Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Legends of India which Look as the Facts

Though the following stories are probably just a folklore, they give tourists a feeling of historical facts.


People who live in India told me these stories. They were represented as the facts but I did some research on the Internet. Most of the Internet's users believe that such evidence wasn't proved.

The first story: Jodhaa Akbar



It is a love story about the Mughal Emperor of Hindustan and Hindu princess Johaa. It was an arranged marriage for political reasons. The Muslim Emperor Akbar wanted to expand his empire and he agreed to a marriage of in alliance to young and fiery Jodhaa. Under pressing of her father who wanted Akbar's protection for his kingdom, she reluctantly accepted this proposal under two conditionals that she would retain her Hindu faith and she could worship her Lord Krishna in the Mughal palace.

However, Johaa felt as a pawn in the big political play. Her deep resentment was gradually disappearing because she was inspired by his bravery, by his strong personality and she admired his skills of ruling so vast empire.

Akbar didn’t face as much of a challenge in winning great battles but faced a greater challenge trying to win the love of Jodhaa. This story was filmed and the plot shows us how a big resentment and extreme prejudice turns to the true love.

It was arranged marriage they belonged to very different cultures but they were happy. Indian culture accepts and even welcomes the wedding by agreement of parents.

But this custom has been changing gradually over the last few years. Anyway everybody agrees Love is above all.


The second story: Taj Mahal builders



Taj Mahal is a great mausoleum in India. It was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan, who was the grandson of emperor Akbar the Great. In the year 1631, his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal died and he vowed to build the outrageous palace-mausoleum in her honor - Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal looks so gracefully and this view inspired people for composing stories. The legend tells the tale of the craftsmen whose hands were cut off after they finished building.
Many of the historians find this horror story false and baseless as no records or evidence has been found. But despite these stories being baseless, they manage to spook the senses of every person who hears the story.

Although the validity these stories has not been confirmed, the myths have been in circulation and they add an air of mystery to the wonder of India.

We talked about these stories in online school albert-learning.com with teacher Meryl (the first story) and with teacher Bharati (the second story).

This story was corrected by the teacher Meryl, corrections are here:  
Part 1
Part 2

Monday, January 30, 2017

My experience of creating podcasts on iTunes

I spent a few days for creating my own podcast. This task, as it appeared, was more difficult than I expected. But now it seems easy to me because I understood the principle, the idea how it works.



It is necessary to give a few definitions.

RSS is a specially formatted web page that allows readers and podcast applications to subscribe for syndicated content. "RSS" stands for "Rich Site Summary, it is a collection of XML ("extensible markup language") standard formatting. For creating podcasts we need to create your own RSS feed.


Preparation:

1.) Creating a picture for the title of future podcasts. The mandatory size of the picture is Podcast feeds contain artwork that is a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels in JPEG or PNG format.

2.) Creating of the audio mp3 file.

For creating my own podcasts I did two tries.

The first way: Using blogger.com

I have a blog on this service with address: item1000.blogspot.com
The task is publishing on the blog not only texts but also audio files.

Here are some steps:
1.) Changing some features on the blog for access to audio files.
2.) Uploading audio file to Google Drive and making it open for public (sharing).
3.) Publishing the link to the audio file on Google Drive on the blog.
4.) Burning a feed using a google service feedburner.google.com
5.) Adding to the feed a title picture as I was mentioned in preparation section.
6.) Checking if a new created feed correct for publishing on the service feedvalidator.org
7.) While publishing the feed on iTunes I received the message about errors.

The way which I described above wasn't successful because of errors in XML file. My knowledge wasn't enough for solving this problem and I had to use the second way (described below).

