Transition Consciousness is not just about sustainability in the ecological sense of the word. It is about sustainability, resilience, achievement, new thinking and human values, and of course sporting heroes can be some of the most inspirational people on the planet given the desperate failure of politicians around the world.
I have not written recently about language, so I thought I would post this article with my 5 top tips for speaking good English. You may have been learning English for a while now, and yet as soon as you get out of the classroom and into a real-life situation you still find yourself lost or maybe unable to understand what your English-speaking friends and colleagues are saying. Well here are my 5 top tips to rapidly improve your English. You will need either a native English speaker, or a good fluent teacher who has spent time in an English-speaking country, but if you can find someone to help, rapid improvement is not that difficult.
In spoken English, these are common, but not normally taught well. Maybe you know he’s she’s, I’ll, but do you actually use these in your own conversation? There are many contractions, and if you can practice these, you will be more confident in your listening skills.
2. Present perfect
Bono sang that he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. Don’t try and learn this grammatically, but learn how English speakers use this tense psychologically, for example when time just does not matter, or that something is important. Cheat by knowing that already and yet are pretty much always associated with this tense. As I said, try and learn the situations where this is used, rather than the grammar, and you will get more used to it. Also notice how Bono sang using contractions? See how these 5 tips are already beginning to be linked?
3. Phrasal verbs
Although these may be more complex grammatically, for an English speaker they are actually the informal way to say things, and as such used a lot in spoken English. Try and learn the basic ones, and also try and get help with their meaning. too. There is no way to avoid phrasal verbs, but they are used a lot in songs, so maybe see if you can spot them in your favourite songs. Don’t give up on them, and you’ll soon be getting on with them fine!
Hypotheticals are “what if” questions. One thing that is really difficult it seems is to construct a sentence with a hypothetical in the past. In English, you will need the present perfect, and then add on should, could, may, might. If I could have got there earlier, I would have. These become so much easier once you have cracked the present perfect, and having done so, your language will become far more fluent and sophisticated.
There are many ways to ask a question in English, and most are not just about changing the intonation. However, English speakers ask questions using hypotheticals, the present perfect, contractions and phrasal verbs. Shouldn’t you’ve taken it up with him sooner? Couldn’t you’ve brought it up in the meeting? Try and work on the way to ask a good question, as these are the final pillar in my top tips, and will really help make your language less ambiguous for English speakers. Sometimes if for example you say make when you should have said do, well an English speaker can understand easily enough what you are saying, but there are times when if you phrase a question wrongly, it can be really hard to know what you are trying to say. Try and use did a lot more in your questions and we will then know at least that you are asking a question rather than making a statement.
The word holistic relates to the word whole, and you really need to be learning these 5 top tips in an integrated manner. I will show you something I use to help make myself clear as to what I mean. Have a look at this, which is what I call a template:
1. Last week I went to London.
2. Couldn’t you have gone to Brighton instead?
3. I could have gone to Brighton but I didn’t want to.
This template is designed to demonstrate the use of could have. The student says lines 1 and 3, and I say line 2.
Once the student understand the meaning of could have, I can then show them the blank template:
1. —–(time in the past)—— I —-(action)——-.
2. Couldn’t you have ———— instead?
3. I could have ————- but I didn’t want to.
Here the student creates sentence 1, and they are purely focusing on using could have. I then create a new sentence 2 based on what they say, and then the student replies with a new answer, in line 3.
Here is a new example:
1. Yesterday I spoke to John.
2. Couldn’t you have spoken to Henry instead?
3. I could have spoken to Henry but I didn’t want to.
What I am doing here is just spending maybe 5 or 10 minutes on this one template. The student will really have confidence in their use of this complicated structure, and should be able to begin using it pretty much after this practice. Also, note that as a native speaker, I can say line 2 fast, and totally contracted, and so this template is designed to give students listening practice in the first instance without the stress of trying to say a hypothetical contracted and negative question. Maybe in another template I will get them to ask a question, but it is a case of one thing at a time, for rapid learning, both in speaking and listening.
