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English Language Institute
ELI STUDENT VOICES
Volume 4, Issue 3 Summer 2000
Articles & Count, Noncount
Studying English is pretty hard. Especially, studying articles is incredible difficult because of the language difference, their illogicality and unimportance. There is a paradise of exceptions. It'd be better to be studied inductively rather than deductively.
First of all, there is no concept of the articles and countable/noncountable. Therefore, even if you can get those articles literally, it is hard to speak English without articles-related mistakes. One example is in Japanese. They have something like 'the' and 'countable.' But there is not something like 'a.' In English movies translated into Japanese, even though the sentence includes 'the' or 'countable nouns,' they are not always translated. We don't use them much.
Second of all, articles and count/noncount nouns are not logical; in other words, there is no absolute definition. And there are several explanations of a definition. For instance, for the first learner, teachers probably say if you can count the word, it is countable, but I am definitely able to count fish. For another example, teachers probably say if a word explains the only single existence, like 'universe' or 'sun,' it needs 'the.' But I'm not sure that the universe is only one or not. And the Sun is a name of a star. It's pretty difficult to find out what articles the words should obey.
Finally, they don't contain critical information. Therefore, it is difficult to pay attention to them. Especially 'a' won't matter, even if you erase it. Say, for example, when you order coffee, you might say, 'Could I have a coffee,' even if you know coffee is an uncountable noun. You avoid taking the trouble to say, 'a cup of coffee.' In this case, nobody cares if it is 'a coffee' or 'a cup of coffee' because every English speaker understands what he or she means without any confusion. Although, in some cases, 'the' and 'countable' might contain important information, mostly they don't mean anything.
In conclusion, I think articles would be better to be learned from reading real English articles. Even I understand that rules have exceptions, and most cultures are not logical or reasonable, so it is hard to accept these grammars.
I am standing at the porch and I can watch her. I can look at her for hours and never feel tired of watching her. She is the person that I admire most. She is always in motion. It seems like the motor of feeling life never stops. She is always doing something.
The house requires a lot of her attention and she is always taking care of everything. When I come into the house there is always the smell of something cooking in the kitchen. I canÍt forget the special aroma of her "Bread Cake."
If you look at her you will think she is very small, slim, but the flashing light in her eyes shows you the strength of her spirit that has grown by the years.
Now she can remember when we were children. Her eyes stare at the sky and a light of tenderness comes out.
Her pretty eyes are brown and deep. I have seen my reflection in them. They have given me strength when I felt that I canÍt reach my goals. A hug of hers is like heaven, warm and peaceful. Everything is perfect when you feel it: security, love.
We look alike. We have the same arched eyebrows and thin face. Her hair is as abundant as mine. She always cares about her appearance, and the combination of its color and her eyes is perfect. Our Arabian ancestors seem to come back when you see them. I can describe every mole of hers. The one that I like most, which is at the right side of her nose, is small and black. It is my favorite.
Every characteristic of this face is so special to me. She is the reflection of my life because she is my mother.
Do You Like Sports?
Do you know "Nittai-dai"? It is one of the most famous universities all over the world. Let me introduce one of the most famous universities Nittai-dai in Japan. The English name is "Nippon Sport Science University." Almost all Japanese know "Nittaidai" which is in the capital city of Tokyo in Japan, the most expensive city in the world. In addition, Tokyo is very crowded so the Nittaidai campus is very small. Although many people live in Tokyo, the number of students in the university is small. If you show this campus, you can say, "Really, is this a university?" Nevertheless this most famous university has top-level sports athletes. There are many famous athletes and coaches on campus. Also, Nittaidai has the most history and tradition in sports science in Japan. This university supports sports and physical education in the country. It is important for Japan to have a university so students can study sports and physical education. I was fortunate to work for Nittaidai for three years as an assistant teacher. I researched sports psychology.
What is sports psychology? Sports psychology is the study of the psychological and mental factors that influence and are influenced by participation and performance in sports, exercise and physical activity. In addition, it is the application of the knowledge gained through this study to everyday settings.
IÍd like to continue studying sports psychology. I want to pass the TOEFL and GRE exam so that I will go to graduate school in the USA. IÍd like to coach professional baseball players, Olympic athletes and other athletes. Then, IÍd like to participate in the international exchange of ideas and information with athletic professionals.
Do you like sports? I love sports! I think everybody should like sports because sports make a delight, joy and a great impact in a personÍs life. Do you like "The Olympic games"? The Olympic games are going to be held in Sydney, Australia this year. Olympic games impress us and excite us. We support and cheer for our country and now that IÍm living in USA, IÍll cheer here. I think that watching the Olympic games is the best way to study English since watching the games makes us converse in English.
