Where’s My Television?

Where’s My Television?

Me and my big ideas!  I have long been extolling the virtues (saying how good something is) of a TV-free home (not having a TV) and often suggested to my family the idea of removing the television from our house.

Click here for a vocabulary list of the words and phrases in bold.

I’m sure the benefits are obvious to most of you; more quality time spent with your family, more meaningful conversations, less distractions and increased ability to concentrate etc. It was with all this in mind that last week I again made the suggestion that we could try a week without television as an experiment.  No Minimax corrupting my children’s brains with adverts for plastic crap they really don’t need, no Ordinace v Ružové Zahradě killing my wife’s brain cells with its mindnumbingly boring stories and personally less time wasted pretending I’m learning something by watching repeated episodes of TimeTeam on the History channel and bike races from Azerbaijan I have no real interest in on Eurosport.

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kid in front of tv

In English we use the word programme to mean a show ie. The Simpsons, Československo Má Talent. When you program in Czech we say channel eg. Nova Cinema, CT1, Prima Cool. Česká Televize is a TV station.  In short:

  • A TV Station broadcasts the shows and it may have more than one channel.
  • A TV Channel is the frequency being used.
  • A serial is a programme with one story split into many episodes.
  • An episode is díl in Czech.
  • A TV series has the same characters every week but different plots (stories).
  • A season is a collection of episodes.

BBC-Logo

So, as an example; the BBC is a station, BBC1 is a channel, Lost is a serial and Lost has six seasons. The Big Bang Theory is a series and in season 9 there were 24 episodes. Got that? (Do you understand?)

Anyway, back to the case in point and two days ago Radka said to me “OK!, Yes, let’s do it.” So, we decided to remove the TV from the living room the following day (yesterday).  It was then that I realised my mistake…

tv football

I love football, it’s one of my main interests; I play it, I go to stadiums and most importantly for this blog post, I watch it on TV. Those of you who are football fans will already see my error.  Starting today is the European Championships in France. Usually, for these big tournaments (the Euros and World Cup) I watch every game, not just the England and Czech Republic games.  So what am I to do now?  Our gogglebox is hidden away at my request and with it the chance to watch the best footballers in Europe fight it out for the title of Champions of Europe. I can’t believe I didn’t think this through properly.

Does anyone want to invite me to their house to watch a game?

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3 Ways to Boost Your English Confidence

3 Ways to Boost Your English Confidence

It seems to me that every Czech person can speak at least a few words of English even if that is only ‘Hello, how are you, I’m fine thanks, goodbye’. So why is it that many of you are scared, too shy or even ashamed to use the English you already know? (Note that there is a difference between shy and ashamed) So what can you do about it? How can you overcome your shyness or reluctance to speak English?

Click here to go to my vocabulary.com list of words for this article.

Improving your spoken English and your ability to understand other English speakers requires you to practise, a lot. So, putting yourself in situations where you have to listen to and speak English is certainly one way of doing it. This takes courage though, and that means overcoming your fears. So what are your fears? Do you think you will be laughed at? Misunderstood?  Make mistakes?

embarrassed emo

Growing your confidence is the key thing. Here are three ways you can do that..

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes and try new things.

School teachers, peers, and for most of us, our parents, started from a very early age to point out our mistakes and chastise us for making them without thinking of the future consequences this has on young children. We are conditioned to feel bad when we make a mistake and not to use it as a learning experience (which is exactly what it should be).

I may be wrong here but I would suggest that your shyness or fear to speak English comes from your upbringing. As a child were you given red Xs in your school books, shouted at or worse and generally made to feel very stupid for not knowing something?  Addressing these issues to conquer your fears is the way to building your confidence and allowing yourself to speak and understand more.

teacher-strict

If your English teacher is someone who tells you off for making mistakes, I would consider looking for someone new to help you. You want a person who will pleasantly explain your mistakes and help you to practise corrections a few times. If you are consistently making the same mistakes, take some time to look at each one individually and work on it until you feel confident you have corrected it.

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You should also be going outside of your comfort zone in terms of the vocabulary and grammar you use. Yes, you can stick to the same words and phrases you already know but it’s much more exciting and rewarding to try out new things and not be scared to make mistakes when doing so. I know this personally from learning your Czech language.

embarrassed-chimp

2. Put yourself in situations where you have to speak.

This could be finding someone to practise with; a native English speaker (anyone English, American, Canadian, Australian, Irish or from New Zealand) or someone who speaks English as a second main language like Indians, Mexicans and many Africans. You will of course encounter many different accents and dialects within this diverse group of people. My wife has excellent English precisely because she worked in a pub in Cambridge, England where there were Americans and Irish people as well as others from all over the UK with very different accents (yours truly included). So that’s two more ways you can go out of your comfort zone; visit a native country for an extended period of time or go to one of the many Irish and English pubs in the Czech Republic’s bigger cities. If you already have a native English teacher then why not practise what you learn on other natives who you will usually find happy to tell you about their homeland.

shy-man

3. Ask for help.

This can come in two forms; firstly, ask people to slow down and repeat things if you don’t understand what they are saying and secondly, ask them for specific words that you don’t know by using alternative words to describe it. Don’t stop at just using the word once though, repeat the word aloud a few times and use it again in the same conversation to help it stick. As soon as you can, write it down and think of a mnemonic for it; a drawing or visual image or put the word/phrase into a poem or song. If you don’t know about mnemonics go here to find out.

confidence cat lion

If you follow these three steps you will soon notice a big difference in your ability. You should become more fluent, more confident and even take pride in your level of English, whatever stage you are at.

So why do you think you are shy or embarrassed to speak the English you know?

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