The second way: Using soundcloud.com

1.) Creating of account on the site soundcloud.com . The service SoundCloud is not a free, but if we haven't reached the limit of space on the server, it is free.
2.) Uploading a title's picture
3.) Uploading an audio file to soundcloud.com and copying link to your feed in menu Setting-Content
4.) Checking feed from your account on SoundCloud on the site feedvalidator.org
5.) Go to iTunes Connect and check your feed.
6.) If you received the error "No episodes exist in your feed", go to SoundCloud, edit your episode, chose the tab "Permission" and click "Include in RSS feed"
7.) Applying to Apple company and publishing the feed on iTunes

To submit your podcast:
Click Submit in the new podcast page for a previously validated podcast.
Podcasts Connect validates and submits your RSS feed.
Click OK.
After your RSS feed passes the initial validation (for example, the RSS feed contains all of the recommended tags for the iTunes Store) and submission, Podcasts Connect displays your podcast in the dashboard along with the Submitted for Review status.
As a result, I created my podcast. Probably I will continue working for receiving the result with the first way because it would give me freedom in hosting of audio files. Anyway, my podcast is available on the SoundCloud:
https://soundcloud.com/anatoly-learner/christmas-story-with-controversial-ending 


And just now I received this email from Apple:

Dear podcast owner,
Your podcast, located at http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:277667315/sounds.rss, has been approved. You should expect to see it on the iTunes Store within the next few hours. When it's available, you will be able to access it with the URL below. 
https://itunes.apple.com/ru/podcast/telling-stories-for-studying/id1200207041?l=en 
You can find your podcast using iTunes Store search in the next two days.

January 30, 2017

It means that soon it would available on iTunes with the title "Telling stories for studying English".

Welcome, everyone ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marine Gateway to Bombay (Modern Mumbai, India)

The name Bombay associated for me with adventure. Probably because in the adolescence age I was fascinated by the novels about the pioneers, the seafarers, the pirates, mysterious lands.

Bombay is a former name of Mumbai. It is the biggest port in India. Marine Gateway is a significant symbol of this place. It was the first sightseeing in Mumbai which we discussed with Aishwarya. It is the first because this is what tourists see when they come to Mumbai by sea. Aishwarya lives in Mumbai and she praised this city for the very good management.



We can see the gateway and a hotel on the picture.

"Could you recommend me to stay in this hotel?" I asked Aishwarya.

"Yes, of course", she answered. "If you want to spend all your money, you can stay in this 5 stars luxury hotel", she added.

Let's imagine that we came to Mumbai, what are we expecting to see? Ok, we need to use a transport, here are a few options:
two levels buses used not only for tourists but for the inhabitants of this city;
yellow taxi;
rickshaw car with three wheels for three passengers.

The last one looks especially attractive. Additionally, it is a very cheap. They produced in India.



An auto rickshaw or a three-wheeler is a motorized development of the traditional cycle rickshaw.

During Dahi Handi festival tourists can see a Human pyramid.



This ceremony based on the event of stealing butter by Krishna in his childhood. People are trying to reach the high point for stealing butter.

My last question for Aishwarya.

"There are a lot of things to discuss, but what could you recommend to see in India for the short vacation?".

"Goa and Mumbai" was the answer.

Let's take a note.

This story was written after the class with teacher Aishwarya in online school albert-learning.com

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Talking about Okavango, Botswana

We talked about Botswana with Tali, who lives in this country. Nature is the main sightseeing in Botswana.
Okavango recently named as the one of the best tourist destination for tourists in Africa.


Okavango Delta

We can see elephants here and tourists who came on the special car (safari drive).
Tali believes that it is not a dangerous adventure. These are animals are not harmful. You can watch even lions closely but you go always with the tour guide who has a gun or other special equipment in his hands for protecting tourists. It is a very save-excursion because you always have somebody to protect you.



Hippopotamus are dangerous but they live in a natural habitat, they are not aggressive, they don’t pay attention to tourists.

This tour looks a very attractive. Botswana is not a very rich country and this tour is rather affordable.
The best time for visit Okavango Delta would be in November-December-January.
Winter season is the best time to visit Botswana (before the rainfall season). Tourists can admire looking for a lot of grass, a lot of animals. Animals are attracted by water and food.

One practical advice:
If you go to Botswana for safari, choose the hotel, not in the capital city Gaborone (it is located 10 hours drive by car from Okavango). The best hotels we can find around Okavango area, one of the best choices could be Duba Plains.


Here the link to the article from The Telegraph about this place:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/botswana/articles/Five-of-the-best-safari-camps-in-Botswana/

They provide you the tent, you can sleep there. You can enjoy seeing the sunset, magnetic, beautiful landscapes. it is a very romantic option to stay and less expensive than being in a hotel.

I checked the price for a return trip from Moscow to Gaborone, Botswana. Here is the result: $770!



