Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi everybody, welcome back to Ask Alisha, the weekly series where you ask me questions, and I answer them. Maybe!
Let's get started with this week's first question.
First question this week comes from Carlos Henrique Ferreira. Hi, Carlos.
Carlos says: Hi Alisha. I'm Carlos from Brazil. How can I improve my vocabulary about music?
I'm a musician, music teacher, and music producer.
Is there a place that would serve as a source of research for various subjects, like professions?
Thanks very much.
Uh, thanks for the question.
I would say the best thing to do is to find whatever it is you're interested in...
So if it's music, in your case, rather than searching for necessarily like an English course about that,
I would say look in English for a magazine, a website – maybe there's a forum of some kind.
If you want to learn vocabulary specific to your profession or specific to your hobby, look for resources in English about that thing.
So I did this exact same thing when I was studying (and am studying) Japanese.
But there was a band I liked. I wanted to know more about the band, so I searched online and I found magazines in Japanese.
I bought them from Japan, sent them to my house in the USA, and sat with a dictionary, uh, looking at the magazine, checking words and trying to understand their interviews.
So, it was slow and it was hard, but that's what I did, and that's how I learned some words that were related to my interests. To my hobbies.
So I would say: find something in English. Find an existing resource in English that you can use as study material.
You can make anything into study material. So choose something that's specific to your interests, and I think that's a great place to start.
Thanks very much for the question, Carlos.
Next question comes from...Arifandi Waikabo. Hi, Arifandi.
Arifandi says: Hi Alisha, I have been learning English for about 9 months and my English is not good up until now.
Do you have some advice for me? Or what should I do? OK.
Um, maybe 3 points.
Number 1: It's hard to track your progress if you don't have goals for yourself.
So I would say first, learn to set goals for yourself.
So, how do you do that? How do you track progress?
If you're not sure right now, like, "uh, did I make any progress? I don't know."
Think about the things you could not do in the past, and think about the things you can do now.
So, like, for example, you sent me this message.
Were you able to do that last year?
So, that's a small example of something you could not do but now you can do.
So, think about these little things, um, that you need to be able to do, or you want to be able to do.
And make those your targets.
So, that's kind of the third point here. Think of, um, the things that you next need to be able to do, or you want to be able to do in the future.
So, if it's, like, you know, I can't order something from a restaurant, or I can't make a business phone call in English, or whatever...
that can be your next target so you can work towards that.
Then, when you are able to do that, you know you made progress.
So, it's quite hard, I think, to track your progress when you don't have some goals – when you don't have, like, milestones.
Um, so, create those milestones for yourself.
I hope that helps. Thanks for the question!
Okay, let's go to our next question.
From Jeremias Oliveira. Hi, Jeremias.
Uh, Jeremias says: Hi Alisha, I'm from Brazil. My question is: what does "sticks and stones" mean?
Uh, I imagine this comes from the expression "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
Um, so, "sticks and stones" literally means sticks.
Like, parts of trees, like, parts of bushes. Like, the wooden part of a tree. The wooden part of a bush.
Like, you can pick it up and hit people with it if you want.
Stones literally means like, a small rock. Like, you know...it's hard. You can throw them at people.
So in this expression, "sticks and stones may break my bones," it means sticks (these objects) – they can physically hurt our bodies – "but words will never hurt me" means words themselves can't physically hurt me.
So "sticks and stones" literally means sticks. And stones. It's quite literal, actually, this one.
I hope that helps you.
Let's go on to the next question.
Next question comes from Omar Estrada. Hi, Omar.
Omar says: Hello teacher, I have a question for you.
How do I use this grammar point? It is be + to + verb in infinitive form.
For example: you are not to leave the school without my permission.
Ah, great one, okay, yes.
This is a pattern that's used in formal commands.
When we want to command someone formally, uh, like at school, in your example, maybe in a contract, maybe in like a test-taking situation...some kind of like, official command, we can use this grammar point.
We don't use it in everyday conversation because it sounds very formal.
Let's look at a few more examples.
Students are not to leave the school until 3 PM.
He is not to leave the hospital until treatment is complete.
