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This is now my third blog post, and I hope I will keep adding content to my page. 
I wonder what kind of mood you are in as you read this?
Where are you? Perhaps on a trolleybus? Perhaps slouching on the sofa at home? Or leaning against the water cooler at work?

Who knows? It is a bit weird for me not to really know who I am writing for. I assume that you probably fit into one of these categories:
  • a current, past, or potential student at EnglishTeacherLT
  • a friend or colleague 
  • someone interested in language
  • someone living in Vilnius or Lithuania?
Maybe I am totally wrong. Maybe you have just stumbled across my webpage. It is a bit disconcerting knowing that you might read this but that I have no idea who you are and indeed, if anyone has actually read what I am writing. There is a certain sense of having to "let go", of releasing my thoughts and putting them out there. It would be really lovely if you left a comment on Facebook saying how you found out about this blog. I suppose I could enable comments here but I am rather wary of getting spammed or trolled. I am not sure I am ready for that as a novice blogger.

This post is turning into a stream of consciousness post. My main aim was to address one of my students' questions about why I have started blogging. So far, this has been a rather convoluted pre-amble, which means I am taking a while to get to my core point.

In the past, I suppose I didn't really think that anything I have to say is of interest to anyone. I may have been right! However, I also have this urge to share. Maybe I will say something to provoke, inspire, or anger you? Or make you laugh or nod in agreement? In any case, you might learn some English.

    So why have I started blogging?


I am not sure really. Maybe it is just the simple human need to communicate. Since I have started writing these posts, I guess I feel some sort of liberation. I have not been editing myself as much as I might in the classroom (where I should be on-topic, relevant, concise, etc.). When I am at work, I need to grade (modify) my language according to the group, level, and other factors. At the end of the day, you are paying me to teach you not to hear me ranting. Writing these posts is one of the ways I have chosen to spend my free time. You are not paying me to do this and you are reading it in your free time. Therefore, I feel liberated to write as I choose.

Part of my agenda is to help improve the standard of English in Lithuania. As far as I am aware, I don't have a drop of Lithuanian blood in my body, but I have chosen to make Lithuania my home and feel a real affinity with Lithuanian people. I want to expose you to as much English as possible. I don't want you to stay on the plateau and not progress. My aim for all my students is the same as my personal language learning aims: I want (you) to find your idiolect. Your own voice. To be able to be yourself in another language. This means making that quip, cracking a joke, catching the nuance, expressing your opinion precisely, etc. These are lofty but valid aims. That is my aim for you. 

Prof. David Crystal writes about idiolect. I like the way he defines it on his website
[id-ee-oh-lekt]
"No, this is not a dialect spoken by idiots. The prefix idio- means ‘personal’ in Greek - as in the word idiosyncrasy, which means a personal habit or eccentricity. An idiolect is your own personal dialect. It’s the kind of language which you - Jim, Jean, Mary, or whatever you name is - make use of, and which makes you different from everyone else. If you think about it, there are so many ways in which our vowels, consonants, voice qualities, words, and sentence patterns differ from person to person that you’d be very unlikely to find two people who had exactly the same way of using language. Everyone has their own idiolect."

 How can you find your own idiolect? 


I believe one of the best ways to learn a language is to focus on lexical chunks, to notice them in context and then try to reproduce them in your own situations and to suit your own communicative needs. So I am going to attempt to pick out chunks of language I have used in this post and help you adapt them in your own speech and writing. The masters of this teaching technique and the people who have inspired my teaching a lot are Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley who work at Lexical Lab. You should really all be following their excellent blog posts and Facebook posts. If you are taking my Advanced course at EnglishTeacher, you should recognise their names as they are the guys who wrote our course materials.

Today we were talking about reading for pleasure in English. I am so pleased that everyone in my *Advanced group has been reading in English. Without being prompted they started sharing stories of what they are reading or have just read. Here are some that I remember them mentioning. Extensive reading is a great way to expose yourself to new ideas, vocabulary, and grammatical structures. We all agreed that it is easier to read passively than speak or write. *You can still join us fro Monday if you'd like to. I have a hunch that it will be a very lovely group based on our first lesson today :)

.

I suggested that for me, it seems to work best if I read the same piece of input (paragraph, chapter, article, book) twice: once for content - to understand the meaning, and then for language. Often I would underline or circle things as I go along to remind me to come back to interesting or intriguing chunks of language. If something really stops me from understanding or keep appearing repeatedly, I would then look it up. If I think I understand, I'd carry on reading. The second time I read, I would note chunks down in my notebook and spend time Googling, looking them up in a dictionary, pestering my other half to explain them in Lithuanian and asking all the questions I have about the items. Such questions might be whether it has positive or negative connotations, whether it is formal or informal, whether people actually use this chunk or whether it is antiquated, how to pronounce it, in what other contexts I can use this chunk, etc.