Considering the trend of decreasing prices for flights in the future, it's time to prepare for the trip.



We had this conversation with teacher Tali during the class on engoo.com

Talking about Iraq

We had this conversation during the class on engoo.com I requested the conversation about Iraq because the teacher Shivan lived in the North part of Iraq. Even I proposed to talk about sightseeings of Iraq, the conversation started from discussing current political situation.

Shivan lives now in Ukraine and he outlined his point of view for the current political situation there. It is the point of Kurdish person from North Iraq.

The situation in Iraq is a very complicated because of the war in Syria, ISIS. Iraqi governments spend a lot of money trying to cope with many problems. There are lot’s of weapon arrived from other countries. Terrorists established two states (in Syria and Iraq). It is very difficult to keep one country.

Shivan believes that it is a very hard to Iraq to be one country,

Shivan lived in the city Zakho located on the North of Iraq a few kilometers from the Iraqi-Turkish border. During the Skype session, we observed google map and discussed some pictures.



One of Zakho's famous landmarks is the Delal Bridge. It is made with large stones which add to the aesthetic value of the bridge and makes it a source of many theories as to how it was built. (The stones are very large, and there was no machinery available at that time.)

Pira Delal is believed to have been first built during the Roman era, while the present structure appears to be at a later date, Kurdish people all over Kurdistan visit the great Pira Delal as a monument of peace and enjoyment throughout the family. One of the legends regarding construction of the bridge relates that the hands of the builder were amputated to ensure that the bridge would remain unique.

I’d like to wish this ancient land a piece and happiness to people who lives there.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Roads to Additions (The Great Indian Reservation System)

One example of reservation system around the world is a seat reservation for senior citizens and physically handicapped in public (bus) transport.
 

Reservation system in India was introduced for diminishing gap between the upper and lower castes. It was praised in inception but now it is criticizing more and more. The system of allotting seat contraries to a general principle of justice for merits of individuals.
 

More eligible candidate for vacancy position in a company would be at a disadvantage in a competition with a pretender who belongs to reserve category. Politicians use reservation system as a gimmick to have a permanent vote bank (constant number of supporters in elections). All jobs under certain State governments are reserved for those who are domiciled within the jurisdiction of that government.


These are Indian's typical examples of a privileged enrollment: 

Quotes for backward classes 
Terrorist victims from Kashmir, e.g. in Punjab
Single Girl-Child (in Punjab)
Migrants from the state of Jammu and Kashmir
Sons/daughters/grandsons/granddaughters of Freedom Fighters
Physically handicapped
Sports personalities
People who finished serving in Army in young age because earlier superannuation there

It seems logical but the embodiment of quote system in life leads to the absurd results. Some feminist groups demand that reservation for women should be at least 50% as they comprise 50% of the population.

Some example mentioned here referred to the India and some to all societies.





We discussed this topic with the teacher Amit, who is from India, in online English school https://www.albert-learning.com

Benefit of Cover Letter

I remember a time when I sent my CV to a big company. It was a company which assembles generators, reactors with steel tubes/pipes, etc. for use in Nuclear Plants.

It was surprising to me that nobody answered. I called the Human Resources Department and asked why they didn't invite me for an interview. The clerk explained that they received two thousand (2000) CV's and my number was 777.

He really tried to read them all but it wasn't possible due to the large number received. I informed him that I'm very suitable for this position and eventually they invited me for the meeting.

The purpose of Cover Letter is similar: to deliver CV to the employer. Obviously, it is very important to not recite your CV but to bring to the attention of the person to your CV.

This is an example of a formal introduction:

I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information.

This is my suggestion of a possible beginning of the letter with less formal phrases:

I'm writing to you to ask about possible vacancies in your company. My CV is attached in this letter.
It would be not a bad idea to write the cover letter to yourself, incorporate in it your own hobbies (The Internet, technologies, Linux, foreign languages, etc) as an additional advantage.





We discussed this topic with the teacher Sunita, who is from India, in online English school https://www.albert-learning.com . We agreed that the recommended style of Cover Letter should be different for example for India and for Russia.

A few suggestions of reframed sentences from teacher:

-I'm flexible and adaptable to change, coming forth with innovative ideas at work. At the same time eager to interact with colleagues, positive approach to teamwork aiming towards a healthy work environment.

