, as we say, in harms way?
Jill: Or at risk.
Steve: So it's a very difficult issue. When you read stories that under the Taliban that girls can't go to school, they're kept inside and they have very barbaric, you know, this extreme Sharia law where people get their hands cut off for picking their nose of whatever; I don't know what it is.
Steve: I mean that's pretty bad but, ultimately, I believe that really what matters is are they a threat to us? And that's a very difficult discussion. I don't think Canadians…I'm a little selfish because there's lots of injustice around the world…
Jill: …and we can't be involved in solving all of the world's problems.
Steve: Exactly. Yet, I have a lot of respect for the people who are willing to go there and put their lives at risk and I believe that what they are trying to do is a good thing.
Jill: Yeah, I agree.
Steve: Because, you know, we accept this government. I know nothing about Mr. Karzai, but we accept that that represents an attempt at responsible government in Afghanistan. If we help him get his government established, if we help them build schools and if we create sufficient security so that they can build some infrastructure I mean, yeah, that's a good thing. We're helping in other countries; I don't know.
Jill: I don't know either.
Steve: I wouldn't want to go there. That's all I can say.
Jill: I wouldn't want to be there and I wouldn't a loved one to be there.
Steve: No thank you. Now, we've hit two news items there, now we're going to talk a little bit about language. And you had an email from whom?
Jill: Actually not an email, but a Forum post; posted on our EnglishLingQ Forum from Katrin. I feel like she's from Russian.
Jill: Estonia, that's right; Katrin from Estonia. She's wondering about some adverbs. I think they're adverbs of time, basically, so words like “sometimes”, “still”, “often” and where they go in a sentence. Those words can often go two or three different places in a sentence and so she was a bit confused. For example, she said there's a sentence and which is correct she asked. “I sometimes eat tomatoes” or “sometimes I eat tomatoes.”
Steve: Or “I eat tomatoes sometimes.”
Jill: Or I eat tomatoes sometimes and they're all correct. They're all perfectly acceptable.
Steve: You know these differences, I am sure there are rules. I'm sure the rules are just as helpful as the ones that I read about Russian where if it's in this case, but in some other case and then there's another version of it and maybe this and maybe that. I have trouble remembering those rules. I think these are things you have to get a feel for. I think “I sometimes eat tomatoes”, normally, the adverb actually comes afterwards. “I run fast”; “I run fast.”
Jill: Yeah, so there are so many different types of adverts. This is the thing is that these specific ones of time…
Steve: …normally come before, I guess.
Jill: Well, you can place them wherever, basically, and it's fine. Not wherever, but you know we just gave an example of three different ways to say the same thing.
Jill: But then other adverbs, typically ones that end in ly or other words, there is a very specific place where they have to go.
Steve: Well you'd studied the TESL, so you know these things.
Jill: I don't know, I think I remember this from my drill sergeant grade 12 English teacher.
What is the rule if they are an ly adverb? It comes afterwards.
Jill: I can't remember the rule.
Steve: He said angrily.
Steve: Go away, he said angrily.
Jill: Yeah, right.
Steve: Why should I, she said pleadingly.
Steve: Because I don't like you, he said emphatically.
Jill: Right, so there you go. So I think, again, yeah, you have to get used to these words.
Steve: Well that's why we deliberately designed LingQ so that you can save a word. We say this all the time. Don't just save words that you don't understand, save words that you're not confident using.
Steve: You'll immediately, with a word like “sometimes”, “often” or “quickly” or whatever, you'll find lots of examples of these words in use. Look over these examples. Become a little sensitive now to these words. So when you're reading and listening notice them a little bit and pretty soon you'll get a feel for how they're used.
Jill: Yeah, exactly. If you have a lot of…I mean a word like often or sometimes is going to appear in many different content items on LingQ. You're going to see a lot of examples.
Steve: Many, many, many.
Jill: And recognize that sometimes the word has come before, sometimes it comes later in the sentence, at the end of the sentence, at the very beginning of the sentence and it's all fine.
Steve: See, I think too, it's very important for people to become independent learners. We can give you sort of a formula and then you think you've learned something, but you've got to start to identify it. Normally, “often” will come before. I often go, I often plan, I often sing, I often drink, whatever.
