LOS Kudos

Check this out! Some great examples of our students’ progress, and how we at LOS “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative and don’t mess with Mister In-Between” (Bing Crosby). Error correction is obviously an important factor in language teaching, but nothing fires up a student like a well-timed and heartfelt pat on the back.

Jarda H. takes a ROUND TRIP when he travels between his holiday cottage, the local town and back home again – probably mixing in the best circles.  

Jarda V. explained the reality of business through the medium of Abba: “THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL!” Unfortunately he sang it as well!

Lukas, on the other hand, talks in terms of SUPER-SENSITIVITY – but probably only when he wins!
 
In Wimbledon fortnight, how appropriate that Tomas has invoked tennis when describing a work situation where “THE BALL IS IN THE OTHER PERSON’S COURT.”
 
Petr hopes to stay in a PRESIDENTIAL SUITE one day. Perhaps he should go into politics!
 
It was so so good for me, if not for him, when Michal recently described an experience as SO-SO.
 
Have you ever done something at noon-ISH, like Olga has? It’s about time you did.

When Petra doesn’t like something, it’s not her CUP OF TEA. Can you get more English without being the Queen?

Do you think England is THE CRADLE OF FOOTBALL?  Of course, I do. But so does Jarda, and he said as much!
 
IF NOT TODAY, WHEN? Not me posing this classic English form of question, but Tomas.
 
If you have a showroom, Standa recommends it isn’t IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Beautifully concise and descriptive.
 
Michal doesn’t just disapprove of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, he CONDEMNS them. What an excellent intensifying verb.
 
How would you describe an aircraft without a pilot? Petr uses PILOTLESS. A good suffix saves so much time, doesn’t it?

Jarda managed to slip PRIMA DONNA into our conversation. OK, I know, that is Italian, strictly speaking, but used by native speakers of English all the time in reference to people with a difficult temperament. As a bonus, when I asked who he was talking about, he went all POLICE DRAMA on me and replied NO COMMENT!

When Petra described a surprising situation as an EYE-OPENER, I found it satisfyingly eye-opening!
 
SHIFT PATTERNS is a phrase well-known to native English speakers, but it’s impressive to hear this expression coming from a non-native speaker like Tomas.
 
Is NOVELTY new to you? That’s a word joke, inspired by Míša.
 
Michal got SEX ON THE BEACH last weekend. I think he was talking about cocktails. 🙂
 
When you feel tired, with only a short time to sleep, do you TAKE A NAP? Petr does.

Míša used a linguistic term CHUNK when talking about a phrase or group of words that can be learnt as a unit.

When Petra’s manager called a meeting at short notice, she described this as AD HOC. English sounds so much better with a sprinkling of Latin, don’t you think? Carpe Diem!
 
When I asked Jarda about what might happen in the future, he talked in terms of his PREDICTIONS rather than just saying what he thought would happen. Another great example of one word doing the work of several.
 
When Petr’s Covid19 test came back negative, even though he was showing a lot of symptoms, he concluded that he must have CLASSIC FLU. What an inventive way to make this important medical distinction!
 
Michal remembered from our last lesson that a cabinet for storing clothes is a WARDROBE. He loves that being specific saves explanation, and so do I!

Jarda described the Czech economy as being ADDICTED to Russian gas. Irrespective of the politics, the register of English is very high.

Michal is a great advocate of electric cars and talked about THE LIFETIME OF batteries rather than wasting time and energy on a long explanatory sentence about how long it takes before the batteries need to be replaced. Like I just did then. I’m exhausted!
 
While on the subject of gas, Standa didn’t take the easy option of saying that prices had risen greatly. He said they had SKYROCKETED. Blast off!
 
Instead of saying she had known a friend ‘since they were children’, Míša used the beautiful and quite poetic alternative FROM CHILDHOOD.

Petra described what she would do in a particular situation as her APPROACH to that situation – metaphorically, and poetically, walking towards it. This sounds so good to the native ear.

When Standa used MORE THAN THAT as an alternative to the more prosaic also, it demonstrated how a well-chosen phrase can liven up conversation. But, as Standa would also say, that’s PRETTY NORMAL for him.
 