-Effective communication is a major strength.

This text was corrected by Kasia Szklarek and Justin Laird (nicknames on iltalki.com). Here are corrections: part 1 and part 2.

Kasia Szklarek's comment:

Well written!

"a" is used when there is one so you can omit that.

When you write in numbers, stick to numbers all the time (and vice versa with numbers written out I.e 200 vs two hundred)

just make a note of the word "to": not used in past tense (I called my friend) unless you say (I made a call to my friend)

you "get attention" from someone

you "bring attention" to yourself/your cv

You can also say something like: Your cover letter helps you stand out from other applicants and allows you to motivate further why you are a good fit for the company.

Negotiating with "Friends"

The sitcom "Friends" was, and still is, one of the most popular TV series of all time. People view the main characters as friends.

The cast played the role of friends and probably became friends in real life. The New York Times article "Friends-cast bands together to demand a salary increase", published on July 16, 1994, appeared to confirm this.

The salary of the main characters (budding actors and actresses) during the first episode was allegedly about $22,000. They refused to continue starring in the series unless they were paid a salary of $100,000 per episode.

The New York Times reported, "Stars of hit shows often threaten to boycott their series in pursuit of higher salaries. What is unusual is this cast's effort to use solidarity as leverage." This negotiation tactic worked very well. By the final season, each cast member was earning $1 million per episode.

When a group of people works together to archive a common goal, a "leverage effect" takes place. Now, this sitcom is in syndication. Having good friends is a great thing and in this case, they seemingly received financial benefit for being so.


We discussed this topic with teacher Teena in online English school https://www.albert-learning.com
The Summary of the class, points we discussed:
Syndication: The act of selling an article, a photograph, 
television program etc to several different news channels and newspaper etc.

Allegedly: Used to convey that something is claimed to be the case or have taken place, although there is no proof.
Solidarity: Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest, mutual support, within a group
Leverage: The ability to influence what people do.


This note 

This text was corrected by Rick Price (nickname on iltalki.com). Here are corrections.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Who is Winner in Airbnb Business

The service airbnb.com became extremely popular last years. It suggests to the hosts of accommodation to lease it to the users of this site. The usual price for rent is much lower than the hotel's price list. Who is a winner in this competition, let's look at the example of Paris precisely.

Airbnb service based in the USA and it makes a lot of money in Paris. Parisian hotels pay lodgings tax for each guest in average €0.5 a day and it brings to Parisian budget about €40 million in a year. The owner of Parisian hotels penned a letter to the authority complaining about not honest competition with Airbnb who doesn't pay this tax. French lawmakers approved the law obliging sites like Airbnb to pay this tax.

The Deputy Mayor of Paris met with the Airbnb CEO and said that they had a cordial conversation. The Airbnb CEO made a compliment to Paris saying that the city hailed number one destination for his company.

The Airbnb CEO vowed to comply with Paris lodging tax including this tax in the cost of rent. And he promised "hunting down" frauds from the users who rent flats with violating the rules (Airbnb offers only short-term lease).

They buried the hatchet which means make a deal or stop arguing.

I did a quick research on the Internet, questioning if this business profitable for hosts who lend their apartments?

They have many expenses like for advertising, for maintaining apartments in good condition, for laundering white goods, sometimes for transport. At last, they pay taxes from their income.

If Airbnb includes taxes to the cost of rent, will this business stay profitable? Who knows ...

We discussed the article about Airbnb business in Paris with the teacher Pearl in online school albert-learning.com.

Here is the link for original publication:

http://www.france24.com/en/20150226-paris-airbnb-cooperate-home-rental-hotels-chesky-france/

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hearing about Hygge

This was posted by Collins Dictionary on November 03, 2016 "Top 10 Collins Words of the Year 2016". The first word is “Brexit” and the second, “Hygge”.

I came across this word while listening to podcasts. This episode “Forget Your Troubles, Come On, Get Hygge” had been broadcasted*** on the program “On Point with Tom Ashbrook”. Here is the link:
http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2017/01/13/hygge-denmark-winter-happiness


Some of the notes I made listening to the episode are here:

'Hugge' is an invented word from Denmark meaning coziness. (Hugge was said to be the center of Danish happiness.?)

