WHAT A POTATO PEELER REMINDED ME ABOUT VALUE

Do you use a potato peeler for your potatoes, or just a sharp knife? Personally, I prefer a specific peeler, and it can also work great on carrots to prepare your healthy mid-morning snack.

Marketing has given us at least 5 Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People). Convenience is associated with price, and is an important factor in choice when we decide to buy something; and that’s one of the key reasons for the success on online shopping outlets such as Amazon.

Price is also a key factor, and when I needed to buy the aforementioned kitchen utensil, the Chinese store less than 100 metres from my flat sprang to mind. I chose one that seemed up to its important culinary function, and it was cheap. After 3 months and about 20 potatoes, the blade became lose and then last week, it just broke. There were signs of rust at the joint. I decided to take it back to the shop.

For better or worse, the owner’s teenage son and daughter were behind the counter and set about blaming me for not taking care of it and “What did I expect for what I paid for it.” They didn’t even address me as usted! As my parting shot, I told them I was never coming back there again.

Once I’d calmed down and overcome my indignation, it made me think about what I’d learned from my little crappy potato peeler. Despite the textbook “how not to deal with a customer complaint” treatment, in some ways they were right. If you pay 2 duros for an item, you should go into a transaction knowing what you are buying and lowering your expectations. Your complaint should be based on the price-quality ratio.

Many people still expect to find the utopian quality product at a bargain price. When you buy a low-cost, low-quality product (your perception) you get an immediate feeling of satisfaction, and then later on disappointment. When you buy a more expensive product that you know is good quality, you may feel disappointed in yourself or even guilty at spending so much, but later on, you’re more likely to feel satisfaction. This is obviously a simplification of a topic that hides complex psychology impulses, rationalisations and marketing strategies.

However, your potatoes should provide food for thought, and avoid anger at the friend who smugly reminds you  “I told you so.”  

If you’re learning English, the following phrases may come in handy next time you rationalise your low-cost purchase.

Buy cheap, pay dear (expensive).

You get what you pay for.

Buying cheap is a false economy.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

En fin, lo barato sale caro.

What do you think?

RAFAEL NADAL

¿ES DE VERDAD UN EXTRATERRESTRE?

Después de ganar su 22º Grand Slam en Roland Garros en 2022, en España le llamaron Extraterrestre y en Francia Le Martien. En inglés no es ni an alien ni a Martian.

¿Esto quiere decir que los anglohablantes no aprecian sus altas capacidades y su forma de superar escollos insuperables para otros seres humanos o alguno de Star Trek o Star Wars?

 Pues, no. Es simplemente otro ejemplo de que, aunque exista una palabra igual en otro idioma, el uso metafórico no coincide.

Al final, Rafael Nadal es a superhuman o para buscar una frase adverbial de otro mundo, Rafa is from another world, que sí evoca el sentido de extraterreste.

Claro, hay metáforas que sí coinciden, una estrella de rock es un rockstar, pero eres un sol se convierte en you’re a star o you’re an angel (pero sin dejar nuestro temático), pero to moon en inglés es enseñar el culo en público, que sí sale un poco de nuestro tema de hoy.

Entonces ¿Cuándo se usa alien en inglés aparte de describir nuestros amiguetes rojos de Marte? Pues, para los inmigrantes ilegales. Si no me crees pregúntaselo a Sting que lo usaba en su canción I’m an Englishman in New York, “I’m an alien, I’m an illegal alien, I’m an English man in New York”, aunque es este caso se refería al autor inglés Quentin Crisp.

Cuando finalmente los extraterrestres nos visiten como turistas, como mínimo no se sentirán discriminados en los Estados Unidos ya que se pondrán en la misma cola que los otros extranjeros que no son de nacionalidad americana, y que se llaman Aliens. Welcome to America.

Y, evidentemente no crearás que Nadal sea un extraterrestre si eres un terraplanista, porque según ellos, somos únicos en el universo. En algunos círculos se conocen a los flatearthers como flatards, que es una palabra portmanteau (2 palabras unidas en una) que combina flat (plana) con retard (subnormal).

Según tu nivel de inglés (o español), en este artículo has aprendido unas nuevas palabras super útiles relacionadas con el universo para referirte a las personas.

