Unit 14

Question 1 : Is it better to learn English through watching movies with or without subtitles?
Question 2: What does the sentence ‘fingers crossed’ mean and when do we use it?
Question 3 : What are the differences between ‘look’, ‘see’, and ‘watch’?

JW Player goes here

Unit 14

Hi everybody, this is Misterduncan in England, how are you today? Are you okay? I hope so! Are you happy? I hope so!
Here I am…all relaxed and calm, after last weeks drama, when my video editing computer decided to die on me as I was making last week’s edition of ‘Ask Misterduncan’. Fortunately I still have my little laptop, so a big cheer for my laptop!
Okay, that’s enough!

I have some of your e-mail questions and comments to read out again, so without any more…waiting for that, let’s have our first question for today!

Question 1: Is it better to learn English through watching movies with or without subtitles?

This interesting question comes from Rodrigo Marcotich who lives in Argentina. As you are no doubt aware, I use subtitles in all of my lessons. They act as a guide for those who have a basic grasp of English and now wish to advance further. While watching a movie, you will find subtitles useful for getting used to the fast pace of English speech and dialogue and accustomed to the many different accents which exist in English. Some people find a certain American (US) accents hard to follow.

Subtitles allow you to closely study the words on the screen, as they are spoken. Subtitles serve a very important role and are an invaluable tool for those adjusting to the faster paced delivery of English.
After a while you can start listening to the words without the subtitles and see how much you can understand. While watching my lessons, you can cover or hide the subtitles or just simply listen to the sound. Test yourself regularly.

This is not a quick solution and just like any other learning exercise, it will take time. So to answer you question, subtitles are very useful and they do provide a great aid to those who really want to improve their English listening and comprehension skills.

A nice e-mail

I have received a lovely e-mail from Lalantha Ignisiaus, who writes to me from Sri Lanka. Lalantha has watched 53 of my full lessons and has recently discovered my new ‘Ask Misterduncan’ channel too. Your thousand million thanks are greatly appreciated as well. And yes Lalantha, I do have a personal Facebook page and there are other Misterduncan pages too, which have been created by some of my online students. Thank you for your e-mail and good luck to you too!

Question 2: What does the sentence ‘fingers crossed’ mean and when do we use it?

This question was sent in by Alani, who follows my lessons in Kurdistan. The expression ‘keep your fingers crossed’ refers to the wish for good luck. It is both an expression and an action. For example, just before I sit my English exam, I will cross my fingers and wish for success. ‘I hope I will pass this exam.’

You can wish a person good luck by telling them to keep their fingers crossed. ‘Fingers crossed you should pass the exam.’ You can ask another person to wish good luck to you.   ‘My exam is coming soon; keep your fingers crossed for me.’

A tasty idiom!

This is a loaf of bread and there are some phrases and idioms connected directly and indirectly to this particular food. If we say that someone ‘loafs around’ or is a ‘loafer’, we are stating that he or she is lazy and avoids doing any work.
Another expression is ‘use your loaf’. In this sentence the word ‘loaf’ means ‘head’. Use your brain, which is of course in your head. In this situation the word ‘loaf’ comes from the London- Cockney rhyming slang…’loaf of bread’…’head’. ‘Bread’ can also be used as a slang word for ‘money’.

Question 3: What are the differences between ‘look’, ‘see’, and ‘watch’?

This question was sent in by Augusto Biral, who works as an English teacher in Brazil. It is probably easier to look at the similarities first. All these words relate to your eyes being on something. You are looking at something. You are seeing something. You are watching something.
You look at it. You see it. You watch it. In this context, they are similar. However, if your eyes are fixed on an event involving actions or a object that is moving, then we normally use ‘watch’ or ‘see’. ‘I’m watching the football match.’ ‘I went to see a football match.’

‘Look’ usually relates to viewing something which is still or static. ‘look at a photo’, ‘look at a painting’, ‘look at a magazine’. Of course there are exceptions, for example- if I wanted to draw your attention to something or someone. ‘Hey look at that man, he’s got no trousers on!’.

So ‘watch’ and ‘see’ are often used as direct synonyms, while ‘look’ tends to be used more as a way of showing a sudden action or a negative one. ‘He looked at me all the time.’ ‘He would not stop looking at me.’ We can also use the word ‘stare’ in this way. ‘What are you looking at?’ ‘What are you staring at?’

We also use ‘watch’ in sentences such as – ‘watch the television’ or ‘watch TV’. If we are talking about something that was on the television, then we often use ‘see’.
‘Did you see the football match on the television last night?’

Before I press ALT- Ctrl- Delete for this week, I would like to say a special hello to Robert Moshe who comes from Brazil but is now living in the USA. Hello to Hla Myat Htwe, who live in Myanmar and asks about the best way to learn written English.

Well there is no simple way, but there are many useful ways to gain written English skills.

Using books as a reference will help you to pick up new words and improve your spelling.  Of course you will need a dictionary. Thanks to modern technology it is much easier nowadays to translate from and to virtually any language, using a computer or an electronic dictionary.
That is all from me for today. Thank you for sending me your questions and comments. I can promise you that I do read all of them, even though I cannot always answer them here.

I will be back with you again next week for another Q and A session. Who knows? I could be answering you!

This is Misterduncan in England saying thank you for asking me and of course…ta-ta for

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