The first question which was put in the radio program was:
“What is happiness when the day is dark and cold?”
The answer was that it is collection of things.
It involves:
candlelight
fire
needed socks
porridge
coffee or tea or warm chocolate
cake
other people ( friends not strangers) hanging around a dining table
things made from wood
watching a film
reading a book

The story about a "hyggelly time": A group of people came back after hiking in December in the Swedish mountains. They were sitting back in the cabin near the fireplace, relaxing and one of them asked: “Could this be any more huggelly?**”. The answer was “Yes; if there was a storm outside”.

During the days of dark and cold, there is a natural way to keep a confidence: coming home, take off your shoes, lie on a sofa under a warm blanket.

This concept of Hygge is very useful. Cozy, warm, snug, that's what sensible people try to achieve when it's snowy and sleeting/sleety and not nice to go out.


Here are links to some articles about this phenomenon:
New York Times: Move Over, Marie Kondo: Make Room for the Hygge Hordes
New Yorker: The Year Of Hygge, The Danish Obsession With Getting Cozy
The Guardian: The Hygge Conspiracy


This text was corrected by 
Bluebottle (nickname on iltalki.com). Here are corrections: part1 and part2.
Bluebottle's comments:*Generally, it's good style to avoid 'which', 'that'. They usually clutter things up and can almost always be avoided. Beware, however, academics love them! Also if you want to clearly emphasise the start of a clause, you can begin it with 'that....' (that is very useful in science etc).
**or, heavenly.
***'broadcasted' implies once only. 'broadcasting' implies continuance.

Very huggelly written!

Corrections from Ilalki

I'm very pleased to the people who corrected my texts for free. It is surprising that so great site as italki.com I underestimated before.

Correction from Scot Henry (the USA):
Here is the image of the page.
My typical mistakes:
1. Putting an indefinite article in the phrases: "an interesting country", "being a native English speaker" and "in a public place", "change a western cuisine", "to an Asian one"
2. Replacing indefinite article instead of definite article "in a place"
3. Removing of, it needs to write "a great opportunity living"

Correction from bluebottle (nickname on italki). He tries to correct the people's essays or notes according to formal English standards and also to keep their original meanings. He doesn't insist that these original essays are not interesting or entertaining. Indeed, they are sometimes far better written than the standard way (just think of 'Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain).
Here are the images of the correction page:
part 1 and part 2
My mistakes highlighted on these pages.

I am very grateful to people who corrected my essays and this prompted me to publish this analysis. This is information for the readership:







Saturday, January 14, 2017

Talking about Ireland

This conversation took place with a very good service italki.com. The teacher Ciaran lives in the city of Kilkenny in the Ireland (also described as the Republic of Ireland).


The first difficulty for me was the pronunciation of the name this country because it sounds like island. In fact, there are three confusing words:
  • An island is a piece of land completely surrounded by water. The "s" in island is silent. The word island is pronounced /aɪˈlənd/.
  • The word Iceland is the name of a country. The word Iceland is pronounced /aɪsˈlənd/.
  • The word Ireland is pronounced /aɪərˈlənd/.


The origin of the name in English and in Irish sounds:  Éire (Irish: [ˈeːɾʲə] ( listen)) is Irish for "Ireland", the English pronunciation is /ˈɛərə/ (air-ə).


The Irish language is Gaeilge. For me, the sound of the Irish language is very different than English. Here is an example:
Conas ata tu - How are you?


About some tourist attractions:
The Burren is a region in County Clare, Ireland. It is dominated by karst landscape and measures 250 square kilometers.
The typical landscape of Burren
Poulnabrone dolmen (Poll na mBrón in Irish, meaning "hole of the quern stones" (bró in Irish)) is a portal tomb - one of approximately 174 in Ireland - located in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland. It dates back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC and 2900 BC.



Let’s compare the age of this structures with the age of Egyptian pyramids. The earliest among Egyptian pyramids is the Pyramid of Djoser, constructed 2630 BC–2611 BC.
Poulnabrone dolmen is much older! Wow!!!

There was a useful exchange of views on the resources that can be used to learn English: Skype. Second life, Google hangouts, and italki.com. Podcasts helps improve listening skills a lot. Reading newspapers and books, watching TV-programs, Youtube. So many opportunities for exploring the world we get by studying a foreign language...

