Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Ask Alisha. The weekly series where you ask me questions and I answer them, maybe.
First question this week actually is a pair of questions. I got a question from Zouhair which was, “Hi, Alisha. How are you? How can I improve my writing skills?” And, a question from Zirak. Zirak said, “How do I improve my writing skills?” So, I want to answer these two questions together. The simple answer is write more. If you're having trouble starting your writing practice, something that you can try doing is copying. So, if there's a blog, a magazine, a book that you enjoy reading, if there's something that kind of stands out to you, something that you think is really good or really interesting, you can start your writing practice by just copying the things that you find that you read. So, if you find, for example, if you find a blogger that you really enjoy and it's easy for you to read, you can start by copying the lines from that blog. When I say copy, I mean, write by hand with a pen and paper. Try writing those things by hand so you can kind of practice creating a sentence on your own. This can be a really good way for you to begin writing practice. Then, when you get a little more comfortable, you can try using your own words and your own vocabulary to kind of make your own sentences in the same style as your favorite writer. So, I would say a good way to start writing and a good way to improve your writing, making it more natural, is to just begin by copying other people. It's just a matter of practice. So, keep practicing, keep writing, keep creating. I hope that this helps you. Okay, let's move on to your next question.
Next question this week comes from Phuong Anh. Phuong says, “How do I write a good paragraph in English?” Okay. There is kind of a three-step process to writing a good paragraph in English. You can think of your paragraph in three parts. You can think of, first, an introduction, second, a body, and third, a conclusion. So, in the introduction to your paragraph, the beginning of your paragraph, you should share the ideas you're going to talk about in the paragraph. That's your first sentence. What are you going to explain to your reader, what are you going to share in this paragraph? In the second part, the body of your paragraph, you should give the details. If you're explaining data, you can put numbers in that section, for example. If you're giving quotes, if you're giving supporting information or supporting evidence, you can include that in the body part of your paragraph. This is your details. You can also include your opinions in this part of the paragraph so what do you think. Third, your conclusion. The conclusion part should summarize your main ideas. So, what do you want the reader to remember from this paragraph and maybe how does it connect to your next paragraph. So, try to think about writing paragraphs in kind of this three-step process. You introduce something, you give details and you conclude. Think about this for your paragraph, yes, but also think about this when you're writing a paper as well. You should have an introduction, and a body, and a conclusion to your paper. I hope that this helps you in writing paragraphs, smaller pieces of writing, and in writing papers or essays, larger pieces of writing. Thanks very much for the question. Okay, let's move along to your next question.
Next question comes from Ahmed Mohamed. Hi, Ahmed. Ahmed says, “Hi, Alisha. How are you?” Good. “Why is it when I watch you or watch any other English teacher on YouTube, I understand them easily but when I watch any programs on TV like movies and news, I find it difficult to understand. What should I do to understand anything I listen to?” Okay. Your first question, why can you understand the teachers on YouTube? This is a common question from lots of people, actually. The reason that you can understand teachers on YouTube or maybe teachers in your classroom is because we're doing what's called “grading our language.” So, grading your language means that you choose to use vocabulary words and grammar points that are suitable for the learners. That means that we choose our words and we choose the way that we speak to help learners understand us. That means that we speak a little slower, we speak with very clear pronunciation, we're speaking with a level of grammar that we think our students will probably be able to understand and we're choosing to use vocabulary words that we think are probably easy for learners to understand too. When you're watching YouTube teachers, a lot of YouTube teachers, including us on this channel, we're thinking about how to help people at kind of an intermediate level, like a medium level, so I'm choosing grammar and vocabulary words, kind of the way that I speak, to try to help people move into like intermediate to advanced intermediate language territory. This is why there seems to be such a big gap between like YouTube teachers and regular movies and news. When you're watching movies and news, those people are not grading their language so they're not aware