So that is what I am going to ask you to do now. Please read this post again from the beginning. Not to catch the flow of ideas, but to notice language and interesting chunks. Passively I imagine that you understood pretty much everything I've written, but I bet that you don't sound like me. Of course, my idiolect might be unappealing for you. You might not want to sound like this or come across in the same way that my internal voice does. But I am sure there is at least one chunk or phrase or expression that you can "steal" from me and make your own in your own context.


Here we go again. Repetition is the mother of learning and all that!


This is now my third blog post, and I hope I will keep adding content to my page. 
I wonder what kind of mood you are in as you read this?
Where are you? Perhaps on a trolleybus? Perhaps slouching on the sofa at home? Or leaning against the water-cooler at work?

Who knows? It is a bit weird for me not to really know who I am writing for. I assume that you probably fit into one of these categories:

  • a current, past, or potential student at EnglishTeacherLT

  • a friend or colleague 

  • someone interested in language

  • someone living in Vilnius or Lithuania?

Maybe I am totally wrong. Maybe you have just stumbled across my webpage. It is a bit disconcerting knowing that you might read this but that I have no idea who you are and indeed, if anyone has actually read what I am writing. There is a certain sense of having to "let go", of releasing my thoughts and putting them out there. It would be really lovely if you left a comment on Facebook saying how you found out about this blog. I suppose I could enable comments here but I am rather wary of getting spammed or trolled. I am not sure I am ready for that as a novice blogger.

This post is turning into a stream of consciousness post. My main aim was to address one of my students' questions about why I have started blogging. So far, this has been a rather convoluted pre-amble, which means I am taking a while to get to my core point.

In the past, I suppose I didn't really think that anything I have to say is of interest to anyone. I may have been right! However, I also have this urge to share. Maybe I will say something to provoke, inspire, or anger you? Or make you laugh or nod in agreement? In any case, you might learn some English.

So why have I started blogging?

I am not sure really. Maybe it is just the simple human need to communicate. Since I have started writing these posts, I guess I feel some sort of liberation. I have not been editing myself as much as I might in the classroom (where I should be on-topic, relevant, concise, etc.). When I am at work, I need to grade (modify) my language according to the group, level, and other factors. At the end of the day, you are paying me to teach you not to listen to my rants. Writing these posts is one of the ways I have chosen to spend my free time. You are not paying me to do this and you are reading it in your free time. Therefore, I feel liberated to write as I choose.

Part of my agenda is to help improve the standard of English in Lithuania. As far as I am aware, I don't have a drop of Lithuanian blood in my body, but I have chosen to make Lithuania my home and feel a real affinity with Lithuanian people. I want to expose you to as much English as possible. I don't want you to stay on the plateau and not progress. My aim for all my students is the same as my personal language learning aims: I want (you) to find your idiolect. Your own voice. To be able to be yourself in another language. This means making that quip, cracking a joke, catching the nuance of what someone has said, expressing your opinion precisely, etc. These are lofty but valid aims. These are my aims for you. 

Prof. David Crystal writes about idiolect. I like the way he defines it on his website

[id-ee-oh-lekt]

"No, this is not a dialect spoken by idiots. The prefix idio- means ‘personal’ in Greek - as in the word idiosyncrasy, which means a personal habit or eccentricity. An idiolect is your own personal dialect. It’s the kind of language which you - Jim, Jean, Mary, or whatever you name is - make use of, and which makes you different from everyone else. If you think about it, there are so many ways in which our vowels, consonants, voice qualities, words, and sentence patterns differ from person to person that you’d be very unlikely to find two people who had exactly the same way of using language. Everyone has their own idiolect."

 How can you find your own idiolect? 


I believe one of the best ways to learn a language is to focus on lexical chunks, to notice them in context and then try to reproduce them in your own situations and to suit your own communicative needs. So I am going to attempt to pick out chunks of language I have used in this post and help you adapt them in your own speech and writing. The masters of this teaching technique and the people who have inspired my teaching a lot are Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley who work at Lexical Lab. You should really all be following their excellent blog posts and Facebook posts. If you are taking my Advanced course at EnglishTeacher, you should recognise their names as they are the guys who wrote our course materials.

Today we were talking about reading for pleasure in English. I am so pleased that everyone in my *Advanced group has been reading in English. Without being prompted they started sharing stories of what they are reading or have just read. Here are some that I remember them mentioning. Extensive reading is a great way to expose yourself to new ideas, vocabulary, and grammatical structures. We all agreed that it is easier to read passively than speak or write. *You can still join us from Monday if you'd like to. I have a hunch that it will be a very lovely group based on our first lesson today :)

.