Take trips in and out the UK


This lesson in the online school engoo.com was managed by the teacher Dan, who is from England but he studied at the university in New Zealand. It was a great opportunity to ask about life in the UK and in New Zealand in comparison.

I asked Dan if he can confirm my opinion that the standard of living in the UK and in Europe is much higher than in New Zealand. For my surprising, he answered no, more likely is opposite fact. For proving this, Dan told about many emigrants from Scotland to Dunedin. Dunedin is the city in New Zealand which was named for the capital of Scotland, generally Anglicized as Edinburgh (with burgh being a literal translation of the Gaelic dun, meaning fort). New Zealand is more rural country.

Dan believes that Sough island is more interesting for tourists but if you come to New Zealand for a beach holiday, you'd better stay on the North island.

There is an anecdote (joke) about two ships with emigrants from Australia to New Zealand and from New Zealand to Australia. The ships move towards each other and in the place of the intersection of their ways people from each ship are looking at the emigrants from another ship as the oddities who made a wrong decision about the emigration.


The following question is where the higher standard of living and in which direction more emigrants are moving. Dan said that it is mostly in the direction to Australia especially to the Sydney.

My all time dream is to visit Australia sometimes. Because the price of air tickets from Europe is very high, I thought about fly instead of Sidney to Perth - the capital city of Western Australia. Dan commented that it is also interesting place but nature around is emptier, his opinion is that Sydney is the most interesting place for tourists.

I asked Dan about stereotypes regarding England and these are his answers:
Drinking tea at 5 o'clock: It is not suitable time between dinner and supper, he doesn't know people who follow this tradition.
Bacon and eggs as a typical English breakfast: It became less popular last years because concerns about health are rising.
It's raining cats and dogs: It is not just inventions of the authors of English study books, but this idiom is not used in modern English.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Recollections about France


We started a conversation in Today's class with the teacher Ilca on engoo.com from a topic about history. For an unexpected question about "Which part of history do you like the most?" I had thought. As a child, I liked reading myths of ancient Greece, later read stories about an ancient Rome. In adolescence age I took a great interest in stories about French kings, I read all Alexandre Dumas novels. The most interesting part of history, for now, is Russian history. Let's come back in time and space and speak about France.

Ilca lives in Marcel. I was in Marcel too. I remember as we stood on a hill and admired the sea, the guide told us that it is a view for the island of the count Monte Cristo.

Next time I was in France in the castle of Carcassonne. Ii was an excursion from of Spain where we had a vacation. I remember that this place was preserved very well. The interiors, even the spirit of the time was kept untouched. I imagined how inhabitants organized the meetings in this court. One interesting memory was the medieval refrigerator. It looked like a water well, the stuff was cooling by water.

Being in Rouen I remember that this city connected with Joan of Arc. She was executed by burning on 30 May 1431 in Rouen.

Last time we were in a four-days trip to Paris. It was in late April and early May. We were not lucky with the weather, all the time was raining and it was cold. We visited the museums Louvre, Orse, Versailles. Once a month in Paris visitors can visit for free museums and we got this day the Musee d'Orsay. It was free, though we stood in a very large queue.

The history which I explored became visual when I visited Versailles. I was amazed by the size of Versailles territory. The separate place of Maria Antuanetta represented a beautiful picture of the French countryside.

This is a link to Youtube to BBC documentary about the history of Versailles: The Real Versailles (BBC, 2016) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjqQNd5ttw0
.

The sun appeared on my last day in Paris, we ate the ice cream, the best ice cream in Paris (on the picture below)

We took pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral 
and just randomly chosen streets.


Life in Paris and France, in general, is more expensive than in other countries, it was noticeable when we stayed at the hotel in Montmartre and when we visited restaurants. One more benefit of being in Paris: we can reach any place using the only metro because the density and the number of the metro stations is a very high.

I told my teacher that I have a dream: to start to learn French.

I think it will remain only a dream because for learning a foreign language we need too much time which I don't have. The teacher Ilca replied that sometimes work seems impossible before we start to work. Probably I will think about studying French again.

All photos in this story were taken by me.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Getting High In Peru

Peru has a very diverse nature. But we had only 25 minutes long class on engoo.com and we discussed life in mountains.
The teacher Carmen likes photography, traveling. She was in Peruvian mountains The Andes many times. I asked her about her experiences of being on the highland. And what I wrote down.