of their vocabulary choices, they're not thinking about the level of grammar they use, their speaking regularly. The way that teachers speak is kind of a way to help learners ease into or get used to that native level of speaking. It can be really hard for learners to pick up all the small details of native level speech so we slow it down and we present it in a different way to help learners. So, when you get comfortable with people who teach like me on YouTube, you can kind of look for other things at higher difficulty levels. Maybe this means you find a vlogger on YouTube that speaks in English or you start to find other topics or other things related to your hobbies but that use English. That will take a little bit of searching on your part but just keep working on leveling up your language skills. So, if I'm too easy for you to understand, that's okay, you can move on to find something else until you can gradually work up to understanding native level conversations. That's a long answer but I hope that it helps answer your question. Thanks very much. Okay, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Bakhtar Khan. Hi, Bakhtar. Bakhtar says, “Hi, Alisha. What is the difference between ‘swear,’ ‘vow’ and ‘oath?’ I don't understand the difference.” Okay, “swear” is a verb. “Swear” is like a rough word that means promise. Some examples, “I swear I won't break your computer again.” “He swore he wouldn't forget to take out the trash.” Next is “vow.” The word, “vow” can be used as a noun or as a verb. It's used in more formal situations. We use it, for example, in weddings or maybe in like legal situations. Some examples, “Do you vow to take this woman as your wife?” “I vow never to do anything like this again.” “Oath” is a noun and it's kind of an old-fashioned word. It's sort of like an old-fashioned mysterious word for promise. It kind of has a very mysterious, a little bit of a dark feeling, an “oath.” Examples, “I took an oath to never reveal the details of our group.” “Have you ever taken a blood oath?” I hope that helps you understand the differences between “swear,” “vow” and “oath.” Thanks very much for the question. Okay, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Yoshitaka Horikoshi. Hi, Yushataka. Yoshitaka says, “Hi, Alisha. I watched the video English greetings for every day. It was easy to understand and fun. However, in the video, you said, ‘Where was I?’ What do you mean ‘Where was I?’” Ah, this, “Where was I?” This is a common expression that means where was I in my notes. When you're reading something or when you're giving a presentation and you get lost, in the details, you have some notes, some kind of reference material you're using to give your presentation and you miss your place, you forget your place, you can say, “Where was I?” meaning where was I in my notes was I. We'll often use this when we're presenting material and we need to start again. In that case, if I'm teaching a lesson and I miss my place, if I forget my place in my notes, I probably said, “Where was I?” Meaning, at what point was I in my presentation. I would use this, if maybe like a student had a question and I answered the question and then I forgot exactly where in my lesson notes I was located at that time. So, “Where was I?” means like what was I talking about a moment ago. I hope that helps you. Thanks very much for the question. Alright, let's move on to your next question.
Next question comes from Aiman. Hi, again, Aiman. Aiman says, “Hi, Alisha. What does ‘stack the deck’ mean?” Ah! “To stack the deck” means to prepare an advantage before a situation, before some kind of event. So, the advantage is prepared so that one person or one organization wins. This expression comes from card games. First, we see a deck, so to stack the deck. The deck refers to a deck of cards. That's the vocabulary word we use to mean a complete set of cards, a deck of cards. “To stack” means to put things one on top of another. So, when we stack a deck or to stack the deck, as in this expression, it means we're placing cards in a careful, organized manner to create an advantage for someone in a situation. So, “to stack the deck” means, before the situation, you prepare all like the parts to create a win for one person or maybe to create a loss for another person. So, “to stack the deck” means to create an advantage or a disadvantage for someone else. So, some example sentences, “The deck was stacked against him.” In that expression, “The deck was stacked against him,” means the situation was created so that he would lose. We use “against someone” to refer to creating a situation where a person loses something. So, “we stacked the deck” just means we created an unfair advantage or we created an advantage before the situation. I hope that this helps you understand this expression. Thanks very much for the question.
Alright. That's everything that 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. Thanks very much for watching this week's episode of Ask Alisha and I will see you again next week. Bye-bye!

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