Newsletter zum Englisch lernen - Ausgabe April 2014

 Das LbT-languages Newsletter zum Englisch lernen!

Hearing - Listen and Comprehend

In this podcast, we've prepared a brief exercise in using the verbs "must" and "have to" as a companion piece to our article. For your convenience, we've also included a transcript of the exercise that you can print out. 

Klicken Sie auf den "Play"-Button um den Podcast anzuhören.

Softening Direct Speech
Transcript for Podcast
Softening Direct Speech

In the companion article of our current newsletter, we launched our intercultural series by focusing on softening direct speech and the use of the verbs "must" and "have to" in the present tense. While both are usually interchangeable in terms of grammar, some shades of meaning and tone are significant. Keep in mind that this exercise is less about correct grammar and more about how you sound when you speak. We've created a series of sentences using both "must" and "have to", so you can listen to both versions and decide for yourself which one you think is better. Among native speakers, the choice is usually clear. After you've made your own selection, you can check if your choice matches ours by reading the transcript of this podcast that we've provided. There, you'll see that the version in bold is the one that sounds better or makes more sense to us. Remember that the meanings can change when you use the negative forms.

Let's start with the first sentence:

Version 1: The deadline is Friday, so I must work overtime this week.
Version 2: The deadline is Friday, so I have to work overtime this week.

Which one do you think sounds softer, more agreeable? Again, if you're unsure, have a look at the transcript of this podcast and see which one we've bolded. Here are some more examples:

Version 1: I'm sorry to put you on hold, but I must take another call.
Version 2: I'm sorry to put you on hold, but I have to take another call.

Version 1: You mustn't smoke indoors.
Version 2: You don't have to smoke indoors.

Version 1: Must you attend an important meeting this afternoon?
Version 2: Do you have to attend an important meeting this afternoon?

Version 1: We have flexible work hours, so we mustn't start work at any particular time.
Version 2: We have flexible work hours, so we don't have to start work at any particular time.

Version 1: I must book my flight to New York today.
Version 2: I have to book my flight to New York today.

Version 1: I forgot to buy milk. I must go to the market.
Version 2: I forgot to buy milk. I have to go to the market. 

Version 1: You must work hard to get a promotion.
Version 2: You have to work hard to get a promotion. 

Version 1: Usually, I must leave the house by 7AM to get to work on time.
Version 2: Usually, I have to leave the house by 7AM to get to work on time.

Version 1: You must turn off your mobile devices for takeoff and landing.
Version 2: You have to turn off your mobile devices for takeoff and landing.

In most of the previous examples, "have to" sounds softer and less direct. This is a generally preferred style of interaction, especially when dealing with coworkers. Of course, there are occasions when strict rules or directions must be followed. In these cases, it is appropriate to use the stronger verb "must" instead of "have to." Just be aware that these cases are less common.

When you listen to native speakers, listen for their particular speech patterns and try to determine what sounds best to you. How does this reflect a cultural difference in communication styles? How can you maximize your own potential in English to reflect the tone and style you find most appropriate?

And for more tips and suggestions on interacting with native English speakers, stay tuned for more articles and podcasts in our intercultural series!

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Sight - See and Read

For the first installment of our intercultural series, please check out this month's article on softening direct speech. You'll discover useful suggestions on using the verbs "must" and "have to", as well as a convenient vocabulary list that you can print out. 

Culture Clash
Part 1: Verbal Directness

In 2014, LbT will be covering intercultural issues that may be affecting your day-to-day dealings in English. In the first article of our series Culture Clash, we will focus on basic intercultural conflicts with a few tips on bridging the gap in verbal communication between native English speakers and Germans.

Differences in communication styles between English speakers and Germans often make one group perceive the other as offensive for a number of reasons. Americans might perceive Germans as overly frank and sometimes insulting, while Germans may see Americans as superficial and insincere. However, a better understanding of the differences in communication style between the two can help overcome initial negative perceptions.

The primary difference is the level of directness in speech. Germans value truth and to some degree efficiency over politeness and formality in speech, and directness is considered a sign of respect. This can create certain impressions, which a native English speaker may find to be signs of character flaws.

These cultural differences are reflected in speech patterns as well. For example, when you translate the word "müssen" into English, you get "must." In German, this word is used frequently and can be used in many situations. In English however, the word "must" is reserved for situations that carry a strong obligation. Usually, the phrase "have to" is more appropriate. Let's examine the following sentences using both "must" and "have to":

"I'm sorry, I can't come to the meeting tomorrow because I must go to the dentist."
(strong obligation and need)

"I'm sorry, I can't come to the meeting tomorrow because I have to go to the dentist.
(normal appointment)

The first sentence with "must" implies a strong need or obligation, such as a severe toothache. The second sentence could mean that you would simply like to keep your dentist appointment as scheduled, whether you suffer from a severe toothache or not. Generally speaking, "have to" can replace "must" but "must" cannot replace "have to".

This distinction becomes especially sensitive when you are addressing someone directly. Let's examine the following sentences:

"You must be at the meeting on time." (too direct, strong Obligation)

"You have to be at the meeting on time." (more polite and friendly)

The first sentence sounds like a military order. If you're speaking to colleagues or co-workers, this could be interpreted as very authoritarian and domineering. The second sentence sounds more natural and cooperative, even though it is still understood that punctuality is important.