Y, para citar a otro superhéroe como Rafa Nadal (Buzz Lightyear),

<<To infinity and beyond>>

ARE YOU HUNGRY or ANGRY? o ¿Tienes HANGRY ?

One of the most typical existential doubts that a Spanish student can have in English is choosing between hungry /ˈhʌŋgri/  and angry /ˈæŋgri/, mostly due to the pronunciation of the two words. And you can add to that the difficulty of differentiating between the u /ʌ/ and the a /æ/ as Spanish has a composite sound similar to a mix of the two.

One way of remembering the words is to remember that hungry starts with an h like hambre. And remember Hungary can be pronounced exactly the same as hungry but means Hungría. All clear so far?!

But then you find the word hangry and wonder if someone has made a spelling mistake. Well, actually they haven’t. Hangry fits into the category of portmanteau words; ones that combine parts of two words, such as smog (smoke and fog) and brunch (breakfast and lunch). It’s a really economical way of coining new phrases; it’s like two for the price of one in a lexical supermarket.

Hangry is a neologism from the world of psychology and combines…. yes, you guessed it, hungry and angry. In psychology, it refers to becoming angry when you get hungry and needing to satisfy your hunger as soon as possible.

Does that happen to you? Do you get in a bad mood when you’re feeling hungry, and suddenly become hangry? A large part of successful dieting is being able to control this emotion. Have you tried drinking water to reduce your appetite? It works! Really! And now there’s a trend towards fasting. If you tend to get hangry then you’ll need more work before moving onto that.

So, if you’re not a native English speaker, you now have another word to master!

So, do you get hangry? It’s food for thought!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?

Your career might depend on it.

A typical reply to this question in English is “How long is a piece of string?” That is, it depends. OK, some people are better than others, but nearly everyone can reach a C1 level. Do you live in the target language country? And if you do, do you speak to any of the locals? Do you immerse yourself in the language at home and use a speaking app?

In the business world, I’ve found cases of managers who needed a foreign language for their new role or because their local company had been taken over by a multinational. The normal reaction is, “Right, I need a high intermediate level… right now….no, tomorrow, no,YESTERDAY!” “Can you do that for me?”

We can’t learn the language for you, and the lesson to learn from this is that preparing for the future is essential. And if you have certain roles in a company, you should think through potential scenarios and the probabilities of needing English, French, etc. If you think you will, the best time to start learning isn’t tomorrow or yesterday, it’s TODAY.

About 5 years ago, I had a student in a class with a low intermediate level who predicted that his future role in the multinational would require him to speak Advanced English. He ended up being my most dedicated student in my 32 year career as a language trainer! He never missed a day, he did extra work outside class, and started speaking more English at work. 5 years later, he’d reached a C1 level.  True story.

According to James Clear of Atomic Habits fame, “Most big, deeply satisfying accomplishments in life take at least five years to achieve” He goes on to mention growing your business, writing a book, getting in great shape and cultivating a loving relationship. He could’ve added playing an instrument or learning a language really well.

In a previous article, I mentioned that many polyglots manage to learn languages to a B2 level in 2 years or less. However, not all of us have the time it takes to do this, although there are ways of organising your time which would make a huge difference.

The important take-away is that you need to accept that it takes time and dedicaton to reach certain large goals. Unrealistic expectations and demands will cause frustration and just distract you from reaching them.

Sadly, there are no shortcuts to learning a language well, despite the spurious claims of online courses. Like most things, you need to find motivation, create habits and add a good dose of will-power and dedication to get there.

Some languages will take you less time to learn than others. In my next article we’ll look at which ones are the easiest.

Meanwhile, if your future is looking international or global and you don’t have a sufficient level, START NOW, not in 5 years’ time!

To find out how to reach your language learning goals, contact us TODAY.

JUST ANOTHER MANIC MONDAY?

Our Western Weekend Culture

There are so many songs with a negative message about Mondays, and I’m sure that reflects how many people feel about it, especially as the West’s week revolves around reaching the weekend and having Friday off as well if possible.