When Míša mentioned someone’s FIELD, she wasn’t talking about a farmer, but using a good and high-register synonym for a person’s area of expertise or interest. Although I suppose if you are a farmer, your field is fields!
 
Pavel and his excellent HOT POTATO isn’t for eating but used to describe a situation which nobody wants to take responsibility for and which is constantly passed around as too hot to handle.
 
Michal complained that his daughter’s ability to plan only extended to one day in advance, MAX. If there’s one thing better than a one-word explanation, it’s shortening the word (in this case maximum) itself!
 
One of the most charming words in the English language is, er … CHARMING, which Olga used to describe the Prague Christmas markets, unfortunately cancelled this year!
 
What better PROOF of progress than to start using the suffix – proof, as Petr did when referring to something that protects against a particular problem, whether a fireproof chair, a bulletproof vest or a waterproof jacket.

When Petra reduced a potentially problematic situation that is under control” (8 words) to NO BIG DEAL (3 words and an idiom to boot), she moved ever closer to native speech as well as making her teacher a very happy man!

Jarda is an avid watcher of documentaries in English and, having seen one about someone living alone in “an uncultivated, uninhabited, distant and inhospitable region”, had added WILDERNESS to his vocabulary. Native speech does save a lot of breath, doesn’t it?
 
When Pavel used VICE VERSA, originally a Latin phrase meaning simply “the reverse is also the case”, he spared himself at a stroke the arduous task of repeating the relevant sentence in reverse.
 
Michal pulled off making a joke in English when he said he had a serious male illness: A RUNNY NOSE. This had the added bonus of allowing me to teach him the phrase MAN FLU.
 
It may not sound like much but Petr, in the context of IT, used the word APP, rather than the longer “Application”, which absolutely no-one uses in native English unless talking about job-seeking.

When talking about the organisation of a particular set of circumstances, Petra employed the noun SET-UP, which nicely packaged a number of considerations into one word, which could then be re-used in context without re-listing all the individual circumstances.

Jarda talked about a Czech village that BORDERS Poland, nicely using the relevant verb rather than creating a sentence around the usual noun.
 
When I asked Standa a question in respect of which he was unsure of the answer, instead of saying “I don’t know” – which is the usual response, even amongst native speakers – he replied: “IT’S HARD TO SAY“. This may sound insignificant, but it demonstrates that his English is functioning at a level which is constantly pushing his own boundaries.
 
Rather than just comment that it was very easy to hear all the words and music at a particular venue, Míša referred to its PERFECT ACOUSTIC. Another great example of letting one high register noun do all the heavy lifting.
 
Michal has a cold at the moment, and replied “SO-SO when asked how he was feeling, once again demonstrating how one little adjective or adverb can be an ideal substitute for a long explanatory sentence.
 
Petr described items being STACKED rather than just placed one on top of another. This is not just a higher register word; it also conveys a sense of significant size which lower register alternatives do not.
 
Olga deployed the modern, classic idiom BUCKET LIST instead of using more prosaic vocabulary such as ambitions I want to achieve before I die, and sounded all the more English for it!

Petra put most native English speakers to shame when she referred to one of two options as the MORE IMPORTANT rather than the more common, and grammatically incorrect, most important.

Jarda sounded almost aristocratic at the start of this week’s lesson when he WONDERED WHETHER I COULD DO HIM A FAVOUR. This is the sort of brilliantly polite way of speaking which will have native speakers prepared to do anything for you.
 
Pavel used the modern English idiom “COMPTURE SAYS NO” to express his frustration with the customer service (or lack of it) he is receiving from a certain company at the moment. This comes from the famous English comedy series Little Britain, which aired in the mid-2000s, in which a running joke saw a woman (played by a man) just feed all customer questions into her PC and then announce that she couldn’t assist with whatever the problem was because the PC had given a negative answer. English idiom is constantly being informed by popular culture, and this particular idiom – which didn’t even exist 20 years ago – is used up and down the country every single day. So well done, Pavel, for tapping into something so modern and relevant.
 