There is a lack of oxygen on the high attitude 4500 meters above sea level. The usual reaction of the human body is feeling stomach pain or vomiting. Somebody tends to sleep. And it is very cold.

Sounds not so attractive for the beginning of the trip? Don't panic.


Tourists bring coca-tea. It made from coca plant and it drinks hot. It takes in average one day for adapting the body to the environment. The tourists started to enjoy being there on the second and following days.

There are some animals which we can find only in Peru. The double l in name llamas pronounce as lj. Other typical for Peru animals are vicuñas and alpacas. They are fed by hay.
We discussed two historical places which must-see for the tourists who come to Peru:
Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. Its elevation is around 3,400 m.
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 meters above sea level. The Incas built the estate around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest.
Both places Were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The advice from tourists founded on the Internet:
These places in Peru are located at high altitude - typically much higher than you'll find in the rest of the world. The potential for altitude sickness is very real. One wrong turn from being lightheaded or out of breath can most certainly be fatal. So don't derail your train trip to Machu Picchu being stuck in an oxygenated hotel (or hospital) by insisting on starting your journey straight from the airport. Be smart. be prepared, and you'll have the time of your life.

Once we talked about future and I proposed that the cost of air tickets will decrease after few years. Now the lowest price of the air round-ticket Moscow-Lima about 1000$. Let's wait for a little and prepare for a trip to Peru...

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Being bilingual in Montreal (Canada)


We discussed this topic in the trial class on italki.com
The teacher Skyler came from Swift Current which is a small city in southwest Saskatchewan in Western Canada. And now he is studying french in Montréal.


I asked the teacher to describe:
Is there a difference in English of French-speaking societies in Canada?
What it like to live in bilingual society?


The teacher told about Quebec which is a french speaking province in Canada. Quebec is the only one to have a predominantly French-speaking population, with French as the sole provincial official language. The tax rates are higher in Quebec than in other provinces in Canada. And the level of social guarantees is higher too.


The shop's assistants in stores answer you on the language which you use for asking questions, in French or English.


This topic Being bilingual in Montreal interested for me and I spent the extra time after the class exploring this issue by viewing a few videos on YouTube.


Here they are:
Montreal Store told employee not to speak English
Metro workers allegedly refuse to help English speaking customer
Montréal is a French city, not a bilingual city —Mayor Applebaum


There are a lot of interesting sightseeings for tourists in Canada. And one of the most spellbinding is a nature. After looking for the Canadian Rockies in Google images search the wish to visit this original country arises.


This is a World Heritage site, the Canadian Rockies (the segment of the North American Rocky Mountains).

Writing on Verbling community


There is a very good option on the site verbling.com which is called Practice Groups. People come to this online tool for joining to Google Hangouts conversations. It is a great possibility to speak with people who come to this site exactly for speaking practice in many languages including English too. And it is free.

During today's conversation, I created a document on Google Docs and shared for editing it with others. Happily, participants of this online event made a contribution to this activity. Here are very short descriptions about home locations of two participants (just drafts):

Córdoba, Andalusia (Spain)
Written by José Antonio Rojas




This is the Roman bridge, one of the biggest icons from Cordova. Here, we can see the Guadalquivir river crossing the bridge and in the background the Mosque-Cathedral. It sounds a little bit strange the mixture of Muslim and Roman constructions. It is the result of the both influences. The visitors of these great buildings get surprised immediately.


Istanbul (Turkey)
Written by Elif



This is Sultanahmet Mosque. It was built in 1609. It was built by Sultan the I Ahmed. This picture was taken in the center of Istanbul from the Bosphorus. It’s located in Sultan Ahmed square. And it's so close to Sofia Museum. 

Air View of Istanbul, Haliç


It has sticks which are called minarets. Mosque usually has four minarets. They are colored in white color.



A tram is not so common transport in Istanbul. It is more the symbol of Istiklal street. Istiklal means to have freedom or independence.

Maiden’s Tower: It was a prison.

Conclusion:
Even these notes look as drafts, I think we achieved the purpose of this event. We worked together, we used the modern tools for online communication. The idea of organizing events for practice writing and speaking is interesting and should be continued.