The Bangles were pretty clear that

It’s just another manic Monday (Woah, woah)

I wish it was Sunday (Woah, woah)

‘Cause that’s my fun day (Woah, woah, woah, woah)

My “I don’t have to run day” (Woah, woah)

It’s just another manic Monday

And Bob Geldof from the Boomtown Rats told us about a schoolgirl that took her dislike for Mondays a little too far …

(Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
(Tell me why)
I don’t like Mondays
I wanna shoot the whole day down

But then luckily, the Mamas and Papas sang to us in a more positive light,

Monday, Monday (bah-da bah-da-da-da)
So good to me (bah-da bah-da-da-da)
Monday mornin’, it was all I hoped it would be

Sadly, the singer changed his mind quite radically in verse two

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin’ you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me

It seems that his romantic partner left him and didn’t want him to go with her.

By the third verse Monday has become a psychological trigger that brings back the traumatic memories of being abandoned by his lover

Every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
But whenever Monday comes, you can find me cryin’ all of the time

Not everyone needs to associate Mondays with a traumatic or unpleasant day. In fact, in the UK, Monday is the second day of the week, as it is in Portugal, known as Segunda- Feira. However, it doesn’t seem to have changed people’s attitudes to it!

I’d love to say that I love Mondays as it is the start of a week of opportunites, but I’ll keep that unpopular opinion to myself. It is also the first day of the rest of your life!

The question is, do you want your life to be two enjoyable days a week or seven? And, how can you change that without winning the lottery?

The answer is:

Bah da bah da da da…

ADVANTAGE FRIDAY: PHRASE OF THE WEEK

We’re not out of the woods yet.

We’ve been living with the Covid 19 pandemic now for two years, and in recent weeks, with the majority no longer wearing masks and far more events taking place in a face-to-face mode, you could be forgiven for thinking that Covid is over.

You could say “it’s not over till it’s over”, especially if you sang in a band called Starship, but I want to focus on another similar phrase which sums up the situation nicely.  

I thought I was somehow immune to picking up illnesses, but apparently not; I’ve caught Covid, but only with cold symptoms. Maybe being triple vaxxed helped.

Like many people I let my guard down last weekend and this may have been the consequence. So, even if you think it’s over, take note, because it seems we’re not out of the woods yet.

Find more phrases like this and their Spanish translations in my next book.

Coming soon…

MISTAKES NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS WISH THEY HADN’T MADE

THINGS I WISH I KNEW    V  THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN

As a learner of English, you’ve studied a lot and depending on your teacher you started studying I wish at Low or High Intermediate level.

You learned that:

I wish + past simple is for things you wish for now or in the future,

I wish I knew more about saving money.

(Ojalá supiera más sobre como ahorrar dinero.)

and

I wish + Past Perfect is for things you wished for in the past that didn’t happen.

I wish I’d (had) known more about saving Money when I was twenty.

(Ojalá hubiera sabido más sobre como ahorrar dinero cuando tenia 20 años.)

However, it seems that native speakers are breaking the rules again. On some grammar forums, the suggestion is that the trend may be coming from the United States. Oh no!!

Here is an example from Frances Bridges, writing in Forbes Magazine in 2017. The title should read “10 things I wish I’d known…”

10 Things I wish I knew when I was 20

https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2017/11/21/10-things-i-wish-i-knew-when-i-was-20/

That being said, there is so much I wish I knew when I was 20 that I know now that would have saved me time, money and often a great deal of pain.

It’s in the past so, it should be I wish I’d known…”

 If I were to write a list to myself at 20 of what I should understand as soon as possible, this is what I would write. I hope you find it helpful, and that your learn from some of my mistakes.

This is in the past so it should be “what I should have understood…”

It seems to be a lazy and sloppy way of avoiding longer phrases, which isn’t really acceptable if you are writing in a reputable publication.

This theme of “Things I wish I knew when I was (age).” has now become a fixed phrase with wrong grammar, and you can find it in LinkedIn articles and all over the Internet.

At least some authors such as Robin Sharma and Linda Green have got it right.

Who started it all? Was it perhaps an English pop star called Rod Stewart? Probably not. Songs often use words and phrases that break grammar rules so that they fit the melody or just sound better.

Here are two examples with “I wish I knew…” used wrongly in songs. If you also want to use it like this, please be aware that in a Cambridge examination it will be marked as wrong!

