New Year’s celebration around the world

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/general-english/magazine-zone/new-year-celebrations?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=english-adults-leweb-global-global-2022-01-le-newsletter

New year, old celebrations

There have been celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year for thousands of years. Sometimes these were simply an opportunity for people to eat, drink and have fun, but in some places the festivities were connected to the land or astronomical events. For example, in Egypt the beginning of the year coincided with when the River Nile flooded, and this normally happened when the star Sirius rose. The Persians and Phoenicians started their new year at the spring equinox (this is around 20 March when the Sun shines more or less directly on the equator and the length of the night and the day are almost the same).

The oldest celebration

The city of Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia was where the first New Year’s celebrations were recorded about 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians held their celebrations on the first new moon after the spring equinox and called this festival Akitu (which comes from the word the Sumerians used for barley). Barley was cut in Mesopotamia in the spring, and during Akitu there was a different ritual on each of the 11 days that the celebration lasted. Statues of the gods were carried through the streets of the city, and in this way the Babylonians believed that their world had been cleaned to prepare for the new year and a new spring.

Modern celebrations

In many cities all over the world, spectacular fireworks displays take place as soon as the clock passes midnight on 31 December. In recent years, Sydney in Australia has been the host to one of the first of these celebrations as New Year arrives there before most other major international cities. The display takes place in Sydney Harbour, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge making it a stunning setting. Fireworks light up the skies in hundreds of cities as 12 midnight strikes around the globe.

Traditions that live on

There are a number of strange and interesting New Year’s traditions around the world. In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay and ‘first footing’ remains a popular custom with people visiting friends’ and neighbours’ houses just after midnight. The first person who visits your house should bring a gift as this will mean good luck. In Spain, it is the custom to eat 12 grapes as the bells sound for midnight on 31 December. One grape is eaten at each sound of the bell and each grape is supposed to bring good luck for each month of the year ahead. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and some other Central and South American countries, people wear special underwear of different colours on New Year’s Eve. Red is supposed to be good for bringing love in the new year, while yellow is supposed to bring money.

Out with the old, in with the new

The new year is a perfect time to make a change for the better. The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions is more common in the western hemisphere but also exists in the eastern hemisphere. This tradition involves a person making a commitment to change an unwanted habit or behaviour or setting a personal objective. Typical New Year’s resolutions might be to give up smoking, eat healthier food, do more exercise, become more organised or laugh more – but really, a New Year’s resolution can be almost anything. However, research suggests that many New Year’s resolutions fail. Being realistic about the objectives you set and not making too many New Year’s resolutions might help you to achieve success

Teaching Techniques

Here follow some ideas to help ELT teachers to improve their teaching skills

  1. Asking questions
    Asking targeted questions can help learners to pinpoint meaning. It’s often a good idea to start with closed questions, which offer a choice, before moving onto more open questions. For example, if you want to check the meaning of ‘I lived in Delhi’ you could ask:
    * Am I talking about the past, the present or the future? (the past) closed question * Do I live in Delhi now? (no) closed question * Tell me about a place where you lived before open question Remember that asking ‘What does this word mean?’ can be tricky for lower level learners. Think about how you would answer before asking this! Also, if you ask ‘Do you understand?’ it is easy for learners to answer ‘Yes!’, but you won’t really know unless you check properly. Some learners are reluctant to say when they don’t understand something.
  2. Asking learners to demonstrate
    Examples: ‘How do you look when you feel interested?’, ‘Point to something which is heavy’, ‘Show me what you do when you yawn’. Of course, this doesn’t work for everything. You could ask individuals or the whole class to demonstrate.
  3. Testing knowledge
    Giving learners an exercise to complete is one way of seeing how much they understand. There are lots of options: examples include a matching activity, wordsearch, crossword, writing words for definitions/writing definitions for words. Multiple choice activities probably need to be followed by another way of checking too, as learners may have just guessed! Learners need to be reassured that if they don’t know the answers, it’s OK!
  4. Using images
    Displaying an image and asking questions can be a good way to check understanding. For example, you could show a picture of a man in prison and ask ‘What has he done?’, to check the present perfect structure. Or simply show a picture of a word you want to check, like ‘ski resort’. You could ask younger learners to draw the item you want to check.
  5. Using translation
    You could ask learners for a translation, or give a translation and ask for the English word. Of course, not all words or phrases directly translate between languages, so this technique can be problematic. It can be useful for abstract concepts

Source: © British Council

If Clauses – 0,1,2,3

Conditionals

Conditionals are complex sentences which use the subordinator if.

