Adverts don’t work…

on me normally, as I’m over the age of 30 and know what I like. To be honest, a lot of them now make little sense, as it’s been years since I was in touch with the cultural zeitgeist and have no idea of the multi-layered facets and references which have been lovingly interwoven by those hard-working guys in the ad agencies.

However, occasionally one makes it through.

This is VERY tempting. Sadly, it’s too early in terms of my availability but it has prompted thoughts for slightly later, which would fit in with my traditional time to visit The Netherlands. Hmmm, let me ponder….


I’m more or less half way through my CELTA TEFL course and my group of nascent teachers is moving from a pre-intermediate group to an upper intermediate group. I may have mentioned, once or twice, to my co-students that I’m studying Dutch and have been asked at what level I would place myself as a learner. It’s tricky to self-evaluate, there are four language skills, reading and listening – receptive skills, as well as speaking and writing – productive skills.

I’d place my skill levels in the following order: reading, speaking, writing and finally listening. The last, listening, is as I know now, the one most learners of foreign languages find most difficult to master because you have to process language in real time and you have no control over the speed or vocabulary offered to you. Whereas with writing, you can take your time and if you have a dictionary close by, can refer to it for assistance with unknown vocabulary. The same applies with writing.

Speaking can be produced at your pace, with your choice of vocabulary and so long as you don’t take decades to speak  or mangle the pronunciation, you have a better chance of producing something hopefully intelligible in not too tedious a manner for the listener.

I’m very aware that listening to native speech is the most difficult thing to master, due to the speed, contractions, elisions and vocabulary gaps. I listen to Dutch sentences which, cue an obvious joke, sound like “double” Dutch but when I see written, are immediately comprehensible. I really should tune my radio to NPO1 Radio more often.

So what level am I at? Well, the on-line test I found was a written multiple choice, my strongest skill, I was still quietly pleased to have managed a 74% score and be judged intermediate. More work is needed and once my CELTA course has concluded, there may well be opportunities to gain more practice! 🙂

Here’s the site’s definition of intermediate.

You are able to understand the main parts of familiar matters (school, work, recreational activities, etc.) and can deal with most situations that may arise when travelling in areas where the target language is spoken. You can communicate with others on simple topics that are personal and familiar and are also briefly able to describe events, hopes and ambitions while giving reasons for them as well as providing explanations for your opinions and goals.

That seems accurate but I want to improve further! Er is een lange weg te gaan.

Stupid Siri

After many years, I’ve been tempted back into the world of Mac computers. I needed one to do my new job effectively but as it’s been at least 16 years since I had to buy a new computer for myself, I decided to push the boat out and buy a new MacBook Pro. Very nice it is too!

It took very little time to readjust my muscle memory to reach for the command ⌘ key rather the control key on a non-Mac keyboard and remember that the @ key is on the 2 key and not over on the right, past the L. Much has moved on since I last regularly used a Mac and yet for all its cunningness and ability, the Mac OS still causes me some merriment.

Siri is, according to Apple; “an intelligent personal assistant.” Is it? I wonder. Clearly, the word “next” confused it more than somewhat.


However, I’ll forgive it since the other experiences of using the MPB and refamiliarising my Mac brain (definitely the left side) have been a pleasure – even if my wallet is still feeling the pinch.

Best of all though, is the sheer joy of being able to use Nisus Writer Pro again. This is simply the best word processor for writers, academics and “the rest of us.” I used it years ago on my old G3 and G4 Macs prior to OS X’s introduction. The original OS X version was not to my taste but enough time has elapsed for the company to improve the application and for me to reappreciate its power and ease of use. I may well write a review someday, it deserves the time and effort. However, I’d love it even more if I could change the appearance of the new version from this.

to this, the old OS 8 or 9 version, which I still think is the best looking, cleanest UI there is or is likely to ever be. That applies to both the OS and Nisus Writer 5.1.1.

PS: Don’t expect it to be able to cope with hideously, malformed tables which have been imported from Word. If you want anything normal in that regard, use LibreOffice.

TEFL – Prepositions

I’m enjoying studying for my CELTA TEFL course and have been reading the excellent Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott. On reaching the chapter explaining prepositions, I was reminded of this hilarious clip from my favourite Sci-fi series, Stargate SG-1.


Personally I agree with Jack but in every-day language, especially for non-native speakers, ending sentences with prepositions is usually best, sort of …

Dutch Word Clock 2

A much neater version of a Dutch Word Clock, with options for changing both language and background colour. This code features in a word clock app and was released by the foremost manufacturers of word clocks, QLOCKTWO. The app and code here, have the advantage of being about a thousand pounds cheaper than the real thing!