Rod Stewart – Ooh La La

I wish that I knew what I know now  (I wish that I’d known what I know now)
When I was younger
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger

Songwriters: Ron Lane / Ronald David Wood

Ooh La La lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

The Revivalists – Wish I Knew You

I wish I knew you when I was young   (I wish I’d known you when I was young)
We could’ve got so high
Now we’re here it’s been so long
Two strangers in the bright lights

Songwriters: Andrew Campanelli / David Shaw / Edward Williams / George Gekas / Michael Daniel Girardot / Robert Ingraham / Zachary Feinberg

Wish I Knew You lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

GIVING A TALK TO YOURSELF AT A CONFERENCE

SPEAKING AT THE ONLINE POLYGOT GATHERING CONFERENCE 2O22

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the annual Polyglot Gathering conference and enjoyed both practising languages and helping other attendees improve their Catalan and English.

Between a session on the Klingon language (more and more popular in this part of the Galaxy), and finding out more about the memorising techniques of a national Belgian memory contest champion, I gave a talk on Artificial Bilingualism (In Spanish with slides in English), that is, raising your children in a language that isn’t your native one. I’ve interviewed many families in Spain who have managed to bring up their children speaking English even though Spanish or Catalan is their native language. If you have a high enough level in English, you could do it too.

Disconcerting

What can be a little disconcerting is giving a talk when you can’t see the audience! In the usual format at this conference, the speaker gives a talk and then answers questions at the end that are written on the screen. It’s the second time I’ve done this, so it wasn’t as bizarre as last year, but you can get the feeling that you are speaking to yourself! I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t alone as I got plenty of questions at the end and found popele in other chatrooms later on who had seen my speech .

The Polygot Gathering is at a live venue in Poland from the 1st-6th June, which I’m unable to attend. Hopefully, from now on, more talks will be held in a face to face format to provide that human feeling again. However, we’ve seen that an online format opens up a talk or workshop to people all over the world.

Contact me for the courses and talks that I give.

THE FRIDAY WEEKEND WORD #1 TGIF

This is a new series called your FRIDAY Weekend Word. This will include words and phrases to make you sound more natural in English.

Only one new word a week?

Hopefully you also actively seek out other ones yourself. 


But, at the very least, that’s 52 special words in a year.

Small increases lead to big changes if you are consistent. 

This week the phrase is Thank God It’s Friday, or TGIF.

And you can use the acronym in written and spoken English.  T.G.I.F.
– Glad it’s the last day of the week Oliver.
– Yes, TGIF !

  As you can imagine, this is a popular phrase in our 5-day working week culture in the West.  You work 5 days, which are supposed to be unpleasant rather than fun and productive, and then you can enjoy the 2-day weekend, which is lovely and is what you look forward to starting very Monday at 9am. 

So TGIF. Have a great weekend!!  

Learn English without effort-Really?

Learn English without effort – Were you born yesterday?  ¿Te chupas el dedo o naciste ayer?

Vale, queremos y anhelamos aprender cosas nuevas sin esforzarnos. Es normal. Aun cuando vemos un anuncio que pone “El secreto de …” , “Aprende sin esfuerzos..” nos cuesta un montón no pinchar sobre el link – es click bait total. 

Pero de verdad, ¿crees que puedes aprender a hablar un idioma sin hablar, formar frases sin errores, sin estudiar reglas gramaticales o aprender vocabulario sin leerte nada? Pues hay alguien que ha encontrado suficientes adeptos – 1.64m suscritores – que están dispuestos a creer en cuentos de hadas, sobre todo si la persona que los cuenta es su príncipe azul: Qué entre KALE ANDERS!

No tienes que saber mucho de marketing o de “psicología” para comprender si tienes el don del habla, eres joven y sobre todo guapo (y tiene un vídeo sobre como ligar en inglés), engañarás a mucha gente, pero no a toda.

Puedes adquirir un idioma sin esfuerzos. Pregúntaselo a mi hijo, que ha nacido aquí en España, pero es un nativo del inglés. Para todos los demás, hay métodos que funcionan que os explicaré, pero nunca acabarás una maratón sin sudar. Manolo Tena nos dio unas pistas sobre los deseos contradictorios en una de sus canciones, “Quiero beber y no olvidar…”

Y si te pasas con el vino, te despertarás con resaca, aunque seguramente también encontrarás un vídeo que revelará el secreto de cómo evitarla…

Listos para hacer CLICK!!