バックナンバー of the SQ1 Reader – Issue #4

From the Library

The Count of Monte Cristo, commonly known as 巌窟王 (The King of the Cavern) in Japanese, is considered to be a literary classic.

This edition from Pearson, at the A2 vocabulary level, and a mere 12,000 words, is perhaps stretching the truth a bit with its title.

The actual novel is a whopping 464,162 words long. Wikipedia even has a diagram of character relationships to help confused readers remember how everyone in the story is connected. The book in the Square One library is obviously much simpler!

Inevitably, trying to cram such an enormous story into such a small book is an impossible challenge. Consequently, with limited space, this version of the Count is much kinder and considerably less intent on revenge.

This short little novel really isn’t the real thing. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of the original story through movies, television or translation, why not give it a try? It is an important story in Western literature and has had a huge influence on many other writers.

Visit the SQ1 Library by clicking here.

SQ1 Original Content – Night Owls & Monsters (CEFR B1 )

Are you a lark or a night owl? Are you an early riser who wakes up with the sun? Or are you prone to oversleeping because the TV tempted you to stay awake late into the night? Do you find it easy to fall fast asleep? Or do you often find yourself wide awake late at night? Do you count sheep to try and drift off into the land of nod? Or do you pass out the moment your heavy head lands on your pillow?

Personally, I am very jealous of natural early risers. By nature I am a night owl. My own body clock, my circadian rhythm, does not fit with my work schedule. When I wake up in the morning, I am not bright eyed and bushy tailed. I am a zombie in search of black coffee. I need my morning caffeine boost like a vampire craves blood. I am a grumpy little goblin man until I get my first cup.

The world is not kind to us night owls. Society is built for larks and run by them. So if you happen to be a lark who lives with a night owl, please be kind to them. Put a pot of coffee on when you wake up, it will soothe the monster for a little while… until the next morning if you are lucky.

Study Tips – Steal from TED Talks

When I teach my Presenting Skills class at university, the main thing I have my students do is watch TED talks. What better way to learn how to present in English than to watch what professionals do?

Despite my warnings, my students often make a mistake about what to focus on in their first homework. They focus on the big, long, academic words used by the presenters. They watch scientific presentations and come to class with serious sounding words that I have heard before, but don’t know well at all; because I am not a neuroscientist or astrophysicist.

The mistake they make is overlooking the little words. More specifically the chunks of little words.

I looked at a very popular TED talk and found these great chunks of language:

“But what if we could…?”

“So what have we learned?”

“The clearest message that we get from this is…”

“… keep us happier and healthier.”

“I’d like to close with a quote from…”

Plagiarism is often a problem because nervous students steal without thinking. It’s not a problem when they steal the right stuff, the stuff they can recycle again and again and again and… you get the idea.

Quotes from this TED talk.

Thanks for taking the time to read Issue #4 of The Square One Reader.

If you enjoyed the newsletter, please recommend and share The Square One Reader with friends, family, and colleagues!

バックナンバー of the SQ1 Reader – Issue #3

From the Library

Great Crimes, by John Escott, immediately caught my eye when I was searching through the library.

The reason it got my attention is that it contains 11 famous crime stories that I only half knew.

Bonnie and Clyde? I knew they were American outlaws. They appear in pop culture all over the place. They are part of American-English language. If you say, “they are like Bonnie and Clyde!” I immediately think, “Oh ok, outlaw couple”. But did I know their story? Not really…

Charles Ponzi? Sure, that’s the most famous example of a Ponzi scheme. I mean, it’s named after him! I know what that is. But, what did hedo exactly? Ummm… let me ask google.

The Great Train Robbery? Sure, sure, I know that story… they robbed a train and… ok, that’s about all I know.

It’s a level 4 book from Oxford with 15,000 words at the B1/B2 level. It should take you around 2 hours to read, but you can split that up very easily as the book has 11 different crime stories. Pick it up, put it down, take your time.

SQ1 Original Content – Am I a Smartphone Addict? (CEFR B1 Level)

Everyone is a little bit addicted to their smartphones, right?

It’s so easy to get hooked. To be dependent on the little computer in your hand, to be obsessed with checking your email, your Instagram, or whatever your digital drug of choice is.

Curious about this topic, I asked my new students this week, is this sentence true for you, “I am addicted to my smartphone.”

Most students wrote that it was about 70% true for them. They told me they sometimes spent more than 8 hours on their phones.

It sounds shocking, right? But if we unpack it a little, it isn’t quite so scary.

Their smartphones are their primary source of visual entertainment. They are a replacement for movie theatres and televisions. Indeed, many students told me they don’t even watch TV, they only watch Youtube on their phones.

It’s also how they listen to music, it’s how they play video games, and of course it’s how they take those endless selfies.

But it’s also how they do research for homework, and it’s how they contact their friends, their family, and even their teachers. It’s their one screen for absolutely everything.

My smartphone usage isn’t like that. I don’t watch Youtube much, but I do watch my TV.

When I work from home, I avoid my smartphone, but I dowork at my desktop.

When I read a book, I try to read a paperback, but more often than not I doread books on my kindle.

So, am I any less of a smartphone addict than my students?

Of course I am! I’m not a smartphone junkie… but only because I can afford to buy more screens than them.

Study Tips – Google Books Ngram Viewer

In my work as a proofreader for education publishers I am often asked to decide whether a phrase is natural sounding. Would a native speaker of English really say or write this?

The problem is, something that sounds natural to one person, doesn’t always sound natural to another person.

So in order to double-check my own judgements about language I often use Google Books Ngram Viewer. Essentially, what Google Books Ngram Viewer does is scan its database to see how popular or common a word or phrase is over time.

In the example below you can see that Sherlock Holmes suddenly became more popular around 2010. The Benedict Cumberbatch effect, perhaps?

This is also a really good way to check whether a specific phrase is more common than another.

For example, which is better to use, surf the web or use the internet?

An easy win for use the internet. Retirement for you surf the web.

So if you are worried that your dictionary’s suggestion might be too old fashioned, please give Google Books Ngram Viewer a try! 

Or just use it to see who gets more book mentions, Superman or Spiderman.

Thanks for taking the time to read Issue #3 of The Square One Reader.

If you enjoyed the newsletter, please recommend and share The Square One Reader with friends, family, and colleagues!