29 Facts about Desserts


Today I came across another useful and amusing YouTube channel called Mental Floss. In this episode John Green is telling us 29 fun facts about desserts (never mentioning that it’s the word ‘stressed’ spelled backwards!) — a great video to show when teaching food. You could ask students to write down all the desserts names they hear and at least five facts each, making a competition who catches the most.

Teaching Fashion


A great discovery! This webpage is a paradise for teachers: a radio station that has the reports in audioscripts, as well. There are various topics, from arts to health and technology, and it’s so easy to draw some lesson material out of the audio and the corresponding text.

Tomorrow I’m teaching fashion with this article on Elsa Schiaparelli (reading and rendering the text, divide in parts, jumble them, make the students put the article together) and a listening made out of this one about clothing in general.

2012_Pantone_Fashion_Color_Report_Spring_03 (1)

By the way, here an amusing article from the Guardian teaching teachers what to wear 🙂 This is a laugh. (Especially because I do have all that stuff in my wardrobe, and it doesn’t make me feel fashionable, just schoolish and boring.)

more on accents

(what an unpleasant girl! but a nice channel, and the imitations are pretty amusing) it’s about the accents all around the UK

(I HATED this video, the boy is just SO annoying, and UFF, how to put it mildly, nearly illetarate, as well, but the demonstration could be useful for pre-int students, for example).

I had to finish this something good. The Multilingual Gibberish Girl on Ellen show and her original video. Check out the channel, the girl is a great laugh.

some rare and beautiful footages

Look, Sir Arthur, living and breathing! 1927!

And this is the guitarist numerous times mentioned in my favorite Nocturnes by Kadzuo Ishiguro. I love such vivid literature illustrations 🙂 I generally think it’s a great idea to listen to songs mentioned in the novels I like, look at the pictures, retrace the travel maps. Hey folks, we’re so lucky to have the Internet.

57 Ways To Sign Off On An Email by Susan Adams

Best – This is the most ubiquitous; it’s totally safe. I recommend it highly and so do the experts.

My Best – A little stilted. Etiquette consultant Lett likes it.