So there you go. These top tips are based on really listening to the mistakes people make when speaking English, and are based on what I think will get them to the next level of English most rapidly. Of course there are many aspects of English that always need improving, but these 5 pillars will provide a foundation for your continued studies.
I hope these have helped!
I just thought I would let you all know that Transition Consciousness is on Facebook. This is where I post many news articles from around the world of relevance of what I call the transition of consciousness.
I do also run another group where I post articles relating to Henri Bortoft. He does not seem to be on the internet, and I felt that he should at least have a little place where people can find out news about his up and coming book, and also discuss his work and theories.
Oh, and if you are more of a Tweeter, you can find me on Twitter too.
I have recently become an occasional guest writer for the online magazine The City Fix Brasil, the Brazilian edition of TheCityFix.com, an online resource for sustainable transport news, research and “best practice” solutions from around the world. Launched in 2007, the site connects a global network of writers and transport specialists, including engineers, entrepreneurs, urban planners and researchers, who explore environmentally and socially responsible ways to make cities better places to live.
Here is my first article, about pollution in London:
Last week I gave a lecture and classes in integral thinking, complexity, innovation and problem solving to MBA students at Sustentare. You can read more about my teaching here:
Here are some postcards from my time there:
Quick note: Simon who wrote this article also runs a very interesting little blog called Transition Consciousness. Please feel free to drop by and take a look : )
Here is a map of the UK:
What does my passport say?
“United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island”
Nationality: British Citizen
I was born in Scotland, I am a British Citizen, and I tend to describe myself more as British rather than Scottish, since my parents are English, but I grew up in Scotland before moving to England when I was 8.
So the United Kingdom is made up of four countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These are not countries in the same way that say France or Germany are countries, because these four countries have just one Parliament and government, based in London.
Therefore the United Kingdom is a political union of four countries. It gets a little bit complicated since Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also have their own local parliaments for local laws and things, and this annoys English people who do not have their own parliament for English stuff, but let’s not worry about that.
Great Britain refers to the geographical land mass which includes England, Scotland and Wales. The British Isles refers to both Great Britain and also the 9000 little islands which are also part of the UK. However, “the British Isles” also includes the country of the Republic of Ireland, which is not part of the UK, and which is a sovereign European state. Confused?
The money in the UK is called Sterling, and we do not use Euros, unlike the rest of Europe. In daily life though, we use the word “pounds” to refer to our cash, i.e. “How much is that CD?” “Ten pounds”.
When you watch the football World Cup, you will see England play. (We use the word football whereas in the US they call the game soccer). Obviously in theory Scotland, Wales and Northern Island could qualify for the world cup, but they rarely do, having such smaller populations than England. Not that England are that good, they always cause fans much grief!
In the Olympic Games, you will see “Team GB” rather than teams from the four countries, and are officially known as the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic Team. So you will see the athletes with our “Union Jack” flag, and not the individual country flags.
Just one other thing. The United Kingdom is part of Europe and the European Union. However, if you listen to British people, they will sometimes say things such as
“I went to Europe on holiday last year”
What this means is that they travelled to continental Europe, i.e. the rest of Europe, but this phrase often annoys other Europeans who will reply that
“But you are already in Europe!”
Us Brits do know that, but maybe it is because we are an island people that we do not really see ourselves as fully European, and of course many Brits can not stand the European Parliament, due to waste and incompetence and other such nonsense. But that again is another story, and I am just trying to explain the basics.
So there you go. There is much more information on Wikipedia, but this article will hopefully help you begin to understand the UK!
Hello and welcome. I am a freelance teacher and consultant in chaos, complexity, sustainability, innovation and creativity, living and working in São paulo, Brazil. This site is more to enable people to find me, and receive information on my workshops and projects.
I am also the author of the blog The Transition of Consciousness, so there may also be a few articles there that may be of interest to you.
Thank you for visiting my little home on the internet.