These words – success, failure, effort, belief – take different forms and collocate strongly with other words.
They’re also problematic for Indonesian scholars. Success has become sukses, effort is translated from upaya, and belief is subject to the same word form error as life (see note below).
A guruEAP challenge!
Use a dictionary to complete the following text with suitable forms of these words. You can copy and paste into a word processor, and later paste your completed text into the comments box below this post where I will later add the ‘correct’ version.
Bill is a ______________ olympic runner. He has won several gold medals and has achieved ______________ in many other competitions. Ever since he was a child, he has always been a ______________. Last year he ______________ broke several world records. What does he think are the factors influencing his ______________? Clean living, plenty of training, and of course the desire to ______________!
Budi is a ______________ as a runner. He ______________ every time he enters a race. Ever since he began running he has been a ______________. As a child he ______________. As a teenager he ______________, and now as a middle age man he continues to ______________. He believes his constant ______________ to win may be related to his fondness for nightclubs and the fact that he eats nothing but bakso (with white rice, of course).
It seems that in order to ______________, a runner needs to make an ______________ to maintain the correct lifestyle and to maintain a ______________ in winning. It is only when we ______________ we will win that we can avoid ______________ and achieve ______________.
Note to Indonesian scholars
- In English effort is a noun (not a verb). So what is a good translation for mengupaya untuk..?
- Word form errors made with belief and believe are the same as errors made with life and live.
This could be achieved using gravity to allow the water to flow from the higher to the lower level.
This is possible in some languages but not in English. In English if something happens the same way, all the time, predictably, without variation, then there isn’t really any question of probability (‘could‘). For regular, predictable phenomena use good old present simple tense without modals:
- This is achieved using gravity to allow the water to flow from the higher to the lower level.
Only use modals for unpredictable or uncertain situations, and then think about the degree of predictability or certainty:
- This could be achieved using gravity to allow the water to flow from the higher to the lower level, but there are other, better methods.
(= Gravity perhaps not the best method)
- In most situations this can be achieved using gravity to allow the water to flow from the higher to the lower level.
(= Gravity usually the best method)
Notice that could implies a more negative evaluation than can. Indonesians should think carefully about this distinction as they tend to over-use could, having been taught in school that could is more formal than can. Well, yes it is, but only in offers and requests:
- Can you pass the salt? (informal)
- Could you pass the salt, please? (formal)
- Excuse me. Would you mind passing the salt? (very formal)
Physical shops are more convenient than online stores. Firstly, in physical shops customers are able to touch goods and try on clothes. Secondly, shopping in physical shops can be a social activity.
There is a category of physical store aptly named ‘convenience stores‘. Many countries have 7 Elevens. In Indonesia we have Indomaret, Alfamart and Circle K.
Indonesians might call a shop that sells everything at a low price ‘convenient‘. However, the prices in convenience stores like Circle K can be quite a lot higher than average. These shops inflate prices precisely so that they can offer ‘conveniences‘:
- they are numerous, especially in cities
- they have ample parking if they are situated on a road
- they can even be found inside large shopping centres
- they stock items that most people need on a daily basis
- they provide fast and efficient service
These are all features that native English speakers would consider ‘convenient‘. In English something is ‘convenient‘ when it saves you time and effort. Being able to touch goods is not a matter of ‘convenience‘. It may be practical, but it is not what most people would call ‘convenient‘, and neither is meeting your friends when you go to physical stores.
For your convenience, here are some definitions of ‘convenience’, as well as some pictures of convenient things.
Students, especially Indonesian students, often tell me that they would much rather watch a film than read a book. Reading is boring, they say.
I would like to invite you to think again about reading.
My teaching colleagues and I would all agree that reading novels is fun, and we all recommend this kind of ‘extensive’ reading to our students. Most of us would also agree that when a film is made based on a book, the book is always much more satisfying than the film of the book.
Let’s try an experiment. Let’s see which you prefer – the book or the film? First you’re going to read and listen to a short text. Then you’re going to watch a movie clip based on the same text. Finally you’ll reflect on the experience and think again about which you prefer – reading or just ‘watching’.
1. Read the text shown in the clip below and use your imagination to picture what’s going on in the ‘story’. Think carefully about the imagery and about characters in the story. What do the people in the story look like? Where are they?
2. Now watch the ‘movie’. Compare what you see in the film to what you saw in your mind as you were reading. Did you ‘see’ the same things? How are the images in the video different from the images you saw in your mind when you were reading?
3. So what do you think? Do you still prefer watching somebody else’s thoughts. Who is the best ‘director’? You when you read? Or someone else when they read?
I’d be very interested to know your thoughts about reading vs. viewing. What are your preferences and why? Please comment below.
