Showing posts from 2013

Goodbye, again

I have a hard time to let go of this blog! It's fun to write, and I like to "speak" to people learning English as an alternate language. But I can only pay attention to a limited number of writing projects, so this blog will once again be suspended. I won't close it, as I know people read what I have written. But for 2014, it will be suspended--no new entries.

Back to school: a lesson in adjectives

Now it's season-changing September, the 30-day month of gradually-falling temperatures,gentle rainy days and back-to-school challenges for students and teachers (unless you live in semi-tropical Florida, as we did for 17 eventful years, where back-to-school is in steamy-hot August, for obscure reasons I do not fully understand).

In temperate Prague, where I live at the moment, you see kids of all ages on the street in somewhat-intimidating, noisy groups in the early morning, at midday lunch (high-schoolers smoking outside the school doors) and in the mid-afternoon, after school. The newly-heated trams are full of boisterous students, with perhaps a few resigned teachers, instructors or professors sitting quietly reviewing their upcoming classes. You see dutiful university students streaming in and out of a variety of university buildings: graffiti-enhanced Functionalist concrete 1970's buildings at the University of Economics (VŠE) or stately 19th-century neo-Renaissance, ne…

I don't own the English language

A few weeks ago, my husband and I visited Olso, the capital of Norway. It's a beautiful city, set at the head of a long inlet (the Oslo fjord), surrounded by mountains. We loved our visit, as did many other tourists from all over the world.

All of the Norwegians that we met spoke English. They spoke with only a trace of an accent, using very respectable pronunciation and perfect sentence structure. When they spoke Norwegian, I could hear that their language is eerily similar to English, especially in its rhythms and tonal variations. It was like hearing English through a special filter--I felt that I just barely didn't understand it. The origins of English are half Latin, half Germanic, and Norwegian is not too far from the Anglo-Saxon dialect spoken in Merrie Olde England.

Surrounded by English, I was soothed by its familiarity. Living in Prague, I hear much more Czech, Russian, German, French, Slovak, and Italian, none of which give me the impression I am among "my peo…

Top Three mistakes for students of English, with Czech examples

After about 25 years of teaching and tutoring English to native speakers and to those for whom it's a second, third or fourth language, I can say with some certainty that these are the top three tricky parts of speaking, reading and writing English. Most of my examples are for Czechs, as I currently live in the Czech Republic.

1. Positive/negative (yes/no, do/don't, and so on)
This is by far the most common mistake made--you say "yes" when you mean "no," or vice versa. Why?

For one thing, English double negatives become positives--"I don't lack money" means " I have money". But in many languages, including Czech, the more negatives, the merrier--the more negatives you include, the more you really mean what you say. In fact, Czech has a large number of negative words (ne, nic, nikdo, vůbec ne, nula, etc) and Czechs use them very frequently.

Then, since the Czech language has 6 cases, you have lots of different words from one negative wo…

Sneaking in some news

Although I am officially on break for 2013 from tutoring in Prague and keeping up this blog, I'd like to say that my husband and I, through our business International Leadership Institute (, are considering offering American English Language Immersion Programs in the United States again, starting in 2014.

We loved these programs and have seen so many exciting development from our participants (1990-2007) that we want to give a new generation the chance to live in the US, to learn about its history, social settings, religious expressions, political dimension and natural beauty, and to improve their American English language skills!

Keep in touch for more developments (you can get email updates by simply giving us your email, to the left).

taking a break

Looks like I will be taking a break from this blog. I'm writing two novels and a non-fiction book, so most of my mental energy is centered there. I'll be back later!

Back in Prague

My husband and I spent three months (Nov 17-Feb 5) in sunny Florida and windswept Ireland. It was a wonderful time to relax and review our activities for 2012, and plan for 2013.

 Since our return to Prague I have been writing very faithfully every day. I am working on two books, 7 blogs and some pretty good Facebook posts.

I am still deciding if I will have any time for individual English lessons this year. It takes time and focus to write books, so I am protecting my time. But I miss my students! Their youthful spirits make my life fun and joyful!

2013--taking a break

The English language is a wonderful medium for speaking, listening and writing. Since 1990, we have helped people improve their English language skills.

In 2013, we have decided to devote our time and energy to writing and publishing books. You can check our progress as writers on our other on-line publications:

1. on the International Leadership Institute website,

2.  on our active blogs:
"What I know about writing" (, "praguepies" ( property for sale (
We won't close this blog, but we won't promise any new posts!