For official notices, "must" can still be used, so you may hear phrases such as the following:

"You must carry your passport at all times."
"You must arrive at the airport at least 1 hour before your flight departure."
"You must refrain from smoking inside the building."

For most other situations, "have to" is usually better. Here are more examples:

"We have to finish the project by the end of the week."
"I have to pick up my boss at the airport."
"You have to call our client in London and discuss the travel arrangements."

Another distinction between "must" and "have to" can be found in the negative forms. For example, "you must go" and "you have to go" broadly express the same thing. However, "you mustn't go" and "you don't have to go" have very different meanings. The first sentence indicates that going is strongly prohibited in some way, or even dangerous, while the second sentence implies an absence of obligation or need.

Keep in mind that a culture clash is much like two icebergs that drift toward each other and crash under the surface of the water. The effects are often felt, but the exact point of collision is not immediately understood. It helps to be mindful about the different ways we communicate between cultures and to make conscious efforts to avoid conflict when we want to maintain productive and pleasant relationships. Throughout this year, we will be covering topics similar to the one we've discussed here, so stay tuned for more Culture Clash articles in LbT's newsletters!


Vocabulary List

verbal communication - speaking, understanding through spoken word
perceive - interpret, get an impression of something or someone
offensive - rude, not pleasant, causing negative feelings
frank - honest, truthful, direct
insulting - rude, causing negative sentiment
superficial - not deep, not with true meaning or intention
insincere - not honest, not with true meaning
overcome - move past, get through, survive
perceptions - things that we feel or sense to be true
truth - something that is real or honest
efficiency - efforts that are productive and do not waste time
politeness - the behavior of being pleasant and respectful to others
formality - the behavior of showing more respect to others and following an established code of conduct
flaws - imperfections, weaknesses
obligation - a duty or a task that must be accepted
appropriate - correct, right, or fitting to a situation
severe - extreme, hard
toothache - pain that comes from a problem with your tooth
dentist - the doctor for your teeth
suffer - endure, be in pain because of something or someone
replace - exchange one thing for another
distinction - difference, what makes one thing different from another
order - command, a clear directive to do something without question
authoritarian - superior behavior characterized by strict hierarchy
domineering - dominant, pushy, bullying
punctuality - the concept of being on time or respecting deadlines
notices - notes on paper of a more formal nature
prohibited - not allowed
absence - non-presence, non-existence, lack
icebergs - large pieces of ice that break of frozen landmasses
surface - the outside of something, the shell of something
collision - occurs when things crash together
mindful - thoughtful, aware
conscious - characterized by mental awareness
avoid - keep away from, stay clear of, prevent, keep from happening

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Touch - Learning by Doing

Crossword puzzle

Here are some important keywords you need to know about "Culture Clash"............................................

Fällt Ihnen die gesuchte Vokabel nicht spontan ein, so können Sie sich in der angehängten Vokabelliste für das richtige Wort entscheiden. Bitte berücksichtigen Sie, dass im Crossword Puzzle keine Leerzeichen vorkommen dürfen.

Gesuchte Vokabeln:
frank, politeness, appropriate, order, mindful, insincere, avoid, punctuality, perceive

frank - freimütig
politeness - die Höflichkeit
appropriate - passend
order - der Befehl
mindful - aufmerksam
insincere - falsch; unaufrichtig
avoid - vermeiden
punctuality - die Pünktlichkeit
perceive - etwas erkennen; etwas verstehen, wahrnehmen

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Smell - Experience all senses at LbT-languages

English Through Movies and Song - Saturday, April 26th, 2014

In concert with the intercultural series of our newsletter this year, LbT would like to announce a special full-day intercultural workshop on April 26th that focuses on learning English through movie scenes and popular Songs. 

This is our newest course offering, based on popular demand by participants in our intensive courses.

More than a discussion of popular music and culture, this course combines some of the best elements of our small talk course with in depth discussions of topics and trends that define English-speaking culture. You'll learn new and challenging words and phrases, clean up your grammar, and catch up on English-speaking trends while you enjoy watching scenes from cinema classics and listen to songs from some of the best singers and songwriters of the English-speaking world. What does Joni Mitchell have to do with the Counting Crows? Which movie laid the groundwork for the blockbuster hit Wall Street and what can it teach you about business English? Which famous lines will actually help you to remember some of the more difficult grammar points you've been struggling with for years? All this and much much more! Naturally, excerpts from movie scripts and song lyrics will be provided for your convenience.

In our full-day course, our native English-speaking trainers will help you to...

•expand your vocabulary to engage more effectively in small talk, especially when discussing popular  culture
•create a practical repertoire of useful phrases that will help you be more expressive when communicating your thoughts and opinions
•understand some of the more difficult aspects of English grammar
•become familiar with standard uses of slang and common expressions
•learn techniques to improve your English on your own through popular culture

Movies and music play an important role in English-speaking culture, and are a favorite topic for small talk. Our experienced native-speaking staff promises to make this a day you will enjoy and help you get "plugged in" to the English-speaking world.

From all of us at LbT Languages, we hope to see you soon and wish you...

Course Details:
Workshop Fee: 200,- € plus MwSt. for a full-day workshop (9am-5pm) in a group of maximum 7 participants.

For more information or to register, call us at 0049 (0)89 41 200 660.

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