My best to you – Lett also likes this one. I think it’s old-fashioned.
All Best – Harmless.
All the best – This works too.
Best Wishes –Seems too much like a greeting card but it’s not bad.
Bests – I know people who like this but I find it fussy. Why do you need the extra “s?”
Best Regards – More formal than the ubiquitous “Best.” I use this when I want a note of formality.
Regards – Fine, anodyne, helpfully brief. I use this.
Rgds – I used to use this but stopped, because it’s trying too hard to be abbreviated. Why not type three more letters? OK if you’re sending it from your phone.
Warm Regards – I like this for a personal email to someone you don’t know very well, or a business email that is meant as a thank-you.
Warmest Regards – As good as Warm Regards, with a touch of added heat.
Warmest – I use this often for personal emails, especially if I’m close to someone but not in regular touch.
Warmly – This is a nice riff on the “warm” theme that can safely be used among colleagues.
Take care – In the right instances, especially for personal emails, this works.
Thanks – Lett says this is a no-no. “This is not a closing. It’s a thank-you,” she insists. I disagree. Forbes Leadership editor Fred Allen uses it regularly and I think it’s an appropriate, warm thing to say. I use it too.
Thanks so much – I also like this and use it, especially when someone—a colleague, a source, someone with whom I have a business relationship—has put time and effort into a task or email.
Thanks! – This rubs me the wrong way because I used to have a boss who ended every email this way. She was usually asking me to perform a task and it made her sign-off seem more like a stern order, with a forced note of appreciation, than a genuine expression of gratitude. But in the right context, it can be fine.
Thank you – More formal than “Thanks.” I use this sometimes.
Thank you! – This doesn’t have the same grating quality as “Thanks!” The added “you” softens it.
Many thanks – I use this a lot, when I genuinely appreciate the effort the recipient has undertaken.
Thanks for your consideration – A tad stilted with a note of servility, this can work in the business context, though it’s almost asking for a rejection. Steer clear of this when writing a note related to seeking employment.
Thx – I predict this will gain in popularity as our emails become more like texts. Lett would not approve.
Hope this helps – I like this in an email where you are trying to help the recipient.
Looking forward – I use this too. I think it’s gracious and warm, and shows you are eager to meet with the recipient.
Rushing – This works when you really are rushing. It expresses humility and regard for the recipient.
In haste – Also good when you don’t have time to proofread.
Be well – Some people find this grating. Not appropriate for a business email.
Peace – Retro, this sign-off wears its politics on its sleeve. It doesn’t bother me but others might recoil.
Yours Truly – I don’t like this. It makes me feel like I’m ten years old and getting a note from a pen pal in Sweden.
Yours – Same problem as above.
Very Truly Yours – Lett likes this for business emails but I find it stilted and it has the pen pal problem.
Sincerely – Lett also likes this but to me, it signals that the writer is stuck in the past. Maybe OK for some formal business correspondence, like from the lawyer handling your dead mother’s estate.
Sincerely Yours – Same problem as “Sincerely,” but hokier. Lett likes this for business correspondence. I don’t.
Cheers! – I wonder how prevalent this is in the UK. I’ve only seen it from Americans who are trying for a British affectation. I know it shouldn’t grate on me but it does. I also don’t like people telling me to cheer up.
Ciao – Pretentious for an English-speaker, though I can see using it in a personal, playful email.
-Your name – Terse but just fine in many circumstances. Probably not a good idea for an initial email.
-Initial – Good if you know the recipient and even fine in a business context if it’s someone with whom you correspond frequently.
Love – This seems too informal, like over-sharing in the business context, but Farhad Manjoo points out that for some people, hugging is common, even at business meetings. For them, this sign-off may work.
XOXO – I’ve heard of this being used in business emails but I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Lots of love – I would only use this in a personal email. The “lots of” makes it even more inappropriately effusive than the simple, clean “Love.”
Hugs – It’s hard to imagine this in a business email but it’s great when you’re writing to your granny.
Smiley face – Emoticons are increasingly accepted, though some people find them grating. I wouldn’t sign off this way unless I were writing to my kid.
😉 😉 – I’ve gotten emails from colleagues with these symbols and I find they brighten my day.
[😊 – I’m a sucker for variations on the smiley face made with punctuation marks, though I suspect most people don’t like them.
High five from down low – A colleague shared this awful sign-off which is regularly used by a publicist who handles tech clients. An attempt to sound cool, which fails.
Take it easy bro – Richie Frieman, 34, author of the new book Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career, says he regularly gets this from a web designer in Santa Cruz, CA. Though it might turn some people off, I would be fine receiving an email with this sign-off, knowing the sender lives in an informal milieu.
See you around – Lett would cringe but this seems fine to me.
Have a wonderful bountiful lustful day – Tim Ferguson, editor of Forbes Asia, regularly gets this sign-off from Joan Koh, a travel writer in southeast Asia. It’s weird and off-putting.
Sent from my iPhone – This may be the most ubiquitous sign-off. It used to bother me but I realize that it explains brevity and typos. I’ve erased it from my iPhone signature because I don’t like to freight my emails with extra words, and in many instances I don’t want the recipient to know I’m not at my desk. But maybe I should restore it. The same goes for automated message on other devices.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone – Slightly clever but it’s gotten old. Better to use the automated message.
Sent from a prehistoric stone tablet – I laughed the first time I read it but then the joke wore thin.
Pardon my monkey thumbs – Same problem here.
Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. – A preachy relic of the past. Who doesn’t know that printing uses paper?
vCards – I think these are a great idea. At least they work well on my Dell desktop when I want to load a contact into Outlook.
This email is off the record unless otherwise indicated – My colleague Jeff Bercovici, who covers media, says he gets this email from friends who are inviting him to birthday parties or other engagements and he finds it extremely annoying. I’m wondering what kind of paranoid people put this in their signatures.
Lengthy disclaimers – We’ve all seen these and ignored them, though I understand that many companies require them. Forbes’ in-house legal counsel, Kai Falkenberg, says she knows of no cases that have relied on legal disclaimers, though she says they might serve as persuasive evidence in a trade secrets case where a party was attempting to keep information confidential.

Via Forbes

new school year

keep calm

So, this year I’ve got 6 new groups of students. First of all, I hate everything new) I think I cried when my students of 3 years graduated. It was terrible to see them go (I know, I know it will go away eventually but anyway).

The new guys are mostly okay. 2 groups at the technical, 2 groups at the philological, and there are 2 more to come. I’m going to be particularly nasty to one of them because they truanted the class this Wednesday, and I had to get up at 6 to get a lesson prepared, nearly fell asleep on the metro, and they didn’t show up! I hate it, too. I also hate the fact that they are not tested before the class and I actually have no idea of their level. Could be elementary, could be pre- or intermediate. A nightmare for the teacher who has to think of 3-hour assignments which would be useful, appropriate and not boring. So you kinda end up preparing 3 classes instead of one.

One of the greatest surprises was the group who master in regional studies (ZR-something). Nobody is from St. Petersburg, class geography varies from Far East to Krasnodar and Archangelsk. They are funny, smart and talkative. And they like House MD! The first class was great, even if really long due to their stupid schedule, and at the end I suggested they play Alias. It was great fun and a real bloody competition, because I announced the prize as a free pass to one of the following tests. This game is a teacher’s savior when you need to kill some time and to have the students entertained but engaged.

At the philological faculty, in addition to my own kids of last year, there are 2 new groups. I’m assigned to teach them vocabulary, so listening and speaking that is. In a way it’s convenient because I don’t like to teach grammar separately but on the other hand, it takes lots of listening and engaging from my side, and at the end of day one I was rewarded with a splitting headache and the will to silence the whole world. Good thing S. understands and doesn’t require me to report on my day when I come home and just lets me read in peace.

To make this post a little less about me and a little more about teaching, here is a link to the Guardian’s How to teach… series. A while ago they posted a collection of links to help us teach grammar. I haven’t tried any of them because I had the most amazing August absolutely teaching-free but I think I will have to in the nearest future because that ZR-something class is supposed to be about grammar. Well, way to go.