Finally, I like sports, I like "Nittaidai," I like the Olympic games, I like USA and I love the ELI!
(a reaction essay for the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
Macondo symbolizes any town and population in the Caribbean which can survive in any circumstances. Macondo is a town that reminds us of many villages and people forgotten by men and maybe by the Gods. That is, those villages that nobody knows where they are but they are part of the Latin America reality.
Who has been to Macondo? Many people know it or maybe they don't know it. Macondo is in Latin America, somewhere in the Caribbean. Why is Macondo interesting? It is interesting because in the village of Macondo the reality is bigger than fantasy and imagination.
There are many instances of this reality and fantasy. People in Macondo paid to see ice that a tropical circus took to show them. Another example is a governor lost his leg because of a disease; then he ordered his leg to be buried with military honors fit for a great president. In addition, he decreed three days of duel. A third example is that the people of Macondo suffered of a strange new sickness: they gradually lost their memory, until they forgot the names of things including their own names. Then, they made signs for each thing to facilitate communication such as cows, pigs, dogs, chickens, tables, chairs, etc. until a stranger, by accident, pronounced a magical word. Then they all recovered their memories.
Macondo can also be an ardent village where people die by cold when they have love problems, or it can be a cold village in the mountains where the opposite may happen.
At this moment many people may know Macondo because it is an imaginary place, mythical and essential in the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Nobel Prize winner of Literature and author of One Hundred Years of Solitude in which Macondo is mentioned. Garcia Marquez comes from Macondo because this place produces important realities. This is the magic realism in the Caribbean. There is no division between reality and fantasy.
Armenia is small town in the center of Colombia. In this city, people grow the best coffee in the world and it is the most smooth. This town is very typical in my culture. Two times of the year people have the collection of coffee. This process is manual. The person who collects coffee needs practice. During this time people have a big party in October. This month is the time to collect the coffee beans. People do all kinds of traditions. People ride in maybe one thousand five hundred horses. This show is beautiful.
What is a Summit?
A summit is a meeting between presidents of two countries or more to discuss something that is important for their country. They talk about important things like a military cooperation, agrarian policies, peace with neighbor countries. A summit might take few hours or days sometimes. In the end of the summit maybe the presidents agree with some decision and they announce for their country.
The night is one of the more romantic and beautiful things in the world. It is dark and for this reason you can see the stars in the sky. When the night begins, the place where you are begins to illuminate and people are ready to go out to parties, discos or whatever they want. Another thing that you can see is the moon when it has all the sides. The moon is relaxing because every time that the moon is completely full everybody can see its stains and see how big the moon is. In conclusion, during the night you can appreciate all the wonderful things that the world has.
(a Father's Day dedication)
Owmar is my smallest son. He is three years old and he is a very active child. When you look in his eyes, you will love him. I love him in all the world. I miss him very much because heÇs in Qatar. This is what I call fatherhood!
David Sancho Barrera
Lonely feather in the sky
Dance with the wind
And show us the freedom
Lonely tear in your eye
Let me love, let me dry
If thereÍs a tear in your eye
Hold my hand and let it shine
If thereÍs pain in your heart
DonÍt worry take mine
Happy feather in the sky
Reach the clouds
And let me fly!
Zahra A. Matroud
She looked at the picture in her hands, with some thoughts in her head. While he saw and heard nothing but dark and silence. She has been loving him since she was watching him from far away. She was lost in her thoughts, remembering what her parents told her. "His father may be a wealthy man and he may have a great future," her parents told her once but she can never understood why they never liked him. He was kind, nice and good looking; he was great. She closed her eyes, and a flash of the first meeting came by her eyes. They both used to go to the same high school; were in the same class, but he never talked. And one day when she was watching him as usual, it was the day when they promised each other to be there in front of the future forever. They both graduated. She thought, "I want to be there for you when ever you need me." "I want to protect you," he said looking at her eyes "forever."
And thatÍs why he became a police officer, and after all, her parents had nothing but to accept the reality. She lived as happy as ever she wanted. She had the one she loved by her side and the future just in front of them. Until that night when they all were setting to dinner; she, he, his father and younger sister. Suddenly the phone rang, and his sister answered. "Brother, someone is asking for you from the police department," she said handing him the phone.
"Hello?" He said.
"Mr. ******?" said the man on the phone.
"Yesfthis is mef"
A period of silence surrounded the room. He listened to the man on the phone while the others kept staring at him wondering whatÍs going on!
"I understand, IÍll be there as soon as possible." He said, and hang up the phone.
He was surprised when he saw all these faces just looking at him waiting for an answer for their questions. "What?!" he asked.
"So, whatÍs going?" asked his father.