Like I said, we don't use this grammar point in everyday conversation.
You will see it used for official rules and regulations.
I hope that helps you. Thanks for the question.
Let's go on to our next question. Next question comes from DarkDelphin834. All right, hi.
Uh, DarkDelphin says: What is the difference between the words "wait" and "await"?
Also, these words are sometimes difficult to distinguish, please help: breathe/breath, dessert/desert, course/curse.
Your videos are handy, thanks.
All right, um, let's look at "await" and "wait" first of all.
So, both "await" and "wait" refer to, um, standing by.
Like, there's something that's going to happen, um, or there's something – some kind of expectation of something.
So, wait is like, um, there's some kind of pause, or you're requesting a pause in activity.
Or, like, maybe other actions have stopped in anticipation; in expectation of something that's going to happen.
Examples: I'm waiting for the bus.
Please wait for me!
Dinner was waiting for her.
Await, however, is used when there's some feeling like everything has been prepared.
Everything is ready, and then there's some other thing that we're really anticipating.
We're really expecting.
Await is also used in more formal situations than wait.
Let's look at some examples.
We await your reply.
She eagerly awaited her guests' arrival.
The audience awaited the president's speech.
So, in each of these examples, it's like there's one group of people or one person that is like, ready for something.
People are waiting, yes, they're waiting, and they're like ready. They're anticipating something that's going to happen.
So we could actually change the word "await" to like "waiting for" in many of these cases.
So like, the audience was waiting for the president's speech.
But using "the audience awaited" the president's speech sounds like the audience is a little more eager, like they're ready and they're really anticipating or they're really excited for the speech.
So it's kind of a small nuance, um, but, uh, that's kind of the feeling of "await."
And again, it sounds a little bit more formal.
So, regarding your second question about distinguishing between words like breath and breathe, and dessert and desert, and course and curse, um...
Well, 1, there's pronunciation. Um, so, practicing pronunciation, listening to the pronunciation.
Um, 2 is just noticing spelling when you're reading these words.
Um, 3, don't focus solely on the word. Don't focus only on the single word in a sentence, like when you're listening, for example.
Think about the whole sentence – think about the whole conversation.
So, if you know that these words are difficult for you, you can pay attention, um, and then you can kind of get a feel.
Ah, this is the situation where this word is used.
Finally, too: just remember the grammatical functions of these words are different.
A great example is "breathe" and "breath." Breathe is a verb. Breath is a noun.
So you'll hear these words used, um, differently in sentences, in addition to different pronunciation.
So I hope that helps a little bit.
Let's continue on to the next question.
Next question comes from Atsushi. Hi, Atsushi.
Atsushi says: What is the difference between "how do you think" and "what do you think"?
This is a very common problem.
How do you think is incorrect.
How do you think alone as a question is incorrect.
Um, we can only use "how do you think" if it's part of a larger question.
For example: How do you think we should solve this problem?
It's a question about the method – a method of doing something.
In other words, this question means: In your opinion, what method should we use to solve this problem?
So, how do you think....something.
We need some extra information there.
How do you think we should address this issue?
How do you think we should talk to them?
How do you think we should get to the station later? By bus, or by car?
So, "how do you think" plus something is a question about the method of doing something.
So, the question "how do you think" is totally incorrect if you want to ask someone's opinion.
Yeah, so "what do you think" is the correct way to ask about someone's opinion.
So, "what do you think about this"? What do you think about the situation?
What do you think we should do? How do you think we should fix this?
So, you can pair them together.
What do you think we should do? How do you think we should fix this?
So there's something else that's going on in that question.
What is the method by which we should fix this, in your opinion?
So, keep in mind: one is just an opinion question. One is like an opinion plus a method recommendation for something.
So, interesting question.
But yeah, don't use "how do you think" just for a simple opinion question.
Thanks for the question!
Great! So, that's all I have for this week.
Thank you as always for sending your questions.
Remember, you can send them to me at EnglishClass101.com/ask-alisha.
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Also, you can come check us out at EnglishClass101.com for some other good English study tools.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of Ask Alisha, and I will see you again next week.

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