I suggested that for me, it seems to work best if I read the same piece of input (paragraph, chapter, article, book) twice: once for content - to understand the meaning, and the second time for language. Often I would underline or circle things as I go along to remind me to come back to interesting or intriguing chunks of language. If something really stops me from understanding or keeps appearing repeatedly, then I look it up. If I think I understand without any help, I carry on reading. The second time I read, I would note chunks down in my notebook and spend time Googling, looking them up in a dictionary, pestering my other half to explain them in Lithuanian and asking all the questions I have about the items. Such questions might be whether it has positive or negative connotations, whether it is formal or informal, whether people actually use this chunk or whether it is antiquated, how to pronounce it, in what other contexts I can use this chunk, etc.

So that is what I am going to ask you to do now. Please read this post again from the beginning. Not to catch the flow of ideas, but to notice language and interesting chunks. Passively I imagine that you understood pretty much everything I've written, but I bet that you don't sound like me. Of course, my idiolect might be unappealing for you. You might not want to sound like this or come across in the same way that my internal voice does. But I am sure there is at least one chunk or phrase or expression that you can "steal" from me and make your own in your own context.

Groundhog Day?

No, let's get out of this loop at take a look at some of the language I have put in bold.
 
  • I hope I will... - What do you hope you will do?
  • What kind of mood are you in? N.B. to be in a mood means to be in a bad mood. If you are feeling good, you need to say that I am in a GOOD mood.
  • on a trolleybus - on not in. 
  • slouching on the sofa - after a long day, you probably collapse and relax and don't sit up straight! Slouching is not good for your spine, though.
  • lean against - Look round you. Can you see anything leaning against anything else?
  • stumble across - when was the last time you stumbled across something unexpectedly. You might discover something without looking for it. I love being in second-hand bookshops in my parents' hometown. You always find a hidden gem of a book hidden under a pile of books at the back of the shop (and I have no self-control and can't resist buying it!)
  • It's a bit disconcerting - you know that feeling when you feel a bit uneasy. Not nervous but unsettled when something is slightly disturbing. When did you last feel disconcerted?
  • let go - do you feel the need to let go of your negative feelings or attachments? I think it must be hard for parents to let their kids go off into the world and become independent.
  • I am rather wary of - What are you wary of? It means that you are cautious. After I was bitten by a dog in Estonia, I was rather wary of our four-legged friends for a while. It is sensible to be cautious and avoid taking risks around animals you don't know. Little Dan restored my faith in dogs. You should read this book written by my friend who used to live in Vilnius when I first arrived here. It's called 'Dan Knew' and is a beautiful story about the bond between a woman and her dog. In fact, the story is told from the perspective of the dog. It will probably make you cry too as it deals with some tough themes such as alcoholism and domestic violence. I'm sure I don't need to spell out the relevance of this for our little land...


But I digress from my digression. I told you that this was a stream of consciousness post - it is meandering wherever my mind takes me (well, maybe not wherever - you are not quite ready for that yet, dear reader!).

  • I'm a novice blogger, because it is all new to me. I am going to have to learn to edit my posts and have more structure. At what point does an inexperienced blogger stop becoming a novice? Hmm. Are you a novice ____?
  • a rather convoluted post -  I have no idea if you are still with me as I have gone on a bit. Perhaps I should enter politics so I can give convoluted answers that are overly-complicated...
  • the pre-amble - all the prologue before you really get to the 'meat'
  • to be of interest to someone - a more formal way to say be interesting in the sense of to be of concern
  • have an urge to
  • nod in agreement - to move your head up and down to indicate agreement (at least in this culture it does!).
  • Concise
  • At the end of the day when it is all said and done / done and dusted
  • rant - this is how this blog started. To rant means to complain about something or to express your forthright opinions about something (in a way that is not necessarily interesting for those around you)
  • the standarD of English - standarD not standart
  • to feel an affinity with
  • expose you to
  • stay on the plateau
  • find your own idiolect
  • make a quip - an amusing retort/reply/comment
  • lofty aims - unrealistically high aims
  • focus on the prepositions that come after verbs, e.g. focus ON
  • read for pleasure (as opposed to work or because you are forced to)
  • have a hunch that
  • intriguing chunks of language
  • pester sb
  • my other half - my partner - my husband 
  • the flow of ideas
  • pretty much everything
  • I bet that
  • to be stuck in a loop
Right, that was epic and I need to get some shut-eye = zzzz. I will edit this post later and add some more definitions.

Please like and share on FB if you want me to keep writing! 
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Books by Tim Shipman

If you are interested in politics, Britain, Brexit, and modern history, you might appreciate these books. They just happen to have been written by my brother! These are links to the Kindle version available on Amazon. 

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