There are four main types of conditionals and they differ depending on the time (past, present or future) and on how likely the event or state is.

Look at the following examples. What is the structure of each type? What type of event does each type discuss?

Zero conditional

If a student fails the course, they do not progress to the next level.

First conditional

If the book is returned late, you will receive a fine.

Second conditional

If I had more time, I would edit my essay again.

Third conditional

If the student hadn’t handed the essay in late, he wouldn’t have failed.

How did you go? Let’s see how can you make each type of conditional.

Note: The if clause can be the first clause in the sentence or the second clause.

Examples:

1 – The speaker stated that if she solve one environmental problem it would be global warming.

2 – The speaker claimed that if the changes been made, the number of people failing the course would have increased.

3 – If you require an extension, you should speak to your lecturer.

4 – If your grades do not improve, you will have to get a tutor.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/

Skills for Reading Quickly

The first time you read a text intensively:

  • Focus on the content words (usually nouns, verbs, adjectives)

It is easy to read this by focusing on the content words in bold.

  • Read in groups of two or more words (read phrases not words) eg subject + verb + object

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • Prepositional phrases

At the age of 16 / most students take exams / in about ten different subjects

  • In complex sentences, identify and focus on the main clause

Vary your reading rate

Decrease speed when you find the following:

  • An unfamiliar word not made clear by the sentence: Try to understand it from the way it’s used; then read on and return to it later.
  • Long and uninvolved sentence and paragraph structure: Slow down enough to enable you to untangle them and get an accurate idea of what the passage says.
  • Unfamiliar or abstract ideas: Look for applications or examples which will give them meaning. Demand that an idea “make sense.” Never give up until you understand, because it will be that much easier the next time.
  • Detailed, technical material: This includes complicated directions, abstract principles, materials on which you have little background.

Increase speed when you find the following:

  • Simple material with few ideas new to you:Move rapidly over the familiar.
  • Unnecessary examples and illustrations:These are included to clarify ideas. If not needed, move over them quickly.
  • Detailed explanation: Elaboration which you do not need can be scanned quickly.
  • Broad, generalised ideas: These can be rapidly grasped, even with scan techniques.

Source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/pte-success/1/steps/930514

Writing a summary

How to summarise

The following outlines the three stages and steps for summarising.

Before writing:

  • Quickly scan the passage to identify the topic and purpose.
  • Read the passage carefully to understand the content. Try to infer the meaning of any unknown words and phrases.
  • Re-read the passage and note down the topic sentences and key words on your erasable noteboard.

While writing:

  • Stick to the topic and purpose of the text. Keep the meaning and degree of certainty the same as the original writing.
  • Focus on the key words and the main ideas only. Key points in the text will usually be repeated, developed and highlighted; include these in your writing.
  • Write your summary without referring to the original, making sure to include all the main points. Do not include examples or supporting evidence in your summary.
  • Use vocabulary that is relevant to the passage and appropriate for an academic environment. The best test responses use words from the passage appropriately and use synonyms effectively to show variety and range in language use.
  • Do not add anything to the summary that was not present in the original and you should not include your opinion.

After writing

  • Check the content of your summary to make sure it conveys the main ideas in the passage.
  • Check that the basic structure of the sentence is correct. The best test responses are usually complex sentences that consist of a main clause and subordinate clause.
  • Check punctuation and spelling. Make sure your sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.
  • Check the length of your summary. Make sure you write only one sentence that is no more than 75 words long. Check your word count after you have typed your response.