"Ummfnothing really serious. They wanted me to go to the department at once."
"DonÍt they know youÍre not suppose to be working today?" she said.
"Yes, they do. But itÍs an emergency and I have to go dear, sorry," he replied.
He sat to finish his dinner while she was looking at him, as if she was telling him, "You shouldnÍt go!"
After dinner, he got dressed, kissed her goodbye and left. "Take care of yourself," she said while watching his car disappearing down the street.
Then her thoughts just stopped. It was the time when she knew nothing beyond. She opened her eyes, stood up and walked toward the stairs. She went upstairs where he laid on the bed there in the dead room. She stood in front of the door, afraid to open it. She was afraid of not seeing the thing she wanted to see, but she was still hoping. She took a deep breath and held the doorÍs handle. She opened the door slowly and walked into the room. She stood beside the bed, where he laid there and sat on the edge of the bed.
She looked at him, but he didnÍt open his eyes. She heard him breathing, but he heard nothing. She felt his heart beating, but still he felt nothing. "I can feel your heart beating," she said in his ear. Although she was waiting for an answer from him and hoping, she was crying at heart. She also knew that he was trying hard, but gave up as his heart wasnÍt in it. She remembered again when some officer called that day telling them that he was shot in duty the day they called him to join the department force. What on earth she could do but praying every single day and talking to him asking to come back to her, but he never answered her.
"Will you ever talk to me again like you used to?" she asked him. "Answer me please, say something." But he kept asleep in his endless comma. Her eyes filled with tears and her heart was still broken, but she was still hoping.
The other day she woke up, and she thought that she saw him awake with his dreamy eyes looking at her. "Am I dreaming?" she asked herself "or are you really back?!"
She looked at him, again and again, as if she saw something she had never seen before. She held his hand in hers and sat next to the bed. Nobody was home, and it was raining heavily. In the dark quiet room, where there was a small table made of glass with purple flowers vase on it, was a frame of a wedding picture of two young couple; just too young and so beautiful. In the picture, she looked so happy and so did he, but that night in that sad room, there was him laying down on the cold bed with a cute smile on his face. She kept looking at him and in his mind there was one sentence "I hopedfand heÍs back"
But she never knew the truth, and that he was never back.
I'd like to tell you about something that made me very sensitive and sometimes sad here in the United States. When I left my peaceful tiny little country Kuwait and came to the U.SA. I carried a great fear in my heart, a fear of being far away from my wonderful country and kind people. I had the fear of living alone at that young age.
I was totally shocked to figure out that my real problem was some offending, wrong stereotypes about Arabs in general and Muslims in particular among people in the United States. I can't say that all Americans totally believe these stereotypes, but I should confess that a lot of whom I've met needed to meet a native Arab to discuss and sometime debate this issue with.
I haven't told you yet what is the main stereotype that made me so angry. Well as most of you know, a lot of people link Arab/Muslims under a painful term which is *TERRORISTS* simply because the media spreads this about us. I think that you all can notice that most western movies always correlate any bombing, killing, kidnapping, hijacking, etc. with "Those Arab terrorists." A movie called The Siege is a perfect example of what I was talking about.
Sometime I see a person similar to one I have met before, even though they might have different colors or different ages. As I get older and older, this kind of occasion happens more often. I had a friend a long time ago. She had short hair, smiled all the time, and was very agile. She had a normal face, not attractive, I mean. She is a kind of person who cannot always be kept in your mind. She smoked sometimes, as far as I can remember. The most impressive part was her hair because she shook her head very often and very rapidly so that the hair waved, even thought it was short. She shook her head not because she was objecting to something but because she turned to speak to the other person near her. I found a lady who has the same character as hers recently. And the lady evoked my recollection about a friend seven years ago, whom I might forget very soon otherwise.
I loved when I kissed your mouth
I loved how you looked to me
I donÍt know how I let that everything over
I was weak and unfaithful, now I have to pay
ItÍs very difficult to me, to accept this situation
You there suffering and I am here in the solitude
Please, come back and let me try
Now I promise, I will not hurt you
I miss you so much
I need you
Take out this sorrow that I am feeling
Come back soon, please
I miss you so much
I need you
Take out this sorrow that I am feeling
Please, forget everything and tell me that you forgive me.
Thanks from the Editor
Thank you students for allowing us to share your writing. I hope you enjoy reading your fellow students' essays, poetry, and paragraphs. Also thanks to Noreen Baker, and Stephen Moreau at the HUB for arranging the gift certificates, to Patti Anuszewski and Kent Trickel for publicizing this issue of Student Voices, to the Reading/Writing instructors for supporting their students in their writing, and to Karen Eberly for reading and evaluating the entries.
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