Jill: But I would say, often.
Steve: I think when we put it at the end there's more emphasis.
Jill: Yeah, perhaps.
Steve: I drink very often.
Jill: I would start a sentence with often, too.
Steve: That's true.
Jill: Often I go swimming. I go swimming often.
Steve: I know.
Jill: And so it's all correct.
Steve: You know what I often notice? I often notice that you say often quite often. So there you go, people even pronounce things differently.
Jill: Yes, that's right.
Steve: So, yeah. What else was there on the list?
Jill: Then there's Makiko from Japan was asking about the words “until”, “before” and “by”; all very different words, of course.
Steve: I know.
I mean there again its usage. And particularly people who speak German or French if they just translate the word the usage is different. So, “until”, I mean we could give a translation, but that may not really even help. I just think that it is better if people save these words. “I haven't done it yet.” So, “until I do something” or “before I do something” kind of has the same meaning. “I will not yet have done it before I do it.” I don't know. I just think save them. The same with the other one that Katrin had, which was this business of “even”, “even though”, both are there; both can be used.
Jill: And they're two different words.
Steve: Even if.
Jill: Save them and…
Steve: Save “even”, “even if” and “even though”. And some people are going to prefer certain expressions over others. It's the same with this conditional that she mentions: “will”, “would”, “if”. I mean conditional is “if”. That's the condition “if”.
Jill: If I did this then this would happen.
Steve: If I do this then this will happen, we tend to say, right? If I did this then I would. So the “would” is kind of a past of “will”. If I had done this then I would have blah, blah, blah.
Steve: Okay? And then there's that “if I were” business, which very often people say “if I was.” Here again, save the word “if”, save “would”, save these and see what happens and see if you can find a pattern. I mean I just think that's more useful than, you know.
Jill: I was going to say, just in my own studies with French on LingQ, I can read a lot of the content in there and not find one word that I don't know. I read it and I understand everything I'm reading, but I couldn't write that well and I couldn't speak that well. And it's because…I recognize all those words, they're in my brain somewhere, I know what they all mean, but I still have problems with maybe the verb tense or using the word correctly. And so, yeah, I find just seeing it in different situations and reading it over and over and listening to it over and over…
Steve: And, as you say, using it.
Jill: Using it, yeah.
Steve: That was the whole idea behind our Priority Link concept. If you save a word like “sometimes” that's a high priority word.
Steve: “Often”, “will”, “would”, “if”, those are all very high priority words. If you save them they will be on your Priority Link list. When you go to the Write Section there will be 25 words there that are your Priority Links. Of the words that you have saved these are the highest priority words; these are the highest frequency words.
Steve: You've got to know these words. These are more important words to learn…
Jill: …than your other words.
Steve: Because they are key to being able to express yourself. You've got those 25 Priority Links on your writing page, now write using them.
Jill: That's right.
Steve: And just write and don't get writer's block. Don't try and make it perfect, just write as if you would speak and then send it in and see what happens.
Jill: Study your corrections when you get them back. Study them on the system in Workdesk.
Steve: I mean that's what the Write Section is for. I don't understand people who don't write. Most people who are studying English, let's say, they're not in a situation where they can speak English all day long. When you write it's an excellent way of expressing yourself because you have a record now of what you're saying. You have like a sample. We have a random sample of how you express yourself. Send that in, get it corrected and then you'll see where the problems are.
Steve: And then you import it and you study it. A lot of things have to do with high priority words that people don't quite know how to use.
Jill: Exactly and they don't save them because they recognize those words and they understand them in the context of what they're reading, but they don't know how to use them properly.
Steve: Exactly. I think that is a faster path to getting mastery over these words then a lot of rules that are rational, theoretical, logical. And maybe they help and maybe we should give more of that kind of explanation, but you can also find those in a book.
Steve: So everyone, sure, have a little grammar book handy.
Jill: And you can find them online too. You can type these words in, yeah.
Steve: There are lots of these little rules. Fine, go and get them. That's not going to get you there. What you want to use LingQ for is to train yourself in the use of these words. We've covered a lot of ground.
Jill: I think so.
Steve: Alright then.
Jill: See you next time.
Steve: Yeah. And as long as the snow stays away our roads will be bare.
Jill: That's right.