And why do you think I showed a picture of an iceberg as the featured image for this post?
This post comes with a fun challenge. Continue reading or jump straight to the challenge!
Is it worth to spend large amounts of money on space exploration?
This is an expression that doesn’t really have a nice translation in Bahasa Indonesia, (closest equivalent = layak) and so I seldom hear it from students. But it’s extremely common in spoken and written English, and so it’s one you should learn to use.
This is the correct collocation:
- Is it worth spending large amounts of money on space exploration?
Possible answers include..
- Yes, it’s (it is) worth it.
- Yes, it’s (it is) worth spending money on space exploration.
- No, it isn’t (it is not) worth it.
- No, it’s (it is) not worth it.
- No, it isn’t (is not) worth spending money on space exploration.
When you ask “Is it worth it?” you’re asking..
- Is it basically more advantageous than disadvantageous?
- Is the extra expense justified?
- Is the additional time investment justified?
And so we have the idiom “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!” If you’re investing extra time and/or money into a job or task, then it would be a sin to put in less than 100% effort:
And now for the challenge. Can you think of 5 activities that require additional time, effort and expense but are still worth it? Comments below! 🙂
Budi tried to teach himself IELTS but made no progress. Then he discovered @guruEAP and last Saturday he could achieve band 7.0.
Ok,ok.. I made this one up. It may look like shameless self-promotion, but it’s a problem I often see in student writing.
Consider this scenario:
When @guruEAP first arrived in Indonesia he could speak only English and French. Now, after 20 years in Indonesia, he can speak Indonesian fluently. Last weekend he bought some bananas from the local market and he was able to negotiate a reasonable price.
Here there are two kinds of ability:
- A permanent ability that existed/exists continuously over time (“..he could speak../..he can speak..“). Note that this can be past or present.
- A temporary ability in the past that existed momentarily, relating to a particular event (“..he was able to negotiate..“). Note that this is always past.
So if we return to the original problem:
- Budi tried to teach himself IELTS but made no progress. Then he discovered @eapguru and last Saturday he was able to achieve band 7.0.
Note that the temporary ability was required in a situation that was difficult and required effort / struggle.
Apple stores had more costumers than any other store during the period.
Strange that members of this particular profession should be so attracted to iPhones and Mac computers!
Compare costumer and customer!
- Apple stores had more customers than any other store during the period.
Advertising tends to make people more consumptive.
Once upon a time consumption meant ‘wasting away’, but in the context of tuberculosis, not shopping. Of course these days consumption is still a kind of wasting, but not as life-threatening!
The modern habit of wasting money on wants rather than needs is consumerism:
- Advertising tends to make people more consumeristic.
Compare: consumptive and consumeristic.
Just like their male counterparts, many Australian women earn money 2,000 dollars per month.
If a ‘unit’ can correspond to more than one different noun, then you need to specify your noun:
Good morning. Can I help you?
I’d like 2kg of rice, please.
In this example, kg could apply to many other nouns: potatoes, chocolate, etc, and so it is necessary to be specific about ‘rice’.
On the other hand if the unit can only correspond to a single noun – unambiguously – then there’s no need to mention that noun:
Good morning. Can I help you?
I’d like to withdraw 1,000 dollars, please.
In this example, ‘dollars’ clearly corresponds to ‘money’, and so it is redundant to say “1,000 dollars of money”.
If we apply this to the original problem then we get:
- Just like their male counterparts, many Australian women earn 2,000 dollars per month.
As we know that, last year the government removed English from the elementary school curriculum.
English, even academic English, is full of ‘fixed expressions’ – phrases that are always written and spoken in exactly the same form. Fixed expressions can be quite long and may include some sophisticated grammar, but it’s best to think of them as individual vocabulary items. Record them as vocabulary items. Memorise them as vocabulary items. Don’t change the word order of a fixed expression, and don’t change any word forms inside a fixed expression, even if you think your alterations make sense:
- You’re playing with fire!
- You’re playing with fires! (Altered word form)
- You’re playing with flames! (Changed word)
- You’re playing with the fire! (Added word)
- You’re with fire playing! (Changed word order)
You will be less likely to make errors like these if you memorise fixed expressions much as you might memorise individual vocabulary items. You may also notice how the structure of a fixed expression differs from its translation. For example, Indonesians feel a strong urge to add bahwa after seperti kita ketahui. (In English there is no bahwa):
- As we know, last year the government removed English from the elementary school curriculum.
As we know = 1 item, 3 words (not 4!)
Notice also that in this example as we know also requires a comma (,) to separate it from last year.
Record fixed expressions in your vocabulary notebook. Review them. Memorise them. Use them in sentences. And watch how your IELTS scores for writing and speaking start to increase!