Michal was explaining that in the Czech Republic , it is necessary to change from summer to winter tyres at the end of October, and back again at the end of March, but that to avoid this inconvenience he was looking to buy some ALL-WEATHER tyres. With one brilliantly chosen and pithy adjective he saved himself from a long and potentially tortuous explanation.
Jarda was telling us about the current supply-chain problem which is especially hurting the economy of the Czech Republic, and how the famous Skoda Company is to cease car-production for 3 months, affecting DIRECT LABOUR of 30,000 people and INDIRECT LABOUR of 25,000 people. This is such a good example of a well-placed adjective (or two) cutting through what might otherwise have been a long and winding sentence.
 
Although Apple have brought out a brand new PC, Pavel says he is resisting the temptation to buy one because he simply doesn’t need all the additional BELLS AND WHISTLES that are boasted by the latest version. This is a wonderfully colourful, well-used and often-heard idiom for the technical functions that accompany anything mechanical or computerised.
 
Petr perfectly deployed the commonly-used Latin expression MODUS OPERANDI (often stortened to M.O. and literally meaning ‘method of working’) when talking about his professional week being split between working from home and going into the office.

Jarda and I were discussing what athletes do when they retire from their chosen sport, when he volunteered that in the Czech Republic we have a lot of SPORTSPEOPLE in politics. This was a very interesting observation expressed in perfect English, even down to the gender neutral term which shortened the sentence to a nicely manageable length.

I was asking Pavel how a couple of potential apps he is working on are progressing. His reply, in which he admitted having neglected them for a while, was prefaced with the phrase “SHAME ON ME“. This took the usual third-party criticism ‘shame on you’ and switched it to be self-critical, showing how easy (and acceptable) it is to take English and play around with it.
 
In our last lesson, Michal absolutely rocked the pronunciation of the past tense in regular verbs. You know; the ones with the infamous ‘ed’ ending, which usually require the speaker to resist the logical pronunciation to rhyme with ‘head’, and instead shorten them to just apostrophe D. So, LOCKED came out beautifully as lock’d, WATCHED as watch’d, TALKED as talk’d and RECEIVED as receive’d. And when he came across one of those occasional regular verbs which does actually require the full pronunciation, he was again up to the task, and started was given its full length version.
 
After working from home almost exclusively during the pandemic, Petr was finally able to meet up with his colleagues at the company offices in Prague, and described how great it was to be able to see everyone FACE-TO-FACE rather than just online. This expression, which can be an adjective or, as used by Petr, an adverb, is such a wonderfully emotive alternative to more functional expressions such as ‘in reality’ or ‘in person’, and really conveys the humanity of this type of situation.
 
Jarda said: “The journey FROM DOOR TO DOOR takes three hours.”
 
Míša used “IN MY CHILDHOOD” rather than “When I was a child”. Nice high register! I think the sentence was something like “I lived near here in my childhood, but we moved here for other reasons.”
 
Standa referred to one of the top Czech politicians as being “LOST IN HIS LIES“. What a fantastic creation of a phrase!
 
Michal corrected himself by using my mistake. “I went to the cottage on Friday; SORRY, MY MISTAKE, Thursday.”He also said “HALF 10” instead of “half-past 10” or “10.30”, which is exactly how a native speaker talks.
 
Petra used “ON A DAILY BASIS” which I thought was fantastic, rather than “every day” or “each day” – which are all good, but just not as high register. The context was having to speak English ‘on a daily basis’ because it is the Lingua Franca as between Czechia (at her end) and Slovakia and Hungary (at the other).
 
Pavel used PERKS (“Contract workers don’t have the perks that are enjoyed by the permanent staff”). He also used “THE PENNY DROPPED” – I was struggling with my guitar technique, but one day the penny dropped, and now I know what I’m doing.’

Petr now regularly uses the following phrase when thinking about what he’s going to say. He used to say things like “Maybe this way” and “Maybe like this” but now uses “HOW SHALL I PUT IT?” which is as English as the Queen! 🙂